Computer Science Lab
DSL Service Providers
Information and Pricing

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USWest's little graphic.


Due to the large amount of differences between GTE and USWest provided services and the ISP providers that are needed to route DSL service from your home to the internet, I've taken a little bit of time to rationalize some of the nickel and dime companies out there to give the UW employees a more informed way of making DSL solutions.

What is DSL?  (link to good site at NWnexus with pictures)

GTE... USWest...  Covad??? Who's the best and what does it mean to me?

This is a tough question and has many answers.  I'm going to give you the shortest and sweetest that I can.  In our area, Seattle, there are two major local phone companies, GTE and USWest and now one major copper subleaser, Covad.  All three are now offering Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) service to their respective areas as fast as they can build their infrastructure.  The problem with this is that each company took a different direction on DSLAM components.  These are the components that create the digital link from your home to the telecomm switching office.  GTE is selling their DSL modem for $300.00 US or if you don't mind a one year contract, they'll rent it for $12.00 US a month.  On the other hand, USWest is giving away their modem, with a 1 year contract, .  USWest has also just recently changed their pricing to a $69 Activation fee (you do the install yourself - not recomended), $149.95 Instillation fee (if someone comes to your house) and $400 for the modem/phone unless you keep the service for 1 year. The word on the street however is that GTE has chosen a much better system of DSLAM./Modem components and USWest is using Cisco boxes now which are getting better.   On top of this, only USWest is offering to be your ISP provider also (I've heard nothing but bad things on this one).  One of the keys of DSL is that you need a telecomm for the real line and a ISP for the internet access.  Same as a ISP for modem dialup through your home phone line provided by GTE/USWest.  Covad on the other hand, is teaming up with ISP's to offer a all in one solution.  They lease the copper from USWest and bill it through the ISP's at a one pay point scenario at cheaper prices.  I've also heard that their company is great to work for which means happy employees and better customer serviceIMPORTANT:  The worst thing about this whole scenario is that the GTE and USWest are charging some tough rates for to the Internet Service Providers for the connection/privilege of being DSL ISP's with them.  That means that some ISP's won't work with USWest, some won't work with GTE and VERY VERY FEW deal in both lands.  This causes some serious problems for all of us who just want to choose a good ISP, get a good deal and live happily ever after.

OK, I know who my local provider is and there's not much I can do about it.  What do I do now? What's the deal with ISPs?

Here's the next bit of fun.  There are 40+ ISP's that are willing to provide DSL services for you and yours.  They all have different pricing structures and are very few are willing to haggle. Of these, there are some serious gotcha's in the mix that we all should be aware of before choosing a provider.


OUCH, OUCH, OUCH... So what do you suggest?

Sorry for all the bad, now.. here's some good.  I've looked at and listened to customers from several Internet Service Providers and a few have come out of the woodwork in a most satisfactory fashion.  One is which is being run by a few members of our illustrious student population.  They seem to be on top of it and I've received quite a bit of feedback from them about pricing and technical info. is offering service (USWest land only) through Covad (DSL Sub company leasing USWest copper) for varying amounts (all of which will save you some money compared to breaking up the bill between ISP and USWest as the DSL provider)   If you do chose USWest for DSL, will be your ISP for $20.00 a month giving you 1 IP address, $10 an IP setup for as many IP'a as you want extra (with reasons for ARIN), $5.00 DNS listings ($35,00 setup) and etc.  A good deal for the price.  Also, I've heard nothing but rave reviews from those using their services.  A couple of contact people are JC (heads the DSL sales) and Jared Reimer

Honerable mention at this point goes to Speakeasy(I have personally had bad experiences with them but they are on the east side and provide a decent service) but they are still a bit expensive.
NOTE: Sounds like offeres IMAP access also which may be of use to UW Folks (via plus they have a web proxy if you don't want your computer info spewing on the net. Very cool.


I've heard great support for DSL from those who already have the service.  At this time, those who are trying to get it or have just received the service have had multiple complaints on the customer service end and those have mostly been in USWest land.   The telco's are getting on the ball now and I foresee the DSL market being very strong in the future with advancements on distance limitations that are within months of being irradiated.  For those of you who aren't sure about USWest and the opportunity for lots of emotional pain, a second solution for those in or near Seattle would be to test out for Cable Modem service or Covad for IDSL (longer distance limit but more expensive then DSL and only 128K).  I've heard several good stories about this solution from a price and  usability standpoint not to mention that the bandwidth is from 1.5Mbs to 256K depending on how many or your immediate neighbors have the service also.  The company running this one is '@ Home' and it is available here in Seattle now.  Once you have the DSL line and would like to connect your machines to our servers here in CSE, you can follow this page for more info on 'ISP access to CSE'.  Good luck.

Looking for an ISP?

Questions, Comments or more info. for this page?  Please send mail to me, James Hewitt at CSE.

Last updated: 03/20/00 08:22:02 AM