Getting What You Paid For: Keeping Your Internet Provider Honest

Randy Guthrie – Microsoft Technology Evangelist

Every so often I get an e-mail from my cable Internet provider telling me that they have upgraded my service and for the me to see the new higher speed I need to unplug my cable modem/router, wait 60-90 seconds, and then plug it back in. I have learned that this is a best practice that I use almost every day. Here is why:

Over time, and particularly if I have been streaming a lot of content or downloading a lot of software, I notice my bandwidth getting lower and lower. I suspect this is done intentionally by my ISP to limit the amount of data I consume over a give time. I use “” as my benchmark. Generally once my bandwidth slows down it will never go back up to “full speed”. I’ve called tech support about this and they tell me that speeds go up or down depending on overall usage in my area but no one will cop to packet shaping or other throttling techniques. But when I unplug the model, my wireless router and my switch and wait a few minutes (sometimes I wait longer), when I turn everything back on and rerun, I find I am back to running at near max advertised speeds. Here is my results from this morning:

This is what I my bandwidth measured when I first turned on my computer this morning.


And here is what it measured 5 minutes later after shutting down the UBEE DVM3233B cable modem, my CISCO home wireless router, and my Netgear GB switch.


I get similar results every day. I have my voice calling plan bundled with my data plan, so my modem is also a phone modem and has a backup battery so I remove the battery as well as unplugging the AC power from the back. I also unplug my wireless router and the Netgear switch so everyone gets assigned a new IP address once everything powers back up.

I usually do the power-down, power-up thing late at night when everyone has already gone to bed or first thing in the AM before anyone is up. But if I have an important SKYPE call, or a big file to download, I will usually do the reset before the call or download to maximize quality and speed. Sometimes waiting 60 seconds isn’t quite long enough to reset the token at the cable provider’s network, so I wait 5 minutes or even longer (like while I am in shower) before turning it back to get the best results. 

I’d love to hear if this works for you as well.