Goodbye Comcast! Hello Metronet!

Where I live, in West Lafayette IN, there is one local TV station. The next nearest TV stations are in Indianapolis. Over-the-air TV reception isn’t very good without a large mast and special antenna. It is a natural market for cable. Internet service also suggests cable connectivity as a good idea.

When we moved here, 26 years ago, a cable company was firmly established. I believe it was Cox Communications at the time. We subscribed at the apartment where we first lived. For the next 6 years, the service was okay, although we suffered through occasional outages. In 1992, we bought a house. Shortly after moving in, we dumped the premium cable channels and got DirecTV. Although we occasionally lose reception during severe storms, the customer service has always been great, and it simply works. We made sure the new house we built in 1998 was wired for DirecTV as well as cable.

Somewhere in that span, Cox sold their business in the area to Comcast. Comcast had a poor reputation for customer satisfaction, but they made all sorts of representations to the Public Utility Commission and local governments about better service and low prices, to which they mostly held…for a few years.

My Internet service was originally via dial-up modem, but that didn’t result in very good connectivity. In the early 90s, I was able to get a leased line into the Purdue telephone switch for a dedicated modem circuit, and that had much better connectivity. Later, when that service was no longer offered, I got ISDN service that was a pain to get installed, but worked quite well thereafter. Sometime in the last two decades, I switched to DSL, and then to cable modem service because it was much faster for the cost — coax beats twisted pair over the longer haul. We also had basic cable TV (although still depending mostly on DirecTV, but wanting something with the local station when the weather gets bad) so I was able to get a bundle price for both. Still a big chunk of change, but there weren’t any real options.

Our relationship with Comcast has been rocky. Several times a year — sometimes dozens — the Internet service will die. We’ve had to have new cable to the house twice, and I don’t know how many times we’ve had to call about problems. Once, I had to escalate to 3rd tier tech support to get anyone who could understand what I was telling them. To get all the local TV stations inside the house on the basic package I needed to install (at my expense) a cable amplifier. And they continue to nickel-and-dime us on charges of one kind or another. It has not been my best experience as a customer, but as I said, there were no real options unless I was willing to take a big hit in network throughput or price.

There is little wonder why Comcast got the “Golden Poo” award in 2010 from The Comsumerist for being the worst company in America. At one point, they had the dubious distinction of being the company or agency with the worst public image in the country — even worse that the IRS!

Earlier this year, I reported to Comcast that our Internet service was dropping and resetting several times a day. Our TVs also stopped being able to access some local channels (with a message that the signal was too weak). The first customer service person I contacted claimed it must be a problem with my Windows registry settings, which is interesting as a Mac directly connected to the router was experiencing the problem. She was clueless when I informed her it was not a Windows machine. (“If it isn’t a PC you should have a business account — your service is only for personal computers.”) The next caller tried to blame my firewall for the problem, but I persisted and got a service call scheduled. The tech showed up, hooked up an analyzer outside the house, and diagnosed it immediately as a signal that was too weak and with interference. He said he’d schedule a head-end service call. It took him all of 2 minutes to determine what I knew, but it had taken me hours to get to that point.

That was two months ago. I’ve seen some activity with a new cable run through the easement, but no call back from Comcast: The service ticket was never closed out with us. The Internet service is mostly back — usually — but we still can’t get some of the TV channels. I made new calls to service, but they told me it must be because of a problem with my equipment. In one case, I was told it was because I didn’t have their set-top boxes installed…on digital cable-ready TVs that have been receiving all those channels for a decade. Neither would even call up the old service order to look at what the tech had found. Then, earlier this week, we got a letter in the mail telling us that Cpmcast will start encrypting all TV signals in mid-December and unless we have their (rental, of course) adapter boxes on all our TVs, we won’t get the signal. Thus, they have found another way to try to squeeze revenue out of customers.

