How to Fix Comcast’s Crappy Wi-Fi Connection

I’m not going to envy anyone for using the modem and router that their ISP provides them. You should n’t because you’re probably paying your ISP to “rent” a not-so-good device — but not everyone has the patience or inclination to understand the nuances of a wireless network, or even their monthly bill.

On Instagram the other day, a friend of mine – a teacher who currently spends her days video chatting in a room full of kids – complained about her internet connection. Her video chats kept dropping and she looked for troubleshooting advice that Insta-massive could send her. She admitted that she knew nothing about Wi-Fi, but assumed that this was the problem.

To learn more about improving Wi-Fi, watch the video below:

We chatted and she showed me her hardware, which, you guessed it, included a Motorola cable modem / router she got from Comcast (she claims it’s free). As we talked more, she listed the following key details:

  • Her internet connection on her laptop and phone is slow and unstable.
  • She uses her laptop only 15 feet away from the Motorola modem / router (so range is probably not an issue here).

That’s all. While it didn’t give me much, it did get me thinking about some possible solutions. My advice follows with one caveat – the settings I’m talking about may or may not exist in your particular modem / router combination, or they may be located in a slightly different location. I can’t troubleshoot every device, but this general information should be enough to help you if you also suffer from crappy Wi-Fi with Comcast.

Make sure your preferred device isn’t slowing you down

If you have a slow wireless connection or your connection keeps dropping, make sure you test your Wi-Fi on other devices in the same location. It helps a lot in troubleshooting by letting you know if your device – say, the crappy Wi-Fi controller on your old laptop – is to blame or if you’re having wireless setup issues.

Make sure you run the same speed tests on every device. It is always possible that there is an upstream problem, which you can check by physically connecting a device (such as a desktop or laptop) to your modem / router and running a speed test there. If you get completely different results between wired and wireless devices, and the latter are much slower, this is the problem.

If things are slow, there might be something wrong with your modem / router or connection to your home. Or maybe you’ve forgotten that you’re actually paying for a pretty cheesy internet plan (especially if the apps you’re using, like video chat , require a little more power ). You can check all of this by calling your ISP and discussing the problem with them; they can run tests on their side to check the strength and quality of the connection to your home.

Be sure to do some basic physical troubleshooting too: turn your cable modem / router on and off. If that doesn’t work, turn it off, disconnect all network cables, disconnect the coaxial cable, then reconnect everything. Turn on your cable modem / router. See if this will improve your situation.

Use apps that make troubleshooting easy

I realized very quickly that my usual troubleshooting methods for a router — going straight to its web config screen if there is one — probably wouldn’t be very helpful, as these web interfaces are usually complex and confusing. people who do not understand the router. Apps are a little better, but they usually have a lot of settings that the average person just doesn’t understand. They can set a password for their wireless networks, but nothing more.

As much as it pains me to suggest it, the first thing I would do is take the Xfinity My Account app to simplify the process of managing the router. It doesn’t give you full access to your router’s settings – unfortunately we’ll have to dig into that web interface for that – but it gets you started with easier troubleshooting (and looks much prettier).

To get started, tap the “Internet” tab at the bottom. If you click on Troubleshoot Modem Issues, you can reset your cable modem / router through the app, saving you the hassle of looking for it and pulling through power cables. Click on your cable modem, however, and you’ll see some interesting settings:

I would disable Home Hotspot , which is basically just a way for others to disconnect from your cable modem / router. In theory, this does not affect your monthly bandwidth – or presumably your connection speed – but I suspect this is not true. The radios your cable modem / router uses to send and receive data cannot process all data from all devices at the same time. To keep things simple, each device gets a small fraction of the router’s time and resources. The more devices you add to the equation, the more delays and sluggishness that everyone has to deal with (potentially).

Reboot your cable modem / router and see if that improves the situation. I suspect you will need some more help, but this is just the beginning.

Dive deeper into your modem / router settings

On the same screen, click Change Wi-Fi Settings with xFi. For the purposes of this article, I am assuming that your router can accept such a setting. Otherwise, you should approach the problem with a web method. I will come back to this a little later.

