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  • Comcast: A Ray of Hope?

    I woke up this past Sunday morning to find my internet up but I wasn't getting any mail. Well after a little bit of testing I discovered Comcast had blocked port 25 on my residential high speed account. I run/ran servers on my residential account which is a violation of my TOS. I called them to see what was up and they confirmed that yes they had blocked port 25 and that a lot of ISP's were doing it. Well it's nice to be trendy I really didn't think it was very cool and wanted the gory details of why. The tier 1 person I spoke with was basically clueless and told me she didn't understand and transfered me to Comcast's security and criminal division.

    I got a very anal retentive security person on the phone who basically told me I was a bad person for running servers and letting SPAM come from them and that I was in violation of my TOS. Well considering all my mail goes through my alternate port SMTP service through noip.com I thought this was strange to say the least. Inquiring further I was told that if even one piece of SPAM is sent from my account that they have every right to block me forever. He also told me that I was also a bad person because I was running web, ftp, and other servers to and that I had to be punished. I'm paraphrasing here in attempt to laugh off my misfortune.

    I told him that I would be more than happy to get a business class account but Comcast won't give it to me because I was a residential high speed user, with residential TV service. He then told me and too my surprise that things had changed at Comcast and that they were now allowing mixed accounts and gave me their business services number.

    So I called them and what do you know it's true. Apparently there has been a change of heart or mind set at Comcast. They are now allowing people with residential service to obtain "unrestricted" business class high speed accounts without changing their residential TV service. These business class accounts are the same amount of money as the residential ones, and you are allowed to host whatever you "pretty much" want within reason. They will also provide the much desired reverse lookups for your domain name along with 5 to 13 static WAN IP's. I'm getting an 8x1 line for $89.95/month 2 year contract(the only thing I don't like but you can transfer it to another address as long as Comcast can service it). For the same ADSL2 8x1 is like $149.00/month. When this major shift happened I'm not sure. I remember that I couldn't even get a return phone call from the business department when I told them I was a residential user not too long ago. I will keep people posted on this and how the service is.

    Though I will miss being public enemy #1 and it will hurt my bad boy image I think I can live with it; though the women won't look at me the same way. :-)

    Brian Vagnoni

    Beat me, spank me, make me right bad code
    Just because you can doesn't mean you should. This applies to making babies, hacking, and youtube videos.

  • #2
    Re: Comcast: A Ray of Hope?

    How long on the phone did that take?

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Comcast: A Ray of Hope?

      Originally posted by cereal76 View Post
      How long on the phone did that take?

      I'd guess about 16 days.
      Cliff Stoll...because real IT history is cool.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Comcast: A Ray of Hope?

        How long did what take?

        xor
        Just because you can doesn't mean you should. This applies to making babies, hacking, and youtube videos.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Comcast: A Ray of Hope?

          questions:

          1. what are the up and down speeds you're rated for in the business class service contract? (and a corollary... what speeds do you see when you test it?)

          2. what residential services do you have? full package, just basic, limited, etc?

          3. did they say you needed a different modem?

          4. do P2P apps like bittorrent, kazaa, limewire, etc. all work with no weirdness?

          5. tried any VoIP, like vonage?
          "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
          - Trent Reznor

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Comcast: A Ray of Hope?

            I haven't transfered yet. My understanding is that the modem is the SMC 8014 Gateway/Router/modem or Modem/Bridge depending on how it is setup. However, my experience with other clients is that if you have problems you can get your own device. For me I have a Sonicwall Pro 1260 Enhanced which is capable of multiple WAN Ethernet interfaces so I'm really just looking for a cable/Ethernet bridge. Cisco also makes a cable/Ethernet bridge but they don't support it.

            8x1 is the package I'm looking at. I have a 8x1 residential package as well and see higher than rated speeds(20x2) with the residential service with a Moto Surfboard. I've read quite a few horror stories on the web. I seem to have more trouble with their TV service than their highspeed.

            With my residential service I didn't see problems with p2p clients. However, I've never tried to host a torrent. I have a personal vpn, vnc, ssh, ftp server, as well as a public web & webmail server running on multiple ports 80, 81, 443.

            I use Vonage and have zero trouble with their VOIP service over Comcast even behind the Sonicwall.

            I've been doing research on the Business Class service and what I've heard is that Comcast seems to have a problem with doing DNS properly for hosted or self hosted clients. Tier 1 tech support is less than worthless. The Netgear Cable gateway that they push in certain markets is very buggy and flaky. I'm guessing it's a rebranded RCA which is rebranded Broadcom and their chips are cheap and problem ridden.

            I need to see if there is a trial period available otherwise it may be difficult to get out of the contract. I live next to a CO so for me dsl is always a workable option.

