Dear PoPville- Which Internet Provider do you use?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

Dear PoPville,

In many of the neighborhoods of Washington DC Internet access can be… well, challenging. Many areas do not have FIOS available, and Comcast as an ISP may be unappealing to individuals who have chosen satellite based TV. For example, I live in Park View and can only get DSL at less than 1 Mbps but costs $50 a month, and thats when it works! So in order to gain a better understanding of choices in the area, I am asking your readers a few questions to be answered in the comments:

Who is your company?
How fast is your Internet connection (use the speed test, it’s pretty quick –
How much does it cost?
What neighborhood do you live in?
Are you happy with it?

If we get enough data, we should be able to determine which ISPs are offering the District the best service at the best prices.

We last talked internet speeds back in April ’10. I used to be a huge fan of RCN but lately I’ve been having some problems so I’m eager to see who folks recommend as well. My download speed was 8.57 and upload speed was 1.99 and I pay around $80 a month. Anyone also have recs for faster upload speeds?

51 Comment

  • Comcast
    29.84 Mbps download/6.35 Mbps upload
    Truxton Circle (South of Florida, East of 1st NW)
    I’d say I’m happy, in so much as it seems to work well. I was having major trouble when I still had a Comcast router, but I got an Apple Airport Extreme about five months ago and have not unplugged it or had any internet trouble since.

    • Which plan from comcast do you have?

      • I don’t know, honestly. Though, I should have said in my original post (didn’t think about it at the time), I don’t have cable, just internet.

    • DAMN! Nice speed, nice price.

      I pay $37.99/month with Verion. 5Mbps DL / 0.7 Mbps UL

      It’s perfectly fine for me as I largely work on a terminal and do not need use large media applications online.

      But, I do remote backups, and the UL speed is woefully slow for that, so I often go off site to do large backups or upload large data files.

    • notlawd

      Do you have an actual Apple router, or just wireless? My Comcast internet constantly goes in and out all day long. We have had them come out no less than 4 times and they can never seem to get it to work more than a couple of hours. I have an airport extreme wireless box hooked up to it, but I am guessing that’s not the same thing you have?

  • I am in Park View and use Verizon High-speed bundled with DirecTV. I would not recommend it. Verizon managed to botch every single step along the way from my initial order, shipping, installation, service activation, billing. And the standard service is very slow. I actually complained to the corporate office about how they basically screwed everything up.

    For $7 additional a month, I upgraded the speed and it is a little slow, but is acceptable. I can stream Netflix, which is prob the most demanding thing I do.

    DirecTV has been a breeze, fwiw

  • I have DirecTV because I like the channel lineup better than Comcast, but I keep Comcast for internet only because I get 15MB, which is fast enough for me.

    • I hope you don’t have to move. If DirecTV can’t install their dish at your new place they charge you a $400 cancellation fee (it’s in the fine print somewhere). They’re sneaky about it and charge you the fee with no warning or explaination, then give you the runaround when you call to inquire about it.

      • Thanks for the tip, I’m looking for high-speed, but only intend to be at my current residence until October. Can anyone suggest the best option that could be moved to a new location?

  • Verizon DSL – 7mbps – it delivers 4 or 5 consistently over my wireless router throughout the house. Its pricey for the speed (55/month) but its a lot more reliable than Comcast and a lot better customer support.

    • Also, with Comcast, in multiple locations, I was never able to get more than 10mbps, even when I was paying for 20+

  • I’m in Pleasant Plains, and I recently switched to Clear. I pay about $50/month, including leasing the router, and the speeds are way better than what I was getting with Verizon DSL. I forget what the max speeds are but they were more than adequate for my needs.

    • i do the same in columbia heights. it works pretty darn well. and i can take it with me when i have to travel around for work.

      • what do you mean you can take it with you? they gave you a wifi card with your regular home service for $50/month?

  • Comcast
    25Mbps down/4.5Mbps up
    Columbia Heights (Fairmont Street)

    Pretty happy, other than some issues with the installation (but got a credit for those). Connection stays rock solid and I can max out my download speed all day and night if I wanted to.

  • Comcast
    My speeds range from 10-20Mbs on downloads and up to 5Mps for uploads. I pay $65 per month with no cable plan.
    I’m in Park View between Sherman and GA. I used to notice a speed drop during the warmer months, the cable used to go out from lack of signal. I switched to Dish Network because if this, but kept the internet plan.

    Router type can also have an impact. I saw x2 better speeds when I switched to a wireless-n router from a wireless-g.

  • I’m curious, for the folks who are using Comcast: is that $50 in addition to regular cable service? Or is that $50 / month for internet only, with no cable service?

  • Comcast refuses to do business with my address because some old tenant years ago didn’t pay their bill. So:

    Northern end of Columbia Heights (in case you couldn’t tell from my user name)
    Verizon DSL, which is terribly slow, but they said it’s their fastest (they claim 3 Mbps, but rarely delivers more like .5 Mbps).
    $39.99 – $10 discount for having DirecTV
    I pretty much hate it, it goes on and off with regularity, but the service people are useless (their regular customer service, though, are actually pretty good considering the industry). Still hoping that FiOS will reach us before they give up installing in the District.

