2009
02.12

If you’re in Golden you know that internet options are rather limited. There’s SkyBeam (more on them in another post) who might cover you with their wireless system, but that assumes line-of-sight and reviews are mixed. Otherwise you’re left with Comcast (cable) and Qwest (DSL). The prices, if you just want internet? Rather atrocious:

Qwest (multiply download speeds by 85% to get the actual amount; uploads are around 700 kbit/s…below are advertised speeds)
$39.99 – 1.5 Mbit/s down, 896k up
$46.99 – 5-7 Mbit/s down, 896k up (at my place I can only get 5 Mbps)

Comcast (with PowerBoost, see here for how that works)
$54.95 – 6 Mbit/s down, 1 Mbit/s up
$64.95 – 8 Mbit/s down, 2 Mbit/s up

Nothing below $40 per month as far as anyone can tell…

…until you call in to Comcast and ask for their Economy tier. Which is $34.95 with no other services, and delivers a megabit per second down, and 384 kilobits per second up. No PowerBoost Worse performance speed-wise than Qwest’s 1.5 Mbit tier, but also cheaper. But not much cheaper…

That’s where Comcast’s DTV transition deal comes in. I believe new customers can also get the service, but I confirmed with a Comcast rep that you can downgrade all the way to Economy internet, then add on basic cable…and not only get basic cable for free, but also get a $10 discount on your internet bill. So effectively your internet connection is now $24.95, with basic cable thrown in.

I didn’t ask about the discount on internet from adding basic cable to the higher end packages, but the rep did say that cable itself would be $10 off, for a rooughly $7 monthly cost. It may actually be the case that you can save a few dollars on your internet bill by adding basic cable.

There are caveats to this ultralow pricing on cable and internet:

  1. The discount on basic cable only lasts a year, so once that discount is up, your regular rate will be $17 or so per month for cable. You’ll still get your internet discount, but unless you really want the cable it won’t be worh your while.
  2. 1024k down, 384k up with no PowerBoost is slow internet.
  3. There is a setup fee for adding basic cable to an internet-only setup. $20.99 was the first price I was quoted, but the rep quickly went down to $14.99. Not a big deal really.
  4. Comcast’s throttling system (see this post) looks at what percentage of bandwidth you’re using over the course of 15 minutes. Which gets rather dicey with such a low-speed connection. So if your cable node is congested, the threshold for throttling is 716.8 kbps on downloads, 268.8 kbps on uploads. Byte-wise, you’re looking at 115.2 MB straight on downloads, 43.2 MB on uploads. At that size, a routine software update, or a bunch of photos, may well kill your connection if your node is congested.

So there are pros and cons to downgrading. The big pro though is price; in these troubled times $30 or $40 per month is a pretty big deal.

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