Tips To Getting a Great Cable Modem

We’ve had several customers ask us how to find a good Cable Modem, so I asked Chris to enlighten us:

Here in the sunny state of Colorado, the two major Internet Service Providers are Xfinity (aka: Comcast) and CenturyLink (previously known as Qwest). Xfinity provides cable service, while CenturyLink provides DSL.  This article will focus on Xfinity Internet and cable modems.

I’ve found them to both be reasonably reliable service, and am comfortable recommending either one of them for service.  (I have occasionally had a bad phone experience with Customer Service from either company, and my personal favorite method for dealing with this is to reassess the progress of the call at the 2-3 minute mark, thank them for their time (yes, do it), then hangup – and call back about 30 seconds later. Because you will probably get someone different who is in a completely different mood or skill level, and find your call will then go swimmingly.)

We currently have CenturyLink DSL service at 12Mbps (Mega bits per second).  This is the fastest plan that CenturyLink tends to offer.  I have seen CenturyLink provide 25Mbps once or twice, and in the past year have seen two customers who have actually received the new Gigabit internet service (one was in a new neighborhood in Commerce City, and the other was in a new neighborhood near Stapleton).

Note that there is another recently new Internet service called NextLight in Longmont which is Super Fast!  They provide Fiber To The House.  They are currently deployed in South Longmont, South and East of Oscar Blues.  We have several customers in this area, and I have measured speeds between 250 and 800Mbps there.

Longmont's Nextlight Service
               Longmont’s Nextlight Service

In general, Xfinity (Comcast) tends to provide The Fastest internet service in the state of Colorado.  I will routinely measure 50Mbps at customer locations, and am seeing an increasing number of customers with 100+ Mbps service.  This is good.

Xfinity Cable Modems

The newer cable modems offered by Xfinity have generally good WiFi service built in to them.  It’s as if Xfinity has finally gotten the concept that their customers do tend to have many tablets and notebook computers that are being simultaneously used at their home, they are surfing the internet and using Facebook and streaming movies from Netflix or Amazon, and a better built in WiFi card and better antennas tends to make the general customer experience a good one.

The new cable modems are mostly black plastic, stands about 12″ tall and about 2″ wide, and have 5-6 vertical white lights on them which are about .5″ in diameter each.

All new Xfinity cable modems will come with 2.4Ghz WiFi.

But try to get the new cable modem which also has the 5Ghz WiFi built in to it.

WiFi comes in two frequencies, 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz.  2.4Ghz WiFi has been around a long time, and that band can be crowded.  If you live in an apartment or condominium, or other high density area, you will find that everyone and their mother has a 2.4Ghz WiFi router.  However, the 5Ghz band is relatively new and unused – and therefore quiet.  So if you’re having trouble connecting to your WiFi router, see if you can connect using the 5Ghz band, because that band tends to be much less congested.  Note that not all WiFi enabled devices are 5Ghz capable, such as some printers which are more than a couple of years old.

About 2 years or so ago, Xfinity began to offer their “new at the time” 105Mbps service, which was a nice improvement over their 50Mbps service.  Getting the faster service required that the customer get a new cable modem, because it had the newer technology to make use of the faster service.

There used to be an orange band across the back of the new Xfinity cable modems which said “105+” on it, which differentiated them from the “old style” cable modems.  I haven’t been seeing this recently on the back of the new Xfinity cable modems, yet they still do provide a fast download speed of 100+ Mbps.

Here are two modems which Comcast has approved and Chris recommends:

and,

If you are replacing your Xfinity cable modem with another one, make sure you get a “DOCSIS 3.0” compatible cable modem.  Otherwise Comcast will nag you to death with pop-up messages.  Read more in this article.

Let us know if you need help setting up your new modem, or if your printer or computer can’t “find” the new Internet signal.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet, but I’m tempted!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

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