Comcast Internet Cable in San Francisco

I'm evaluating weather to switch to Comcast Internet Cable in San Francisco. I currently have their Cable Digital TV Cable and can get a bit of a deal using their Internet Cable. A couple of questions:

Is their cable quite reliable as to speed - I previously reviewed cable options and saw comments that cable slows down as the load increases (particularly in the evenings). I currently have DSL.

What about downtime? So you experience a lot and is it easy to get tech support when problems arises?

How are they at maintaining a top variety of Newsgroups? Some providers filter newsgroups and I prefer to do that on my own. Is it easy to request additional newsgroups, etc.

I currently use a router to connect my laptop as well - is that a problem with Comcast and their tech support?

Any other issues I should look into in evaluating whether to switch?

Any thoughts/suggestions appreicated. Charlie

****************************************************** Charliec
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I'm not in San Francisco, but I can tell you that in 1999 the system in the city wasn't ready for two-way cable, and limited one-way cable was introduced to hold off DSL from locking the market. If two-way cable is now available, you're someplace where the system has been completely rebuilt in the last couple of years. Experiences of anyone except those in your neighborhood won't apply.

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I am not a Comcast user. I do believe that the load slowdown is a bit of a hoary old myth from the early days of cable. The cable companies reportedly to a better job of load balancing these days.

I wouldn't know, personally. But enough users are splitting from SBC Yahoo! DSL Service to Comcast that I suspect their uptime is reasonably good.

This is one area where the cablecos seem to be equally inept as the telcos. NNTP service is a "value added" service which is used by only one percent of the user base. The providers are more interested in the glitz and pizzazz of web access, so that is where they concentrate their support effort.

From the posts I see, this is another area where the cablecos are the same as the telcos. Routers work just fine, but there is no provider support; unless the provider issues routers (SBC does), in which case they will only support the issue router.

Not much that I am aware of. But I get the feeling that the difference between Comcast and SBC is a fire/frying pan kind of thing. OTOH, if you are with an ILEC DSL service, like DSL Extreme, you will probably be better off sticking with them.

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Norman/Warren, Thanks for your replies. It helps! I'm fairly pleased with my DSL (regarding speed, newsgroups access, support, etc), but keep getting these offers from Comcast, since I am a Comcast TV Digital user. So, continuing to evaluate! Charlie

****************************************************** Charliec
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I would agree with Warren that it is helpful to check with your neighbors to see how the service is in your immediate vicinity. If the cable plant servicing your neighbors Internet Service has upstream problems or if a CMTS (Cable Modem Termination System) servicing your area is oversubscribed, that's one of the best ways to find out. If local performance is suffering at a peak time of day (early evening or late afternoon for instance), it is likely to be a sign of performance problems for your household as well.

However, Comcast has been pretty good about reviewing their CMTS usage and staying on top of explosive growth that has occurred in many locations. But ordering up the components for more capacity, scheduling upgrades, decombining/recombining cable plant and performing equipment upgrades can happen in slow motion from the point of view of the consumer. Experience with my service and those I've talked to in other locations has been that there have been occasional times when peak usage periods slowed things down for users in some places, but within 3-6 months these problems were usually well rectified.

That's just the view from where I sit. I have had Comcast Internet service in the East Bay for the past 8 years or so throughout the periods when it was AT&T Broadband, TCI@Home, and Viacom Cable (cable modem test bed). Over that time, the service has gradually gotten more and more robust and reliable here, though it had some notable short term set backs along the way, with corporate transitions the foremost among them.

These days in my neighborhood performance is great and is noticably quicker in some respects than the DSL experiences I have had at other locations. Access to the Internet occasionally goes down for very brief periods - and is usually back up within a minute or two with the rare worst case being

30-60 minutes of either no access or slowness. Sometimes I'll have to recycle power on the cable modem to get back online, but it doesn't often come to that. There were times a couple years ago when DNS, email and news servers were troubled or oversubscribed, but those issues seem to have subsided completely here.

A router works fine if you choose to use one, though you are on your own for support of self-installed home networks (best to check the current customer agreement on this). The only time routers have been supported has been if they've installed it and charge you for the privilege - including monthly incremental for each additional PC and component).

The 1st tier centralized tech-support services of these high speed Internet providers have always had frustrating competence, quality and responsiveness issues. It seems that no sooner is someone competent in this area of technology, that they no longer want to work as a lowly telephone jocky - go figure. It can be a challenge to wait for, keep and maintain a phone connection with a genuinely helpful person on the other end. I tend to avoid them at all costs unless I experience a hard down time for an extended period of time. It has been probably 4 or 5 years since I had to place a call to them for help with a service outage.

Comcast now provides membership to Giganews which seems to be pretty robust here and though I'm not a TOTAL newsgroup-junky, I'm not aware of anything missing (I'm sure there are those who can enlighten me).

Good luck with your selection process. FWIW, Robert

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Bob by the Bay

^^^^^^^ You're only going to switch if it's sunny? :-)

-Larry Jones

Summer vacation started! I can't be sick! -- Calvin

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Thanks Robert, Great response with details. Charlie

****************************************************** Charliec
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