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Dear PoP – NW DC tv/internet question

by Prince Of Petworth November 9, 2010 at 1:30 pm 33 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Rukasu1

“Dear PoP,

I recall an older post on your page about upcoming Verizon FIOS service, yet it is still not available in our area (Columbia Heights). I would be interested to see what services (comcast, RCN, Directv) NW DC residents use in its absence, and what their experiences have been. I just moved into a new condo on 13th and would like to hear what
people think about their respective tv/internet services.”

We talked about FIOS coming to Columbia Heights here. We also discussed some internet speeds here. But we haven’t really discussed TV services. So for those that use an internet/tv combo package – which is the best?

  • Emil

    I pay about 56 dollars a month with tax for Cable TV, Internet, HBO, Stars, Showtime, 1 box and 1 extra box/DVR. This is through Comcast and ive had it for about 1.5 years

    • Leroy

      How’d you swing that?

    • Anonymous

      Seriously. How did you swing that? I have basic digital cable and wireless internet and mine is $77/month–and that’s the intro package. It’s supposed to go up by another $25 or so after the first 6 months, at which point I might ditch the cable tv.

    • joker

      I think you left a “1” off that goes before the 5.

      I am sorry, but you are completely full of crap. Unless you know some friend or relative at Comcast who “set you up” there is no way that you are a regular customer paying $56 a month (inc/tax) for all that.

      Fios has a website they update every month with their construction locations. I have a friend that moved to columbia heights 3 months ago and has been watching this list religiously. They seem to be just north of cohi right now, they were apparently just east a couple months ago, so it looks like they are closing in.


  • Rod

    Comcast is terrible. Avoid if at all possible.

    RCN is great all around, but there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to their availability or lack thereof, which varies block to block.

    Verizon FiOS is also good, but God only knows when it will be widely available in the District.

    • super_b

      FWIW, when my RCN guy showed up, I swear he was drunk. Service is good though.

    • the verbotten one

      One of my best days–when I dropped my cable box off at the Comcast office and cancelled my service.

      Comcast is the worst. RCN is not any better.

      I watch HDTV off the air and I stream stuff from Hulu and itunes. Even when I buy shows I still pay so much less than when I had cable.

  • Harvard St Hates Comcast

    Comcast is the WORST.

    There are 6 people in our group house in Columbia Heights and we each pay $45 minimum without the extra packages (some roommates bought sports packages that they split with each other). It used to be $35 but recently they raised their prices for us and took away channels at the same time. :(

    • p’worth

      We have Comcast and pay $135/month for internet + digital cable + HBO/Showtime + 2 DVRs.

      You’re getting robbed. Ours had bumped up to $230 or so, and I called one day and said we were planning to switch, could they match it? I just sat on the phone with the guy saying “no lower… no lower…” until he got it down to $130/month. We were at the time willing to ditch our extra stuff and go to basic, but they let us keep it.

      Then for months every month the price would jump b/c some “package” would run out, and I’d call back during my lunch and complain and they’d fix it and I’d pay the $130.

      It’s been on track for a long while now though.

  • PTB

    I concur that Comcast is awful – I dumped them about 4 years ago after two years of bad customer service. I have RCN now and can’t complain. I’ve had a few issues but they were fixed..eventually. After a year with them I called to ‘inquire about cancelling my service’. 20 minutes later I had $30/month taken off my bill, plus upgrade to my internet speed and free Showtime. That said, I think this is all luck of the draw – depends which Customer Service Rep you end up with.

  • jcm

    Televsions has gotten very expensive. I got rid of my cable and use rabbit ears (a little) and netflix/hulu ( more often). It’s saving me about $100 a month. If you can live without live sports it’s very do-able to just use internet.

    • cookietime420

      Me too. I have a digital antenna that works decently. I think it would work better if I extended it up to the roof. I have a Dell Zino computer through which I get all sorts of content though, as jcm says, live sports is the missing link.

  • DT

    I have had very little problem with Comcast, and have been with them for 5.5 years. I install my own interior outlets and maintain my own system, however, so I have no need for the flunkies that they send over to install service or ‘troubleshoot.’

  • Joe

    Landlord has DirecTV which I share with him, service is good, channel selection is ok (just wish we got BBC in HD). For internet I use Comcast, and other than some hiccups with the install (they had to run a line from the pole in the alley, so they needed to roll a cherry picker but sent a regular van with a step ladder…twice) service has been rock solid and speeds are fantastic, I pay ~$70/mo (non-contract price, didn’t want to sign up for 2 years for $10 off/mo) for 20Mbps/5Mbps and get every bit of that day and night. It’s gone down once that I’ve noticed for about 30 minutes in the 6 months I’ve had service, other than that it has been rock solid.

  • Said

    BEFORE YOU GO WITH VERIZON: I had RCN bundled services for quite some time and I thought they were bad… until Verizon educated me on just how bad service could be. I’d avoid them whenever possible so I’d think long and hard before becoming a FiOS customer. While FiOS is not currently available in my area, other Verizon services are such as DSL, Direct TV, etc. Once you become their customer, you work for them. They have absolutely no interest in providing you with decent or prompt service once you sign their contract. Everything is up to you to resolve and their overseas tech support is not at all prepared for the calls that come in (and due to spotty connectivity, you will be calling them frequently!).

  • Ghost of Your Free Time

    My coworker who lives in Va. said he got Fios, he’s a broadcast engineer and he says the quality is good, but they jacked up the price a LOT after the intro offer expired. He’s paying over $125 month but I don’t know if that includes phone or internet, I could ask.

