Earthstink Highspeed Offline

Today I drew the line. And then scribbled all over it. And then I drew a straighter line, and I like that line.

Warning: what follows is mostly rant material, but if you’re thinking about switching ISPs, you might want to read :-)

The 1.5 Mbps DSL line that I have is amazingly awful. It’s constantly going up and down. PPPoE is the culprit. Instead of fixing problems however, Earthlink instead blames my Smoothwall. This is not new. Today’s record of service was the worst in a long time: every ten to twenty minutes the connection would be dropped and it would not come back for about five minutes. This went on for about twelve hours.

$ ping -i 5
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1626 ttl=246 time=51.4 ms

Lucklily, it’s been roughly 2.5 hours since it last went down. Let’s see if I can make it through this post.

Committed to solving the problem, this evening I called Earthlink to switch from their DSL service to their cable service. They were offering the same thing Time Warner Cable (TWC) was offering: $30/mo for 6 months and $45/mo after that. I figured the switch would be pretty simple: keep the same account, just move to a different kind of line. At most it should take under a week for “the guy” to give me a cable modem. Aside from wanting a more reliable connection, upgrading to a 5.0Mbps line would be nice – and the uplink would also rock a lot more. Man, I was wrong!

Before calling however, I looked over their services page. The current DSL bill from them is about $50/mo for 1.5 Mbps. However, they now advertise a 1.5 Mbps DSL line for $40/mo and a 3.0 Mbps line for $45/mo. Shows how technology “changes” and they silently keep you locked into a higher rate for a slower connection. That alone should have set off bells in my head. Lovely. Their cable connection was also $45/mo, but 5.0 Mbps. Yes, I think I really want to stick with DSL – I enjoy paying more for less!

So back to the call… we almost had the switch completed, to the point of scheduling a time for the “installer” to drop off the modem, when the representative realizes (after I clearly said I already had DSL service, and had provided verified account information) that I have a DSL account with them (reeeally?), and that before proceeding, they would need to deactivate my DSL. Oh that’s nice! The earliest they could give me cable was around the 30th. I guess I really don’t need any connection for 1.5 weeks. Oh, the dialup should still work though. Glad I have that serial fallback modem.

I proceeded to tell her that I could just as easily call TWC and order their cable Internet service for the same price, and cancel the Earthlink account when the cable was active. She had a very hard time debating this fact, and offered to redirect me to the sales department (I swear that’s where I thought I was). After about 30 minutes of some lovely jazz-flute-over-a-cell-phone (in loud speaker mode, of course), I described the problem. The result: well, there was no result. The only way to activate the cable service was to deactivate the DSL. It’s a technical issue that no one has figured out how to overcome. Riiiighhht.

I let myself calm down a little, and called TWC. My were they friendly! I informed the sales woman that I currently have Earthlink DSL and am interested in switching to TWC Broadband. Immediately I could hear her voice raise an octave, full of excitement. She informed me that because of my current DSL situation, I was eligible for TWC Broadband for $30/mo for 12 months. Awesome. What came next was even better: after processing the order, she asked when I wanted it installed, to which I replied “as early as possible.” How does Friday sound? “Are you kidding me? This Friday? I could kiss you.”

Also, the TWC representative asked me “what Windows do you have?” I said I didn’t have any Windowseses but it didn’t matter. She then clearly explained that as long as the installation technician could verify that an IP address was being assigned, it did not matter. Rock on. I dig no bias.

So good-bye Earthlink, you lose. I sure can’t complain about 5.0 Mbps service for $360/yr. Sure beats $600/yr for 1.5 Mbps. Now let’s break this down a little bit:

Earthlink 1.5 Mbps DSL @ $50/mo = $33.3/1 Mbps/mo
TWC 5.0 Mbps Cable @ $30/mo = $6/1 Mbps/mo

Holy shit.

Now of course, that’s just for the first year. After that:

DSL @ $50/mo = $33.3/1 Mbps/mo
Cable @ $45/mo = $9/1 Mbps/mo

Something tells me that’s still awesome.

14 Replies to “Earthstink Highspeed Offline”

  1. Similar story with Pipex in the UK.

    I phoned them to downgrade my line from a business account to a home account. Apparently that requires a 30 day disconnection notice and then another 2 weeks to send an engineer round to install the line which I already had…

    Figured it was the only way, so agreed to it. 30 days later the DSL line was disconnected. In the process they disconnected incoming phonecalls as well. We didn’t notice for 3 days, and when we did, called the phone company (BT) who apologised and said they’d sort it out. The next day an engineer phoned to check the line was back on, said that yes, someone had hit both switches when turning off the DSL line. He also said that there was a reconnection notice for 2 weeks in the future for our DSL line. We said yes, thats right. He said “Well, I’ll turn it on now for you, save you the wait”

