It all began in May when our internet connection would periodically drop. I would go to bed and get up in the morning and often I would see my VPN connection reconnect after a drop. My wife also experienced such drops and was really concerned about the stability as she was getting ready to teach her online course in June. I called Comcast (Xfinity) a couple of times and all they could do was to remotely reset the cable modem and that didn’t help. By sheer luck, I happened to talk to a gentleman during one such call who explained that the cable modem I had was a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem and whereas it is OK, for the speeds we are signed up for (300 Mbps or so), he suggested trying out a DOCSIS 3.1 modem. I was skeptical, but hey, why not try it, especially because he was throwing in a free trial for a month. I would have to pay about $13 a month to Comcast after the free trial or buy my own DOCSIS 3.1 modem.
I went to the local store to pick up the new DOCSIS 3.1 modem. It took less than 10 minutes to pick it up and I came home to install this new device with a lot of hope. I called Comcast to activate the modem (a step I HATE because of the horrendous phone system that requires you to answer the same questions over and over again before you can get to a human being). Everything worked well and I told my wife to let me know of any connection issues. Three weeks go by and no issues at all! I am now doubly, triply, thrilled with the advice I received.
Then started all the troubles, some self-inflicted…
I said, why am I paying $13 a month plus taxes on Comcast cable modem? Why not buy one. So, I go to Xfinity website and unearth the link that shows supported modems from other manufacturers. It is nontrivial, believe me. Every step of the way it is clear that Comcast/Xfinity is determined to have you lease their devices (they do not outright sell them to you!). I was as determined to find the alternatives. And I found one and texted one of my children to pick it up because he was near a Best Buy. This was mistake # 1.
I asked him to pick up Netgear CM1000, a DOCSIS 3.1 compatible modem. It costs only $169, which is roughly 13 months of leasing cost from Comcast! I was so happy to have saved some money. I opened up and got it all ready and realized it did not support landline telephone. Close everything up and go to Best Buy to return it. I then consult someone from Best Buy and based on their recommendation, I pick up a Netgear C7100V that is a cable modem with voice support. It is about $269, so closer to 20 months of Comcast leasing.
I called Comcast again to add this modem and while I was reciting to them the Mac Address from the label, I noticed that this is a DOCSIS 3.0 modem! I immediately canceled the activation process and put back the Comcast Cable Modem in the box to take back to Best Buy. Almost an hour of connectivity loss at home. And believe me, NO ONE likes network disruptions in our home. And they are all attributable to me (and in this case, it was!)!!!
Another trip to Best Buy and the same woman who was there the day before happens to be at the counter for returns. Suspicious at me, she asks loudly “Were you not here to return the modem yesterday?”. I did not say what I really wanted to say for fear of unnecessary consequences… I went to look for DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem with voice, but they did not have one.
A week or so went by and I was telling myself – “How could this be? Why can’t I find a modem that will reduce the cost and will work?” So I decide to go back to Netgear CM1000 and abandon the landline at home. I called ADT security system to confirm that our line now is through the internet connection and not landline phone. Another trip to Best Buy and bought that modem again.
I call Comcast and the person said I have to call back during the week to take phone off my services. I was SO ANGRY and hung up the phone. I tweeted something that was not so complimentary to Comcast and @ComcastCares responded. I should give credit to whoever is doing this on Twitter. They are far better than calling them,
Long story short, through Twitter direct messages with delays at both ends, they helped me remove the phone line so I could call Comcast and activate my Netgear. Half hour later, Netgear router was online, Comcast could see it, but I cannot go to the internet. Another half hour of multiple resets and nothing. I can see that my WiFi router is actually talking to Netgear and getting a Comcast address, but it is not able to route my home network out.
So I ask Comcast to revert back and register my Comcast Cable modem back! I was so lucky to have a very knowledgeable guy at the other end. He said he is unable to add my Comcast modem back. Why? Because I cancelled my telephone line, the associated cable modem is in a state of limbo until Monday or Tuesday when they will process the request and then I can add it back. Unfortunately he cannot do much. OMG! 2 days without internet connectivity? How do I face the wrath of my family?
Luckily, My original DOCSIS 3.0 modem that was causing connectivity problems was still with me (I usually get rid of these fast, but somehow I had kept this one). This gentleman helped me add it successfully. I told my wife that we are back to the disruptions for a while because the new modem cannot be added until I get back from Wellesley on Thursday,
While thinking about this, it occurred to me that the el-cheapo Netgear CM1000 is not a WiFi router, so I thought I missed a step. Indeed. I am supposed to clone the Mac Address of the router to the Netgear Cable Modem and give the router’s Mac Address to Comcast to register. Ha, I am going to try this, I told myself.
I wanted to REALLY confirm all of these to avoid any more downtime. I called Comcast to make sure that what I am planning is the right thing. I wrote to @ComcastCares. All I got was they cannot answer that question and that as far as they are aware I should always register the Mac address of the Cable Modem with them. Reading through the web posts was more confusing than helpful.
So, I finally came to the conclusion – I have spent enough time and effort on this and will not attempt to do anything else but to keep paying Comcast the monthly fee. Since 4 days have passed, the voice issue was resolved and I was able to add back the Comcast DOCSIS 3.1 modem successfully.
Now I needed to return the Netgear again at Best Buy. I said to myself, I will not go at 10 AM when they open and face that woman at the return counter again! So, I went, nervously, at 4 PM. Success! She was not there, but a more pleasant young woman was there instead.
Having decided on Comcast indebtedness for some time to come, I said, let us add more. So, I wanted to clean things up a bit and move to Comcast’s xFi pods. Why? because they looked simple and cool compared to the Linksys routers that I have at every level in the house, connected via wires etc. Besides, there are advantages to being fully Comcast compatible because you can monitor the network for issues remotely using their xFi app on my phone. So, if I get a network outage call from my wife when I am away, I can at least try a thing or two reemotely.
This experiment was a massive failure. There shouldn’t be a lot of obstructions between the WiFi router and the first xFi pod and from pod to pod. Unfortunately I had. Comcast solution – buy 6 instead of 3. Right! Another trip to return them.
And after all of this, I am back to square one. A Comcast DOCSIS 3.1 modem that I am leasing and my own Linksys routers at each level of the house. Through this clean up effort, I found one router to be corrupt and essentially dead. Ordered a TP Link N300 2T2R and it arrived the next day. Basically plug and play and it worked beautifully.
I think Comcast can do much better. If only I didn’t have to call them to register and activate everytime I try a new device, I would be willing to experiment and resolve issues faster. Why would they not allow us to remotely activate by providing the Mac address? Why do I have to call? It is STUPID!
I apologize for the length of this post 🙂