Fiber Cables, Internet Speeds and Botnets | Q&A with Patrick Marshall

Q: I subscribe to Xfinity/Comcast. They recently added or upgraded fiber optic cable throughout our neighborhood. One of the linemen said it would allow for faster speeds. But the line from the street to the house and the cable running through the walls have not been improved since they were installed 20 or more years ago. Does that old copper coaxial cable have a service limitation?

call from steve

A: If the wiring between the street and your house is coax, it should be able to handle anything your ISP can provide as long as it’s not damaged. But just because your provider has upgraded their street wiring doesn’t mean you’ll get faster service. At best, you’ll still only get something in the vicinity of the service speed you’re paying for.

Related Technical Questions and Answers

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If you are unhappy with your internet speed, I suggest you run a broadband speed test to check where performance might be lagging. I use Speedtest from Ookla.

First, run a test with your computer connected directly to your cable modem via an Ethernet cable. If you have a gigabit service, you should see around 900 megabits per second for downloads. If not, contact your Internet service provider.

Then try the speed test by connecting through your Wi-Fi router. You will see a significant drop in speed. The amount mainly depends on the standards supported by your router and the client adapters of your computers.

I subscribe to gigabit internet, but my speed test is around 250 megabits per second for downloads when connected via Wi-Fi and using hardware that supports the current Wi-Fi 6 standard . That’s fast enough to avoid video buffering and other slow connection aggravations.

Keep in mind, however, that even if you have a high-performance Wi-Fi router, it will only provide the performance supported by your computer’s Wi-Fi client adapter.

If your internet speed is unsatisfactory, you need to find the weakest link in your network – the ISP, wired router, cables, Wi-Fi router, your client network adapter.

Q: Over the past week I have received ‘threats blocked’ from my Avast protection that say: We have safely terminated connection on because it was infected with URL: Botnet.

I have received 15 of these notifications from Avast since July 28. I installed Avast Premium and Malwarebytes Premium and ran several manual scans. I use Firefox as my browser. Is there anything else I should or could do?

Mike Diamanti, Coupeville

A: The good news is that it looks like your security software is doing what you want it to do.

It appears to be a server belonging to an online advertising company Sovrn that triggers this alert and causes your security software to terminate the connection. I would avoid the website where the alerts were triggered. If the website is legitimate and you want to continue visiting it, contact the webmaster and let them know about the botnet.

A botnet, by the way, is a network of computers running “bots”, which are programs that run automated scripts. This does not mean that bots necessarily do anything malicious on your computers or your network. They may just collect information, but I don’t want them to collect my information, so yes, I want to be protected from connecting to botnets.

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