Though it's pricey at $42.95 a month, Comcast's consumer High-Speed Internet service is fast and reliable. With seven mailboxes, 175MB of storage, 2GB of newsgroup downloads, download speeds up to 6Mbps, and a boatload of free software, including McAfee's Internet-security programs, Comcast High-Speed Internet is a good choice for those willing to pay a premium for speed. However, DSL providers such as EarthLink and SBC Yahoo offer better deals.
The easiest way to install Comcast's broadband Internet service is to have a technician do it ($99.99; $149.99 if you opt for Comcast's cable modem/router)--no fuss. However, Comcast occasionally offers a free self-install kit that includes most of the relatively few necessities. Anyone who can plug a cord into a socket or a jack should be able to handle the simple procedure described in Comcast's supplied setup guide.
The first step is to attach the coaxial cable line that comes into your house or room to the input of the supplied cable splitter. Next, run one high-quality three-foot coaxial cable (included with the kit) from the splitter's outputs to the cable modem. Finally, run another cable from the splitter to your cable box, TV, or other previous destination. Comcast provides only one short coaxial cable, which may be all you need. If not, you'll have to pick one up at a local electronics or video dealer. While you're there, you might also want to buy an Ethernet cable to run from the back of the modem to your PC or router, as Comcast omits this necessity as well.
You can rent a cable modem from Comcast for $3 a month or a cable modem/wireless router for $5 a month; alternately, you can supply your own. The company provides a list of compatible modems on its Web site.
Once you're through cabling, simply fire up the installation software from the provided CD. It will gather some information from you and contact Comcast via the Internet to open your account and get your IP address. Comcast uses dynamic IP addresses for its residential High-Speed Internet service. That means the address changes periodically and isn't especially well suited to hosting services behind your modem. Still, Comcast is always on, which means you don't have to fire up an app or log on, as with some services.
As an ISP host, Comcast offers more than enough beef for the average home user: 175MB of storage for your files and Web sites, seven mailbox addresses, and 2GB of newsgroup downloads. Unfortunately, Comcast doesn't provide dial-up access in case of an emergency or a service outage.