Jump to content
Teffy

Overwhelmed by Comcast service packages and hardware choices

Recommended Posts

Greetings,

 

I let a Comcast salesperson talk me into a different plan: "Starter Triple Play" for $109 per month. He said it was the same cable service, higher internet speeds, and phone service. After having second thoughts, I have been doing a lot of reading on the Comcast site and elsewhere, and am still quite bewildered about what hardware and Comcast internet plan I actually want.

 

I am generally satisfied with the current speed performance of all my computer stuff (ignorance is bliss?). I am sometimes annoyed by dead or slow spots of the wireless connection to my iPad. I read an article stating that router placement has a huge impact on conection to various parts of the house. I plan to try moving the router from the edge of the house (where it is now) to somewhere closer to the center to see if that helps.

 

What I have read from various sources online, I think I would prefer a separate modem and router instead of a wireless gateway . I need to return the gateway I had them send when I switched "plans" (in my ignorance).

 

Currently, I rent the modem (Motorola SB5120) from Comacst,

and own the router: Linksys Wireless G model WRT54GL.

I would rather own a modem than effectively buy it from them many times over via rent.

I don't care about the phone portion as I am satisfied with our plans from other companies.

So, I'd like your advice on how to shop for a modem (so I don't pay rent), and what Comcast plan to get. And any other advice, for that matter.*

 

Thank you,

Steph

 

*Like, don't take any wooden nickles ;-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello, Steph.

 

I'm not a Comcast customer, so my knowledge will be limited, possibly inaccurate. Others here will clarify if need be.

 

1. If you're at all in doubt about the changes to your Comcast plan you have (by law in most states) the right to cancel/reverse the changes at no charge within a certain period of time; 30 days, usually.

 

2. Your household wifi will definitely be improved by placing the wireless router in a central location within the house. Keep it away from metal structures of any type, like kitchen appliances, filing cabinets, etc. Wireless N is much faster than Wireless G. However, you would have to use whatever your laptop requires. If it's an older laptop, it is most likely Wireless G, so you'll be stuck with the slower wireless speeds. For security of your wireless, be sure to choose a strong, multi-character password or passphrase and be sure to use WPA2 encryption on the router, not WEP, which is old and obsolete/insecure. Your Linksys wireless router is fine, but see below regarding the need still for the Comcast box.

 

3. Not being a Comcast customer, I'm not at all sure about this... Usually, you are required to use the hardware provided by the ISP in order to access their services. This means that, while you can install and use your own wireless router, it will still have to be connected to the box provided by the ISP; meaning you won't be able to use one instead of the other. You will HAVE to use the Comcast box for access to the services. This is how it is with 99% of Cable/Phone/ISP providers in the U.S. It's part of the game/marketing strategy to suck more $ out of you every month... equipment rental fees, hardware deposits, etc.

 

Hope that helps a little. Others will see this and offer some more advice, I'm sure.

 

Regards,

 

~Eric

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can message Cluttermagnet and see if he'll stop in and look at this. He's been going round and round with Comcast for a long time, I believe, and has his own modem, doesn't rent from Comcast.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since I'm remembering back a few years to my D-Link help desk days I have to state up-front I may say something that doesn't apply to your situation. Like Eric, I'm unfamiliar with the particulars of Comcast's service, so that may also lead to inaccuracies in my comments.

 

Most carriers provide an outside box that connects from the last mile of their cable to your home. From that box they run a cable, usually coax, to your router. As far as your internet connection goes, you can use any cable modem you want. Modern modems act as routers, they provide IP addresses for all the devices connected to your home network, both wireless and ethernet. If Comcast provides your TV service you'll need a splitter that takes the single coax input from their outside box and provides 2 outputs. One output goes to your TV box and the other to your modem/router. You'll need to connect to the modem with an ethernet cable to set it up (change your SSID, enable WPA2 Personal for encryption and change the default LAN password). The defaults set by the modem manufacturer are well known and vulnerable.

 

Like Eric suggests, put your modem/router near the middle of the house, away from other electronic devices and as high up in the room as possible. If you have a cell phone you can usually find an app (like WiFi Analyzer for Android) that will let you test the strength of your wireless signals from various points around the house. Naturally you'll want it to be strongest where it's going to be most needed.

