Pros: Fast 3 megabyte download speed, always connected, no phone or cable TV service needed, stable.
Cons: Below average customer service
(Updated at bottom of page)
Charter Communications High Speed Internet Provider.
I've been using Charter Communications High Speed Internet now for about three weeks at the time of this writing.
Charter Communications advertises that you will receive 3 megabyte downloads and 280 kbs upload. When I first reviewed the service I was given a weblink by their cable network installer to test the download and upload speed which reported an upload speed of 180kbs and a download speed of 340kbs. This is obviously way below the advertised speed. However, tonight I was visiting McAfee's website which provides my firewall, virus protection, etc, and I found a service they offer to test my connection speed. Below are the results:
The test conducted a download with the following:
File Size: 2.9297 MB
Time Elapsed: 0.261 seconds
Essentially this was a 3 megabyte downloaded file that took slightly over 2 seconds to download. Quite Impressive.
Some of the problems I have experienced while using Charter Communications High Speed Internet have included:
* Enormously long customer service phone waits up to two hours waiting for a representative to answer.
* Internet Customer support seemed to be provided by a service company other than Charters Local Whittier Offices and the staff supporting the Internet Customer Service Calls are not very knowledgeable. I received a totally lame and unimaginable answer during my first week with Charter when I asked why my service was still not working after a week and had only worked 3 hours on the day they installed the service. This was after trying to reach them 5 different times in one day and only reaching them twice that day after a two hour wait on the phone.
* When downloading a large file over 10 to 15 megabytes in size, the speed often drops down to as low as 28kbs per second and sometimes even stops altogether. I know this is not a memory problem or processor problem on my computer because I have about 400 Megs of SDRAM and a 1.8GHZ processor.
* Getting initially connected and installed can be a real problem if there are any problems with the cables already running into your house or apartment. In my case, I have not used cable since I moved into my rental house for over six years. Once they made the mini-installation of about three feet of cable everything seemed to be running great. Then there technician left and three hours later my service was down. It took Charter a week to fix it, and this is after I had to take a day of work in the middle of the week and they did not fix it that day. They came back a third time on the following Saturday and required I stay home from 8:00am to 5:00 pm waiting for them. Their technician came ten minutes before 5:00 pm. fortunately, they sent out a very prepared technician the third time who quickly resolved the problem. They could have saved me and they time and money if they would have sent out the prepared technician on the Wednesday I took off work to meet them.
* Several times over several days the Internet Connection stalled out and had to be rebooted. Something that never occurred when using Earthlink.net 56K dial-up.
My Overall Satisfaction:
Once the cable is installed correctly and the service is running there are relatively few complaints other than those already mentioned. The real problem and fear however is that if there are problems, I will have to deal with the long phone waits, inexperienced customer service representatives and the delays and problems involved in scheduling a cable technician to come out. Other than that, you can't beat the price or speed and connection quality.
Cost and Value:
I started my service contract for $40.00 a month for High Speed Internet Access Only. I do not have cable TV.
The 3 megabytes download speed is faster that you will obtain with DSL, especially depending on how far you are away from the phone company relay station. I also received a special deal where the cable modem is included for free which is about $13.00 a month or more savings on the rental.
The only other cost was $35.00 installation charge since I was currently not a cable subscriber and the cost associated with my taking the Wednesday off to meet their cable man who did not complete the job.
Should you go with Charter Communications High Speed Internet?
In my previous two reviews of the service I could not recommend them primarily due to the problems experienced with their customer service phone center and the length of time to actually get connected which they did not prorate in my bill (Over a week).
However, considering the monthly price of $40.00 a month, having a 24 hour connection, 3 megabyte downloads per second, and being able to use their service without needing a phone, I can't imagine a better deal (Other than improvements on customer service).
Charter Communications response to my first review:
You know a review is valuable when a company responds...
After I wrote my first review which focused totally on their customer service, I e-mailed a link to the review to their main corporate office. In response, Charter Communications replied within a day and told me that they appreciated the feedback provided by the review. They also assured me that they were days away from opening a second phone support center to help reduce the lengthy two hour phone waits. Since I received Charters response, I have to admit that the two or three times I have called them since the first review, I have had to wait less than 5 to 10 minutes maximum. So it seems as though the new phone center has been opened. This should help Charter Communications High Speed Internet redeem its reputation for providing pour customer support which is the main comment that my Network and Internet associates have all made when I asked them if there were any problems with Charter Communications that they had experienced.
THE 1 YEAR UPDATE:
Charter Cable Internet - One year later
It's been slightly over 1 year now since I began using Charter Communications High Speed Internet and I must now say that all of my original concerns have disappeared.
During the past year there has only been three times that I have ran into any kind of slow downs for a couple of days max, however it is my impression at this point that the slow down was the result of a faulty Network Router that I was using in the house. Once I replaced the Network Router there have been no further slow downs to date.
The download/upload performance has been stable and consistent.
At the house, we now have four computers online at the same time using a Network Router without any slow down. I think this is especially important because if you split the month cost of $40.00 four ways you get a price of $10.00 per computer to have excellent high speed access. One computer runs and is connected to the net 24 hours a day and used for online gaming, the second computer runs variously throughout the day, and my Mac Mini & Pentium P4 3.5 GHZ Windows computers runs after work between 5:30 to 12:00 am. There is no lag time even though all four computers are frequently running and accessing the Internet at the same time.
We have only had two problems this past year and none of them were the fault of Charter Communications. One problem I mentioned above, a second problem occurred right after I replaced the network router in the front of the house. At that time my two computers in the back of the house dramatically slowed down until I added an Airlink 6 port gigabyte Ethernet splitter to the computer connection at the back of the house which has it's own power supply. Since then, those two computers at the back have had equal speed as the other computers.
I highly recommend Charter Communications Internet to any household using more than one computer and dial-up. When you consider the speed, cost per computer, etc. you simply can not beat the price advantage, especially since you can create a home network so easily. Dial-up Internet is a 15 year old technology that has reached it's limit of speed. It's like owning a DOS PC Computer instead of a Windows based Computer. Most people throw away their DOS computers these days because the technology is so old.
It just doesn't make sense to spend $1000.00 or more on a new computer and then use dial-up Internet. That is like using one of the ancient big phone pagers that just made a noise and flashed a red light instead of taking advantage of a digital cell phone! It's just difficult imagine that there are people still doing it.