| Review by SSidlov |
member for 13.2 years, 1743 visits, last login: 167 days ago
updated 1.9 years ago
- Pompton Lakes,Passaic,NJ
- $65 per month
- about 1 days
- "Connection is VERY Fast; with Boost network more stable"
- "Cable is shared access; OOL has highest penetration in US"
- "If speeds the thing, Cablevision's OOL can provide it. For more $$ they will be full service ISP/Host"
|Pre Sales information:|
Value for money:
(ratings match consensus)
6/23/11- Upgraded a month ago to Boost+ -- it cost me my $5 discount. I went from the 30/5 to 50/8mb service and got the PC Link services included. Unfortunately PC Link which allows you to put you PC's screen on your TV, is VGA resolution so IMHO, it's sorta useless to watch something with it when a newer HDTV has a PC input or can be connected directly to your PC with a converter (or no converter). Speeds pretty good, Arris modem has no off or reset button (well it has one requiring a paper clip), which is a PITA when you need to reboot it, and have a internal battery pack. This verson continues to come with web site registration, 12G of web storage, 15 25G mail boxes, etc. Ability to have own domain and plenty of @yourdomain addresses with open ports 25 and 80.
3/04/10 - Almost another year. Well, weather has been beating on the wires, limbs that have fallen on the cables have stretched them. My Boost service was erratic in speed ranging from 5mb or less to 24mb. Using Speedtest.net which has a OOL server in NY, I doc'd the testing and the inconsistent speeds, and called tech support when ever the speed was 5-12mb. 15mb and below is the threshold for Boost. I called went through their scripts (annoying) they sent a service call the next day. As expected there was nothing wrong with my in-house wiring, just the inconsistent speed a copy of the test results from Speedtest.net was given to the tech to show to the supervisor. About an hour after he left (it had been high teens while he was here), I called again when the service dropped for half an hour to 5mb. Running speedtests while waiting so I could doc the speed variation. Now, again after running through the CSR scripts, the agent put me on hold and told me someone was coming in 40 minutes. Instead, I got a phone call from the supervisor, saying that a docsis 3 modem was on the way for tomorrow, at a specific time (and the guy arrived 3 minutes early). He installed the new modem and activated it. He again checked the function of the house's wiring. He checked the function of the wire to my home and at the pole, and found it wanting, then replaced it. As he was driving to my home equipment in the truck detected that lines in my 'hood also needed maintenance and were leaking signal which he reported back (and so did I since I had phone numbers given to me by the supervisor/field ops). My speed is back, the speed is much more consistent than before (it was erratic while testing). I'm again a happy camper. YMMV. Oh, and now my Boost IS D3 and I have the same cable modem they use for the Ultra service.....
5/4/09 -- I just upgraded to Boost once I was assured that my area has been upgraded to DOCSIS 3.0 (Not that Boost is Docsis 3, but that the upgrade wouldn't be a PITA while the system was reworked with new boards, etc. I have a wrt54GL that's overclocked to 250 (safe, no extra cooling) and with the SPI still turned ON, I can get 30mbps. This is fine, my wireless seems faster too (though I know that seems silly.) I'm hoping that they redefine the Boost tier to a higher speed soon, just like they did when Boost was introduced and they added 5mb/3mb to the old OOL service. I think 35 or 40 would be nice, I would have to buy a new router, though to support that throughput.
Speaking of wireless, OOL has put in WIFI all along my town's main street, and it covers the HS and middle school, too. I noticed the network about 3 months before it turned on officially. You use your OOL email id to log in. From what I hear it makes all the kids with the wifi phones and netbooks happy.
OOL has not changed the basic pricing for OOL for years now. It has begun to offer Tiered services, Boost was the first new tier and now finally after much talk and false starts Ultra (101/15 mbps). Boost is only an additional $10 if you have OV services else it's $15. Ultra is an amazing $99. If I had to run servers at home (and I can with boost) Ultra is certainly a thought for someone who always needs to get something from the host fast or even for a small business.
