Comcast Extreme 105 Internet Houston Review


Comcast Extreme 105 Internet  Houston Review

Comcast Extreme 105 Internet Houston Review

Posted on Apr 2, 2012 by Paul White

Since pulling the plug on all my comcast (Xfinity) services except for internet, my bill has dropped to $62.95 / month, not including taxes. However considering I use my computer for work, and I am constantly shuttling large files between my work station and my colocated server, I felt that maybe getting one of the faster Internet connections might be a good idea. So I have upgraded from my Basic Xfinity service that gave me 25 Mbit downstream, and 4 Mbit upstream, to the Extreme 105 Service that gives me 105 Mbit downstream and 20 Mbit upstream. Follow me as I blog this experience in detail. We will see if the Extreme 105 from comcast is worth the additional cost and installation fees.

UPDATE 4/9/2012
Quick update for those thinking about the Extreme 105. Scroll to the bottom of the article for full update details. Basically comcast doesn't support anything faster than 10Mbits upstream for residents in Texas. Just go with the Extreme 50 instead,

Location Matters

First not everyone can get this service. Fortunately I live in the Houston metro area ( Pearland, TX to be Exact ). And according to Comcast my neighborhood does support Extreme 105. If you live out in no mans land the chances are you won't be able to get this additional speed.

Extreme 105 Internet Special

What attracted me to this was the $105 / month special they were running. 12 months of Extreme 105 for $105 / month. After that the price jumps to $199 / month. I will just make sure to downgrade my service at the end of my contract. However in order to get Extreme 105 at this price you have to subscribe at least one other Comcast service. So I opted for the cheapest of basic local cable ( $24.95 / month ). My total will be around $140 or so once the taxes and fees are included. I could have gotten Extreme 105 without an additional service, but it would cost me $199 / month.

250 GB Transfer Cap Sucks

Unfortunately there is still a 250 GB transfer cap on the Extreme 105, just the same as the lower end Comcast Internet Plans. So even though you have the speed to move some large files quickly, You don't have the transfer to make your dreams ( hosting porn sites out of your home server) a reality. As it is I am not too worried about the 250GB cap. Thankfully my colocated server only has about 140 GB of data on it, so I could still do a monthly full backup. The only way to get unlimited transfer is to upgrade to the Business Class Comcast Internet. Those plans have unlimited bandwidth, but cost much more than residential plans.

Mandatory $249 Bull Shit Installation Fee for Extreme 105

There is also a mandatory $249 Installation fee. If you think you are going to negotiate you way out of the install fee, think again. I explained to them that I already have all the proper equipment ( DOCSIS 3.0 Modem, Gigabit router ), and I work as an IT Professional / Computer Programmer for my day job. They said it doesn't matter, they still require the installation fee, and for a service tech to come out and inspect the equipment and lines. However if I was just upgrading to the 50Mbit package then there is no installation fee. The Sales guy said that with the high end packages they require the installation fee. I guess its a deterrent to average joes, who don't understand computers, and would cause customer support some stress. Still I am not happy about paying a Comcast Tech $249 for him to walk in my house, look at my equipment and say, "Yep Looks good", then leave 5 minutes later.

Update:
Apparently both the 50 Mbit and 105 Mbit connections require they run a special wire from the cable box ( in my yard ) to my wall. I guess standard Coax Wires don't cut it. This info came from the India based customer support tech. Yet they couldn't tell me exactly what type of wire will be used. For this reason I have wait 2 day for the tech to show up for the install before I can get service. They refuse to simply flick the switch at the home office.

No Install Fee on 50 Mbit package but still expensive

The sales guy told me that I could upgrade to the 50 Mbit package, which does not require an $249 install fee. But it would still cost $129.99 / month for the service if I didn't subscribe to another comcast service. If you subscribe then its only $99.99 / month for the internet portion of the service. So I was going to have to get 1 additional comcast service in order to enjoy cheaper pricing on faster Internet. With only a $5 difference between 50 Mbit and 105 Mbit, it was a no brainer. So I went for the Extreme 105, with low budget basic local cable as my additional service.

