Saturday, August 13, 2016

My not-so-fun and fruitless Friday with Mediacomby Computer Magazine

Published on August 12, 2016
Christopher Swearingin
Editor-in-Chief at

Well, Mediacom (a cable company and ISP serving many U.S. locations, but in my case Springfield, Missouri) came this afternoon and “upgraded” my home to their “xtreme” package. They installed a Hitron CGNVM-2559 cable modem/router and took out my old one (I’ve been with Mediacom for over 4 years now.) They shipped the new modem/router and TiVO to me a few days ago. I staged it all, hooked it up, but awaited their tech to “finish” the install today.

Mediacom Xtream package containing TiVO and Hitron Cable modem/router
Mediacom “Xtream” package I received a few days ago containing TiVO and and soon-to-be sabotaged Hitron Cable modem/router

Funny thing was before the tech got here I had complete access to the admin interface of the modem/router, I changed it to to match my LAN, etc, but now that he’s gone, I go to the 192.168.x.1 admin interface, and it redirects – TO THEM. To a ridiculously limited config page of theirs (NOT the router/modems). So, all of a sudden, no access to my local admin interface. I call them, they have no idea what I’m talking about. Two hours later, FINALLY get someone who does, but they say tough, you are out of luck. NICE. So, Mediacom, you get an F- for that!!!!! VERY suspicious, having to go through them, log in to their servers to access your own edge router, and then limiting almost ALL of your configuration abilities from you (no way to change your LAN’s IP, thankfully I had already done that, no way to set your custom DNS servers, check your access logs or MAC addresses that have been assigned except in a round about way I suppose, no way to set reservations – and now I’m getting IP address conflicts popping up all over the place on systems – on and on and on!!!! Nothing!)

Mediacom disabled HITRON CGNVM-2559 cable modem/router
Mediacom crippled HITRON CGNVM-2559 cable modem/router that I received a few days ago. They only cripple it AFTER they come to your location to “install” it.

8:38 PM – Oh, and now an update – I’ve been offline for hours. I can’t get hold of anyone to come back, probably not for days or weeks, and of course, I have NO way to check why this modem won’t maintain block-sync, can’t check the decibels, nothing – because they took away their customers admin interface to their own cable modem, let alone to the router side!!!!

What’s even worse, more inexpiable, and simply inexcusable, (and probably due to some VP in corporate who has a major control obsession or is fully NSA-inspired), is that now with the modem unable to sync with their network, my ENTIRE LAN is down! You know, all the parts that have NOTHING to do with being connected to the internet? The part where your PC talks to your NAS, or you try and look at your IP cam you have plugged in the baby’s room? I’ve never seen anything like this, it’s obscene to do this to a customer, what kind of craziness allowed this whole plan to get rolled out?

What happens now, apparently with the Mediacom XTreme “upgrade” (and boy do I use that term tongue-in-cheek) is that with the modem/router unable to connect to THEM, Mediacom, it disables ALL local traffic across the router as well, – meaning if you have no internet, by golly, we aren’t going to let you have a LAN either! If we don’t have control of every single packet going across your wires at any particular moment, you are screwed buddy, so suck on that! I guess that’s their new corporate philosophy, but wow! And how suspicious is all of this? What, if you can’t see every single thing going on in my home, on my own local network, you won’t let ANYTHING pass, you are going to sabotage me utterly? And you let someone roll this out to your customers? Really???

You know how in the past if your internet was to go down, your devices would still be on the WiFi, you’d still be able to print from your laptop to a network printer, etc? Well, nope, not with Mediacom and their “XTreme” service! By the internet being down, the router does NOT still act as a local switch/router, like you would expect, heck no, the WiFi is gone, and even on my Ethernet cabled LAN, NOTHING can talk to anything else, because this intentionally disabled and sabotaged Mediacom Hitron router is at the center of it!

What kind of control freak at Mediacom decided that if the internet is down “well, we aren’t going to let them have anything, NOTHING, they are screwed without us, they can’t print, we won’t let any computer talk to any other, we’ll even disable their WiFi. And the funniest part – we won’t even let them access the modem/router themselves to diagnose it or fix it!!!! So they will be TOTALLY dependent on us, and then we can take a week or two to get around to coming back to fix it. It will be great. We’ll all have a laugh while our customers are stuck!!!! Yes, that’s the plan, let’s implement that!!!!”