This time, however, there is a choice. Metronet has moved into the area now, and has been laying fiber optic cable throughout town. They expect to be finished in our neighborhood next week. I just signed the order for service installation. I will have fiber to the house, 50/25Mb Internet (with 100Mb service to the Purdue.edu domain for a small upcharge), and basic cable and a new Internet phone line, all for less than I was paying Comcast for Internet alone. I don’t have to rent a modem. I don’t have to pay extra for a reasonable speed. I get all those services as part of the package. (Although I do need to rent or buy an adapter for each TV where I want reception.)

Having competition in the basic utility market is a good thing. Now if only we could get a little more competition in the cell phone industry….

(If you’re in the West Lafayette area and are interested in Metronet, let me know — I’ll give the contact info for the salesman. There’s a referral for new customers, and I’ll split it with you if you sign up.)

I’ll lose my email address at comcast.net, but I hardly use it and I have dozens more (including 12 entire domains I “own”), so that isn’t much of a loss. (Did I mention that Comcast only offers unencrypted POP service?) If you have a “comcast.net” address for anyone in the family, you should migrate it to something else.

Bottom line: Goodbye Comcast! Hello Metronet!

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56 Responses to “Goodbye Comcast! Hello Metronet!”

  1. David Bell Says:

    In our case, Hello FiOS! Much cheaper. Much better.

    Like

  2. Karen Lopez (@datachick) Says:

    You are lucky to have choice. People just outside of Muncie have no broadband at all.

    Like

  3. Ben Cotton (@FunnelFiasco) Says:

    Lucky you. MetroNet isn’t coming to my neighborhood until spring 2014. I’m nearly finished reading Susan Crawford’s new book “Captive Audience”, and it makes me despite Comcast more than ever. Can’t wait to be rid of them.

    Like

  4. Jubin Says:

    Does anyone know if MetroNet will have service to the Wake Robin subdivision on the west side in the near future? I’m very interested in fiber internet.

    Like

  5. Dave Curry Says:

    Sounds interesting. But with regard to phone service, make sure you understand how their 911 or E911 service works. It may or may not provide the same “functionality” as what you get from the telco without some work on your part. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but during an emergency is not the time to find out that it doesn’t provide the responders with an address (or the correct one).

    We have Cablevision out here, and in our case at least have had excellent service. They have updated our basic Internet a couple of times over the years; we’re now at 20/5 (50/25 is available for $5/mo more, and 100/35 is also available). They take good care of their infrastructure, and service calls are handled promptly and with well trained techs who can think for themselves. The cost difference between them and FiOS for our service tier is less than $10-20 month depending on promotions, and I gladly pay the premium not to have to deal with Verizon :-),

    Like

    • spaf Says:

      We’re keeping our landline for this reason, and others such as working during a power failure.

      Metronet’s phone service is E911 compliant, according to their literature. And given the law, I expect they are, too. Yes, there are probably limitations.

      Like

  6. m@ Says:

    Competition? Lucky you. Champaign-Urbana has no real competition. Comcast is our only universally-available broadband option, really. Sure, AT&T promsed us they’d have DSL in our neighborhood “within the next year”, back when we moved in 8 years ago. But then, they’d promised us that in our previous house and neighborhood, for the 5 years before that, too. If you’re not living in relatively new construction, you’re out of luck.
    Comcast seems to encrypt their email on a market-by-market basis. We got encrypted in May 2013. Took me a while to figure out how to get msmtp us provide SSL for MH. (No–really…)

    Like

  7. merc Says:

    Here on the other side of the river, I am waiting for Metronet to come up street this spring. Having been a Comcast customer (sheep) since 99′, I am tired of the stupid pricing games where I have to call CS every 6 months to negotiate my tv bill from increasing 30% automatically if I dont reset it to the latest running “special” price. As for broadband service, it has taken six tech appointments to fix my intermittent signal drops/multiple daily modem self-reboots to finally get them to replace the drop to my house. They may have fixed the problem that I have been complaining about for the last 2 years, but I just dont care anymore. I’m ready for a change.