In the meanwhile, the service is (in my neighborhood) reasonably stable, sure like most cable connections, as the neighborhood ages and the neighbors become more sophisticated in their internet usage, primetime service speeds lower. There were moments when I couldn't clock 5mbps on the regular service, which is not really bad, but not the 15mbs that we're paying for. Anyway with Boost, that seems to drop to about 22mbps, still worthwhile. THere are often complaints that CV doesn't split the areas when they become oversaturated, but I know that's not the case, as CV finally put the 160 townhouses behind my property on a separate box as a part of the docsis 3 upgrades. Even my non-boost service improved when they did that.
Finally, CV is against metered internet. I am always happy to hear that and happy that I am not in a ATT, TW or Comcast area where they seem to keep talking about this as a viable standard. This is an attempt to go back to the very early days of computer usage and bill you for your cpu time. CompUServe used to bill $25/hr prime time for what would seem extremely slow speeds. (I used to have a 300 baud and a 1200 baud half duplex modem to dial up with - cost $500 back in the 80's but then so did a 10mb hard drive.)
11/1/07 - 6 YEARS! TIme flies. OOL continues to make me a liar by announcing that there will not be any increase in rates for the OOL service. But still after all this time , the newserver still sucks, and email can vanish or be unreasonably delayed. CAPS however, seem to have vanished as no one has posted having them in a while, and I'm running my BT uploads not at full throttle but at a healthy 50KB. Boost is looking good to me for the bigger mailboxes (assuming I can get the mail in the first place). While the FIOS people are announcing synmetrical services, the complaints about rate increases, customer service and instability in the FIOS network are increasing. We all await what will happen if CV gets purchased by someone not the Dolans, the complaints about TW and Comcast are about things we don't want to have here.
8/8/07 - After 3 years, they have not changed the pricing, but they have improved the service. Tiered pricing has arrived, but they offer no cheaper tier and more services with higher speed (and priced) tiers. Can we expect to see even faster base tiers? It all depends on FIOS. Some people say that this is a issue for those areas with it, but with FIOS's extra fees (they are a Telco which has to charge the taxes, etc that CV is exempt from), some people are switching back. My area got split/rewired to support some townhouses they put in behind me, so my speeds and service are not bad at all, most of the time. CV continues to have the highest penetration. It's a shame they can't do better in apartment houses and coops where wiring is always an issue.
4/7/06 - Higher speeds have ben applied to the network and the normal user can expect to get 2mb upload and 13+mb downloads. Boost service which is 30mb download and 2mb upload is also available for up to $15 extra depending on what other CV services you subscribe to. Both Boost and the normal upgrade may require you to upgrade your equiptment. Some of CV's older cablemodems are not capable of the new speeds. For the first time "B" wireless networks will be slower than the Wan connection. Many routers can not handle more than 10mb WAN connections. Even if they can the SPI and other firewall and antivirus/spam functions on the router or your computer will trim that down. As an example, a new version 6 NetGear MR614 Wireless G will only produce 5mb downloads with the SPI firewall enabled, and 9mb without. It claims a 100mb wan port but doesn't have the processing power to do the upgrade. Linksys WRT54G (version 4 and earlier) can be loaded with third party firmware to give up to 28mb without the SPI firewall, and 18mb or so with. There are a couple Dlink's that claim 60mb throughput (gamer models) with SPI enabled, and you may need these to get the 30mb throughput. Additionally, the 30mb throughput people are being put on a different frequency range than the regular net folks. This is very good news as the heavy users may not clog the network as much, but the 2mb upload is the same all around so, perhaps people think that they can still upload without regard to anyone else. Capping is still being done, so beware.
At least with Boost they are starting to offer decent services which is why I upgraded the ratings. You can register a domain name with OOL, have your own mail server, FTP, HTTP server. Ports 25 and 80 are opened (but I think I read somewhere that you have to ask first).15, 1 Gigabyte mail boxes for your mail and 10 @yourdomain.xxx accounts (using thier server). Additionally, they will give you 300mb of web space These features are only with the additional cost Boost service. It makes them more comparible to the DSL service that is offered by Verizon in this area.
