Reader recommendation request, revised: Home wireless net

UPDATE from originally posted RRR: WSB reader Kmac wants advice on the best HOME wireless internet provider. Kmac elaborated in a comment on our previous post:

… I’m looking for PROVIDERS of wireless internet service at HOME. I really don’t want to call Comcast and sometimes I can’t go out and need to stay home. Yes, I’m one of the few folks still without internet service at home and bizarre, bizarre – I only have one wireless network close to home I can “link” to, but I have to be out on my balcony. I think I remember a year or so ago a company new to WS offering internet service, but they weren’t offering it everywhere – at least not yet in Alki. So…that is my need….wireless internet at home that isn’t from Comcast.

The company Kmac refers to is likely Clearwire. How’s that working for WS users? And how about the wireless phone companies who also offer wireless broadband? Plus — any little-known options? Comment away!

38 Replies to "Reader recommendation request, revised: Home wireless net"

  • Kevin Hope October 10, 2007 (3:02 pm)

    qwest and a wireless router is your best bet.

  • Rick October 10, 2007 (3:07 pm)

    clearwire works great for me. i use the modem betwen work and home and only have one bill. i’m very happy with it.

  • fiz October 10, 2007 (3:12 pm)

    Clearwire is working fine for a family member at The Kenney and other family living in Tukwila. Recommended.

  • A.A. October 10, 2007 (3:13 pm)

    I have NOT seen good reviews yet on Clearwire, and believe me I am dying to get away from the evil that is Comcast.

    I think the best upcoming service is FIOS from Verizon. It is fiber optic networking, runs through the cable lines, so you don’t need a home phone, and is getting great reviews – and significantly less expensive than Comcast. If it’s available in your area, go for that with a wireless router.

    If you can’t get it, or can’t wait, check with any of the ubiquitous providers that provide wireless. is a good resource to get availability, reviews and whatnot. Check out these specific reviews:


    And for those who really dislike Comcast, you may find this story funny.

  • ANONY October 10, 2007 (3:23 pm)

    I live near fauntleroy and dawson st. How’s the clearwire reception for you’ll and where are you at? I’ve been thinking about signing up for it.

    Also, what are the typical file download rates? 150kb/s? 300kb/s?

  • pete October 10, 2007 (3:35 pm)

    Just as a geeky fyi Clearwire blocks all incoming web traffic on the standard ports so although you can surf the web just fine you can’t easily “surf in” to your machines on that end of the connection.

  • Wes October 10, 2007 (3:44 pm)

    Earthlink has always been consistent and good.

  • Jan October 10, 2007 (3:57 pm) ….it’s a local service, but does serve the alki area…

  • The Velvet Bulldog October 10, 2007 (4:16 pm)

    My mum (who lives over by Luna Park) uses Clearwire and seems to have had good luck w/ them. Their service people are pretty responsive too.

  • kevin October 10, 2007 (4:22 pm)

    I use clearwire; it is a little spotty, but I’ve never had an ISP that wasn’t. The bandwidth isn’t great for high-end video games, but works fine for websurfing and email.

  • Keith October 10, 2007 (4:32 pm)

    If you’re looking just for “wireless at home,” Clearwire isn’t really a great solution, in my opinion – it’s a better option if you want to have high speed internet access ‘to go.’ Also with Clearwire, it’s only “wireless” in that it’s not hooked up to a phone line or cable – you have to lug around a clunky modem box connected to your computer, unless you hook it up to a separate wireless router. (This is based on my understanding of Clearwire from what I’ve seen and heard, but I’ve never actually used it myself.)

    Just sign up with earthlink or yahoo or att&t for high-speed DSL or cable internet service through Comcast and get yourself a wireless router, like an Airport for Mac. It’ll be less expensive and give you wireless access all over your home.

  • Aidan Hadley October 10, 2007 (4:34 pm)

    Kmac: The wireless network you’re linking to from your balcony most likely belongs to one of your neighbors. While I’m fairly certain there hasn’t been a case yet in Washington State, people in other places have been prosecuted for stealing someone else’s bandwidth. I’ll leave it to you to decide on the ethics of continuing to do that.

    Otherwise, though I generally have to hold my nose to give my business to Qwest, I have to say that I actually have had excellent speed with Qwest DSL in West Seattle. I have a wireless Apple router hooked up to my DSL but their modems come equipped with built-in wireless so you wouldn’t need anything extra.

