CenturyLink 40mbps vs Comcast 50mbps in Ballard

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    I’m currently living in Magnolia with Comcast as my only option. I’m moving to the Loyal Heights area up near 24th and 83rd in a few weeks, and my research shows that CenturyLink is also an option for fast internet. Most of my searching shows complaints with CenturyLink’s slower access speeds like 1.5 or 3mpbs, or the review is a few years old. What I’m hoping to find is a current review of their faster internet speeds (40mbps), particularly how reliable it is and whether it matches the promise speeds with consistency.

    Comcast at 50mbps is an option as well, but the number of problems I’ve personally faced with their service and their ability (or desire) to deal with those problems is so low that I’d gladly give someone else a shot. However, since I work from home I’d really like to get this choice right the first time, and not deal with switching ISPs after the fact.

    Thanks for any help or advice that can be provided!


    Jimmy Rustler

    Centurylink will be rolling out fiber internet in the area in the next few months. I’m not sure if you would be better off waiting for that or signing up now and upgrading when it is available.

    Comcast is okay sometimes. My biggest problem is they throttle speeds on traffic they deem not worth their bandwidth. I’m an online gamer and for me Comcast is a really bad choice.



    Hey, thanks for the reply!
    Knowing that Centurylink might add a gigabit option in the future makes me want to go with them. Even if it’s not offered at my address it’ll likely mean that bandwidth to the area has been dramatically increase.

    I also found this article at your prompting.
    Looks like CenturyLink has indeed said they are bringing it to Ballard in the near future, but haven’t given an exact date or map of what areas. The article does give a link to where people can check their address or get notified when it becomes available at their address.



    It seems as though speed can vary a lot on even a sub-block basis, because pre-existing wiring ranges from many-decades-old to very modern. My impression is that both Comcast and CL are willing to make more of an effort to have decent wiring to a block of recent multi-family residences vs. a block of hundred-year-old single-family homes. With about a decade of experience in the former, I’ve not had significant service issues with either CL DSL (originally) or Comcast cable internet (more recently), but you’re moving into a different area.

    I bet both Comcast and CL will offer you introductory specials — why not get both and a nice fancy router that can handle two incoming broadband connections, and see which one works better at your location?



    It also depends when you’ll be using all that bandwidth. First I gotta ask: what are you doing that you need 40+Mbps? Even when I had an online gamer in the house, 5down/7up was just fine.

    Comcast tells you what lightening fast speeds you’ll get…. unless you’re using it when all your neighbors are using it too (correct me if this is outdated info, Mondoman). With Century Link, it might work that way, or it might not. It just depends on what equipment is at the CO.

    I don’t live as far north as you will be, so I’m guessing that’s a CO (anyone know?), but I’m near 24th and my CL speeds are very consistent (5/7) and pretty reliable. I specify “pretty” because there have been a few days (out of 2 years) where the modem seemed to time out if left too many hours. I use the net constantly when home, so for me having to reconnect is significant, even if it’s just power cycling the modem.

    I’ve detailed elsewhere how I won’t believe anything a CL rep tells me, BUT I’ve had to talk to tech support a couple times and it was like a dream come true. They didn’t treat me like an idiot when I demonstrated verbally that I’d tested my system (there was a really weird issue when I first moved in) and later when I forgot my password, there were no scripts to step through, they gave me the info and trusted I could use it. Oh, and THEY know what they are talking about which is also awesome.



    Tyler – Welcome to Ballard.. :)
    This is a topic that I am very interested in.
    We have Comcast and pay for their “Boost” upgrade. Here is a Speedtest.net test that I just ran:
    As you can see it is quite fast. However as Jimmy Rustler pointed out, Comcast will throttle your speed if you do certain things on line. I currently have a problem attempting to do an online upgrade to a desktop system that is running Ubuntu 12.04 trying to upgrade to 14.04.1. Every time I attempt the upgrade our internet speed drops to around 2-4 mbps. Tech support will still not admit that it is something on their end!
    If and when Century Link installs gigabyte service on my street then I might switch to them, for now Comcast is the only way to go for fast internet connection in my part of Ballard.

    Phoo – once you have experienced 50 mbps download you will not want to go back to 2-4 mbps! And when you have multiple Smart TVs and multiple computers and smartphones and tablets all connected and downloading you will need 50 mbps or more. And these days Comcast has upgraded a lot of equipment and cables so that the number of folks on line at the same time does not affect your speed. But I can tell you from current experience that having an old, bad cable running to the house from the street can seriously slow down everything.



    I remember back in the last century in college a group was trying to set up a datalink between two labs in buildings across the street from each other, but since the subway ran under that street, they couldn’t get access to a wiring conduit that crossed the street. They finally ended up using a pair of IR lasers pointed at each other through upper-floor windows to make the link!

    I get about half the Speedtest speeds of VB (26 up/5 down) with my Earthlink internet (contracted to Comcast), but sometimes the latency gets pretty bad. I’m not sure where the latency issue happens — it might even be at the server end. For example, I’ve gotten instant responses from the Seattle Times and Google websites, only to have MyBallard sit there almost unresponsive. Of course, that could be a high-access-local-caching issue instead.