  • I have absolutely nothing good to say about Comcast. I defended them for years when others trashed them–never again. Insert any string of expletives you can think of here. THEY SUCK. I hate them. Wrote a scathing Yelp review after our last experience in January. They flat out lied about showing up at our house. Several times. It wasn’t even Comcast techs who finally did show up (and not return)–it was subcontractors. Sub sub contractors.

    We finally went with RCN and have been very happy with their speeds and customer service. Their tech spent 4.5 hours on a Friday evening getting us squared away–after a week of fighting with Comcast about showing up, returning, fixing the problems, etc.

    • I did the same thing… Switched to RCN after defending Comcast for years. Loved RCN and Chris in LeDroit below is right, they have a lot more HD channels. Wish I could get RCN up in Philly 🙁

      • We also switched from Comcast to RCN and have been very happy. We don’t have a super-fast connection (maybe 7MB?) but it’s only $40/month. And not a single outage or any other issue in the past two years. We haven’t even had to restart the router, which we did all the time with Comcast.

        Comcast also puts a lot of pressure on to package your deal with cable & phone. They make the internet-only price pretty unreasonable to induce you to add on more services.

  • I’ve used Covad DSL, Verizon DSL, Comcast, and RCN. All have worked well with relatively little downtime. The DSL services were much slower (3Mbps down, 768Kbps up) than cable (5-15Mbit down, 1-3Mbit up). FIOS is not yet available where I live.

    Tips for saving money on internet service:

    1) Buy your own cable modem. Most any DOCSIS 3.0 compatible model will work. I have a Motorola SurfBoard and it has worked with RCN and Comcast so far, no problems. You’ll save money in the long run, and it makes it easier if any when you switch providers.

    2) If you have more than one option available, haggle with your current provider. Ask that your promotional rate be extended out another 6 months or 1 year. Once you let them know you’re moving to Competitor X, they will almost always offer a competing rate.

    3) If you live in a condo or apartment building, make a deal with your next door neighbor(s) to split the cost of service and use a wireless router to share the connection. This is a gray area for some folks, but in reality plenty of people are doing this. (For the record, I’m not.)

  • columbia heights…I have comcast because FIOS seems to be taking their sweet ass time.

    I pay 30 a month for the 25MB/PS connection but I only get ~16 regularly with a 4mbps upload.

    Comcast for all their faults are generally good at one thing…cutting your prices if asked.

    The 25mbps service is ~$50 a month but I called and asked to cut the service to a more affordable one, and they locked me in for a year at $20 a month less.

    I will definintely be getting FIOS when it arrives though

  • ah

    RCN. I get the speeds I pay for, which right now is 25/2.

    They’re customer service is less bad than most, especially in person (the Indian call center isn’t so hot). They’ve done good installs quickly, and at more or less the promised time. Reliability has been excellent.

    My only issue is the continuing price increases. They give you a price, which of course is promotional. Then they jack you when the price expires, so you have to call to ask for new promotions. That gets the price back down, but not as far as it started. This charade has continued annually and the price is now to the point where I’m looking at FIOS. Not that their customer service wins any prizes.

    • I just read that they’re moving all their phone support back to the US. For this alone I want to switch to RCN.

  • FiOS

    30 Mbps down, 25 Mbps up ( results)

    16th Street Heights.

    $140/month for internet and cable with 1 DVR, 2 HD receivers, HBO and Cinemax.

    Extremely happy. One anecdotal experience: I wanted to hide one of my receivers in a cabinet and called to ask about wired IR receiver for the remote control. Not only did they have them in stock, they sent 2 out for free.

  • I have 4G Mobile Broadband from Verizon. It sucks more than a dyson vacuum. Truly, truly sucks. Download speeds are nonexistent so you cannot watch anything online. I can barely load PoP at home. It is awful.

    I am thinking on what to switch to, and this thread is making me sad.

    • Clear, see above. Mobile, unlimited and fast enough to get rid of cable and use hulu, etc which we did last july.

  • I have RCN and get 15mbps download and 2mbps upload. Can’t complain about the service. I see that it’s $39.99/month on their site for the first two years by itself, but I don’t know how much I’m paying exactly because I have a bundle. Their cable TV is not cheap, but they have lots more HD than Comcast.

  • Capitol Hill, near 11th and Penn
    15.8 download
    4.25 upload
    Cost was 29.99 month, now is ~50. You can get a lower price as a 6 month promotional rate if you do a TV/internet combination. They let me renew that once so I got a full year at the lower rate. Generally the speed is okay. There are slowdowns most morning around 8:30. The connection is often dropped in the evenings, which requires resetting the modem. I haven’t had any major outages.

  • is comcast still throttling bittorent?

