StarBand & AT&T DSL
My experience with AT&T -
The telecommunications industries should never have been deregulated. There are now absolutely no protections for the consumer and they will screw you over at will. I’m so tired of fighting for any scrap of rights from them. They are wearing me down.
When we moved to your house in Houlton Wisconsin I had hoped we could get DSL or cable broadband, as we are just across the river from Stillwater Minnesota and as the crow flies only about 1/3 mile away, only to find out that the cable company that served us only had old analog service with 17 channels. Who could have imagined that in this day and age that kind of service still existed? So cable broadband was out, and I was told by SBS (later bought by AT&T) that I was “too far from the switch” to get DSL. We live just on the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix River from Stillwater Minnesota, where they have every kind of service imaginable. By road we are only ½ mile from there, yet we cannot get any of the services offered there as we are in a different state. Frustrating, and my only option seemed to be one of the two satellite system offered, Dish Network's “Starband” or Direct TV’s “Direct PC”, both companies were later sold. At that time Direct PC didn’t
Starband satellite died on November 27-28, 2004 came back on Dec. 3 - They had some kind of contract breakdown with the company that owns the satellites.
360 Tech Support (800) 478-2722
Nova tech support (800) 295-4315
Dialup access #'s 220-4121 and 220-4005
TT = "Talked To"
2007/01/31 TT Brooke in Sales - signed up for the new NOVA Pro modem. She will send it immediately and when I get it I have to call the sales office to set it up. S/B $49.99/mo and $299.99 for the modem, plus she said that they have a "buy back program" for the 360 modems. Speed 512 down 128 up. Very pleasant to deal with.
2007/02/09 Received NOVA modem, called Marjorie and she gave me confirm # 190808 Then called Tech support and Jeremiah walked me through getting it working. Works great speed 1154 down 71 up, which is above the download speed I should be getting.
NOVA TECH SUPPORT - 800-295-4315
IP 188.8.131.52 Do*** *****en*
02/11/07 TT Karen - They no longer have the "Modem Buy Back Program" as of last November. Someone should tell their sales department about that. She gave me the cancellation number 1541997 for my 360 account.
02/20/07 Received a call from StarBand in Illinois that they "would like to buy my modem". Funny how in these companies one hand doesn't know what the other is doing.
03/06/07 Almost forgot about the modem and mailed it Priority Mail today to:
Starband, 8 S Washington St. Sullivan IL 61951 Ref # 60064403 tracking number 0503 8555 7491 5376 4265
08/21/07 Received an e-mail that my bandwidth has been reduced due to excessive bandwidth usage. That is impossible as I was gone a good portion of the last few days. Tried calling tech support but they have at least a 30 minute wait time. Waited for ten minutes then got another call I had to answer so hung up. Redialed at 3:35 but this time I didn't get the message about long wait times. While waiting I went to my Starband account and checked my bandwidth usage which was only 618meg, far shy of the 1gig limit. Something is wrong. TT Simon at 3:50, he reset my system giving me the benefit of the doubt but we both agreed that I needed to start watching my bandwidth usage graph. Funny thing is that when I first signed on to Starband in 2003 there were no limits on usage and it was sold to me based on it being "unlimited". Nice, how they can change the rules without us having any voice in it or even being told. They have my e-mail address so the least they could do would be to inform one when they make their one-sided changes. Frustrating.
09/27/07 – Received a call from AT&T local phone company. They told me that DSL was now in my neighborhood. I told them that over the last four years + they have told me that several times and each time get my hopes up only to discover that they DO NOT actually have this service to my home. She said she would check it out and call me back.
10/01/07 – Received another call from ????? at AT&T and she insisted that she checked with Tech Support and they can serve me with 3megabit service for $24.99/mo or 6megabit service for $34.99. I am in shock, but still bet that once they get down to it they will find they cannot provide service to my home.
10/01/07 12:05 p.m.
