Get Faster Internet Just by Asking

I get my internet service through Time Warner Cable. I think the speed originally was 5 Mbps. Somewhere along the line I upgraded to Time Warner’s “Turbo” internet and got it up to 20 Mbps. I thought that was pretty fast. (I test the speed at www.speedtest.net. Avoid clicking the links that install MacKeeper.)

A few weeks ago I set up a new Time Capsule* for one of my customers. When I ran the speed test at his place he got 100 Mbps. Holy cow– 100! I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even know it was possible. But once I knew it was possible, I wanted it. So I called Time Warner.

UPDATE September 1st, 2014: I have seen multiple instances where Time Warner’s internet service simply stops working until the Arris DG1670 modem/router is reset. After some period of time (less than a day) web sites quit loading, but if you restart the modem/router it works again, for a little while. I believe I have traced the problem to Time Warner’s DNS servers. I recommend overriding the standard Time Warner DNS servers and using something more reliable, such as the servers at OpenDNS. It costs you nothing and it solves the problem. Highly recommended, even if you’re not having a problem. If you don’t know what DNS is send me an email and I’ll either send you the answer or make a blog post about it.

Changing the DNS in the Time Warner modem starts with you typing 192.168.0.1 into a web browser, hitting Return, and signing into the modem using “admin” for the user name and “password” for the password. Click on the tab labeled “LAN Setup” across the top. In there, override the DNS numbers. Use these: 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220. You can leave the third server blank. Remember to click the Apply button when you’re done, and remember to restart the modem (pull the power cord, then plug back in) or else the changes will be ignored. Restart everything else on the network also (Airports, computers, etc.). This should work forever– no need to restart the Arris every day or so.

The conversation went something like this:

C Boyce: “Hi, I hear you can deliver 100 Mbps internet these days. How much is that going to cost me? All I need is internet and phone– no TV.”
Time Warner Cable: “Let’s see… $123. That’s $10 less than you’re paying now and it would be 100 Mbps.”

CB: “What am I getting now?”
TWC: “You’re getting 20 Mbps internet and two phone lines.”

(One phone line was for the fax, which we are officially turning off as of right NOW. You can take the fax number out of your address book.)

CB: “I thought I had the best internet speeds that Time Warner offered.”
TWC: “You did have the best internet speeds– when you started the service. But now we do 100 Mbps.”

CB: “So wait a second. You updated the speeds, so all of the new people get the good stuff, but no one told ME about it? That’s an outrage! But listen, I don’t really need 100 Mbps. How much for 50?”
TW: “We don’t offer 50 any more. Now we offer 100. And I can do it for $100.97 per month for the first 12 months.”

I took them up on the offer. The new modem came in a box three days later, and though it was NOT as smooth a set-up as it should have been, one phone call to Time Warner got things up and running. Check out these before-and-afters:

Before the upgrade

speedtest_before-02a
speedtest_before-01a

Decent speed, and fairly steady (see the graph above).

After the upgrade

speedtest_after-02a
speedtest_after-01a

Great speed, and also fairly steady. No, I don’t know where the other 18.96 Mbps went.

If I were you I would call up my internet service provider and see whether they can give you better speeds for the same money (or less). Can’t hurt.

One thing I learned: a fast internet service (100 Mbps) can be throttled by the networking equipment in your office. For me, it was an old Airport that slowed things down. I was getting something like 30 Mbps when that old Airport was turned on. When I unplugged it the speed went to 81 Mbps. If you do upgrade your internet service be prepared to make some changes in your network as your internet service may outpace it.

UPDATE: Time Warner can now do 170 Mbps, at least according to www.speedtest.net. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Astounding. Tell ’em you want it.

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BONUS: The pros call 10 Mbps (megabits per second) Ethernet “10Base-T.” 100Base-T is 100 megabits per second. 1000 megabits per second is referred to as “Gigabit.” Used to be that even 10Base-T was much faster than the internet service coming into the house, so 10Base-T was more than good enough for the wired network. If you’re installing new networking equipment think ahead a little and install cabling, routers, and switches that are better than you need today. It doesn’t cost much more and you’ll be repaid down the road.

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