FWIW: I was capped again....a very long discussion with the 'unlock team' and the fact that I have 6 computers connected here, brought them to say that 15-17kps will keep you from ever being capped....but BT works fine with this though your ratios are blown and seeding is a joke....makes you wonder how the server stuff is going to be handled and what's the limit on that....(I read/heard 130kps but the capping people said they were not aware of any difference between regular service and Boost customers...)
2/3/06 -- Still awaiting the faster speeds here, but increasingly the network is able to handle uploads better and longer. The main reason for this is the 128kbs minimum that VOIP needs to work well. CV has stablized the network to provide this minimum upload. They may do it by limiting your download temporarily if you have constant upload. Email is still slower than it could be. I haven't tried news servers in months....
Capping seems to be back in full, they cap you now to 140kbs on the upload leg. You can still download, but what happens is that the repsonse time from the DNS servers is so bad during peak hours and your response to web servers makes them respond slowly. I think that it's not a issue of upload values as I admit to uploads at 50kps which is under the cap amout, but that you are flooding the upstream links with BT connections comming and going.
12/13/05 -- Well, I'm not the first to report it, but they have announced a 50% increase in the basic speed for everyone to 15/2mps at no price increase. For $9 -$14 more a month, they will give you 30mbs download service. I swapped my old SB4100 modem out for the SB5100 series to be ready when they get to my area. Should be completed in July '06.
CV has held the prices steady for 3 years now. The new Tier services aka Boost represent the first increases, but you will get double the standard speed.
With that 30mbs service you can host a FTP, HTTP or mail server too. Uploads are limited to 128kps. Might as well get a real hosting service if you want to do more than put up some photos of the kids..I have GIGS of photos on Kodaks web site and it costs nothing, I just have to buy a few prints now and then.
They have upgraded the mail server software to the newest SUN package, it seems much better and faster, but they also have many more mail-stores than in the past.
News services are farmed out and sometimes really really slow under well under 100kbs. I've pretty much given up on them.
3/10/05 - Many of the OOL users updated and revised thier reviews downward. The entire Unhappy Camper list on the front page of DSLR was OOL. The cap disapeared. Some speculate it was a system problem, but if it was, then I, at least, think that they would have admitted it, they could have garnered sympathy. Yesterday, Verizon announced officially which towns would have FIOS before the end of the year. Wycoff, Franklin Lakes, Oakland are the towns nearest me. Except for Passaic, Verizon has cherry picked the most affluent towns in Bergen County. I wonder when and if they will do Pompton Lakes.
3/09/05 - Well, I haven't been updating this, there simply wasn't that much new to comment on. But, now there is:
UNANNOUNCED AUTOMATED THROTTLE NOW ON OOL. IF you have a serious download - say a Linux distro -- and it takes over 10 mintues, you will find that you will go into a pattern of full speed for 10 minutes, 3mb for 10 minutes. Very annoying.
Capping: I believe that capping is strickly based on complaints from other on the same node as you and/or flooding of CV's servers by requests to connect with your active BT due to incorrectly configured software on your machine. Once you get capped however, your node is added to a monitoring list making it harder to used P2P software. FWIW: I have been capped twice now, once for 100kbs and once for 50kbs running over an hour. Since I am collecting certain shows as they are released, I can usually get them in 15-20 minutes. The techs who restarted my service said that you can't do it continously for an hour, and you should take a break. I believe that there are software packages that will do this kind of stop and start TCPIP on windows and linux distros.
2/5/04- I still don't understand how some people can claim that they are getting good service with the news server, my non-windows programs for scanning the programs (which are RFC compliant) simply can't connect for very long 1-2 minutes). Moz will connect and download everything, but I don't want that as I have programs to strip out the mime and put the UUE stuff together for me.
