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OPINION JANUARY 22, 2001
Talkin' Smack: DSL v. Cable Modem

So many lesser evils, so little time

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

Some time ago I wrote about my woes with my cable modem service, about being disconnected constantly and about receiving very poor customer service. Since I was buying a new house, I figured it would be a good time to drop that service faster than their bad routers dropped me and switch over to DSL. This was a difficult choice for me to make. On the one hand, my cable service had deteriorated to the point of non-functionality owing to a technical problem localized in Irvine, Calif. On the other hand, DSL providers had been running those "Web Hog" ads on television with their Microsoft-like lies about cable. (Yes, cable is shared, but there's more than enough to go around.) I finally decided on DSL because I'm still in Irvine, and I didn't want to have to deal with the aforementioned technical problem any more.

So, just prior to moving, I called up and ordered my DSL. Or at least I tried to. Seems you can't order DSL in this burb until your regular phone service is activated, and then you have to wait a week after that. Being a Mac oberguru, I opted for self-installation, meaning that I put in the hardware on my end, and all my provider would have to do to get me up and running would be to click a few buttons on their end. This, of course, took four painful weeks, and I was forced to slum it around on the Internet with the hoi poloi at 56K.

Degrading.

My experience
At any rate, I'm good to go now, so I thought I'd do a little followup for those of you weighing your broadband options right now.

My DSL provider is Pac Bell. As a phone company, they're great. (Believe me, once you've suffered with GTE, Pac Bell is a dream come true.) As a DSL provider, they're just so so. Here's my experience.

I've already told you about the wait time. That's just a bad way to start off a relationship with a customer, but the same is true of cable service as well. As for the setup, it's quite easy. They ship you a DSL modem, an Ethernet card (which I didn't even need) and all the necessary cables. Basically, you just plug them in, and you're set up.

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