Important Question

IMG_6878, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

Who provides the best cable/internet service: RCN, Comcast or Verizon? Do you think we’ll ever get FIOS in the city?

37 Comment

  • I liked RCN (or as I still quaintly call it, “Starpower.”) Why did I like it? I’d turn on the TV, and moving pictures would be there. And I didn’t feel like I was getting ripped off with the bill.

    I hate Comcast. I pay $95 for no pay channels like HBO or Showtime; I just have a DVR. I’m about ready to kick cable to the curb entirely. I don’t watch enough TV to be paying $1,200 a year for it, and Comcast’s DVR is crappy, anyway.

    FIOS can’t come soon enough, if only for the competition.

  • $1,140 a year, sorry.

  • dish network, by far.

    i’ve tried all the rest, and they’re not bad, but they’re expensive as hell.

  • Man, do I hate Verizon. They are the definition of bastards. The service is so poor, one would expect that Verizon pay their customers for pain and suffering. I could go on and on, but since the only other option is Comcast and I don’t consider television a necessity, I would never bow to their ludicrous phone, internet and cable packages. Besides, doesn’t everyone have cell phones these days?

    I would LOVE to get my hands on some RCN, because I understand you don’t have to pick up the tab on the whole cable package like with Comcast. A friend of mine has cable internet for less than 20 bucks a month (and he splices off the cable TV for free… ahem, you didn’t hear that!). So I’m in the market for RCN but they don’t run their cable to my building.

    Monopolies are a bitch.

  • Comcast makes me angry.

    I mean really, really angry.

  • PoP, it’s funny you asked about Verizon, RCN and Comcast but picture DirecTV and Dish TV dishes. I’ve never had RCN, but I refuse to deal with Comcast ever again. Verizon just seems like a rip off, plus I’m still waiting for them to get the DSL right. I switched to DirecTV five years ago and love it. It is relatively inexpensive and while cable companies would have you believe that it is unreliable, the signal only goes out in the height of an intense downpour. That has happened to me twice in five years, unlike cable that can go out for days until Comcast gets around to sending someone out to fix it.

  • Anyone know how I can get RCN to come to my street? I HATE Comcast with a much so that we go without cable, though hypocritically we use them for internet – but that sucks too with frequent drops. We actually don’t miss cable at all, although during the primaries I am getting the itch.

  • i currently have rcn and the picture pixilates when i change the channel and it takes like 5 seconds for it to “load”..i do no recommend rcn. perhaps it’s my bldgs connection, but anywho. i had dish and i loved it. my bldg wont allow it, otherwise, that’s what i would have.

  • Great timing on this question– I had DirecTV and loved it, but unfortunately I had to move and my new apartment won’t let me put up a dish. I really, really don’t want to switch to Comcast. So I’d love to get some recommendations. If it were up to me I wouldn’t even have cable– when I lived alone I didn’t have a TV and didn’t miss it at all– but my girlfriend can’t live without it…

  • We don’t have cable or satellite. We watch over-the-air and DVDs.

  • I’d seriously consider sacrificing my part of a finger or something to get Verizon FIOS in Petworth. Comcast’s stubborn refusal to carry ESPNU KILLS me during football and basketball season.

  • DirectTV – got it because some others don’t carry Fox Soccer Channel – got to have my soccer! Never have had an issue and their customer service is pretty good if you do.

  • Comcast has FSC…the sports tier is actually chean (like $5 a month…definitely worth it).

  • I’ve been very happy with the Dish Network. I have over 250 channels for less than 65 bucks a month, which is way cheaper than cable and a little bit cheaper than DirecTV.

    Then I do DSL through Verizon for 13 bucks a month. I’ve never had any problems with them, knock on wood.

  • I work for VZ,

    The main hold-up with FiOS is that the DC council hasnt approved a television franchise agreement. It doesnt make sense to build/offer FiOS in DC without being able to sell the Video product. Once we get the franchise agreement (the company is working on it now) then we will have to physically build the new network. To make a long story short it will take atleast 2 years before anyone in DC has it.

  • Hey, at least that’s an answer — thanks Just J.