12/04/04 - Current Status: well if you take the time to read what I've posted in the past, one of my posts about the outsourcing of the news server has actually happened. Unfortunatly they picked some service, I forget which, which totally sucks. I have a couple automated newsreaders that check on a time schedule and will plow through entire newsgroups looking for downloads, and although they can connect once they've plowed through a few hundred messages (mostly the spam) they stall, and don't actually download anything. Mozilla seems to work fine, but I don't have the time. So on this basis, I still downgraded OOL's news services. Even text groups are affected by this lousy connection policy.
Mail for me has been about the same. The bulk folder still doesn't work. They have a nice touch with the home page for OOL
and a sign on cookie that will say "You have mail" and tell you the number of messages, however, I find that this is not always correct as when I go to my non-windows computer which is constantly polling my multiude of email accounts every few minutes, and ask it to download the nn messages that the OOL home page claims, there are none. and it wasn't downloaded in the prior automated session either. There must be some sort of sync problem between the two machines.
Speed is still the thing, but it is totally possible that like most people who live in areas with a high acceptance of OOL, and Optimum Voice, that you are experiencing slowdowns. Lots of people are complaining on the boards.
OOL needs serious improvement to thier DNS servers. They are too slow, and overworked. I was getting way too may 404's on major sites. I stopped using them by changing my router to use other DNS servers.
DSL has been improved and if you are under 10K feet from the CO you may be able to get 3mb service from Verizon for $15/mo less than OOL. If you fall into this category, I would say go for it, as Verizon doesn't seem to have the complaints regarding the news server, etc. I will mention that Verizon has removed some binary groups from thier service according to some articles I've read.
Right now, I get 5-7mb service most of the time. But if your cables are loose, waterlogged, weather/animal damaged, etc, you won't get those speeds. In a lot of areas the wiring in the streets is damaged. Complain have CV come and fix it, it will improve your cable television services too. And I've run BT software uploading several gigs over a few days (emphasis on DAYS) at a time limited to 40kb/sec total without being bricked. There still is no official posted policy for bricking, and I suppose at this point they will never publish one, as only a few people uploading will ruin the node for an entire neighborhood.
What to look for in the future? Well, Verizon has started putting out FIOP to a number of neighborhoods in the OOL territory. This may force OOL to do the upgrade to DOSCIS v2 which will double the speeds. This will be expensive for CV but since it will not require rewiring not as drawn out as the original rollout. Just a chip/board change on all those silver boxes in the streets out there. I don't see much in the way of price changes as $50 is sort of the max that most people will pay, and they are sorely jealous of the $29 intro pricing.
------ Original Review 12/2001-------------
In mid-December 2001, I braved the Mall crowds (it was crowded here in Northern NJ), went to the Wiz (a cablevision company) and purchased a $99 modem with a $29.95/12 mo contract for OOL.
When I got home, unpacked the modem, plugged it into my router (I already had DSL) and reconfigured that router for OOL rather than PPPoE, it was up and running at about 2 MB/sec. I spent a couple days re-tweaking each machine for the faster OOL. I was rewarded with 4mb/sec at each box. I had cable running from my living room to the home office, but it worked.
A visit to the Cablevison Customer Service department, and I got a bi-directional amp to compensate for my wanting to put the modem on the 3rd split in my house. Amp cost $26.00, and they gave me two splitters free.
I had the CV people come and put in a new drop in my office, that was free. Took a week to get them to come, they came one time and left in less than an hour.
After the tweaking and in my final setup, I generally get 5-6mb. I had to upgrade the firmware on the router to attain that speed. I think that's pretty good for 3 splits, an amp and a SMC Barricade router. No complaints. If you check out the OOL speed charts here, you will find that most people are getting 3.5mb, and that is the level of service that you will find getting official help from OOL will end at. Like most Help Desk people they are only really knowledgeable about Windows ? I run OS/2 on one box.
