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Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

Broadband Choices in Brattleboro?


My $39.99/month Comcast internet promo ends this month. Normal price is $67/month, so I need an alternative. I scoured the web for DSL and fiber optic availability and pricing. Unfortunately, that info is published no where, so I contacted potential companies directly and compared services.

There's three residential broadband providers in town- 2 DSL, 1 Cable Internet. Only 1 out of 3 companies offers transparant pricing online. Ironically, it happens to be the most hated company in America, Comcast. Instead of capitalizing on that, the two relatively small, local DSL companies maintain a website circa 1995- no way to register for service, check prices, corresponding speeds, verify coverage area. Basically useless, secretive, uninformative websites.

Provider

Speed

Monthly Plan $

Setup Fees

Modem Rental

Buy Modem on Amazon

Contract Required?

Faster plans offered?

Comcast

25Mbps

$66.95 +taxes/fees

$30 ($10-50)

$10/month

$69

No

Yes, up to 150Mbps

Sovernet DSL

8Mbps

$39.95

$100 (Free w/ 2yr contract)

$92 (Free w/ 1yr contract)

$21

No

 

No

Fairpoint DSL

15Mbps

$42.99 total

Free

$3.99/month

$21

1yr

ETF $79

Yes, up to 25Mbps

The table above compares the critical features of
each local provider's featured plan. Notice the disapirity between
speeds and prices. It's like one company isn't even trying to compete.

The
next table calculates the total cost of each plan after one year,
including the modem purchase and estimated taxes/fees for Comcast.
Comcast costs the most: almost $1k/year. Fairpoint is the cheapest:
about 1/2 the price of Comcast. However, Comcast is also the fastest,
and speed is valuable. I put a number on value by taking the annual cost
of each service, and dividing it by the number of Mbps speed it has-
25/8/15. While Comcast is the most expensive, Sovernet looks to be the
worst value, because while it's a little bit cheaper, it's a LOT slower.

 

1yr Total Cost

 

Value=Total cost per Mbps

 

Comcast
(w/ approx. taxes/fees)

$983

Most expensive

$39/Mbps

(983/25=39)

 

Sovernet

$579

 

$72/Mbps

(579/8=72)

Worst value

Fairpoint

$537

Least expensive

$36/Mbps

(537/15=36)

Best Value

Conclusion:

-Fastest speeds+highest price= Comcast (4k streaming)
-Decent speeds+won't break bank= Fairpoint
-Slowest speeds+Fairpoint prices= Sovernet (idk, maybe they have the best customer service?)
-Fast speeds+Low Prices for 6-12 months, then superhigh prices= Comcast new customer promo

*"New customers" = no Comcast subscription last 90 days

 

-Added comprehensive summary of other rate plans in Brattleboro below, along with the two nearby gigibit services so you know what you're missing. Seriously, Sovernet even routed it through Brattleboro, just not for residents.

Provider

DL Speed Mbps

UL Speed Mbps

Monthly Plan $

Setup Fees

$ Modem Rental $

Contract Required?

Comcast

25

5

$66.95 +taxes/fees

$10-50

$10/month

No

 

6

?

$49.95

 

$10/month

 

 

3

?

$39.95

 

$10/month

 

Fairpoint DSL

25

2

$58.99 total

Free (all plans)

Free

Yes- 1yr, ETF $79

 

20

1.5

$54.99

 

Free

 

 

15

1

$42.99

 

$3.99/month

 

 

7

?

$35.99

 

$3.99/month

 

 

3

?

$28.99

 

$3.99/month

 

Sovernet DSL

8

1

$39.95

$100 *Free w/ 2yr contract

$92 *Free w/ 1yr contract

No

 

 

5

1

$25.95

 

 

 

 

Great Local Deals NOT for Brattleboro residents

VTel Gigabit Fiber

1,000 Mbps

1,000 Mbps

$59.95/month

*Available for residents near Springfield, VT

Sovernet Fiber

Up to 100,000 Mbps!

Up to 100,000 Mbps!

?

*Available ONLY for select businesses & public institutions in
Brattleboro :(

»

Comments | 19

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 #

Fairpoint

I use Fairpoint - for my internet connection only it's about $44.00.
There are no really good choices but I'm happier with them than I was with Comcast.

