Saturday, October 6, 2012

Best Internet Service, Modem, and Router

(Note 10-9-2012: The Motorola 6580 has serious connection problems requiring firmware which must be updated via ISPs if manufactured before July of this year.   Just avoid it.   You cannot do the upgrade---it must be done by the ISP.)

This is a major question I get over and over again: Which internet service and supporting equipment?    I get HELP calls, too.

The choice of the best internet service and best equipment for it here at WV can be a challenge.  You would like the best service and equipment. 

You would like to be able to stream to TV and computer, up to 1080p, and avail yourself of more and more cloud content, both video and online activity.   Dropouts become a no-no.

At our old community, in Lumberton, NJ there is only one excellent choice: Verizon fiber optics, simple.  I had to fight for it there but I got it. there

Here the best choice is probably the community’s SeniorTV internet service, but let us look at the pros and cons, that is, unless you want TV sports under combined Comcast TV and internet service.

(Note that WV has free service in the public areas, enough for eReaders and eMail, etc.    The throughput is about .5bps as compared for 3.0 mbps to as high as peak (but not steady) 30.0+ mbps in your residence or apartment.)   

Where you live, it boils down to how much of a gambler you are and which kind of trouble would be the least frustrating.   You may be lucky---or not.   

Here are the choices.

Here at WV, DSL (phone-based) Windstream service worked well with excellent support and consistent speed, and low price.    The only ongoing problem was slowdowns corrected by calling them for a reset.   BUT this service was a bit slow for our modern media (HDTV across internet) accessibility: 2-3 mbps, and that is the technical limit.  Thanks anyway, Windstream----you did your best.  Your modem router was just plain excellent., and you supported it well.

The other choices, due to the nature of the beast, are a whole lot more variable but also usually a whole lot faster, and that counts..

Here we have Comcast and Senior TV, but before discussing them,  a quick word about a wonderful service called Clear that could have been super but bombed out for me.   This 4G service was cell tower based 5 bops service which worked superbly for a year until it got throttled---or sharply limited.  You can start and stop service, though, with it.  I gave up on it.

SeniorTV service offered by the community was cheapest.   The main alternative was Comcast, more expensive and at least initially requiring Comcast TV as opposed to cheap Senior TV  service.

Comcast service in the past has tended to be the fastest with somewhere between awful and excellent support and wide variation in speed, sometimes very high indeed.   Sometimes slow..  If you like variability, go for it.

SeniorTV internet service is the alternative.    It lacks needed support. .  

For example, the information sheet provided here at WV is wrong in claiming that “once the modem verifies there is an active internet connection, the installation is complete”.  Not so.    My “faulty” but WV recommended modem, the SBG 6580, showed all connections working, but did not connect.  Another one worked for a time for another resident, then failed.

The information sheet advises the user to contact SeniorTV direct for connection issues; however, SeniorTV here advised me that they do not deal with users, only local management.

That left me with nowhere to go when WV failed to install a needed filter, then failed again to use the correct “Mac” number I provided, after recommending the above modem/router above which also failed for another resident.

The major ISPs provide and “match” modems to their particular service protocols.  Only they can perform the recurring firmware upgrades.

The Motorola SB6121 requires a separate router but has a higher level certification and better acceptance, though I cannot recommend any particular modem.    Really, the modem needs to be matched to the service.

I bought the D-Link Systems DIR-605L Wireless-N300 Cloud Router at under $40.  Contrary to the recommended  SBG6580, it works perfectly.

SeniorTV internet comes without much support, but then Comcast support is highly variable.   With SeniorTV YOU get the equipment and it is up to YOU to support it.  Not good.   One problem is that support is divided between WV and SeniorTV, each of whom first pointed me to the other to solve problems.  Ultimately WV came through with support.

Read WV’s internet information sheet before proceeding.   Then take it with a grain of salt:   SeniorTV’s call center may entirely disclaim any support responsibility.  The recommended combined Motorola SBG-6580 is not the most liked.     The quoted prices and sources were not the lowest for the same hardware.    Better antivirus than recommended is Microsoft's own free and superlative MSE AV software, but honestly, more and more of you will over time be using Windows less and less and be exposed less and less to trouble.  Windows was never designed for networks and security, as were most cellphones, tablets to date, and Apple equipment. 

Hopefully, internet service and support will improve at WV, such as with Verizon 4G service, which is still slow here but fast (5 mbps) in the Philadelphia area.

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