    Our DSL came back on, and we noticed that he turned on 2meg/s when we were only paying for 1meg/s line. That was 9 months ago, and its still the same…

  2. Your blight sounds much the same as my situation. I am with earthlink as you can tell by my email address. I am having the same problems you are experiencing with the roller coaster ride between service/no service. A funny thing happend though. My family were on the 1.5 tier until I convinced them to bump it up to 3.0 mbps and the reliabilty went up instad of getting cut off 10 times in an 8 hour period it was 5. I got to thinking what would happen if it were at 5.0? I asked around and low and behold 5 out of the ten people I asked said they don’t think they have ever experienced an outage for the average of 4 years of having the service! And the other 5 only experienced outages of 1 or two per year! I’ve had twc roadrunner also. IT IS AWESOME. Over the three years I had it there were three outages all due to ice storms. I would give my mother’s computer away to have roadrunner again.

  3. Wow, I’m really happy to not live in the US this time. My 2 Mbit DSL line only failed once in 3 years now. And as flatrate costs

  4. DSL in the US these days is absolutely horrible. Cable is much, much better. At my old house about 5 years ago, I had been waiting for 3 years to get DSL and when I finally called and was told that the length of my line to the CO (which affects both whether you can get DSL and how fast you can get) had increased!!!, I finally called the cable company. Even after I told them it was a brand new house without a cable line to the house (so they would have to bury one) they were still able to install it in under a week! I had residential cable for a few months, then switched to business cable so I could run my mail/web server from the house. Had that for about 3-4 years before switching back to residential and moving my server to a colo facility. I can probably count the number of times I’ve had service interruptions on one hand. And, just recently, we got rid of our phone line completely and switched to Vonage, which runs over the residential TWC internet connection. No problems at all with that.

    So, yeah, cable internet, especially in the Triangle area, is greatly recommended over DSL.

  5. My DSL sucks too…

    Beware cable though. It makes you real intimate with your neighbors. Running a packet sniffer is real, um, educational.

    I had cable when I was living in Santa Barbara. Some dumbass on my block managed to set up a DHCP server that handed out bogus IP addresses. Knocked everybody on my block off the internet for a week. Cox kept saying that there was nothing they could do… An entire week. It still gives me the heebie jeebies.

  6. My old room-mate and I switched back and forth between DSL and Roadrunner a couple of times a few years ago… before finally settling on Cable for about the last 4 years. There was a time when TWC cable had a few issues (there DNS servers in particular haven’t always been really reliable), but it’s been rock-solid for almost as long as I can remember now.

    I moved into a new place back last May, and immediately signed up for Roadrunner, and I can’t recall a single outage since I’ve been there. Right now, for my money, cable is definitely the way to go.

    sb does make a good point though, about the packet sniffing. Do anything that’s really important over an encypted protocol. Your neighbor may sniff your IRC nick password or your AOL IM login, but for me, that’s not something I’m really worried about.

  7. Don’t forget to cancel you landline phone as well. You can do Vonage or something else now that you don’t need to have a phone line for DSL.

  8. Wow. Thanks everyone for all the insight. I have switched both my mother and grandmother from DSL or Dialup to TWC broadband for both Internet and voice, and they are both very happy. The connections are very sturdy and very fast, and the savings and extra features with the digial phone is a wonderful bonus.

    I do not have any “home phone” service. If I really wanted a “land line”, I’d probably go with Vonage, like Tanner has, as it’s cheaper than the phone service from TWC and you can actually “do stuff” with it, but I’m mildly happy with my cell phone (though I hate my provider, Cingular, but who doesn’t) and SkypeOut (but as of today, Ekiga+Diamond) for International calls.

  9. Here at Québec, Canada, my ISP is Vidéotron, it’s a cable provider and my download speed is of about 5.1 mbps, I rarely have outages, but most of the time they are due to ice storms, which are frequent here :P. I pay only 39$ CND per month, which is about 29$ USD. I am really happy, though I have a download limit of 20 gigs per month :(

  10. I stumbled here from, the link to the Joystick client on their page 404s but hitting your FCD gives me your blog.

    Anyway. Have you tried connecting to your ISP with PPPoA? I assume smoothwall supports PPPoA and if you’re lucky your ISP does too. ATM is a more robust protocol than Ethernet and has managed to keep one of my flaky lines up longer than the running the ppp over Ethernet.

    It’s worth a try anyway.

  11. Eventually I’ll move my old content and projects over to my Wiki, but I really don’t have the time right now. Apologies for broken links.

    As for PPPoA, I’d give it a try if I was still with Earthlink/DSL, but I’m on RoadRunner now, and it’s working great. MUCH faster, and haven’t had a single outage. Thanks for your input!

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