Time Warner Cable Wideband Internet or How to make all your Geek friends jealous for $99 a month…

If you know what DOCSIS 3.0 is, please stop reading now… this posting will be of no interest to you.  For everyone else (and I’m thinking that’s alot of people), please read on.

I’ve been through a few versions of Time Warner‘s cable modem offerings and spent some time as a system admin when the first cable modems were being deployed.  You can say that I’ve had some exposure to the technology on the delivery side and the consumer side.  I’ve even dipped my toes into the FTTH (fiber to the home) services like AT&T’s U-verse.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to the quality and consistency I’ve received out of this service so far.

When I first ran a speed test, I giggled (and that’s not something you necessarily want to admit on the Internet).  I’ve seen $8000 a month commercial services try and have download speeds and ping responses at this level.  Granted the upload speeds are a 10th (as expected) but as a home user, other than uploading pictures to Picassaweb or Smugmug, it’s not that big of a concern.

The first day we had this, I had to share my joy (i.e. brag) so I posted the speed results to my Facebook wall.  One of my astute networking friends quickly asked “are you really going to use all that bandwidth”.  Well, no.  Not now at least.

What can I do with it?  More than I could with my previous 6Mb/s U-verse service.  With U-verse I couldn’t reliably watch Netflix.  Switching to TWC Wideband make the Netflix experience enjoyable.  At the time, I was able to stream Netflix to two different Apple TVs, a computer, and an iPad without any degradation.  Now that Netflix has limited you to one concurrent stream, I can’t do that anymore.  But I have the bandwidth if I could.

With this bandwidth as a springboard, we took the plunge and dropped the U-verse television service also.  With that, we have gone cable/satellite free.  And free is to be interpreted as “without” as opposed to “for less money”.  With the cost of the wideband service, plus the number of small boxes I’ve bought to interface with our TVs and the various subscription services (HULU, Netflix, PlayOn, etc) I’m not sure there are any financial benefits to this approach yet.

For about half the cost I could have had the TWC 30Mb/service.  But what fun would that have been?  The 50 meg service has a “guaranteed” 40Mb/s SLA (service level agreement).  I have this information from both the tech that did the install and the person I ordered it from at TWC.  Granted I’ve not found this anywhere else online, so I lack the ability to substantiate that claim beyond what I was told.  Many are not going to have a consistent measurement to see if they are getting the full throughput at all times (unless they have a spare Linksys running MRTG at home and I told them to stop reading in the first sentence).  At best I’m doing spot checks with a less than scientific website (speedtest.net) but I’m getting pretty pictures each time I check it. 🙂

Is any of this scientific.  No.  But as far as putting a stake in the ground as to what’s possible for the next gen of service offerings, I think TWC has done very well.

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The real challenges of cutting the cord…

2011 is the year I took the plunge and finally separated my household from any cable or satellite service provider.  While my mother will say I’m just being cheap, it really is about a new way to consume entertainment/media that is “on your own terms”.  Fortunately my wife and children are very accepting of my quirks and have been (relatively) supportive during this endeavor.

Over the past couple of months I’ve done everything from changing ISPs, purchasing multiple “devices” to consume content on (or connect to my television), and tried a variety of online media outlets.  Rather than try to start at day 1 and recap how I’ve gotten here, I’m going to pick up from where I am today and then go back and fill in some of the history (hey, it worked for George Lucas!)

I’m going to also test out my (limited) WordPress abilities and try building out a specific section of the site to focus on this type of content.  Since today is October 4th 2011, my first post will be on what I was really hoping Apple would have released today… 😦