 

(edited to correct terminology)

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

P.S. While I adore my Motorola Moto G phone, I'd never own a Motorola Surfboard modem/router. Just my opinion, for what it's worth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have three of them- Motorola 5101U and/or similar. We bought all from NewEgg. In the 60.00

price class. So they pay themselves back in 6 months vs. rental. I guess they are 'OK'. I've never

had any issues with them that I am aware of. But then I really have no other experiences for

comparison sake. All three of our boxes are Docsis 2.0, not the newest Docsis 3.0 standard.

But these old cable modems have been more than satisfactory and we are not chafing over any

'too slow' speed issues. But then we are probably pretty easy to please...

 

Personally, I am not at all impressed with their higher internet speeds- although the improvements

are certainly for real. You have to buy a Docsis 3.0 modem, however. To some folks, greater speed

is important, and a big deal. I could care less. What we already have is just fine.

 

Our Motorola 5101U modems have only one output, either USB or Ethernet, take your choice.

Personally, I would never trust that to be sufficient security. I would always put a Router at the

output of the cable box- and of course that router is going to have four Ethernet jacks on the back

to service up to four computers. Coincidentally, Comcast, through 'shrink wrap' (so to speak)

trickery has gotten you to 'agree' that you will not run more than four simultaneous internet

connections at the same time. So maybe that is where the number four comes from- the fact

that the standard split on the back of a router is four jacks.

 

Teffy, you would have to give us a lot more detail on what you had previously, and its price, vs. what

you now have with the new package. I just can't tell if you are ahead with this new package or not.

 

I briefly had negotiated a 'triple play' package for Betty recently. That fell apart when the sales person

disclosed that there was a one time 30 dollar fee just to hook up the internet telephony service,

a service which we neither wanted or actually needed, but which sounded 'nice' if they were

'throwing it in'. You really don't want to have your telephone with Comcast IMO. I've had way too

many bad experiences with those folks. Get slightly behind in your bills, even due to an honest

oversight, and they will cut you off. This always happens on a Friday night or a weekend and

you will not be able to get your service restored until Monday earliest. No, nobody can hear your

screams...

 

Now imagine your only house phone line is Comcast and they cut you off. Buh bye, phone... Hey,

our local telco may have a bad reputation, but they will bend over backwards before cutting off service...

 

Last thought- let's say you do decide to go ahead and buy your own modem. You will want to return

your Comcast modem because they will continue to charge you rent on it whether it is hooked up

or not. You may find, as we did, that the Comcast customer return/pickup sites are too few and far

between and very understaffed. Expect to possibly have to wait interminably in line. Sort of like the

old USSR where, if folks saw a line, they ran and got in it- because this meant you could buy

*something* at the head of that line. Yep, those Comcast depots kind of remind me of that era...

 

We have here an old Comcast TV converter box which would no longer even function on their

spiffy new digital network. We replaced it like three years ago. Due to an oversight on my part,

it sat unnoticed in a corner for three years. We have paid ten dollars a month on it, and continue

to, to this very day. I need to get around to returning it. But going to their depots is such an

unpleasant experience. In our area, we had two close by depots. Yep, they closed one of them,

and of course now the remaining one is even busier. Oh boy, I am soooo looking forward to

joining the line there...

 

Nope, not a Comcast fanboy. Their network isn't too bad actually. Their customer service still

leaves a lot to be desired...

 

But don't get me started...

 

Heh!

Edited by Cluttermagnet
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BTW I am on their 105 extreme plan which provides cable, home phone and internet speeds at about 120 mbps down and 22 mbps up but you will need a new router to get those speeds (like I had to do).

 

Also, you can buy your modem and it will work just fine as long as it is DOCSIS 3.0 .

 

You just need to call them and give them the mac addy and they will connect it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our Motorola 5101U modems have only one output, either USB or Ethernet, take your choice.

Personally, I would never trust that to be sufficient security. I would always put a Router at the

output of the cable box- and of course that router is going to have four Ethernet jacks on the back

to service up to four computers. Coincidentally, Comcast, through 'shrink wrap' (so to speak)

trickery has gotten you to 'agree' that you will not run more than four simultaneous internet

connections at the same time. So maybe that is where the number four comes from- the fact

that the standard split on the back of a router is four jacks.

 

I am sorry but that is false. My router/modem combo from Comcast has 4 ethernet jacks (with 2 usb ports) on the back and it is fully supported with 4 wired connections. I do not use the router part but I have before and it works just fine. Plus they support any router and even give you instructions on how to disable the router included on the modem in case you want to use your own router.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just plugged straight into the rotuer/modem combo as proof:

 

5GQyNcL.png

 

Notice it says:

]TIP: The gateway supports 4 Gigabit Ethernet Ports (GbE)
[/b]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, it's not false, Josh. The Motorola modems Betty and I purchased from NewEgg do not have 4 Ethernet jacks on the back (SB5101U). They have a single Ethernet jack and a single USB jack (choose only one).

