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Review by Nelson469
Good "rock solid network, able to camp on an IP address for 60 days at a time."
- Location: Palmer,Matanuska Susitna,AK
- Cost: $49 per month (12 month contract)
- Install: about 6 days
Bad "customer service, questionable level 2 tech support."
Overall "when it's up, it's up and hitting 999 availability."
|Pre Sales information:|
Value for money:
I've had MTA for quite some time. I started off with the 256kps SDSL, was auto upgraded to 512kps SDSL, then was forcefully moved to 512kps ADSL (company was doing an "upgrade"). MTA has a 10gig cap, and will email/call when you are getting close to the edge of going over your limit.
Over the years their speeds have dropped. When it was first installed, I was getting 10-18ms ping times back to their local DNS server (this was SDSL). After the "upgrade" to ADSL, the times increased to 47-55ms to the local DNS server.
Later, I started to have slow connectivity. After doing some investigation with visual route (great tool that will rat your ISP out) it was showing me there was bandwidth issues between MTA and their POP (point of presence). Further investigation showed the POP was located in some little town in New Jersey. It was confusing to why a Alaska based ISP had their POP located on the east coast. When I called MTA on slow connectivity issues, their reply was they would put a trouble ticket in with their POP provider. After weeks of slow connectivity, I bypassed MTA and contacted the POP router's owner (AT&T) on the matter. AT&T replied that it was slow because of packet lose (dumping 50 pounds of crap into a 5 gallon bucket, you're going to lose some). I called MTA again to give them an out, and got the canned reply of "we're working on it".. I told them it didn't wash and that I had talked with the POP provider and I knew they were BSing. Shortly after that, the connectivity jumped up and the POP moved to Seattle.
The "upgrade" to ADSL was not painless either. I was issued a new DSL modem and was told it was plug an play. It was not. I had a field tech come to the house and insist it was the house wiring. After setting up a card table, UPS, new DSL modem and a laptop plugged into the NID on the side of the house (NID connection takes the house wiring out of the equation), only then did he admit it was MTA's copper to the DSLAM was not up to par (hmmm.. must have been when MTA contractors ditch witched the buried cable and gas line in my yard two years prior and spliced the cable back). The solution was swapping the modem out with another brand. After a week, I noticed that I was only getting 345kps. I called and MTA had to raise the bandwidth to 768kps to get the 512kps to the far end.
Calling tech support on the other hand.. ARG! The level 1 techs read from a script. I try to cut through the BS and get to the actual troubleshooting, but they insist on treating me like joe user. I insist on talking with a level 2 because level 1's are wasting my time by having me do everything that I've already done before I called. The level 2 techs in the past were knowledgeable and knew networking. After getting past the zombie level 1's, it's easier to get a solution with a level 2, because we're talking and understanding at the same level of expertise. The last level 2 I delt with had more "I don't know"s than he had answers.
Through all of this, my DSL modem and router have been connected to a UPS. I monitor the time length of how long I've camped on an IP address and it's been most impressive. 60 days on an IP address without a DHCP renewal is VERY impressive. Reliability of MTA DSL would be 4-9hrs of down time throughout the year. I have to give them 5 stars and flying colors for this.
Customer support gets 1 star for making something simple (disconnecting the second line, and moving DSL over to the home number) into something complex. I've had 5 days of down time for this simple process. Failing to call back when requested in the work order, "I don't know" is not an answer, "your house wiring must be the problem" is certainly the wrong answer.
member for 4.3 years, 5 visits, last login: 1.7 years ago
lodged 4.3 years ago
Review by Owlbet
Good "Tech support is STILL top-notch"
- Location: Palmer,Matanuska Susitna,AK
- Cost: $45 per month (12 month contract)
- Install: about 5 days
Bad "20 GB download limit, 50 GB would be perfect for this household."
Overall "Affordable & Speedy"
|Pre Sales information:|
Value for money:
Well, MTA has listened. My gig limits have doubled to a whopping 20 GB per month. I can now view Alaska Aces away games on B2 Networks (pay per view), view Hulu & YouTube, and listen to music without getting the dreaded email from MTA that I'm about to exhaust my monthly allotment of gigs. Twenty gigs is a start, I'd be content with 50. With that allotment, I can upload videos to YouTube. My upload speed has increased from 512 MB to 768 MB. For $15.00 more per month, my down/up speed can jump from 8/768 to 10/768. For now, I'm staying put at 8/768. The DTV still works flawlessly. I just need an HD set top box or two. I'll wait till the holidays are over before I consider the HD boxes.
I haven't had any serious issues with MTA, although I recently had a technician to the house to troubleshoot drastically reduced download speeds. These problems are as elusive as ghosts. He couldn't find a problem. He reset the port at the CO and all seems well.
All in all, MTA has been delivering what it advertises and I've adjusted my review accordingly. I'm a happy camper.