  • I have a bundle from Verizon that includes my internet, home phone service, and cable via DirecTV all due to the fact that I REFUSE to deal with Comcast… they sent a bill of mine (for $10.29) to a collection agency only to figure out they were WRONG and sent a check to me for said amount… AFTER f*cking with my credit score… I will never use them again. My internet is pretty speedy (no idea about specifics) and I pay $24.99/mo. Waiting for Bloomingdale to get up on that free WIFI for the neighborhood so I can say SO LONG to paying for service

  • Two additional questions:

    1. If you don’t have a television or a home phone, what’s the best option. That is, I’m not going to do a “bundle”, so what’s the best price option?

    2. I’ve been thinking about getting a MiFi device as well for when I travel and work. Anyone have any experience with these? Sounds like most of them suck, so I may just do a USB modem thing, though MiFi would be more convenient. I also dont want a contract…

    • notlawd

      Depends on the reception you get in your house. I have a verizon mifi that I use for emergencies at work and I can barely get a connection in the basement of my row house. Same for my AT&T cell service. It works fine in most other locations though.

  • I pay about $70/month for comcast internet and phone (no TV service). Live in Pleasant Plains, and tested at 22 and 5. The service has been rock solid for me.

    The only problem I have with comcast is that it seems like the cost changes every 6 months or year, and I have to call and complain to get back to the old price. Oh, and their cheap, local-only phone service doesn’t come with voice mail, but I really only have it for the alarm.

  • Comcast, 39/mo 12 down/2up. It’s been totally fine, but I keep meaning to switch to DC Access, I just haven’t gotten around to it. Not for any real reason, other than to support local business and I love that if there is a problem, I actually know the people who come over and fix it. (and they’re only a couple of blocks away)

  • Also… (sorry for 3 comments in a row, I just thought of this though) as far as Comcast goes, it’s a good idea to call them every 6 months ago and renegotiate your pricing with them. They’re pretty shady in that everything is a deal for 6 months or so, then pops up to some crazy price. But if you just call them and say that it’s too much, they’ll work to get it back down to something normal. I called a couple of months ago when my bill was creeping toward 170/mo for cable and internet and it’s now back down to 130ish, which is where it should be. And they added some other movie channel for free. They’ll do this for bundles and for the individual services, and it doesn’t take all that long on the phone to get it done.

    • We had an issue where we signed up for a promotional price with Comcast, and after the promotional period, they kept billing us at a reduced rate. Then after six months of that they decided to send us a bill for hundreds of dollars for the difference. Not too much we could do since the regular rate and timing was all in our contract, and we didn’t really pay more than we had agreed in the end, but still annoying. I think they might do stuff like this to discourage people from negotiating or canceling when their rate is jacked up.

  • Regardless of price and speed DO NOT go with Comcast. They are a nightmare to deal with and I just recently switched to Verizon FIOS and I am much happier with them. I don’t even care how much it costs, as long as I don’t have to deal with those bastards at Comcast.

  • We have Clear. It’s $39 per month. It started fine– faster than DSL, can take the modem with you, etc… but about 4 months into the service the download speed dropped to dialup rates. It has been ridiculous. I’ve spent hours on the phone with Clear– they are always nice, but obviously have no idea what is going on, and meanwhile we haven’t been able to watch videos, download music, etc. for months on end. The only reason we haven’t switched is because Verizon doesn’t service this area and it will be a cold, cold day in hell before I call Comcast.

  • I used to have DCAccess when i lived on Cap Hill. I loved them. Great service, a small, local company owned by neighbors, and on the rare occasion when there was a problem, they were on it and got it fixed quickly. I really miss DCAccess. I’ve been in Shaw the last few years with Verizon DSL. It sucks, constantly in and out and pretty slow. Please, DCAccess, come to Shaw!!

  • I’m getting totally ripped off by Comcast. After the promotion it jumped up to $180 for cable & internet and when I called to try and negotiate it back down, they said the only way to do so was to sign up for a new bundle including phone. (which I don’t need) So basically I’d be paying the same amount but with an extra service that I wouldn’t even use. Wish we had FIOS in CH!!! Are there ANY other options for cable in a condo where you can’t have a dish?

    Apparently if you sound ghetto Comcast will hook you up… I will try that next.

  • DC Access
    2mps down/ 1mps up
    11th and Penn SE

    $50 a month for their “performance” plan. It is a great service and when I was having problems they came right out. I stream live baseball games on a regular basis and it handles it (at a lower resolution).

  • I pay $105 a month for Comcast 105mbit. that’s around 10Megabyte a second for downloads and around 2-3Megabye up. I love it.

    Most people won’t ever need that kind of speed but is what I have.

  • If you want to find out how fast your Internet is, I strongly recommend using M-Lab:

    The data sets are open, unlike the other speed tests.

    Also, if folks in DC are interested in organizing community wireless networks to share Internet connections and build applications for the neighborhood, I encourage you to fill out this survey:

    Also, check out the Broadband Bridge: They are organizing a community mesh wireless network in Bloomingdale and starting to elsewhere.

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