Review by Daemon
Good "Fast, reasonably priced."
- Location: Berkeley,Alameda,CA
- Cost: $50 per month
- Install: about 1 days
Bad "Customer support is sometimes useless."
Overall "Set it up and then pray you never need to call support."
|Pre Sales information:|
Value for money:
(ratings match consensus)
Update 3/19/14: After living at an address not connected to the cable system for some time, I am back at a comcast served address and have reconnected service with them. We are on 50/10 service for $50/mo for the first 12 months. As usual, they screwed up the first bill and charged us the non-promo rate at first, but have promised to fix it. Fortunately, they did not try to bill me for a modem as I own my own.
One thing not mentioned when I bought service is that customer owned modems do not connect automatically--they require a call into customer service to get activated, which requires reading the MAC and SN off the modem. The first time I did this I got disconnected and had to call again, but the second time things went through okay and connected fine. It turns out Comcast saves MACs from old modems, so had I lived in the same service area as before, the modem would have reconnected without a call (I moved 40 miles so that was not an option).
Dual-stack IPv6 is active in my area, and I am actively using it. Unfortunately, there appears to be either a misconfiguration of the CMTS or a bug in my router firmware that prevents my primary router from getting a routing IPv6 information properly, but a secondary router I configured is working.
Customer support on Comcast continues to get better and better--I have several options to talk directly to network engineers about more complex problems, and the people at 1-800-COMCAST are getting faster and faster at handling basic issues.
Having been a customer now for 10 years on and off, I have to say the value for the money is top notch--the prices have barely changed in 10 years though the speed has increased about 10x.
Update 9/1/11: the IPv6 trial is still ongoing. The local 6-to-4 servers that Comcast maintains transparently manage my IPv6 traffic. I am still waiting for dual stack or native IPv6 support, but I can understand why Comcast would proceed with caution. We are now at 30mbps down/6mbps up as measured by the FCC/SamKnows internet monitoring trial we're part of, without any price increases. They've also enabled upstream channel bonding, which should mean much less channel crowding during peak hours.
1st tier phone tech support still results in 'restart your modem', which is a drag. On the other hand, the comcast direct forum here, as well as the comcast twitter account, are staffed by high-level and competent support people and can resolve your complex issues that phone staff do not have the global view to fix. So, I am upgrading tech support from a 3 to a 4.
Comcast also still has a nasty tendency to quote one deal price via mail, quote another on the phone when you sign up, and charge a third in your monthly bill. This does not apply if you'd like to pay full price, but it is annoying if you are not. Thus, I still maintain a 3 star 'pre sales information' review.
Update 6/1/10: Comcast has become much more technologically savvy and less paranoid. I am enrolled in a IPv6 beta trial with comcast, which, to my knowledge, is the only large residential ISP involved in IPv6 rollouts. They also allow self-installs of CableCARDS, which, although not a internet-related thing, is another example of the techno-forward new comcast experience, which is pleasing. They've finished DOCSIS 3.0 roll out in my area and I have noticed speeds stabilized and reliability improved. I have to think they have upgraded the backends so it's not nearly as over-subscribed.
Also, speeds have gone from 1.5mpbs to 12mbps in the last decade here, without any significant price increases. That changes my value for money from a 4 to a 5.
However, my major rub, the first tier technical support, still lacks. As someone involved in discussions of the merits of IPv6 tunneling versus IPv4/IPv6 duel stacks, having the rep tell me I need to reboot my modem and computer when something doesn't work makes me want to stab my eyes out.
Update 10/9/09: In recent months, comcast support has been much more helpful. They seem to have seen the light and are finally allowing total self-installs, so I no longer need a truck roll to install HSI in a new apartment. Instead, I can now go down to the local store and get a modem and kit and do it all myself, including provisioning without installing the crappy software (hint: press the 'i am a comcast tech' button in the walled garden provisioning page)
I have been disappointed with the lack of information regarding DOCSIS 3.0 availability, and, related, the cable analog to digital transition. Apparently they are going neighborhood by neighborhood here to avoid overwhelming support, but for tech heads like me it would be nice if we had the date of the changeover.
That said, comcast has been steadily upgrading speeds without changing the overall cost. I remember the boost from 1.5mbps to 3mpbs, and now we are on 12mpbs with boosts to much higher, with only small increases in price over the last 6 years. Cable is still way over priced, but internet is very reasonable.
All in all I have changed my tech support rating from 1 to 3 for them allowing me to at least do what I know how to do on my own, without requiring the hassle of a truck roll. The bills and total costs have been getting more transparent recently too, so pre sales information also gets updated to a 3.
Update 4/7/09: It has been brought to my attention that most of the basic level support people are obligated to follow the script in front of them and risk getting fired if they stray. (This call may be recorded...) So, while some of them may be able to help you, they won't because of the script comcast has designed.
So, when I call to let them know one of their border routers at the SJ NOC is dropping packets and has high latency, would they like to know the IP address, they are obligated to tell me to restart my modem and computer. (arghhhh) It also means that when I have diagnosed a connection problem to a faulty modem and I call, I have to spend 45 minutes trying all sorts of things in order to convince the person on the phone that the modem is the problem (restart the computer, remove the router, try the usb port, remove the splitter, move the computer and modem near a different cable outlet, try a different RG6 cable), even though I have already definitively proved the modem is broken.
I did move connection reliability back to 5. We've been on Comcast for nearly a year now with only one 2 hour outage, which is 99.97% uptime.
The ad hominem reply, below, from the guy in SJ is amusing. I have to wonder if he works for comcast.
Update 12/23/08: Back out of uni housing, back into Comcast. Nothing really changes with them, although our connection is incrementally faster. Also, when you provision the modem now, you have the option of pretending you are a comcast tech, which means you type in a few numbers and you're done (none of which are, say comcast badge number or anything-- just a few numbers off the modem.) OTOH, if you say you are a normal person, you have to install a bunch of POS software items you really don't want. At least I didn't need to go find an old copy of IE for Mac this time!
Old review from 2006:
Okay, so I'm back to Comcast after a two year hiatus. It's already starting to feel like a mistake.
First, I don't want the damn software on my computer. I don't need to know whether I'm configured for DHCP, because I can do it myself. I don't want IE configured by comcast. In fact, I don't even have IE installed! (I'm on a Mac).
First thing I tried to do was call them and tell them I'm running linux, so they'll register my account for me. The tech has the audacity to tell me the service is incompatible with Linux. No, it's perfectly compatible, because it uses a standard ethernet connection!
Then I relented and installed the software. Too bad it's not compatible with OS X 10.4 and corrupted my computer enough that I now need to reinstall it from scratch. On top of that, the software is extremely buggy and attempts to do things that my user account does not have permission to do.
Then I called back and explained the new problem. Luckily, I was connected to someone who went off script and registered my modem in about 2 seconds on her end. WTF didn't the first guy do that? Right, because the service is incompatible with linux...
Comcast is designed as a service for technology dummies who don't know much about networking, the internet, etc. This means that if you are technically inclined, talking to them is going to be frustrating because they both treat you like you are stupid and don't answer your questions.
(On the plus side, I am connected at 6000/768 without any problems)
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