Review by iansltx
Good "Relatively painless install, MUCH faster speeds than Qwest"
- Location: Golden,Jefferson,CO
- Cost: $115 per month
- Install: about 14 days
Bad "High price"
Overall "Fast and reliable, despite little competition"
|Pre Sales information:|
Value for money:
(ratings match consensus)
Transferred the account billing information to a roommate, since I moved out of Comcast territory (see my TWC/RoadRunner review). THe process was relatively painless, and I got Comcast to give the new owner of the account a bit of a discount, to $50 per month for what is now a 15/2 connection. My SB6120 is still in Colorado, since TWC won't let customer-owned 4x4 DOCSIS 3 modems onto their network anymore.
I'm updating my connection reliability stat on this review because, as it turns out, Comcast was *definitely* the issue when I was getting lag spikes while not maxing out the connection. From what I can tell, the issue is still happening. My guess is that the issue is specific to that particular node, but it's annoying nonetheless because you either get fast and somewhat unreliable service (Comcast) or significantly slower, not much more reliable service (CenturyLink) at that particular location. I'd check to see whether CenturyLink has any faster plans now, but their prequal tool is down.
Another round of upgrades pushed my Blast connection to 25/4. I wanted more upload speed for work though, so I bit the bullet and pushed the service to 50/15 for $115 per month (not including modem rental, since my SB6120 works just fine). Speeds are consistently around or above advertised; downloads via a wired Speedtest.net test routinely hit 60-65 Mbps, with uploads sitting around 15 Mbps. I'll miss that kind of upload speed when I move to Austin (TWC territory) later this summer ...the high download speeds are nice but honestly I'd be just fine with the 25 Mbps I had on Blast.
Over the past several months I've been getting periods of super-high latency, which will disappear after several minutes. These sustained spikes don't seem to have any correlation with when the network would be heavily loaded, and I don't hear that any other Comcast users in my area are getting them, so I'm assuming that it's actually the crowded RF space around my apartment that is interfering with my wireless and bringing everything to a grinding halt. This is substantiated by the fact that, when I move my own router's channel away from others' (stupid auto-select-at-boot channel-hopping ISP-provided wireless routers!), the problem appears to subside for a bit.
Could I be mis-diagnosing the issue? Sure. But I think this one's actually "my" fault (for not getting a 5GHz router), not Comcast's. Though my high bill certainly is their fault
Also, over the past few months I have been consistently blowing through my 250GB soft cap. Specifically, March I transferred 297GB, April I hit 406GB and May I hit a whopping 758GB. The reason? Probably pushing an external hard drive up to Backblaze. Plus all manner of other internet-connected shenanigans (updates for around a dozen computers and devices, gaming, lots of Netflix, shuttling around VMs for work, a few hours of Skype here and there, etc.). Then again, I'm paying over $100 per month for internet so maybe Comcast doesn't want to alienate a long-time, well-paying customer who doesn't call in to support with stupid questions
For what it's worth, my 'net usage will probably be well UNDER the cap this month (even though there is no longer a cap)...I don't have a ton of stuff to seed to Backblaze anymore
20 Mbps with PowerBoost down, 3.5-4 Mbps with PowerBoost up. Reliable as always. On a promo right nw so paying a little under $40 per month for all that speed, including a DOCSIS 3 modem rental.
That said, performance to iTunes' segment of the Akamai CDN seems to be utter crap (200 KB/s or so). This is even with the standard Comcast DNS servers (was using their DNSSEC-enabled ones). That said, EVERYTHING else works pretty darned well.
On the 12th I got back to my apartment and noticed that upload speeds on the Comcast speed test weren't getting above 6 Mbps. Checked my modem and I had been placed on the wrong upstream channel again. Posted in the Comcast Direct forum here and the issue was resolved in the morning.
On the minus side, modem rates have gone up here from $3 to $5 per month, putting my on-promotion internet bill a little above $58 per month. Once the promotion ends, I'll be paying a little over $80 for internet service, assuming I stick around on the 22/5 tier. What's MUCH more likely to happen is that I'll drop my service down to 12/2 and give Comcast back their DOCSIS 3 modem, reverting to the cable modem that I own and paying $55 or so per month. Unfortunately Qwest is still saying they don't have any plans for upgrades in the Golden area so if I want a connection with more than 700 kbps up and no 5GB usage cap, I have one choice: Comcast.