TT Elizabeth #7208 - Asked about
contract and she said that when I upgraded to the NOVA system I automatically
agreed to a new contract and now would have to pay a cancellation fee of $499 if
I terminate before February 9, 2008. I asked to see a copy of the contract, she
said that "it is in the terms of service that I agreed to." I told her that I
never was told, nor did I agree to any changes in my service, nor to usage
restrictions. She told me that she could not help me. I told her that I would
like to have a copy of the contract "that I supposedly agreed to" sent to me as
I would like to see this one year term. She told me to go to the Web site at
http://www.starband.com (Not .net as I go to to see “my account”) and it
would be there. I asked her to point it out to me. She said "please hold", and
came back five minutes later. I suspect they hope you will hang up. But then
she walked me through finding their "Acceptable Use Policy" which she said would
answer my questions. We said goodbyes and I went to read the "Acceptable Use
Policy" that she had pointed out. There is nothing in there about a one year
term. Nothing, nada: Here it is:
SATELLITE INTERNET ACCESS SERVICE
ACCEPTABLE USE POLICY
(Last Revised July, 2006)
In order to provide all members with fair and equal use of the StarBand service and to enhance the Internet access experience by preventing unacceptable use, this Acceptable Use Policy ("AUP") has been created. This AUP governs use of the StarBand satellite-provided Internet access service (the "Service").
The Service is designed and engineered for periodic use of e-mail, newsgroups, file transfers, Internet chat, instant messaging, non real-time interactive games and browsing the World Wide Web. It is your responsibility to ensure that your activity does not impose an unusually large burden on the StarBand network or otherwise negatively affect the integrity of the system. Your activity also must be respectful of, and must not have a negative impact on, the online experience of the rest of the StarBand member community.
The StarBand Nova Pro or Residential Service is intended for use with, bandwidth consumption by and support of a single personal computer connected directly to the StarBand satellite modem or with integrated modem cards (Rx/Tx) via the StarBand Hardware. StarBand call center support is limited to this single PC and will not be extended to other computers should they be networked in such a way as to utilize the Internet access provided by StarBand. If other software or applications residing on a member's computer restrict or inhibit the ability of the StarBand software to function properly, the offending software must be removed prior to the member's seeking call center support.
The StarBand Nova Ultimate or Small Office Service is intended for use with, bandwidth consumption by and support of a single personal computer connected directly to the StarBand satellite modem. The sharing of Internet access by additional devices may result in slower speeds and unacceptably excessive bandwidth utilization. If other software or applications residing on a Small Office customer’s computer restrict or inhibit the ability of the StarBand software to function properly, the offending software must be removed prior to the Small Office customer seeking call center support.
To help ensure that all members have fair and equal use of the benefits of the Service and to protect the integrity of the Service, StarBand reserves the right, and will take necessary steps, to prevent improper or excessive consumption of bandwidth used to provide the Service. You should be aware that the networking of additional computers to access the Service may result in such excessive bandwidth consumption. The action that StarBand may take includes, but is not limited to, limiting any excessive throughput, discontinuing service via specific ports or communication protocols, and a complete discontinuation of service to the member with improper or excessive bandwidth consumption. This policy is effective and will be enforced for intended and unintended (e.g., viruses, worms, malicious code, or otherwise unknown causes) bandwidth consumption. Your on-line activity will be subject to the then-current bandwidth, data storage and other limitations of the Service, which StarBand may, from time to time, revise in its discretion and without providing advance written notice.
In choosing to use the Service, you agree that you will not initiate or participate in any of the following activities through or in connection with the Service, which constitute examples of improper use of the Service and therefore are prohibited. Engaging in one or more of these practices may result in suspension or termination of your access to and use of the Service. You may not:
1. Use the Service for illegal purposes or for the transmission of material that is known to be false, unlawful, harassing, libelous, defamatory, profane, invasive of another's privacy, abusive, threatening, harmful, vulgar, obscene, sexually explicit, hateful or otherwise objectionable; to post material, non-public information about companies, without the authorization to do so; to post or transmit third-party copyrighted information or in any way infringe on the intellectual property, contractual, or fiduciary rights of others; for the transmission of junk mail or chain letters, or to distribute bugs, viruses or such other harmful elements; to post improper messages; or to violate the letter or spirit of the Member Agreement, which is available at www.starband.net/useragreement.htm;
3. Send any spam, unsolicited mass distribution of e-mail or other solicitations, or otherwise unsolicited e-mail. Except as otherwise defined under applicable law, "unsolicited e-mail" does not include any message (i) addressed to an individual with whom the sender has a preexisting and ongoing business or personal relationship, (ii) received from a non-commercial organization or entity of which the individual is a pre-existing member or (iii) posted to a List that does not otherwise violate this policy;
4. Falsify member information provided to StarBand or to users of the Service in connection with use of the Service or impersonate someone else, including but not limited to either a StarBand employee or non-employee serving with StarBand's authorization as a chat moderator;
5. Engage in any of the foregoing activities by using the service of another provider, but channeling such activities through a StarBand account or using a StarBand account as a mail drop for responses or otherwise using the services of another provider for the purpose of facilitating the foregoing activities if such use of another party's service could reasonably be expected to adversely affect the Service;
6. Use the Service for commercial purposes; resell, share, or otherwise distribute the Service or any portion thereof to any third party; or provide network services to others via the Service.
