Connection Speed: Are You Getting What You Pay For?

Here in the Santa Fe office (we’re in The Lofts) we switched from DSL to cable modems a couple of years ago. When we built the space in 2000 there weren’t a lot of options in terms of cable versus DSL. So we had to go with a satellite on the roof for TV and DSL for our connection.

When we moved to Hawaii and got hooked up with Oceanic/TimeWarner’s digital cable and Road Runner broadband service. Oceanic has the best customer service I have ever experienced. And we were very happy with the speed and ease of use of our cable modem compared to what we had gone through to get DSL up and running. Remember, this was over 5 years ago and I’m sure the technology has improved since then.

So when Comcast came to Santa Fe and we were able to dump satellite (TV used to drop out during snow and rain storms for hours at a time) and switch to Comcast cable for both TV and internet.

Comcast used/uses outside contractors to install new cable/internet accounts. I had already wired the office with cable and hight speed cat5 cable to every outlet. So the Comcast outside contractor just dropped the cable modem in the data closet and called it a day. It’s been an OK connection since then but it does drop out from time to time. Lately it’s gotten worse and during this trip I’ve been without an internet connection for hours at a time.

A call to Comcast very late on Tuesday night secured an appointment this morning with a Comcast field tech. He glanced at the data closet and asked me if I wired everything myself. “Yes!” I proclaimed proudly. “Well there are some serious problems here with the splitters and connectors and I have to replace them.” he replied. Upon further discussion and reflection, I remembered that the Comcast outside contractor just popped the cable modem into my pre-existing wiring setup. He should have replaced all the cheap connectors and splitters.

Seems the cheap splitters and cable connectors I had picked up at Home Depot were causing feedback and “leaking” signal. Unknown to me, when connected and split with cheap components cables can “leak” a signal so bad that he was able to detect it with a device in his truck when he pulled up. We’re on the second floor and he parked across the driveway!

He swapped out the cheap parts and we headed over to the speakeasy speed test to see if that helped. Boy did it!! Results are shown below.

results of our speakeasy speed test

*The moral of this story:* Even if you don’t fully understand what the cable guy/gal is doing, and even if you do, make sure they are installing brand new components. Ask them questions about “signal leaking.” And before they leave, have them prove to you on your own computer that you’re actually getting the connection speed you’re paying for.

DATE: 12/27/2005 03:47:32 AM
This is very interesting. A few months ago I had a problem with our cable service and wish I had know this then. IT certainly is something everyone with cable service should know! Thanks for information.