    Like

  8. Dave Chasey Says:

    I’ve been fortunate in the reliability portion of my Comcast service and have had few complaints there. My internet and TV have rarely dropped and VPN connections to Purdue usually stay up until it times out on the PU end or I have to reboot for patches! 🙂 I was one of the beta testers on my cable node when Cox/Insight/Dimension/Comcast started cable modem service. I too hate their pricing games, having to call in to renegotiate the bill every few months, having to rent silly little converter boxes that feed analog RF to each digital ready cable TV, and I generally refer to them as Scamcast. I’m seeing fiber ducts being installed just north of my area so I called Metronet last week and they said they should have service available to me in the fall. I asked to be put on the list to be notified as soon as it’s available and I’ll be another one jumping ship. I’ll really enjoy making that final call to Scamcast to tell them to disconnect my service and not having to waste hours of my life every few months arguing with their customer retention department.

    In addition to Dave Curry’s comment about E911 service, there is also the issue of keeping a VOIP line working during an extended power failure. VOIP equipment needs power to keep them running, and even though the service providers may provide a UPS to keep service up for a bit, they won’t last through an extended power outage. I keep my POTS line with basic service since those are powered from the phone switch or node where they have big batteries and backup generators and outages there are rare even during extended power outages. And yep, I have a old school phone on the line in addition to the cordless phones that require power! 🙂

    Like

  9. MetroTech Says:

    Just so everyone knows with the phone service through Metronet, if you purchase the battery back-up(which charges in the power-pak that is installed) from the home office or the installation technician you will retain your phone service even during power outages, as long as the phone does not require power as well.

    Like

  10. Tim Lange Says:

    I wanted to sign up for Metronet, but it appears they require your SSN! Didn’t think anyone did that anymore.

    Like

    • spaf Says:

      Lots of vendors do, because they put equipment on your premises and provide you services prior to payment. Therefore, they do a credit check to establish that you are not a big deadbeat.

      You can try asking them if they will take a deposit of some sort instead of a SS#. A few vendors will do that, but it is getting more difficult each year.

      You can also try not answering that and seeing what they say in response.

      Like

  11. Charlie Says:

    Hi I am actually looking to get metronet. Is it possible to email you?

    -Charlie

    Like

  12. K, Mori Says:

    Hello Spaf, do you have any updates for us in regards to internet speeds? If not, could you check and tell us the kind of connection you are getting for what you are paying? I’m tired of paying Comcast $100+ for just internet and getting 10mbps down; 20mbps up during most of the day… its ridiculous

    Like

  13. James Says:

    This is good news. We are in Ashton Woods in Lafayette and are told it would be late fall or this winter before it is available. Cannot wait to tell Comcast they are history. I too am tired of all the price gouging and poor service with dropouts and no connection constantly.

    Like

  14. Mike Says:

    I was wondering if you happen to know what your particular internet speed would cost by itself? We only have Comcast for Internet and are thinking of moving soon where Metronet might be available. Thanks!

    Like

    • spaf Says:

      You’d have to call Metronet or see what they advertise on their WWW site.

      Like

    • TomC Says:

      Just got off the phone with them today and here in Crawfordsville they are quoting 59.99 a month for 100/25. Thank you crookcast for pissing my wife off. End of October for us. Drops are no less then 10 a day and always are equipment never there problem. Adios Comcast.

      Like

  15. Mary Sell Says:

    We also live in WL but have never paid for TV service. Got our phone + internet bill the other day and noticed a $4 increase. For just a little more a month, we could have a bundle with Metronet of phone/internet/TV (including Big Ten Network) for $89/month (doesn’t include taxes, etc.). So now we’re considering Metronet. We like the month-to-month contract idea plus their terms state that by law they notify customer of any price increases. (We’ve never received price increase notices from Frontier for our phone/internet service.) My questions to you: Has Metronet increased your rates and, if so, how much and were you notified of the increase? About what percent of your bill would you say is taxes, fees, etc.? Finally, are you still happy with Metronet (sounded like you were as of early August)? Thank you.

    Like

    • spaf Says:

      Our rates have not been raised (yet).

