Review by wchillman
Good "Performance STARTER is all that a cord-cutter needs."
- Location: Gig Harbor,Pierce,WA
- Cost: $50 per month
Bad "That said, it still feels like extortion."
Overall "With Title II reclassification, the FCC needs to order ISPs lease their lines to competition and enact rate regulation."
|Pre Sales information:|
Value for money:
(ratings match consensus)
The most common complaints in the Comcast forums fall into three areas: overpriced plans, continual price increases, and poor customer service. Our way to deal with these complaints is to apply the KISS principle and follow three essential cardinal rules:
1. NEVER bundle
2. AVOID all TV packages
3. MINIMIZE contact with the company
By keeping things this simple, it is nearly impossible for Comcast to pull any monkey business. This may sound counterintuitive but we now get GREAT ENTERTAINMENT AS WELL AS INTERNET for LESS THAN 50 BUCKS A MONTH with no junk fees! Not only that, we watch it in high definition without renting any Comcast cable box or paying any stupid HD Technology Fee or Broadcast TV Fee! If thats not good enough, there are also little to no commercials! It really affords a value proposition that Comcast just cant match. Read on if you are interested.
You may not know this but in 2012, Comcast was ordered by the FCC to offer a stand-alone broadband service with a download speed of at least 6 mbps at a price no greater than $49.95 per month. This speed tier is called Performance Starter. As recent retirees on a fixed income, we opted for this service as the monthly charge is fixed at $49.95 with no other taxes, charges or fees. Although the order has expired, as far as I know, Comcast continues to offer this speed tier at the stated price. However, even at this price it still feels like extortion but that is a conversation for another day. So, we only have Comcasts Performance Starter internet service with NO subscription to Xfinity TV, Voice, or Home, NO Bundle, NO Comcast Cable Box, and NO Contract. Heres a list of JUNK FEES WE DONT PAY and you can avoid them too:
HD DVR Rental and Service Fees HD Technology Fees Digital Adaptor Fees Digital Outlet Fees Digital Access Fees Additional Outlet Fees Anyroom DVR Service Fees Broadcast TV Fees Sports Entertainment Fees Blast or Boost Fees Converter Fees Premium Channel Fees On Demand Fees Pay-Per-View Fees Streampix Fees CableCard Fees Remote Control Fees Regional Sports Fees Regulatory Recovery Fees FCC Fees CHSI Transfer/Restart Fees PEG Access Fees I-Net Fees Public Access Fees Network Support Fees City Amusement Fees Franchise Fees State Assessment Fees Convenience Fees Electronic Change Fees Electronic Charge Fees Transaction Fees Enrollment Fees Reactivation Fees Early Termination Fees Protection Plan Fees Rights of Way Use Fees Voice/Data Modem Rental Fees Wireless Gateway Fees State Cost Recovery Charges State, City, & County Sales Tax Universal Connectivity Charges Federal Excise Taxes Gross Receipts Taxes Utility or Communications Services Taxes
As you can see, Comcast will nickel and dime you to death. Unsurprisingly, the more you bundle, the more of these fees Comcast will tack on to your bill. Not only did we want to avoid paying these junk fees but we were really sick of paying triple-digit monthly bills as well as suffering through commercials that were taking up nearly 1/3 of every viewing hour. We now stream video over the internet with Comcasts Performance Starter. Using Comcast in this way (as a dumb pipe) turns out to be the most cost effective way of utilizing their service. It allows us a FAR SUPERIOR VIEWING EXPERIENCE than we ever had with Comcast TV at a fraction of what we paid in the past. As cord-cutters, we use a streaming device (Roku, Apple TV, Googles Chromecast, and Amazons Fire Stick are the more popular ones) for all of our TV viewing including news, TV shows, and movies as well as music. These streaming devices render Comcasts Cable Box obsolete as well as their TV offerings and I have fond memories dumping off their box at our local Comcast service center much to their displeasure. The news we watch now is far better than anything we ever had on Comcast TV and, thanks to Netflix, YouTube, as well as Amazon (which recently added older HBO shows to their streaming catalog), we can now watch commercial-free TV and movies.
