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The suckage that is Comcast
By moxie on Sun, 03/22/2015 - 7:00am
I'm in a four day steel cage death match with Comcast over (lack of) service related to a failed cable-box, compounded by a Comcast-generated "reset" that's cratered the replacement, plus all attached satellite boxes in my house. I live in Cambridge.
I would dearly love to drop them like a bad habit, but need a replacement for internet and television, preferably bundled.
Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!
Call them to wall U thru
Call them to wall U thru reset. I had similar issues and it kept reoccurring. A tech came out and the issue was the initial guy who set it up had both box power outlets into one adaptor. He put in more powerful adaptors and it works fine . This prob makes no sense but something like that was the issue. Basically it has too much energy feeding into one spicer
When four different Comcast installers could not get me a working TV in my new house, I dropped their cable TV and signed up with Dish. It's been pretty good, with no more outages than I used to get with Comcast. Customer service is good. (Except for signing up; that was through some gent in Mumbai or somewhere, whose English didn't extend much beyond the scrpts he'd memorized. Tech support are all Americans, and the field service people are very good.)
I kept Comcast Internet, because it's still the cheapest high-speed option. I saved $5 a month by buying my own modem. Their rental for a modem is now $8 a month, so the $50 to buy a modem is paid off pretty quickly. The only downside was the typically Comcastic struggle to get them to stop putting the rental charge on my bill for a modem I had returned.
For phone, I use MagicJack. The MagicJack+ is much more reliable than the original MJ, and they'll let you keep your existing phone number now (for a fee). Cannot beat the price. I pay $20 a year (yes, a year), but it may have gone up some since I bought 5-years worth of service. It's still cheaper than Vonage or any of the telecoms. MJ customer support is notoriously bad, but since I got the +, I haven't needed it much.
You didn't ask, but for cellphone, I use Consumer Cellular. Very cheap. They ride on the AT&T network, which for me has provided better coverage than Verizon.
not many options
TV/Internet bundling makes it harder. That's probably just COMCAST/RCN/FIOS and you'd already know which of those were servicing your building if you even had an option in the land of cable monopoly.
Disclosure: I'm RCN (residential) for TV and comcast business for internet. I've previously used business grade DSL and wimax internet from companies like towerstream
Without TV ...
Oddly enough COMCAST may still be an option if you sign up via Comcast Business. They operate like a different company and the best thing about a biz internet circuit is you get an SLA contract that outlines what happens when stuff goes down. With a business account you will get a tech on the phone in less than 5 minutes and they will have no issues at all rolling a truck to your place to diagnose things. Business class internet alone is worth it because it vaults you into the tier of 'we will actually try to fix your stuff' rather than residential internet which is "best effort, if we feel like it and our march madness bracket is doing OK .." There is literally ZERO promises made for residential internet beyond "best effort".
The other thing about a business circuit is no rules about servers/services or other policy violations. This could (for instance) allow a few of your neighbors to club together to purchase a line and then share the cost and service. The state of wifi networking these days would make that pretty cheap and easy.
Other non mainstream internet options:
towerstream.com - wireless internet delivered via WiMax to a tiny antenna on your building. Business oriented but potentially affordable if a couple people sign on. I like them and have used them in the past.
http://www.netblazr.com/residential/ - similar fixed wireless internet startup. Small service area but cool and clever . I first read about them in the globe and would love to use them but they are growing smart/slow only in certain areas
Naked DSL - MA forces telephone companies to unbundle voice service from DSL now so you can get a DSL based internet connection over the copper phone lines in your apt without being forced to buy a phone line. Most DSL providers use a database that can tell by your street address or landline # if your unit can be serviced. It all depends on how far you are from the central office where the DSL gear sits and if the path between you and the CO is all copper phone wires or not. There are several ISPs that do business and residential DSL in the area.
I second the Comcast Biz... like you've I've dealt with all types of business services. DSL, WiMax, Dry Line DSL Providers.
But Comcast Biz is the best when it comes to cable service. If Comcast would apply what they do for customer service for the biz customers to the residential side of the house, people would have few complaints about the service.
Very low turn around time for repair. People that answer the phone that actually want to help you and understand you (and aren't reading from cards). Technicians who show up on time, and are real Comcast people, and do want to help you fix your issues and won't leave until it's fixed.
