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Mmmmmmmm…… Naked DSL…

I’m looking at replacing the DSL service I have with Verizon. I currently have a telephone number which I don’t use, except for receiving the very, very occasional fax, and my for my DSL service. So I’m effectively spending $70-$80 per month for a 768k/128k DSL connection. That’s right, 768/128. Ugh.

I’ve been looking at other options, specifically at fixed wireless. It’s supposedly available at my residence, although I don’t see how – the tower is a couple of miles west of my apartment, and immediately to the west is a big hill. Last time I checked, radio waves don’t travel through mountains very well. It doesn’t matter, though, as the setup is almost $500 and the service costs more than what I’m paying now (for DSL, not DSL+phone). I’d have a faster, synchronous connection and a fixed IP address, however.

Cable isn’t available – I guess Charter is too cheap to upgrade their infrastructure. At least, that’s what they say. I’m not sure I buy it, though, as I’ve talked to one person at Charter who mentioned a couple of interesting things. First, if I’m eligible for digital cable (which I am), I should be eligible for Internet, as both require 2-way communication across the wire. Makes sense. She also said that the problem is political. Something about Charter not wanting to pay the city or the city having a deal with Adelphia (the other player in town) or something. Whatever – it doesn’t really matter why it’s not available – just that it isn’t.

Satellite has never been an option, as I do a lot of work on remote servers in a terminal window. Satellite’s fine if all you do is browse the web and check your e-mail, as TCP is a sliding window protocol. Working in a terminal would be a nightmare across a satellite link, though. Imagine having to wait 1-2 seconds for each character you type to be echoed back to you. Uh, no thanks.

So DSL is really my only option. I’ve always used the phone company for DSL because there were some technical and political problems in the early days of 3rd party DSL and I didn’t want to hassle with it just to save a few bucks per month. I haven’t bothered with looking at 3rd party providers lately because I figured that I would still have to pay for a telephone line, making any savings I’d get almost negligible.

Enter DSL Extreme. I just got off the phone with them and found out that they actually offer naked DSL – DSL all by itself, without any accompanying telephone service or associated phone number. In essence, I can cancel all the services I have with Verizon and still get DSL service, and it’d be faster and cheaper than what I’m currently getting from Verizon.

The catch? (There’s always a catch). I’d be down for 4-5 weeks. No Internet service. For a month. For a guy like me, that’s almost as bad as the death penalty. Ok, maybe not that bad, but you get the idea… Much of my life revolves around the Internet. Email is essential. I have an Internet based business. I pay all my bills online. I can’t go without ‘net for a month.

Which leaves me in a quandary. I can continue to pay $80 per month for mediocre Internet service, or I can find a way to live without it for a month and drop my Internet bill to $30. The choice seems clear, doesn’t it? It sure seems like it should be… I’m just not sure how I’d get access during that time. I can use my cellphone, but the speeds aren’t great and I can’t use both the voice and the data functions of the phone at the same time. Also, my Media Center wouldn’t be able to download the TV listings and such and I wouldn’t be able to stream XM Radio either, which I listen to a lot.

Decisions, decisions… I guess I know what I’m going to do, I just need to figure out where my ‘net access will come from during the period of downtime before I do it. I’ll probably talk to a neighbor and ask if I can glom onto their wireless link for a month for like 10 or 20 bucks.

Anyway, the whole point of this post was to let you know that naked DSL actually is available! It’s a hassle, but you can get it. Every time someone new learns this, the weaker the phone companies become, and THAT is why I’m posting. I’m all for capitalism; I’m just not for monopolization, which is effectively what the phone companies currently have.

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