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Feb 23

Share Your Broadband Stories

Share your stories with us!

You’re probably here because you’ve had some pretty horrible times with cable outages, issues getting your broadband repaired in a timely manner, or it’s just next to impossible to get reliable or fast broadband services in your neighborhood.  Trust us, we’ve heard it all.

We want you to share your story with us.  Tell us what you’ve gone through.  Write about the nightmares you’ve encountered dealing with your service provider.  We’re all in this together.  Make your voice heard so the city will do something to fix the situation.  Please indicate your location – Beacon Hill, CD so we can better track your comments.

Thank you,

The members of UPTUN.org

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22 comments

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  1. Marco Bicca

    Hi Guys,

    I have a pretty horrible story so far haha … just relocated from the Bay Area to Leschi (98122) and it looks like the only option for me at the moment is Century Link 1.5 Mbps. Called Wave broadband and they said I don’t have the necessary structure from the street to the house I’m renting, after a few calls they sent a company to do the outside work to mark sidewalk and al that jazz.

    Last weekend I got a sad call from them saying that the house is not serviceable .. so now I’m debating if I should move or if there’s anything else I can try .. right now I’m using a T-mobile hotspot which is saving my life a bit but that’s not ideal .. if you guys have any other tips, ideas, please, share them! 🙂

    -Marco Bicca (Leschi)

    1. robertk

      Can you email me robertk@uptun.org with your phone number and street address? I can ask a contact at CenturyLink to see when your particular address might get fiber.

  2. Quinn

    June 2015,
    After moving into a recently remodeled 3 Unit Complex, my roommate and I were looking for internet. Or Neighbor in the complex had a century link connection (7Mbps) and was disappointed with how slow it was, Explaining that is worked for looking up articles for school, but that was about it, too slow for netflix or Youtube. Our Upstairs Neighbors had Comcast (25Mbps), and they were having regular connectivity problems, with the internet dropping regularly but when it worked, they said it was Ok, but the three of them couldn’t watch their own shows at the same time. So I tried to get in contact with Century link because their website offered Gigabit service to Seattle and better prices for the mid tier speeds, and from what I had heard from my neighbors, more reliable connectivity. Unfortunately, In my neighbor hood, near the University village which highly populated with Students and Families, The fastest connection speed offered was 7Mbps. That was barely adequate for one person, It would be too slow to split with my roommate. So we tried Comcast. Apparently Comcast won’t run two lines to the same address. So we currently have nothing and I am writing this from my parents house where I at least have some connectivity (Century Link). We may have to just settle for splitting 7Mbps, but this is frustrating when the slowest speed advertized on Centurylinks website as of today is 40Mbps and the Highest is 1Gig.

    1. robertk

      Sorry about the late response. At this time, CenturyLink wasn’t really making inroads into multi-unit buildings. There’s a whole range of problems when dealing with some of the older apartment / condo buildings. Lots of those buildings have really old wiring or have exclusivity agreements with providers like Comcast. I think that’s likely to change soon, but it’s probably really expensive to wire up an entire building, especially since only a fraction of the residents would be likely to switch over to a new service. I hope something changes for you soon.

  3. Melissa

    Well, it’s 2014, and nothing’s improved.
    I’m awaiting my third, Wave Broadband, tech visit this week. While I find the techs diligent and helpful, and staff at the headquarters polite: the signal is pitiful. I’ve had no fewer than seven tech visits within the 18 months I’ve subscribed, and each and every time: they find a different “issue” that could be the solution. My service cuts in and out and in and out. I had one, unpleasant exchange last week with someone at corporate, who suggested a download speed of .3 was not an “outage”… merely “slow” (I PAY for 15mps… what a cruel joke)
    It’s a cruel irony that I often can’t run a speed test to demonstrate my problem because I’ve no connection.