 

Further, although I don't know how true this is/was, the conventional wisdom on the net was that the security of running through a cable modem box only was shaky- the consensus being that running the cable modem output through a conventional router greatly increased security, mainly added resistance to hacker brute force attacks. FWIW... Time marches on, and so do modem designs. This may no longer be true. It certainly was widely believed to be true back a few years ago (~5-6 years ago) when I was first getting set up with broadband cable internet. BTW I think the modem I have at my place is a 5120U. I don't think it had the 4 jacks either. I will verify that next time I'm over there. I hear the make of the Comcast modems (newest Docsis 3.0 rentals) is something other than Motorola, BTW.

 

Perhaps I am remembering now (hazily) that the cable modems of the day either didn't contain a router at all, or at least that router was regarded as minimal/not up to the job. It was widely mistrusted for this reason. I remember that impression quite well from my internet research at the time.

 

Finally, regarding the new generation of Comcast Docsis 3.0 rental modems, Comcast intends to turn on wireless hot spots in a vast majority of installations. This feature is just being rolled out. It's not in effect in most areas- yet! But the hardware is there in the modem to do this. It means any bozo with a Comcast account can drive up to your house and suck off of your internet pipe- and there's little most folks will be able to do about it. Best prevention- buy your own Docsis 3.0 modem, don't rent from Comcast.

 

http://www.computerw...ust-say-no.html

 

http://www.pcworld.c...have-to-be.html

 

http://www.reddit.co...i_routers_into/

Edited by Cluttermagnet

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Further, although I don't know how true this is/was, the conventional wisdom on the net was that the security of running through a cable modem box only was shaky- the consensus being that running the cable modem output through a conventional router greatly increased security, mainly added resistance to hacker brute force attacks. FWIW...

 

 

I agree, I [personally] would not ever use their combo routers/modems; I would buy a Motorola Surfboard DOCSIS 3.0 and attach it to a conventional dual band router.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

...Also, you can buy your modem and it will work just fine as long as it is DOCSIS 3.0 .

 

You just need to call them and give them the mac addy and they will connect it.

 

Bingo! Right you are, Josh. (Are you reading this, Teffy?)

 

You buy your own choice of modem and then you call 'Comcast Activation' and read them all the tiny serial numbers off of the modem. They enable it and- presto! You are online on their network with your own modem.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, I [personally] would not ever use their combo routers/modems; I would buy a Motorola Surfboard DOCSIS 3.0 and attach it to a conventional dual band router.

 

+1

 

(Hey, that's the first time ever that I have hollered 'plus one'!) Heh!

 

Or you can use your old, cobwebby Motorola Docsis 2.0 modems if the markedly slower speeds are OK with you.

And thereby save the cost of about 100 dollars each for the new modem(s) (three modems in our case).

Clearly their network is backwards compatible with Docsis 2.0 modems- so if you happen to already own some,

then you can still use them. OTOH if buying for a new setup, then getting the 3.0 box is a no brainer- and way faster.

 

http://www.speedtest...sult/3974186080

 

17ms, 34.84M down, 12.08M up- on my crusty old 5101U. Good enough for moi...

Edited by Cluttermagnet
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well you did say:

Coincidentally, Comcast, through 'shrink wrap' (so to speak)

trickery has gotten you to 'agree' that you will not run more than four simultaneous internet

connections at the same time.

 

of which my image shows to be false.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And that is stupid on Comcast's part. In homes where several computers as well as tablets and smartphones are part of life, that is a totally old fashioned stance on Comcast's part.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And that is stupid on Comcast's part. In homes where several computers as well as tablets and smartphones are part of life, that is a totally old fashioned stance on Comcast's part.

 

But they do not say that anymore hence the picture I posted of the modem/router combo.

The gateway supports 4 Gigabit Ethernet Ports (GbE)

Comcast knows I have like 9 machines connected as I used their modem/router for a long time.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Comcast user since 2004. I bought my own Motorola Surfboard modem at BestBuy. It was an SB5100. When Comcast tech support told me my modem was the problem for dropped internet connections, I went to BestBuy and bought an SB5101. The problem was not the modem. Finally someone showed up at the house and found a weak signal was the problem. No more dropped signals. I now own two old modems and I'm using them until they die. I have also been using a long-in-the-tooth Linksys WRT54G (it is pre-L designation but it runs linux) without issue for maybe 10 years.

