Category: Technology

CenturyLink Gigabit internet

I’ve been a Comcast internet customer for over 20 years and have been happy with them, even their customer service that I’ve used many times – most people seem to complain about Comcast but I’ve always had good service.

But on December 30 they sent me email telling me I’m over the 1TB data limit and will be charged an extra $10 for every 50GB that I use. I didn’t even know I had a limit! With all the streaming movies over the holidays, we must’ve used lots of data. We’re paying $105/month for internet which is pretty expensive, I don’t think we should be charged for a small (<5%) overage when we’ve never hit that limit before. Their mistake was alerting me to how greedy they are.

So I looked into CenturyLink‘s Gigabit Fiber Optic service that I’d heard good things about. They offer $65/mo for 1000Mbps compared to Comcast’s $250/mo for 250Mbps. Moreover, CenturyLink has no bandwidth limits while Comcast has limits on all their plans. So I signed up for a CenturyLink install on January 7. They charged me $65 immediately however, which really should have only been charged when I started the service. Not a good first sign.

The installer, a nice and very explanatory guy, showed up the morning of January 7, took a look at the job to install it, went to his van and then came back and said he couldn’t do the install because he didn’t have his drill or drill bits with him. He promised to reschedule it and let me know when it could be done by end-of-day. I never heard anything from him or CenturyLink. Not a good second sign. I called today (3 days later) and found out our install was scheduled for today. 10 minutes later the same guy showed up to install it. I was patient, but not quite patient enough. A couple hours later he was done. It’s amazing how small a fiber optic cable is, it’s 3mm in diameter including all the weatherproofing. We moved the cable from the Comcast modem to the Google WiFi router to the CenturyLink modem (a Zyxel no less, not a cheapie) and everything just worked.

When our wired iMacs were not getting faster speeds I realized that a network switch that I installed years ago between our office Ethernet ports and the router is only capable of 100Mbps, not 1000Mbps. I had to buy a gigabit switch to replace it. Fortunately, I had the foresight to install CAT6 cable when I did the work on our house way back in 2010 so all the wiring in the house is capable of the higher speeds, up to 10 gigabits/second, so just one more order of magnitude.

Once the gigabit switch was installed I get 900Mbps on my iMac. And then I relocated the Google WiFi nodes around the house and can get 300-400Mbps on WiFi to our iPhones anywhere in the house.

The faster speed isn’t that noticeable for most stuff so far but streaming video starts instantly and Hudson said “no wonder Fortnite was so fast today!” (grrrr 😒).

Its download speeds are not only faster but the upload speeds are comparable. With cable internet the upload speeds are generally 1/10th as fast as download speeds. I don’t upload much but I bet my photos upload to Google Photos much faster now.

900% faster for 60% of the cost, a 1500% positive, and saving $480/year (that’s 70 free beers a year!). That seems like a great deal so far.

This was also a good learning opportunity for the kids: The kids recognized the name “CenturyLink” as the name of the Seahawks stadium (CenturyLink Field). We explained that their positive association is why companies sponsor popular things like the Seahawks and that is called “marketing”.

January 15 update: I cancelled Comcast today. I couldn’t do it online but they said I could over chat. So I tried that and after a short attempt to try to keep me I was told I had to call them. So I called, told the robot I wanted to cancel and then spent 30 minutes on hold after being told the wait would be 2 minutes. I called again and this time agreed to do a follow-up survey about my experience. I was talking to someone 2 minutes later. She also tried to talk me out of it. I just asked if she could please cancel my service and she continued to try to keep me by being snarky and condescending. I insisted she do what I asked, she put me on hold for a minute and then told me it was done. Again, I’ve had good experiences with Comcast’s customer service over the years but this was a bad one. If companies felt better about their service, they wouldn’t have to put customers through this when they want to cancel their service. I hope CenturyLink is good because I don’t want to go back to Comcast now.

TableSafe

European restaurants have long had electronic payments devices right at the table but American restaurants always ask you to hand someone your card while they walk away and do who knows what with it.

Gay and I went to dinner at Heartwood Provisions tonight. At the end we were handed a device we’d never seen before: TableSafe (from a local Seattle company). We paid the bill and swiped our credit card ourselves, got an emailed receipt and no paper to throw away! Are American restaurants stepping into the 21st century?!