    In preparation for my impending move to get rid of cable (had to see the Project Runway finale first, though!) I stuck antenna in my TV. (The device has both rabbit ears and UHF “loop” style antenna) I wasn’t expecting much because I don’t have a rooftop antenna, but I got really nice, crisp HD on all the local channels. I also found out that WETA has three other channels in addition to the main feed.

    The only channel that is a bit more touchy is NBC; sometimes the picture pixilates and disappears. Other times, it’s nice and strong. I can always get it to come back by moving the antenna around.

    I’d get Dish but I’m not sure I even watch $65 worth of TV a month. Is it worth it just for the few shows on Bravo I watch, and the Daily Show? I can get them through Amazon Unbox or the iTunes store if I’m dying for them. Anyway, I’ve never NOT had cable but I’m willing to give it a try and see if I can live without it. If not, I’m going to Dish.

    I do internet through Earthlink DSL. I wasn’t a happy camper when my phone service was out for five days, recently, though — thanks, Verizon!

  • Speaking of HD over-the-air.. all local channels are supposed to provide it for free right? And when all channels go digital.. err.. is it early 2009.. we should get a fairly decent selection, no? I.e. I am not sure what is considered “local” channels? Will we get the all the basic Foxes, NBCs etc. over the air in HD then (or, already) or just highly cultural but not always satisfying university channels? 🙂

  • I agree with Christina– you get a pretty good selection of channels with an antenna. Of course it depends on where you’re living and everything, but my experience was very good. If there’s some cable show you like, you can usually find it on iTunes or YouTube– I hooked my laptop up to the TV so I could watch that stuff.

    Without cable I ended up watching more quality stuff (news and public television programs, and I watched a lot more movies, and got out a lot more.

  • I don’t understand the deal with over the air NBC (Channel 4). I have had the problem of it getting cruddy, and I have a roof top antenna. We are at one of the highest points in the city with a direct line of sight to what I think is the transmission source. Very odd. Maybe, this is because my roof top antenna is older than I am. Anyone recommend a place to get a new one?

  • Steve, sounds like you are receiving (or trying to at least) the analog signal which can indeed be tricky to get right. But once NBC goes digital and HD it should change to all or nothing: if you get a signal, it should be basically perfect. If you don’t, you want see anything. Given that you have a line of sight, you should be ok at that time.

  • I have Comcast, and other than it being a little overpriced, I haven’t had any problems. Our internet (oh gosh– knock on wood) is always working too. A few years back, I lived in Petworth and had Verizon, which I canceled one day in a fit after 2 hours on the phone with “technical help.” It NEVER worked.

  • GforGood, this is confusing for a lot of people, not just you! High definition programming and digital programming are not the same thing (not that you said they were, just that some people, like my parents, are way confused. So I’ve become the family “switchover” expert.)

    If you already have cable, satellite, or FIOS, the switchover will mean nothing to you.

    If you use an antenna (like I may be) AND you have a TV capable of receiving digital signals, you can stick an antenna in it and it should work, hopefully, if you have good reception. Local channels in our area are ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, um, whatever Channel 20 is now (My Network TV?), the CW and, and…some Spanish language station that I’m not sure of. Anything I’m missing? That’s what I can get for free, over-the-air. What you WON’T get over-the-air is stuff like CNN, C-SPAN, Bravo, Comedy Central, HBO, Discovery, ESPN, etc.

    And again, just because a channel is digital doesn’t mean it has high-definition programming.

    If you use an antenna and are using an older TV that is not capable of receiving digital signals, you will need to buy a converter box to tune in stations after Feb. 2009. They cost about $40-$50, and the government is distributing first-come, first-serve vouchers for $40, I think. Just getting a converter box will not turn your old set into a high def TV, though; it’ll just convert the digital signals into analog.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, folks.

  • Steve, I’ve read, but I can’t remember where now so I can’t vouch for my recollection, that while we’re in this interim period, a lot of stations aren’t broadcasting digitally in full strength. Once the analog broadcasts go away entirely, the thought is that many stations will increase the power to their digital towers, and that the signals will get better. So maybe that’ll help us out with NBC. It seems to make no sense that I can get WETA crystal clear from my location, but NBC has these occasional problems. Isn’t the NBC transmitter actually in the city?