SkyBeam (wireless ISP) says they wouldn't be able to see through the trees to my apartment, and I don't think my landlord would like a wireless modem on top of the apartment complex anyway, so I have my choice of DSL, cable or cellular. Even without promotions and with the 12/2 plan, Comcast is the best deal available at this point, so I guess I'll stick with them.
So far, so good. On the 22/5 tier still. Speeds with PowerBoost get in excess of 35 Mbps down and 8 Mbps up, though this is only for the first several seconds of a download. Still, it's nice. This is with signals that are on the hot side (+11 for download). Still bonding four channels, and have never experienced a slowdown due to node congestion.
For the current price ($55ish with modem rental) this is great. I'll re-evaluate when my promo pricing expires, since then I'll be paying nearly $80 per month for internet service. However I think I'll have a hard time giving up my current download and upload speeds.
Qwest still is ADSL (no 2+, no VDSL2) in my area, and will be for at least the next few months. If it was available I'd probably switch to 20/5 VDSL if Comcast's current pricing for me expired and I couldn't get them to budge giving me a promo rate. As it stands though the fastest speed I can get on Qwest is in reality 4.2 Mbps down and 700 kbps up for $35. No thanks.
DOCSIS 3 is now in my area and Ive had the service for about two weeks. Half of that time I've been on Ultra (22/5), the other half on Extreme (50/10). I need to reboot my modem (Ambit model, works surprisingly well in spite of this) to make sure I'm locked back into Ultra; 50/10 is spendy.
I'm currently enjoying a $22.96 monthly discount, so my monthly fee for Ultra + modem is about $55. When the discount goes away I'll be returning the modem and downgrading to Performance (now 12 Mbps down, 2 Mbps up) to keep the price the same...unless of course Comcast makes me a deal or Qwest gets 12/5 VDSL2 out to my place (highly unlikely). I still have a few months before the promotion expires though, so I'm enjoying 22/5 speeds while time permits.
PowerBoost appears to be capped now in my area, albeit rather liberally on the upload side. I'm still seeing as much as 11.5 Mbps on the lower-end plans, and 50/10 is more like 60/20 with PowerBoost. On downloads, you'll get about 5% more than the "up to with PB" speed advertised by Comcast. So for example my 22/5 tier gets 31.5 Mbps down with PowerBoost, despite bonding a whopping four cable channels on the downlink and one on the uplink.
I had some issues with Comcast on upgrading to 50/10; first they didn't apply the upgrade entirely. Then (a day later when I asked about the upgrade) theyl kicked my modem into "Walled Garden" mode that took maybe an hour of working with support to get out of. FYI, Comcast calls their 50/10 "Extreme" tier "Wideband Blast" in their billing system and their Ambit modem configuration file.
I also had a tech come out to make sure my line quality was optimal after the DOCSIS 3 upgrade. The signal actually was coming in too hot (plant changes for the DOCSIS upgrades plus being a HSI-only customer) so the tech added a three-way splitter at my outlet. There was significant cable loss due to a messed-up connector (again at my outlet; I have no "inside wiring" in my apartment) and she fixed that as well. The tech was late to the (rescheduled via their phone system because the second half of the first appointment would've been during class) appointment but I'm pretty sure the phone rep told me I'd get a discount for the work order backlog.
With the upload upgrade I haven't had any network slowness issues; it helps when you have 5 Mbps of upload...harder to monopolize the whole thing. Seems like upload PowerBoost makes a connection more "shaky" than just a straight upload speed, but I'll live with that in exchange for double my rated upload speed for the first few seconds of an upload.
Speaking of uploads, I think I pushed over 250GB through my connection in the last week or so, uploading to Backblaze (InterNAP = maxed out upload pipe). I haven't heard from Comcast, thus reinforcing the fact that their cap is a soft cap.
All in all, Comcast provides the best internet connection available in my area, no question (at least on a residential grade system at a price below $200 per month). While I would rather have a symmetric connection running at 10-35 Mbps (depending on what that would cost me) there isn't any real competition here and I'm not paying $40 extra per month for 10 Mbps of upload speed vs. 5 Mbps with the same soft cap. Qwest still hasn't done anything with their infrastructure here (ADSL only) so Comcast is really the only option for internet power users within their footprint. I can live with that, though as a result of the lack of competition non-promotional pricing is a tad (like $15 per month) too high.
The Zoom modem has been humming along with no problem, though I'm on my second WRT310N (first one bricked after I tried to repair a performance issue). Not terribly happy about the caps...
Then the letter came...$2 increase per month on the cost of internet service. For any of you unfamiliar with the term to use to describe this practice, the correct phraseology is "nickel and diming to death". Seriously, they're making enough money and gaiing customers...