Comcast Xfinity Internet Benchmarks and Performance

My current comcast internet service is supposed to be rated for only 15 Mbits downstream and 4 Mbits upstream. However if you have your own DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem ( like I do) this unlocks the speed to 25 Mbits on the downstream. I used the benchmarking tool on Speedtest.net for testing.
Comcast Xfinity Internet with Docsis 3.0 Modem Downstream
Pulling 25.17 Mbits on the Downstream ( 3.14 MBytes / secon )

Comcast Xfinity Internet with Docsis 3.0 Modem Upstream
Pushing 3.77 Mbits on the Upstream ( 471 KBytes / second )

Comcast Xfinity Internet with Docsis 3.0 Modem Benchmark summary
Performance Summary

Comcast Xfinity Extreme 105 Internet Benchmarks and Performance

4/4/2012
On this day the the Comcast Technician arrived to do their installation. Like I previously thought, they did nothing. They arrived looked at my equipment, and called in my MAC Address to the dispatch office. Even the installer was like ( Why did they send me out for this? ). No Special wires were run from my box to my house. They just checked to make sure I had a DOCSIS 3.0 modem. However after he left, my speed was not the advertised 105 Mbit down and 20 Mbit up.

Extreme 105 Speed Test Results
He said the the remaining part of the install had to be done at the central office where they will do something to enable my speeds to reach the Extreme 105 advertised speeds. He said there was nothing else he could do from my house. If Comcast is charging $249 for a tech to come out to my house and just make sure I have a DOCSIS 3.0 modem, that is not acceptable.

4/5/2012
I called comcast today because my speeds were still not reaching the advertised Extreme 105 speeds. They said the final step of the installation was my modem would download a file ( firmware I am guessing ), that would tell my modem how to communicate with the comcast network for the higher speeds. She said this would take about 10 minutes to become active.

4/5/2012 30 minutes later
Still no change in speeds. I am hoping that the firmware from Comcast hasn't completed the install yet.

I did some testing with a few other speed test sites.
The Speed Test on http://speedtest.comcast.net/ showed the right Download speed, but upload speed was still only 50% of what it should be. However since this is the speed test run by comcast, I some what doubt its honesty. Really how hard would it be to detect the IP address, and show people the data they want to see, if they are your customers?

Extreme 105 Speed Test Results on Xfinity

Update 4/8/2012
Its been a few days, and still my bandwidth benchmarks at the same speeds as the above chart. However I feel these benchmarks are very misleading. I had to upload a 100 MB zip file to my server ( colocated on a 1 Gbit port ). I was only averaging about 1.3 MB/sec (10.4 MBits ) which is close enough to the benchmark speeds( though way below the 20Mbits I should be getting ). Then I did a test with a 300 MB file. The speed averaged about 3.2 MB/sec ( 25.6 Mbits ) Way below the advertised 105 MBits. I had an appointment for a comcast tech to come out and fix the problem, however I had other plans Saturday so I had to cancel my appointment. Once again I will be calling into Comcast to get this problem resolved.

Update 4/9/2012
Once again I called Comcast today to get these issues resolved. Turns out that even though they advertise the Extreme 105 package as having 105 Mbits down and 20 Mbits up. These speeds are only available in certain areas. At this point I think Atlanta is one of the only metro areas that fully support Extreme 105. If you live in Texas, Extreme 105 will still give you 105 Mbits down, but only 10Mbits Up. This is provisioned at the central office, and is not an equipment issue, or line issue. At this point more than 10Mbits Upstream with Comcast is not available.

I told the supervisor I spoke with that they should update their website, as advertising 20 Mbits and only giving 10 Mbits is very misleading. In my opinion its a law suit waiting to happen. No where on their website or restrictions does it say 20 Mbits is only available in certain areas ( Altanta ).