  • DIRECTV!!! You couldn’t pay me to use those a-holes Comcast. They act like they’re doing you a huge favor even speaking to you.
    I’ve been using Directv for years. Never a problem, only lost reception for a few minutes twice in the past two years. Love it.

  • We just watch TV on the web, but mostly foreign stuff. There are much better international channel options on Dish, much, much better. I could get the RCN triple play for less than I spend on phone/internet now, but I’m not sure that I really want TV.

    I’m a way confused about what the coming HD thing means. I don’t want to buy a new TV quite yet. Our current one is like a year old. (Its a nice Sony tube TV. We are hoping to move out of the region soon. And I’ll be damned, though, if I lug that TV down the stairs again. My concern is that no one will buy it.)

  • Thank guys – I have an old fashioned tube analogue TV – I am sooo old school. One day I am going to turn it on and there will be nothing. C’est la vie.

  • I posted a big response about the digital TV thing, but it says it’s “awaiting moderation.” I wonder why? I only cussed a little bit. 🙂

  • Christopher, if your TV has a digital tuner, you don’t have to do a thing. It’s fairly new so it might; you’ll have to check the manual.

    Just to repeat, digital programming is NOT high-def programming! You can get digital signals through an old tube TV, either with or without a converter box. You do not HAVE to buy a high def set when the switchover occurs…but I think a lot of TV manufacturers have a vested interest in making you think that you do.

  • I watch all of the Fox shows and some other networks on I got on as a beta tester. Not sure if it is available to everyone yet, but it is worth checking out. As long as you have a fast internet connection, the shows stream nicely. Plus they have older shows like Airwolf!

  • Hey cool! you wanna hook a sista up with an invite?

  • @Christina! I was confused about that. My TV does have digital tuner. But I thought that was different than HD. Thanks for clearing that up.

    Also I second the Hulu invites, Sean. Can you give those things out?

  • You can get all local channels in over-the-air HD right now if you have buy an HD antenna and have an HD TV. PBS-HD rocks. No need to wait for 2009.

    That said, I tried going just OTA HD for awhile, but after 9 months or so, I broke down and got DirecTV, since they have the most/best HD. Very satisfied. One request – get them to put your antenna on your roof where it’s hidden away! Why people let them install them on their porch roofs is beyond me.

  • I swear I’m going to stop being the annoying TV person, but there’s also no such thing as an “HD” antenna. There are certain styles of antenna that are being marketed as high definition antennas; they look something like fish skeletons. Sometimes they can help you pick up a signal that is weak, but they are often very directional.

    I can get all the high definition signals that are currently available in this area using a regular pair of rabbit ears and a UHF “loop” antenna. This is the model I bought, but I’m not saying it’s the best one out there.

    Save your money, folks! Try a cheap antenna that you can return if it doesn’t work before you start looking at expensive things. And while I’m on a rant, Monster cables are too expensive, I got mine from

    I’m affiliated with absolutely none of these stores. I am just an angry consumer who likes gadgets but doesn’t like to see people ripped off.

  • What’s the big deal about Fios???

  • Ed, the theory with FIOS is you have a fiber optic line that comes in your house, so you can get a crap ton of data streaming through. That’s the theory any way. I am not holding by breath for it in the city, where in parts we still get our water through cypress log pipe. from the 18th or 19th century.

  • FIOS is awesome b/c they have ESPNU. Otherwise I don’t think there’s much difference b/w it and Comcast.

  • After moving to DC two years ago we ditched cable for the new digital “over-the-air” programming that our stations were starting to offer. Two years later still without cable and no complaints. When I need breaking news I can log onto and for DVR we have two HP Z558 (digital entertaiment centers). There are a number of Windows systems available with Tuner cards and DVR capabilities. Mac users can purchase tuner cards to turn their systems into DVRs.

    Unless you can’t live without certain TV channels why pay for TV?

Comments are closed.