Then again, what can I say? Comcast delivers 100% of advertised speeds 24/7 where I am, Qwest doesn't...Qwest feels more like a "shared system" where it counts than Comcast, who by the way is still rocking like it's 2005 with DOCSIS 1.1. The alternative to paying $65 for Comcast's service is waiting patiently for files to download over a connection that at best barely breaks 4 Mbps on Qwest. The telco would have to put in FTTN to compete with Comcast here, and even then speeds are iffy from what I hear.
Bottom line: where areyou gona go? It's a lesser-of-two-evils thing.
Yesterday I called Comcast to switch over service from their provided cable modem to one that came in the mail (Comcast->FRGP router->school but still 20-30ms "first hop" when doing a traceroute inside the VPN is impressive. On the other hand, I'm literally a stone's throw from the network room of the school, but not close enough to use their WiFi :/
1. Cellular broadband (all of the "big three" have high speed data here, but that's expensive and slower than terrestrial broadband...and Millenicom is the only one with no caps)
2. Wireless from Wispertel, but they don't seem to have good deals and I'm very mistrustful of wireless operations, with their high setup fees and generally subpar performance. Plus, they top out at 5 Mbps down.
3. Qwest (see my other review) has DSL service here, however their highest speed ($47 a month for dry-line) is a mere 5120/896 connection, provisioned as such. So performance is much lower in real life and latency is high due to interleaving. No FTTN = no higher speeds.
Renting a modem right now for $3 a month on top of their higher tier of internet, which is 8/2 w\PowerBoost here. As can be seen, it's a heckuva lot faster than Qwest's highest-end offering here. The price is rather high though, still trying to work it out: $53 a month (plus modem rental) for the first six months, then $63 a month thereafter. I could care less about added features, I just want the highest speed possible, especially with uploads, hence the choice here.
Order process over the phone wasn't too bad, though I'm not happy about paying a $50 installation fee. Wait, there's little to no competition. Guess that's standard are. Anyhow, I scheduled the installation for 8-10 am this morning (this was two weeks ago when I ordered).
The tech arrived at a minute or two before 9 a.m., and due to wasps in the cable box took about 25 minutes to get everything set up outside. Another 25 minutes inside and I was up and running. I messed up my wireless router a few times so it took awhile to get that up, but that was my fault (this was done after the tech left). The guy was nice enough, but wanted to keep his hands off of as many things as possible, and seemed hurried to get to the next appointment. But hey, he knew enough of what he was doing that the service got set up in a timely manner. It's just annoying how Comcast had to do a professional install" whereas Qwest, with no previous DSL service, allowed for a $10 self-install.
I provided my own router (Linksys WRT54G v8 w\DD-WRT). Comcast is renting me a Scientific Atlanta WebStar DPC2100R2. Seems to be decent at internet performance, but is totally locked down as to setup stuff (only one screen, status, accessible) and it looks like it's gonna run hot. Speaking of equipment and installation, Rx/Tx power levels are 11.2/35 at the moment, with Rx hovering between about 10.6 and 11.4, maybe less variance than that but within spec. The tech mentioned it being on one end of the spec but it works fine so I'm not coplaining.
FINAL COMMENTS/SPEED TESTS
I'll update this review when I get more information about the service through use.
Traceroutes reveal a strong Comcast backbone in the area (then again Denver is an internet hub so of course). Pings to Google are pretty (but not completely) consistent at 60ms or so. My school, whose OC-3 connection goes into an aggregate connection that includes a large Comcast pipe, has ping times that vary from 9-21ms, mostly in the 9-12ms range. Perfect for VPN; that's less than first-hop latency on Qwest.
Download speeds look to be about 13.5 Mbps with PowerBoost, tapering down to around 9.8 Mbps when you average download speed over a 100 MB file, which isn't too bad, though ads say PowerBoost runs up to 16 Mbps. Though the website wants to say something different. Uploads look to be solidly at 2.2 Mbps, though Mozy as of yet doesn't seem to like the connection so I don't know how the speeds will be when PowerBoost wears off, or peak time rolls around. Maybe I'll try a different modem...$3 a month renting a modem that's 20ish on eBay is a ripoff.
One thing's for sure: VoIP works great. No packet loss, minimal jitter...though TCP Forced Idle looks like the connection could go a fair bit faster than what it is right now.
Guess that's it for now, will update when new info comes in.
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updated 1.7 years ago