            I've used Watchguard and Sonicwall equipment with Comcast and had good results. Though as many of you know if you want to do VPN Cisco is the way to go. If you want cool reports and more data than you know what to do with Watchguard is the way to go. Sonicwall is a nice mix in between the 2.

            You can tell I'm single because I have expensive toys :-).

            xor
            Just because you can doesn't mean you should. This applies to making babies, hacking, and youtube videos.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Comcast: A Ray of Hope?

              Dynamic IP services which I'm currently using from noip.com to get around most of the TOS related issues work and are much cheaper alternatives than the business class service for most common services http, mail.. However, Comcast routes traffic differently depending on whether it's out going or incoming. So they are quite capable of checking on your incoming traffic. I can see them getting a better handle on it with IPV6 as they will have that many more addresses to play with.

              xor

              The impression I got is that they are using the "we are doing this for your protection" excuse to push all this stuff down our throats.

              I actually have a question regarding the differences between cable and dsl network implementations. When I asked the dsl sales guy at Speakeasy why his service was better than cable and hence more expensive, I got a long pause in the chat. His response, cable is a shared connection where dsl is dedicated. I always considered this a myth. Most isps 2 hops and you are out on the net or at least to the isp backbone. I understand cable is a fiber loop the benefit being you can take a cable modem and plug it in anywhere on the loop; physical location independent. You could also have multiple modems with multiple IP's on a given cable line. Where dsl is tied to a specific port on the switch in the CO and is location dependent. So my question so I can dispel this myth is that does it really make a difference?
              Last edited by xor; January 12, 2008, 14:05.
              Just because you can doesn't mean you should. This applies to making babies, hacking, and youtube videos.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Comcast: A Ray of Hope?

                Interesting... what catches me most is that, given that you attended PumpCon and (i think) said you were near there, we are local to each other and yet have very different experiences.

                I, too, am with Comcast but have never had trouble hosting email, web, etc. my torrents and other P2P apps will instantly die unless i run them encrypted, however. and neighbors' Vonage connections all suck and are choppy (inbound, not outbound). my speeds are typical residential (5 or 6 Mbit down and never more than 1 Mbit up) so not as great as what you've seen.

                I've had a static IP for as long as I can remember... it only changed once when i was without power due to an electrical issue in our neighborhood that wasn't resolved for a day or so. I have DNS pointers aimed right at it and never really saw much trouble.

                With regard to the "shared connection" i am certain others will correct/revise my statements here... but i think that the "shared" aspect occurs on the actual coax DOCSIS chain. there are a number of repeaters, splitters, and other items of equipment (most made by Scientific Atlanta, from what i've seen inside their panels) that handle the signals between modems and main office. these devices talk (someone please correct me if i'm wrong, i don't work for any comcastic sub-contractor) is down at the datalink layer, hence you're not going to see it when counting hops on a traceroute. i believe that the "shared connection" demon so often described by telecos depends on how branched and split a cable network is in a given neighborhood, since much of the actual coax was installed in the 80's before cable internet was on the map.
                "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
                - Trent Reznor

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Comcast: A Ray of Hope?

                  Are you referring to line speed or download/upload rates? Also, how do you measure your speed? I typically goto to http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest and select to 2 closest pop locations which are NY.NY and Wash, DC.

                  Line speed would be my 8mb x 1mb package. Where your actual rates of download would be a ruff order of magnitude less; so in my case 800k/sec depending on if the site I'm downloading from is capable of suppling that rate. It's my understanding that the Comcast 8mb x 1mb is the minimum that you will get, again depending on the site you visit. Like DO, I could be wrong so friendly correction is always welcome.

                  xor

                  I think maybe that it could be a netblock issue. Comcast has several non-continuous networks from different companies. So it could be you are just on another network with different rules, equipment and specicifcations. I'm located in the Northeast west of US 1, and somewhere North of the 6000 block of streets. Plus Comcast has 2 different locations in Philly not counting their new corporate HQ being built in center city. Did you know that the south Philly shop is union and the shop in the Northeast isn't. I found that to be very weird but the last time I checked that's the way it was. The could also play into the differences in the network. Not implying that one is better than the other because of whether or not it has a or hasn't a union affiliation.

                  Last Result:
                  Download Speed: 10400 kbps (1300 KB/sec transfer rate)
                  Upload Speed: 1750 kbps (218.8 KB/sec transfer rate) from New York

                  This is through a firewall, also taken during net prime time. Computer system speed can also affect it greatly.
                  Last edited by xor; January 12, 2008, 15:41.
                  Just because you can doesn't mean you should. This applies to making babies, hacking, and youtube videos.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Comcast: A Ray of Hope?

                    I was wondering how long you spent on the phone getting all that done.