  4. Anne Bier

    Internet Nightmare: Summer of 2013

    For six weeks the internet service at my home in Leschi was steadily and frequently unreliable, all hours of the day and night. It took two visits by technicians over four weeks to finally get it fixed. I have lived here through Millineum, Broadstripe and now WAVE and this is the worst poor service experience I have ever had. Though I have heard plenty of similar stories, it was the first time it hit my address. Before meetings I had to go to the public library to do prep work. My housemates couldn’t telecommute or complete their graduate level school work to submit to teachers. Unbelievable. Is this the middle of India or close to downtown Seattle. Who would believe this?

  5. Bruce Harrington

    I’ve tried twice to leave comments here …. but my internet keeps dropping. This is despite the fact that our provider has been out twice to try and fix the problem … and this is our 3rd provider in an attempt to get better internet service.

    I am not sure why tax paying citizens in the CD do not have equal access to the same internet services as do surrounding neighborhoods.

    I am a teacher, and do a great deal of my work from home. Unreliable internet service often prevents me from doing so. My partner often works from home, and it is more difficult for him to do so when the internet is unavailable. This creates a hardship on both of us.

    For such a ‘techie’ city – we should have better internet access in ALL parts of the city.

  6. Bill Taylor

    I’ve heard that there will be a new provider in Seattle that offers fiber. I think the name is Ally Hub Network and the plan is to provide services like 10/10 100/100 and 1 Gbps upstream and downstream over fiber. Does anyone know about this? Any websites? I would like to see what prices they have and if is true..1000/1000? Is that even possible?

    I hope this is true. I want Broadstripe / Wave and Quest out of my life!

  7. Sean Thornton

    Recently I have had my internet download speeds drop from 15 Mb/s to 130 kb/s….now my email takes 3-5 mins to download! So I called Broadstripe, and they said it was due to the work being done to create additional nodes in the area. I could expect slow speeds for 6-8 weeks! I asked them to discount my cost, as I was paying for the highest speed they offered, and they said to call back when the higher speeds were restored and they would credit my account for the whole time.

    These are old fashioned dial up modem speeds (although I have 1.8 Mb/s uploads). Can’t wait until there is another viable option.

    1. robertk

      Honestly, getting broadstripe to give you a decent reimbursement is a pretty brutal and annoying process. In September, I had about 9 documented outages. They offered to take a whopping $20 or so off my $140-ish monthly bill. This was even with my phone service going down too. My wife had to argue with them to get more money taken off. It’s ridiculous and what they usually offer is not sufficient to compensate for the actual service outages.

      Even after they fixed the problem that was causing the outages, I still have great swings in my broadband speed. One minute, my speedtest result will show as 1 mb/s, the next it’ll be up to 15/16 mb/s. This causes hell with Netflix, which constantly has to pause to readjust the speed.

      Also, one problem they’ve never been able to fix… on my cable service, there are channels where the audio will just skip / hiccup multiple times throughout the hour. it’s just for a few seconds each time, but this is unacceptable and we’ve given up trying to get this fixed. Their service technicians are never able to come out at a decent time and either my wife or I need to take time off of work because they can never seem to nail down a service window to less than 4 hours.

      Send me a private email robertk@uptun.org and let me know what your cross-streets are.

  8. Jason

    MLK & Yesler area.

    Nothing new to tell I’m sure. When I first got here 3 years ago I went with Speakeasy based on a friend’s recomendation. Though there was a small delay getting set up, the service was solid. But slow and expensive.

    After more research a couple of years later, I went with Qwest. I could find absolutely nothing good about Broadstripe so had no intentions of giving them my money.

    the BEST qwest could offer was 5MB/384kb. That’s the best. And they charge the same for it as for a 7MB. Double hurt.

    It then took them more than a MONTH to get me set up (2010). There were many delays. Many “new installs” were required in their network. Many repairs for looped connections or stuff (don’t fully understand the technical details).

    Once the service got going, it’s not TOO bad, but I’m lucky some days if I can maintain enough bandwidth to stream SD (hot even HD, just SD) netflix.

    I’d so LOVE for there to be an alternative that’s faster AND reliable.