    • Alexandria Res

      I’m in VA and pay about $100/month for internet and TV through Verizon Fios. I guess this is a good price– I have a million channels including a lot of HD ones. But lately (like in the past 4-6 months) I’ve been getting a lot of blackouts with certain channels and slow periods with the internet. I don’t really understand what the big deal is with Fios– the service seems comparable to anything else.

  • Ragged Dog

    I sent the DirecTV guys home twice for trying to up sell me. They say “no installation cost” but then they say your roof isn’t adequate and you need a $75 antenna holder which turns out to be a cinder block and some wood. The price for said cinder block and wood changes every time.

    They outsource their installation to local crews, so you never know what you’re going to get.

  • Laura

    I have RCN digital cable + 10mbps internet + DVR for $77/month (including taxes). Service is good, though I’ve had some OnDemand issues recently. They usually randomly give me free HBO & showtime as well.

  • molly

    I have RCN and like it, and think it’s cheaper than comcast. Don’t have any special channels, but still have about 700 regular – only thing I know I’m missing besides HBO and those is Comedy Central in HD, and while I love my Jon Stewart, I’m happy to watch him in regular def. Also get internet at 10 mbps? And after my 12 month deal expired, I’m paying about $110 a month after taxes (including modem, HD, and HD-DVR box – I bought my own wireless router). I think I might call them and can probably get it lowered back down, though, esp if I threaten to switch to Comcast or Fios. Has anyone else had luck with that besides the above commenter?

    • molly

      Also, the guy who came to install my cable was awesome – he had some major issues (not his fault) but was able to stay to fix everything, and in a 5-8 installation window, he showed up at 5:05 and I found him delightful. I’ve spent 12 months trying to get my “password” that I supposedly set up to access my account online, but other than that, no issues that I’ve needed tech support for. I prefer not HAVING issues to having great customer service. When I called their billing support a few times to change credit card numbers, I didn’t have to wait long on the phone.

      • Neighbor

        I also have RCN and they recently (last few months) added Comedy Central in HD. You may have it now, and if not, try re-scanning for channels.

    • Laura

      RCN definitely has comedy central in HD. I was just admiring how good Jon Stewart looked in HD last week.

      • molly

        what channel is it? maybe it’s mysteriously missing from my package and i need to request it – they didn’t start offering it in HD until after i’d signed my contract.

        • Laura

          i can’t remember exactly–somewhere in the 630s i think

  • Pete

    Thanks for posting this POP. Anybody have good experiences with Directv? I’d love to wait for Fios, but there is no telling when that will be available, so at this point I am leaning RCN. I am a big football fan, so good quality HD is important – less so on HBO, etc. RCN seems to be priced reasonably compared to comcast.

    • Jessica

      I had direcTV in college and loved it – I thought their customer service was great. I used Verizon for DSL (this was a while ago).
      I think DirecTV has changed, though. I’ve called and it’s all about deals and what I liked about them before was that it was straight forward. Maybe it depends on who you talk to, but I backed out of them coming to install because it would have been a pain to have net/TV on different bills, making it essentially the same price or more expensive.
      But I did really like them in college and my parents have been with them for years.

    • C

      I had a bad (and costly) experience with DirectTV. I was moving to CH before my contract was up, and they were unable to install the dish in my new home. As a result they charged me a ridiculous cancellation fee (somewhere in the $300-400 range from what I recall). I thought that was unfair because I wasn’t cancelling intentionally.

      The worst part is that I was getting conflicting responses every time I called to see if I could get the fee reduced or waived, so I ended up wasting hours on the phone only to find out there was nothing they could do.

      On top of that they charged me for an extra month after the service was cancelled. I can’t remember if I got that charge removed, but if I did it involved another several hours of phone calls with nasty representatives.

      So I’d recommend not going with Direct TV, unless you are absolutely sure you won’t be moving mid-contract and don’t mind horrible customer service.

  • photodork

    I had a combination of dish network and verizon DSL at my condo. (I can’t stand comcast and have heard many horror stories about them)

    I have fios now (N of CoHi) and it ROCKS.

  • Coraline

    Believe me, not having cable is good for your soul and your pocketbook. Internet and LAMONT VIDEO!!!! A local small business, good prices, they get the new releases in sooner than netflix, and they have a great selection of tv shows, movies, and (ahem) adult fare, if you like that sort of thing. They are also clean, safe, and family friendly.

    No I don’t work there, just like em a lot. Turn off FOXnews and go get a movie!

    • Anonymous

      I used to be cableless when I was able to pick up some free wi-fi. Now I have cable– simply because it’s not that much more expensive if you’re paying for internet anyway.

  • I’ve got Verizon DSL and DirecTV, and, really, I can’t say much bad about them. Internet is a little slower than I’d like, so definitely looking forward to FiOS. Their customer service has been splendid, at least for me.

    Comcast, on the other hand, is the worst company I’ve ever encountered, and I will never, ever, give them a cent of my money ever again.

  • Becs

    I can’t speak for television because we don’t have one (it’s not a snob issue, our apartment is just that small), but we pay over $60/month for RCN’s 10MB service and for the last month it’s been pretty bad. Getting .05MB/sec on a regular basis. RCN admits that there’s something slowing down the connection in the area, but they have no been able to locate whatever it is. Also, it was hard just to get them to give me a credit for our expensive and painfully slow internet for the month, despite the fact that we’ve told them about it repeatedly.

    BTW, at 16th & Irving. Anybody else around here having the same issue?


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