32 thoughts on “Now is that what you call broadband?”

  1. I have ATT DSL. Unfortunately, I average only between 280-320 kbps download. I was thinking of giving comcast a try. Bummer.

  2. Just switched from ATT DSL to comcast. I was getting 280-320 kbps with surprisingly high packet loss. ATT checked the line half dozen times. Found nothing. Comcast works quite well so far.

  3. The problem with Cable networking is that it’s always been somewhat of a hub architecture. The first 2 or 3 people to use it get far better performance than iis offered. When 20 people on the block have it, it’s not much better than Dial-UP.

    With DSL, you’re far better off spending the extra money to go with a smaller company like Speakeasy, Sonic.net, dslextreme, who has to provide great service to keep customers. Large ISPs like Covad, sbc, whoever can afford to mistreat their customers, because 5-7″ churn really doesn’t do anything to their bottom line.

  4. Here’s another site you can try: http://www.internetfrog.com/mypc/speedtest/

    It seems like the test results could be affected by a number of things.
    1. There could be congestion at some point between you and the test terminal.
    2. Someone in your home/office was transferring “data” while you performed your test.
    3. The Node your cable connection goes through has too many people on it.
    4. Something else is busted on Comcast’s end perhaps?

    If your connection is as slow as it looks, maybe you should contact Comcast and have them test it. Maybe they can fix it.

    At any rate (no pun intended), good luck!

  5. I’m pretty happy with Covad DSL. I home office and rely on it for my every productive day. It’s been over two years with only two days down time due to a digging accident nearby. Not having to deal with SBC/AT&T is a blessing.

    Covad’s tech support has been first rate. The person I speak to intially is usually experienced enought to be able to reset the port or put it in diagnostic mode. I’ve never had to escalate to second tier support.

    FWIW, I also run an Asterisk installation over the DSL. While I don’t get the 3 Mbps down they claim (actual around 2.2) The 768k upload is very real.


  6. That’s the problem with shared bandwidth – the more customers there are, the less bandwidth there is to share.

    The amount of customers sharing, or contending, for bandwidth is a hot potato at the moment. In some countries like the UK, the contention ratios are published. BT for instance says its standard residential service has a 50:1 ratio, and the more expensive business one, 20:1.

    It’s worth asking your provider for the contention ratio, plus the amount of bandwidth allocated to each subscriber. This is sometimes referred to as Committed Information Rate (CIR).

    To give you an example of how congested DSL is in New Zealand, the monopoly provider has upped its CIR on the service from 24kbps to 30kbps. That’s because we’re now getting full-rate DSL again, which means up to 8Mbps down, 800kbps up. However, even Telecom NZ says nobody’s likely to ever reach those figures, and will only speak of “maximum” numbers, ie. a theoretical peak information rate.

    This is something that needs to be nailed down in law though, because you want to know that the service you buy will perform at least somewhere near expectations. Telcos and providers resist this though, saying it would make their business model of oversubscribing bandwidth tank.

  7. Have you thought about splurging for a twin-WAN router and combining DSL and cable modems into one fast internet connection? I’ve also been frustrated with Comcast here in the bay area and trying to brainstorm a solution. I moved up here this year and used SBC DSL in San Diego for a few years, didn’t quite like that experience either. The speed was steady but slow, and upload is even slower than downloads.

    The dual internet setup is one of the things I’m considering treating myself to next year when my girl gets out of school and we go dual income. If I end up working from home full-time, it might be even more of a necessity.

  8. Wow. I thought I was getting ripped off but perhaps the situation up in the Great White North (Ottawa, Canada) isn’t as bad as I’d originally thought!

    My DSL provider (magma.ca) claims up to 5 mbps. I routinely hit about 3.7 – 3.9 mbps. Upload hovers around 0.9 mbps.

    Cable (rogers.ca) varies by time of day but typically is at or above DSL rates. Disadvantage is that upload speeds aren’t all that hot.