7. Improperly restrict, inhibit, or degrade any other member's use of the Service, or restrict, inhibit, disrupt, degrade or impede StarBand's ability to deliver the Service and monitor its delivery of the Service;
8. Install automated search and retrieve programs or similar automated and manual routines which generate excessive amounts of net traffic;
9. Engage in any activity that compromises or threatens StarBand's ability to provide the Service in a reasonable and efficient manner. Examples of prohibited use include, but are not limited to, running servers for mail, http, ftp, irc, and multi-user interactive forums, and providing Internet access to others through a dial-up connection, multi-user interactive forums, or similar means;
10. Engage in any other activity which is in violation of law, or threatens the integrity of any computer system, or violates generally accepted standards of Internet conduct and usage, including but not limited to denial of service attacks, web page defacement, port and network scanning and unauthorized system penetrations.
StarBand reserves the right to implement technical mechanisms which block postings and messages which, in StarBand's sole discretion, violate this AUP before they are forwarded or otherwise sent to their intended recipients. StarBand also reserves the right to take such action as may be necessary to protect the integrity of the system, including, but not limited to, regular system monitoring, as well as port scanning and shutting down of ports affected by viruses, worms or other malicious code.
Nothing contained in this policy shall be construed to limit StarBand's rights or remedies in any way with respect to any of the foregoing activities, and StarBand reserves the right to take any and all additional actions that it may deem appropriate with respect to such activities, including without limitation, investigating suspected violations of this AUP, taking action to recover the costs and expenses of identifying offenders and terminating their access to and use of the Service, and levying cancellation charges to cover StarBand's costs in the event of termination of access to the Service. In addition, StarBand reserves at all times all available rights and remedies with respect to such activities at law or in equity.
This AUP may be clarified or modified periodically. Any member who does not agree to abide by all of the terms of this AUP should not continue to use the Service.
If you would like to report any
activity you believe to be a violation of this AUP, please direct such
information to StarBand's Abuse Department, at
10/01/07 – Continued – as you can see, there isn’t anything in this about a one-year contract. So, I went back to their Web site and after another half hour of searching found this in their “FAQ” –
Are there cancellation fees?
Yes. Customers not completing their contract's minimum term commitment will be assessed an early termination fee. Canceling service in the first year of a term commitment has a $499 fee on all plans. There is no service cancellation fee for customers outside of their contract's minimum term commitment period.
I still cannot find anything that says that I actually signed up for any kind of a contract term, nor was I ever told that I had. It keeps coming back to their repeated statement that “you agreed to our terms by getting the service.”. But one cannot “agree” to anything that they’ve never been told about. A complete impossibility and a twisting of the meaning of the word “agree”. In my mind this is willful misrepresentation and fraud. They suck you in with all kinds of great promises, never tell you of the “terms”, then once they have you they won’t let you go. I only wish I had the resources of the corporations so I could stand against them. But I’m being beaten down and I’m oh so tired of the fight.
Here is the “AUP Enforcemtn: Excessive
Bandwidth Usage” from their Web site. Notice the “date modified”. I never
receive notice of any modifications to the plans. Only wish I had saved their
entire Web site from the day I first signed up:
10/01/07 – Continued – Still can find nothing on their sites that references the one year contract term. Just spent another half hour looking for this “one year” term without success.
I went to their “contact us” form on the
http://www.starband.com site. Sent this:
Where would I find information on the actual terms of any contract signed for the service. I'm particularly interested to find out the length of the contract for the service. One year? Two year? And where can I find this documentation on your Web site?