 
 #

Switching to Fairpoint

Yeah, that's what I signed up for. Comcast promo rates are great, but once it's over, Fairpoint makes sense. I hate comcast, but I will miss the speed. Downloads 67% faster, uploads 500% faster. Just need one neighbor to split wifi costs with, and could split their 75mbps connection two ways for less than Fairpoint's 15/1.

If only we were in Vtels coverage... Gigabit internet that's 40x faster than Comcast, for about the same price. With proper equipment, theoretically an entire large apt building could share a single line, for a couple bucks/month, and it would still be faster than comcast.

Thinking outside the box, I'd like to try out T-mobiles new LTE coverage. They added coverage in Bratt recently, and now officially have the fastest LTE network in the country.

Could take a cheap LTE android phone compatible w/ all three T-Mob LTE bands, root it, and set it up as a hotspot w/ VPN to avoid tethering charges. There's not many unlimited data cell phone plans anymore, but two of the last holdouts happen to run on T-Mobs network: Metro PCS @ $60/month, or direct w/ Tmobs @ $80. Both advertise true unlimited LTE, although T-mobs is rumored to throttle after 21GB/month. Anyone try their network lately? Curious about download speeds, and which LTE band local towers use.

 
 #

Fairpoint

I use Fairpoint and my internet connection is about $33. The actual cost is $37 but I got something called the Double Point Bundle discount. I have no idea what that is--maybe because I also have a landline from Fairpoint. I also don't pay anything to rent a modem. I got the modem years ago when it was Verizon and use the same modem. I have the standard speed and of course they would gladly upgrade me to a faster speed at a greater cost, as they cheerfully tell me every time I talk with them.

Which is about once a year. That's because these "deals" they have on internet tend to run for a year and then they will silently slip you into a different [higher] rate. What I learned is that it's good to call them about once a year to check on what offers they have. That's usually when I've been able to sign up for a "deal" for another year.

 
 #

What Happened?

So we had all this hupla by Shumlin and Sanders about broadband in Vermont reaching the entire state and it benefiting Vermonters and this is what we get?

 
 #

Same type of promises by Gov.

In MA, we went through the exact same thing, just a few years ahead of VT. Many of the rural western ma towns near me in the same boat- no cell, no dsl, no cable, nothing but satellite internet, the worst type of broadband you can get; it's not just the slowest, it's the most expensive. Went something like this:
Gov. Patrick says they're going to bring us broadband by such and such date. Millions of tax dollars put towards project. Verizon seems to get most of the money. In return, Verizon promises to finish broadband extension to the agreed upon towns. Deadlines pass, nothing happens, new deadlines set. People give up.. Years pass.

Verizon spices things up, sending out letters to everyone on one street, breaking the good news. "DSL is here, call today for your install!" Time passes. Verizon admits "DSL never ready on that street, sorry for the mistake. Oh, also, that street would never be ready, because guess what? It's 1-2 tenths of a mile to far from the station.

State seems to keep spending, nothing seems to ever happen. One town saws screw you Verizon, we'll do it ourselves!" Fortunately, this town is Leverett, and they have more wealth and power than most other towns on the broadband list. Leverett raisess taxes to pay for their own internet network, and they build it. Whole town now has gigabit and it's great.
Anyway, state keeps spending, someone keeps collecting, and nothing seems to get done. Rinse, repeat, this time in VT.

 
 #

Thank you

This is GREAT work and very useful. I can only imagine the time and energy it took to gather all of this.

We switched to Fairpoint a while back and have been relatively happy, except for their explanation of a fee they were charging. They claimed it was a government fee, but it's actually a fee allowed by the government, so it goes to Fairpoint. I forget what they call it, but can look it up later.

Go Springfield! Wow.

 
 #

Droopy Decimal Point

I assume the 15 mbps you cite for Fairpoint DSL is not a typo; is that what Fairpoint claims? For the same price per month to Fairpoint (our only viable internet provider — in our neighborhood we don't call it "broadband" though ! — because cable doesn't come out to rural areas) you cite, we tend to register about 1.5 (note the decimal point, not 15!) bps download (upload is always below 1.) Sometimes download spikes up above 2, hovering between 2 & 3 bps, but that's on a sunny day at a low traffic time.

Great work, though, on all those charts!