      We continue to be happy with the service. I wish the TV service was direct input to the TVs rather than requiring decoder boxes (extra loads, extra wires) but they are small. We don’t use the TV much, though.

      The Internet service works great.

      We use the phone line as a fax and backup phone line. It seems to work fine, but doesn’t get a lot of use.

      We needed to call service twice right after installation, and both times we got a live person on the other end, and quick response.

      It appears that taxes and fees together are about 15% of the bill.

      Like

  16. John Says:

    Looks like MetroNet bumped the internet bandwidth for triple play subscribers up to 200 Mbps down, 25 up, totally trumping Comcast.

    Like

  17. Jim Says:

    wish we could get all the companies together and price gouge them the way they do us they are all crooks

    Like

  18. Whitney hester Says:

    I am totally interested. I hate Comcast and I just about hate Direct tv. So you still like it?

    Like

      • Derian Reuss Says:

        Glad to see this comment. I was about to ask the same thing.

        I changed out my cable modem 2 months ago and Comcast encouraged me to switch to a bundle (adding voice which I don’t intend to use) to get faster internet without raising the price. We currently get a lot of channels and HBO, and we’re paying $165 a month, so I thought sure why not. Our next bill shot up by $60, and only $20 or so was one-time fee. I called last month to complain, and was told that they would get it all fixed up. However, this months bill was still $20 higher.

        Then I started looking into our streaming options. We already pay for Netflix and Amazon Prime, and Hulu is another inexpensive subscription. Plus, I don’t need to rent any boxes to decrypt the signal. I was going to switch to a basic channel plus HBO package, but Comcast has decided to block HBO Go on Roku, so I think I’m going to dump TV service altogether. I plan on calling Metronet tomorrow to see what kind of Internet only package they can offer me.

        Also, HBO confirmed that HBO subscription without a cable provider is coming April next year (may or may not be HBO Go, and pricing is unknown). I should note that I don’t watch any sports, which appears to be one of the few areas that cable providers still offer something that isn’t available through online only options.

        Like

      • Angie Says:

        Does anyone know Internet only pricing for metronet. I’m looking to drop table all together and go with streaming option (Roku).Thanks

        Like

      • spaf Says:

        Sorry, I don’t. You’d have to call them to find out. I found (a year ago) that getting a package with basic TV (local stations), basic phone, and basic Internet was cheaper than only getting Internet. So, you might want to get a sale package and not use the other services.

        Like

  19. Drew Says:

    I suppose it’s a necessary evil, but one thing that kind of bugs me about Metronet is that the IPTV and the internet “jack” are behind some kind of NAT. Obviously, this complicates set up of VPN and various servers. Is this something you’ve had to deal with?

    Like

    • spaf Says:

      Yes,I see it, but it hasn’t affected me — my firewall, VPN, and other material work find behind a firewall.

      Like

    • John Says:

      That is pretty disappointing…..so your router receives a private IP address behind Metronet’s network and not a public IP?

      Like

      • spaf Says:

        No, it is a public address from Metronet. My router provides the NAT.

        Like

      • John Says:

        Ok, the user above then is obviously confused. If you were behind a NAT, you would not receive a public IP. Any other problems are either related to misconfiguration or possible filtering, port blocking, or packet shaping (all 3 unlikely) on Metronet’s side.

        Like

      • spaf Says:

        Not sure who is confused or where. As far as I can tell, the Metronet drop is a public IP (v4) address with no filters. I, however, have a firewall and NAT immediately thereafter, and I have not had problems with that, either.

        Like

  20. Erin Says:

    We are patiently waiting in Benjamin Crossing. We are lucky to get 5 megabits. We are paying for 50 through Comcast. I haven’t seen it hit that high in months. We have called Comcast several times and they say it’s a busy neighborhood so when everyone is on there isn’t enough to go around. We are beyond fed up.