After sending it I received this confirmation: “Your contact number is: 224258”. Let’s see if I get a response. It is now 1:35 and I have been working on this for 1.5 hours continually. Now I think I will go jump in my car and drive to the town hall where I’m told the AT&T “switch” is. From previous conversations I’ve been variously told that I must be within 4 (or 3) miles of this “switch” in order to have DSL service. They told me that I was 5 miles from the switch. Also I had called the Town Hall and after telling her I thought I was less than three miles from the intersections of County Road V and E, where the Town Hall is and supposedly the switch also she kind of laughed at me and told me that I was at least five miles from the Town Hall. I took them and her at their word and thought nothing of it. So I just drove to the Town Hall. The door was locked and they were closed but I zeroed my odometer at the intersection and looked at it as I pulled into my garage. 2.8 miles!!!!!!!!!!! So, let us see where this leads. I’m thinking that if they actually can put in the service, and if I start with the $24.99 package I’d be better off paying Starband the monthly until February of 2008 at $49.95/mo for five months than to pay the early termination fee of $499. I believe I could beat that as they have not lived up to their part of the contract and I believe that the state legislature is looking closely at these practices.
One thing I noticed when reading all that I have today was a requirement that their “certified” installer has to put a termination plate on the inside wall when installing. I had thought it looked odd that when he did my installation he just drilled a hole right through my wall and ran a cable all the way through to my modem, not meeting the requirements of their installation agreement, and as they “certify” the installer, and only their “certified” installers can install a system it seems to me they are responsible for me having a hole in my wall with no covers on it. I cannot tell you all the times I’ve not had service. Every time they have satellite problems, as when they had a dispute with the satellite provider and I lost my service, or every time rain or snow falls, at my location, or at their satellite installation in whatever state it is in. It never dawned on me that not only would I not have service when we have bad weather, but also when they do. All-in-all I’ve not been happy with Starband for the last several years, although to this point it has been the fastest service available in my rural area, even though I’m only several hundred yards from Stillwater Minnesota where they have all kinds of services.
On the StarBand site I found things such as this:
Free Dial Access Included With New Customer Contracts*
StarBand is offering 10 free hours of Dial Access per month to customers that sign a new contract. After the first 10 hours of Dial Access per month, the cost is $0.25 per hour. Unlimited Dial Access is available for $6.99/month, and customers can upgrade to the unlimited plan anytime via the StarBand Member Portal.
*Free Dial Access included with
new contracts starting September 6, 2005. After the first 10 hours/mo of Dial
Access service, the cost is $0.25 per hour thereafter each month. Unlimited Dial
Access service is also available for $6.99/month. Free Dial Access is valid only
for CONUS sites.
Notice the “to customers that sign a new contract.” -- This implies that one has to physically “sign” something. I do not recall ever signing any piece of paper in February of 2007
At 2:51 their “Spacenet Team” sent me this response:
Thank you for taking the time to write us, and thank you for the inquiry.
Contract length varies by the package you select. Specific information can be obtained at www.starband.com or by calling 1-800-478-2722.
contacting StarBand Support!
The Spacenet Team
Join the new Protection Plan for your StarBand system, protecting you against unforeseen repair and/or replacement costs from failed parts. Go to the My Account section (www.StarBand.net/member/accountinfo-02.asp) of www.StarBand.net and click the Protection Plan links for more information.
Sent: Monday, October 01, 2007 2:21:11 PM
To: DO_NOT_REPLY; DO NOT REPLY
Subject: StarBand Contact Form - Contact # 224258
Contact Number: 224258
Home Address: 38 Peterson Street
Zip Code: 54082
Subject: Pricing Question
Notes: Where would I find information on the actual terms of any contract signed for the service. I'm particularily interested to find out the length of the contract for the service. One year? Two year? And where can I find this documentation on your Web site?
10/05/07 received call from Tammy at AT&T. She tells me that there is a new switch only 1300 feet from my house and I can now get 3meg for $24.99 and 6 meg for $34.99. Her number is 877-763-3398 ext 4172. Modem would be $79.99 plus $12.95 shipping. Monthly charges will be on a separate section of my regular bill. Trouble is that Starband is about $50/mo and according to them it isn’t up till 02/09/2008, but I may just have to run it side by side for awhile.