Clicking on this link will load a simplified configuration screen for your modem / router, which should launch you in the Connect tab. Then click on the name of your modem / router and / or Wi-Fi network that should load this screen:

Click on View Network and then click on the large Advanced Settings box at the bottom – by the way, isn’t it great how it’s buried? Once you have done this, you will see a screen that looks like this:

Adjust the 2.4 / 5 GHz setting

Click on the first option “Wi-Fi 2.4 and 5 GHz”. The 2.4GHz signal usually travels farther, but it can be much slower due to wireless interference and the inherent rate limitations of wireless-n. 5GHz can be much faster at close range – and it’s the only way to get top-notch wireless speeds.

Your router / modem is likely configured to use the same wireless name and password for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. You might be able to separate them here – and I recommend that you do so so you can have more control over which one your devices connect to. You can also confirm that your modem / router is set to automatically select the correct channels for use on the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. Don’t worry about specifying a channel if you have n’t done the tutorials first .

Check your DNS server

Chances are your modem / router is using Comcast DNS or Domain Name System instead of the faster one. You can’t change that here (see the general theme?), But you can at least confirm that it is. Click on the DNS Server option under the Advanced Settings section, look under the Primary DNS section and confirm it is Comcast’s DNS with a simple Internet search.

Since Comcast hardcodes this value into their modems / routers, you will want to change it to a much faster DNS on each of your devices. This will be a tricky process, but it can help improve your overall experience, especially when you are surfing the web.

Visit the web config for your modem / router

Open a web browser and enter the address for your modem / router’s administration tool – usually , but this can vary depending on what hardware you have. Your username and password must be admin / password , if you have not changed them earlier. If so, make your assumptions into account, because your modem / router will block you for a few minutes after a few wrong attempts.

When you log in, you will likely see several options, for example:

It is possible and likely that your device settings will differ from mine. (I haven’t used many Comcast modems / routers in my life, but I’m guessing they’ll all be slightly different.)

You will want to start with any option related to your wireless connection / networks (“Connection” in the examples above). If you were previously unable to split the WLAN into separate 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks, you should find this option here. You can also click Change, or some version of it, to set up wireless channel selection (automatic!) And bandwidth. (Try the highest possible value, unless you run into tons of connectivity issues. Failure to do so may fix this, especially on a 2.4GHz network.)

Consider customizing your firewall

If your cable modem / router, like mine, has many different options for your firewall, consider lowering security a little to potentially improve (or allow) connections with whatever software you try to use on your systems. For instance:

If I were to stick with “average,” I would really mess up some of my P2P activity, as shown in the menu:

Downgrading to Low may resolve connectivity issues that I may have when using these apps. The same is true if, say, you go crazy and set the security level of your firewall to “high”. Call back a little – don’t turn it off – and you can improve your experience.

Make sure parental controls are disabled on your modem / router.

If you accidentally enable them for any reason, make sure that parental controls are not enabled on your router:

While I doubt most people have this problem, it is possible that some rule has been activated for home devices and is preventing you from using a particular app or service. It’s a long journey, but it doesn’t hurt to go through this section when you’re already in the modem / router settings menu.

Buy a new router or move it

Finally, I want to draw your attention to the “Bridge Mode” parameter (found on the first page of my router / modem settings). This will turn your modem / router into a simple modem. You will then need to plug your own router into it to set up your wireless network, but this can be a great option – which I wholeheartedly recommend as a mini upgrade – for better connectivity around your home, especially if your router / modem is in a weird location or you’re just tired of getting a working signal.

As always, the post- still apply the normal rules to improve the wireless network signal, if you plan to use your existing modem / router. Generally speaking, this means that the modem / router should be placed in the center of your home, or at least in the same room where you are most likely to use (or need) a strong wireless signal. Whenever possible, use wired connections instead of wireless ones to get the fastest possible speed for your priority devices (such as a desktop or laptop). Make sure you are using a router / modem that can support the maximum speeds for your devices, and that you are using the correct wireless network (your 5 GHz) to achieve them when you are in close proximity to your router. /modem.

Troubleshooting a bad wireless connection is never fun (and often leads you down a number of curious and strange paths), but these general tips should help you. And I believe that your best bet is to return your modem / router to your ISP, buy yourself one that’s compatible with your ISP and / or the service you pay for, and pair it with a great wireless router. This DIY setup will ultimately always provide the best performance.


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