Dear PoP – Good Cable Service in Mt. P?


“Dear PoP,

I’m moving from Columbia Heights to Mt. Pleasant soon, and I’m wondering about cable companies. I normally go with Comcast, but RCN is a lot cheaper and I’m on a budget. Do you/your readers have any advice or firsthand experience?”

We discussed some general recommendations here but does anyone have specific Mt. P recommendations?

30 Comment

  • i heard RCN sucks, but comcast is evil incarnate. Go with DirecTV for TV and RCN for interwebs.

  • I hate direct tv. They put the ugly little dish on my house and then ran all these cables down from it. I told them to take it away a week later. Im with RCN and its fine and I think its good for people to support anything other than comcast.

  • free cable service is the best service money can buy

  • RCN doesn’t serve all of Mt.P so it depends on where you live. I’m stuck with comcast. (expensive and sucky)

  • Because I hate Comcast immensely, I got RCN for internet and decided to go without cable and survive off netflix and hulu. But then, the RCN guy came over to hook up the internet and kindly directed me on how to get free Comcast cable. best of both worlds!

  • I initially left comcast for RCN and was really impressed with their much better pricing. Over 2-3 years, the pricing basically rose to exactly meet what comcast was charging, so the deal wasn’t quite as sweet. However, the big advantage of RCN over comcast is that RCN has no data cap, whereas comcast has a 250gb/month cap. Yes, most people won’t use 250gb/month, but on general principle it’s annoying. Should you refrain from streaming netflix movies because you’re worried about exceeding it? Who knows.

    I’m in the same condundrum, and would prefer to have DirecTV for TV and RCN for internet. The problem with that is that most properties (mine included) are wired to accept one incoming coax pipe, which is distributed throughout the home. So if you get directv, you’ll have no place to hook up your RCN incoming pipe to a modem.

  • Original question-asker here.

    I’m in an apt building where Direct TV is out of the question 🙁

    Another concern I had with RCN is that the internet is 1.5gb. I have no idea what this means. Is it slow? Fast? Normal?

    Anon at 4:55: How might I go about getting this free comcast cable?

  • I used to have Comcast. It was more expensive and the service absolutely sucked. I couldn’t be happier with RCN. The internet speed is faster and more reliable, and they have a ton more HD channels than Comcast offers. RCN will also be switching their DVRs to TiVo boxes in January, which is light years better than what they currently offer or what Comcast offers.

    The downside is that they are only available in certain parts of the city.

  • If you hop onto chat with Comcast CSRs from the Comcast website, they’ll normally be willing and able to cut you a deal on cable/internet. Don’t pay Comcast’s list price.

  • I’ve been a customer of RCN’s for about five years now. My experience hasn’t been great but hasn’t been terrible either. I don’t think the issues I’ve had with them would be solved by switching providers.

    –channel lineup. 7 different PBS channels. Nigerian News Today. France 24/7. Over the years RCN has slowly replaced offerings like BBC and Independent Film Channel with these. But I think all cable companies do this.
    –Billing and customer service. Only available M-F 8-5. Huge PITA if you are a working stiff. Again, I think all cable companies are like this.

    –Reliable pricing. Comcast offers attractive introductory offers, but after the first three months, the price goes up a lot. I’m not a person of unlimited means, so I’d rather know what my expenses are going to be from month to month.
    –Service shows up on time. I’ve had installations at two addresses, and called for service once. On every occasion they have shown up at the beginning of the appointment window and took care of the matter at hand quickly. No one I know with Comcast has had the same experience.

  • When I moved into my current house in Petworth in the spring we decided to go with RCN, mainly because they were slightly cheaper and because Comcast is the devil. The cable service was fine, but the internet never got up and working and while they were very nice about it and I felt bad I had to ditch them for comcast so I could actually get online regularly.

    My impression is that it is really street to street as far as who is better.

  • I am still annoyed that comcast got rid of the free HBO and showtime everyone had for years. DOWN WITH COMCAST!

  • I have had Comcast for the 4 years I have lived in CH/Petworth and have been generally happy with their service. I had a couple of instances where my cable kept getting cut off but it turned out to be someone moving my connection at the terminal to put their own line in its place (perhaps you BigSherm 🙂 ). I was told that the incentive to do this would stop once Comcast goes all digital (by the end of the year) because at that point you won’t be able to get cable just by tapping into the line you will need a digital cable box or an adapter.
    If you go with Comcast, my strong advice for you is to pay attention to the pricing. You can get a great deal on your cable service but you have to ask for it and you have to keep track of how long your deal is in place for. I have negotiated great package deals. For instance, I have HBO and Showtime now for less than I paid last year just for HBO. But on a couple of occasions I have opened my cable bill and been surprised to see that my fees had increased significantly. When I called to ask about it I was told that the deal I negotiated a year earlier had expired. You won’t get any warning about this but your bill does say how long any promotion is in effect so you need to pay attention to that.
    I had DTV in Adams Morgan and have considered switching back but they won’t give me any of their new promotions because they say I am an old customer. In addition, you have to purchase the equipment which kind of ties you to them. On the other hand, they get top notch marks for customer satisfaction every year.

  • We have comcast. I’ve never had any problems with their product or their service. We started with just internet, then got cable on an introductory rate. Once the time frame for the rate was up we called them to cancel the cable and just keep the internet. They offered to do the introductory rate for another six months. I plan to say the same thing then too. I only use like two or three stations, so I dont care to pay too much for it. If they call my bluff, I just wont have cable tv any more. Eh.

  • I am surprised Comcast’s service isn’t better. There is a lot behind my alley that must serve as a Comcast van depot and those vans are coming and going all hours of the night and day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. We happen to have Direct TV, but I’ve always figured with all that movement they’ve got to be offering the best service around. That said, every so often I wonder if perhaps they’re running dope, smuggling illegal immigrants or running mini brothels on wheels. But nah, can’t be right?

