Review by cypherstream
Good "Stable, low latency, trouble free connection"
- Location: Reading,Berks,PA
- Cost: $79 per month
- Install: about 7 days
Bad "Low caps, Service Electric's all day installation windows, upstream speeds"
Overall "Quickest brodband provider for the buck in my neighborhood. Concerned with low caps..."
|Pre Sales information:|
Value for money:
So I used to have blazing fast Comcast with 50meg down by 10meg up using an Arris DOCSIS 3.0 eMTA. Sadly I moved outside of their service area and my only option for real highspeed was ProLog (ptd.net) which is the ISP that runs over Service Electric Cablevision's HFC network out of their headend office in Birdsboro PA.
I placed an order for Service Electric's double play (their website is »www.secv.com ). This includes unlimited calling and 10mbps down by 1mbps up Internet service. After the taxes it comes to about $79 a month. They don't have next day, or same week or even weekend install windows like Comcast, so I had to wait a full week for the install. Also they could only offer an ENTIRE DAY window (8 AM to 5 PM). Wow thanks a lot SECV! I work about 25 minutes away and luckily my boss was nice enough for me to make up my time later and take and extended lunch to go home and meet the installer. The install only took about 45 minutes and the tech (a contractor from LGI if I remember correctly) was very nice, professional and quick. He installed a filter in the box outside to trap out TV service, put new connectors on my wires, installed a new 2-way splitter and called in to activate the equipment. He also had a nice meter (I think it was a JDSU DSAM-6000 or similar) and verified the signal levels. I purchased my own Motorola SB6120 modem from Newegg for approx $84 to get around SECV's $5 a month modem rental. Over time it will pay for itself. SECV uses seperate eMTA's for voice service, so even if you rented their modem, they would still install 2 devices. I think it's a waste of signal to split the line to 2 separate modems when obviously the eMTA's can handle both phone and internet just fine (as I've experienced with Comcast), but hey, that's just how they run their system. The line comes in and goes into my furnace room where is is split into an Arris eMTA for voice, and my SB6120 for data. The Motorola modem connects to a Linksys 320n router running dd-wrt firmware, and also a 16 port Linksys switch, which is plugged into a patch panel. I ran Cat5e through the walls so I have the whole home networked, both wired and wireless.
Because I have DirecTV for television, the cable from Service Electric is only split twice. I get pretty much textbook perfect levels on the SB6120:
Channel ID 4 1 2 3
Frequency 627000000 Hz 609000000 Hz 615000000 Hz 621000000 Hz
Signal to Noise Ratio 38 dB 37 dB 37 dB 37 dB
Downstream Modulation QAM256 QAM256 QAM256 QAM256
Power Level 0 dBmV 0 dBmV 1 dBmV 1 dBmV
Upstream Bonding Channel Value
Channel ID 2
Frequency 22000000 Hz
Ranging Service ID 3373
Symbol Rate 2.560 Msym/sec
Power Level 38 dBmV
Upstream Modulation  QPSK
As you can see they are running a DOCSIS 3.0 CMTS, which is great because there's plenty of headroom. With only 10mbps provisioned to the modem, and 4 downstream channels, there is never an issue with slowdown during peak times. This has me wondering why in the world do they have caps if there's plenty of bandwidth? An insider also said they had recently upgraded the entire system and they push the fiber deeper than most other cable plants. SECV may run as low as 125 homes passed per node, whereas Comcast may run around 500 homes passed per node. Also they used a mix-mash of 1 GHz and 870 MHz CCOR / Motorola equipment, whereas the Comcast plant nearby was only built to 750 MHz. Anyway all of this techno mumbo-jumbo means their system is setup for great signals, speeds along with plenty of headroom for growth. I would really like to see them turn up 64QAM on the upstream and offer more balanced speed tiers, such as 20mbps by 10mbps up. Their system is using pretty good gear, like CCor Optimax 3100 and 4100 nodes, as well as Motorola SG2000's. With deep fiber penetration, segmentable nodes I don't see what the problem would be in offering higher speed tiers.
Anyway, the service they provide is exactly as advertised. I pay for 10/1 and that's what I get. I get an A for the line ping test and I don't have any issues with downloads. I download VOD from networked DirecTV HR24-200 receiver and it arrives pretty quickly. The only other highspeed option is Verizon DSL which tops off at 3mbps down by 768k up. NO THANKS Verizon! I don't even qualify that for High Speed. My definition of High Speed is 6/1 or faster. Verizon is pathetic with their DSL speeds, and were all begging them to run FIOS, but they dropped those plans when the economy took a down turn. The closest FIOS system is about 25 minutes away to the eastern edge of Berks and Montgomery counties. Union township is the only area in Berks county that I'm aware of with FIOS availability.
So the internet is what it is. You get newsgroup access, which is rare nowadays, but they do throttle it to 2mbps download regardless of your speed tier. They also limit you to 10GB a month for the newsgroups. I never use them so what do I care. I'm not 100% sure what the caps are, but I've heard anywhere from as low as 40GB a month to 60GB a month. The thing is they are pretty low and there is no real definitive answer as to what the caps are. Some people get letters every month and ignore them, some people get disconnected for 6 months after their second warning, and some never get a warning. There doesn't seem to be any type of bandwidth gauge on PTD's account management page, so it's best to get a router with an internal traffic counter built in, or flash the router with DD-WRT (if yours is compatible) as that contains a really nice monthly bandwidth chart.
So the service works, it could be better, and if they eliminated the CAPS, or at least raised them to a reasonable 250GB like Comcast, I would give them 5 stars. This is 2010, not 1999. There should be no need for these strict caps. Also the CMTS is running with DOCSIS 3.0, and all they can do is 10meg? Come on. If you have Cable TV with SECV, you are provisioned at 15meg. Still, the upload is where it matters, and as long as they run on one 16QAM channel they will be bandwidth constrained. Clear just became available in the area, but nothing beats the stability of a hardwired connection. Not to say that I won't keep my nose to the ground for future 4G / LTE services.... but they usually have even more ridiculous caps.
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updated 3.1 years ago