 

No triple play for me. We need the copper wired Verizon phone because of my husband's pacemaker and our burglar alarm system. We pay more because we only have tv and internet but this is what we want.

 

For what we do, the download speed is fine. We have Performance. (Every time a price increase comes I need to go through the pamphlet and figure out what we have).

 

If you are happy with your download speeds, stick to what you have. Look for a Motorola Surfboard modem (Docsis 2 or 3) and replace the Comcast leased modem with it.

With your old router, you'd probably be better off with a Docsis 2 modem. I'm not sure if an old router can work with a Docsis 3 modem. (I'm sure one of the experts here knows the answer to that).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I do not watch tv nor do I use a home phone (cell phone only) but it was required to get their top tier internet.

 

I'm not sure if an old router can work with a Docsis 3 modem. (I'm sure one of the experts here knows the answer to that).

 

You can but your speed will not be able to get past 54Mbps, which may work for you but I had to get a new one as that is half of the speed I pay for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ahem-

I know of whence I speak. During one of my many horrific weekend experiences with Comcast,

I was dragged, by their online robot, through a clickwrap/fine-print sort of agreement where I

was coerced into agreeing that we would run no more than four internet connections

simultaneously. Something like that, one would remember. Painfully. Why would I make up

something like that? What would I have to gain? I am simply reporting my own objective

experiences with Comcast. Their robot told me I needed to update our service agreement-

like I really had a choice. Yeah, right... I never would have voluntarily agreed to such terms;

as I said, it was essentially coerced. But I am not making this up and I am remembering

with good accuracy what happened to me...

 

Note carefully: I am not saying it is not physically possible to run more than four connections

simultaneously- and probably get away with it, too. All I'm saying is that I was personally

forced to agree to their terms in order to keep/restore service. And the terms were as I have

stated. Actually, it is childishly easy to exceed four connections, if you have things

distributed over multiple drops, multiple routers, etc. as we do. Just for sake of argument,

I think I could get as many as 12 going at the same time, as we have 3 routers running here,

also two cable modems on the same line... (yeah, don't get me started)

 

Heck, there's only two of us here, under this roof. I doubt I have ever exceeded four anyway,

in the course of normal, day to day work. But I am quite sure the number often exceeds

two, OTOH. Betty may have her lappy running, and I may have 2-3 on perhaps, at a given

time. You know, routers each with 4 jacks. KVM setups, etc. You could, in theory, run bunches

of them. This might bother Comcast if one is actually a business with many bodies in seats in

front of many PC's. We're just one couple in a residential dwelling, and only one of us is

a geek... :whistling:

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Comcast knows I have like 9 machines connected as I used their modem/router for a long time.

 

I'm not disputing what you say, Josh. Why are you disputing what I say?

I really don't want to argue this. I'm sure we are both right, each in our own

way. Three blind men and an elephant, etc. But I know what I saw, and was

forced to agree to, in their TOS. Max four simultaneous is what I had my

nose rubbed in...

 

P.S. Maybe what they really have in mind is max four simultaneous users.

 

 

 

We've probably scared off poor Teffy long since... :hysterical:

Edited by Cluttermagnet
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't think you made you anything up man. I just figured that they changed the rule or maybe you were mistaken. Sorry if I came across the wrong way as it was not my intention

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was just stating that you can have more than 4 connections even if it is against the TOS as they will not prevent you from doing so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We've probably scared off poor Teffy long since... :hysterical:

 

Actually, you haven't scared me off, but you have given me a lot to think about. For example, Liz mentioned her burglar alarm system - we have one that requires a phone land line, so I am guessing that it won't work with Comcast. Does Comcast send phone calls through the gateway, or down the same phone wires used by Verizon?

 

I returned the Comcast Triple Play "box of stuff" to a Comcast store today. That is a load off my mind - I hope now they will quit pestering me to connect it.

 

I definitely want to return the modem which we have rented for eons, as soon as I buy one based on advice given here. I hate to think how much I've shelled out over the years to rent it! The other thing to consider is whether or not to replace the router that I already own. Perhaps I will first try moving the router to a more central position, avoiding metal and electronics as was posted earlier.

 

Thanks for giving me alot of advice to chew on. Or as my mom would correct me, "advice on which to chew." :-)

Edited by Teffy
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...