Monday, January 28, 2013

New Cable Modem and Internet Speed Test

Around October 2012, Time Warner Cable started charging cable Internet customers in our area a $3.95 monthly Internet modem leasing fee. The actual cost increase is slightly higher, since there is sales tax on this fee. This amounts to $51.24 more per year for using their Internet service. Users can opt-out of the leasing fee by purchasing their own modem and returning the leased modem. That's what I did around New Year Day 2013. Time Warner has a list of approved devices on their website. I had the Motorola SB5101 leased from Time Warner, and I thought if I were to buy one for myself, I might as well upgrade to a newer device.  I was deciding between the Motorola SB6141 and SB6121. They look the same from the outside, and both support the latest DOCSIS 3.0 standard for very high speed Internet. The older SB5101 supported up to DOCSIS 2.0 for speeds up to about 30 Mbps, while the SB6141 can support up to about 320 Mbps download by combining 8 channels, and the SB6121 can do up to about 160 Mbps combining 4 channels. Both SB6141 and SB6121 have upload capability up to about 160 Mbps. According to Time Warner's approved devices web page, SB5101 is not suitable for Road Runner Turbo service or above. From the modem specifications, SB5101 should be able to handle the 20 Mbps download and 2 Mbps upload speeds, but maybe the higher level services uses a different communication standard that requires the newer models. The highest speed offered right now is the Ultimate 50 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload, and I don't think the SB6141 would offer any advantage over the SB6121 for my current or future situation, while the SB6121 is about $20 cheaper, so I ordered the Motorola SB6121 from

I got the modem before New Year's Eve, and I tried to activate it by calling Time Warner and by using their web site's online chat, but on 12/31/2012, no one seemed to be on the other side of both the phone and the web site, so I waited until 1/2/2013 to try again. This time, the online chat was able to help me activate the modem. I just tell them the MAC address written on the back of the cable modem, and within minutes, it was switched over. When that happens, my online chat still says it is connected, until a few more minutes later, which went dark. I then quickly go to the old modem and swap the cable and router LAN wire to my new modem. Within a few minutes, I have Internet again, and the Time Warner online chat was back too. The chat support person confirmed that it is all working fine, and that they have put a partial credit for the modem lease fee on my account, and we ended the conversation.

That same week, on Saturday, I took the old modem to the nearest Time Warner office to return it. They are open on Saturday from 10 AM to 2PM. There was a line of people waiting to get customer service, plus a line of cars outside using the drive-through, but I didn't have to wait a long time. They seemed very efficient. When I got to my turn, I just said I am here to return the leased Internet modem, and the Time Warner employee was very professional and friendly, and ran the return process smoothly. It was done within 2 minutes, and I was given a receipt that detailed the transaction, including the MAC addresses of the old and new modems, saying that I've switched to my own modem and is returning the leased one. I was impressed by the thoroughness of the modem return process. Internet speed results
At home, I ran an Internet speed test on, and see that my Internet speed is 1.00 Mbps download and 0.97 Mbps upload. I have the Road Runner Lite, and I was getting 0.56 Mbps download and 0.12 Mbps upload prior to their service upgrade some time in 2012. One day in 2012, I got a letter from Time Warner saying they were going to upgrade my Internet speed with no increase to the monthly fee, and that's very nice, because there is a huge difference between an upload speed of 0.12 Mbps and 1 Mbps, especially for the response times of loading web pages. With the current speed, we are able to watch most YouTube videos without lag, and Netflix works fine. We can also watch TV shows on, for example. The only problem is that if someone is watching an online video, then other people's web browsing becomes extremely slow. I think the time to upgrade the speed is when we will often have multiple uses at the same time, or when higher bandwidth is needed to support streaming higher definition videos.