If the downstream is all you care about I can validate that they do give you 105 Mbits down, however keep in mind that most websites you go to are sitting on servers that are overloaded, and sitting on a 10Mbit or 100Mbit port. So actually getting 105 Mbits from most servers is not going to happen. Even saturating your downstream on bit torrent might not be possible since comcast is likely to have bottlenecks in their own network.

On SpeedTest.net, the best I was able to get was 76 Mbits downstream, and 11 Mbits upstream.

Considering that most servers will never support anything faster than 30-40 MBytes /sec transfers, I decided to downgrade my server to the Extreme 50, which has the same 10 Mbit upstream and 50 Mbits downstream. Extreme 50 has no $249 installation fee, Just make sure you have your own DOCSIS 3.0 modem before getting this package.

Comcast refunds my Extreme 105 Installation fee.
After talking to the Comcast supervisor, and explaining that I didn't get the advertised speeds, plus the fact that there was no reason to send out a technician for the install. The technician did not run any new lines, test the voltages on my Coax cables, or do anything other than call in my modem's MAC address. Of which Comcast already knew since I have been running the same DOCSIS 3.0 modem ( that I own ) for the past 9 months. After realizing the facts, the supervisor agreed to refund the $249 installation fee. I am glad they were honest in this respect.

Update 4/11/2012
I have now been on the Extreme 50 plan for about 2 days. I wanted to updated everyone on the kinds of speeds I have been getting. Even though they advertise the downstream as 50 Mbits, I am actually speedtesting at 61 Mbits. This was using both Comcast's own speed test ( speedtest.comcast.net, and the original speedtest.net ). Also my Upstream is getting 12 Mbits instead of the 10 Mbits they told me it should do. I have also done FTP testing to my server and was able to almost hit 12 Mbits during an upload which is great. The best FTP downloads I have gotten have been about 40 Mbits, but thats ok, its probably a network congestion issue. I also decided that I didn't like using the Digtal Adpaters for Cable TV, and so I have switched my comcast subscription to Internet Only. For Extreme 50 this costs $114.95 / month. I did this because I don't watch cable TV, and using their adapters was a pain in the Ass. I shouldn't have to use 3 remotes to run my TV. Now we can get local TV channels like before. At this point even though I been like I have been at war with Comcast for the past week, in the end I happy with the service I am getting, and would recommend anyone looking for more internet speed in Houston to get the Extreme 50 package.
 
Update 12/20/2012
Its been 8 months, so I though I would update everyone as to the quality of my internet with Comcast. Everything is still moving fast. An additional Surprise is Comcast seems to be slowly increasing their Upstream speeds. I now get 17 Mbits upstream.
Updated Comcast Extreme 50 Benchmarks Houston
I am still on my 50 Mbit package which after taxes and fees, costs me $123.25 / month. I still highly recommend the Extreme 50 over the Extreme 105. The only time I could see the Extreme 105 being of any value is if you had many people sharing the same internet connection. Example household of 4+ heavy internet users. However if you are a single person Extreme 105 is not going to make your browsing faster. This is due to the fact that most Servers will never be able to support a dedicated 105 Mbit transfer just to you. I honestly have trouble maxing out my Extreme 50 plan.

Summary
I have spent most of the past week on the phone battling with comcast over my Extreme 105 Internet. Finally got some resolution. For anyone in Houston, or Texas. Don't bother with the Extreme 105. Just get the Extreme 50. Also don't assume they will refund the install fee if things don't go as planned. I come from a IT / Web developer background. This knowledge is part of the reason I was able to negotiate a refund. The only type of person the Extreme 105 would be ideal for is someone who is trying to download Blueray discs off Bit Torrent.
 

