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Cable, Modems and Routers for Dummies


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#1 mrag

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 08:39 PM

I have Comcast cable (package is 6Mbps up, 2Mbps down), an 8 year old RCA modem and a 3 year old Netgear wired/wireless router. One Vista pc wired in and three others with a wireless (WEP) connection. They are NOT networked. Comcast says I have an outdated (but fully operational) modem, but should still get a new one (DOCSIS 3). I get confused with all the numbers. Like I am "supposed" to get 6 Mbps down, but I am now only measuring around 3 Mbps (Speedtest.net) and then my 'router' says my wireless speed is 24.0 Mbps. I assume I can only get to the fastest speed of the slowest device. Can my pc even handle 6 or 24? Will a DOCSIS 3 get me more speed or will I then have to update my router and does 'wireless' affect speed limits? I do not play games on the pc, just plain old stuff. All this is driving me nuts. TIA.

Edited by mrag, 11 September 2011 - 08:41 PM.


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#2 computerxpds

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 08:48 PM

Hello and :welcome: to BC!!

Did comcast supply you with a modem or is this one you have that you setup to use on comcast's network. If it is one you already owned then let comcast give you a new one it will boost your speed. You should have the advertised speed this way.

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#3 bjamrok

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 09:41 PM

Here is how I like to explain these speeds to you the best I can so you can wrap your head around it a little easier. We are dealing in Mbps on all measurements.

The recent history of networking has set speed limits which are directly comparable to all the speeds you are asking about.

There are many different protocols and standards each with their own unique speeds, but these are what I would consider the standards.

Wired networking:
Ethernet (original) 10Mbps
Fast Ethernet 100Mpbs (Side note: most modern computer computers have 10/100 networking meaning they operate on the above two speeds depending on the network)
Gigabit Ethernet 1000Mpbs (Many new computers come with this as standard. it is notated as 10/100/1000

Wireless networking
Wireless B aka 802.11b 11Mpbs
Wireless A aka 802.11a 54Mpbs
Wireless G aka 802.11g 54Mpbs
Wireless N aka 802.11n 150Mpbs

If your still following, compare your 3Mbps speed from Comcast to your network which is probably at least capable of the 24Mbps wireless and probably 100Mbps wired. So I would say that most likely you will benefit from increased download speed. The other important part to visualize is that flowing data can be compared to flowing water. The network is like the pipes. If you run all the sinks and bathtubs in your house or apartment building at the same time, you probably see a drop in water pressure. Same with the network if you have 3 or 4 or more computers taking all the data out of the same pipe, you will see slower load times. If your using one computer for light to moderate internet usage, you probably wont see a big drop, but if multiple are streaming videos, downloading music, etc. It's like the dropping water pressure. It just takes longer to fill the tub.

Hope that helped.

Good Luck!
Sincerely,

Brian

"Thanks to all of you who contribute to open source projects and communities!"

http://jamroktech.blogspot.com

#4 mrag

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 11:04 PM

Thank you for your replies. They helped me get a better handle on things. Comcast does not "give" anything away. They will rent me a DOCSIS 3 cable modem for $7 a month. The last modem I bought was $40 and I've had it for more than 60 months. I can buy a new "approved" DOCSIS3 myself for $72 and avoid the monthly rental fee. I understand an analogy would be I am on a WindowsXP system where the new modem is like being on a Windows7 system. My concern is what does the $72 really get me? I currently can stream Netflix to different devices (Roku and DVD player) with out a problem. Supposedly my maximum Comcast contract download speed is 6 Mbps although in practice Comcast says I may expect about 80% of that or 4.8 Mbps. According to a SpeedTest.net check a few minutes ago, my download speed was 4.95 Mbps although at other times it can be around 3.06 Mbps. Maybe everyone is in the shower then and doing laundry ;-) A good analogy though.

If the speed coming in to the modem is 4.8 and my current wireless router is providing rates of 24-48 Mbps (topping at 54) and my computer(s) can handle up to 100 Mbps (or higher), I may be seeing a marginal increase in download speeds, but I am not clear on what that increase would actually convert to. YouTube videos will not play faster although some usually unattended software downloads might be slightly quicker. Is that worth $72. Am I doing anything wrong in my thinking or overlooking something obvious? Thanks again.

Update 9/12: I need to remember, never ever listen to a 'Comcast service tech.' They are the ones that first said I needed to get a new modem to improve my speed. On the Comcast site itself, it only recommends the DOCSIS3 cable modem system for high powered users-those paying for 50 Mbps and more download speeds. I just ran some more speed tests and got over 6 Mbps down. Hence whatever is going on it would seem my 'ancient' cable modem can still handle all the speed that I pay for.

Interesting speeds though-like who do you trust?
speedtest.verizon.net reports I have 1.52 Mbps down and 1.52 Mbps up
speedtest.comcast.net reports I have 6.45 Mbps down and 3.27 Mbps up
http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/ reports 6.13 down and 3.13 down

I think I will wait until my modem breaks..

Edited by mrag, 12 September 2011 - 11:57 AM.


#5 bjamrok

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 06:33 PM

I can see looking at it two ways. You may not need the new router, and it may not give you the speed increase you are expecting. So if both of those are true, it would be a waste except for having a spare. If Comcast could/would promise you the increased speed, then that advantage along with having a spare on the shelf may be worth it. I have a modem which is included in my AT&T plan and everytime I have a problem, I sit with no service for a day or two till they bring out another one. Having a working backup is always nice if you're an internet junkie like I am!

But those are your decisions to make. Glad my analogy worked, sometimes I make things way more confusing than I need to.
Sincerely,

Brian

"Thanks to all of you who contribute to open source projects and communities!"

http://jamroktech.blogspot.com




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