Cable Modem?

edited August 2001 in General Discussion

Comments

  • edited December 1969
    I will be moving into a new house in a month, and the former owners apparently have been using cable modem -- AT&T Broadband/@Home. Given my recent DSL news (Rhythms is in Chapter 11, DTV is switching me to Ameridreck), and the fact that (per DSLReports) the new house is almost 17K feet from the CO), I am strongly considering moving to cable modem. I am hoping someone here can give me some insights and suggestions about the idea.

    Assume I go for AT&T cable internet. What speeds am I likely to see? How will these compare to the speeds I might get if I tried to get DSL at 16660 feet from the CO?

    I have an option of renting a cable modem from AT&T or buying one. Does anyone have a recommendation for which modem to get (for use with a Mac)? AT&T has a list of approved cable modems, including the Motorola SURFBoard, and a bunch of others. Since rental costs an extra $10/month, I am inclined to buy one. Thoughts?
  • edited December 1969
    Re: Cable Modem?

    Before you make any decisions about renting/buying, or about cable modems in general, you might want to trawl around for news about Excite@Home, which I think is the overarching organization for all @Home cable modem services. I think I heard that they were in deep financial trouble.

  • edited December 1969
    [b]What JL's talking about:[/b]

    http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1004-202-6928152.html

    Link gratutiously snagged from Bluesnew, no doubt where JL saw it himself.

    Ramses II
  • edited December 1969
    [b]Re: Cable Modem?[/b]

    [quote]
    Before you make any decisions about renting/buying, or about
    cable modems in general, you might want to trawl around for news
    about Excite@Home, which I think is the overarching organization
    for all @Home cable modem services. I think I heard that they
    were in deep financial trouble.

    [/quote]
    They are, but I'm not worried about AT&T's ability to come through the problems. Here's a quote from a Reuters article on Excite@Home's troubles:
    While the failure of ExciteAtHome could bring an end to its popular Web destinations, analysts said it was likely AT&T could seamlessly assume operation of its Internet access business. The service is delivered on a fiber optic network owned by AT&T and leased to ExciteAtHome.
    So AT&T actually owns the network (as well as a significant stake of At Home, which is probably worth squat now).
  • edited December 1969
    and so...

    Now that reading the information that JL and Rams brought to your attention, if you are not just cursing and freaking about @Home entirely, I'll try and help a little with the other questions.

    The Motorola SURFBoard has gotten fairly good reviews and should do the job fine and at ~$130 should pay for itself in a little over a year (once you figure in taxes), but you have to figure in what price you can get it for. Given that information, the question is how long you expect to keep the service. If you are in for the long term, paying $10 a month for the box does not make sense. If you are just getting your feet wet, seeing if you like it, $10 a month is probably a good idea.

    My take, assuming you get cable modem service, let them do the initial install with their box, check out the quality and speed for a month or two and if it is a go, buy your own and drop off the old box.

    Now as to speed. While the DSL providers would love you to believe that your download speed is going to vary wildly whenever your neighbor gets on to surf the web, the reality is a bit different. There is excess bandwidth built into the cable and you are NOT likely to see a whole lot of difference, but you may. It's best of course if you have nobody on your loop but yourself, but it's not really a problem in most circumstances. When I was using Cable Modem, I saw more variation from routers having problems than from local activity.

    What can you expect for speed ? That is going to vary based upon what your setup is, but you can probably expect to peak around 1200kbps download and of course you are capped at 128kbps upload. Most of the time, the sites you are connected to will top out a LOT earlier than that.

    One difference between DSL and Cable Modem is that the ping time for Cable Modem is often a lot higher as there is a longer run between you and the outside world as you go through the Cable companies gateway. So if you really aspire to be a LPMF, Cable Modem is probably not your cup of tea. In real life, this makes little or no difference.

    Distance from the Central Office... Well, the distance that you are from the telecom central office does not relate to the distance from the cable switching box, but to put it like I understand it, the signal on the cable degrades in a totally different way than over a phone line and the cable lines were meant to carry that high bandwidth while phone lines were not. Three miles from the cable office should not give you any problem at all.

    My take, watch it a week, see if AT&T and @Home can get their act together and make a decision once it appears to be stabilized.

  • edited December 1969
    Aye, it's not going anywhere...

    Yes, ExciteAtHome is royaly screwed. The stock price right now is at 47 cents. Not a very strong financial position ;)

    Basicaly, unless that stock price gets back up over $3 in the next month, @Home will get knocked off the NASDAQ. If that happens, they immediatly owe their creditors 100 million, which they don't have.

