About two months ago, everyone in my apartment was getting dissatisfied with the state of our cable internet provider. We had slowdowns, odd errors, and fixes that weren't really fixes. So we decided to try AT&T's DSL service. Since having a good internet provider is of interest to many of us progeeks (or regular geeks), I wanted to give a quick review – and because there's a special extra I discovered . . .
Setup of the account proved easy – we went to an AT&T store. I strongly recommend this method, you can usually get the equipment you need that day. The AT&T stores are pretty friendly in my experience. Prices are compatible with other prices, and they had some cheap packages, but I figure no one gets those
Setting up the internet connection itself was harder – we did it on our own as we're all quite technically adept. Unfortunately, not everyone we talked to at AT&T was technically adept, and even when it was working, it took two phone calls to get a person that knew what was going on. After that experience we had to endure some primitive setup software that A) only worked in IE, and B) wanted to install some extra yahoo client (which I nixed). After that it was easier, but frankly I almost wanted to shell out the $200 bucks for a custom setup by a visiting technical professional.
The service, when it was working, has been great. We've had maybe one slowdown in two months, it's just as good as what we had from the cable company, and it's been a lot more consistent. The online help is pretty useful.
One of the great benefits for the progeek is that some of their packages include free use of AT&T wireless hotspots. In other words, if you get DSL in your home, you can log on to any of the AT&T wireless hotspots (read, a lot of Starbucks and Barnes & Nobles). THAT is a pretty good bargain overall, and very useful for a mobile pro, or someone like me who likes to go out of the apartment to write (this is being written at a Barnes & Noble).
So overall, I'm please, but the setup was disturbingly arduous, and I'm inclined to say that the extra cost to get a technician to visit is worth it. You want to have some technical understanding, at least with AT&T, though it's probably something you can get from a "Dummies" book or a helpful friend. I advice people to understand basic networking anyway, but it was needed in this case.
If AT&T can get their installation process a bit more automated and friendly (with better phone help), it'd be a cable-killer. As it is its a very good bargain, with some annoying bumps in the process.
– Steven Savage