    VB, I have 7 down. It’s true I don’t do a ton of downloading anymore and have less computers. I usually only have 3-4 connected these days (and one of them is a shell box so it only IRCs). I guess this is why I don’t think of myself as a true techie anymore. However, one quarter I did suck down a bunch of ISOs. I guess I’m used to waiting a reasonable time for things. I could be mistaken, but I think I did let it run overnight when I was downloading 6 ISOs at once. I’ve been on the internet since 93 so as long as I don’t experience lag or buffering with my streaming and other things, I’m happy. I remember when I first got DSL in 2000 I couldn’t play solitaire anymore waiting for a webpage to load!

    Mondo: Wow, IR! Takes me back to an HP6315 which was my first smart phone. The speed must have been abysmal.



    phoo – I still remember the first connection I had to the world, using a 300 baud modem connected to a TI-99/4A with an expansion box and 360 dual 5.25 disk drives! CGA monitor. Then I upgraded to an XT clone and EGA monitor and 1200 baud modem. Wow, were those systems slow. Just to format a 360k disk took forever. Downloading an ASCI image took ages. In the early 90s I had multiple phone lines and ran a BBS called “Metroids BBS” with eventually some 486 systems and 56k modems. Then US West started selling broadband service in Ballard and it all changed.
    And talk about cell phones! My first one was a “slim” Motorola brick, then I finally got a Motorola flip phone and though I was cool! I think those things cost me around $200 plus a monthly contract of about $80+! Now I have a free Galaxy S4 and $70 a month unlimited voice and text.
    Times have changed for the better. When I think of how much money I have spent over the years on techie stuff it is amazing. I remember paying $3000+ for a 386 “super” system once upon a time.



    VB, I grew up on Commodores, starting with the Vic 20. It took 20-30 minutes to load up pacman with the tape deck (yes, audio cassette!) in the morning. I didn’t move to IBM clones until I bought a 486 subnotebook.

    I too was on BBSes. When I got onto the internet in 93 it’s because a friend/sysop sold the old BBS (which I stayed on) and started dinking around with Linux. He was so apologetic for charging me a whole $5/mo to access all 5 lines for 5 hours each day. Free users got 1 line for 1 hour per day. Dialup. Heh, I remember getting an email from him saying “so, I was wondering why the system comes to its knees whenever you log on… do you think you could delete that one MEG of mail, or at least move it out of the inbox?” And people think one gig is small now. I think his box was a 386, though it could have been a 286. When he owned the BBS, occasionally almost everyone got dropped – he explained it was because his cat bumped the lines that were hanging out the window.

    I jumped into cellphone late when I got something from Virgin. LCD screens were the norm then, though I think some phones still did not have them.



    Phoo said: “Wow, IR! … The speed must have been abysmal.”
    It was faster than a serial cable, but tended to fail when it rained outside!

    Glad you’re getting a good speed on your DSL.



    Don’t let me interrupt the technology nostalgia moment you two have going on ;-)
    I started with an Apple 512k and its 12 inches of B&W glory. I did however use a 56K modem up until 2004 when I moved out of rural america :)

    What am I doing that I need that bandwidth? I work remote as a software engineer. I rarely use a lot of bandwidth, but when I do it’s pulling down multi gig repositories. And while 40mbps does exceed my VPN connection, I like being able to say that my company is the bottleneck, not my choice of home connection. If a connection drops to 2mbps I would certainly feel that at work. We also stream a fail bit of Netflix/HD iTunes content, and we do it during peak hours.

    What matters slightly more to me is a connection that rarely if ever dies, and doesn’t treat my traffic differently. I have a sneaking suspicion that Comcast is killing my VPN connection, but I’m having a hard time proving it to myself, and an even harder time trying to get Comcast support to look into it (let alone understand the problem).

    I think we’ll go with CL for internet. Hard to beat that introductory price of $20 for 40mbps! If the wiring in our new place is too old to handle consistent speed, we’ll end up switching.

    I’ll try and remember to report back in a few weeks with how it goes.



    Ah, gotcha Tyler! I stream netflix myself (and from an old wii with wifi! 802.11b, I think), but yup, I can definitely see that. I was just worried that a regular end user would fall for the CL hype that they need 40mbps for online gaming.

    CL doesn’t treat my traffic differently. I don’t run any services so I couldn’t speak from that end, but the only thing I’ve found annoying is getting ads in the mail from CL who have decided I am a “heavy user” and they should inundate me with spam to get me to pay for more bandwidth. I did connect to a VPN a couple times here, but didn’t keep it open long enough to give you a report on reliability. Except for the few days I mentioned, CL has been absolutely reliable. I’ve been in this place for 2 years and had VDSL for a year before that. I got it just before Qwest went kaput and it was a real “joy” to speak to those in tech support who couldn’t find jobs elsewhere and so were going down with the ship. I had to explain what an IP was.

    Mondoman: heh, I remember when serial cable was the only way to network two laptops. I best get out of here before we nostalgia everybody out. ;)



    Well, I will go for centurylink as they are offering reliable services one of my relatives gives very positive reviews about their services.



    Customer Service is important to me. Comcast has none.
    I am with Century Link, I stream just fine , no problems.

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