I decided to take advantage of Comcast’s offer for a free upgrade from 6 Mbps to 8 Mbps internet service more than a week ago. (Wow, what a long way we’ve come since I was running a dial-in bulletin board system on an 8088 IBM clone at 1200 bps.) When I called originally, they said all they had to do was basically flip a switch and I’ll be upgraded. I should see the new increased speed within half an hour.
Well, I didn’t see the increased speed. In fact, after running some speed tests, I realized I was getting the same 1.5 Mbps I’ve been getting for years. This was the moment I realized I had been paying for 6 Mbps service but only getting the slower speed.
I let a week go by to do some more tests over time. There was no change after a week, so I called Comcast again to troubleshoot. They saw no problems on their end, and I should be able to receive data at 8 Mbps. I do quite a bit of downloading, so the extra speed would be helpful, but I wasn’t getting it. They scheduled someone to come in to take a look.
Their technician stopped by today. He unplugged my model from the cable and tested with an interesting handheld device. The signal was entering my apartment at full speed, so the issue was with my modem. My cable modem is about five years old. He checked with Comcast’s servers and they determined that my old Linksys  modem complies with DOCSIS 1.0, an old standard incompatible with Comcast’s newer high speed service.
I wish they told me this years ago when service was first upgraded to 3 Mbps, or later when it was upgraded to 6 Mbps. In any case, it gave me a good excuse to run out today to get a new modem. I picked up a (DOCSIS 2.0) D-Link cable modem and set it up. It took Comcast’s customer support some time to upgrade my account — they were having their own computer problems — but now, I’m finally flying.
I do so much work online, increasing my speed more than 400% (when it comes to big downloads — viewing typical websites is pretty much the same) is a big help. Additionally, this new modem doesn’t seem to have the same problem of randomly dropping the connection when I’m using close to the maximum bandwidth.