Speed FAQ

This document discusses some common questions regarding the speed capabilities of your Broadband Cable Modem account in a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) format. 

  1. How can I check the status of my cable modem service?
  2. I am unable to access the Internet no matter what I try. I have also listened to your Network Status Report and there are no known outages in my area. What should I do next?
  3. Regarding the speed capabilities of my cable modem, what exactly is a megabit and a megabyte?
  4. I was on a website which tests my download speeds but the results seem quite low. What could be the reason for this?
  5. Does PenTeleData offer a bandwidth benchmark utility which I can use to check my modem speeds?
  6. I am paying for 3 megabit service but I routinely get 2.4 megabits. Why?
  7. I’ve noticed that there are minimum system requirements for cable modem service. Why is this important? Can’t I simply connect a cable modem to any PC which has Ethernet capability?
  8. I have noticed that my latency is always high when I play online games. Why?
  9. I use a router with my cable modem and I lose my Internet connection every few hours. Resetting the router fixes the problem. Is there a problem with my service?
  10. What kind of Ethernet card (NIC) should I buy?
  11. I’ve noticed that I have a choice of either Ethernet or USB when connecting my cable modem to my PC. Which do you recommend?
  12. I have noticed that my download speeds tend to vary greatly depending on the time of day. Why is this?
  13. I found a new version of the firmware for my cable modem. I attempted to install it but my modem seems to be locked and will not allow me to perform the upgrade. Why is this?
  14. Does PenTeleData use a Web Cache?
  15. I am having problems installing the Windows driver for my new Ethernet card (NIC). Can you help?

How can I check the status of my cable modem service?

If one or more aspects of your service are not functioning but you still have access to the web, point your browser to ptd.net. Once there, click on the "Support" tab at the top of the page. Next, click the "Network Status" link located on the left side of the page. Any current outages will be displayed here, as PenTeleData makes every effort to ensure that the information on this page is current at all times.

Please note: Due to network security concerns, the Network Status page is not accessible from outside of the PTD network - If your service appears to be completely down and you cannot access anything on the Internet, please visit the contact page and call the number for the residential or commercial network status.

I am unable to access the Internet no matter what I try. I have also listened to your Network Status Report and there are no known outages in my area. What should I do next?

First, we recommend that you re-boot your PC(s) and try to access the Internet again. If that does not resolve the problem, power-cycle your cable modem.

To power-cycle your cable modem:

  • Unplug the power cable from the cable modem for a few minutes and then plug it back in.
  • If you have a router, you should power-cycle that as well.

If following the suggestions above did not resolve your problem, please contact our Technical Support Department and a technician will assist you further. You may be required to disconnect any additional networking equipment when speaking to our Technical Support Department in order to assist in the troubleshooting process.

Regarding the speed capabilities of my cable modem, what exactly is a megabit and a megabyte?

A Megabit (Mb) is one million bits of information. Therefore, if the rated speed of your cable modem connection is "3 Megabits," this means that your cable modem is capable of downloading roughly 3 million bits of information per second.

A Megabyte (MB) is 1,024 Kilobytes. Using the example above, if your cable modem capable of downloading 3 million bits per second, this would equal .366 MB.
A Byte is 8 bits and is equivalent to one character of text. Using the example above, 3 million bits would be equivalent to 375,000 Bytes.
A Kilobyte (Kb) is 1,024 bytes. Using the example above, 3 million bits of information is equivalent to 366Kb.

I was on a website which tests my download speeds but the results seem quite low. What could be the reason for this?

  • Computers which are connected to routers, switches, or using wireless access points will have inherently slower transfer speeds compared to computers which are directly connected to a cable modem.
  • Computers which have malicious software installed (i.e. viruses, spyware, or adware) may experience slow transfer speeds, as software of this type tends to drastically slow down your broadband connection.
    • If you suspect that your PC contains malicious software, we recommend that you connect your computer directly to the cable modem and scan for any malicious software.
    • After this has been completed, please perform your speed testing again. In order for bandwidth speed tests to be accurate, you must be located as close to the test server as possible.
  • If you are using a bandwidth speed test which is hosted on a webpage in California, for example, the test packets must travel a long way to reach you and this and will obviously skew the results of the test.
  • Finally, normal data overhead from cable modem transmissions can sometimes use up to 10% or more of your modem’s available bandwidth. This data overhead is not reflected in download speed tests.

Does PenTeleData offer a bandwidth benchmark utility which I can use to check my modem speeds?

I am paying for 3 megabit service but I routinely get 2.4 megabits. Why?

First of all, keep in mind that the speed ratings are for "burst speeds," which means that the service is capable of reaching the maximum stated speed but real-world conditions usually prevent the maximum speed from being constantly maintained. When transferring data to and from the PenTeleData network, your transfer speeds should be at least 85% of the speed package you've purchased and anything within this figure is considered acceptable. In addition, see the two previous questions for more reasons why the results from cable modem speed tests may vary and not always be what you expect.

I’ve noticed that there are minimum system requirements for cable modem service. Why is this important? Can’t I simply connect a cable modem to any PC which has Ethernet capability?

