Charter internet vs AT&T Fiber (2 Viewers)

ncted

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Well, today was the acid test of Spectrum vs. AT&T Fiber at my house. Some of this information is repeated from earlier posts.

We've been on AT&T Gigabit Fiber since we moved in 2017. Spectrum finally offered us a deal worth considering: 400/20 for $50 for 24 months with no commitment, so I signed up. Got the Synology router which does dual WAN connections. Setup requires some significant technical knowledge if you want to do anything beyond the basics, but that is pretty true of any device with the same capabilities. The firewall with port forwarding in particular took some trial and error to get right.

After thorough testing using a variety of applications, including latency-sensitive ones like X forwarding over ssh, I could detect little difference in usability between the two ISPs. Pings were about 10ms slower to my work VPN endpoint on Spectrum which was not surprising, and traceroute showed a similar number of hops between my home and work. I was surprised that both ISPs routed traffic all the way to DC and back, even though they both have direct connections locally to NCREN, which is one of the Internet connections for my employer.

The real test, however, was my wife's daily workflow. She is an finance manager at the same employer, and her workflow unfortunately includes opening and working on large Excel spreadsheets from some kind of SMB NAS (pretty sure it is Isilon). She cannot change to a better solution like Box Drive or One Drive that have local caching, even though both are available, due to technology choices that are out of her control. This is where that 10ms and possibly the symmetrical gigabit come into play. In her work today (on Spectrum), 100MB Excel files that usually take around 30 seconds to save were taking 1-3 minutes. This severely impacted her work. She was very kind to put up with it for the day. I have switched back to AT&T as the primary WAN connection, and she will confirm whether that improves things for her tomorrow, although a quick test tonight seemed to show the <30 second save time that she is used to seeing.

Based on results so far, it looks like we will be continuing to pay $70/month to the Death Star for the time being, and the Spectrum modem will go back to the store. At least we get HBOmax?

If anyone has any suggestions on how to speed up SMB traffic over a VPN, please don't hesitate to share.

Also, I added a Synology MR2200AC to improve coverage in our sun room typically works, and it really works well.
 

harshness

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If anyone has any suggestions on how to speed up SMB traffic over a VPN, please don't hesitate to share.
CIFS is hard to optimize but there are some parameters (i.e. block size) that can be tinkered with. An option that might be useful is setting up a local cloud (i.e. NextCloud) at the workplace so the spousal unit could use HTTP transfers instead.
 

ncted

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CIFS is hard to optimize but there are some parameters (i.e. block size) that can be tinkered with. An option that might be useful is setting up a local cloud (i.e. NextCloud) at the workplace so the spousal unit could use HTTP transfers instead.
Yeah, that isn't an option. They only do things one way at her job. Maybe if she makes CFO one day, she could change it.
 

WI Dark

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Feb 18, 2020
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I cancelled Spectrum. I have to say, their customer support has come a long way since the last time I had to deal with them. No long hold times, and everyone was very courteous and helpful.
Every time I have contacted Spectrum I got a person from the US. They were always helpful to me, and I never had an issue with them. That's more than I can say for AT&T...
 
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Radioguy41

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If anyone has any suggestions on how to speed up SMB traffic over a VPN, please don't hesitate to share.
I don't know if it would improve your experience or not but ExpressVPN has introduced a new protocol called Lightway UDP that really does speed up the VPN, at least it did for me.
 

ncted

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Every time I have contacted Spectrum I got a person from the US. They were always helpful to me, and I never had an issue with them. That's more than I can say for AT&T...
I've had ok luck with AT&T on the small number of occasions I have had to talk to them, but I definitely like I was dealing with someone who didn't like their job and didn't want to be talking to me. I'd rather deal with Spectrum based on my recent, limited interactions.
 
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harshness

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I don't know if it would improve your experience or not but ExpressVPN has introduced a new protocol called Lightway UDP that really does speed up the VPN, at least it did for me.
Solutions like this are great for public Internet addresses, but they do nothing to help with proprietary corporate VPNs. They just add another layer of encryption baggage.
 

ncted

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Solutions like this are great for public Internet addresses, but they do nothing to help with proprietary corporate VPNs. They just add another layer of encryption baggage.
Yeah. There are some application accelerators available for SMB that do some caching and network optimizations, but my wife's employer doesn't offer anything like this.
 

NashGuy

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Based on results so far, it looks like we will be continuing to pay $70/month to the Death Star for the time being, and the Spectrum modem will go back to the store. At least we get HBOmax?
Since you're getting HBO Max included, I assume you're on AT&T Fiber's gigabit tier? And you pay $70/mo total, including the gateway rental? That's pretty great for an ongoing price. I mean, it's the same deal that they offer to new subs, supposedly only for the first year (although everyone says it's easy to get them to extend the first-year pricing indefinitely if you just ask every year).