 
 #

Federal subscriber Line Charge

Yes, Chris, that optional charge has been in place for a very long time -- maybe 15 or 20 years, if memory serves. And it is, as you say, a charge the federal government ALLOWS the company to charge, not mandates, hence the official sounding name of "federal subscriber line charge." All I can say is that at least it hasn't changed much over the years. But it is a $6+ a month charge, which adds almost another $75 a year to the bill. Yet another issue to contact our elected officials about.... Never-ending. Whenever I remember to when I am talking with Fairpoint, I comment on the extra fee that they could remove if they chose, especially if they insinuate (never state directly) that it is a government fee.

 
 #

Rural is even worse

At work there's Comcast cable, so I try to get most of my major internet work done there when possible.

I'm on a dead-end dirt road. Cable came first to the end of my road, then eventually up my road, but I just can't bring myself to foot the bill to extend it up my long driveway. And my friends who have satellite internet are always complaining about dropped signals. BUT...a new cell tower went in nearby, so I got a gadget from AT&T that converts 4G to wifi for about $50/month. Not bad speed-wise, we just have to remember Skyping or streaming videos eats data (for most email and web browsing it's fine). It's not a perfect situation, but it can be worth looking into, depending on what you use the internet for.

 
 #

The Great Divide

I'm glad this was helpful for some. Very sorry to hear how many are still stuck with satellite type service & speeds. The average speed in Slovokia is 9.6Mbps, so if the best you can get is 3, something is wrong with that picture.

Busymom- that's horrible. How much would the cable cost? Wireless hotspots, especially from ATT, are not viable alternatives to cable/dsl. For $50/month, ATT probably gives you about 5gb. That's about one hour of 1080p Netflix streaming, 15 minutes of 4k. I'm guessing it's not even fast either, relative to the 20Mbps Verizon/T-Mob LTE. Did you test @ Speedtest.net?

 
 #

Sorry to hear Bratt options are so dismal!

Here in the hills of Newfane, we finally got an option other than a very frustrating, highly unreliable Fairpoint connection.

We currently are paying $34.95/month to Southern Vermont Cable for a fiber-to-the-home connection with 2.88 Mbps upload and .79 Mbps download speeds, and have the option to upgrade to 20 Mbps upload speed for $50/month. There was a $50 one-time fee to get connected and no contract or monthly modem rental fee.

 
 #

20mbps upload?

So for an extra $15 a month, upload speed will go from .79 to 20? Did you mean download speed? Their website doesn't list either of the plans you described, so I couldn't check there. It does say that all internet requires cable service too though, which seems unnecessary. Basically any show can be streamed or downloaded for free, if you know where to look. Even live sports.

 
 #

Southern VT Cable High Speed Internet Packages

No. For an extra $15/month, upload speed would increase from 3MB to 20MB.

Their website apparently hasn't caught up with their packages yet. Video services are not required. If you do bundle internet service with one of their video services, internet is discounted $5/month.

Here's scoop typed in from a print flyer they provided:

Internet Level Rate/Mo
Up to 1Mb/256Kb $24.95
Up to 3Mb/768Kb $34.95
Up to 20Mb/1Mb $49.95
(Above pkgs. Discounted $5 when bunded with one of our video services (sic))
(rates shown are monthly and do not include taxes and applicable fees)

Digital Phone Packages
(phone services includes free local & long distance calls)

Residential phone service $34.95
Business phone service $49.95
(rates shown are monthly and do not include taxes and applicable fees)

Triple-Play Bundle Packages
Resdiential Triple-Play $114.00
(Includes Standard Cable, up to 20Mb/768K, and Phone)

Business Triple-Play $125.00
(Includes Standard Cable, up to 20Mb/768K, and Phone)

(rates shown are monthly and do not include taxes and applicable fees)

=======================

Side notes: When we switched from Fairpoint, we ported our 365-#### number to RingTo so we can continue using that number. We also use Google Voice numbers for various purposes and two Obi units (old OBi100 and new OBIHAI that apparently can handle four numbers) so that the different numbers ring with different tones on the cordless phone (and/or get forwarded to my beloved Republic Wireless phone which rings at home despite no cell service). We did pick up a new basic Fairpoint landline for emergencies until we were assured of the reliability of Southern VT Cable (so far, so good - knock on wood). I just learned the next step is to build a battery back-up system with a switch to cover days without power, and once that's in place, we'll let go of the new Fairpoint line.

