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Comcast Broadband Be Blazin'

Comcast_g_force I'm a bandwidth hog. I'm a bandwidth monkey. I'm even a three-legged bandwidth giraffe. That's probably why Tim Elliott asked if I was interested in getting a bump in my Comcast upload speed. I wasn't getting anything special, just a little head start for an upgrade coming to everyone: 6 Mbps download speed (staying the same), upload speed going from 384 kbps to 1 Mbps. In other words, upload speeds about 3 times faster. The more deluxe option is 8 Mbps download, 2 Mbps upload.

Obstacle #1: I was actually an Earthlink customer for our internet service, not Comcast. Oops! The service and billing are all handled by Comcast, so it's easy to forget. I didn't want to miss out on the upload boost, so I switched over to Comcast's 8/2 service for $52.95/month. That's the cost to an existing Comcast cable customer.

Obstacle #2: We had an old cable modem, and crappy cable wiring in the basement. I've always been pretty happy with our cable internet service, but during this transition it became almost unusable. Because of my client video schedule, we had to live with it for a few days. On Saturday, everything changed when the Comcast dude appeared at my door.

Disclaimer: I really got the royal treatment getting our wiring, etc. upgraded and working smoothly because I agreed to be part of Comcast's PR effort.

The installer was a nice enough dude, but apparently Comcast installers still aren't familiar with Macs. That's not good. We got it working quickly enough, but Comcast really should train all their installers on Mac networking. Julio Ojeda-Zapata said his Comcast installer was very Mac-savvy, however.

OK. THEN, THE MAGIC HAPPENED:

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We really should've made a video of me freaking out after the Speakeasy speed test. These numbers are 5 or 6 times faster download, and seriously 20 times faster upload speed. Holy f*cking shit!

Now, these speeds aren't there all the time. The big download boost is courtesy of Comcast's PowerBoost which can double (in this case, more than double) your download speed if the excess bandwidth is available in the network. Still - it's a phenomenal boost that's definitely going to make me more productive and just happier doing all the stuff I do with video, photos, and general web surfing. Yeah, we're talking really heavy HD porn usage here.

A FEW SPEED TESTS:

  • Uploading a half-hour, 176 MB video of Norm Coleman's announcement speech for The UpTake took over an hour before.
    Now: 17 minutes. This is where the boost will really make a difference for me.

  • Downloading No Country for Old Men on the iTunes store. I first tried downloading it in the airport over my EVDO card, which would have taken 120+ hours (!). The 1.32 GB file was done in 22 minutes at home.

  • Uploading 3 full-resolution photos to Flickr. I usually scale them down to 1200 pixels and have to wait awhile.
    Now, by the time I was done saying, "Honey! I'm uploading 3 full-size photos to Flickr and it's going super fast!" it was pretty much done. Wow.

I haven't had a chance to do any live video, but that will be my next test. I'm literally trying to dream up ways I can take advantage of my new bandwidth superpowers. I'm sure the $150/month 50 Mbps service is crazy awesome – Julio has the whole rundown in the Pioneer Press – but this screaming 8/2 service is more than enough for my current needs at a third the price.

In conclusion: After a few snafus, I'm totally thrilled with the upgraded service. Unplug your Comcast cable modem, wait about 15 seconds, and plug it back in. You might be pleasantly surprised to see a nice speed boost. And if you're not on 8/2 - you're already wasting time watching stupid YouTube videos, do you really want to waste time waiting for them to load?

April 6, 2008 at 09:15 PM in Web/Tech | Permalink

Comments

I wants. I have the same 2 obstacles actually... well, I have no cable coming into the house at all. Earthlink DSL, which right now I'd drop happily, they used to be great, lately they've sucked

Posted by: Jason Barnett at Apr 6, 2008 9:48:54 PM

So very jealous. I don't have cable either and have been stuck with Qwest's DSL for years. Hmmmm.

Posted by: Sharyn at Apr 6, 2008 9:54:06 PM

When I told Comcast customer service I was on a Mac they shut me down immediately and would not pass me on to tech support even though I assured them it had nothing to do with me being on a Mac. So I called back, talked to someone different and played stupid. Tech support helped me out no problem.

Posted by: Aaron at Apr 6, 2008 10:07:14 PM

The 6/1 service is a good $10/mo. cheaper I think.
Yeah, never been a fan of the DSL.

Posted by: Chuck at Apr 6, 2008 10:35:08 PM

I just want teh super speedy internets, none of that other stuff that comes with cable.. but they don't like to hear that.

so so jealous :)

Posted by: Jason Barnett at Apr 6, 2008 11:35:46 PM

Comcast in Florida still thinks Mac users are on OS 9.

Posted by: steve Garfield at Apr 7, 2008 8:10:29 AM

I've been having a bitch of a time recently. Upgrade to a N-Wireless router from Netwear. Was told the new Comcast cable modem was right for it, but now, it seems as though my Macbook Pro wants to override the IP settings as a "Self-Assigned IP" and everything bonks. Then I have to restart the router to re-override. Etc, etc... I guess I'm just venting because I know all of Chuck's friends are geeks like me.

Posted by: andrew at Apr 7, 2008 11:02:19 AM

Just think about how fast you can hit your 200GB download cap now! And how much they can filter your internets and block your traffic!

But I am glad to hear they still don't have their mac stuff in order. If they did, I'd be worried. Given the general ineptitude of Comcast, I don't think I'd ever let them install software on my computer, regardless of platform.

Posted by: justin at Apr 7, 2008 11:53:06 AM

I am wondering how great this really is for the home user. Lots of sites (google, AOL, Cnet etc.) limit their downstream bandwidth per user to 1500kbps or less. Most vid sites have a even lower threshold. $200 a month for a midsize business (50-200 people) would be great but $150 for a home user like me is high.

I currently use Comcast and would consider myself to be a high bandwidth user (15-20GB uploads/ 55-65GB downlaods each month).

Posted by: ewj at Apr 7, 2008 1:49:30 PM

Wow that's a crazy connection speed! I am lucky to get 3mb down and 1 up. I like speakeasy test but my favorite is the pc911 speed test

https://www.pcnineoneone.com/speedtest.html

Posted by: Tammy at Apr 12, 2008 2:19:49 AM

That is CRAZY FAST! I have AT&T DSL and it's pretty good. I max out at 6.5mbits download and 440k/bits upload. Fairly happy, $10 bucks cheaper than that. I have a fast enough download speed for xbox live, but i need faster upload speed like THAT to host matches, especially in Bandwidth Needy games like Rainbow Six Vegas 2. My upload speed can barely support about 8/14 people. After that it all goes to hell. You are a luckkkkkykyyyyy person!

Posted by: Ben Chuarmer at May 11, 2008 7:15:25 PM

Tonight it has been WAY slower, so something is wrong. We'll see what support says.

Posted by: chuck at May 13, 2008 3:07:53 AM