When I don't get that kind of throughput, it drops to about half. Why? Well, maybe someone is running too many peer2peer servers or game servers and unlike DSL what the other person in your neighborhood does, can affect your speed. But frankly, 2.5mb is fine; when it drops to 80K it's annoying. If this happens your best bet is to visit the LIOPTONLINE mail list at yahoogroups.com. OOL techs and IT people participate in that mailing list, and have been willing to check out a connection (remotely) after normal hours to see if there are problems in your network segment, and turn that information over to the proper OOL Network people.
The only other problem is that pricing. I wish I had signed for a two-year contract at the time. At the end of December OOL announced a price increase. Cablevison is/has been notorious for rate increases. On the other hand, they have upgraded the whole system to fiber, and are in the process of rolling out digital (more money for the setup boxes). With my OOL, the bill is going to be a bit over a hundred a month, and I have the lowest qualifying tier of service for a reduced rate on OOL.
Verizon, with whom I had my DSL account, honored my pricing after the contract ran out and they raised rates. Yes, it wasn't as fast, but after it was working (a month in my case) and Verizon fixed their network, it was very reliable and consistent, but 1/10th the speed of the cable.
======UPDATE after nearly 6 months===============
1. Again OOL is all about SPEED, not much else matters, and as long as your neighborhood network node is not overloaded (there are reports of some being overloaded with a result being severe slowdowns) you can tweak up your machine and get great download speeds. Remember however, that OOL's speeds are within the OOL network, and that means that you are only as fast as the outside net, you may be able to get 10/mb downloads from OOL's server, but you will be lucky to find web sites that can give you that web page faster than 300K in the normal course of things. YMMV.
2. Like every ISP startup, OOL has not been able to provide great service beyond the connection so, there have been many complaints about the news server which is overloaded (they only allow two connections at the same time) and they have limited space allocations. For some busy TEXT newsgroups there may only be a day's postings forcing you to visit daily.
3. Unlike other ISPs OOL does not offer any web space. If you were looking to share family photos without the bloat that sending them by email causes, OOL is not the place and you'll have to find some other service on the web to share.
4. OOL blocks port 80 and servers are against the TOS.
5. OOL has no web based access to thier email server. You must configure a email client (e.g. Outlook, Pandora, Netscape, PMMail2000, etc.). [A Web Interface has been installed, see later portions of this review.- SBS]
6. OOL has no dial-up when the service is out. I was offline from OOL for 30 hours after severe weather moved through my region. This also means that if you travel and want to connect you can't. I have an account with another ISP that offers dialup, web space and email scanning so that I can make up for the missing services. [OOL offers OOL Traveler, an extra charge dialup service, see later portions of the review. - SBS]
7. OOL is owned by a company notorious for annual rate increases. Shortly after I got OOL the pricing for the service went up $10 a month. Non-cablevision subscribers pay up to $49 a month for the service, and a lot of subscribers feel that for the speed that you get that's all that matters. When you signup for OOL take the longest contract (usually 2 years) that you can purchase, you won't be sorry.
OOL has been spending a lot of time and money upgrading the News Server which I complained about in the update. The text groups (at least those that I follow) now have about a week's worth of postings. Downloads are capped apparently based on the load/time of day around 500K. Connections are still capped at 1 or two connections.
At this time, there has been a lot of discussion on the Yahoo Group LIOPTONLINE regarding what to do about this with some OOL executives. In todays world, a bit less than 500 Gig of news feeds are appearing daily, the vast majority of them in what are refered to as the "Binaries" groups. This information is usually copyrighted materials that are being pirated, and there is discussion if this should be treated differently than the text groups so that more text can be stored and retrieved at higher speeds. Interesting stuff and based on the posted discussion, I didn't realize that there were people who download many gigabytes daily collecting old tv shows and movies.
On another point, the issues are still the same, no matter how fast OOL is on it's own network, either the web itself, caps at the originating sites or OOL's multiple connections to thier backbone provider is not enough to give anything really remarkable outside thier network. And as CV (OOL's parent company) rolls out it's IO digital TV services over the same network, I believe that we will see some degrading of the service for the 'pure' internet.
