Competitive DSL (was Re: AT&T Doesn't Like My Last Name)

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: [ ] SBC, now over two years ago,

> tried to tell me I had no choice either, and my response was to kick > them out of my house totally. Most people have a cable or satellite > alternative to DSL. We are also very fortunate here that we have > local telco alternatives, and you may have also.

We have that here in Northern Virginia (there are probably close to a dozen). The two I have dealt with are RCN (formerly Starpower) and Cavalier Telephone.

I have volumously described over the years in this Digest my problems with (what was then) Bell Atlantic of Maryland's back office practices and later as (its reincarnation with GTE) Verizon, such that I was afraid if I ordered a simple change I'd end up with Foreign Exchange service from West Virginia or something wierd like that. When I was able to get competitive local service (in Maryland) from Starpower, I switched to them. Yes, they resell Verizon's service but at least I could symbolically tell them "up yours."

When I moved in with relatives in Virginia I got my own phone line, and specifically ordered it from Starpower (who later changed back to their old name, RCN). That probably made our house unique as they had their phone line from Verizon and mine came from RCN.

I decided to get DSL service when it became available and the only place I could get it from was Verizon so I had it put on that line. (RCN could not offer it.) We have Dish Network because it's cheaper than cable.

When I moved down the street for a couple of years, I wanted to have some form of cable or satellite service installed. Dish Network offers free installation. But I called the cable company to check first. Oh, yes, I can get cable installed. It will cost $300.00. So I decided not to take Comcast up on their offer.

I ended up moving back in with relatives after I became disabled. We decided to eliminate the phone service from Verizon as we didn't need multiple phone lines (as RCN was cheaper than Verizon) but it seriously meant losing DSL. Well, I saw that Cavalier Telephone was offering DSL service. And they have it available in my neighborhood.

So I decided to check. No, RCN does not offer DSL, and yes, Cavalier does and they offer it in my area. And for less than Verizon was (then charging) for better service. And I was able to keep my old phone number.

The secret is that while RCN resells bulk service they buy from Verizon, the only thing RCN uses is the trunk lines, they have their own switch.

So for $24.95 a month I get DSL service which includes all the usual features, newsgroups, web access (of course) and everything else, I think the speed is usually around 3 megabits. And I get something else I could not have gotten from Verizon for less than triple this: a static IP address.

The total cost for my phone service is $67.95 a month, which consists of $24.95 for DSL, same for local service, and $17.00 a month is taxes and fees. Included as standard with the service is voice mail, caller ID, call waiting and call forwarding. Basically it costs less for all of these than Verizon charged for a basic line with caller ID.

Long distance is 5c per minute with no monthly fee; last month the 8 minutes of long distance we used cost a whopping 40c. For $20 more I could purchase unlimited (USA & Canada) long distance if I needed it. This exactly matches a prediction from our moderator a few years ago that eventually you'll be able to get unmetered long distance for the same price as you pay for unmetered local service.

I have had excellent service from Cavalier over the last six months, and if you can get them I recommend doing so. They're mostly on the East Coast.

So I can say that in the something like eight years I've had the same phone number here, and a year before than in Maryland I've never once had service from Bell Atlantic/Verizon. Back before the turn of the century when I was able to get service from someone other than Bell Atlantic, I moved from them "faster than a gypsy roofing company can quit town."

As an extra note, I want to point out that despite the problems I have had with Verizon's back office, I have, in over fifteen years of dealing with them, never once found a lineperson who was not polite, knowledgeable, and more importantly, willing to call in and ask for technical assistance if they weren't sure. Their field people are world class and if Verizon could have gotten their half-assed back office systems up to even 50% of the competence of their field people I'd never have switched. I mean, I used to deal with GTE in Long Beach, California and it seems like "the worst phone company in California, bar none" according to the California PUC, was perhaps better in some aspects than Barf Atemetic, err I mean Bell Atlantic!

TELECOM Digest Editor added in the note:

Of course, none of the alternatives can sell you DSL; for DSL you > have to stay with Bell; that's their one ace in the hole; the one > thing which keeps as many customers with them as it does.

Well, since Cavalier Telephone operates their own switch, that is why they can offer DSL on a competitive basis. And they do at least as well as Verizon. Of course, it ain't really hard to do better than them.

One final note about the switchover I had. Since the wires running to the building still belong to Verizon, they have to find the particular pair so Cavalier can switch their dial tone over to them. The lineman from Verizon came out but the guy from Cavalier was delayed. And he saw the service order and recognized the name: the guy who was doing the install for Cavalier was one of Bell Atlantic's former lineman who had retired after 30 years of service!

Paul Robinson "Above all else... We shall go on..." _"...And continue!"_ "If the lessons of history teach us anything it is that nobody learns the lessons that history teaches us."

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Paul Robinson
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