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May 20, 2004

Qwest Choice DSL

As much as I love my 1.5Mb/s Qwest DSL, Qwest makes for a really crappy ISP. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize it isn't their main business, or that no one working at Qwest has run an ISP. It's crystal clear why everyone but their VDSL customers and a few masochists were transferred to MSN's high-speed offerings.

Don't get me wrong -- technologically, Qwest is at the head of the herd. My DSL has never been out, it's always in great shape, ping times are excellent... the telco side of things rocks. It's just the whole service provider thing that's lacking.

Like the fact that though you can have four e-mail addresses which are by and large seen as individual accounts, you only get web space for the "main" account. Like the fact that there's no network status page, so while I sit here unable to login to their POP3 server, I don't know why there's an issue, or even if they're aware there's an issue. There's no (useful) FAQ, no support center, no links to spiffy software, no customer service page. Billing problem? Call Qwest. Technical support? Call or e-mail our Choice Online staff.

Or the thrilling account management page, which different parts of require you to be logged in as the main account, though you don't know this until you're logged in as a sub-account, and you're then screwed until your login expires in a couple hours because Qwest provides no way for you to log out.

From a customer service standpoint, things are pretty sad too. As Qwest Choice Online isn't rolled out except in major test markets, it hasn't been through the grinder like most of Qwest's products. The product information just isn't maintained well -- the high-speed version is currently 1.5 down/1.0 up for $39/month, but you'll only find those figures one place on their site. Even the welcome package you receive at signup is grossly out of date. Some of their technical information is inexplicably just about a decade in the past. Macs haven't shipped with AAUI for a good long while, but Qwest's spanking new page for their VDSL states that "Macintosh laptop computers must have a built-in AAUI Ethernet Interface." At a quick glance, the last Mac laptop I could find with AAUI is the PowerBook 550c, which was discontinued in early 1996.

But again, it's not all bad. When you do have to call technical support, it's astoudingly good. So good it reminds me of my first ISP from way back in, oh, probably 1995. The representatives are friendly and actually know their stuff, not to mention they're in the United States. Even my "EarthLink VIP Customer Support" line doesn't get me native speakers of English who actually know what they're doing.

And the speed, which is what really counts? Wonderful. I laugh at my cable-using friends who complain of their oversold neighborhoods. Well, in my head, anyway, because laughing at someone else's misfortune tends to get you the evil eye. Even for its shortcomings, I wouldn't give it back.

ˇViva la broadband!

Posted by Colin at May 20, 2004 10:40 AM

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