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High Speed Internet

Speed Up Your Web

By

Updated January 13, 2006
Are you tired of your slow modem chugging along and taking 3 hours to download the latest and greatest software updates? You don't have to face that problem anymore in most areas of Little Rock! High speed Internet access is available and most of your friends probably already have either cable modem access or DSL. Southwestern Bell says DSL is better than cable. Comcast says it's faster than DSL. What do you do? Who do you choose? I've had both running and am here to dish the dirt on the two major broadband Internet providers in Little Rock.

Good news about both:

    Cable or DSL Internet access will both free up your phone line so you can make calls and surf the Internet at the same time. They will also both make downloading things like music and video quicker. Both can be configured for wireless access at your house and both can connect multiple home computers to one Internet connection.

Is it available?

    First things first, you may not have a choice. DSL is location specific. You have to be close to the central office (or a DSL hub). If you're not, you're just going to have to choose a cable provider, like Comcast. Luckily, most areas in Little Rock have access to a DSL hub.
Which is Faster?
    Speedwise, I find both basic accounts are comparable. Speed of the DSL is relative to line condition and distance from the central office. Cable modem speed is less dependant on location. In my experience, if you have a good DSL connection the speed will be more stable than a good cable connection. Either way, both are FAST.

    The basic account on Comcast offers 4 Mbps/384 Kbps. The basic account on SBC offers 1.5Mbps/384Kbps. Those are the "top speeds." I rarely acheive those speeds when I test my line. Both companies also offer enhanced accounts with even more speed.

Which is Easier?
    In the ease of use department, Comcast is king! You turn on your computer and you're online. You have to "connect" to Southwestern Bell DSL unless you modify your setup a bit. That is an inconvenience, but it's not that big of a drawback. The connection rarely times out. If you keep your computer on, you can basically be online 24 hours a day. I've left mine on for a week before disconnecting with no problems.
How about the Install?
    This will depend on the situation. If you have a security system or bad wiring, DSL will be hard to set up by yourself. Even the SBC technicians refused to install mine over a security system. If you don't have any special circumstances, you won't even see the tech. They send you a package in the mail with phone line filters that just plug into place and you're set.

    Comcast also has self-install kits but cable can be a bit tricky to install. For best results, the modem should be on a main cable line instead of a branched line. If you've had cable for a while and have it in many rooms in your house it could be difficult to find a satisfactory cable. To make things more difficult, splitting a cable with even a high quality splitter can make connections less stable. The best choice is to have a technician install a new, dedicated line for your modem. They normally charge a fee for this but it's an investment worth making.

Which is Cheaper?
    Price is the next biggest factor. SBC normally has specials running (currently $14.95 if you sign a one-year contract) on the service. Modems and routers are purchased for about $99-149. The self install kit costs vary.

    Comcast charges $42.95/month for current cable customers. Their enhanced service with faster speeds is $10 more. You can either buy a modem or rent it for $7 a month. The self install kit is $29.95 plus shipping. Professional installation is about $100.

The Bottom Line
    I like both and I really can't tell that much of a difference. Comcast seems more user friendly and they have an idiot proof "member center" where you can setup new things on your account, talk to tech support, test your connection, etc. No matter what you choose be sure to tweak your settings or you'll lose lots of speed. Have fun and be sure to check out this site when you get your super fast connection!

Quick Comparison

ServiceUpload SpeedDownload SpeedPriceInstallation FeesEase of Installation
Comcast Basic4 Mbps384 Kbps$42.95 (Comcast customers)
$57.95 (non-customers)
$29-149.99moderate
Comcast Advanced6 Mbps768 Kbs$52.95 (Comcast customers)
$67.95 (non-customers)
$29-149.99moderate
SBC Express$14.95 (one year contract)1.5 Mbps384 KbpsFree-$149.99easy
SBC Pro$24.99 (one year contract)3.0 Mbps512 KbpsFree-$149.99easy

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