  • chas redmond October 10, 2007 (4:40 pm)

    Maybe I’m just lucky. I had Comcast cable back east and Comcast was every bad thing anyone ever said about them or cable in general. I move here, live too far from the switch to get effective DSL. Qwest, bless their hearts, kept trying to sell me DSL until I finally said – “look, your own technicians did a ring-down of my line and said the best I could get would be 285kbps up or down because I was more than three miles from the switch.” They finally stopped trying when I told them my preference was DSL but their service would be 1/20th of the effective speeds I get now.

    Comcast is expensive – I pay for digital HD tv and high-speed internet – I’ve got two set boxes and a modem. The run-out costs each month are about $140. Back east I had Comcast analog cable and 768kbps DSL and the run-out cost was about $180 (per month, each). Since moving here four years ago and getting internet right after I got my plates changed on my car, I’ve had two outages totalling less than 4 hours and have had to reset and/or unplug/plug-in my cable modem box six times. Compare that to my back east experience and one would think I’ve arrived in some form of nirvana or other digital paradise.
    And, even though I’m on a cable system, there are scant few times a day when the service even approximates a slowed-down state (usually between 5 and 7 pm when everyone gets home and checks email and begins their surf session).

    So, despite the legitimate issues some folks have with cable or Comcast in particular – I’ve had nothing but the exact opposite experience – best cable TV I’ve ever experienced and best, most reliable, most consistent internet service I’ve experienced.

    Karma? Random luck? You know the old expression *hit happens. Well, apparently un*hit also happens.

  • Flowerpetal October 10, 2007 (4:51 pm)

    I have never had a problem with Comcast and a wireless router at home. They have always been responsive; albeit I have only needed to use them a few times.

  • Katherine October 10, 2007 (5:12 pm)

    I’ve had Clearwire for most of this year. I live up by the WS freeway. Keith’s right about the modem, but if you work in the same place all the time it’s not a problem. Sometimes it’s pretty slow for me. But the techs and the representatives couldn’t be nicer or more helpful.

  • Stu October 10, 2007 (5:28 pm)

    I work out of my house, receive large files all day, and I am a heavy internet user for work. I have used comcast for many years and it has been great. I don’t understand what the issues are. I can’t even remember the last time it went down. There were some issues when they first offered the service, something like 8 years ago, but it has been stable for years. I would go with Comcast and a wireless router. One other option nobody has mentioned is a Sprint Cellular card. People that I know love it, and it is just a small card. But comcast will be faster.

  • Jiggers October 10, 2007 (6:30 pm)

    Comcast is a ripoff!! But, I hate DSL so I have no choice but to use their service. I think I get 12bps or whatever the term is which is real fast. So, I’m happy with the speed it gives you, but I only have limited cable 2-30. I’m paying $62 a month for the cable service and the internet. I guess that’s not that bad. Who can afford all those channels and BS? No wonder why you guys complain about gas prices, look at your stupid bills and how much coffee you drink at Starbucks before you complain about gas.

  • Erik October 10, 2007 (7:01 pm)

    I still use smoke signals. I sent this message at 4:07pm.

  • Val Vashon October 10, 2007 (7:28 pm)

    If you get Earthlink powered by Comcast it will be cheaper than just getting Comcast internet, if you don’t want cable TV and it will be the same speed as cable. I don’t get cable TV (remember antennas?) and Earthlink is 45.95/mo and just internet from Comcast is 54 or 57 a month, but is cheaper if you bundle. Service is good and speed is great. Just don’t try to switch from Comcast ( to Earthlink ( That was a nightmare.

  • Sue October 10, 2007 (7:58 pm)

    ANONY, I also live near Fauntleroy/Dawson – I never used Clearwire, but I’ve heard that it works by way of cell signals for their modem. Since I have really crappy cell reception in my home, I wouldn’t want to trust my internet to that. However, I am not certain that this is how Clearwire works, so I could be wrong.

  • Sue October 10, 2007 (8:01 pm)

    For those of you with Comcast internet and a wireless router – do any of you have problems with losing your internet connection frequently and having to reboot the router and the modem? It used to happen only on my 4 year old laptop, so my husband blamed my computer, but now it’s happening with his laptop too. We’ve been wondering if it’s a problem with our modem, router, settings, etc. Does anyone else have this issue? It might help us troubleshoot.