10/06/07 12.05 a.m. Starband died. -- I guess that made up my mind. Monday I will Call AT&T. Not AT&T Wild Blue which is worthless but AT&T the local telephone company.
10:20 a.m. Internet still down. Called. On hold, but I’m not sure that they work on weekends. What a pain. I’m sitting here on hold and thinking about the whole “early termination charge” thing. No one at Starband told me about the one year term. Again, one cannot agree to something that one doesn’t know even exists. There is certainly something fraudulent about this.
10:27 TT Doug… Silly me!!! All I had to do was unplug the modem and plug it back in, wait two minutes and there it was. Do I feel like a dummy on this one. Having been a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (now seven years retired) that is the very first thing I would have had someone try. Oh well, at least I can blame it on the Methadone that I take for pain. But… what a dummy!!!
10/08/07 Called Tammy at AT&T but she wasn’t answering her phone so left a long detailed message. Hope to hear from her soon.
10/09/07 TT Tammy at AT&T again. She insists that they can serve my house with up to 6mbps so I signed up. No term, monthly and billed as an added page to my AT&T local telephone service. 877-763-3398 ext 4172 She said the modem would be coming to me in the next few days, plus $50 marketing rebate, and another $50 rebate within the next 60 days. Modem $79.99 plus $12.95 shipping. Service is scheduled to start on October 18th, between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. We shall have to see….
If problems with install call install tech at 877-722-3755 and if they have to come out it would be a $150 charge.
Will include their Wi-Fi nationwide service – http://www.attwifi.com
10/10/07 Had a call on my answering machine from an Angela at AT&T telling me that after further testing on the line they will not be able to provide me with 6.0mbps service, or 3.0mbps, but they were able to offer me “Express DSL” which has speeds “Up to 1.5mbps”. You have to love the “Up to” part of that as one really can’t tell from that what kind of service one might be getting. I’m disappointed, but not crushed as it is still at least three times faster than satellite and I shouldn’t be down every time a rainstorm or snowstorm comes through. One of the other crappy things about Starband is that when I first got the service in 2003 they sold me on it as “unlimited” usage. Over the intervening years they’ve kept selling the service while not increasing the number of satellites or the size of the “pipe”. So now they’ve instituted a “rolling maximum usage” of 1gig in a seven day period. If you use more than 1 gig of download in a week they punish you by dropping your speeds to ridiculously low speeds for at least a week. It has happened to me three times. The last time I did a speed test and was getting 112k down and 84k up. That is barely faster than dialup. Because they continue to sell the service even my regular speeds are running at best 486 down and 96 up. (I just ran another speed test to confirm this) And for $50/mo that is no rocking deal. I did call Tammy at AT&T and told her what the message from Angela said. She didn’t sound surprised and told me that it had happened before. Now it will be interesting to find out what kind of speeds I actually get.
What is the most frustrating about these experiences is the level that “one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing”. The telecommunications companies have brought this to a whole new level. I’m now convinced that Congress made a huge mistake when they deregulated the telecommunications industry. Three industries that were historically regulated to protect the nation and the consumer were telecommunications, transportation and energy. Take a look what deregulation has given us. High price, bad service, and monopolies. Heck, 70% of the news comes from papers, radio or TV owned by one man, and being very wealthy he is incredibly conservative and ruled by greed. Just that alone should tell us that we need re-regulation. Oh well…
05/10/09 Update. AT&T DSL is working just fine. Have had little problems with the service but it has never been down for more than a few minutes. I only get 1200-1500 up and 256-480 up but it is still way more than double the speed of Satellite and meets most of my needs. All around us people are getting ComCast Cable speeds that are many times faster than what I get but it will be many years before those speeds get to me. One of their jobbers called last week and wanted to know if I wanted to sell back my modem. Some time ago they wanted to buy the dish and modem for $125, but after I signed up they were supposed to send me shipping materials but I never received them and only had an answering machine to talk to. This time they only wanted the modem and will give me $25 for it. I can't imagine why they'd want an outdated modem but they did send me a box and shipping papers this time. We shall see if I get a check.
My experience with AT&T -