So here’s a thing: You might find, as I did, that if you run the SpeakEasy.net Speed Test—and you’ll probably want to select the San Francisco-based server because despite having a greater proximity to Seattle, Comcast’s big Internet pipe comes up out of Fresno—I’m saying that you might find, as I did, that instead of the 6000 kbps you’re paying for, that you’re only getting 3000-4000 kbps. Obviously, this will not do.
So I dunno about you, but I called Comcast, and I said, “Comcast, I’m only getting 3000-4000 kbps on your 6000 kbps cable modem service” and Comcast said to me, Comcast said, “Please press 1 for English.” So it took me awhile before I got to make my case. But eventually make it I did, and they sent out a technician the next day who took my old DOCSIS 1.1 cable modem and swept it up into the dustbin of discarded technology. In its place he left me a minty fresh Motorola Surfboard 5120 DOCSIS 2.0 cable modem. We plugged straight into his Dell laptop, and good golly if we didn’t see numbers in the 7000-8000 kbps range. I wished him a very good day, and sped him on his way.
Then I plugged the aforementioned minty fresh modem into my network, ran the SpeakEasy Speed Test, and saw numbers of just under 3000 kbps. That’s right, lower than I got with the old modem. “Well, shucks and golly,” I said, only with more feeling, and, truth be told, those may not have been the precise words. I direct-connected the PowerBook to the cable modem. Back up over 6000. Uh oh. I have a problem with my network. Have I had this problem long? What’s slowing me down here?
Well, sports fans, I did have a problem with my network, and it’s called an 802.11b Airport Base Station. That theoretical maximum of 11,000 kbps? Turns out the keyword is “theoretical.” Or “maximum.” Or “11,000.” Indeed, the whole phrase just needs to be taken out and shot, because it’s just so wrong, and lies have no place in my world, especially if they’re slowing down my Internet connection.
I have now replaced said Airport Base Station with a new Airport Extreme Base Station the most salient feature of which is that it has my Comcast connection hovering around 6800 kbps. Papa like? Oh yes, Papa like. And if you’re running a cable modem connection through an 802.11b router of any stripe (Linksys, Netgear, Apple, etc.), you may find that about doubling your Internet speed is well worth the one-time cost of a new router, too.
ADDENDUM: If you happen to remove your antiquated 10-BaseT Hub from the networking mix, you might, again, as I did, that your connection speed jumps to 8700 kbps. Papa really like!