Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Broadband Wars Part I: Windstream vs. Time Warner Cable

I have had Time Warner Cable's Road Runner high-speed internet service since it debuted in Charlotte. The installer who put it in my house told me I was one of the first 10 people in Charlotte to get it.

It's always been great. I've never had a problem with it. This morning, I did a speed test and got download rate of 13.3 megabits per second. That's fast enough to download a song in four seconds or a good sized movie in about eight minutes.

But I may be leaving all that Time Warner goodness.

I've been getting these letters, like I'm sure many of you are, about a fabulous bundle offer from Windstream. The telephone company is offering DSL plus phone for $49.99 -- a price the company said will last as long as you remain in your home and don't change the service.

The $49.99 includes download speeds up to 3 megabits per second, which after using Road Runner from TWC is like crawling. With 3 megabits, you're talking 35 minutes to download that same movie I was talking about earlier, or 14 seconds to download that same song.

In real life, it just means having to wait for things to load that you're not used to waiting to load.

I signed up for 12 megabits down, which raised my monthly price to $59.99 (or $66.49 after taxes). That's about what I was paying for Road Runner. I figured it was a good deal.

Installation today went fast. I got a new modem and everything runs through the existing phone jack. You use a splitter, sending one phone cord to your phone and the other to your modem.

The only bad part was Windstream messed up my order. They signed me up for 3 megabits, so as I write this, things are, um, rather deliberate.

I couldn't live with these speeds.

Tomorrow, a technician will come back out and flip some magical switch and raise my speeds (I hope). I'll report back with what I get and let you know how it goes.

Have any of you tried DSL and gone back to cable? Or vice versa? Would love to hear your stories.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I had them both and was lucky enough to get UVerse. If you can get that, get that. You will never look back.

Chris said...

Anon 6:27... Good for you getting Uverse. I've attempted to switch from TWC to ATT twice in the last 15 months. While the Uverse website claimed I was eligible for service, both times the installer came out, they told me I'm too far from the main box (VRAD unit) to get HD service.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an AT&T employee touting Uverse. I've heard nothing but horror stories about that service. I had Windstream before with downloads of 12 Mbps and speed tests of 12-14 Mbps. I switched to Road Runner and bought the 10 Mbps service. When I do a download test now, it reports that I'm at 30 Mbps. I couldn't be happier with the service. Hope this helps.

clayj said...

Windstream's technical support is horrifyingly bad. I would not switch to them under any circumstances.

My Road Runner gives me 15+ Mbit download speed, which rocks. But the upload speed is a pathetic <512 Kbit. I would switch to U-Verse, with its 1.5 Mbit upload speed, if I could -- if anyone from Time Warner is reading this, your upload speed SUCKS.

Anonymous said...

Langston, I agree that UVerse is the way to go, only you can't get it in a lot of places. Now, I hate TWC and I hate Road Crawler. It's slow and buggy and although you seem to have had a good experience, mine has been awful, just awful.

I have ATT DSL and it's about 10 Megs down and is constant. If I ever get UVerse up here in Mint Hill, I'm all over it.

But here's my question, what's the best TV service in town? And trust me, it AIN'T TWC.

Anonymous said...

While download speed is important, for people like me using VoIP upload bandwidth is critical. TW max is ~500k.. I tried clear which after research was the fastest available in our area. Clear offers 1Meg upload which makes VoIP crystal clear. Ironically, TW feels that the charlotte area isn't worth giving a higher upload. Upon comparison a fellow co worker in the Los Angeles area has TW roadrunner and gets 3 meg upload

Anonymous said...

I switched to AT&T U-Verse from TWC. With TWC - I was paying $54.95 per month for their internet service. The speed was about 7 mbs and I was with them for about 6 years. The price keeps creeping up every year. I did not have their cable TV or phone service.
I switched when I saw that for the same price I could get 18 mbs service from U-Verse.
Not only is my download speed 2.5x faster, the upload speed is about 4x faster.
There were a few install issues that were worked out - and now I have no issues and am very happy with the service.
I was offered a special package deal for TV, phone and internet service for 1 year - and that's it.
I can renew after 1 year or walk away - there's no *2nd year* or such at a higher price.

Anonymous said...

