Comcast: Back to the House

Amazingly, despite overwhelming amounts of data from myself, and data from people in Oakland, San Francisco and Santa Clara all commenting that their network sees the same issues around the same time of day (late evenings), once again I get a call from Comcast saying they want to come out to my house and attach things to the network here. They truly are fixated with the modem & the cable part of their network. And yet they cannot explain how something in my house could:

  1. Affect me only for bursts of time in the late evening, but be fine most of the rest of the time
  2. Affect other people here, and in various other cities in the bay area

Apparently, they just cannot see that this is probably impacting many of their customers. I have spoken to many here who see the issue but don’t have the patience to deal with Comcast’s totally abysmal customer support system. Even when it gets escalated, it appears they cannot get past it being localized to one house.

If they don’t want to look at the data in their routers, perhaps they should try calling some of their customers in the bay area and asking whether they use the network in the late evening regularly, and whether they have seen any issues with it.

Here’s the latest data I sent them:

January 16, 2017 (averaging 37% packet loss in the test):

January 17, 2017 (averaging 18% packet loss in the test):

Also from January 17, the trace showing losses at Sunnyvale again, and from nodes beyond it (likely dropped at Sunnyvale too – something they’ve always said was not happening):

I get it that their network can get loaded; I work in an industry that sees how much data traffic increases month on month as people use more and more high bandwidth services. But Comcast’s only role here is to provide the pipe to the Internet and keep it from being overloaded. I get it that there are huge swings in traffic volume across a 24 hour period; I don’t necessarily expect to see the full bandwidth during peak hours (right now, at 11am on a weekday, for reference, I am seeing about 30Mbps), but dropping to under 1Mbps is unacceptable. And the times when the packet losses are so great that my router decides the Internet is inaccessible are completely unacceptable. Personally, I would say once it drops below 50% of the bandwidth I’m paying for, that is a problem; I suspect they have a lower percentage in mind, but I doubt it is as low as 1%. If they do consider 1% of the contract bandwidth to be acceptable, perhaps the FCC should take a closer look at the service Comcast provides.

Another Comcast Issue

Comcast is one of my perpetual dilemmas. One one hand, the service is pretty solid (and certainly better than anything AT&T could manage), but on the other they are such a terrible company to do business with. Then there is their telephone support, which takes appalling customer service to record breaking lows, but is contrasted by their Twitter based support team which are among the best support people I’ve ever worked with.

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Cutting the Cable

Another month, another increase in our Comcast cable TV bill. One too far this time. Several months ago the bill had risen to a level where we thought it was too high for how much TV we watched & we trimmed a number of premium channel packages to reduce it to an acceptable level. Last month it was back up to that same amount even without those channels. It hadn’t jumped to that level though. Instead, it has been on a steady increase. Sometimes just a dollar or so, other times more. Always creeping up.

Meanwhile, we already had Roku boxes downstairs in the family room as well as in the master bedroom which provide us access to unlimited Netflix streaming for just $8 a month & Amazon Prime Video essentially for free since we have prime for the “Amazon Mom” program (if you never use the other elements of Prime, it would still work out at less than $8/month).

There was one wrinkle in the plan: the most common show we watched, when we had the chance to watch anything in the evenings, was House Hunters on HGTV. But we weren’t willing to pay that much for a few hours of TV each month. So, just before our trip to the UK, I called Comcast and canceled the TV service completely, and returned all the TV related hardware. But I kept the internet from them. Factoring in the increased price of “unbundled” Internet, that saves us about $110/month – over $1300/year.

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Comcast’s Triple Play Scam

A couple of weeks ago I called Comcast's support folks to get my username and password (so we could log in to watch the olympics online). I had never needed the username previously, and when Comcast absorbed Alameda's municipal cable service they never gave us any of that information. It was simple to get though.

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Comcast Disaster Continues

Oddly enough, the remote initialisation of the DVR did nothing to fix the problem with it crashing when it tries to record. I come in tonight to find it locked up in the same way as before.

I’m not yet convinced that this is a hardware issue though. So I am not expecting the box they bring on Monday to fix this issue unless it is a different unit (or has fixed software on it). Others are also having problems with the Motorola DCH3416, and Comcast’s service in general by the sounds of it.

And, yes, that’s yet another visit (my third so far) from the Comcast technicians – I asked tonight if they can book recurring appointments so they can just come out the same time each week and fix whatever has failed since the last visit. At the rate they’re going, they may as well just park out front.

From APT to Comcast

Sadly we found out a few weeks back that Alameda’s own cable TV company was no more, and that Comcast had acquired the service and all its customers. Until we were transitioned (more on that later) we would continue to get our cable and internet services unchanged. Right, so that’s why my DVR service was suddenly disabled on December 7, 2008. And that’s where this saga starts.

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