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Six Month Rating

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Review by fivebyfive See Profile

  • Location: Morgan Hill,Santa Clara,CA
  • Cost: $25 per month
  • Install: about 4 days
Good "Fast installation"
Bad "Installers hacked up some of my existing cables"
Overall "Good value for the money"
Pre Sales information:
Install Co-ordination:
Connection Reliability:
Tech Support:
Value for money:
(ratings match consensus)

I switched to Charter Internet LITE after my previous DSL provider's service quality degraded to an unacceptable level. The service that I chose is basic, unbundled Internet-only for $24.95 per month, plus a $50 installation charge. I purchased my own Motorola SB6121 SURFBoard eXtreme DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem, setting me back about $120, including sales tax. Although the up-front costs were a bit high, I expect to recoup the expenses in less than a year due to reduced monthly cost. I'm getting 3 Mbps download speed, compared to 1.5 Mbps with my previous DSL service.

It's too early to assess reliability, but a neighbor who has been a long-time Charter customer (but not a member) assured me that his Internet outages were rare and brief, no worse than what I experienced with Verizon-provisioned DSL. That's what finally convinced me to try Charter.

The time from order to installation was rather quick, perhaps partly due to my opting to provide my own equipment, or perhaps because the local office had a canceled or rescheduled appointment, allowing me to get service quicker than normal. I was given a two-hour window for the installation and the installers arrived within the first 30 minutes of the period. I already had cables and modem in place when the crew arrived, and they decided to trash my installation and start over, unnecessarily destroying $10 worth of RG-6 cables. (This seemed a bit dubious, as I'm an electronics engineer with 30+ years of experience in high speed signaling; I know that the materials I had chosen were perfectly adequate for the purpose and fully equivalent to those supplied by Charter. The installers seemed to be operating by rote, not understanding what they were doing.)

After turning on the modem and phoning in the modem's MAC ID to get network authorization, the installers didn't even bother to verify that I could get on the Charter network. It's just as well, since I'm running a mix of Windows 98 and Linux machines, and it's rare to find technical support representatives who have familiarity with them. It took a bit of fiddling with the settings in my Netgear wireless router and a few reboots of all the network gear in my LAN, but after a couple of hours everything was working correctly.

I find Charter's Web Mail service just plain weird: It runs in a separate browser window as an Adobe Flash application, of all things! Fortunately, my Linux setup runs the latest version of Flash, but anyone who has a machine that can't run the latest version of Flash or can't run Flash at all will be out of luck and will need to subscribe to another email service. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, it isn't possible to turn off the spam filter in Charter Email, so Web Mail access is imperative to periodically check whether important messages might be caught in the spam folder. I'm normally accessing the Charter inbox via a POP client to read messages. A work-around is to set up IMAP access as the default in one's email client, which makes the Junk folder accessible, although one can't have an IMAP client and a POP client running simultaneously, as the IMAP client locks the email account and prevents access from other clients. While one can move items from Junk to Inbox with IMAP, it does nothing to retrain the filters at Charter to make them not classify similar messages as junk in the future.

The Charter regular SMTP outgoing server is non-authenticating, making it convenient to create whatever email identity one chooses for one's reply address, but it has the disadvantage of being inaccessible unless one is at home, physically connected to the Charter cable network. Fortunately, they offer a "mobile" authenticating SMTP server, on port 587, that requires a username and password to send messages, which can also be used on desktop machines or on portable machines while at home or on the road. This isn't an issue for Thunderbird or SeaMonkey users, since the mail client remembers the login and password, which only needs to be entered the first time one sends a message through the SMTP server.

Update — 11 April 2012

I recently learned that Adobe has dropped Flash support for Linux, Internet Explorer 6 and earlier, and all Mozilla browsers, including Firefox, SeaMonkey and rebranded versions thereof. Security patches will be available for Linux for five more years, but no new Flash plugin releases. This is of serious concern with regard to Charter's account maintenance system, as ALL of it depends on Flash. Google has announced that they will embed Flash support in their already bloated, slow Chrome browser, which is available for Microsoft Windows, Linux and Mac OS X 10.5+ (Intel only). Unless Charter redesigns their user interface to use HTML and Javascript, in the future one may be FORCED to use Chrome or to log in via a Windows machine running Internet Explorer 7 or later just to perform minimal account maintenance!

member for 8.3 years, 78 visits, last login: 1.2 years ago
updated 3 years ago