The Bright House Networks Promise
Over a year ago, Bright House Networks started telling people in Orlando that RoadRunner Lightning was coming. The promise with this Internet provider service was faster speed – up to 40 Mb downloads and up to 5 Mb uploads. I've used RoadRunner as my cable service for years and had already upgraded to RoadRunner Turbo – up to 20 Mb downloads and up to 2 Mb uploads. Quite honestly, I never expected to upgrade to Lightning.
My reasoning was pretty simple. Why pay more for a network upgrade when your overall speed is dependent upon other network providers to transmit content? Yes, RoadRunner may have a fast pipe for its customers, but that doesn't help a bit if you're trying to stream online from a constrained server elsewhere on the Internet.
Why I Got RoadRunner Lightning
As with most of my life, things didn't turn out quite the way I anticipated. With three services (Phone, Cable TV & Internet), my Bright House bill was killing me. I figured it was time to call and cancel the landline phone service. It's not that I wanted to give it up. Plenty of folks live just fine with their cell phone, but I still prefer having a landline and the number that goes with it. However, I didn't prefer it enough to keep paying the total of my bill.
After some games and number crunching that I still don't understand, the customer service rep found a way to meet the monthly bill that I was willing to pay without canceling my VOIP phone service. I had to upgrade to RoadRunner Lightning to save money.
Had I called and requested this on my own, I'd be paying even more. With the prospect of losing business, they found a way to give me more for less. I asked if this was a promotional price that would expire and was told that wasn't the case. The price I received would be my regular bill. Seemed good enough to me.
The Internet Speed Test
After having this for a month, my gut feeling is hit & miss. Sometimes it truly does feel like I'm downloading faster than using RoadRunner Turbo, but other times I can't see any difference. Gut feelings don't cut it, though. I put the network to the test using two different services – Bright House Network's internal speedtest and also SpeedTest.Net's service. Both were captured on video, so you can see what I saw. Take a look at the results:
Bright House Network Speed Test Results
Evaluating the Results
When running the test, I ensured that there was no other network traffic coming from my home. I didn't have any other computers on or additional web browsers or services generating traffic. This was as clean as I can get in a home environment.
The good news is that the download speeds are real. I expected good results on the Bright House Networks speedtest, as they control the bandwidth and it should be evenly distributed. By that, I mean they packets should reflect only the speed of the internal RoadRunner network and not be affected by a slower external network. What I didn't expect was to find the external speed tests to be just about as good as the internal network. It's still possible that some external force won't be able to keep up with the Lightning speed, but this was a pretty good result. As you can see in the chart below, it hasn't always been that good. In fact, it's been less than half the speed being marketed on a couple of occasions, and I fully expect to see the speed drop down on some occasions again.
Unfortunately, the upload speeds weren't even close to the expectations set for RoadRunner Lightning. I understand that there are a lot of factors that can interfere with network transmissions, but I had higher expectations for the internal network upload tests. As it stands, it didn't even crack the 1 Mb market. External testing was about half that speed. It may prove faster when testing at different times or conditions, but I don't expect significant changes. That's why the marketing is very careful to include “speeds up to” in the text. They can't promise to deliver 40 Mb down or 5 Mb up. The uploads started off very strong when I got the service, but it's just gotten worse over time.
The download speed delivers as close to the promise as one can realistically expect. That part of the service is great. Uploads, however, have steadily declined since I got the service. Here are the results from my previous tests with SpeedTest.net – click to expand:
If you want occasionally faster downloads, RoadRunner Lightning can occasionally deliver. Don't expect any shocking upload times, though. If Bright House Networks hadn't offered it to me as a way to save money, I wouldn't have ordered the service.
I received a comment from Chris at Bright House Networks offering to help with the performance issues cited in the speed tests here. Bright House performed some tests from their end, and then sent a couple of techs out to do more trouble-shooting. They found some noise on a coupler that was installed when I received my Lightning upgrade. The new Lightning cable modem doesn't support my VOIP phone service from Bright House, so the technician who installed it had to create a coupler for both of them to connect.
The gentlemen who came out today discovered some noise on the line that seems to emanate from that coupler. They replaced it and I'll continue to measure my bandwidth on the various speed test services.
Whichever way it works out, I have to say that I'm impressed with the service I received from Bright House Networks today. They reached out to help and everyone I spoke with was great. I'm really impressed by that effort.