Qwest Fiber: The first two weeks

After moving into our new house in Spring of 2008, we made the switch from Comcast over to Qwest, which I’ve been mostly happy with.  I was especially excited to hear the rumors that Fiber was soon coming to Qwest and our part of town.  When I got the email a few weeks ago, I wasted no time to get signed up.  After about two weeks in, I wanted to offer some initial thoughts on the service and hopefully set the expectations for those who may be considering the service.

First off, the speed is pretty exceptional, especially for DSL.  Running a speed test at peak times, we’ve had a pretty steady downstream of 14.7Mb/S, with nearly 4Mb/s upload.  I’ve definitely experienced the fast steeds on my downloading and streaming.  The uploading has been especially exceptional.  We uploaded a bunch of pictures to print in what seemed like a fraction of the time that we were used to it taking.  The service has been very reliable as far as uptime is concerned.  I’ve been pretty happy with the actual fiber.

The modem/router on the other hand.  leaves a lot to be desired.  Previously we were using the M1000 DSL connected to a D-Link router that we’ve been very happy with.  The M1000 is incompatible with the Fiber technology, so we were forced to upgrade our modem to the ActionTech Q1000, which doubles as a router.  This router has pretty much driven me to pull my hair out.  Aside from connecting our computers to the Internet, we use an Xbox connected to Live, as well as have some Remote Desktop ports open into my desktop computer.  However, I had the hardest time making the latter two activities work.  I first tried to use the router in a bridge mode, so that I could use my current router, but that left me with notable latency and issues with port forwarding.  After some considerable work with the router, I was able to solve my port-forwarding issues (which required some application settings to be configured), but was still having the worst time getting the Xbox connected to XboxLive.  I finally solved that problem, after a crazy firm-ware upgrade (which at first bricked my router).  Right now things are working correctly for the most part, but I really wish Qwest would offer a stand-alone modem, especially with the third issue.

.The cost of upgrade/installation.  We got our first bill from the changes, and Qwest charged me a whopping $122 for “service addition & changes”.  Obviously the modem/router cost was included in this charge, but this is still a pretty baffling fee for a self-installation.  Part of the reason was that this was such a shock was because the chat agent that placed the order for me didn’t inform of these charges.  In fairness, I didn’t ask for the total of the new charges, but I think that anything over $100 should warrant a notification when you place the order.  If you’re considering upgrading to the Fiber, be ready for this charge.  This also reinforces my wish of having a stand-alone modem device that would have likely been cheaper.

I think if you’re salivating for faster internet service and live in an area where this Fiber is available, it’s a great solution.  However if you have the slightest hesitation, this modem/router may keep you on the slower side of the fence.

Tech Gripe: Does Qwest cap uploads?

This is another question/technology gripe I’m throwing out there to see if anyone is experiencing the same thing: Does Qwest DSL drop your connection when you’re uploading large files?

I was doing some Greenfoot work tonight, and am trying to upload our new tracks to a hosting/steaming service.  The service is asking for WAV files so that they can encode on-the-fly – fair enough.  I upload the WAV files ranging from 40-55mb, not huge by any means, but sizeable.  I tried uploading directly to the web site, but about 20% into the upload my DSL connection drops for a few minutes, reconnecting to a different IP address and breaking my upload.  I’ve tried different protocols/applications (Live Mesh, FTP), which resulted in the same behavior.  I’ve eliminated any doubt that this is being caused by a specific machine, then eliminated my router from the equation.

This isn’t the first time this has happened to me using Qwest DSL, so I’m left with my original question: Is Qwest dropping DSL connections that are uploading large files?

I *think* I’m solving the issue by breaking the file into 2mb pieces, FTP’ing the files to a non-DSL machine and uploading them that way.  Talk about a pain in the ass!

Dealing with constantly changing IP Addresses

I just wanted to take a few moments to publish a quick tech tip with anyone who’s struggling with their IP Address constantly changing.

To facilitate remote access, I have VNC installed on my desktop in the cases when I need to access my desktop system.  To help me from needing to remember my IP address, I use a sub-domain from No-IP.com, which has worked pretty well over the years.

When I was with Comcast I went months with the same IP address.  Since moving to Qwest DSL however, my IP address changes at least 3-4 times per week.  I think the longest I’ve gone with the same IP address was five days.  With changing IP’s as frequently as I was, I needed a way to monitor my IP address and be notified when a change occurs.

I found the perfect utility: Gateway IP Monitor.  This is a freeware utility that runs in the background and simply monitors my IP address.  If it changes, IP Monitor fires off and email to a filtered Yahoo mailbox. The next time I hop on VNC and can’t access my machine, I just check my Yahoo account and the new IP address is there waiting for me.  At that point I reconfigure no-ip, or if I’m impatient will just enter the IP address manually.

I just wanted to put this out there if anyone else had a similar issue, give Gateway IP Monitor a try!