                    The execs at the company I work for all have that service, same modem too (the company picks up the tab, we support it). I've never tested any P2P/voip on it, but I can attest to the DNS problems. The server addresses that ship with the modem thinks our domain (among others) doesn't exist. However, the server addresses that the installer writes down for us work great. So, when you get your modem, switch dns servers, I like OpenDNS.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Comcast: A Ray of Hope?

                      Ok folks we are up and online with Comcast Business High-speed. I would like
                      to say it was uneventful, but the first SMC 8014 they brought in was bad.
                      Other than that however everything else has gone smoothly and I'm happy to
                      say even with a few pleasant surprises.

                      The 5 static ip addresses are actually five usable addresses. So instead of
                      having 5 - 2(gateway & broadcast) I have 5 + 2. It's on a real
                      255.255.255.248 subnet. The current PTR record reads
                      Philadelphia.hfc.comcastbusiness.net(assume that means static) minus the
                      address of course. None of the addresses are Black Listed:

                      Real-time Black List Analysis of xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx [xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx]
                      No Real-time Black List servers have any information about xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx.

                      sbl.spamhaus.org
                      -Not listed.

                      list.dsbl.org
                      -Not listed.

                      multihop.dsbl.org
                      -Not listed.

                      unconfirmed.dsbl.org
                      -Not listed.

                      spam.dnsrbl.net
                      -Not listed.

                      blackholes.five-ten-sg.com
                      -Not listed.

                      dnsbl.njabl.org
                      -Not listed.

                      bl.spamcop.net
                      -Not listed.

                      cbl.abuseat.org
                      -Not listed.

                      dnsbl.sorbs.net
                      -Not listed.

                      dnsbl.ahbl.org
                      -Not listed.

                      dnsbl.net.au
                      -Not listed.

                      bl.emailbasura.org
                      -Not listed.

                      bl.deadbeef.com
                      -Not listed.

                      psbl.surriel.com
                      -Not listed.

                      dnsbl.rangers.eu.org
                      -Not listed.

                      block.blars.org
                      -Not listed.

                      The techs that come to your house are clueless. I was trying to explain the
                      difference between a bridge and a router to the tech when I was told "man
                      that's way over my head, we just hook'em up." Anyway I got to speak with
                      their provisioning department and they seemed to know how to convert the SMC
                      8014 to a media converter/bridge/ 4 port switch which was painless.

                      Now I just have to plan out my DNS structure, and transfer control either to
                      my DNS server if I decide to go that route or have someone else host it, and
                      get Comcast to change the PTR records. I'm told they have a web portal to do
                      this so keep your fingers crossed. Then get some cheap cert's and digital
                      ID's.

                      Speed is excellent, from Speakeasy's speed test site I see anywhere from
                      15m/1.5m(Test to NY) to 3m/1.5m(Test To SF).

                      There is a web portal for setting everything up at http://businessclass.comcast.net that's dns & web plus optional features like Exchange and Sharepoint if you choose them.

                      Also if you decide to cave and go off residential don't do it on the weekend as I did. The people you need to talk to about PTR records and such are only there during the week. I had to setup my own temporary DNS server which is kind of fighting theirs because of SOA conflicts. Comcast actually farms their customer dns /hosting stuff out to Hostway.

                      But I'm happy to say everything is working, just needs tweaking and am still deciding whether or not I want to do everything myself including dns hosting. It was easier that I thought. DNS has got to be one of the easiest concepts to get your mind around, implementation however is a whole other deal.


                      xor

                      PGP Digital Fingerprint
                      F076 6EEE 06E5 BEEF EBBD BD36 F29E 850D FC32 3955
                      Last edited by xor; January 27, 2008, 15:07.
                      Just because you can doesn't mean you should. This applies to making babies, hacking, and youtube videos.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Comcast: A Ray of Hope?

                        Originally posted by xor View Post
                        The techs that come to your house are clueless.
                        one big reason for this is that they're not Comcast employees... they're sub-contractors who get jobs in the various territories based on being the lowest bidder. i have a complete horror story of a residential install gone awry that is still being tangled in their property damage division. I'll post the details and photos here when i get to work later.
                        "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
                        - Trent Reznor

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Comcast: A Tale of Incompetence

                          So, as promised here is the story of a Comcast install gone horribly, horribly wrong.

                          A while back, I setup an in-home network for one of my business clients. They do a lot of their work from their residence and had added some additional machines, etc. I deployed a file server / domain controller and configured all the machines in the house to act as authenticated workstations. What originally was a sea of wires in one home office room was converted to a series of CAT5e runs within the walls, with network drops in bedrooms and elsewhere.

                          The home only had five network drops... not enough, in my mind, to justify an entire full-scale patch panel. Instead, I terminated all the cables and just stacked the RJ45 jacks in a 6-hole wall plate. Above that i mounted a piece of ply to the wall for the attachment of network equipment, etc. Here's a recent shot of that setup...


