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AT&T DSL vs. Comcast Cable

by suggesto / January 30, 2011 6:55 AM PST

I am considering switching to AT&T DSL service. We have two computers on a wireless network, and we like to stream from Netflix, Hulu, etc.

If you are using AT&T DSL in San Francisco and stream video, I am interested to hear about your experience. Especially if you've used both Comcast and AT&T. Let me know if you think streaming is doable at AT&T DSL speed.

We've been paying the big bucks for Comcast's highest speed, but usually when I check the speed on CNET or Speakeasy it is considerably slower than advertised. AT&T's DSL says you get 3Megs per second, which is slower than what we're actually getting with Comcast, but often not by that much.

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And you believe the advertising?
by Coryphaeus / January 30, 2011 8:32 AM PST

Really. Cable is inherently faster than DSL. What are the advertised speeds of all offers. Pick the highest.

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What kind of DSL
by bill012 / January 30, 2011 9:34 AM PST

AT&T still call most their offerings dsl but it you can get UVERSE from them it is one of the fastest my brother has it but they do not offer it where I am.

I do not know about SF but the general rule is DSL Is very dependent on how good the cable to your house is and how far it is from the dslam.

This last chunk unlike cable is not shared so if the cable system is oversold DSL can be faster. In general cable is much faster unless you have a lot of torrent users sharing your connection.

You pretty much need to ask neighbors near you since DSL varies a lot

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Take a look at my UVERSE numbers.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 30, 2011 9:59 AM PST
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Well, shucks, here . . .
by Coryphaeus / January 30, 2011 9:17 PM PST
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Wow..are you giving us the true picture? hehe.
by ahtoi / January 31, 2011 1:17 AM PST

On my best day I couldn't get half of that.

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Oh is this due to the new cable modem?
by ahtoi / January 31, 2011 1:22 AM PST

and how much did it cost you?

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I really attribute it to the modem . . .
by Coryphaeus / January 31, 2011 12:55 PM PST
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Stay with Comcast!!
by wlau / March 20, 2011 9:16 AM PDT

I have used both Comcast and AT&T and AT&T is no comparison here in the bay area. AT&T advertise 3mpbs or even 6mpbs, but their backhaul is not as fast as Comcast (backhaul - the actual interconnection to the "rest of the internet"), so you may not able to get full 3 or 6mbps when connecting to servers attached to other backhaul providers, basically the rest of the internet.

With DSL, you also have to worry about the condition of your phone line, so it's very possible your modem is not able to "sync" at the 3mbps or 6mbps. Even if your phoneline is very clean and you get the full "sync" rate, you still will not get the full speed. Combined with DSL PPPoE or IPDSLAM overhead, you will net about 85-87% of usable bandwidth if you are super lucky, whereas Comcast can net very close the rated speed.

To put it in practical term, I just switched to AT&T DSL Elite, 6mpbs/768kpbs. Lucky me, I have a very clean phone line, which can support much higher sync rate than Elite, so I am getting maximum performance. With the DSL ATM/PPPoE overhead, I am netting around 86% = 5.12mbps down and 0.60mbps up on You would think this beat's Comcast's? NO!!! I put my mom on Comcast's Economy Internet, 1.5mbps down and 384kbps up, speedtest to be 1.48mbps down and 0.37mbps. These numbers would lead to you believe AT&T would be better? NO NO NO! I can't stream Netflix or similar service on AT&T without constantly stuck in "buffering", while my mom on a slower Comcast service can breeze through the entire movie without disruptive buffering.

A lot of streaming contents don't exceed 1mbps, unless HD. While AT&T's connection to me may be 5mbps or so, their backhaul network is so slow, it never fills up the 5mbps or even come close to holding steadly of the 700-800kbps needed to stream Netflix well. However, my mom's Comcast may only be 1.5mbps, Comcast's intercarrier overhaul is very fast, so they kept maxing most of the 1.5mbps constantly, thus allow stream of Netflix without issue.

DSL or U-Verse, AT&T's backhaul network is really slow, you are better off with Comcast.

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Ding, ding -wlau is correct-
by goody39420 / March 25, 2011 7:35 PM PDT
In reply to: Stay with Comcast!!

I have at&t and it is ridiculously slow-****STAY AWAY****

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At&T Disinformation
by sfcrow / April 21, 2011 3:15 PM PDT
In reply to: Stay with Comcast!!

I wish I could understand all the nearly universal dissatisfaction with At&T services. I too, have a 6 Mbps At&T High Speed Internet account. I watch a lot of streaming video, including Netflix and Hulu, and have NEVER, and I mean NEVER experienced any delays due to buffering. I have had this account for almost a year without any downtime or problems. I know people who have experienced very slow download speeds with cable. This is probably due to the over-subscription of shared cable. If you have cable, you had better pray that your good neighbors are not spending their waking hours doing torrent downloads. Oh, and I got my 6 Mbps service for $24.95 per month, for the first year, without a contract commitment. This included a free wireless gateway (with a rebate). The regular subscription rate is also reasonable.

