Denver Internet Service Options – Surprise, none of them are very good

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As a long-time Denver resident, I feel comfortable stating the following: The average Denver consumer loaths the local cable company. I can’ t think of anyone who likes the local cable company (Comcast), but most people seem to begrudingly tolerate them.

I count myself among the latter – I don’t hate Comcast, but I’m not a fan either. Unfortunately, Comcast offers the best Internet service in Colorado…here’s how I’ve come to that conclusion.

1. Qwest DSL isn’t as fast or as cheap as Comcast. If you check out Qwest DSL, you’ll see that they advertise speeds as high as 40 megabits per second (mbs) on their high speed Internet service page. However, if you start putting in addresses around the Denver metro, you’ll probably find that you can’t get the 40mbs service. Instead, you’ll see that you can get their 20mbs service…which has a list price of $60 per month. Comcast will sell you service with the same download speed for $45 (list price).

Upload speed is even more tilted towards the cable company. Qwest DSL has a max upload rate of .9mbs, whereas Comcast advertises 2mbs. That might not seem like much, but doubling upload speed will make it easier for you to use cloud services from Apple and Amazon, save backups online, upload videos to YouTube, etc. Again, no contest – Comcast beats Qwest DSL on upload speeds too.

Comcast also offers a cheaper low-end service that Qwest. Comcast’s ‘economy’ Internet service is rated 1.5mbs down, .4mbs up, and costs $27 a month (list price). Qwest offers 1.5mbs down, 0.9mbs up, but that slightly better upload speed has a $40 monthly list price.

Finally, at the high end, Comcast offers 105mbs down, 10mbs up for $129 a month (list). That’s a steep price, but if you need the bandwidth Comcast is the only game in town – Qwest maxes out at 40mbs down.

2. Local WiMax isn’t any better than Qwest. While hunting for an alternative to Comcast, I checked out Clear wireless Internet. I love the idea of wireless Internet service, but the cost/speed isn’t any better than DSL. You can buy 4G home service from Clear for $45 a month, and you’ll average 3-6mbs down and 1mbs up. There’s also the fact that 4G wireless Internet isn’t available in all areas. However, I love the idea of taking a wireless Internet connection with me wherever I go in the service area…this technology is advancing quickly, so I’m not going to give up on the dream just yet.

3. Satellite Internet isn’t even close. I love this idea too, but the cost is sky-high compared to DSL (let alone cable). Check out this pricing from HughesNet…$60 per month for 1mbs down and 0.2mbs up…and a 200mb daily download limit. Brutal. The only way satellite Internet service makes any sense is if you live in the mountains.

4. Verizon’s 4G network is fast, but it’s not cheap. If you check out Verizon mobile’s 4G options, you’ll see that you can get 5-12mbs down and 2-5mbs up. Of all the options, this one came closest to Comcast in terms of speed. However, Verizon caps total downloads per month. If you can live with 2 gigs of downloads each month (check out Verizon’s download calculator to see how fast you can burn 10 gigs of bandwidth), you can get wireless Internet for $30 a month…which isn’t bad provided you don’t watch Internet video or surf a lot of websites. I would need at least 10 gigs per month, and that costs $80.

So, there you have it. Comcast is the best option. Their customer service is notoriously poor, but they’ve got the best solution in terms of performance and cost. Maybe someday that will change.

NOTE: All of these companies are constantly re-pricing services to the point of being both confusing and annoying, so beware of any deals you see. While I was working this out over the last couple of weeks. all the companies mentioned changed their promotions and prices.

8 Comments

  1. Unfortunately, those high speeds on Quest are also throttled by how many people are on the particular local cable switch at the time. ACTUAL download speeds can be considerably slower than the advertized speed if your neighbors are streaming video!

  2. Oops, I meant Comcast, not Quest.

  3. SKYBEAM is the worst of them all!

    Customer Service is snotty and the installation shotty

  4. Comcast isn’t cheap. I use an antennae so I get all the stations I watch for free. I pay for Internet only and the charge is $97 a month. Needless to say, I’m looking for another provider.

  5. If anyone would like to deal with a Local ISP, check out http://www.wifihood.com We can provide internet for the downtown Denver area. Mainly the 5Points, Uptown, and Highlands area.

  6. Jason Lancaster

    March 23, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Matt – Looks interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Comcast does not provide internet services for $45 after your first 6 months. We got that same deal and it only lasts 6 months and then doubles in price. Trying to find a provider that will be about the same… Or we may just try to pay our neighbor $25 a month to share their wifi!

  8. So, from what I see here all home internet providers suck. My internet at work is faster than my home internet. I need to find out what they use. I am sure, it’s one of the crappy ones. Funny thing is…more people are on the internet at work at one time. At home? Just me. Does that make any sense at all?

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