March 28, 2012

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Slow Internet: Not as Simple As You Might Think

It’s really frustrating when your Internet slows down. Streams break and buffer over and over, and stuff seems to take FOREVER to download.

And it’s only normal to complain to your cable company about this. You pay good money regularly for a reliable service, you want it to work the same way every single time that you use it. It’s natural to feel this way — but it’s not always correct. Sometimes slow Internet performance is a cable company’s fault. But a lot of times, there are factors well beyond any company’s control that gum up your works.

I found this interesting article on eHow, answering the question “Why Is My Comcast Internet So Slow?” And please realize that I’m not pointing the finger at Comcast here. I’ve never used their service, though I’m sure it’s fine. The answer to the article apply to any cable provider, including Time Warner Cable. The list itself actually answers the question “why is cable internet occasionally slow, regardless of provider?”

Here are a few key quotes, but you should check out the whole page:

Unlike DSL, all cable connections are routed through what is typically referred to as a neighborhood node. If the node itself is being over-utilized, your Internet connection could slow down drastically. This type of connection issue is especially common at peak times of data transfer. Peak times can vary by area but are typically between 7 p.m. and 2 a.m. If you notice that your connection slows down around a particular time, this may be the cause.

Another common cause of slow connections is malicious software like spyware and viruses that hijack your connection to transmit large quantities of data. To test for this, get an up-to-date virus and malware scanner and run a full system scan on your computer. Remove any viruses or other malware discovered by the scanner, reboot your system and retest your connection.

The Internet as we know it is massively complicated. It’s a system made out of overlapping systems, and there’s a lot going on that’s hard to diagnose and hard to control. We’re always the right people to reach out to when you’re having trouble with your cable service — it just may take time to figure out the problem.

+- 9 Comments

  1. DMP's reply

    Yea cable companies don’t size their local nodes to give customers the Upstream and Downstream speeds they advertize. They size them as small as they can without getting complaints. With the profit margin in cable internet networks above 1600% cable internet speeds should be well above 200mbps down and 50mbps up, But cables companies use the cable internet network profit of carry their unprofitable Cable TV Network.

  2. Manny's reply

    DMP is 100% right. Time Warner cable and other internet provider are being greedy. Why in this age were still using fiber to node then coax were all the problem comes from. They could be using fiber all the way, by doing his it will fix 100% customer internet speed problem and congestion issue.

  3. C's reply

    Maybe it’s just the horrrible, rotten service that TWC provides while legally robbing us by why of their prices. On top of that, we get to be phone abused by their customer service phone people. What more could the customer ask for. How about a new cable company with better service and non-abusive customer service reps. then fat cat Glenn Britt, CEO would have to sell all his houses,boats and cars and have to pay for rotten TWC service like the rest of us. From my lips to God’s ears!!

  4. Ben's reply

    I’ve been dealing with this “node over utilization” issue for a year and a half now. Time Warner Cable has acknowledged that this is the problem and apparently the work order has been submitted. My issue is, how do I get them to fix it. I was told by a tier 3 tech that their policy was to fix it ASAP. I was informed by someone I know that works at TWC it could be 6 months to a year before it’s fixed. I can’t stream video, webpages take forever to load, e-mails don’t send immediately, my Internet, for the most part, isn’t functional.

  5. TWCableJim's reply

    C- I apologize for any poor experiences and or service issues. If you would like to email us at twcable.help@twcable.com I would be happy to assist in any way possible?

  6. TWCableJim's reply

    Ben- If you could please email us some account information and details of the issue to twcable.help@twcable.com I would be happy to follow up?

  7. Craig M's reply

    I used problems when I would to stream from Hulu.com or Netflix. My latency (ping response) would climb to a couple hundred miliseconds causing the data to become choppy. This high latency would usually stay on my connection and affect all sights that I tried to go to until I rebooted my modem and waited a little while.
    Make me wonder if my connection it being throttled.

  8. Kat L's reply

    Every time we try to watch vudu or amazon tv the connection magically slows down dramatically. Netflix for the most part works fine. Vudu was so slow tonight, it took us over 3 hours to watch a 2 hour movie because we kept having the restart the movie. Ridiculous.

    Occasionally, we have paid for movies and never been able to watch them due to streaming just not working. We have tried on a MacBook Air, a MacBook, the iPad, the Playstation 3 and a samsung blue ray player. Same results.

    The modem was also replaced. Direct connection from modem to device does not help. House was remodeled in 2011 and there is a straight line from the exterior box to the modem location in our media closet.

    Speed tests done randomly indicate our speed declines while watching movies only on Vudu and any other video service besides Netflix. Why does Netflix work but not the other services?

    All other times (browsing, light youtube usage, pandora, etc) the speed seems perfectly fine. TW I am seriously thinking of switching back to Fairpoint. Their 3 meg DSL was faster than your 15 meg cable modem service.

    Very disappointed because all signs point to data throttling. If not that, then someone needs to fix the local “node”.

  9. Luke Johnson's reply

    My internet speed slows to 2-3 mbps every evening when everyone gets on the internet. I pay for 20mbps but only get those speeds when I’m not home! I call TWC and they send someone out during the day when speeds are fine and tell me that its going to take a lot of other neighbors complaints too to get the node updated. I am stuck and I don’t know what to do. I hate to have to pay for expensive Verizon fios but it looks like my only real option for 20mbps in Santa Monica, CA.

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