Just very consistent and decent support in general. But you pay more for it.
The Netblazer thing sounds interesting but they want all your personal info just to say if you're in their coverage area or not. Sorry. If they won't even tell me what towns they operate in I'm not going to give them my info -- the risk of a scam/spam is too high.
I wish companies like this didn't hide basic business details until potential customers turned over private info. It would like walking into a supermarket and being asked for your name & address before being allowed to walk over to see if they had your favorite cheese.
I will say the "need' for cable TV is overrated and it's worth trying to do without it for a few weeks to see if it really is worth the money over the streaming services.
They operate all over metro
They operate all over metro Boston. They need your address and information about your home though (number of stories/height), because they use fixed wireless, as was mentioned before. It's all about line of sight for them. If you have clear line of sight or a strong signal from another place they service, that's how they figure out if it's cost effective for them to get you on their service.
Unfortunately, that's just the way wireless works.
I fully understand how this works. I'm not debating the need for a physical address -- they can have that. My annoyance is that instead querying their coverage database and displaying the possibility for service in a webpage they demand your phone/email/etc so and only provide the information this way. The only reason to do that is to grab your personal contact info. There is absolutely no good reason to ask for your contact info when a physical address would be good enough to verify coverage.
I'd give them all my contact info if I was to become a customer but I'm not going to turn it over to them until I know if their services would even work. So it seems they've lost a possible customer.
I don't like to give contact info either, so I use an anonymizer
I don't like to give contact info either, so I use an anonymizer site for such queries. My current go-to service for this is Abine's Blur, which masks your choice of email, site-logins, phone and/or credit cards. It also blocks tracking scripts from sites. The company is local and founded by a couple of MIT small-L libertarian types.
It lives as an add-on in my browser and is pretty simple to use. I use as many anonymized email addresses as I want to sign up for web sites etc. All the emails get forwarded to my regular account, and if I find myself getting spam from any of them I just turn them off.
(I don't have a financial interest in Abine, other than being a happy user).
Call in or use website
If you want to know if they cover youyour area you can either call in and get a real person, give give your city name. If they aye in your city they will ask for your address and then check for signal. If they are not then that's it. They do have a wait list you can join or you can check back in a year to see if they moved out to your city. That's what I do. If you join the list they just email you when they get out there.
Or you can bypass the phone and go on line and make an inquiry. If you do that they will need real name real number and real email. If you give fake ones they will assume it's a prank from drunk college kid and ignore it.
Just a small fyi. :)
hope this helps guys!
I see what you're saying. But
I see what you're saying. But they're so small, they don't have the coverage database you're looking for. They evaluate every install individually for cost feasibility. A person actually looks at a topographical map, I believe, lol.
The issue with NetBlazr is that it's a wireless service so even in a particular neighborhood they may only have coverage in certain areas. It all depends on which rooftops they can put antennas on. That's why they need your address.
I've dealt with NetBlazr
I've dealt with NetBlazr. They've got a small footprint but are expanding. In the end, we could not use them because we were out of their area. But dealing with them was professional and I have never gotten any unwanted email from them.
That difference in service
That difference in service sounds insane to me. I made a few searches and I am noting that depending on packages, the costs might not be too different, thus comparable and not simply "you get what you paid for (for America). But since I'm not imaging the biz version is taking a loss or accepting a smaller margin, I have wonder what kind of penny pinching culture of suck makes the residential so awful.
Do you know which companies
Do you know which companies provide DSL in Cambridge?
the suckier part
is that you have few options. Comcast pretty much has the monopoly on both. Especially the TV, unless you can get FiOS or want a dish.
Internet you have some options but they are all un-bundled. (except maybe a DSL/Dish package from Verizon)
You could get Earthlink cable for internet and just get a dish (if you just despise Comcast that much.. however EL Cable is re-sold Comcast service sooo you wouldn't really be escaping them so much, except you'll be dealing with EL's staff for customer service)
And then there's always DSL.. but its slower and Verizon has no interest in selling it to you. So hope your CO offers it (mine doesn't anymore). There are other DSL providers but they are rare gem these days that offer dry line DSL, but you're still at the mercy of Verizon.