  9. Sara

    We had Earthlink for years, and recently switched to Clear. It’s noticeably better speed (Earthlink 1.5, Clear 4-5) and stability-wise, but the main solution for slow speeds and frequent outages is to use our iPhones. AT&T’s 3G network is faster than our internet. When we want to watch a YouTube video we usually have to switch our phones off WiFi and onto 3G to get the video to load.
    We live in Judkins Park, and reportedly have a Clear tower near our house, so they’re delivering, but whenever folks visit from other neighborhoods they wonder how we can tolerate the slow speeds.

    I’ve (unsuccessfully) looked for an interactive map with people around the city posting their speeds and service provider (with any comments). Such a map would highlight this problem. Make the map! 🙂

  10. nia

    We have very erratic service from Broadstripe. We’ve had to wait for over a week for them to get out here to fix a very bad outage at one point.
    Eventually, they fix stuff but by far the worst thing about BS (besides crappy connectivity) is that you have to wait forever to get someone on the phone. Then, when you tell them you want a credit for the time you were down, they tell you to ask the service guy when he arrives. When I asked the service guy about the credit, he started laughing and told me they just tell everyone that. The service people cannot issue credits nor do they have anything to do with the process.

    So, at that point, you are left with no credit OR you can get back on the phone and sit on hold forever and hope someone eventually takes your call and tells you the truth.

  11. JB

    About eight years ago Digital Millennium was my IP in Redmond. When the connection was up it was extremely fast but it wasn’t up very often. When our lease was up, it was one of the top three reasons why we moved back to Seattle. For the next seven years I used Comcast as my IP and while I despised their business practices, the connection was always stable and fast so I was happy as one could be while dealing with Comcast.

    Fast forward to last year; I moved to the Mt Baker neighborhood without checking who our IP would be (a mistake I’ll never repeat). I guess I just assumed that I’d have at least one good option and a couple bad ones. Come to find out my options were Broadstripe (never again after having them in Redmond), Qwest (with connection speeds equal to dial-up in our area) or Clear (OK if you’re near the tower, on a clear day, with one hand touching the modem and the other up in the air).

    A year has gone by since I moved into the neighborhood. I went with Clear and luckily I have a half decent connect since my tower is a block away from me. It’s barely good enough for entertainment purposes but when it comes to pulling large files off my work’s server, it’s just easier to drive 20 minutes to my office than work from home. I’m also a gamer and for the last year I’ve pretty much given up on any game that requires an internet connect due to poor latency (250-700ms).

    I like the Mt Baker neighborhood and I really like my apartment but I’m looking forward to moving a bit north into Comcast country in the near future. I didn’t plan on doing so for at least a few years (once I could afford the down payment for a house) but it’s most likely going to become a reality once my lease is up. Unfortunately, I doubt there will be any improvement to the network infrastructure in the south Seattle area anytime soon.

  12. North Beacon Hill

    I was an internet only millenium/broadstripe customer for 6 years putting up with 1.5 mb download speed compared to 26mb from comcast on cap hill for triple the cost ($20 comcast vs $60 broadstripe). I received an unexpected call from a broadstripe salesman asking if he could give me digital cable with no increase in my bill telling me the reason for this was to “get everyone in the complex on the same level” and it would somehow be easier for him to manage. I reluctantly agreed not really wanting digital cable anyway. My next bill was $40 more and took 5+ hours on the phone to get sorted out, getting calls from their billing department on Saturdays. It is now 3 months later and my online bill is different than what the automated telephone system says and what the service rep says is different than both of those. I cancelled yesterday and will be using my mobile phone’s tethering feature from now on. Currently streaming a netflix through my phone with no buffering issues and a clearer picture than ever.

  13. Stephen

    My Broadstripe Internet service has improved dramatically over the past 8 months. In the 10 years I have had the service I experienced terrible speeds of less than 1MB/s and continually dropped connections. Calling customer service never did any good. That is, when I was able to get through to a person. Usually I would get to their weekend answering service, and then never receive the promised call back on Monday. Last year, however, my service stopped dropping and my speeds started to creep above 1MB/s, then continued to improve to the point that I now consistently outperform the advertised 15MB/s speed I am paying for. This is a huge improvement, and I am certain Broadstripe must have made some service and infrastructure improvements in the area. Funny thing is my neighbor, directly behind me, continues to suffer with sub 1MB/s service and spotty connections. I wish Brown, er… Broadstripe would acknowledge the service issues on Beacon Hill and notify their customers what they have done and are continuing to do to resolve the problems.