I should say, however, that it took some time to adjust to watching this way as we had been so conditioned to think that it really wasnt TV unless you are continually bombarded by commercials. Watching commercial-free TV like this has been one of the unexpected joys of this transition to streaming video over the internet. If you cannot do without basic network TV, you could install an OTA antenna and possibly get many HD channels for free depending on your position relative to the broadcast towers. Even though we receive basic network TV for free, we never watch it primarily because of the commercials (its been years since weve watched any) but also because the streaming alternatives are just so far superior. Its certainly a welcome change now for us to be able to watch what we want, when we want, where we want, on our TV or whatever other device we want, rather being constrained by Comcasts TV schedule and limited by their offerings.
We used to watch Comcasts On Demand movies but when we cross-checked them against IMDb, we found that they rated quite poorly, whereas Netflix and Amazon have amazing catalogs of great content. Although Comcast recently suspended their 250 monthly GB bandwidth cap, they are raising it to 300 GB/month in selected service areas. We watch a ton of HD TV and rarely go over 200 GB/month but I should say that we are a hardwired single video stream household. While it doesnt affect us, if you are running multiple video streams simultaneously within your household, you could experience some congestion and might be subject to a $10 charge for every 50 GB you exceed the 300 GB cap. Essentially, this is just a money grab by Comcast but even with any overages this may still cost less than Comcasts standard packages. Also, NEVER EVER rent a cable modem from Comcast if you can avoid it. Purchasing one can pay for itself in less than a year. Last but not least, if you have a bundle that includes Xfinity Voice, try Republic Wireless for your phone and drop Xfinity Voice as well as your landline. Republic Wirelesss smartphone is really worth considering, particularly if you feel you are also being fleeced by Big Cell.
In the past when we bundled services, it was easy for Comcast to bamboozle us with their underhanded pricing shenanigans but not anymore. Bundling Comcast services, it turns out, is probably not in your best interest particularly when you consider other options like the one I mentioned above. We found Comcasts Performance Starter single play to be a simple way to lower your bill, improve your viewing experience, and manage the cost of their service. It is really like a double play (since you can get TV entertainment as well as internet) but you only pay for a single play and it is not just for new subscribers everyone is eligible! By using a streaming device with Comcasts Performance Starter it is quite easy to drop Comcast TV with its obnoxious commercials and ridiculous pricing.
Comcast, however, will do just about anything to keep you from reducing your services. Initially, they will tell you that Performance Starter is not fast enough to stream video in HD but dont believe them - it is more than adequate for all our HD viewing as well as VoIP and internet use. Next, they will try to upsell you with a promotional offer for additional overpriced services. Be very careful here as you can get locked into a two-year contract wherein the reduced price is only guaranteed for the first year (if that) - to say nothing of being shell-shocked when prices revert back to normal. Comcasts latest scheme is to say that internet alone would cost more than internet and TV together. Be extremely wary of this ploy as you need to factor in ALL APPLICABLE JUNK FEES noted above in order to really determine if it is, in fact, a better deal. Id also be leery of Comcasts VISA gift card sales tactic as there are a ton of complaints about it in the forums. Lastly, they may even send you to their retention department to dissuade you from changing your service plan but just stand firm and insist on Performance Starter and NOTHING MORE.
We automatically pay the bill each month with our credit card and so rarely need to contact the company (its been years). This makes life easier as reports in the Comcast forums indicate that customer service is an absolute nightmare. Not only that, reducing your contacts with Comcast will eliminate opportunities for them to dupe you into an upsell. Remember: Comcast employees are professional sales people whose mission is to get you to pay more for their services. Their proposal may sound like a good deal over the phone but when you receive your bill you may think otherwise. This is primarily due to all the undisclosed ancillary charges and junk fees that they will tack on to your bill. If your household is similar to ours or you are not a power user, why overspend on internet service? Is it just for bragging rights? Certainly, you could consider a contract-free promotion that bests this price but only a FOOL would pay Comcast more money than they need to. All of this is really not that hard to implement or acclimate to and will pay off in spades. If you have a question or find anything in this review helpful, please post a note in the comment section that follows or pass it on to others who could benefit from it.
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updated 1 days ago
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Tell the FCC
said by wchillman:
"We need to reclassify them as a common carrier."
The FCC has asked for public comment on new rules about net neutrality.