    AT&T could bail them out, but it doesn't look like they're going to. So, unless a miracle happens in the next month or so, @Home as a company is dead.

    However, there's still going to be a nationwide broadband network with over 3.5 million subscribers. Someone is going to want that. It's just going to be a matter of who your bill goes to, not whether the service is there.

    -Mori
  • edited December 1969
    I'm sure they said the same about Northpoint

    Yes, ExciteAtHome is royaly screwed. The stock price right now
    is at 47 cents. Not a very strong financial position ;)

    Basicaly, unless that stock price gets back up over $3 in the
    next month, @Home will get knocked off the NASDAQ. If that
    happens, they immediatly owe their creditors 100 million, which
    they don't have.

    AT&T could bail them out, but it doesn't look like they're going
    to. So, unless a miracle happens in the next month or so, @Home
    as a company is dead.

    However, there's still going to be a nationwide broadband
    network with over 3.5 million subscribers. Someone is going to
    want that. It's just going to be a matter of who your bill goes
    to, not whether the service is there.

    -Mori

    When Northpoint went belly up, no one wanted to take over for them. Not even AT&T. ALOT of people got screwed. Then again, Northpoint was DSL, and DSL does carry it's own nightmareish tinge with it. Cable might be worth saving more than DSL.



    Bungie Sightings
  • axx
    edited December 1969
    [b]Pretty soon[/b]

    [quote]
    http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1004-202-6928152.html Link
    gratutiously snagged from Bluesnew, no doubt where JL saw it
    himself.

    Ramses II

    [/quote]
    The only ones left will be AOL/TW and the Baby Bells. Long live dialup!

    -ax
  • edited December 1969
    The big difference here...

    ...is that the companies who can pickup the slack each already own a chunk of @Home. One of the cable companies involved will want to step in. If anything, for PR reasons. @Home itself has no customers, other than the cable companies themselves. If the service goes away, people are going to be pissed at their cable company, not a corporation most subscribers don't even know exists.

    Besides, even if nobody sails in and saves the day, cable internet service still isn't going anywhere, it'll just be structured a little different. Instead of hooking up to @Home's backbone, The cable companies will just contract with someone else to hook their portion of the network up to a NAP.

    -Mori


  • edited December 1969
    Re: and so...

    In my neck of the woods with roadrunner being the cable option, the surfboard modem is the one to get. I myself just switched from cable over to verizon dsl cause I wanna be a 1337 lpmf like dat. Ping times are about 20ms lower, but a WHOLE lot more stable (can you tell I play FPS gamez? :) My dsl comes in the flavor of 1.5MB down/128kb up. Under normal web browsing circumstances, page loads and download speeds are simmilar. This is not the case though when I download things at 600k/sec that have been copied to roadrunners local cache server (akamai.net).

    Now that reading the information that JL and Rams brought to
    your attention, if you are not just cursing and freaking about
    @Home entirely, I'll try and help a little with the other
    questions.

    The Motorola SURFBoard has gotten fairly good reviews and should
    do the job fine and at ~$130 should pay for itself in a little
    over a year (once you figure in taxes), but you have to figure
    in what price you can get it for. Given that information, the
    question is how long you expect to keep the service. If you are
    in for the long term, paying $10 a month for the box does not
    make sense. If you are just getting your feet wet, seeing if you
    like it, $10 a month is probably a good idea.

    My take, assuming you get cable modem service, let them do the
    initial install with their box, check out the quality and speed
    for a month or two and if it is a go, buy your own and drop off
    the old box.

    Now as to speed. While the DSL providers would love you to
    believe that your download speed is going to vary wildly
    whenever your neighbor gets on to surf the web, the reality is a
    bit different. There is excess bandwidth built into the cable
    and you are NOT likely to see a whole lot of difference, but you
    may. It's best of course if you have nobody on your loop but
    yourself, but it's not really a problem in most circumstances.
    When I was using Cable Modem, I saw more variation from routers
    having problems than from local activity.

    What can you expect for speed ? That is going to vary based upon
    what your setup is, but you can probably expect to peak around
    1200kbps download and of course you are capped at 128kbps
    upload. Most of the time, the sites you are connected to will
    top out a LOT earlier than that.

