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With heavy heart, I’m about to say goodbye to my first, and extremely long-serving, cable modem. I can’t find a birth date for it, but I must have had it the best part of ten years, during which time Cambridge Cable/ntl/Virgin Media have increased speeds from “not that much faster than your old dialup modem, but hey, it’s always on!” to an impressive 10Mb. The trouble is, I’ve never got 10Mb, and I’ve been convinced that it’s the trusty old Surfboard which is not up to the task. Rare comments on newsgroups tend to agree, but ntl’s tech support didn’t, despite numerous phone calls. They reckoned this…

…was about the best anyone could expect from a 10Mb connection – although I could tell they didn’t really know what they were talking about, and just wanted to get rid of me. However, in one of those curious moments when all the celestial bodies come into alignment, this weekend I simultaneously had problems with the TV (billing) as well as telephone (non-working voicemail), so when I chucked in the broadband speed issue, I’d scored a hat-trick and Virgin Media’s customer service upgraded me to a senior person who seemed god-like in his ability to Get Things Done. Not only that, but he could hold an intelligent, sympathetic and unscripted conversation. He’d even heard of a Motorola Surfboard SB3100 cable modem! However, he claimed to have one at home and said that it was OK for 10Mb, and indeed it would even be OK for the forthcoming 20Mb which he was on the trial for. Nevertheless (and this is the impressive bit), he still went away to consult someone or something, and came back with the news that I was right, the SB3100 wasn’t up to 10Mb speed – he guessed that his one must have been a later series. He added that in ten years, he couldn’t remember anyone ever having asked for a cable modem upgrade before, so apologised for the way my request had been dealt with. Amazing. Give this man a rise. So a few days later, I have a new, tiny, Virgin Media-branded cable modem, and here’s what I’m getting. Not bad huh?