  • cleat October 10, 2007 (8:26 pm)

    Sue … I hope someone offers up some clues … I have both a wired PC and wireless ibook/mac … which I can’t get to connect .. and Vonnage phone svc which works through the wireless router. The latter…. I found would drop all the time if I left the internet or email on … so when I’m not in front of them, I close it down …. it surely must be a workaround … there must be a better sollution .. I’ve worked with all thee… comcast, linkseys router and vonnage folks .. no permanent solution so far..

  • Westwood res October 10, 2007 (8:30 pm)

    I have had Clearwire for a little over a year and have been fine with it. I was thrilled to get off Comcast who at that time was averaging at least 3-4 unscheduled outages a month-2-4hrs or more at a time. I have yet to have any total outages, short of the power failure which knocked out everything. It does not work on cell signals at all, it is LIKE cellular in that it is wireless but it is many times stronger and longer reaching signal, so unrelated to your cell issues. I also jumped on at a time when it was $6/mo for the first few, which also helped. However, it works for me since I am mainly a low speed user at home, I rarely do movies. Movies have become very slow to worthless lately, but I also added a wifi connection to my tivo, and do download movies to the dvr, albeit slow. I work in homecare so am likely to try to portable card to get access, even considering taking my portable modem(since I am not always near a Tully’s or a Panera) but have yet to take that step. Now I might be a little more reluctant now to take the step to Clearwire since the terms are not as generous and sounds like you need to read the contracts carefully.

  • Max October 10, 2007 (8:36 pm)

    You can get DSL through Quidnunc in the junction. Good people, decent prices. Qwest provides the line and the basic connection, but Quidnuc is the ISP, so you get the local love.

  • Rick October 10, 2007 (10:10 pm)

    If anyone is interested in clearwire strength or signal availability just go to and enter your place off use and they’ll let you know.

  • Christopher Boffoli October 10, 2007 (10:19 pm)

    I’d usually choose a cable modem (or fiber) over a DSL modem. But since I live only 3,000 feet from the Qwest switching station at the Junction I have consistent 7Mbps downspeeds through DSL. And since I get all of my TV content online these days there is no need to pay $70+ per month for cable.

    Sue & cleat: I have had similar issues with my Mac and my Airport base station. I’ve found that it helps to reset my Actiontec modem and or the wireless base station from time to time. This has been a known issue for a while and hasn’t been remedied by any of the recent firmware updates. It seems to me as though it is an issue with either interference and/or the drivers. In any case, I can tell you that I have been running Apple’s new operating system (OS 10.5 “Leopard”) for the last couple of months and I’ve had nothing but flawless connections since I installed it. So it seems like they’ve fixed whatever it was lacking. Leopard will be available in stores at the end of this month.

  • The House October 10, 2007 (11:09 pm)

    It’s interesting that nobody has suggested an EVDO aircard or USB card as an alternative. EVDO allows you to use your laptop anywhere you want to use it. You could sit in your house, sit on a bench on Alki or sit at the local KFC. You can get an unlimited plan through Sprint for $59.99 per month and it gives you the ability to truly be mobile (wherever you have cell coverage, you’d have high speed Internet coverage). A bit more money, but allows you mobilty to work where you want.

    If you don’t have a laptop, the USB EVDO card is still an option for a desktop.

  • Elikapeka October 10, 2007 (11:37 pm)

    We tried Clearwire last year and gave up. It was excruciatingly slow, and often we couldn’t get on at all. We’re in Sunrise Heights (south of High Point). We have Qwest DSL at home, which has been fine, and I just added their portable card for my laptop, and have been able to connect with that no matter where I’ve been in several states.

  • chas redmond October 10, 2007 (11:41 pm)

    Sue, others with Mac issues and using Airport. The few times I’ve had to reset anything it was because of this issue. Comcast sometimes sends updates to the set boxes and modems which “seems” to be the root cause. The recommended procedure is to unplug the modem and unplug the Airport. Count to 30 to allow any residual cache (memory chips have a slow decay rate which keeps crap alive for about half-a-minute) to clear, plug both back in and watch the lights for complete sync – worst case is it may take one or two real minutes (you know, 120 seconds, not our usual 10 seconds=a minute thinking) and – voila – clear.

    It’s worse on the set boxes, they have to re-download all the crap (600 channels is a LOT of crap) associated with the TV guide. Usually Comcast does their updates in the middle of the night but sometimes it’s prime-day-time.