Mediacom in Springfield, MO - We Pre-break your Cable Modem/Router so you can't ever mess it up yourself. We call that XTreme! What do you call it?
Mediacom in Springfield, MO – We Pre-break your Cable Modem/Router so you can’t ever mess it up yourself. We call that XTreme! What do you call it?

Ok, I’ll have more to say when I calm down, and write a more thorough article about my awful wasted Friday with Mediacom and the un-checked power of monopolies who leave their customers VERY dissatisfied. Since my ENTIRE life is on the Net, from my websites, businesses and online MSU college courses, to most of my personal life, well, suffice it to say it seems my “upgrade” means I won’t be on the net much probably for the next couple of weeks until they can get someone else back out here, but when I can, trust I’ll have plenty to say about all of this.

You might have thought other Cable companies were control freaks, but we have them beat to the “XTREME!”

11:07 PM – Well, I scrapped their Hitron, how incredibly infuriating to leave me with a cable modem/router that isn’t syncing and they have intentionally left me no ability to administer it or diagnose, nor anyone at their support line who has a clue or can get someone dispatched without me being down for it looks like a week and a half, I think they scheduled someone for the 20th. So here today I have an “upgrade” to my service, they walk away leaving me handicapped, and crippled, and I’m suppose to just stay off the internet for over a week??? Crazy!!!

So, I had to revert back to my own old Docsis 2.0 cable modem, activated it myself (you know, my big mistake was not doing the other myself and letting their tech come “help”, and disable my access) and daisy chained my old DD-WRT loaded Linksys WRT54GS. I love DD-WRT as an open-source cheap router firmware replacement, but recall I had taken this particular one out of the chain a few years ago because the Wi-Fi lost it’s ability to transmit (I don’t know, it can still receive, just no transmission, I’ve checked the antennas, after that I lost interest and now it has an inch of dust on it, luckily I still had it laying around).

ANYTHING is better than having someone else’s equipment on your premises that is at the core and edge of your network that you basically have no access to, let alone the type of functionally you’d expect in the cheapest of home routers from 10 years ago or more (I remember my first non-Cisco, non-home made Linux, home router – i think it was a netgear, 20 years ago that was telnet and command line only, no fancy web interfaces back then, no it was the home users IOS solution. Anyways, you could still set reservations, etc. etc.).

So, with this old equipment now in place, docsis 2.0, I lost a third of my speed (i was up near 90+ MB for a brief shining moment, now I’m back down to like 27, and no WiFi, at the moment until i find something else to chain on here, but in a few days I’ll just go buy something decent, a Nighthawk or some such, and then chain my IPCop box or my pfSense box back into the mix.

Anywho, more later, this is just kind of a running journal of this tribulation and disappointment, expect a fully organized and sourced article, with this ordeal as it’s inspiration, soon on Mediacom, you deserve the attention, and since you want me down for a week and a half, you are giving me plenty of time to ruminate over it!

Chris Swearinign, Editor-in-Chief Computer Magazine (


My original running rant on this is on my page on Linkedin and make sure to Join me on there at

Honorable mention does go to their Tech Rep “Sabrina.” She was the one who finally gave me the answer “tough”, but not in those words, she was much more pleasant and explanatory than that. She was very patient with me, after a couple of hours of getting reps who didn’t seem to understand what I was telling them, including a long chat with their online support where the rep was just absolutely clueless (I’ll have to post the screen shots of that conversation, rather humorously disappointing but illustrative of the woeful tech knowledge of the “tech support” reps today.) However, Sabrina immediately knew what I was frustrated with, and was patient with me since I started out pretty incensed with her. I’ve been in the IT field since ’86, but in the early to mid ’90’s I worked for AST. Now, real tech vets will remember that AST was the Dell computer of their day (yes, Dell was around back then, but AST was the big boy on the block…though they didn’t stay that way for a reason.) I worked phone tech support out of their call center in Ft. Worth, TX (the Bluemound facility, if this strikes a bell with anyone.) Unfortunately, as the company faced harsh competition their quality fell, and they would ship computers dead out of the box, people bought them at Walmart’s, well, everywhere. The hold times were up to two hours to reach me, and you can bet people were pissed by the time they got hold of me as a tech support rep when they had bought a PC dead out of the box then had to wait that long to get any help. So, I was use to a series of four letter words that would begin the conversation. For a minute I forgot what it was like, but Sabrina’s patience helped me remember. A company as large as Mediacom is probably too big to appreciate a rare gem of an employee though, sad reality of corporate America, one of the reasons I moved on from AST, and they failed within a year and sold assets off in part to Samsung, as I recall.