    One difference between DSL and Cable Modem is that the ping time
    for Cable Modem is often a lot higher as there is a longer run
    between you and the outside world as you go through the Cable
    companies gateway. So if you really aspire to be a LPMF, Cable
    Modem is probably not your cup of tea. In real life, this makes
    little or no difference.

    Distance from the Central Office... Well, the distance that you
    are from the telecom central office does not relate to the
    distance from the cable switching box, but to put it like I
    understand it, the signal on the cable degrades in a totally
    different way than over a phone line and the cable lines were
    meant to carry that high bandwidth while phone lines were not.
    Three miles from the cable office should not give you any
    problem at all.

    My take, watch it a week, see if AT&T and @Home can get their
    act together and make a decision once it appears to be
    stabilized.

  • edited December 1969
    Another data point ...

    They are, but I'm not worried about AT&T's ability to come
    through the problems. Here's a quote from a Reuters article on
    Excite@Home's troubles:

    Saw a report on TechTV tonight that (with 6% of US homes wired for broadband), cable has an early lead with more than twice as many home users as DSL and other broadband services combined.

    _/ C
    (Wish I could get a cable modem--DSL's getting scarier all the time)
  • edited December 1969
    [b]Re: and so...[/b]

    [quote]
    My take, assuming you get cable modem service, let them do the
    initial install with their box, check out the quality and speed
    for a month or two and if it is a go, buy your own and drop off
    the old box.

    [/quote]
    I was leaning toward this plan. Just gotta make sure I don't have to incur extra costs for switching from rent to own (e.g., who pays to ship their box back to them, etc.)

    [quote]
    Now as to speed. While the DSL providers would love you to
    believe that your download speed is going to vary wildly
    whenever your neighbor gets on to surf the web, the reality is a
    bit different. There is excess bandwidth built into the cable
    and you are NOT likely to see a whole lot of difference, but you
    may.

    [/quote]
    This is the impression I am getting from reading around. Thanks for confirming it.

    [quote]
    What can you expect for speed ? That is going to vary based upon
    what your setup is, but you can probably expect to peak around
    1200kbps download and of course you are capped at 128kbps
    upload. Most of the time, the sites you are connected to will
    top out a LOT earlier than that.

    [/quote]
    Is the 128kbps up cap a technical limit, or is it imposed by the cable co. for convenience?

    [quote]
    One difference between DSL and Cable Modem is that the ping time
    for Cable Modem is often a lot higher as there is a longer run
    between you and the outside world as you go through the Cable
    companies gateway. So if you really aspire to be a LPMF, Cable
    Modem is probably not your cup of tea. In real life, this makes
    little or no difference.

    [/quote]
    My only question: Will I be able to host Myth games? (I don't do a lot of FPS online, though I might occasionally; but Myth is important. I assume that I will have no trouble playing, but I would like to know if I can host.)

    [quote]
    Distance from the Central Office... Well, the distance that you
    are from the telecom central office does not relate to the
    distance from the cable switching box, but to put it like I
    understand it, the signal on the cable degrades in a totally
    different way than over a phone line and the cable lines were
    meant to carry that high bandwidth while phone lines were not.
    Three miles from the cable office should not give you any
    problem at all.

    [/quote]
    I wasn't worried about distance for the cable internet. I would be concerned about signing up for DSL at 3 miles from the telco CO, especially since the best (by reputation) DSL provider I have access to at the new house would charge me almost twice as much per month for service (and a hefty installation fee).

    [quote]
    My take, watch it a week, see if AT&T and @Home can get their
    act together and make a decision once it appears to be
    stabilized.

    [/quote]
    The only downside to waiting is that if I want the installation to happen quickly after I move, I probably have to get in the queue soon. I'm going to ask how far in advance I need to schedule the appointment, and that will probably dictate when I jump.

    Thanks for the insights.
  • edited December 1969
    Re: and so...

    I was leaning toward this plan. Just gotta make sure I don't
    have to incur extra costs for switching from rent to own (e.g.,
    who pays to ship their box back to them, etc.)

    You would pay for shipping, but in most cases there is a 'local' Cable office where you can just drop it off (get a receipt).

    This is the impression I am getting from reading around. Thanks
    for confirming it.

    Is the 128kbps up cap a technical limit, or is it imposed by the
    cable co. for convenience?

    Imposed by the cable company as far as I can tell to discourage you from soaking up too much bandwidth.

    My only question: Will I be able to host Myth games? (I don't do
    a lot of FPS online, though I might occasionally; but Myth is
    important. I assume that I will have no trouble playing , but I
    would like to know if I can host.)

