Friday, March 28, 2008

Maximizing Broadband Speed, Comcast Policy Change

Tech Expert Segment for 28 March 2008

Comcast this week announced plans, under much pressure, to change the way it manages high-bandwidth users. Under a previous policy, users would get kicked off if their internet downloads consumed an extraordinary high amount of the pipe connecting users to the Internet. Now, Comcast says, they'll throttle these users -- giving them effectively slower connections -- during times of congestion, rather than deny or drop their internet downloads.

If you notice an unusually slow connection to the Internet, or your connection just isn't what is used to be -- try these troubleshooting steps to restore speed:
  • Reset your broadband modem, router or other devices that connect you online. Sometimes they just need a break... switch off (or unplug), grab a cup of coffee, then turn back on.
  • Check your computer. It's possible your Internet connection is fine, but your computer itself is running sluggish. Try a different computer or have a friend use your connection with their laptop for comparision.
  • Update your router's firmware. Especially if your router (typically the box that plugs in after your cable or DSL modem) is a few years old. Getting new router software may improve performance and ensure the latest protection from hackers and other unwanted intrusions that may be clogging the pipe.
  • Check with the neighbours. Often if there's a widespread problem, the house next door will notice as well. If more than one reports a slow or unstable broadband connection -- call your provider for them to take a look.
  • Lock down your wireless. As you can guess, if your wireless network is open for anyone to use, that means more people taking advantage of your connection. Unprotected wireless connections are often most problematic in dense buildings such as offices and apartment complexes.
  • Consider switching. It's unfortunate, but sometimes DSL is just better in some areas and Cable better in others. Again, ask a neighbour for their feedback, or use a benchmark service such as Broadband Reports Speed Test.

Still having trouble with your Internet connection? Is it taking too long to load web pages? Drop me a line, I may be able to help or connect you to the right resources. Email me: techexpert (AT) brianwestbrook (DOT) com.

Listen to this report, originally broadcast on KXL-AM Friday March 28: kxl_techexpert-managingbroadband_20080328.mp3 (MP3)

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