Use this form to submit a comment to the FCC - »dearfcc.org/
Eastern Washington State Beck 38 - You are absolutely right! The 509 is the way to go. Spokane electric rates and communications are still similar to Seattle, but Central Washington has got it all. The Grand Coulee dam (one of the biggest hydroelectric generation stations in the world) is bordered on both Grant and Douglas counties. The Grand Coulee along with many other dams are owned by the utilities themselves, which enables them to provide cheap power, as they do not need to go through the federal government. Google and Yahoo have migrated there for their server farms, bringing the speed along with them.
Across the Columbia from East Wenatchee - Chelan County - has their own fiber - to - house lines. Unlike 'FIOS', these are NOT owned by a corporation - but the power company, meaning you have the freedom to choose any provider you want.
My friend has Local Tel - Probably the most efficient, well priced, and awesome broadband provider I've seen. The internet is run straight Ethernet to the ONT, it uses PPPoE so make sure you keep your login and password if you need to configure your router. The phone is connected like a regular POTS directly to the ONT. And finally, the TV coax is not used by 'cable modems' like FIOS, allowing STELLAR quality TV, and, since the ONT is addressed not the box, many channels can be received with the TV's built-in tuner, allowing a much less cluttered entertainment system. Long live LocalTel!
Re: Eastern Washington State
said by filter4ever:Actually, no, the Grand Coulee is a Federal Dam, part of the BPA (Bonneville Power Administration). Those county PUD's in eastern Washington actually DO own their own dams (for instance, Chelan PUD owns Rocky Reach as well as another I don't recall off the top of my head) which is why they are so low.
Grand Coulee dam (one of the biggest hydroelectric generation stations in the world) is bordered on both Grant and Douglas counties. The Grand Coulee along with many other dams are owned by the utilities
Other PUD's in Wash. St. that rely on the BPA too much (Snohomish is a good example which gets 90% of it's power from the BPA) are at the beck and call of Enron (and which initiated the original investigations of Enron) . Seattle City Light also owns a sizable part of it's own generating capacity, most notably the Boundary Dam on the Pend Oreille River in northeastern Washington state.
But it all comes down to FERC, which is packed with Republicans and which refuses to go after the Enron contracts.
Comcast / XFinity Troubleshooting As this is a rather long post, many of the following procedures are in-depth and require some technical knowledge and tools - proceed at your own risk!
As a 10 year customer, I know Comcast is one of the best services you can get, in terms of speed, latency, technology, and quality of service. I do not watch much TV, and have a Cell phone, but their internet is second only to LocalTel - a small internet provider in Wenatchee, WA and central Washington over PUD owned fiber lines.
I do however, have extensive knowledge of how their system works, and how to troubleshoot it. I am neutral as I am not a sales person trying to push service, I am only telling my experience.
Now a days, Comcast is mostly doing SIK (Self Install Kits), where you simply plug in the equipment. They will even ship the equipment out to you, which makes it convenient. Without a tech though, you, and the rep on the phone, have no way of knowing whether there is even cable signal to the house, or if the cable there is from 1983 when CATV was first deployed in your area. At that time they never dreamed of Internet and hence did not design the system for such services. I have seen friends that were trying to hook up cable, and there wasn't even cable going to the outlet they were trying to hook up.
Remember, the service will only work if it is installed RIGHT. I will tell you a few tips on how to troubleshoot your own cable, so you can have the service that you pay for.
If your TV breaks up into little squares, this is caused by interference, or ingress. This is the root of many problems with all 3 services, TV, Internet, and Telephone.
First, turn the box off and press "OK", this will bring you to a blue menu. Check the "OOB", make sure SNR is 'GOOD' (over 20dB). Next check "Inband Status" - This will show the quality of the channel you are on. Make sure the SNR is 'GOOD' (over 34 and not many errors), and "Upstream Status" - make sure it's not over 60dB. If OnDemand doesn't work, check "Interactive Status", make sure it has an IP address. If it does not, wait a few minutes.
If these are all 'OK', call Comcast (1-800-Comcast), and tell them to send a 'HIT' to your box. If you aren't even getting the guide, ask for an 'INT HIT', which will refresh the EEPROM on the box.
If you aren't getting anything at all, there is most likely no connection between the box and the tap (up on the pole or in the ground). Check the cable going to the wall make sure it's not of low quality and loose. If it's not, take the plate off (if you can, on most internally wired houses. Externally you cant). Often somewhere you will find a 'crappy looking' connection. There's your problem. If there is nothing connected to it at all, well, there's your problem. If there is a bad connection or no cable, call for a tech install and tell them what's wrong.
