General Networking/Lan/Wan/internet providers?


Hi jeff,
 i'm about to move into a new home and was attempting to find a new internet service provider but i'm so confused! in my area there's cable, fios, and dsl. i don't plan on having a large network, just one computer and streaming tv. i've read that i need about 1-3 mbps download speed.
 in this case the low tier internet packages would work for any of the isp's, but here's my problem: the best priced dsl package i can find gives 1.1-3 mbps, but i know with dsl, you don't always get as advertised. i assume i might be able to get at least a download speed about half of that 1.1 - 3 mbps estimate (maybe 2mbps), but will that be enough for streaming programs to my tv without buffering and working on pc?
 the lowest tier cable package (time warner) also offers up to 3 mbps download speed for a lower price than dsl but i've read about how cable bandwidth can be impacted if your neighbors all go online at the same time. is this really a huge problem that i should worry about?
 now for fios i hear its the best i can buy, but do they really rip out the copper? does that mean i wouldnt be able to get back on dsl if i cancel fios?  and if get fios phone, would that mean i won't be able to get back on a landline as well (since its copper)? (i include phone because fios internet by itself is a huge ripoff price wise.) i'm not sure if cable runs on copper too, would i'd be able to cancel fios and switch to cable in the future?
 also finally, all the packages i'm seeing offer 3mbps top download speeds. question is, which one will get me close to that top estimate? fios vs cable vs dsl? also, unlike most of america, i actually prefer keeping my landline, so fios is really a dark horse candidate for me.
 thank you! happy new year!

Hi James

Happy New Year!  I am actually very disappointed that the world didn't end on Dec 21st - according to schedule.  I was all prepared for it too ... what a super letdown .... sigh!   :-)

Well I'm not sure where you live ... and that might help.  I am kinda GUESSING upstate NY but ... I have really no idea  :-)

But in any case, here are my initial thoughts:
- DSL is generally a weak offering, and usually should be avoided unless there isn't anything better
- FIOS is usually a good option, in terms of cost for performance - IF you can get it.  I can't where I am - it's on the other side of the street (I'm sad).

Oh ... and Can Often get more speed (well it's not REALLY speed - it's bandwidth), if you call up tech support and they can give you 6 or 12 months of a faster speed for the same money.  Then when that runs out, ring them back and do the same thing again.  Tech support often has access to help you more than customer service (they just have their "scripts" that they follow and most of them don't have a clue).  Don't be afraid to call up your top 2-3 choices and play "let's make a deal".  If the initial rep doesn't have authority (likely) then ask for someone who does.

Cable is often a good option.  In my area we've got Comcast, which is fine once it actually gets installed.  But the install process isn't  much fun.  Maybe it's different for your area?  I use it strictly for Internet and have Dish for TV.  But in my area, Comcast isn't great IMO for those bundled offerings.  Yes, cable is a 'shared service but that often isn't much of an issue.  If you are concerned whether you would really get your 3 Mbps, try doing a SPEED TEST from one of your neighbors (my favorite site for this is:  With rare exceptions, I'm usually getting 5-6 Mbps, up to 20 Mbps, depending on time of day.

RE: Verizon FIOS.  Your question got me curious - the bit about "ripping copper out".  My 1st impression when I read your question was a combination of disbelief and indignation - like "WHAT?!  They can't touch that stuff - it's not owned by them!" (well ... some of that old copper MIGHT be owned by them - it depends on YOUR area).  If it is NOT owned by them then there is no way they can touch it - that would be clearly illegal).  But ... hmmm ... what if they ARE the local company ...).  So, I did some Google searches and found stuff like:

YIKES!  Holy Mackerel!  Clearly, there is no way that all of this is just a bunch of made-up bs!

BUT .... would I still order FIOS?  Yes if I could - BUT - I would make sure the language that I'm agreeing to (which might be just some check box) isn't committing that they can do  whatever they want with legacy wiring and gear, when they install the new stuff.  I would probably make sure that the order you place with them contains VERY specific language that Verizon is expressly NOT permitted to touch, impact, disconnect, uninstall etc copper services or wires from any other provider.  If the website doesn't offer the ability to do it, then order only via phone, force the agent to places notes in the order and email you a copy of them - to cover your backside.  And then watch over the install tech like a hawk so that he ONLY installs the new fiber!

Feel free to follow-up if you like.  I hope this helps!


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Jeff K


I'm a Network and Application Performance Specialist, and have worked for some of the best software companies in the world.


I have over 20 years in Information Technology & Networking.

Lots of hard work, study and real-world experience. I've had some formal training along the way but most of my knowledge is from working in the field, not the classroom.

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