Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dish Network

I started with Dish Network service in 2006.  I can't complain too much about their product over the last 8, almost 9 years, of service.  They've raised their prices, and been willing to work with you on some new prices.  All satellite services will have the issue with weather equaling 'no service' so that's not a complaint to get into.

During this time, I have only had two boxes.  The first was before the major HD revolution.  When I got a new 1080p TV, I wanted the box to match, this was 2008.  Since then, I have seen over-the-air updates of the box software as new features roll out and I appreciated that.  The days of static code in a set-top box are long, long gone and I'm thankful for that.  However, the technology got old, the menu wasn't in HD and was slow to respond.  Further, my former Dish Network box (VIP722) was above my PS3 and if you just happened to leave the PS3 on, it would overheat.

As far as HD, the quality was lower than I've seen on other systems including my new Uverse service.  My wife's parents have the Hopper/Joey system and it appears that my set-top box issues may have been better with that setup, but I really didn't want to pay more for what appeared to be the same channels.  The one thing I did like was that I had one box for two TVs.  I don't like the rent-a-box model, although I do now pay $8 for an additional Uverse box, but I do recall that the Hopper/Joey was more expensive than Uverse.

The final straw was this years issues with network contracts.  I abhorred the idea of losing CBS, even if for a minute.  Dish, you should not have an issue with losing a channel that folks can get for free!  I know other channels were lost for a bit and added back.  I do appreciate Dish fighting for the best prices, but somethings I just can't get past.

When I disconnected, I already had the Uverse setup all in place, the representative on the phone did everything he could to keep me as a customer.  He said that I qualified for a $45 a month bill discount for 10 months because I was a customer for so long.  My first thought was that I had to call to get that discount.  If I was such a valued customer, I think they should have reached out to me. Also, I suspect the discount had more to do with the fact that I was cancelling than my tenure as a customer.  Of course, he was mostly nice until he realized that he couldn't do anything more for me.  Then it was like 'bye' and I was like 'do I get money back?'  Here's the kicker.  He told me that when I returned the box through shipping, I would have to pay $17 for the shipping or get my own shipping.  So let me get this straight, you just offered me $450 in discounts to stay a customer, but now that I'm leaving for sure, I have to pay you $17.  Unreal and goodbye...


Back in 2012, I decided to switch from AT&T Phone and DSL to Comcast Cable Internet and VoIP.  While the transition was smooth and the pricing was good, the service was mostly OK.  When the service worked, and it worked 90% of the time, it was good.  Speed was excellent and the phone was clear.

This year, and mostly this year only, we had some service issues.  On two occasions we had a complete outage.  On the first one, we called and they wanted to send a technician out.  The outage was technically a massive slowdown to no response.  We were connected according to the modem, but pages weren't loading at all or the page loads were slow.  Our neighborhood has a Facebook page and many other Comcast subscribers were reporting the same issue.  Finally, Comcast picked up on the issue, either through all of the calls or through their own health checks, and fixed the issue.

When my contract ended this year, I called and negotiated a new rate.  I believe I got the 'new customer rate' and somehow that meant that my phone number would get disconnected so that they could reconnect it.  Further, in order to get the rate, I had to add a $2.50 or $3.50 a month protection plan.  Overall, the new rate was cheaper by $30 than the expired contract rate so I okay'ed it.

I didn't have much trouble disconnecting.  They didn't try to keep me as a customer too much.  That's just fine with me.  When I cancelled, I already had the Uverse equipment so I wasn't going to bend to their temptations.

AT&T Uverse and My Home Network

At my house, we recently switched away from Comcast for Internet and Phone.  For television, we had Dish Network.

I'm pretty impressed with the Uverse experience.  Internet is fast enough with 18 Mbps plan.  I've seen maximums in the 25 Mbps range as well too.  TV is clear and HD picture is better than Dish Network.  I've heard that Dish has the worst HD quality of the major providers.  In one month of usage, I haven't experienced any bad network connectivity with the TV signal.    Overall, though I'm very happy over my Comcast/Dish Network configuration.

I did a diagram of the configuration using Gliffy.

The diagram shows that I have decent separation between the TV network boxes and the Data/Computer network.  I doubt it really matters, but it seems logical to separate the two.  The N600 is necessary because I have an external storage drive that the NVG589 does not support.  Further, the GS108 switch and the N600 are on separate floors in the house.  I tried to connect the N600 to the GS108 switch, but the computer was not getting any internet responses.  I suspect that is because the TV was taking most of the traffic and somehow leaving the router out of the picture.

I've recently added another router to the picture to help with wireless range in the house.  My second floor had an RJ-45 jack in the third bedroom that goes into the basement.  I connected that to the N600 and then configured the N300 to use the same wireless details (on a different channel) as the N600.  Voila! Instant range extension!  I was looking at the 'wireless repeater' functionality, but since I had the RJ-45 jack this was a no-brainer to use.