House Internet Upgrade

We live in NE Oklahoma City. When we moved here in 1997, we moved from a Cox Cable internet service area to one with little choice.

We ended up going with a service called Sprint Broadband Direct. An antenna mounted on a building in downtown OKC put a decent 200-500Kbps signal out to an antenna mounted on our roof. Every couple years I would have to thin the trees on the south side of the house to improve the signal. We also just had Dish service for TV.

Back around 2006, Cox Cable came into the area. I have a piece of the main cable that runs underground; the center conductor is 3/4″ of pure copper, and it has three overbraids, one of which is a thin sheet of solid copper. In 2008, Spring shut down. We signed up with Cox after looking at another wireless service that was distributed around the Edmond area.

Cox brought us around 800Kbps-2Mbps at first. I noticed speed improvements over the years, and recently we were seeing consistent 4Mbps speeds. About a month ago, Cox sent an email saying that the service was upgraded, but we would need to replace our cable modem, which was a DOCSIS 2 device. Cox sells DOCSIS 3 (D3) devices, but at full price, or they would rent you one for about $10 a month.

A side note: the Scientific Atlanta D2 device is cripple by Cox to only give out 1 IP address per installation; the modem can hand out a couple hundred. I found this out when testing a new house WiFi AP (see below).

I figured I could find a good D3 modem from an online vendor for less, and a quick Google search showed devices in the $70 range. But yesterday afternoon at WalMart, I walked past a display of no less than six different D3 modems (I had no idea WM would sell those). The price ranges were $65-$85. I picked up a NetGear 150Mbps device for $75.

When we got home, I did a speed test with the D2 modem and got 6.5Mbps. I hooked up with D3, got it registered through Cox, and immediately got 12.75Mbps down and 7.1Mbps down. A decent improvement. So we are in pretty good shape Internet-wise here in the house. Next, I am going to look at the same upgrade for the St. John’s connection, also through Cox.

Since we have good Internet, we also need to distribute it around the house. When I tested the connection from the D2 and D3 modems, I disconnected them from the house network and ran a cable from the modem to my laptop, since I could stand by the modem (which is in the back room of the house, where the Cox cable comes in).

We have a Motorola G wifi that connects to the cable modem, and then some computers are hardwired to it, and the rest connect via Wifi. I decided to give the Motorola to Ian when he goes back to college in January, and was going to look for a new house WiFi AP at some point. When I was in Dallas a couple weeks ago, I went by MicroCenter to pick up a new disk drive for my laptop (500GB, only $50!), and as I wandered through the store, they had an entire pallet of Tenda N Wifi APs for $15. Yes, fifteen dollars. I checked online, and no one really reported issues with the brand, so I bought one. I should have bought several.

After I got back to OKC, I fired up the Tenda, configured it, and then put it and my existing G router on a switch that was connected to the old Cox modem. I could not get it to work with the Cox internet, while the WiFi stuff was doing great. After some experimentation, I found that the old Cox cable modem was limited to serving a single downstream device. The cable modem DHCPs to the downstream, and I could not make it give two. So I chained the Tenda downstream of my existing Motorola, and proceeded to play with it a couple days to make sure it was working OK.

After the couple days, I took the Motorola out and connected the Tenda to the cable modem, and everything is working fine.

I have a total of nine devices hooked into the WiFi now, and two wired. Speeds are impressive. Fast, and inexpensive. I like it.

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