In order to ensure that you get the most out of your cable modem service, it is necessary for your computer to meet the minimum requirements for the service, as stated below. Although many older PCs will allow a cable modem to be attached, the hard drive speed can be so slow on older systems that the system actually cannot keep up with the cable modem and the Internet will seem very sluggish. Our minimum system requirements are as follows:

 Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7Macintosh OS X (10.0 or higher)
Disk DrivesCD-Rom 3.5" floppyCD-Rom 3.5" floppy
Processor Speed166MHz or higherPower Macintosh G3 or higher
Operating SystemWindows 2000 or higherMacintosh OS X (10.0 or higher)
Memory64 Mb or higher64 Mb or higher
Required Hard Drive Space650 MB or higher800 MB or higher
Video Display256-colorMac 256-color
Ethernet/USB10 base T/USB10 base T Ethernet Card
Additional SoftwareInternet Explorer/Firefox/ChromeInternet Explorer/Safari/Firefox/Chrome

I have noticed that my latency is always high when I play online games. Why?

Very high latency may cause online games to "lag" and hamper your online gaming experience. If you are playing an online game and are having slowness issues when connected to a particular server, you may want to attempt to find another server to join. If the lag problem is resolved, the first server probably had issues. Please note that game servers are "as is" servers, as we have no control over the performance of the millions of gaming servers currently available on the Internet. Also, many gaming servers are configured incorrectly or overused. For example, it is not uncommon for a Dial-Up user on another network to host a game server and allow several broadband customers to connect to it at the same time. In a case such as this, the server will be extremely slow, as the host computer does not have the necessary bandwidth required to properly host a server. Because of issues like these which are beyond our control, PenTeleData is unable to offer technical support for gaming server issues. If you've read the above and still feel that your modem is operating slower than normal, please contact Technical Support at (800) 281-3564 and speak to a technician. In addition, remember that most of our cable partners offer different speed packages and you may want to consider upgrading your service.

I use a router with my cable modem and I lose my Internet connection every few hours. Resetting the router fixes the problem. Is there a problem with my service?

Probably not. In most cases, problems of this type are caused either by configuration problems in your router settings or an inherent problem with the router itself. Also, many router manufacturers offer firmware upgrades which often fix known issues with their hardware; visit your router manufacturer's website for more details. Please note that PenTeleData Technical Support does not offer support for home networking equipment of any kind, including routers, wireless products, hubs, game consoles, etc., with the exception of our High-speed Wireless Home Networking products. Otherwise, please contact the manufacturer of your particular device for additional assistance. In addition, you may be required to disconnect any additional networking equipment when speaking to our Technical Support Department in order to assist in the troubleshooting process.

What kind of Ethernet card (NIC) should I buy?

Many newer computer systems already have a built-in Ethernet port. If your system has a motherboard Ethernet port already present, you will not need to purchase an Ethernet card; simply use the port which you already have. If you do need to purchase an Ethernet card, make sure you purchase one which is "10/100" compatible, as these cards are capable of handling current cable modem speeds as well as being ready for any future speed upgrades. If you are concerned about good online gaming performance, make sure you choose an Ethernet card which is capable of "Bus Mastering," as this ensures that the Ethernet card will not steal resources from other PCI devices in your system. Please note that PenTeleData does not provide technical support for Ethernet cards. If you experience difficulties with installing the card or necessary device drivers, please contact the manufacturer of the card for assistance.

I’ve noticed that I have a choice of either Ethernet or USB when connecting my cable modem to my PC. Which do you recommend?

If your PC already has an available Ethernet port, PenTeleData strongly suggests that you use this method as your connection. Ethernet is the most reliable way to connect your computer and does not require any additional software to be installed. The USB method requires additional device drivers which will be provided to you on a CD when your modem is installed. Please note that the USB connection method can NOT be used on Macintosh computers.

I have noticed that my download speeds tend to vary greatly depending on the time of day. Why is this?

There can be several reasons as to why this is occurring. The main cause would be that you are accessing the Internet at peak hours and the site you are downloading from at the time can not adequately handle the high traffic demands. In addition, someone who lives close to you could be moving large amounts of data and causing all nearby users to experience slow speeds due to the shared bandwidth concept inherent of your cable modem service. We do make every effort to monitor situations such as this and resolve them as they occur.

I found a new version of the firmware for my cable modem. I attempted to install it but my modem seems to be locked and will not allow me to perform the upgrade. Why is this?

Due to the way that cable modem networks are designed, it is necessary for all modems of a particular brand name to use the same version of modem firmware on the network. Because of this, our customers are not permitted to upgrade their modem firmware on their own. However, whenever a new firmware revision is approved for your modem, the upgrade will be sent to your modem automatically through the cable network. Often, new firmware revisions tend to create more problems than they fix due to bugs or other problems with the code. Because of this, we only upgrade the modem firmware on our modems after a new revision has been thoroughly tested and has proven to operate in a stable manner on our equipment. Please note that automatic firmware upgrades are only available for modems which we supply through our partners.

Does PenTeleData use a Web Cache?

No, PenTeleData does not employ server-side Web Caching at this time.

I am having problems installing the Windows driver for my new Ethernet card (NIC). Can you help?

PenTeleData only provides technical support for Ethernet cards which are provided directly by us or from your local cable company. If you’ve purchased your Ethernet card from another vendor, you will need to contact the vendor directly for any support or troubleshooting issues. Most Ethernet cards which we sell are fairly easy to install and a detailed instruction manual is usually provided. Make sure that you’ve tried to follow any driver installation guidelines which were included with the card to the best of your ability before contacting Technical Support.