From 3am this morning our home network has been offline. This was expected. Comcast, our primary access provider, was quite good about notifying us of a planned fiber upgrade. The process has been taking areas of the neighborhood offline briefly…
While there have been one or two times that CableCard related matters caused problems, Comcast and Tivo mostly get along. When problems do occur solving them, which typically falls to Comcast, has proven difficult. So, when we received an official notice from Comcast labeled “Equipment Update” we got a little nervous.
According to Bob Dylan, “The times they are a-changing.” I certainly hope so. I’ve made some changes to our broadband service hereabouts, and I’m hopeful about a new alternative. The details of these two things are worth sharing.
I’ve long held that someone in a technology business, who works from a home office full time, should have redundant forms of internet access. If you’re going to have redundant access they should use different modes of connection. That way a single errant truck or backhoe doesn’t take out both of your services.
This belief was strengthened by our own experience in events like Hurricane Ike in 2008. We lost Comcast service for several weeks, falling back to our stodgy old DSL circuit. The DSL meant that we had IP phones running the morning after the storm, when even cellular service was down, amazed and confounded our neighbors.
Our first broadband service to this location was a DSL circuit. The name on the bill changed numerous times. What started out as Sprint Ion devolved into Earthlink, then Covad, Megapath, and most recently Global Capacity. The data rate was slow, but reliability was high.
For the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about the Comcast issued CPE that lives in my office. It’s a modem/router combination from SMC. We’ve had the service a long while. All the while we’ve been renting the device for $12.95 a month.
I can’t recall exactly when we transitioned from consumer to business class service. If I assume that it was five years ago, then we’ve paid over $750 in device rental! This for a device that can be purchased outright for under $200.
Clearly, this makes no sense at all. So last week I replaced the Comcast CPE with a Motorola/Arris SURFBoardSB6141. The choice of the SB6141 was made by consulting Comcast’s list of approved devices, and cross-referencing the SmallWall forums where Lee Sharp had some helpful advice to offer.
Late last evening there was a fire at Oxford & Barkley, or so we’re told, that took out Comcast service some neighborhoods in Houston, including where we live in The Woodland Heights. As such we are presently without cable TV or our primary internet access.
The loss of cable TV is potentially stressful for Estella, but she’s off to work for the day so it won’t be a problem until this evening. Given my home-office-based work-life the loss of internet access is potentially a show-stopper for me. It’s at times like this that I’m glad we have backup internet access.
NPR’s Marketplace recently had a nice interview with the CEO of Comcast. Part of that interview referenced the companies problem with a poor reputation for customer service. That brought to mind our own experience with the company, past and ongoing.
As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, we rely upon Comcast Business Class internet access as our primary means of internet connectivity. While I’d love to have a greater diversity of alternatives, Comcast is the best that we can do around Houston for home office users.