Thursday, April 11, 2013

"Great news! We've increased your internet speed."

Comcast has been upgrading their services and rolling out a new, faster internet gradually to their customers. I was notified by email that I'm now part of the elite group. The email said,
"Great news! We've increased your internet speed.
"Now the download speed on your Performance Internet service is up to 33% faster with speeds up to 20 Mbps and we have doubled your upload speeds up to 4 Mbps."

But also included in this email was a side note:
"Ensure your modem is a DOCSIS 3.0 modem and can take advantage of this speed increase"
My modem was too old. I would have to upgrade it to take advantage of the new speed.

Time For a New Cable Modem

So I headed to Radio Shack and picked up a new cable-modem. The one I picked out was the Motorola SURFboard SB6121. I thought I should be able to unplug the old modem and substitute the new one. But after fiddling with it for awhile and even reading the sparce directions that came with it, I couldn't get it to work. So I called Comcast.

I learned that they have to register the modem in their system before it will work. In the meantime, I was able to use my neighbor's wi-fi. I'm sure glad there is someone besides me in the neighborhood who keeps their wi-fi open for others to use. I've been able to solve several problems over the past few years by using their wi-fi.

The first call to Comcast was placed around 5 pm EST on a Saturday. By the accent of the person I spoke with, I may have been speaking with someone in Europe or Africa. He had me go through a series of steps to diagnose the problem, and then said he would take the necessary steps to get the modem registered. When things still were not working around 11 pm, I called again. This time the technician identified herself as someone in Indonesia. I, of course, had to go through the same diagnostics with her. She then said she would make sure the modem got registered.

My next call was Sunday morning. This time I got someone in the U.S. So we went through the diagnostic steps again. When we were again unsuccessful in getting it to work, he said they would send a technician out Monday morning.

Comcast logo

The technician from Comcast came to my house about 10:30. It turned out Comcast had still not done what the folks I'd spoken with on the phone said they were going to do. Which meant that my new cable modem was still not registered with Comcast. So I was blocked from getting onto the internet.

The technician finally got the modem registered. I now had access to the internet as long as I was plugged directly into the cable modem with an ethernet cable. However, we still couldn't get the Airport Extreme wireless router to work. Since the connection between the Airport Extreme and my laptop was not a Comcast problem, he left me to work on a solution for that. So after lunch I worked with the Airport and Network utilities to try to get the wireless connection to work. After trying various tactics to isolate the problem, it came down to the fact that the Airport Extreme was not talking to the new cable modem.

So I made an appointment with one of the Apple stores that is close to me so I could talk to the people behind the Genius Bar to see what they could tell me.

When I got there, the young lady came to the same result I'd gotten at home. They had high-speed internet coming into their store. My Airport Extreme, which had been working brilliantly until I started this upgrade, would not connect to their internet. I had bought my Airport when they first came out. The Genius lady said her computer listed it as a "vintage" model, no longer supported. Which meant another dip into the bank account to get a new Airport Extreme.

Time For a New Airport Extreme

When I got home I installed the new Airport Extreme in place of the old one, connecting it to the new cable modem with an ethernet cable. I then plugged an ethernet cable directly from the Airport Extreme into the ethernet port in my laptop. Using the Network Preferences under System Preferences, I said I was connected using ethernet. I was able to access the internet. I was immediately informed that the new Airport Extreme needed a firmware update. So I went through that procedure. But at least now I knew that the new Airport Extreme was talking to the new cable modem.

I then unplugged the ethernet cable from the Airport Extreme to my laptop and chose "Wi-Fi" in the Network Preferences. Network Utility indicated that I was still connected using the ethernet cable even though I was using the Airport wirelessly. This really puzzled me, and I continued to try to get the Wi-fi setup to work. I was playing with the Airport Utility, Network Preferences, and Network Utility making sure that everything was configured correctly. Finally, when I went to identify whether or not I was on the internet, all of a sudden the green light came on on the Airport Extreme and I heard a pretty loud click, and from that point on I had wireless Internet connection. I was connected! Finally!

I've had it for about a week now. It has seemed to make a difference on how quickly pages display coming from the internet. It definitely makes a difference as to how quickly apps are updated on my iPad and iPod Touch.

The one problem I've been having is that I seem to drop the connection frequently. That never happened with the old set-up. In other words, things will slow down and I'll check, and I'll be connected to my neighbor's wi-fi network instead of mine. So that means I need to go into Network Settings and switch back to my wi-fi network. Sometimes I'll be updating an app on my iPod Touch and I'll get a message saying that I can not currently connect with the iTunes store. I have to go into Network Settings on the iPod Touch and turn wi-fi off. When I turn it back on and reconnect to my wi-fi network, everything works fine again. I'm thinking that if these anomalies continue, I may take the Airport Extreme back and try another one.