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Time-Warner Cable: End of Dial-Up Speeds?

DSLReports Speed TestToday the Time-Warner technician came to the house to look into the slow, dodgy Internet connection I've had for the past few months.

The first thing we did was provision a new modem. I owned my old one and I own the new one. The old one was a Motorola Surfboard 4100. Though it still works, the tech said it belonged in a museum and it might reach a limit at some point. The new one - an SB5101 - is DOCSIS 2.0 compatible (big whoop).

At any rate, while he watched I repeatedly ran the Time-Warner speed test (you can get a trial version of the same test from Ookla). The speed fluctuated from 4200 to 931 kbps.

I quickly showed the tech the inside of the house and the rather simple wiring we have set up there. No problems.

The tech then went outside. He replaced a slightly kinked cable and then went to the box across the street. There he found a portion that looked like it may have been damaged by lightning and was, at the very least, slightly corroded. He replaced that and I immediately ran tests.

Time-Warner's speed test indicated higher results than I'd seen before - north of 6 Mbps. I told the tech his changes seem to have made a difference and he left. I continued to run various tests, and once, with the Flash-based test at DSLReports, I hit the 8.7 Mbps mark you see at the start of this entry. W00t! I'll take it! Update: See comments.

Oddly, though, my upload speed has almost never varied. It's consistently been 600-700 throughout the several days I've been testing. At times, it was faster than my download speeds. Uploads still run over the same cables, don't they? Why would uploads be unaffected but downloads be so dramatically altered?

Throughout the time the tech was here he backed up the support person's statement that I should truly be seeing 7 Mbps at a minimum on the "Turbo" (15 Mbps) plan, but that the infrastructure around here was left in such a horrible state by Adelphia that it will be at least a year before we're able to see anything like that. He recommended I monitor my speed carefully and if I'm not much above 4 Mbps that I save $9.95/month and drop the Turbo.

9 Responses to "Time-Warner Cable: End of Dial-Up Speeds?"

  1. I wonder if your upload speed being better than the download is a function of distance and attenuation. The source of the upload (your computer) was much closer to the corrosion on the line, whereas the source of your downloads (at least the last node before your computer) was much farther away, and therefore perhaps more susceptible to interference.

    While living in Illinois between 2000-2004 we had problems with spotty connection speeds that was eventually diagnosed as a lose connection a mile or two up the road from us. The tech who fixed it (the 4th or 5th to try) said the connection wasn't screwed in at all, just a friction fit.

    Hope your speeds are better full-time now.

  2. Too good to be true. I just got a 400 kbps result using TW's own speed tester. I ran it several times and got 1021, 625, 400, 1443, and 938. I've come to expect that anything under 4 Mbps is not acceptable and, as witnessed earlier today, I may occasionally get 8.7 Mbps or 6 Mbps.

    I'm contemplating asking Time-Warner to give me the "Turbo" for free for six months so that it remains active on my account in case they finally fix things. In exchange, I'll agree not to call them when my speed is at least 1 Mbps.

    Otherwise I'm probably just going to have to keep scheduling guys to come out, costing them money so they're aware of the problem(s). Documentation, in other words.

  3. Further update: a Tier 2 tech said he was seeing 30% packet loss. I told what the "IR" tech that came out this morning said, and he said it's likely an issue at the hub or further upstream, because 30% packet loss horrendously abnormal. He's scheduled a "PM" (plant maintenance) technician to come out next week and credited my account through that date.

    I've run several tests now for two hours or more and every test has been from 200 to 500 kbps. The T2 tech confirmed that I should see 4 Mbps on a 7 Mbps connection and 7-10 ("7 on a really bad day, 10 usually"). I've gone so far as to put the Time-Warner Speed Test in my Dashboard via Safari's clippings feature.

  4. Yikes. 30% packet loss is extreme. A shame you don't have Verizon Fios service up there, a brand new fibre infrastructure doesn't have nearly as many kinks as an old one.

  5. Yeah, FIOS is awesome.

    Your speeds are definitely not normal.. My Time Warner cable matches my advertised rate exactly. My favorite speed tester is the speakeasy one.

  6. "Oddly, though, my upload speed has almost never varied. It's consistently been 600-700 throughout the several days I've been testing. At times, it was faster than my download speeds. Uploads still run over the same cables, don't they? Why would uploads be unaffected but downloads be so dramatically altered?"

    I don't know bout cable per se, but in most DSL, the up and down channels use two different frequency bands. If you have noise/band loss in a particular region it can trash one part of the channel more heavily.

  7. Seems the Time-Warner cable test went down. Kinda funny actually, I'd think they'd have the money to cover it.

    Oops! It's down!

  8. Brian said on December 1, 2007:

    Seems the Time-Warner cable test went down. Kinda funny actually, I'd think they'd have the money to cover it.

    Yeah, I saw that today. I've just begun documenting things at least twice a day and today, BAM, no longer licensed. 🙂

  9. [...] previously documented the issues I've been having with Time-Warner's service here and here. Today a "PM" (plant maintenance) technician came to my house. I had scheduled the appointment last [...]


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