There's other ways such as wireless type stuff (hot spots or 'home hot spot routers') and satellite internet but I don't recommend it (it's still very slow). Wireless home hot spots have gotten better but it's not perfect nor cheap.
And if you really want to shell out $ there's always business grade services (i.e. Comcast Biz which is a totally difference experience from Comcast Residential.. or metro ethernet or microwave or WiMax or T1-type service, etc etc.)
But sadly options as a residential consumer are really limited. I'm mad that I can only get Comcast. (I can't even get earthlink!)
We bought a Mohu leaf to get
We bought a Mohu leaf to get over the air channels and switched to Mobile Beacon for Internet. I don't miss Comcast at all!
I second netblazr. Had them for a few years now - if you're in their service area one of the best options for internet. Drop cable and get over the air for free network stations. Ooma for home phone, around $36 a year and better quality than magic jack+. If you don't think you can go without tv programming do all these thinggs but get DISH, <40$ /month if you get a good promotion
I have had no quality of sound issues with MJ+. Are you talking about some other quality?
Patient souls calling back again and again for a better response
It's a delight for those souls with cool patience calling back 2, 3, 4+ times on the same issue that another agent can come up with a better response than the first agent/s would.
cable alternatives in Boston proper?
I recall occasional discussions during the Menino era efforts to get Verizon or RCN to serve down town neighborhoods and offer some competition.
Does anyone know if this has even come up for discussion recently? Are there any alternatives to Comcast for fast internet in these areas?
RCN is available in financial
RCN is available in financial district but not sure how far it extends. i am so happy to have gotten rid of Comcast.
Using the term "Boston proper" improperly
It's clear from your post that you meant the central downtown neighborhoods, but in fact the term 'city-name proper' actually means anywhere within official city limits. It's used in juxtoposition with terms like 'greater metropolitan area' (larger scope) or "urban core" (smaller scope - which is more what I believe you were talking about.)
And jumping back up the stack to the actual topic - I've always thought it was crazy that RCN's Boston HQ is located in the Fort Point Channel neighborhood, but it can't serve customers literally just down the street!
Boston proper. It's
Boston proper. It's interesting you brought this up. I use the term Boston proper the same way as the poster you were replying to. I think a lot of people define Boston proper this way because this is the way the City distinguishes "original Boston" from the neighborhoods that were annexed and became part of Boston later. And even though the first expansion/annexation happened in 1804 (part of Dorchester), and the last occurred in 1912 (Hyde Park), that's Boston for you: we don't let our old history go.
You can see some BRA maps here using the same perhaps, flawed and archaic definition of Boston proper here: http://www.bostonredevelopmentauthority.org/research-maps/maps-and-gis/z...
You'd see the same on Boston trash and recycling guides distributed in previous years with blue bins and annually by the city. Here is an example of the city's language used for curbside pickup, from the Globe's publishing of a holiday delay: "Trash/recycling collection: Collection delayed by one day this week except Boston proper, Roxbury, Charlestown, and South Boston", http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/10/09/whats...
Useful source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Boston#Geographic_expansion
OP Here. Oops....
I'm the "Boston Proper" OP. Mea Culpa. I guess I meant Down-Town Neighborhoods. Or whatever we want to call the area roughly including West-End, North End, South End, Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Fenway. Sometimes Roxbury, Southie, Charlestown. Never Dorchester, West Roxbury, JP, Hyde Park, East Boston, Allston, or Brighton. Never EBO, SOWA. And definitely never Brookline, Cambridge, or Somerville.
Or...how about "people who can walk to the Common within 30 minutes"?
The map of Boston neighborhoods and proper (there's that word again) nomenclature is always such a fun discussion. I just wish I could research them using a different ISP....
PS- The post office calls the South End, "Roxbury". Jokes on me....
"Or...how about 'people who
"Or...how about 'people who can walk to the Common within 30 minutes'?"
SoWhat (SOWA) to the Common is EASILY 30 minutes unless you are incredibly slow or get lost easily. Cripes! It's next to Chinatown!
Email Comcast's CEO
In the past, when Comcast customer service has driven me up a wall, I've had some luck emailing their CEO: [email protected]
They have an executive customer relations team that will cut through the bureaucracy.