  9. Recent new Speakeasy customer, I used them out of necessity for they’re the only provider that can service my building (darn those old San Francisco apartments). Though the price is a bit high, they are extremely reliable and provides awesome customer service.

  10. Recently switched from Comcast to Verizon FiOS. I have the 15/2 package. Download speed test hits 15Mbps every time. Upload test usually ranges between 1 and 2Mbps. Now sure why, but either way it’s been noticeably faster than Comcast. If it’s available in your area, it’s worth considering.

  11. All this suggests that ISPs should be required to specify the level of muxing on the line as well as the first router. For example a DSL provider could mux a lot more customers at the DSLAM thereby losing the advantage of “unshared bandwidth”.

  12. Wow, those numbers bite.

    FWIW, I get a solid 6Mbps on the download in Atlanta, and I know others in the city that are getting near 8M.

    Maybe Comcast’s regional HSD mgr needs to be fired in SF.

  13. All FiOS show-offs please don’t rub salt in the wounds ;-).

    I think the problem is that Comcast despite all the lip service hasn’t upgraded its infrastructure in SF. Sigh!

  14. Cable, or HFC(hybrid fiber coax) is a shared infrastructure and like Michael suggests the more users on a node the less bandwidth each user can potentially have access to. It’s oversold people. Just like the telephone companies, if everyone picked up their phones at the same time they wouldn’t all work. Really the only place it is cable is from the node to your house and that piece of wire is where it is limited…if I recall correctly, it is like 10megs…probably around 9mbps with overhead. My data btw is from my experience about 10 years ago so there may be higher capacity now via multiplexing or something but we are talking about cable co’s and assuming anything about them is sketchy. The nodes are connected to headends via fiber and the headends connected to a regional datacetner via fiber. It’s not the kind of datacenter you would think either…worse than a telco CO in terms of power density, security, etc…at least the ones I saw while working for @Home Network. You can see by this architecture that alot of engineering goes into upgrading and scaling the architecture from the headends to the RDC and then from the RDC to a backbone and then from the backbone to the internet via peering or transit. Comcast is the leader of the pack of cable co’s in terms of ‘getting it’ and they have a clue when it comes to peering…they peer in Equinix’s sites and other locations and are fairly easy to peer with, being a peering whore is actually a good thing because in most cases, the quicker you dump your traffic the better your cost structure becomes. At the end of the day its difficult to guess where the issue is with your connectivity Om…it could be at one of the nodes in Comcast or somewhere not on their network at all. One thing is for sure though, no matter who your ISP may be, they have oversold their capacity which, can cause us all to have bad days here and there 🙂

  15. Potter, I think the only area we have differing opinions is that I believe we are entering an unprecendented global change in the economy which, at the end of the day, is really a function of the ability to get information freely and in a state of ubiquity. This will drive efficiencies for the consumer whereas, in the past, efficiencies were something that the supply side was hunting. Tables are turned now and will continually get deeper and broader in range and scope. What does all this hypothetical rhetoric mean or what is your point Tom? 🙂 High level it has the potential to be the driving force of a global redistribution of wealth and the evolution of an economy which has no lower class. …not so much in the developed countries but in the undeveloped nations. That almost sounds communist but communism in its purest form is based on the notion of an inherent surplus and for the majority of dependt people this is ideal…they just don’t realize it is the definition of communism.

    With a little bit of skill and an internet connection a person in Ethiopia can be an employee of a multinational corporation who will benefit by a larger pool of ‘talent’ to recuit from and with a larger supply of anything, in theory, a lower cost to acquire…finally some efficiency for those poor multinationals 🙂

    I’m getting way off track here but my point is that the companies that don’t care about their customers won’t be around in the long run. Specifically, telco’s and cable who are of the mindset that they, by virtue of their place in history are entitled to do business the way they are…ie, getting to it when they get to it, treating customers poorly by delivering shitty and expensive services. Those times are changing…look at what happened to AT&T as an example because it’s a great case study on how not staying close to the customers and evolving wiht them can do to what had been an icon of economic success and stability. I;m not a big fan of cliches but ‘what goes around comes around’ and that is a fact. Steve Ballmer is complaining that Google is too big…what a burn on him!! Sooner or later it will come back to bite you.