                          Now, that photo is more recent. Before, there was an RCA modem providing Comcast service and a Vonage box for VoIP calls. Still, the wiring was beautifully managed and everything was done well for residential standards...


                          All in all, i was happy with the job. Then I got word of a horrible development. The family had opted to change from Vonage to Comcast's digital voice (a decision that no doubt was caused in large part by the fact that Comcast actively fucks with packets and makes Vonage calls crap out intermittently. A grandmother living in the house was particularly pained by this phenomenon... she doesn't want to know about net neutrality, she just gets upset when a piece of technology like a goddamn telephone gets all garbled for no reason from time to time)

                          When Comcast sent a tech out to replace the old router with a new model (one that incorporates VoIP capabilities all in one device) he did something that I could have never imagined happening.

                          He cut all of the network wires that ran to the rest of the house...




                          ... he left them all hanging in the closet (notice that he cut them so far up that i couldn't just take up slack and pull the remaining pieces down to the blue mounting box and wall plate) and left the network destroyed.

                          He also (for reasons that even now aren't clear) cut out the simple CAT3 phone line that lead to the house telco wiring. There was a standard black phone cord. It ran from the Vonage box, under the carpet, and to a wall jack elsewhere in the room. Now, if you were switching VoIP service... wouldn't you just take whatever line was in the old VoIP box and plug it into the new one?? No, he cut that out and instead used a segment cut from one of the house network wires he destroyed to fabricate a new RJ11 wall mounted jack.

                          He attached the Comcast VoIP box to that jack. But the kicker is, that jack wiring didn't go anywhere...


                          When the homeowner got back (only the grandmother was there when this all happened... she just let the tech in and allowed him to work upstairs.) and discovered that nothing was working (no computers could log on, because the domain was broken and no phones worked except for one that the installer plugged manually into the VoIP box... this was a phone removed from the kitchen and not plugged in properly) she called to complain.

                          Comcast finally got word back to the office of the 3rd party contractors. The installer and his boss called. The installer then spent ages on the phone trying to convince her that the lines he had cut "were just old phone wires." She's tech savvy and repeatedly countered his assertions with such astute (and obvious) considerations such as...

                          1. Why would a house have all the phone service running into a upstairs office and exposed in jacks on a wall plate?

                          2. Who the fuck wires their home's phones with CAT5e?

                          3. Why cut wires that aren't needed during the installation... would just leaving them there have hurt anything?

                          4. Let's say that in the future the customers wanted to go back to regular phone service... how were they going to do that if the lines were now all cut??

                          She even pointed out that there was an additional 4-pair wire that was running down through the floor to the basement. It had been laid but not terminated since a future possibility was turning the basement into a finished rec room.

                          This wire came up through he floor and had enough slack remaining to eventually be connected up to the same patch panel area. Would you believe that the numbnuts cut this goddamn wire, too?!? For no discernible reason... he saw a wire that wasn't leading anywhere specific, so he just lopped off any slack he saw, leaving about an two inches exposed under the carpet...


                          Their response to all this is even more charming than the fucking mess was in the first place. I'll post about that in a little while.
                          "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
                          - Trent Reznor

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Comcast: A Ray of Hope?

                            First off, it's nice to see someone else who likes clean cabling as much as I do.

                            Second; this is why I tell my customers from day one that I'm possessive of the network and don't want anyone dicking around without me there. If they are doing anything to do with the network, I want to be around and I build that into the contract. More than once I've stopped a phone guy from doing something stupid or taking a disastrous shortcut.

                            Third; This seems to be more and more common with 3rd party installers. The rate at which things like VOIP and FIOS are taking off, there's more demand so they are grabbing anyone with a pulse. Problem is, the training they give is so narrow that these people have no clue about anything else and would not recognize a cat5e cable if it was wrapped around their neck and thrown over the nearest yard arm.

                            Having done some of this type of 3rd party installing I can tell you that it sucks. The training is next to nothing and the people they get are dumb as toast. There's a reason I did'nt do it for long.

                            I'd hold their feet to the fire on this one. Get the contractors best guy out there on their dime to pull new cable under your supervision and to compensate you/your customer for the time that takes.
                            Never drink anything larger than your head!





                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Comcast: A Ray of Hope?

                              Damn, Dev, you have my sympathies, although it's nice to know that other people deal with this kind of crap, too.
                              Originally posted by renderman View Post
                              I'd hold their feet to the fire on this one. Get the contractors best guy out there on their dime to pull new cable under your supervision and to compensate you/your customer for the time that takes.
                              "Best guy?" Yikes; From what you'd said previously about the training, their best guy may just be a chimp in pants who needs a regular reminder to breathe.

                              My preference would be to get a trained network installer that I trust, and send the bill to the colossal screwup's company.
                              Thorn
                              "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." - Catherine Aird

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