  14. TW

    Well, I tried to use Clearwire and found it to be far too unstable to allow me to work from home. I’m in one of those pocket areas blocked by hills, and was constantly suffering from line drops, only to be told to power cycle my system or “it must be your router’s fault”. Employers aren’t real happy when you’re working a crisis and lose connectivity, they’re kind of funny that way, you know?

    I understand Clear will be putting in a new tower a block or two away from me, but I’ve already moved on.

    I considered Broadstripe, but saw too many horror stories about support and instability. I opted for Qwest DSL. Can’t get any real speed off of it, but it is far more stable than Clear was for me and it has allowed me to work from home pretty reliably.

    I had to laugh at the Qwest agent who tried to talk me into upgrading my DSL package without looking to see if it was available to me or if they were even reliably meeting the minimum levels. I can’t see paying more for something unattainable but would be willing to consider paying more for speed & stability.

  15. Sebastian

    During the summer of 2010 I had intermittent to complete Internet outages for 30 days, starting on 7/30. Cable TV has been out since 8/19. I’ve called Broadstripe 20+ times to ask for updates and for someone to investigate their Network issues with less than satisfactory responses. During a third service call on 8/19/2010, a Broadstripe technician finally discovered that the source of the problem was with Broadstripe’s network and not with the equipment inside my house. Here’s a timeline of events:

    7/30: Intermittent outages begin, according to supervisor there are multiple homes in my area without Internet
    8/7: 1st tech service call, cable modem restarted and replaced, issues continue after tech leaves
    8/17: 2nd tech service call, splitter replaced, tech notices issues with head-end, issues continue after tech leaves
    8/19: 3rd tech service call, all connectors replaced, tech notices issues with head-end and calls in maintanance, Broadstripe officially declares an outage in Seattle lasting three days
    8/19-8/21 mid-day: complete outage (Internet and Cable TV)
    8/22-8/29: complete outage (Internet and Cable TV)

    I had similar problems over Thanksgiving (2010) when my Internet was down for 6 days due to cold temperatures and snow. In this case Broadstripe did not send a technician to my house, but they did take a very long time to fix a problem with their network. This issue kept me from telecommuting during the snow storm.

  16. Neilson

    During the heat wave in August of 2010 my Cable Modem (CM) was unable to maintain a network connection for periods longer than 2-4 hours. Loss of network connection occurred most often on the weekends during peak usage times (evenings and weekends), or also during peak summer temperatures. To establish a network connection again required the modem to be powered down for 5-30 minutes before applying power and reconnecting to the network. Sometimes this remedy required 2-3 subsequent attempts before a connection with the network was established. Every 2-4 hours this remedy was required as the CM lost its connection to the network. During the 3 weeks when these failures were observed the performance of the broadband service suffered when a network connection was established. Very poor download speeds and an unacceptable number of lost packets persisted for weeks. After contacting Broadstripe technical support they tried several things “on their end” which did nothing to resolve the issue. The degraded service persisted for at least 3 weeks; longer according to neighbors. At the end of the 3 weeks, seeing no satisfactory progress on a permanent remedy I canceled my Broadstripe service and moved to using Clear for broadband services.

    Having experience designing cable modem based transponders for power supplies used by Cable TV (CATV) companies, I examined the CM logs to attempt a diagnosis of the connection loss. It quickly became apparent that the problem was due to the expiry of a T4 timeout due to a failure in receiving a maintenance unicast transmit opportunity. This can be caused by upstream utilization levels that are too high for the network to support. Other problems on the network which cause increased noise or other RF issues can also lead to this type of error. The fact that my neighbor, who swapped out his cable modem during these failures, would drop off the network at the same time ruled out a problem with my specific CM or the CM firmware.

