Tag Archives: Cable modem

My very first Comcast rant

I have had Comcast internet service for almost a year now, but I never really felt like a real Comcast customer until just this past week.  And by that I mean, until this week I haven’t personally experienced any crazy customer-unfriendly policies.  Well, I finally got that over with!

Before Comcast, I had been using DSL for almost a decade, most of that with a small local ISP called Atlantic Nexus.  When I first got service with them, they were amazing.  I could call them at 3AM on a Saturday and reach a support person that could actually fix problems, and not even have to wait on hold for long.  Plus, their prices were great, they offered a static IP address for like $5 extra, and their terms of service were pretty much “do with it as you please.”  They didn’t block ports, didn’t impose data caps, their tech support people didn’t flinch when I said that I was running PPPoE on an OpenBSD-based dedicated firewall…. it was awesome.  Some time in the past couple years though, all of that changed.  It was subtle at first: a tech at first not knowing what a DDoS was, then insisting that it wasn’t happening to me, when it was pretty clear that it was (oh Call of Duty players, how much I DON’T miss you).  Then it became harder and harder to reach support, or any human at all.  When you call their number, they have a 3-option menu, you choose one of the options (ordering, billing, tech support) and it rings for 30-45 seconds, and if nobody picks up you get a prompt to leave a message.  The time between leaving a message and getting a callback grew, until near the end where it took a week, leaving messages every day, before I got a callback from them.  Thankfully that was just before I was about to move from my old apartment, so when they finally did call back, I cancelled my service.  This is really too bad; years ago they were amazing, and I recommended them to everyone.  Today, I don’t even have to warn people away, because Atlantic Nexus probably won’t even return their call for a new service order.

Anyway, I moved from that apartment into my current place about 10 months ago, and took the opportunity to upgrade my internet service. My choices were Comcast or…. well, it was Comcast.  I had big plans for my internet connection, so I called Comcast and asked about static IPs.  Nope, not on residential plans, only on business.  So that was a shock, my monthly internet bill just went from $55 for DSL, to $138 for Comcast.  The upside is that the service is much faster, 50M/10M instead of 6M/768k, and I have 5 static IPs instead of 1.  So it costs more, but the service is so much better that I can live with it.

One thing that did bother me though was that on my bill every month I get a $13 equipment rental charge.  That sucks, and I want to get rid of it.  I did some research, and it seems that one of the highest-rated cable modems is the Motorola/Arris Surfboard SB6141.  It’s a DOCSIS 3.0 modem, 8 download and 4 upload channels, says on the box that it supports download speeds up to 343 Mbps, says that it’s compatible with Comcast, and shows up on Comcast’s list of supported deviced.  Looks like a winner.  $90 on Amazon.  In 7 months it will have paid for itself.  So I bought it a few months ago.  Stupid mistake, I didn’t immediately hook it up.  There was always some reason I couldn’t get on the phone with Comcast support, couldn’t afford to have internet down, etc.  Well, this week I finally had the opportunity to hook it up.  I was home sick one day, and so I was actually available to be on the phone with Comcast during regular business hours.

“Estimated hold time is longer than 10 minutes.”

Well, technically they weren’t lying.  An hour and a half later, someone finally picked up the phone.  I explain what I’m trying to do, and that the self-service modem registration page didn’t work.  The nice young lady assures me there’s no issues, we will be able to get it taken care of.  “And my static IPs will work, right?”  She assures me that they will.  For the next 20 minutes or so, she tries to get the new modem registered, and can’t make it work.  Puts me on hold.  Comes back, tries some more stuff.  Puts me on hold again.  Comes back and informs me that she doesn’t know how to make the modem work.  Says that she will refer this to Tier 2, that I should leave the new modem connected, and someone from Tier 2 will fix the issue in the next 24 hours.  “Is that okay?”  Ummm, no.  That is not okay at all.  Never mind that I have to VPN into work later that night, how the hell can a tech support person from an ISP not know how to replace a damn cable modem?  She apologized and said that she would get her supervisor to help her try to get this cable modem registered.  Put me back on hold again.  Eventually she comes back, tries something, and I see the modem reboot.  That’s a good sign.  I have my laptop plugged directly into the modem, and when the modem comes back up I get a public IP via DHCP.  Cool.  Not MY IP, but it’s a start.  Next I statically assign my laptop with one of my static IPs.  Nada.  No joy.  I try some stuff, she tries some stuff, no luck.  She puts me on hold again to ask around with her coworkers.  Comes back, apologizes again, and informs me of a Comcast policy that neither of us had ever heard of before.

Comcast Business does not support static IPs on customer-owned devices.

Seriously.  I consulted the all-knowing Google and found others complaining about the same thing.  This of course only refers to their coax connections.  I’d love to see them try to impose that kind of restriction on their Ethernet service.

So we roll back.  This at least she is able to do without trouble; the only part that takes any real time is the surprisingly slow reboot of the SMC modem/router/WiFi/VoIP gateway thing that I apparently need to continue to pay $13 a month to keep around.  At least one good thing that came out of this: after it was clear I was keeping Comcast’s modem, I got her to disable the “XfinityWiFi” SSID that it had been broadcasting.  Allowing others to leach off of my internet connection?  Hell no!  I am paying for that bandwidth!

One last annoyance.  Remember when I said that it was a stupid mistake not immediately hooking up the new cable modem as soon as I got it?  It had been so long since I got it, Amazon won’t take it back as a return.  So now I need to try to find someone to buy an almost-top-of-the-line, almost-brand-new cable modem from me.  I paid $90 for it, I’ll be lucky if I get $50.


Currently drinking: Leinenkugel’s Canoe Paddler

Leave a Comment

Filed under IT, Rants