Update ===== 7/30/02 ==========
1. Improvement in news server? Well, the text groups are getting even more space. Want to download any binaries? Go elsewhere or plan on doing it daily with a program that hold incomplete binary parts for a few days. (News Harvest is one.)
2. I upgraded my router (I have three PC's connect, and a print server) to a newer model, and I get the full 10mb that OOL can offer. Still 5mb is normal for me. You must spend time to tweak your PCs. You may need to re-tweek after installing any communications type software.
3. OOL and DSLREPORT members still promote the KISS method of install, put your cable modem behind the very first split. This is not always possible, and you can still get great speeds. My modem is behind the 3rd split. I have an OOL approved bi-directional amp just before the second split. Works great. I get the full bore download at times when the network isn't busy.
4. OOL has live support via the web. That service doesn't support anything but windows operating systems. Phone Live support can be more helpful on an indivdual basis, but policy is not to help once you are above 3mb and/or not at all on a non-Windows system.
5. Watch out for the Wiz trying to get rid of older cable modems. The Motorola 4100 Surfboards are better than a lot of the other models except for the TeraJet.
6. Take a contract. The no contract option exposes you to all rate increases OOL may wish to make. There is no uility board in NJ to protect you.
1. My contract has run out. My new rate will be $44.95 a month as of a couple days from now.
2. Web mail is now availble for free. Some functions work best with Internet Explorer due to OCX or other MS only functions.
3. For an additional cost you can have travel access to OOL. There are special conditions for the charges that you should investigate. A cheap 9.95 dialup may be better.
4. News server is better, but still not great.
5. Mail server is better but still not great or 100% reliable and still very slow at sending out email and getting it. They have added Brightmail and virus scanning.
6. Continued price increases.
7. Caps. What they are, who knows? But if OOL detects (they use a program) that you are uploading too much or too long, they will put a temporary cap in place. You have to beg Customer Service to have it removed. Takes 2 days I hear.
8. CV has done a heavy rollout of thier digital service (iO) which also uses DOCIS as it's basis. There may be more shared bandwidth issues where they have implimented QOS protocols however, the upstream packets are few are far between. Same for VOIP service.
9. Still no webspace.
10. When I had my iO (digital cable) installed, they had to replace several segments of cable inside and outside my home. That resulted in a 7db improvement of the signal. The bi-directional amp was moved to just prior to the Cablemodem where I have fantastic signal strength without damaging my iO connections.
11. The CV people who are on the LIOPTONLINE and Cablevision_digital groups at Yahoo Groups are fantastic. They have been of serious help when the inital installs have been bad. (My mom got OOL at her house and the install was botched.)
1. Speed is still the thing.
2. CV went back to the $10 discount monthly from the $5 they had imposed, so my monthly is back down to $39.95.
3. Mail is faster, but the Brightmail (spam filter) is NOT 100% -- an opt out function has never worked from Day One. You must use the Web Mail function to clear out your Bulk Mail folder or you may waste your 20mb mail space with SPAM before it drops the email after 30 days.
4. News server is sporadic. People who are downloading GIGABYTES of data to make DVD's of shows and such complain all the time. If you are looking for more standard fare there are still thousands of binaries available. News server speeds are also very variable ranging from the slow 12K to more respectable speeds.
5. OOL now has 852K subscribers. December 2001 there was only 150K. What growth! IT can also be used as an excuse for the poor other services.
6. The answer to the 'why do some people get capped?" question has not been aswered. Also the why doesn't iO (digital cable) have more HD channels and how many more could be added without CV upgrading the hardware is also not answered. CV has a strange customer relation policy, similar to the one where the customer is treated like a mushroom - kept in the dark and fed manure.
======Update 11/01/03 ============================
1. SPEED, SPEED, SPEED, OOL manages to keep the speed coming, but won't tell anyone what the caps are for uploading.
2. ONE MILLION OOL CUSTOMERS!!! Tremenous growth, but maybe not enough invenstment in the services other than the main transport.
