Higher Speed High-Speed Has Arrived

Residential Comcast service is pretty objectively terrible for most power users and hobbyists, even if it does meet the needs of most less-technical consumers (although that may be less of the case as Internet use continues to grow…) Residential High-Speed Internet has a 250GB/month maximum contractual limit on your combined bandwidth transfer. If the sum of your uploaded and downloaded bandwidth exceeds 250GB, you’ll receive a warning; multiple of these in a 12-month period will result in you being banned from the Internet for a year unless you go find another provider. Before I started doing more technology-related hobbies and projects at home, I wasn’t that close to hitting the cap (my experience similar to his) but over the course of the year my bandwidth use has ramped up to the point where I was about to get cut off.

June was worse, but I don’t have a bandwidth graph available for it anymore unfortunately. My uploads have been ticking up, too – I’m running a telepresence system and hosting several web sites now, in addition to my normal Netflix-streaming and online activities. So it was time to upgrade to Comcast Business-Class Internet. I’m on the Premium package, offering 22Mbps download and 5Mbps upload compared with residential service which was offering up to 12Mbps download and 2Mbps upload.

Business Internet is running on an entirely different technology stack. It uses a different block of frequencies and the DOCSIS 3.0 standard to deliver dedicated bandwidth. The contention ratio for the connections is about 1/10 that of residential connections. The speed advertised is the minimum guaranteed speed, not the maximum speed possible by demand; the actual maximum is determined by contention on the node. And there’s no bandwidth caps.

Because I’m on a primarily residential node with either 0 or 1 other customers on the same service class, I’m getting a bunch of bandwidth extra for free:

Wenatchee, WA:

San Jose, CA:


Reston, VA:

I’m seeing about a 30% premium in downstream and a >100% in upstream for close-by targets, and even a 25% increase for long-distance links.

Don’t get me wrong, I still despise everything Comcast does as a result of their cozy revolving door relationship with their Washington regulators but in Seattle, there’s exactly one credible option for Internet service, and if you want to play you’ll play by their rules. This service might be better in a lot of ways, but it’s still terrible on principle.

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