Why should I sing the praises of Matanuska Telephone Association? They certainly don't listen to me or to its other subscribers that are clamoring for increased download limits. So until such time that MTA increases the upload/download limits to a more acceptable and realistic level, I really have nothing favorable to say about my internet provider. I have a high-speed internet connection. What good is it if I'm capped at a 10 GB upload/download limit? I guess I could sign up for the "all-you-can-eat" plate at $130.00 per month. Guess what? It's only offered at the 768/768 speed level. After experiencing the 8 meg connection, why would I want to go back to 768? It's a no-brainer to stay at 8/512. I could spend $60.00 for an additional 20 GB a month for a total of 30 GB. That makes my internet connection $105.00 per month. It's not worth it even at that price. So I stay at my 10GB limit for $45.00 per month. I'm not a downloader of movies and music. That's theft! I just want enough upload/download to comfortably watch ALL the Alaska Aces away games on B2 Networks, the daily online episodes of CBS's daytime drama The Young & the Restless, missed episodes of Survivor during their twice yearly series, occasional You Tube videos, and more than a few minutes of my favorite web cams without having to constantly monitor my usage with Matanuska Telephone Association's online usage tool. I want to be able to do more than just hang out at forums such as Broadband Reports and do email. I'd be extremely happy with a 50 GB limit for $45.00 or even $75.00 per month. I'd give up my capital credits (Matanuska Telephone Association is member owned) for increased limits.
In May of 2007, my ISP, MTA Online (Matanuska Telephone Association) was suffering 30-50% packet loss. I ran a line quality test at DSLR and the loss was indeed on the Alaska end of the internet and not somewhere in the Lower 48. Annoyed by a second consecutive day of packet loss, I called MTA to inquire about when relief was in site. While on the phone to tech support, and annoyed to begin with, I griped to the tech support person that my download speed has always been lesser than my upload. He said that wasn't right and he had a network technician call me back. The network tech called me and we ran some preliminary tests. He said I did have a problem and that he would need to schedule an on-site visit. We scheduled the visit and he showed up on a Saturday during the three day Memorial Day weekend. That was way cool.
The network technician diagnosed my problem. Unfortunately, I cannot remember what the problem was, but I had to get a new modem and be provisioned for a new line. While he was here, I casually mentioned that I had toyed with dumping my cable tv provider in favor of MTA's offering. He asked why I hadn't already and I told him that I didn't have a phone line anywhere near my televisions. He said that shouldn't be a hindrance as wireless or hard-wiring could be done. The hard-wiring could be done free of charge. The network tech said that if I was serious about that, he would provision my line in case I went that route in the future. Once I was provisioned with the new modem and new line, my download speeds were now greater than my upload speeds and I was finally getting the advertised (or more) speed.
Now that I was getting my advertised speed, I made arrangements to dump my cable tv provider and begin using my ISP's offering. Depending on what Digital TV package I selected, I could also upgrade my internet speed to 8,000/512 for an additional $45.00. I could also get 10% off my monthly digital TV bill if I selected a phone plan as well. It's a given: I have a need for speed and an even greater need for cheap long distance.
The conversion was done in stages. A network card (for lack of what they are called) had to be installed at the NID on the back of the house. This device separated phone and data and allowed me to receive via IP the digital signal for TV reception. MTA needed to run tests on that card and I was without internet for two days. Based on tests and my distance (5,504 feet) from the CO, I was eligible for three set-top boxes as well as the 8,000/512 internet speed.
Based on the size and complexity of hard-wiring my home for Digital TV, I decided to go with a wireless option for the three set-top boxes. The technician was concerned about interference from other networks (he used Net Stumbler and there were quite a few wireless networks around me, but only one network was an MTA Digital TV network) and advised me that wireless might not work for me. Three hours after arriving, everything was online. Three televisions all had reception and I ran my first speed test at DSLR while the technician was still here. I got 6,500 down / 421 up on that first test and I was happy. I asked my technician when would be a good time to cut the cord with my cable tv provider and he said the weekend would be a good test to see if interference from other networks would be a problem. I didn't wait for the weekend to be over. My new speeds and digital TV where up and running on a Friday afternoon and the next day, I permanently cut the cord with my cable tv provider.
I regularly run speed tests at DSLR. I'm aware of internet congestion and that I may never get my advertised speed. But I've been pleasantly surprised on many occasions. Not only do I get my advertised speeds more often than not, I get speeds in excess of my advertised speed. I also check the speeds of ISP rivals Alaska Communications Systems and GCI and no one even comes close to the speeds I am getting with MTA.
A sampling of my speed tests: »/testhistory/693202/5641c
MTA's best points are customer and technical service. The help desks for both the internet and digital tv are staffed 24/7. Both are staffed with sharp people. I'm happy and content with the choice I've made.
