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Called for a tech visit, and it's now fixed.
Turned out part of the problem was a bundle deal had expired and that had cut my speed some, then the new modem installation somehow got confused/lost at the Xfinity end and cut the speed limits again.
In the end I upgraded my Blast plan from Pro to 200 for $10/mo more, and I'm seeing 225 at the moment.
So there's still no explanation of all the variability I was seeing, but perhaps the old modem actually was failing, especially because I was seeing uploads twice as fast as downloads sometimes.
The online chat support wasn't usable, waited 20 hours with no connect. But the telephone support was almost no waiting, and efficient. Times change things. I hadn't wanted to call because I remembered 2+hour hold times, agony. Not today.
Hello, and thank you for reaching out to us. I would be happy to assist you from here. Can you verify your account information with me? I would need your phone number, full name, and service address. You can private message me by clicking my name and clicking private message. Thank you
Gigabit service requires a DOCSIS 3.1 modem. The CM700 is a DOCSIS 3.0 model which Comcast rates at a maximum speed of 701Mbps (see https://mydeviceinfo.xfinity.com/device/netgear-cm700-557). Since the modem is not rated for gigabit service speed, it's probably getting a Performance 25/5 config file.
You need a new modem for 1000Mbps. See https://mydeviceinfo.xfinity.com/
People who don't have a cell phone, or prefer not to use one can use an alternate email address instead. During the 2-factor setup process, they should be prompted at one point to choose one or the other. You can't use the same phone # or email on more than one Comcast account for a reason; if one of them is compromised and all are using the same information, they are then all at risk.