    But, as previously stated, I’ve basically had no problems and nothing but perfunctorily perfect service from both Comcast, it’s cable modem, and my Airport extreme base station. Oh, the 802.11n stuff really works, we’ve got four Macs on the wireless here and those with the 802.11n card to match the Airport really do scream (well, at least two times faster than the 802.11g models). It also helps to periodically run “repair permissions” (Disk Utility) to keep the OS X daemons happy.

  • Sue October 11, 2007 (9:07 am)

    Chas, I’m actually on a PC and not Mac, but this is still helpful to know it’s not just us, and your info is helpful. We were thinking about it last night and realized it never happened on the east coast with a different provider (and different modem, but same router/computers), so we’re betting that it’s probably not our computers or router, but had something to do with the cable modem or cable provider (comcast). My husband said next time the internet crashes, I should try printing to our wireless printer; if the printer works, then it’s not the router. I’m having to reset the router/modem at least 3 times a day, and it’s really annoying, especially since it’s on a different floor from where I am usually online.

  • Kmac October 11, 2007 (11:31 am)

    Aidan – actually I live across the street from Tully’s and can access their free Wi-Fi from my balcony, but not from inside my apartment. So, I think I’m in the clear.

    House – thanks for the USB card tip. I’m checking into it today!

  • Aidan Hadley October 11, 2007 (1:03 pm)

    Kmac: Stealing is stealing, whether it is from a neighbor who is not skilled enough to know how to protect their network or from Tully’s who is providing free Wi-Fi to their paying customers.

  • T. De October 11, 2007 (5:51 pm)

    I use Qwest wireless at home and have never had a problem with it.

  • Tony October 12, 2007 (10:39 pm)

    Hi, I’ve met a few people who work for Comcast that live in West Seattle. They are a local company. They even organized a volunteer event for their employees at Chief Sealth once. And I’ve never had a problem with their service whatsoever. I think they are great. So I like to support companies that support West Seattle and I know Comcast does.

  • TA October 13, 2007 (7:41 pm)

    The mention of Quidnunc in the Junction is excellent. They provide both DSL through Qwest and wireless through Clearwire. The people there are really friendly and helpful. I use the their DSL which I find very reliable. It bears repeating that the DSL modem from Qwest can provide a wireless network that can be secured so neighbors don’t hop on without permission. The network can be turned on and turned off easily. I’ve also helped friends sign up for Clearwire through Quidnunc and am impressed with its strength and speed. I suggest you talk to the folk at Quidnunc and let them help you figure out which is best for you speed-wise, pocketbook-wise, and ease-of-setup-wise.

  • Vikita October 18, 2007 (7:12 pm)

    We’ve had Clearwire for over a year, with no complaints. The cost is much more reasonable than Qwest seemed to offer (~$36/mo), and the speed is fine for our basic internet access use. They offer two levels of “speed”, and we’re good with the lower one. We don’t do much that would need significantly fast download speeds. We also hooked up our wireless router, and have access throughout the house. It does run off of cell phone towers. I highly recommend having a Clearwire rep come out to your place to test the service. If it’s good, they can leave the modem with you, and you’re instantly online. We haven’t had any issues with connectivity or service outtages.

  • ac October 18, 2007 (10:07 pm)

    I’ve heard some good things about Clearwire, and keep receiving offers in the mail from them, so I decided to google for Clearwire coverage in West Seattle. This is how I found this thread, and after reading all of your helpful comments, I have decided against switching to Clearwire. I live in Arbor Heights, and have used Comcast for seven years now without any problems with the service. It’s been so reliable that the only reason I was shopping around for other options is because it’s so expensive. Well, and the upload speed. Downloads are fast, but uploading is really slow. I have a Macbook and a wireless network with an Airport Extreme Base station (the older, 802.11g model) and my network is always up and running. I don’t think it’s just luck, but I’m wondering how so many people can have problems when it’s cable. I don’t understand how that works. If anyone has this knowledge and is inclined to help, I’d love to know. Thanks.

  • hard earned dollars :( October 28, 2007 (12:10 pm)

    People, people, people, people… if you want cheaper service from comcast, just DIAL THEM UP AND ASK FOR IT. tell them you’re not happy with comcast and you want to pay less per month or you’re going to cancel and go to clearwire who is offering $19.99 service. I do this once a year and we’re currently at $24.99/mo for the year. be firm and you will get what you want.

    they’re service has been excellent for us, so i have no complaints, but I can see how it would suck if you were paying full price.

    Sincerely, The cheapest girl in town.

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