    You can probably host, but the variable nature of your ping will mean that some people's connections will NOT like your host. 95% of the time, most cable modems have no troubles hosting compared to a 56k connection,but people will typically prefer a DSL or T1 if it is available (lower ping, slightly more stable).

    I wasn't worried about distance for the cable internet. I would
    be concerned about signing up for DSL at 3 miles from the telco
    CO, especially since the best (by reputation) DSL provider I
    have access to at the new house would charge me almost twice as
    much per month for service (and a hefty installation fee).

    The only downside to waiting is that if I want the installation
    to happen quickly after I move, I probably have to get in the
    queue soon. I'm going to ask how far in advance I need to
    schedule the appointment, and that will probably dictate when I
    jump.

    Quite true. I really doubt that AT&T is going to drop the ball on the cable service which is profitable, so you are probably very safe. I figure that there is about 10% chance that they are going to go through some rough times with you possibly being cut off from an ISP for a bit (no direct e-mail or personal web pages) so I would sign up for something the likes of hotmail very soon in the process to have a backup.

    Thanks for the insights.

  • edited December 1969
    Huh ?

    (Wish I could get a cable modem--DSL's getting scarier all the
    time)

    Are we talking that some of the small fry are getting shut out here or are we talking talking some other reason.

    I figure PacBell DSL is safe as houses, but some of the marginal DSL providers are definately going to go under (as some already have).


  • edited December 1969
    Re: and so...

    Imposed by the cable company as far as I can tell to discourage
    you from soaking up too much bandwidth.

    I don't know jack here, but I could also see it being a technical issue since I could see that their equipement at some point would be tailored for originally delivering large bandwidth *to* your home with minimal communication from it. In any case, I have 1.5 Mbps/256 kbps, so it's not fixed at 128kbps for all cable setups.

    I have a SURFboard with my service (lease only) that I've had no problems with. Although I bet it's going to be hard to separate hardware problems from service problems from any anecdotal accounts :)


    image
  • edited December 1969
    Re: Huh ?

    Are we talking that some of the small fry are getting shut out
    here or are we talking talking some other reason.

    I figure PacBell DSL is safe as houses, but some of the marginal
    DSL providers are definately going to go under (as some already
    have).

    Well, what scares me is the inevitable march toward a Baby Bell oligopoly on DSL service. After all, they have always controlled the wire, they waited a long time to get into the market (after the little guys, who depended on them for wire and service, had a chance to build that market), and now they have the perfect opportunity to capitalize on the failure of the indies and the FUD it causes; so what we have is a situation where they get yet another local/regional monopoly. Gah.
  • edited December 1969
    The cap is completely controled by the cable company

    It's built into the firmware of the modems. We can set it to whatever we want, or have it totaly gone.

    The reason for it is purely to conserve bandwidth. If there's no upload cap, people would run servers more than they already do ;)

  • edited December 1969
    Re: Huh ?

    Are we talking that some of the small fry are getting shut out
    here or are we talking talking some other reason.

    I wouldn't call Covad or Northpoint small fry...

    Unless your definition of small fry is "anything smaller than a multinational corporation". Which is what it is beginning to take to be successful in the ridiculous economy in this country.

    Competition? Hah. Innovation? Hah hah hah. Where is the "fiber on every street corner" that was promised over 20 years ago?

    _/ C

  • edited December 1969
    Come on Carch...

    You are a big enough boy to know that 'competition' in the US is a code word for 'Freedom for us to slap you down and take over your business' and 'innovation' means they want to ship you whatever technology they bought from some smaller vendor at a huge markup.

    If you believe anything Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Michael Dell tells you when they get up there to speak for their corporations, you need to step back and put your hand over your wallet because they already have one hand in your pocket.

    Yes, in today's regional DSL market, anyone who has to stretch their resources as tight as Covad and Northpoint did to expand their networks are 'small fry'. There is a massive infrastructure cost and the advertising costs that if you are unprepared to absorb them can destroy you. Then they have to compete with corporations that can lose money on the connects to drive the prices low enough to put the small guys out of business.

    It's capitalism. It's the system we grew up with. The rules have not changed, we just have to remember that it is our duty to look out for each other and vote for politicians that we believe will help us rather than Detroit/Redmond/Houston corporate interests.

    We have to remember that the guys at the top are being paid the big bucks to make as much money for the company as possible, not for being nice guys. Assume that if they can show a greater profit by systematically screwing you that they will do exactly that.

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