Bad move, Windstream service SUCKS. I dropped them and came back to Time Warner. I also heard they charge you service calls now whether it your fault or not

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I like Windstream more than TWC and get better download speeds (12) and up (1.5) than TWC (7 and 0.5). Customer service at both places is bad, though

AJ said...

I have a question for all of you touting these incredible speeds of 10-15 mbs - Are these just speeds you are getting through sites like speedtest.net or are they actual download speeds?
The reason I ask is that I used to have the 3mps RR service (back when it was standard) and I noticed that when I was actually downloading anything, my download speed topped out at about 700 kbs! We actually dropped down to RR Lite (which is now regular RR) and although TWC advertises 1.5 mps speeds, what I really get is around 180 kbs! Now, I know some of you will say that its the site I'm downloading from, but its the same sites I used before when I would get 700 kbs. I've come to the conclusion that TWC is a ripoff and they advertise one thing but deliver MUCH LESS! Anyone else notice this?

Anonymous said...

@AJ - I think you are confusing kb and kB (bits vs bytes). You are likely getting 180kB on your downloads which is around 1.4mb (8 bits per byte)

Anonymous said...

I switched from DSL to RR several years ago when I took out my hard wired phone. I had been happy with DSL for years.

I was never pleased with RR. My cable went out every time we had a thunder storm and was out for hours. It took an eternity to get through to a human at TWC only to have them tell me that there was no reported outage and they would send someone to my home next business day. But the cable would come back in a few hours.

When I found out that I could get DSL without having telephone service, I dumped TWC and went back to DSL and DirecTV. The DSL isn't as fast, but it never goes out, never slows down, and if you call with a question, a human answers the phone.

Anonymous said...

Had RR since 2000. No problems. Would not change to DSL. Uverse does have a bad rep if internet reports are to be believed.

Anonymous said...

I'm moving at the end of the month and just signed up for windstream for the total package. Dish prices are half of what they are with TWC and the cost of the 12 mbps service with the phone was the same as TWC's highest speed minus the turbo charge. Not to mention I've had nothing but horrible experiences with TWC customer service so I'm willing to give anything a try. I also hate the fact that TWC wont allow access to certain sites such as espn3.com. They are a monopoly in Charlotte. They only way you can leave TWC is to move to an outlying area such as concord.

Anonymous said...

I've got RR and have had them for almost seven years, there used to be alot of outages where I used to live which was right around the corner from their Arrowood office. But they've gotten better. I'd go with U-verse if I could get it. Windstream just doesn't impress me enough now to switch. I do alot of downloading so speeds are important. And I don't trust that fixed price for life baloney. If the company starts losing money just see how long the FIXED price stays that way.

Anonymous said...

I've had Uverse (in Mint Hill) for about 6 month now and I’m very satisfied. I've only had 1 issue thus far (knock on wood, I know!). 1 month after installation the gateway firmware was upgraded and the box wouldn’t come back online. The issue was outside where a phone line was too close to a power wire and which caused some “noise” that prevented the connection from coming back. That was fixed in 5 minutes and I’ve been up and running with 0 interruptions since. The TV services has the limitation of only being able to watch/record 2 HD shows at one time which I found is because of a phone like bandwidth limitations. I can live with that as I can still watch SD channels on other TVs. A plus I’ve noticed is that the HD picture never gets choppy and the cable box has never locked up. The box boots up in about 2 minutes and I’ve only had to reboot once thus far, when the guide was blank one time. The service comes with 1 DVR and can be controlled from all other non-dvr boxes. Also, each box has an Ethernet port which is cool as I don’t have to use wireless for my playstation and wii internet connection. So far, the DSL has been great, I have 24 mbps down 5 mbps up package and get that speed all day every day which I’ve learned is because bandwidth is not shared as with coaxial internet connections. The upload speed is the fastest I’ve ever had and makes a huge difference in the overall internet experience. Not sure how competitive the pricing is but we pay right at $300 per month for the premium package (includes all movie channels and I would say 95% are available in HD) , with the 24 mbps up, and two AT&T cell phones with data and text packages. One more thing, apparently you get access to all AT&T hotspots for free as well. I’ve not used this yet but we’ll see when we go on vacation this summer.

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