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Discussion

Ketan Modi | May 16, 2012 5:23 PM
Wow, I have been going through same pain since I placed an order with Comcast on 4/30. My speed never exceeded 66MB download and upload is coming in 10MB ball park that my package is about. My experience is more or less in same line as you, multiple technician visits, multiple modem unit swap, numerous phone calls and results are same. I tested both on speedtest.net as well as speakeasy.net.
Paul | May 17, 2012 11:17 AM
@Ketan,
Yeah Comcast's Customer support is pretty bad.  Just 2 days ago I was finally credited for the installation fee and prorated charges.  Though with the speed I am now pretty happy.  Getting about 61 Mbits down, and about 12 Mbits up.  Considering I am only paying for 50 Mbits and 10Mbits I am pretty happy.  The 105Mbit plan just isn't worth it.
-Paul
Ernesto | Jul 17, 2012 10:47 AM
Why not just go with comcast business? I have had a pretty good experience with them. Sure their prices are a bit more expensive when compared to the residential packages, but you get better reliability and definitely better customer service. I was having problems with my modem a few days ago, well I though it was my modem, and I called up comcast and told them the problem and that I had already troubleshooted the modem. They set up for a technician to come the next day in the morning between 8-10. For the first time in my life had a technician ever come within the stated window. He did some testing and saw that the wire that I installed my self was getting a lot of noise and that's why my internet kept going down. He replaced my wire with his own and showed me all these things on the computer that showed him that I now had a stable connection. I am very pleased my comcast business customer service. Oh and the best part of it is that you don't get any bandwith caps and you're on a different switch than the residential customers!
Paul | Jul 17, 2012 11:13 AM
Ernesto
There is no reason to pay comcast business prices when you are stuck on the same upstream as residential.  Everyone makes a big stink about the 250 GB data caps, of which I hear are being raised to 300 GB, and even higher this year.  250GB is plenty.  I am constantly moving GB size data files between my server and my workstation.  Never had any problems with the data caps.

Glad to hear the techs in your area are a little more educated.  Comcast has a problem listening to their customers.  The only reason anyone uses comcast is because Verizon FIOS isn't available in their area.  
John K | Dec 30, 2012 10:29 AM

just did extreme 105 in central PA - ready to kick Comcast to the curb. No change form the 50 package and losts more charges, phone service dropped and little help from Customer Service (why do they call it that?) Speedtest in the 7 to 20 range download - total waste, Direct TV getting my business next week.


 

Paul | Dec 30, 2012 1:12 PM
John,
7 to 20 Mbits download sounds like standard Xfinity Internet.  Do you have a Docsis 3.0 Modem?  Something doesn't sound right.  Usually the tech will check your speeds during the install to make sure you are getting the advertised speeds.  Direct TV sucks for internet.  They only give you 10Mbits down, and bill you based on transfer ( 25Gb costs $129.99 ).  If you can try to get Verizon FIOS, they are by far the fastest.  Else stick with comcast.  Your 50 Mbit package should have been much faster than 7 to 20 Mbits.  I am about to update this blog with my recent benchmarks.  Thanks for you sharing you experiences.
Paul S | Jan 15, 2013 3:18 AM
Brilliant review that perfectly sums up the Comcast high speed internet experience. I spent a year on the Extreme 105 package and did not see an appreciable difference. In August I cancelled the service and downgraded to a much slower service. After reading this I'll be buying the cable modem mentioned and stepping back up to Extreme 50.

I am also in Houston and glad to hear that the speeds are slowly inching up. Thank you for taking the time to keep this post updated.
ball bag | Feb 14, 2014 7:38 PM

comcast xfinity or what ever the fuck they are suck dick, my DSL is faster than the internet we had with them, they suck

Paul | Feb 14, 2014 7:52 PM

I have never had DSL that was anywhere close to comcast speeds.  Of course with Comcast you get what you pay for.  My Bill is about $120 / month ( internet only ), yet I am getting about 103 Mbits down, and 23 Mbits Up.  Of course this depends on how beefed up your local comcast network is.

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