  • Comcast is definitely the devil. I’m downtown and I have to call them at least once a week to figure out why I’m not getting certain channels, and then my HBO and Showtime just stopped coming through on the regular channels (but I still got them OnDemand). I ended up switching to basic cable and buying a TiVo. I have never had a problem with their internet, though, and I’ve had them here and in Philly for almost 7 years.

    @rocketnerd – the 250 gb cap? I stream netflix all the time, and I’ve never had a problem. I have the 12Mbps (MB? whichever is the fastest with them) speed. Do they actually charge you if you go over, or does your internet just go down?

  • does anybody remember back in the day when EVERYBODY in the District of Columbia stole cable? When if you knew a guy who knew a guy, you could get your cable hooked up, no problems, and get all those awesome channels?

  • lordscarlet

    Have you considered no cable? If you’re on a budget, it really is rather freeing.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some crazy “Who needs TV?!” person. I have always despised the cable companies. I had DirecTV when I lived in the suburbs, and I had it for my first two years in the city. I had a TiVO with DirecTV and I realized I was watching 95% over the air content. I dropped DirecTV, bought an HD TiVo and I couldn’t be happier. I have a set-top HD Antenna that works perfectly from the ground floor.

    You can get an HD TiVo these days for under $200 (the price of about 4-5 months cable service) and the service costs roughly $12/mo. TiVo works with Netflix streaming. You could also hook up a PC and use Hulu.

    I use Verizon from DSL and I haven’t had to talk to Verizon since the day I signed up for service five years ago. It’s not quite as fast as cable, but it is plenty fast for most people and has a consistent speed with fantastic reliability.

    With Over the Air (OTA) you get: NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS, The CW, My20, PBS (4-8 different PBS channels depending on how good your antenna is), NBC’s sports channel that shows mostly Olympic-type sports, ABC’s “Retro Television Network” and the movie channel recently put on 50-2. Between prime time programming and Netflix you don’t miss much. The only thing that is rough is catching sports, but you can always go to a bar for that.

  • We live in an apartment in Mt P and use RCN for Internet/phone. We initially were going to get Verizon but their service was so bad (they are the devil, aside from Comcast) and we found out we could get RCN (or “Starpower” as it was called 6 years ago) and so we did. They had to drill the cable into the apartment at the door ceiling and didn’t do a clean job, but it did the job. We don’t pay for TV (getting it from the Internet/Hulu like lordscarlet) – you really get used to not having TV after awhile.

  • comcast: in “north columbia heights” i.e petworth, never a problem. went with the 3x play, because i hate verizon so much i could vomit with rage. anyways, they extended my opening offer forever, im not sure how many years i have had it. here is the trick.

    step 1:when upgrading to VoIP phone, deal with their contractors for 2 weeks as they try and get your alarm system to work. they cant.

    step 2: rewire some stuff so your alram system will work (always) with their VoIP

    step 3: bitch like hell. then write up a tutorial they use to train their contractors on how alarm systems worrk and how to integrate VoIP with them for some Ops VP at comcast.

    step 4: cheap cable for ever. plus 5/30MB internet and dvr phone et al.

    step 5: be smug.

    in all fairness i have never had a problem after i self installed most of this stuff, and helped train their installers – who are all independt untrained contractors.

  • I do think Comcast has stepped up their customer service game ever since the claw hammer incident. (

    Verizon, on the other hand, seems to have gotten much worse.

  • Hate Comcast, but have found them to be the best option. Yes, thier customer service is crap, and recently I have had lots of issues with the connection fuzzing out. However, as a sports gal, I am willing to accept some b.s. to get my NFL Network and Versus in HD. Also, if you are willing to call, complain, and bitch endlessly to them, you can usually get free or promo stuff.

  • Get a man to sign a contract and he’ll have cable service for a year.

    Teach a man to splice coaxial cable and buy a $2 splitter from Radio Shack and he’ll have cable service for a lifetime.

  • ontarioroader, that’s great!

    Do Comcast and RCN still provide free analog cable signals?

  • Cable operators are now combating cable thieves like ontarioroader by sending out only an encrypted digital signal, requiring a cable company box on each TV. The encryption on these boxes makes it impossible to bypass.

  • Here is what you do.

    Call comcast. Get high speed internet. They never put a block on the signal so you then have cable for free. magic

  • Prefer RCN over Comcast. They would come to my old apt at around 8pm, which worked fabulously for both me and roommies. Great service, some weird channels, but generally good!

    If you decide to go with RCN, call. Do not do it online. They have a fee if you request cable/internet online. But if you call, that fee is waived! A friend recently called to ask something else and – on the call- decide to also ask for the installation, which led to that surprise! Pretty sweet. Also, Comcast charges way way way! more for the same install.

  • Check with your building manager to see if there is even an option. My block in Mt.P. is not set up for RCN. I am not 100% certain but I think only the more Eastern and Southern sections of the neighborhood are set up for RCN. RCN has a service finder on their site. In Mt.P. you also want to check with your neighbors on your block or in your building since all of the providers are highly variable with respect to quality of reception and connectivity to the internet before committing to a contract. You might save a few bucks only to find out that you cannot connect to the internet half of the times that you want to.

    We have Comcast and I love the internet service. I can count on one hand how many times we have experienced difficulty with our internet that was not related to a power outage. The cable TV is good too and again we rarely have service issues and when we do I call and they adjust our bill or throw in a free month of a premium channel.

  • FYI Verizon will be selling FiOS in and around Petworth early next year.

  • I’d advice RCN. Compared to Direct TV, six in one hand half a dozen in the other.

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