  16. Give Speakeasy at look

    I’ve had it for over 3 years and love it. They are geared for techies and their VoIP service offering is really good. I have their OneLink service at home and love it. No need for the phone company as they run a dry pair to the house.

    Good Luck,

  17. I live up in Sacramento, and use SureWest Broadband. They’re wired up large areas around here for broadband (no affiliation).

    Went to Comcast due to the lower price, and came back after experiencing their stellar customer service and blazingly DSL speeds…

    Review on ’em:

    My advice, if you can get this (I think you’re in the bay – they’re not) get it. Just wanted to give a plug to a company that has really been good to work with.

    Though, I twice (before replacing my Windows machine with a mac) got a virus infection and they SHUT DOWN my port with no notification. Ordinarily no problem, but because it’s integrated service, I lost my phone and television for a few days. I’ve since replaced the phone with mobile, and evicted the television (both good moves). But a rather hilarious issue concerning the new “integrated services” and the issues they face.

    They told me, when I finally got ahold of them, that the only way to get ahold of them in the event of a port shutdown was to call them. I did not have a cell phone at the time. 😉

  18. You may want to check the signal on the cable modem ( just to make sure you’re getting a good signal to noise ratio. If not, try running the cable straight through with no splitters and see if that helps. Also make sure you’re using a good cable modem. I just recently got the dlink DCM-202, and am very happy with that. I’m on adelphia, in MD, and consistently get 4-5mb down and 300-500kb up.

  19. You should call Comcast. Service is “best effort” but that’s way below what you should be getting on a regular basis. I have 6 MBPS service in a residential area north of Boston, and I routinely see 4 MBPS. The recently announced power boost is noticeable when downloading large files. I recently downloaded a 22 MB file in about 30 seconds. DSL just can’t do that.

  20. A decent Cable design will pass 500 homes per node and average 70% customer or 350 subs, if 40% of subs have a cable modem, the sharing is 140.
    Unfortunately due to popularity and DSL problems my node has 312 cable modems.
    The weekdays are great during school hours, now.

  21. I switched from Time Warner/ Roadrunner Cable to SBC DSL, and have been quite happy with the switch. Generally, the discount prices for cable were around 30.00 a month, and my signup rate for the first year of DSL is only 14.99… so I figured the speed decrease would be bearable, since I cut my cost in half. As for the speed though, I noticed that web pages were maybe even more snappy than the cable connection. Yes, big downloads were a bit slower, but I noticed that initially, on a big download, the speed is up to cable speeds, but then it slowly throttles down to the promised 1.5Mbps maximum. This leads me to believe that they are serving up small pieces of content faster than large downloads… if they actually are doing this, I’d say it’s a big selling point and they should be advertising it. As long as general average web surfing is just as fast as cable, who wouldn’t care to spend 4 minutes instead of 2 minutes downloading a huge file?…

  22. Please do not mistake latency for lack of bandwidth.

    Run WinMTR sometime and you will find where your latency lies.

  23. I’m on Comcast in the SF area (south bay) and just tried the same test. It told me I have 4700 kbps download, 360 kbps upload, and that I was 25% slower than others on comcast.net. This is a surprise to me; I thought I only had 3 megabits.

  24. As for cable, not unless your networks are setup differently, it is far better to be on a cable connection. We have Charter Communications here at the office and it works fine. I know of at least 45-50 other businesses/residents on the same “trunk line” and we have not noticed any lag or hesitation. DSL in this part of the country is the exact opposite. It is great if you are a few on the connection, but as soon as more are added, you will notice a tremendous slowing of bandwidth.

    Thank you for listening,

    Have a great day!!

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