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Setting Up Internet Service

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The first thing you would want to have setup as soon as you move into an apartment is Internet access. It's hard to live without email, Facebook, 9gag or whatever you waste your time on! Just kidding :P


Choosing An Internet Service Provider (ISP): 

In all seriousness, internet is important as you wouldn't want to miss out on emails from school or remain out of touch with your worried parents / significant others as you settle in. Now from my experience, if you are lucky you might have 2 or more ISPs to choose from: Comcast or Verizon FiOS are the most common ones. In my area I just had Comcast so I had to stick with them.

I therefore cannot comment on experiencing Verizon's support and service but they are very competitive and you can always switch to receive a better rate. Ideally I would (sadly) go Comcast for a year and then Verizon if it was an option. 


So as a rule of thumb, always compare services and see what rates are they offering to new customers. Usually for Comcast, there is a first year introductory special capped at $39.99 for 15-20mpbs connection, which jumps to $54.99 for the second year and continues to $64.99 from there on.



Setting up Service (Experience / Tips):

Setting up service was a real pain. I expected everything to go smoothly as with other services such as gas, electricity etc but Comcast is a tricky player. I am pretty sure 99% of the incoming foreign students get caught up paying extra because they are not aware of the fine-print items, which is perfectly normal since there 100 other things to worry about rather than such trivialities.

  • For Starters, always select self-install. Most likely you would be renting an apartment which has had housed similar students before you, therefore no extra wiring needs to be done and all connections are already setup. If you are unsure just ask your property management company / property manager. Not asking my management company myself was a big mistake. I instead asked the support chat representative if I needed to have their technician scheduled for an install or if I could just install the equipment myself? I was told that it would be safe to have the tech come over and perform the install to avoid delays  so I happily agreed. To my utter disappointment the tech breezed in plugged the already installed cable into the modem and went on his way and I got charged $100 for having the technician plug in power to the modem. I was however able to argue with support and have the charge waived but that wasted a lot of time and energy.
  • Another frustrating problem that can sometimes come up is SSN. Usually most representatives would be aware that international students do not have an SSN and would handle the signup process but other times they would refuse saying that you need to have a SSN to buy service. If that happens, just tell them that you can pay them the $50 security deposit to begin service. This deposit is usually credited to your account at the end of the first year and used towards your bill.


Buying Vs Renting Equipment: 

With account opening taken care of, you might want to consider buying your equipment outright from the market such as a Comcast approved cable modem, since Comcast will charge you a flat rate of $7/month for equipment charges. You can do some research on what modems are compatible and buy one for something around $80 and sell it once you are finished with school or keep it if you decide to continue using Comcast.


However, in the event that you decide to get equipment from Comcast (less stuff to worry about) be sure to ask them to send you their Wifi modem. Since sometimes they would send you a plain jane modem without wifi and you will be stuck with ethernet wires or will have to buy your own wireless modem. Comcast's new wireless modems are very good in terms of signal strength and speed so that wouldn't be a problem.


Other Tips:

  • After you begin service be vary of your bill because Comcast has a bad reputation of hiking up your bill without any reason. I would highly recommend saving emails and online correspondence for reference. There are many problems with Comcast and it is not the ideal company to be dealing with but they have monopoly in a lot of places so all you can do is be smart.
  • If you happen to be sharing your apartment with a roommate you could always get your account disconnected and have your roommate signup for service to receive the introductory price offer again. It is a minor inconvenience but can save you about $180.
  • Lastly, always remember that if a particular customer rep is giving you trouble, hang up try again and always be polite because a good attitude can work wonders! I hope this clears up some of the questions you might have and helps you avoid frustration by preparing you for what to expect!


If you have any specific questions post below and I'll be happy to help.


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Additionally, always use 'referral' services for all utilities: internet, gas, cell phone etc. It can earn you a good discount in the first month! :)

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