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February 29, 2012

Speed up Comcast internet 3x for almost free

Dear Comcast Customer,

We are constantly working to serve you better, which is why we want to remind you that you have been leasing a cable modem from us for $5 a month for almost five years.  We're so embarrassed by that, given that the modem only costs us about thirty bucks wholesale, so we quit charging you a while back, but really, you've paid way more than the modem is worth and it is terribly obsolete now.  We suppose it is a credit to us that it works well enough that you haven't gone to another provider, but do yourself a favor and buy a new modem already.



OK, I in made that letter up, but it's the letter I wish Comcast had sent me.  When I switched from DSL to Cable, I just wanted it to work, so I let Comcast lease me a modem.  I figured I would get the service working and then in 6 or 8 months I would buy my own device, ending the lease payment.  I got busy, and to be fair, it worked fine and I rarely thought about it.  When I did think about it, I imagined the hassle it would be to buy the new modem, install it and then get the old lease charge removed from my bill.  It turns out, Comcast really does make it easy.

If you have been leasing a modem, or you have a modem more than a few years old, you might be able to buy a new modem and in the process, significantly increase your internet speeds.  I increased my download speed by 3X for no extra money, except for the price of the new modem.  Here's how to do it.

Go to Amazon.com or your favorite store and buy this modem.


It's a Motorola SURFboard eXtreme Cable Modem Model S86121


(Note to readers of the future.  This was written 2-29-2012.  Check to see if there is an even faster modem available in your time.  And drop me a note, I love to hear from people from the future.)

Before you disconnect the old modem, make sure you have your Comcast account number.  You'll need it later, so if you do electronic billing, go online now while the old modem is working and get your account number.

You are going to need to plug the new modem into power, move your cable connection from the old modem to the new modem, and then you want to run the included ethernet cable directly from the new modem to the computer you want to use to configure it.  Don't worry, when we're done, you can plug the modem into the ethernet cable going to your home network, but for now we need a direct connection to a computer.

After everything is connected, open up a browser on the computer.  You'll be redirected to a Comcast page where you can change your service to the new modem.  If you aren't getting any page, use the included instructions to interpret the lights on the new modem.  You didn't forget to plug it in or attach your cable from the old modem did you?  Be patient, the new modem may need a few minutes to connect.

Next you will be prompted to enter your home telephone number and your Comcast account number.  Just follow the prompts, hitting next.  Here's the tough part - be patient.  It really may take a while for everything to work.  Maybe 2 or 3 minutes, but it will seem longer and you may think you have done something wrong.  Be patient.

If everything worked, you should be able to go to your favorite web page.  Do that to make sure you have a good connection before you start trying to connect the modem to your home network.

Now unplug the new modem from your computer, and connect it to the ethernet cable going to your home network that the old modem was connected to.  Don't forget to plug your computer back into the home network too.  Now you really need to be patient.  I was sure something was wrong and ripped everything back apart, but no, it just needs some time to reconnect to Comcast and for your home network to recognize the new modem.  If you must, cycle the power on your modem and network device, but for me after about 5 minutes it all started working.

Once the new modem was in place and working, I went to speedtest.net and rechecked my speed.  I was very happy to see that I was getting three times faster download speeds - I went from 9.72 Mbps to 36.01 Mbps.  The modem cost me $82.19 at Amazon.com so I figure that's a great deal.

All that was left was to return the old modem and get the lease payment removed from my bill.  I called Comcast (the first time I actually talked to a person) and they directed me to take it to my local Comcast service center which was just a few miles away.  I walked in a half hour before closing time to find an empty room with four people ready to help me.  One of the guys scanned the bar code on my old modem, printed a receipt and that was that.

I have to say, this was a LOT easier than I expected.  I thought sure I would have problems, have to call a technician, and then wait all day for them to show up, but that wasn't the case at all.  Thanks Comcast for making this easy, and I'm loving my new higher speed internet.

 Update 10-24-12  Quite a few people have said they made this change and it worked for them.  I was just asked about Ping times, so here are the before and after speedtest.net screenshots.  I would say they didn't change, though several tests before had it at 9ms so maybe it improved a bit.




February 29, 2012 in Web/Tech | Permalink


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