    The reason for canceling was primarily due to Broadstripe insisting on sending out a technician to my home when the problem clearly existed outside the walls of my house, and was almost certainly an RF related issue, or possibly a problem with network utilization or the Cable Modem Termination System (CMTS). A visit from a Broadstripe technician involves being at home during a 4 hour window, which previous experience showed they rarely make. In reality a visit from a Broadstripe technician often involves spending the entire day at home. Unable to work remotely since my broadband connection was unreliable and degraded, taking the day off to wait for a technician visit was unacceptable. Even more unacceptable when the symptoms pointed to a network problem, not an installation problem. The visit from the technician seemed more like a stalling tactic. My neighbor was experiencing the exact same failures at the exact same time that I was. This provided strong evidence that the problem was not with my installation otherwise both of our connections would not fail at the same time. When I questioned Broadstripe over the phone about the T4 timeout failure, and relayed how my neighbor’s connection would be dropped at the same time, they provided many specious reasons as to why the wiring in my home or even the age of my cable modem might be to blame. With my patience depleted, I took the opportunity to try a different broadband service provider. I have since enjoyed 3 months of very reliable service from Clear.

    My neighbor opted to have a technician visit. He diagnosed the problem to a faulty elbow connector which he replaced. The failure, not surprisingly, reappeared the next day. Several weeks later, after the extreme heat abated, network performance seemed to return to normal. According to neighbor’s reports it degraded severely again during a wave of abnormally cold weather.

    I concluded from this experience that Broadstripe technicians are unable to diagnose or repair their network (it also took them 3 months to simply install the service when i originally signed up, another very trying experience with many days wasted waiting at home for a technician to visit, or not visit). I also concluded that due to the failure of the Broadstripe network during peak usage which was in turn exacerbated during extreme weather events, the Broadstripe network is engineered in such a way that it does not have suitable margins to function properly under peak loads or temperatures

    When I had phone service installed at my home I asked the QWest technician about the state of DSL. He told me that basically most people on the North end of Beacon Hill can not be served by DSL due to the distances from the required phone company equipment. Having used Clear now for about 6 months the service is reliable but the speeds provided during peak usage hours are not suitable for watching streaming movies. It is suitable for telecommuting and casual browsing however.

    So, the rundown of available options, I think, can be summed up this way:
    Broadstripe: Adequate speed for video and gaming but very poor quality of service at a cost that is not a good value. Service outages can be prolonged, download speeds and connection quality vary greatly, especially based on location, usage patters and, temperature of all things.

    QWest DSL: Very limited service area. DSL connections are poor quality and cover long distances resulting in below average speeds.

    Clear: Good reliability (for me at least). Not all areas of Beacon Hill are covered. Portable. Not suitable for gaming (very high ping). Download speeds vary greatly depending on usage patters, ranging from 10Mbps down to 0.5Mbps at peak use times. Expensive.

  17. Robert Kangas

    Brad: Yes, as a member in this group, I’ve always complained about the DSL situation on Beacon Hill. I jumped to Broadstripe because the max speed I was able to get out of Qwest DSL was 1.5 megabit. Qwest got around 4 years out of me and I jumped ship when it became apparent that they weren’t going to improve the situation. I think it’s important that we talk about all broadband situations, not just Broadstripe.

  18. Brad Angell

    Years ago we had Millenium/Broadstripe. At first it was fantastic and then several months later it just seemed to get slower and slower. After having techs out to no avail we got fed up and switched to Qwest. The DSL service has been much more consistent, but still the speeds are not as fast as other parts of the city (3MB in the CD, compared to 7-12MB on North Cap Hill). I guess I’m wondering if your group has any plans to include DSL providers in your complaints.
    Thanks! I was glad to hear about UPTUN on NPR today.

  19. Robert Kangas

    Ugh… it seems that every time it snows, or there’s some kind of nasty windstorm, my connection becomes unreliable. Last night, I had trouble connecting to websites. Downloading files seem to be as fast as the old phone modem days. On the bad weather days, browsing the web is horrible, and working from home seems next to impossible. 🙁

    -Robert Kangas (Beacon Hill)

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