For many years, Optimum.com has held a monopoly over high-speed Internet service in my area, so we’ve been stuck with them.
As a monopoly, Optimum has gotten away with providing horrible customer service and jacking up prices to ridiculous levels. Customers had no alternatives, so Optimum got away with it.
Luckily, there’s FINALLY – in 2023 – competition in our area!
So, a few weeks back, my wife called Optimum to complain about our absurd bill… way more than double what the new competitor in our area, Frontier.com, is offering. (And Frontier claims their price isn’t a teaser rate that they’ll keep jacking up annually, as Optimum has.) Despite our threatening to jump to Frontier, Optimum customer service literally put my wife on hold for several HOURS!!! Eventually, someone told her another human being would call back, but no one ever did.
Everyone seems to despise both companies, so we decided to switch because, as “Massive_Wash_9528” said, “They both suck but I found Frontier to be significantly cheaper.”
We signed up with Frontier, which recently installed their service. One crew came and strung a wire through our underground conduit from the street to the side of our house. Another day, an installer came and connected the outside wire to the router he installed inside. He was quite friendly. (My interest was piqued when he gave my Celtics cap a thumbs up because, I told him, it’s mostly Yankees fans around here. I was even more curious when he replied he was a Yankees fan. He fell in love with the Celtics many years ago because of Larry Bird, and we enjoyed swapping hilarious Bird stories.)
This weekend, I moved over our devices over from Optimum’s network to Frontier’s. Then I unplugged our Optimum router to ensure all our devices were running well on Frontier.
With our switchover complete, my wife called to cancel. Only THEN did Optimum offer to knock $70/month off our bill, roughly what we’re saving by switching! Had they made that offer two weeks earlier, we would have been thrilled. Instead, we’re pissed and have become unpaid evangelists/sales reps for Frontier, advocating to our neighbors and friends that switching might save them close to $1,000 a year.
Why isn’t Optimum afraid of customers switching to the new rival? They probably haven’t fully adapted to the fact that they finally face competition. But they’re also probably counting on Americans being afraid of their computers and networks. Inertia and fear of things going awry may keep many from switching. To many, computers and networks seem almost magical. And people can feel lost and helpless if their network goes down. Merely having to change a bunch of devices’ wifi access information can deter many from switching providers.
Because I understand networking, switching is annoying but not a huge deal, even though I run servers and websites from my home, which complicated our switch-over because I needed to: a) access the new router’s configuration and enable port forwarding, b) update my domains’ DNS settings, and, c) refresh my domains’ TLS certificates.
My setup is even more complicated because the Eero device they install by default comes with only one usable Ethernet port, and I have several devices I like to plug directly into the ISP’s router (e.g., my work VPN device, my wife’s work VPN device, and our Tesla solar sensor app).
When I told the installer I’d buy a switch, he offered to install a router with more Ethernet ports in front of the Eero device, an offer I eagerly accepted. But I now have two double-NATted networks, one for Eero, and one for another router I use for a permanent network so I don’t need to reconfigure wifi connections for things like the Ring devices in our house. And to get my websites running, I had to open up port-forwarding in both the new router and the new Eero… just for connections to reach my “edge” router, behind which there is yet another network.
Because I work in tech and do a lot of networking at work and at home, I knew how to do all these things (and will also reestablish a dynamic DNS service so my websites will remain online whenever my dynamic IP address changes).
I want to share several tips that might help others deal with changing network providers:
The most important thing is to not program all your devices to use your ISP’s wifi. If you do, you’ll need to update all those devices whenever you change ISPs (or even get upgraded hardware from the same ISP). That’s a pain, esp. since many devices – like the many Ring cameras outside my house and the many Ring sensor devices inside my house – are annoying to reconfigure. Instead, connect hard-to-reconfigure devices to your own wifi router and connect your personal router via Ethernet cable to the back of your ISP’s router. (Frontier wasn’t even going to provide me with a router… just with an Eero wifi device that has just one Ethernet port… till I explained my setup to the installer. If I hadn’t gotten the router too, I would have had to attach the one Ethernet port to a switch and hope it worked.)
My servers live in my office, far from where Ethernet is installed. To ensure a decent connection, I use a wireless bridge (a router I configured to run in wireless bridge mode) and connect my Internet-facing server via Ethernet cable to my wireless bridge. All other servers are connected in a separate internal network via a switch. I turned off my wifi bridge router and plugged my edge router into the Eero device I located in that room. We bought three Eeros to supplement the one provided by Frontier, and now we have a good mesh network in our house.
May 7th update: I returned our router and wifi extender yesterday. (Optimum requires customers to bring the equipment to their office.) The woman at the counter was cold, curt, and brusque. I showed up in a pleasant mood and was friendly but she radiated a level of warmth equal to that from the new touch-screen ordering menus at McDonalds. I left wondering what led her to be so unpleasant to deal with. Whatever the reason, Optimum clearly doesn’t care that their reception desk gives off serial killer vibes. It felt symptomatic of all our other experiences with Optimum. Also, as if to prove my point about customer lock-in, I suggested to our neighbor today that they switch and save a bundle. He isn’t keen to switch because they rely on Optimum for Internet, cable TV, and their telephone. That’s exactly the kind of lock-in ISPs are counting on to gouge customers, even now that competition has finally arrived.
Also, after our service had been working fine for days, yet another Frontier installer came to “install” our Internet. My wife doesn’t know why yet another installer was scheduled, and she had called to try to cancel it but couldn’t reach a human being to cancel it. And the online form allowed her to reschedule but not cancel the visit. So when the poor guy arrived, I explained we had tried and failed to cancel his pointless trip to our house.