I was listening to a Podcast a few weeks ago and heard about this guy from Comcast who is trying to put his face out in the social media scene to act as an advocate for Comcast. He’s on Skype as ComcastCares and his name is Frank Eliason. My Comcast cable connection has been *very* poor lately and slowly getting worse over the past 6 months. I decided to give him a shot and see how much he really cared. He got William Gerth in touch with me. He is in National Customer Operations, Digital Media Outreach. William help me go through all of the basics – to no avail. My connection was consistently around 4mbps down and maybe 300kbps up. William kindly provisioned my account (as a trial) with the new Blast service (17mbps), but this had no effect. He had a technician come out and check my physical setup. He replaced every connector all the way out to the pole and removed some unneeded bits. This still had no effect. I had mentioned that my modem was one of the original DOCSIS models and maybe 6 or 7 years old. I’m not sure why they didn’t replace it on the first service call, but they came back again with a new modem. The new modem did the trick and my speed went up to 10mbps and seemed capped there. We tried directly connected to the modem (no router) and we got over 20mbps. I had an 8 port Linksys router BEFSR81 and the WAN port only went to 10mbps. We swapped this with a slightly newer Linksys WRT54G that has a 100mbps WAN port. I now easily get 20mbps down and 3mbps up. Wow! On the most optimistic (and likely closest) speed test site I get 26mbps down and 3.3mbps up.

I get the highest numbers fromĀ  Speakeasy (NYC)
My favorite and the most comprehensive site is at Carnegie Mellon University

I have a lot of networked gear here on the hill so the measly 4 switched ports on the WRT54G weren’t enough. I have a decent 10/100 switch that most of the gear is connected to. I’m now concerned about the single 100mbps link between the router and most of my LAN. This started me on a search for some new gigabit network gear. I have to chuckle a bit – who would have ever thought that that a 10mbps WAN link would prove to be too slow by more than half? There are very few routers with more than 4 ports available, even fewer under $200 and none with more than a 12mbps WAN link. Read the specs carefully, you definitely don’t want your network gear acting as a bottleneck.

I’m closing in on some SOHO equipment from Netgear. It costs a bit more than the Linksys consumer gear, but the reliability and speed are tops.

FVS336G PROSAFE ROUTER (GIABIT 4 PORT)
GS116 PROSAFE 16-PORT GIGABIT SWITCH
WNDAP330 PROSAFE 802.11N DUAL BAND WIRELESS ACCESS POINT

Even with my cobbled together gear the performance is great. I’m very happy. I’ll be keeping the 17mbps Blast service (for an additional $7 per month). I’d been so unhappy with my service for the past year I swore I would switch to FIOS as soon as it became available in my town. Now Comcast is forcing me to change my mind. FIOS is ‘only’ 15/2 and I’m now getting 20/3. Comcast did care and got me running faster than ever. I do think that they could be a bit more proactive – most people wouldn’t be dissatisfied with the poor service I had. Comcast should have replaced my old modem long ago without being asked.

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