Jan Wallace Connects to MediaCom Broadband Data

(Posted 3/8/2006) - After 6 years of dial-up service Jan has moved to broadband. Her cable television provider, MediaCom began offering $43/month broadband data (3.8mb/s) this year.

Read on to get the particulars of one customer's journey to high-speed internet access.

Even though Jan has only one computer in the house, when her grandkids visit they invariably bring their (wireless) laptops. Wireless also has the advantage of allowing one to position computer(s) independently of cable outlets.

We chose to go with:

  • a DLink Cable Modem (DCM-202) which complies with the latest high-speed standards (DOCSIS 2.0), and which has a built in ethernet webserver to allow the user to interrogate / modify the modem's parameters and performance profile.
  • a DLink Wireless Router (DI-524) which provides 54mb/s 802.11G compliant signalng to clients on the local network.
  • a Dlink Wireless USB Adaptor (DWL-122G) for Jan's PC.

I connected the cable modem to the cable first, just to verify that it could synch-up with the downstream broadband carrier, and could signal upstream to the broadband cable-head equipment. No surprise it wouldn't synch-up. A quick call to the MediaCom tech help line verified that they had provisioned the line but were not seeing the modem handshaking with their equipment. We scheduled a repair-visit for the next day to determine if the cable to the house was the problem, or whether the house wiring had problems.

The repairman connected his test modem to the same cable outlet I'd tried and also failed to synch. He measured carrier signal strength and determined that the upstream impedences were too high. I mentioned that my mother used only Basic Cable service at that point, and he had an 'a-ha' moment; went outside, climbed up the pole out in the street and swapped out a bandpass filter in my mom's cable run. Viola -- the cable modems both synched up to the data carrier signal. As an unintended side affect my mom can now get two additional channels in her basic cable TV service!

I connected up the new cable modem, ran its ethernet connection into the new wireless router WAN port and connected my laptop to an available router ethernet LAN port. At this point my laptop could connect to the internet, so I used it to access the 524's onboard webserver firmware to set up the router parameters.

Once I'd set up the router (in particular the wireless access for secure communications) I connected the last hardware component, the wireless USB adaptor to my mom's computer and set it to matching security settings.

Everything worked as advertised and for the next 24 hours I verified that the modem/wireless router and client wireless adaptor maintained contact with no lost connections. The difference in service is dramatic. Formerly limited to 48kb/s dialup (which busied the phone line of course), my mom is now enjoying 3.8mb/s downloads and 280kb/s uploads -- always connected to internet services (and firewalled behind the router).

I set up her new email service with MediaCom and will create a new WebSite for her use sometime in the near future (as her old site was hosted by her dialup ISP Cumberland Internet and will be closed with her account there).

Jan was impressed that she could just leave her browser and email client apps running and use the 'Net' services whenever the mood struck. She also doesn't have to suffer with MS Updates and Virus Signature Updates jumping in and hogging bandwidth as used to happen whenever she made a dialup connection. All in all a win-win.