Time Warner Cable Can’t fool me-I have a .gov Speed Test and a Birds Nest in my Router :(

For the last week or so my broadband connection has been slow as a dog (I have a bassett hound) and when I heard that the Federal Government was going to start their broadband crack down with their own speed testing tool, I was happy!

Finally big brother was looking out for me.  I’ve had to put up with slow internet connections since the internet began, and before that, don’t even get me started.

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So I zipped over to Broadband.gov and ran my system through the paces to test my broadband on an unbiased system.  I was a little suspect about the privacy policy from the government as they took my address but not my name.  They are apparently sampling information on speeds from around the country.  Probably grabbing IP addresses, browsers, computer systems and more too but what the hell, I used to work for the government. 

I just quit Monday (after working for the Census counting forms on pallets one form at a time).

So I ran the speed tests and my worst fears were confirmed.  My internet connection was slow as all hell in a hand basket hanging from a tree.

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I was only getting 739 kbs per second. 

I get faster than that on my Palm Pre with 0 bars, and that damn thing always has zero bars.  I think Palm only makes Pre’s with a zero bar connection setting or maybe Sprint sends down an update through the network resetting everyone’s phone to zero bars under a system wide campaign of lowering expectations, but hey, I’m supposed to be bitching about Time Warner Cable here.

I grab my latest bill from my pile of paper work for my taxes, and look to see what package I’m on so I can figure out just how wrong this speed is.

DOH!

The stupid Time Warner Cable bill doesn’t mention speed, hell it doesn’t even name my package.  I go online try to login, but my login doesn’t work any more.  Try to reset, register, reconfirm my email, nothing, it all fails.  Website error pops up and I give up on that one.

So I  whip out my trusty Palm Pre with zero bars on the Sprint network and call Time Warner Cable, expecting a fiasco, a run around, a long hold time, and a snarky technician from Bangalore exacting his wrath on me and my ancestors for not doing more to stop the British from being complete assholes during colonial times 60 years ago.

Instead, I get through to a technician relatively quickly.  Explain my slow connection issue, mention that I upload/download a lot of video for editing (not torrenting) and hope that I’m covering some secret keywords that will allow TWC to reset my account and restore my super fast connection after the speeds were governed down for all my heavy internet work.

The technician isn’t so much snarky as he is a book reader.  Literally, he reads and repeats phrases from the TWC Technicians Guide to Customer Service in a Post Colonial Non-Snarky Age Version 3.2.891.43.0.1.

speeds per package for the cheep seats

Time warner cable packages for Road Runner Turbo, standard, basic and light with speedsI tell him I have a turbo package, even though I don’t know what I have.  I did seem to recall the word turbo being used when I was talked into an upgrade.  The only thing I do know is that I was paying $34.95, then they raised the rates to $44.95, then $49.95 and then $54.95 and when I called to bitch and moan, they told me they would give me a better package than the basic package for the new higher rate of $54.95 that I was already paying.

Of course that only costs new customers about $35 so basically, I’m just screwed and know it, but I have to have a connection.

The tech, proceeds to ask me if I’m using a router.  If I bought the router from some other source besides TWC, I say Best Buy, even though I now remember it was Office Depot.  I’m expecting them to wag their finger at me and say, ‘You shoulda used our router and paid the $10 increasing to $20 per month fee for our router…’  But he doesn’t.

He asks me to go unplug the router so we can check the speed from the modem. I do and as I’m walking out on the deck to do this, I see that there is a flipping birds nest being formed between my router, modem and 1 TB western digital network drive that is the biggest piece of junk I ever bought.

I remove the birds nest and add it to the mulch in the flower bed below (there were no eggs).  I don’t mention the nest to the rep.

He asks me if I can restart my computer, I tell him to go jump in a lake, there is no way I’m restarting my computer, I’m in the middle of a lot of work with too many windows open.

Then, and I’m not making this up, he asks me to restart Internet Explorer.  I laugh, offended, ‘I don’t use Internet Explorer.’

He says, ‘OK well just open up what ever browser you do use.’  Probably thinking I’m some sort of anti-Microsoft Nazi.  Hell maybe its in that customer service guide, if your caller claims to work on the internet, see if you can trip them up by asking if they use internet explorer.  If they do, then they probably don’t really work on the net and they are likely downloading every movie ever created by Hollywood, so don’t fix a thing on their account.  But I passed the test and we moved on.

I go through this really foreign process of unplugging this thing called and ethernet cable, finding this dusty cobweb filled slot on my computer for this ethernet cable thingy and turning off my wifi button (the world did not end, the dead did not rise to walk the earth, and Jesus did not stroll up to pat me on the ass and ask for money for a sandwich). 

It took my computer about 90 seconds to figure out what the hell was going on, but eventually it was able to connect to the internet through this ethernet cable thing.  Who knew?

I then think to myself, time to be sneaky!

I go back to broadband.gov, retype in my address and run their speed test again!  I’m going to get these TWC bastards and prove that they are messing with me!  Then Obama the broadband super hero will bring the full weight of the Justice department down on them and force them to give me connection speeds of 100mbps for free for the next 5 years.  [ahhh, dreammy]

The test finishes running and will you believe it, but the speed was up to more than 16 mbps. 

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I then plug in everything on the router, turn the works off and then on again 60 seconds later, save my computer before it suffocates by turning the wifi switch back on and run that test again thinking its probably time to buy a new router after the birds built a nest on it.

But no, that linksys shit is strong.  No bird is going to take out my linksys router.  (western digital ethernet 1tb hard drive is another story though.   An amoeba in Guinea could take out that piece of junk, just by splitting itself)

So I run the test over wireless one more time and my speed has gone up to over 17 mbps!

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So I’m no dummy, I figure customer service technician guy has probably cranked up my speed again, or maybe the reset of the router helped, or both.

Ironically Time Warner uses the same tool but yields a different speed result which shows a faster speed on the download and slower on the upload.  Notice the Ookla powering technology on both TWC and Broadband.gov.  Kind of like having Arthur Anderson working for the government to audit abuses by auditors at Enron where Arthur Anderson was the auditor.

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Broadband.gov’s Privacy Policy

The FCC is collecting and storing street addresses, IP addresses, and broadband performance information through these speed tests. (The FCC is not collecting email addresses through these speed tests.) The street addresses will not be released, disclosed to the public, or shared with any outside entities, including Ookla and M-Lab, except in the limited circumstances described in the Consumer Broadband Test Privacy Statement. The FCC, Ookla, and M-Lab are collecting and storing broadband performance information and IP addresses, which Ookla and M-Lab may release to the public. The FCC will not make individual IP addresses available to the public except in the limited circumstances described in the Consumer Broadband Test Privacy Statement. For more information, see the complete Consumer Broadband Test Privacy Statement, the Ookla Privacy Policy , and the M-Lab Privacy Policy. The FCC is soliciting this information under authority of the Broadband Data Improvement Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-385, Stat 4096 § 103(c)(1); American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA), Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat 115 (2009); and Section 154(i) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended.