Comcast problems

I realize this is a very broad question, but what do you do when comcast can not seem to keep a connection? For the last 8 months Comcast has been out 5 times replaced 4 of their Comcast Business Router (CBR). Mess up my static ip once, supposedly the box they took out a time before didn’t get reformatted so then it got reassigned to someone else, they had to change my static. I still don’t fully understand that one. But to say the least it has been a shit show. At the end of the day I have lost countless hours of sleep, countless hours of waiting around for the comcast tech (you know that 4 hour window) and the business has lost money. And sadly all it seems like Comcast is willing/able to do is change their router and check the signal.
There seems to be 2 problems that happens weekly. There are times where the people in the office complain that the phones are staticky and sure enough they are getting 550mbps down and .1 up. Then there are times the internet is down and the speeds are 125 kbps and you never get to the up test. Most of the time the fix is pull the power plug on the CBR router or wait a couple hours and it just goes away.

I guess the question is, is there anything I can do? It has been really bad and it seems to be getting worse!

Hi Jeff,

If you replace equipment and nothing changes it’s not the equipment. I had a similar issue to what you described and it was resolved with a cable swap from the DMARC (Business Entry) to the street. It was discovered that water had infiltrated the Coax cable. Cable attenuation was within Comcasts specs on the high side. The change restored speeds to what was paid for.

I have seen devices on the network cause issues that mimic cable connection issues. Threat Protection on Synology Router was intermittently causing connection issues. Rouge cloud backup program stealing bandwidth.

Nothing crazy going on in the network. Just a Pfsense, some computers, a couple of vpn tunnels for the other offices.

The other thing I do before I call comcast is hook up to the modem with my laptop bypassing the pfsense and it always just like the regular network not working correctly.

@Stevereno I have even went with the comcast techs where the cable is running from our office, they have tested the line so many times.

So many devices between your building and their headend. Something as simple as a bad line amp, or as complex as a poor connection from a cable thief picking up airplane terrain radar interference. Normally going to be an amp that over heats or have water in it.

I used to work at a cable company, so both of the above are definitely possible and things we’ve seen.

I’d also look very closely at the AC power and make sure you don’t have a large potential on the ground or neutral. The coax is required to be grounded where it enters the building, and if there is a big enough potential between that point and where the equipment connects, it can cause issues. We used to see this on satellite dishes when I worked for a local broadcaster, had some big ground loops despite having a proper ground system installed when the building was built.

And finally, I’d suggest looking at alternative connections. Cable as a whole just sucks!!! Not sure what to suggest for a business but I’m looking to go with Starlink at home to get higher speeds than my Spectrum cable. Verizon FiOS is not available to me or I’d have that right now, home users gig/gig is around $90-$100 a month.

@Greg_E Very interesting! I do suspect that something (water most likely) because it seems to act up more when rain comes around.

You mention “large potential on the ground or neutral”. How would I got about checking that?

“Alternative connections”
I have looked there is nothing else. Well there is At&t 1.5 mbps
“$60/mo. for 12 mos., plus taxes & equip. fee
Includes a $5/mo. discount with AutoPay and paperless billing. $10/mo. equip. fee applies. Incl 1TB data/mo., overage charges apply.† See offer details”
Lol, sounds like a great deal!

I can’t wait for Starlink to come, I do understand that they will not provide static ips but something anything needs to push the cable companies to providing better connections and better speeds. If Starlink can pull it off there will be major exodus of customers from all the ISPs. Maybe then they will have the time to upgrade there stuff.

You can check the ground by disconnecting the cable where it attaches to the modem, and measuring both AC and DC potential referenced to ground in the electrical outlet and the shield on the coax. Sometimes really helpful to put an oscope on there to see how how the voltage is “flowing”. Ground loops aren’t always a nice sine wave. It can also be useful to put an oscope on the hot and neutral to see if there are odd waveforms on the power, and while doing that you might as well check the DC power to the modem and see if there is any AC on the output.

But if it is going out with wind or rain, then there is a bad connection somewhere between your building and the place where it might change to fiber. They hate people telling them this, because what could we know? But very often they eventually decide to check and often find a bad connection or a nick in the insulation, etc. It doesn’t take too much water to attenuate the RF in the cable.

You can get similar when the sun is bright and it is hot outside, something as simple as an amp that gets hot and starts to perform less than ideal. Again no secret to the cable companies, but getting them to care is the hard part.

I’m curious about the signal levels to your modem. Also the logs can shed a lot of light. Search on how to access the gui and report back. Also I am assuming you are testing directly from the modem?

Yes! Keep calling in if you feel its not on your end. You’ll eventually get a quality assurance tech. It will get upper management involved if it continues. Believe it or not the techs are held accountable. If there’s a service call within a 30 day window from the last visit, it’s called a repeat and affects their performance metrics. More calls in that same window is a multi-repeat which really looks bad. So when they don’t see a problem, they don’t see it. They’re not going to blow smoke because it affects their end of year performance reviews whether or not its your fault or theirs. Intermittent issues can be tough. I don’t work for them but i know how things work.

Hey Jeff,

There may also be “enterprise” class connection options. I assume you have Comcast Business right now. But if Comcast provides service in the area, my experience has been that there are other providers that also ride the same fiber at the street to provide alternative connections. While these are more expensive, they will be fiber and of course will be monitored by the provider (SLA) and much better reliability (not only since its fiber but because it’s now “enterprise” class instead of “business” class).

I have an internal tool that I can use to do an address look up and it spits out a report of other providers that are nearby. If you’re interested, PM me the business address and I’ll run a report.

@jqam the signal levels have been checked multiple times every time the first time they were “extremely high” but that was fix ~6 months ago. The source coming from the road goes to a big utility room, they have a filter there and also on the back to the modem. There are at least 5 other connections there I am one of the closest to the utility room.

When I am there yes I do test straight from the modem. I always test straight from the modem before I call because they will just blame something else if you don’t. Its just 1.5 hour round trip, makes it really annoying when I drive that far at 4am to unplug it and plug it back in. That’s the hard part… unplugging it and plugin it back in doesn’t always work. So if I wait till the first people (8:30 am) show up for work to unplug it and if that doesn’t fix it, then I call my 4 hour window put them showing up at 12:30. And that is really bad. But if I go all that way and it fixes it im kinda pissed too. lol I have considered the " UniFi Smart Power Plug" but when this happens Pfsense doesn’t even consider this down (most of the time). So I don’t know.

Thank you for the advice I did not know Comcast even cares about the calls. And its not that I feel like I have even gotten a tech that has been bad. I feel like they are just working with a broken product.

How about a dial up controlled power outlet?

Never used it, but one of the first things to show as an example.

@Greg_E the phone system is a pbx system inside that office.

No copper phones coming in at all? Or any lines not going through the firewall?

Risky, but you could put the modem on a timer to reset it every night. This can cause premature failure so only as a last resort.

Would Comcast set up a second modem with much lower specs that you could use to get into the system when the main modem is down? If they would do this until you can find the problems, that might give you something to work with. They are probably making decent money off of the business account, so they might be willing to do this. Only need a few mbps to get back in and check/do stuff when it is locked out on the main connection. Then there are a bunch of IP power devices you could install.

How about a cellular modem connected to the firewall same as above? Could use it for a real backup since it would cost the company money, but they might find it useful.