If you don't care about HBO Max, could you drop down to the 300/300 tier for $15/mo less? Although that savings is the same as the cost of HBO Max, so if it's something you'd otherwise get (as I do), then there's no point. How much bandwidth do you really need? You can get 100/100 for $45/mo. Well, new subs can, I don't know if you could downgrade to it at that price.

Around here, Comcast is offering new subs standalone 800/25 (or maybe its 800/35?) for $70/mo the first year and you have to supply the equipment. Then it jumps to $100/mo in year two. Or you can take a 2-yr contract and lock in a rate of $70/mo for both years before it goes to the regular price. No free HBO Max either way but hey, you do get free Peacock Premium, a $5/mo value!
 

ncted

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Since you're getting HBO Max included, I assume you're on AT&T Fiber's gigabit tier? And you pay $70/mo total, including the gateway rental? That's pretty great for an ongoing price. I mean, it's the same deal that they offer to new subs, supposedly only for the first year (although everyone says it's easy to get them to extend the first-year pricing indefinitely if you just ask every year).

If you don't care about HBO Max, could you drop down to the 300/300 tier for $15/mo less? Although that savings is the same as the cost of HBO Max, so if it's something you'd otherwise get (as I do), then there's no point. How much bandwidth do you really need? You can get 100/100 for $45/mo. Well, new subs can, I don't know if you could downgrade to it at that price.

Around here, Comcast is offering new subs standalone 800/25 (or maybe its 800/35?) for $70/mo the first year and you have to supply the equipment. Then it jumps to $100/mo in year two. Or you can take a 2-yr contract and lock in a rate of $70/mo for both years before it goes to the regular price. No free HBO Max either way but hey, you do get free Peacock Premium, a $5/mo value!
Yes, it is the gig tier with no equipment fee. It is not a bad price, especially if you include HBOmax. We normally wouldn't have that all year long though. I've tried to get an ongoing deal on the service, but they don't seem to be playing ball in my area at the moment. 300/300 would be fine. 100/100 would probably be as well, but neither of those are currently on offer in my market. The only option is gig. I asked. New customers are paying $35 for gig. At the end of the day, the price is worth it since it keeps my wife working at an acceptable speed.
 

Foxbat

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I got a weird email from AT&T yesterday, and when I checked my Account, it seems that I'm in an AT&T Limbo: I find I can't change my AT&T U-verse DSL and I can't get AT&T Fiber. Huh?
 

NashGuy

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Yes, it is the gig tier with no equipment fee. It is not a bad price, especially if you include HBOmax. We normally wouldn't have that all year long though. I've tried to get an ongoing deal on the service, but they don't seem to be playing ball in my area at the moment. 300/300 would be fine. 100/100 would probably be as well, but neither of those are currently on offer in my market. The only option is gig. I asked. New customers are paying $35 for gig. At the end of the day, the price is worth it since it keeps my wife working at an acceptable speed.
Hmm, I didn't realize that they were still offering only the gig tier to new subs anywhere. That was the case here for part of last year but then they switched back to the three tiers, but now with unlimited data on all of them (not just the gig). Maybe they tailor what they're offering per market based on the main cableco they're competing with? It's Comcast here.
 

NashGuy

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I got a weird email from AT&T yesterday, and when I checked my Account, it seems that I'm in an AT&T Limbo: I find I can't change my AT&T U-verse DSL and I can't get AT&T Fiber. Huh?
From what I can gather, it seems like AT&T wants to phase out their low-end DSL service. (Not what they used to brand as Uverse and now call "AT&T Internet" but the original type of DSL that maxes out at 6 Mbps downstream.) I'm pretty sure they're not allowing any new sign-ups for that level of service, or any changes to existing accounts that have it, other than to cancel. In fact, I think they may even be shutting that service down in some areas and kicking customers off.

Now, if you're actually on fiber-to-the-node (FTTN) DSL (what they used to call Uverse), which would allow for faster speeds (anywhere from maybe 12 to 100 Mbps, depending on how far you are from the node/junction box), I'm not sure what might be up with your account. I'm pretty sure that for addresses served by FTTN DSL, they'll now only sell you whatever the fastest speed they can offer and regardless of what the speed is, you'll get charged the same price. So maybe they don't allow existing customers to downgrade to a slower tier for a lower price.
 

Foxbat

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I was able to open a chat with AT&T and get my outdated router scheduled for an upgrade, as well as 50 mbps service for the same price I'm paying now. But there was no option to do this from my Account settings. I know there was last year, but I never did it since they wanted $$$ for the new router and Tech visit. Now, it's all no-cost to replace the old router. So, I guess I was better off to wait?