This work CAN be done yourself, but you need special strippers, crimpers, and fittings. Make sure they are of the COMPRESSION type and the splitters are rated at 1GHz. Also, make sure the cable you use is of the RG-6 type, and the fittings are put on properly (there should be no braid hanging out of the back, and the white (dielectric) should be FLUSH with the front of the fitting. Look up how to put a fitting on Google should be of some help. Make sure that you do not split one signal of another, off another (daisy chain). This will degrade the signal by half every time you split. If you are prewiring your house for remodel, consider putting in a Leviton 'Smart Panel', running all your outlets to a central location and splitting/amplifying them there. Above all, DO NOT splice a cable behind drywall where it cannot be accessed. This will make it impossible for a Comcast tech or yourself to troubleshoot in the future.
For internet problems, the number one problem is your router not receiving the correct IP address, most likely due to activation on a wired computer and then plugging in a WiFi router. Remember to unplug the cable modem, plug it back in, wait for it to synchronize (Power, Downstream, Upstream, and Online lights all solid).
For other signal problems such as getting kicked up randomly and slow service, make sure your modem is hooked up and go to »192.168.100.1 and go to 'Signal'. Look at the 'Downstream Status' - should be between -10dB and 10dB. Next 'Upstream Status' - should be between 20 and 54dB. Finally, look at the downstream 'SNR', this should be 33dB and above. The best speed test for the internet I use is »www.speedtest.net.
The main problems I've seen with a phone is when you plug a fax machine in, line 1 is shorted to line 2. Make sure to use a cable that has only 2 gold contacts (1 pair) to connect to the EMTA. Other than that, the problems with the telephone are with the same equipment as the internet.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of miscommunication between the customer and the rep which causes a lot of negative feelings towards Comcast. If you need any work done, such as a 'drop' (line from the street to your house) run, additional outlets installed, through a brick house etc. make sure you provide the rep with as much details as possible, as they schedule the amount of time the tech has with you based on what you order. After that allotted slot, he/she will have another job in the same slot (8-10 AM for example). It is also usually one person who comes out, unless they can get help from other techs on a large job or one that requires special equipment.
I do not watch TV, only the local channels. If you are getting internet, I recommend getting "Limited Cable" along with it (if you are not getting phone), as you get a $10 discount for having multiple services, so the net cost is about $5/mo with the box and all that.
Their internet is very fast, as they have their own "backbone" which minimizes latency (i.e. if you do a tracert, you will see it hop through Comcast's network to the least busy node and to Google, etc). The download and upload speeds in my area are excellent, 25 MBPS down and 6MBPS up. No other service, DSL or other, can get closer than 1/4 that speed.
Their telephone service is of excellent quality, I know because I hooked up a dial-up modem to CDV and it locked at 52.6KBPS (The maximum allowable dial-up speed), over VOIP.
Hopefully this will help many perplexed customers, some procedures will require tech-savvy knowledge. I am not affiliated with Comcast, and am not responsible for anything that may arise. If in doubt call Comcast and provide them with as much as you know, is my best advice.
Re: Comcast / XFinity Troubleshooting A couple things I forgot to mention. When hooking up a router: unplug the cable modem first (from power, plug the Ethernet to the router in, plug the cable modem power back in with the Coax and Ethernet connected), wait for all 4 lights to be solid, and then plug in your router. If you have phone, there is a little hole on the back of the EMTA (combo VOIP modem) that says "RESET". If you plug in the router without resetting, it will get the 192.xxx.xxx.xxx private IP from the offline modem, and you will not be able to get online.
If the modem gets stuck at the "Upstream" light, chances are there is a filter on the line that they used to put on in order to keep noise from entering the network. If you find one around on your line, it needs to be removed. If you are not receiving all your channels there also may be a filter on the line. You may find one around your house but chances are they will be on the pole or lockbox. However, there is another type of filter that is used if you have an Anyroom or MoCa DVR. Call Comcast and have them swing by and take it off. This is an easy fix and will save you the trouble of having to stay home for service, and you may not even have to pay a fee.
Finally, I recommend purchasing your own modem or EMTA. Look under »mydeviceinfo.comcast.net for compatible equipment. In my area the rental fees are $8/mo (for a modem) plus tax. A $100 modem will pay for itself in a year. An EMTA costs around $160. These are very particular, make sure you get the compatible model number.