 
 #

Comcast

I still have Comcast for internet, mainly out of laziness. I get 100Mbps but it costs an arm and leg. With modem and all the charges my monthly bill is 90 bucks. Outrageous, but that's unregulated usury Capitalism for you.

 
 #

Local, municipal, high speed internet access.

With the backbone routed through Brattleboro, and the municipality having access, it would be not-that-hard to turn it into a revenue generator for the town. Local, municipal, high speed internet access in Brattleboro.

We provide water to everyone. Providing internet would be a bit easier. (Ha! bit!)

I bet a few people here would happily pay $100 a month for 100k Mbps. Or even 1,000 Mbps, so we could catch up to the high-tech, forward-thinking neighbor of ours, Springfield.

 
 #

Somewhat Intangibles

Having just moved from Brattleboro (completely different soapbox, *cough* RTM *cough*), here are my 2 cents (for what they're worth, which is probably $0.02)...

I had Comcast for 6 years in town; I didn't like the company, every once in a while they would bombard me with calls about how I should also have the triple-play (cable and phone as well as Internet), and they were pretty expensive when I tried any kind of comparison. (Kudos for the main post.) All that said, they were pretty reliable (only about 2-3 outages a year, for maybe an hour) and you can't (reasonably) get better speed. (If you spring for cable, I recommend you buy a DOCSIS 3.0 modem - costs a bit up front, but good value long term.)

I have never used Sovernet, but I know several people that work for them and lots of people that use them, and while I can't speak to speeds, everyone I know likes their service. This is a case where I think you really get what you pay for, and if you can get fiber or DSL or whatever, they will explain what you CAN get and that's what you WILL get (don't expect more, or less). All else being equal, I would use their service if I could.

I am now using FairPoint - I knew they weren't going to have cable speed, but they sounded good. In fact, if they weren't the only game in town, I would have given up on them a long time ago - it took them 4 weeks to turn on our DSL line. (I know it seem ridiculous - the people before us had it, how long could it possibly take? Four weeks, apparently.) Even though we got the Internet connection last week, I still wouldn't have working e-mail except I called Tech Support (different from Client Support) five times and finally got them to hook me up. All that said, while the speed is technically about 10 times slower and I have yet to push the e-mail, now that I HAVE Internet service, it's working pretty well - speed is somewhat overrated, even the recent 225MB Microsoft patches only took about 20 minutes to download. It's also pretty cheap - unlimited data for less than $30/month, counting leased modem (and with DSL leasing is probably better, really good DSL modems are expensive).

We looked at Verizon 4GLTE for home service; that probably would have been fine (pretty much anywhere they have service), but we found that our mobile phones dropped service even when we have 4 bars (which might not happen with the home LTE antenna?) and, more to the point, when we looked at how much data we used even without streaming media, it was way more than a standard Verizon 4g package.

Again I don't have direct experience, but ECFiber is a group of Vermonters that looked around at what was being offered and then went about setting up their own connections. Like Sovernet, I think this is another case of getting-what-you-pay-for - it costs a LOT to set up, but if you do set it up, you have quality control. This would be a major undertaking in the area now, though.

Of course there are also some satellite Internet services, and they do provide an important service, but the long lag time times (it takes 0.6 seconds for EACH packet to go up and down) means it's best for non-interactive traffic.

 
 #

now getting 82/6 w/ "performance pro"

 
 #

Wow! That is pretty great.

Wow! That is pretty great. (I'm more impressed with the 14ms ping, though who knows where that's from and to.)

So... 82Mbps, that's awesome. Can Netflix stream data to you that fast? And 6MBps up, that's really great... where do you need to upload data that fast, unless you're in a thriller watching a timer?

Don't get me wrong, it's great if that kind of bandwidth is available in Brattleboro, but for most people, that's like having a porsche out in the cow barn. It looks and sounds great, but even if you took it out to the Interstate you wouldn't be able to get it up top speed.

 
 #

More is better

Netflix 4k uses about 20mbps, so if I need to torrent two 15gb ultra HD movies in the background, I'll still have to wait over an hour for those to finish, with 82Mbps speed.

6mbps upload is not enough imo. I have 100gb google drive storage. If I want to use half that for a backup, it will take 19hrs w/ 6mbps upload speed.

 

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