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You may be lucky for a few hours
by wlau / April 23, 2011 2:32 AM PDT
In reply to: At&T Disinformation

Like I said, you may have a very clean phone line and your neighbors don't use AT&T, so you get to enjoy most of the bandwidth. Try run a speed test at 9pm and see how horrible it can get. Netflix and Hulu did a great job improving their streaming algorithm to deal with the likes of AT&T, so the stream don't buffer as much. However, if you pay attention to the video, the quality is probably really poor (or you don't know how good it could look). Netflix and Hulu would increase compression ratio to lower the bandwidth when they detect AT&T's network can't sustain the ideal speed. You will end up with blocky highly compressed video. I worked on video codec professional, so know these topics really well. Oh, the company I work for used to design chips for DSL equipment. Chances we when you crack open your 2Wire, it's powered by chips made by the company I work for. I have vested interest not to trash DSL for that reason. I know how DSL can do well, but just not at AT&T.

If you have a good service, then all power to you and consider yourself very lucky.

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I Have Been Lucky For Almost a Year (LOL)
by sfcrow / April 23, 2011 6:32 PM PDT

"Like I said": I have a 6 Mbps At&T High Speed Internet account. I watch a lot of
streaming video, including Netflix and Hulu, and have NEVER, and I mean
NEVER experienced any delays due to buffering. I have had this account
for almost a year without any downtime or problems.

What is it exactly that you don't understand about the word NEVER? I stream video every day. I speed test my connection through three independent testing sites almost every day. I have NEVER had a noticeable slowdown, and I have tested and streamed at all hours of the day and night.

I also resent your presumptuous and patronizing implication that I am incapable of judging the quality of images on my screen. I happen to be a cinematographer with over 25 years of experience. If your experience with AT&T High Speed Internet is a disappointment, then I feel for you. But who do you think you are to presume to judge MY experience?

Frankly, I don't really give a rat's posterior if you a video codec GOD. You have NO way of knowing MY experience. Or perhaps, besides your godlike technical prowess, you are also a skilled psychic.

You have a right to your opinion. And I would never presume to question the nature of your experience with AT&T. But you have no right to be insulting. Pal.

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Consider yourself lucky
by wlau / April 24, 2011 6:04 AM PDT

AT&T throttles at night/peak hours, even according to their own network engineers. I'd believe them over you any day. You may live an area with strong fiber presence, near an under utilized redback or not many neighbors using AT&T, so you are very fortunate. Folks like Netflix and Hulu stream so much data that can actually collect vitals about a specific broadband carrier. You should read their blogs -- it's pretty clear they send data to AT&T that are more compressed and also AT&T was near the bottom in terms of interconnect broadwidth, so yes, AT&T customer is getting lesser quality than Comcast's, when streaming from these content providers. Netflix and Hulu did a good job on their algorithm to conceal that but it doesn't mean the quality is not degraded.

No company is perfect and I never said Comcast is. AT&T can have good service and bad, so can Comcast. HOWEVER, statistics and technical explanation aside, vast majority of people agree that AT&T's service is inferior. If your experience is different, then you are in the fortunate miniority. Same goes for Comcast, vast majority experienced better service with them and a minority of them don't - that's life. The key here is majority of AT&T DSL customers don't have good service but majority of Comcast Internet customers have good service.

To touch on your point about price of $24.95 - how do you think AT&T can survive charging low price? Where do you think they get their money to pay for better or improve their infrastructure?! They charge less because they probably invest less. People driven by reliability and performance would generally gravitate towards Comcast, while people are more concerned about lower price would be more attracted to AT&T but you do get what you pay for.

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by michelos451 / March 27, 2011 4:32 AM PDT

Hello, I use AT&T DSL and the speed you get is NOT WHAT IS ADVERTISED! I supposedly have the fastest they offer and only get a paltry 3-4 MG or so. As a fellow NetFlix user, I was surprised to find out that beginning in May 2011 AT&T will place limits on bandwith consumption and will surcharge you account for excess bandwith. They say only 2% of subscribers "abuse" the system, however, the good folks at AT&T are not up to speed in many ways, especially for those households who use NetFlix and have several laptops running in a home network. I believe this is an indirect attempt to limit competition. Other providers are placing limits on bandwith. I think that you will find bandwith becoming a selling point very soon and that competition will emerge against AT&T. Would AT&T ever refund me the money for the services not provided? (i.e. less than advertised speed) I think not! I want very badly to move away from AT&T and am waiting for the right opportunity. I recently switched my entire family cell phone service to Verizon and could not be happier with the service and value! When I ported over my numbers I was deluged with calls form AT&T as to why!! ha ha. I would recommend that you sit this out for a while. Good competition is on the way!

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I got rid of comcast
by savanajhones / May 22, 2011 10:42 PM PDT

I switched from Comcast to DSL because Comcast was so unreliable, it
would go down for days at a time, and I would have to wait 3 or 4
business days for a tech to come out, only for it to magically start
working again the day before they showed up.
My DSL is slower,
but it is much more reliable. I went from 6mb cable to 1.5mb DSL
(fastest I can get) but I'm happier with it. Even when I had the full
6mb, I still only got 150 - 250kb downloads, so it isn't that much of a

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