And you keep voting for Senator Edward Markey...
Here's a clip from a debate between Ed Markey and Steve Lynch a few years ago:
"You're with the telecommunications companies..." - Steve Lynch
"The poor people in Western Mass, they're watching the Yankees tonight..." - Steve Lynch
"If you think that we got competition going on in the cable industry and telecommunication industry, you're absolutely out of your mind..." - Steve Lynch
I took a pass on Fast Eddie Markey last time
Didn't vote for Markey (D, Maryland) in the last primary.
Poor Steve Lynch. Guy thought that working for a living in a real job as an iron worker, running a union local out of his district, talking with the same kind of accent as his constituents, performing constituent serviced, regularly returning to the district, and actually reading legislation that he voted on qualified him for the position. Silly guy!
Markey led the fight to preserve Net Neutrality,
the most pro-consumer ruling from the FCC in many years. Given the (literally) hundreds of millions of dollars Comcast, Verizon and other Internet providers poured into fighting it, it was absurd of Lynch to try to characterize Markey as being in the pocket of Big Telecom, which he's been fighting on this crucial issue for nearly ten years.
Does anybody know if there is anything in the works regarding residential fiber in Boston? Mayor Walsh vaguely mentioned that there was something coming at the beginning of his term, but I haven't heard anything about it since.
If it's from Verizon
You can forget about it.. They have consistently said they are no longer expanding their FiOS Network
It would have to be from someone else, and unless Google Fibre is coming or we're getting Muni fibre, it's just unlikely.
Verizon is going wireless
If one reads the trades, Verizon is running away from copper networks at a moderate speed. They have already sold off upper New England and many, many other states deemed unprofitable (by their standards) to Frontier Communications who then inherits their aged copper network, raises rates, and tries to keep it operational. Then, unfettered (read unregulated) Verizon comes in to sell people a black box that turns their hard-wired phone into a cellular phone and puts former customers on their wireless network. Unfortunately that is a voice only service with no data.
After Hurricane Sandy they completely pulled out of the devastated neighborhoods in NY and NJ and will never replace the thousands of poles and copper lines. Those people are SOL and due to deregulation they cannot do a thing.
Boston will never see FIOS fibre from them, and if the market continues to trend downward they could sell off Boston to Frontier as well. They have already made it clear they are not rolling out new fibre, and only those areas with a contractual commitment that was ongoing is getting lines buried. VZ is looking to take over the wireless frontier since it is unregulated and to get there they are dumping anything that has a wire, cable, or fibre attached. If you have VZ now, enjoy, but have a back-up plan. I'm already researching my options.
If you really get stuck...
Try contacting a city councillor. I did this in another city where I was having trouble with Comcast, and I promptly got a response from a VP at Comcast and a solution the day after. The city grants a charter/monopoly to Comcast and as a result, Comcast responds quickly to officials who can make a change in that charter.
DIRECTV for TV and Verizon for Internet.
No complaints on either.
Have you tried a factory reset? This happened to me when Comcast sent me a reset signal remotely. The guy on the phone acted like I had broken it somehow, though I could hear the panic in his voice when he realized he had messed up the reset.
Anyway, there should be a tiny pinhole on the back of your modem. Stick a paperclip or something in there and hold down for a REAL 30 seconds. You will see all the lights flash and go out and come back on. When it's back up, your wireless network SSID and password will be reset to the values written somewhere on a sticker on your modem, probably on the bottom.
Another vote for Netblazr
If they cover your area, it's the best deal around. Also, they can expand to cover more areas if larger/ taller buildings agree to get their service (which means putting an antenna on the roof, thereby giving access to others in the area). I'm hoping that the folks in the JP towers get Netblazr.
In Cambridge, you may need to parcel out the different services to different providers, especially if you live in a building/complex where a dish may not be an option. As far as I know, the city is still locked into an exclusive 10yr agreement with Comcast though I can't quite recall when it started. If you live in a detached home, your options are better.
Free tier of service for urgent notifications from the City...
Cambridge was offered a free tier of service to any household that would like it for urgent notifications from the City, community cable tv and to make cable advertisements available. But City Officials didn't followup !
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