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

[Page 2 of 3]

Then you install the software. For some reason, my DSL requires a stand-alone application for connections. My cable modem simply worked through TCP/IP and a DHCP server. (It had originally been a static IP setup, which is why I got it in the first place, but that all changed without so much as a word.) This new method is annoying because it adds to the system overhead above and beyond TCP/IP. I've set it up so that it launches automatically and connects me automatically when I boot up my G4, but I still have that annoying little app to worry about.

I've been using the DSL for a little more than a week now. From what I can tell, it's a little slower than my former cable service when it comes to downloading binary data. It seems to be a little faster at loading Web pages though, which is a bit confusing since I haven't altered my system at all between services.

I've had very few problems with the new service. As far as getting the software actually running, my main problem was that they sent me the wrong manual. When you set up your service, you are required to complete a registration on a certain secure server, and, until you do, you can't access any other sites at all. So I spent a while trying to figure out why I couldn't connect to this secure server. Turns out I had been sent instructions that a person using Southwestern Bell would use. Me, I had to contact Pac Bell and find out which server I was actually supposed to use.

Here, again, is the failing of all broadband providers: customer service. I called four times to the number provided in my instructions. Each time I was kept on hold for 45 minutes with nothing but silence, and then I would be disconnected before I ever reached a tech support person. Finally, I called a different number (one that I wasn't supposed to use). It took another hour or so to resolve the problem. That's four hours of waiting just to get a URL. That's ridiculous.

The other problem was that on my first day I was disconnected seven times, owing to "idleness" on my part. (By "idleness," they must be referring to the nanoseconds during which my computer would pause to wait for a response from my remote FTP server. Must be, since I was getting disconnected during file uploads.) On my second day, I was disconnected four times. Same deal.

In each case, I would have to reset my DSL modem by turning it off and then on, and even then it would sometimes take 10 minutes or so before I could connect.

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