    Like

  21. Mike Says:

    I’ve been patiently waiting for March to arrive, as my neighborhood is targeted for connections this month. But just last evening, I spoke with a friend who is really upset with Metronet’s service and customer service. He was complaining that he was experiencing regular outages in his TV service, and that Metronet wasn’t providing any joy. As much as I want away from Frontier and from Directv, I also don’t need to end up with lousy service. spaf, are you still experiencing good service with Metronet? Anyone else got any pros or cons?

    Like

    • spaf Says:

      I don’t use their TV service much, but I have no complaints with the service.

      They use a digital over coax that requires a very clean signal path from their box through to the TV. I have heard from some friends that they have had problems when reusing their old coax — it sometimes result in pixel corruption of the signal because of interference (microwaves, cordless phones, etc). Not all old coax was high quality and installed with clean terminators. It is also the case that not all the installers are as experienced as some of the others, but they seem committed to making things right.

      I can’t say that is everyone’s experience, or tell you that the service works perfectly for everyone, because I definitely don’t know that. However, based on my experience, I’d still switch.

      Like

  22. James Says:

    Comcast is the worse cable service you could waste your hard earned money on… And on top of being horrible w costomer service, an hidden fees they are trying to buy NETFLIX AN HULU to screw people over more an charge them double… Don’t waste your time like I did. P.S. Metronet is better all around fiber optic cable an you can literally carry your tv box around your house. *WIRELESS*

    Like

  23. cyr220 Says:

    Will metronet network your house for you?

    Like

    • spaf Says:

      I have no idea. They will run a line inside to terminate at a jack, but I have no idea if the will wire the house. I suspect they will not.

      In most cases it works about as well (and is much cheaper) to put in wireless.

      Like

  24. tasha hocking Says:

    Does metro net require a long contract or can it be month-to-month?

    Like

  25. Nancy Says:

    Great information on here! We’re north east of Lafayette out by East Tipp and absolutely can’t wait for Metronet to make it our way. I know they’re burying their lines in our direction. Do you know of a map or announcements page that lists where they will be installing next? I can’t seem to find anything on their site. Tnx

    Like

  26. Nancy Says:

    Thanks. I’ll keep an eye out. Or i might just have to chase down one of their trucks! By the way, that was interesting information about being able to get a faster speed for Purdue.edu. I frequently vpn in and that would be handy. It’s pretty painfully slow through Comcast.

    Like

    • Tim Lange Says:

      Just be aware that Metronet requires your SSN to do a credit check (even though it is not necessary). Their privacy policy says they will share your personal info (including SSN) with their business partners. I just verified this with their sales associate this morning and reading their current privacy policy.

      Like

  27. Zachary Ray Says:

    I got Metronet in may and it has been nothing but trouble. DO NOT GET IT get somthing else

    Like

  28. Cameron Says:

    I just signed up to get Metronet’s 1 Gbps. Did away with Comcast after they tried offering me extra speed for even more money. I am getting the same TV channels with Metronet, literally 10 times the speed (1024mbps). The upload seems to be capped off at 25mbps but that doesn’t mean anything to me. I don’t upload that often unless its a YouTube video. We had Metronet about a year and a half ago and dropped them for Xfinity’s “speed”. But they have monopolized into a giant cesspool of corporate America. Plus i notice internet droppages about once a month. We will now be paying 7 dollars less a month for the same thing we had with Comcast but faster internet.

    Like

  29. Bruce Solomon Says:

    Wonder how you feel about Metronet now? I’m also a customer, since Oct 2013. Yes, the service is excellent. But we’re being hit with rate increases (“your bundle discount is expiring”) every 6 months. Now paying 1.7 x the rate of 3 1/2 years ago, and another increase coming in June 2017.

    Like

    • spaf Says:

      I visited their office and asked about that, and they found a cheaper alternative for what I wanted to get.

      They recently increased their Internet speed, and added price to that. By downgrading the speed, I got close to my previous subscription amount. They also use pass-through pricing so when some of the channels hike their fees, Metronet passes it on. It isn’t totally them.

      In general, I am still a satisfied customer. The service is good, and the customer service continues to be much better than Xfinity/Comcast.

      Like


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