3. OOL has upgraded thier mail server hardware, it still sucks, but it has moments when it works correctly, and quickly.
4. SpamAway appears to have been updated/fixed according to reports, elsewhere. However in 5 email accounts that get over 100 spam messages a day, no email has ever been id'd by SpamAway as being spam! ON the webmail portion of the mail service, they have added an icon that moves selected email to the bulk folder. Items in the Bulk Folder only last a day. I have never seen anything in the bulk folder that I didn't put there.
5. News server? Surely you jest, it is slow, my backup ISP's news server is just as fast and it's a dialup service.
6. My rate went back up to $45 a month. I get a $5 discount for subscribing to iO CV's digital TV service. January is not that far off, and that's when CV puts the screws to it's customers. a holiday tradition. Between the iO and OOL service we pay over $120/mo to CV. $1,440 a year -- how much more can they soak us for? Well, that's the January Surprise we're waiting for.
The January Surprise was an modest increase in the CV portion of the bill, OOL has stayed at $45/mo after the $5 iO discount.
I am only going to write about two items this turn, Mail and News.
Why I downgrade OOL on these services so much? I get 12,000 emails a month including SPAM which is running 33-45% overall but almost 95% on OOL accounts. Since most of my communication is via email -- reliable filtering, reliable delivery and reception of email is critical. As it stands, I route 80% of my email to my DIALUP email account instead of OOL's mail server, because it's faster and more reliable. Faster? Why is it faster? It's faster because when I'm on the phone with someone and I need to send a file, I can do it, and they can recieve it while I'm on the phone with them, OOL's server has not been as fast and that reduces the impact of my call. OOL also appears to have problems getting off of Black Lists and as soon as they are off of one, they end up on another. Cable affords me a 24/7 connection, and my client email program runs and gets email on all of my accounts 24/7, every 2 minutes. My DIALUP ISP can filter out all viruses accurately, they have an ADJUSTABLE spam filter, that I can change the parameters of so I have it set at 90% likely that email is spam, I could make it 91 or 99 percent likely. OOL doesn't allow the same functions. OOL can't get the bulk folder working correctly. It is therefore not reliable since it may false positive my email. It ain't just about speed, and I have to pay $20/mo more to be comfortable with my email service.
Mail -- well they attempted to return to the practice of moving Spam to the BULK Folder which you can only see when you use the Web Mail interface. It worked for about a week or two, now nothing. I strongly recommend that you put Anti-spam filters on your PC's email program (or use Mozilla or Netscape's Tools which has a 'baysnean' filter which usually work very well) and turn of the SpamAway on your account. Although you will have a dramatic increase in the number of emails, you will be able to at least review the spam for errors in detection. Even with SpamAway turned on and properly moving the email to the Bulk Folder, you would have to remember to use the web interface every couple of days to prevent dropoff.
I think that OOL has two issues they have to solve, and that is how do they allow every account to possibly accumulate 20mb of spam and then roll off only a few mb per day or get more people to use the Web Interface.
As far as the Web Interface goes, it's improving. Take a look at the OPTIONS page, you can set it up to require spell checking, the address book is okay but there is no way to coordinate it with your own address books. They finally fixed the errors that appeared when you used a non-Microsoft browser to access it.
News: what can I say? In my humble opinion (IMHO), it is WORSE than ever and it is at the point of being TOTALLY UNUSABLE. I use my dialup ISP's newserver which serves via the web at the SAME RATE OF TRANSFER (but with consistent speeds and no breaks from the server) as OOL's, and they only have 40,000 customers, not 3.5 million. OOL needs to rethink news services and how they can best continue servicing thier customer base. Outsourcing may be the way to get rid of the headache that Usenet feeds have become. OOL makes enough money, and they can use the hardware dedicated to the news server to upgrade the mail servers.
FWIW: I upgraded my 4 port router to 8 ports. I have a wireless AP too for the laptops. My oldest PC a k6-III 400Mhz died and a new P4 2.4G w/800mhz FSB and ATA133 drives has just arrived.