Switching to Comcast

This post is obsolete and screenshots have been removed.

After much angst and with great trepidation I decided to switch my broadband over to Comcast.

I called AT&T again to see if faster DSL was available and it’s not. I also checked Broadband Reports to see what other broadband providers are available to me. There really isn’t an alternative to give me higher speeds than my current DSL other than Comcast. So my choice came down to staying with my current 1.5Mbps/364Kbps DSL connection or switching to Comcast. With no DSL upgrade in sight and more and more annoyances with my current speed I decided to upgrade. I’d been with Comcast before and still had the cable modem and router from back then so at least there wouldn’t be any hardware costs. Plus I still get Cable TV through them so there’s an active connection. I chose speed over price and customer service.

So late Friday night I placed the order online for Comcast while working late at the office. They’re running what now seems a typical 6 month discount on the packages. I went with the “Premium” plan mainly because of the higher upload speed. The “up to” speeds are 8Mbps down and 768Kbps up. Even though I had everything I was still required to spend $10 for the self-install kit. Much to my surprise I was also required to have an online chat session to confirm the order. The rep initiated the session almost immediately. I spent most of the time waiting for the rep to “enter the work order” which was a bit of a concern. I had visions of everything being re-typed. I’d never had a good experience with Comcast customer service and was hoping an online order would avoid human errors.

On Sunday I decided to hook up the cable modem to see what would happen since my online account showed the billing had gone through. Sure enough when I started my browser the Comcast sign-on form came up. They pretty much required I install their software so I canceled out on my Mac and fired up my old Windows XP laptop I use for testing. I figured I’d use the old laptop and use their software, this way if I had any speed complaints I’d be “100% official”. Plus it was the path of least resistance. I ran the install and configuration wizard and went through the setup. It set up my account and email address but also installed their “Desktop Doctor” software and “Configured Internet Explorer”. Then it rebooted the modem.

I did a speed test at Broadband Reports and ran some speed tests with the laptop connected directly to the modem and doing nothing else. The results are below.

Once I knew everything was working I pulled out my Linksys WRT54G router and set it up. It needed a firmware update but other than that the installation was easy. I did need to replicate the Mac address of the PC I ran the setup on. I wired my iMac up to the Linksys and have been using it for a couple of hours.

Here’s the speed results from my first test directly from the laptop to the cable modem so there’s nothing else on the line. Considerably lower than the “up to” speed for downloads. This was done right after the setup.

 

Then I rebooted everything and waited 15 minutes or so for things to settle down and ran another test. The download is above the “up to” speed while the upload is pretty close.

Generally speaking I found the Flash test to have higher results than the Java results (which questions the accuracy of both). I also found the New Jersey server to have slower results than other servers when the tests were done back to back. So after setting things up on the iMac I did a Flash test to the New York server with these results.

A series of tests done with various servers were in the same ballpark except for a couple extreme variations. Click on any of the test results to go to the Broadband reports speed tests page to run your own test. (Broadband Reports and DSL Reports are the same website.)

Browsing is of course noticeably faster which would be expected even if Comcast gave me 1/4 the rated speed. What I really wanted was the uploaded speed. I started a backup to Amazon S3 using some software I’ve been testing and that showed an average upload speed of over 700Kbps while copying 21MB.

I have to say I’m happy with the results. I’m getting the upload speed I’m told is the “up to” speed. The download speed is more than I need for now but it’ll be nice to have. When I left Comcast the first time I was getting about 50% of the “up to” speed they advertised. It remains to be seen what the future will bring. My broadband bill will jump 50% during the 6 month promotion and a total of 250% once the promotion ends. In return I get a 500% increase in download speed (assuming they meet the “up to”) and a 200% increase in upload speed.