Still no Fiber, though, which is what I really want. My sister is in the same city as I am, in a house built in 1908, and she has AT&T Fiber… :(
 
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ncted

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Hmm, I didn't realize that they were still offering only the gig tier to new subs anywhere. That was the case here for part of last year but then they switched back to the three tiers, but now with unlimited data on all of them (not just the gig). Maybe they tailor what they're offering per market based on the main cableco they're competing with? It's Comcast here.
Here it is Charter, but also fiber service from Frontier, Google, Ting and some other smaller players in various areas that are still in a state of growth. Depending on your address, you could potentially have access to 3 or more companies offering "gig" service.
 

NashGuy

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Here it is Charter, but also fiber service from Frontier, Google, Ting and some other smaller players in various areas that are still in a state of growth. Depending on your address, you could potentially have access to 3 or more companies offering "gig" service.
Yeah, Google Fiber is present in Nashville too, they actually began deploying here before AT&T Fiber, which has now greatly surpassed them. Not sure if AT&T wired up all the neighborhoods that already had GF or not, although I know at least one of the first urban neighborhoods to get GF has AT&T Fiber now too, and of course had Comcast before either arrived. (Not sure why AT&T spent resources doing that when there's still likely lots of suburban neighborhoods without any fiber provider.)

So there may be some addresses there in NC that are served by both GF and either AT&T or Frontier Fiber too. I'd be really surprised, though, if any home had three fiber providers, as I doubt there's any overlap between telcos AT&T and Frontier, or between tiny Ting and any other fiber provider. (Too bad for those homes that end up with Ting instead of a different company, as all they offer is a 1 gig plan for "$89/mo plus start-up costs". I guess they're just going for top-end customers who don't want cable.)
 
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ncted

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Yeah, Google Fiber is present in Nashville too, they actually began deploying here before AT&T Fiber, which has now greatly surpassed them. Not sure if AT&T wired up all the neighborhoods that already had GF or not, although I know at least one of the first urban neighborhoods to get GF has AT&T Fiber now too, and of course had Comcast before either arrived. (Not sure why AT&T spent resources doing that when there's still likely lots of suburban neighborhoods without any fiber provider.)

So there may be some addresses there in NC that are served by both GF and either AT&T or Frontier Fiber too. I'd be really surprised, though, if any home had three fiber providers, as I doubt there's any overlap between telcos AT&T and Frontier, or between tiny Ting and any other fiber provider. (Too bad for those homes that end up with Ting instead of a different company, as all they offer is a 1 gig plan for "$89/mo plus start-up costs". I guess they're just going for top-end customers who don't want cable.)
It is a mish-mash. I have access to AT&T and Spectrum, but Frontier has announced fiber for my address -- they are the ILEC. There are parts of Holly Springs and Apex that have Spectrum, Ting, and AT&T, and lots of apartment complexes across the region have Google, AT&T, and Spectrum as options. Not sure why customers in this area get so much competition. There are very few addresses that don't have Spectrum and one of the others to choose from.

FWIW: My coworker just switched from AT&T Fiber to Ting and is only paying $60/month for 2 years. Ting seems to have focused on suburban neighborhoods here instead of MDUs for some reason.
 

NashGuy

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It is a mish-mash. I have access to AT&T and Spectrum, but Frontier has announced fiber for my address -- they are the ILEC. There are parts of Holly Springs and Apex that have Spectrum, Ting, and AT&T, and lots of apartment complexes across the region have Google, AT&T, and Spectrum as options. Not sure why customers in this area get so much competition. There are very few addresses that don't have Spectrum and one of the others to choose from.

FWIW: My coworker just switched from AT&T Fiber to Ting and is only paying $60/month for 2 years. Ting seems to have focused on suburban neighborhoods here instead of MDUs for some reason.
That amount of overbuilding between fiber competitors makes no sense. Building out in an area where there's just one competitor (the cableco) makes sense. But where there's already two competitors? Spend the money building out somewhere else.
 
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ncted

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That amount of overbuilding between fiber competitors makes no sense. Building out in an area where there's just one competitor (the cableco) makes sense. But where there's already two competitors? Spend the money building out somewhere else.
Yeah, it does seem pretty stupid. I get the impression they all have the same idea which addresses will make them money, and aren't paying attention to who is already there or is planning to build out there.

Also, some of it is Spectrum and AT&T Uverse VDSL were already there, so Google thought they would swoop in, only to have AT&T replace Uverse VDSL with FTTH right before, during, or after the Google install.

In my neighborhood, Frontier already has bonded VDSL, so I guess they think it will be easy to put in fiber? AT&T overbuilt Frontier copper at my address, which they do not apparently do normally. I think it might have just been an easy win for them since they had put in so much dark fiber in the region during the dotcom boom, including along both state highways that border my development.
 

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