In October 2006, I received an invite from the Extended Pacific Northwest forum to sign up for line monitoring. I was appalled at the quality of my connection (512/512) and I could see latency issues at the same time every day. I figured maybe tweaking my connection (via DSLR's Tweak Forum) would improve those issues, but it made no difference. I called MTA to inquire about the congestion and they couldn't really give me a better answer. I decided to ugrade my speed to 768/768 and I'm glad I did. While on the 512/512 package, all trace routes to DSLR went through AT & T lines and took about 12-16 hops to NAC in New York. Now on the 768/768 speed package all traceroutes to DSLR ride on Time Warner lines and the number of hops to get there are about 8-10. I still see periodic congestion at this speed, but not the blatant congestion I saw on the 512/512 package. I definitely like this package better than the 512/512 I was on previously. Tech support is still MTA's best point. MTA offers higher speeds of 4,000/768 and 8,000/768 with their DTV package for $113.95 and $123.95 respectively. I am considering dumping GCI as my cable tv provider and going with the 8/768 DTV package. I'd save $16 a month including the cost of remotes and boxes by going with MTA for internet and digital tv.
I've been with an MTA (Matanuska Telephone Association) DSL subscriber for 3.5 years now and still have no complaints. Advertised speed at $50 is 512 up/down. It may be more than that as my upload speed (yes, my upload speed!) is more than 512. My upload speed is still faster than my download speed. This problem is no fault of MTA's, though. It's a problem inherent in Win XP PPPoE. I've given up on tweaking it. I don't game and I don't download, so all I care about is the pages load quickly when I click on links.
MTA offers DTV (digital television), but I haven't signed up yet. Once I get a High Definition TV I will make the switch to DTV. With DTV I will be upgraded to 768 up/down.
The other broadband option is switching to GCI Cable. Given their track record with tv cable, I think not.
Even though MTA is pricy, I still like their product.
MTA goes down now and then, but it's usually somewhere in the Lower 48 that causes problems for Alaska.
member for 11.4 years, 2217 visits, last login: 4.2 years ago
updated 4.3 years ago
Review by alaskanhusky
Good "Great Support Great Product, Blazing Speeds."
- Location: Palmer,Matanuska Susitna,AK
- Cost: $125 per month
Bad "New Technology some minor glitches"
Overall "Outstanding Service"
|Pre Sales information:|
Value for money:
I've been a customer with MTA for about 20 years now. Customer service has always been their strong point. I disagree with those that say they are pricey. The only other "real" competition here in the Valley is a cable company - GCI who touts "free, free, free" and I would think after years of this slick advertising, we'd all grow up and realize there really is nothing for free (it's all smoke and mirrors).
I'll pay for what I get. Thank you very much.
Speaking of which, owlbet posted he was looking at switching to DTV/DSL but he wants to wait. My suggestion? Don't wait.
Get it now. It's not perfect (I get the occasional blurry picture) but it's not bad either.
I signed up about a year ago. Because of the distance from my home to the local hut (where ever that is), I can only have one Cable Box and was told speeds would be on a best effort (no promises) but I could hope for about 3Mb (with the cable box in standby). That's ok. I've only got one TV (an RCA 62inch High Def) and my POS PC is bearly breathing.
So far, the service has been great. A few small glitches here and there but that's expected for such cutting edge technology. I can say for a fact, after everything balanced out, I'm getting Digital Television and almost 6Mb download speeds over my phone line (yes boys and girls, that's TV over standard twisted pair, every day run of the mill, copper phone line). 6Mb is their best effort? Kin somebody say Yeeeaaa Babieeee!
My kids love the gaming too. City of Heros is never a problem.
This is not an exaggaration. Check out »testmy.net/stats/id-4KU6AWO9R. I also took a screen shot and will post it somewhere. It's awesome! .
I've been told if I were closer to the hut, I could get 8MB! (did I read where somebody said MTA was behind the times????)
My web pages do seem to load slow but I'm sure it's probably my pc. While we're on that subject, I'm not sure what the other gripes are about. Some say MTA is behind the times but I surely don't see that. I live in the boonies just outside Palmer Alaska and I've got better service than my brother in Tampa (who has fiber buried right up to his house). Some say they are too expensivse but I don't see that either. The price is very comptetitive.
AND I can promise you this, I worked at AT&T Alascom (in Anchorage) for 17 years. If I were to call AT&T to complain about MTA's latency, and IF they even talked to me, I'd be willing to bet my next paycheck they LAST thing they would tell me is "MTA's bandwidth is saturated and dropping packets steadily, and MTA needs to purchase additional bandwidth". MTA purchases bandwidth from AT&T and nobody else. The last thing AT&T is going to do is badmouth one of their customers to their customers.
My suggestion? Take some of the comments in these boards with a grain of salt. You'll never be able to make some people happy no matter what you do for them.
For me? I'm perfectly happy with what I have. An excellent service at a good price.
member for 8.3 years, 4 visits, last login: 7.9 years ago
lodged 8 years ago