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koitsu
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-16
Mountain View, CA
kudos:23

2 recommendations

reply to koitsu

Re: What to do about 11 weeks of node/network problems?

Traction indeed. Today has been an absolutely amazing (and insane) day.

A few hours after my above post, my connection went down. Within about 5 minutes I saw a Comcast maintenance tech (network/line; saw the bucket truck) walking around outside. He had an analyser wired to what appeared to be a cable with an RF modulator (or something) on the end of it. I asked if he was looking for interference pertaining to 747/753MHz, and he said he was looking for general interference issues. So I began telling him my situation, as well as the phone call I got earlier that morning. Once I gave him details he wanted to see the "hub" behind our building so I showed him that.

While he was looking at that, suddenly a 2nd tech appeared -- the same guy out of Menlo Park who had been handling my issue (who I hadn't heard from in 5 weeks). Turns out the damage to his hip was a little more severe than originally thought so it took him longer to recover. I'm glad he's doing okay now.

They both ended up climbing poles and doing *tons* of analysis, both at our line amp as well as at the "hub" behind our building. I'd say 70% of what was being said I didn't understand (I particularly laughed at a term they used: "Dairy Queening"). What I could make out is that they were looking for interference and taking level readings up at the pole / hub, as well as at the line amp, then comparing them between locations (behind our building vs. the line amp about 300 feet away). I watched both techs work the majority of the time, I guess because I was partially concerned for their safety (see bottom of post) and partially interested in the tech bits.

I think they were here for 2 of 3 hours. All I was able to discern from the many hours of work was that they had found some loosened ends near some hubs/splitters (not sure which) near the line amp, and also saw some sub-par signal level within the line amp itself (they opened it up) -- to address the former they re-tighten some brackets/clamps, and to address the latter they replaced what they referred to as "pads". I asked to see one of the latter, and they just looked like basic circuits; little copper coil on a small PCB. I'm guessing they're just line attenuators of some kind. One of the techs explained them to me but it was way over my head (lots of EE).

However, despite all their work, they still were not able to reproduce the crummy SNR that I've been reporting. They both believe me (especially given all the data I have), but they need to see it when it's happening.

More interestingly: at about the 70% mark, a third Comcast employee showed up. I didn't even see him until I went to check on the existing two techs. The fellow turned out to be the "Network Engineering Supervisor" for my region (I have his card so that's his official title) and was super friendly. He had gotten a call from the previous guy I spoke to that morning, and was in the area at the time + decided to come see things himself. He oversaw what was going on and took quite a few mental notes as far as what the conditions of everything was, mainly pertaining to the numbers (signal levels I believe) that the techs were reading off.

After all the adjustments/etc., my cable modem chose to sync up using 747MHz (we all were hoping for 753MHz, but even after 7-8 reboots it wouldn't pick it; just luck of the draw). 747MHz showed an SNR of 36/37dB -- that's about 4-5dB better than before. It's been like that for about an hour. That's better than how it's historically been, yes, but the supervisor and I both agree that we should let things sit because it's just too soon to tell if it's fixed.

I have numbers for the manager I spoke with this morning, the aforementioned supervisor, and (finally) the network tech who has been handling this issue. So I definitely have escalation points going forward, and will be keeping in direct communication with the NE supervisor for my area. Just gotta keep an eye on things and see if it's looking better. If it's not, we have some other choices/paths available to us, but we don't want to jump the gun.

Also, a footnote comment for you maintenance techs: you guys are truly incredible. I've never seen someone actually climb a 30-foot ladder, at a 16-17 degree angle, plus have to lean another 4-5 degrees, just to get to a line amp. And in drizzle to boot. Plus dropping their tools (multiple times, hehe ). Just absolutely amazing. You guys have my utmost respect for doing what you do -- I hope you get at least a little bit of happiness knowing there's at least 1 customer who really does appreciate the pains and efforts you go through during the course of your jobs.
--
Making life hard for others since 1977.
I speak for myself and not my employer/affiliates of my employer.


pflog
Bueller? Bueller?
Premium,MVM
join:2001-09-01
El Dorado Hills, CA
kudos:3
Awesome! Hope it holds up for you. Sounds like you have a good bunch of folks working in your area and it's great to have contacts for the future.

My business escalations person I wound up working with on a line issue a couple of years ago was terrific. She unfortunately moved on to a different position, but she really helped to drive resolutions to my issues. And in my particular case, the line tech also had to sit outside with a meter near the ped for 2-3 hours in the rain It was pure dedication!

Fingers crossed for you!
--
"Women. Can't live with 'em, pass the beer nuts." -Norm

JoelC707
Premium
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL
kudos:5
reply to koitsu
said by koitsu:

That's better than how it's historically been, yes, but the supervisor and I both agree that we should let things sit because it's just too soon to tell if it's fixed.

No matter what the field is, intermittent issues are a PITA to diagnose and fix. At this point I would definitely let things sit and see how things progress. Since you weren't able to get it to sync on the culprit frequency, you don't yet know if it's fixed and any further "tinkering" could basically "re-break" things if it's truly fixed right now. Only time will tell but I might suggest occasionally rebooting the modem and see if you can catch 753 to check that one too.


koitsu
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-16
Mountain View, CA
kudos:23
Yeah, that's the plan, Joel. I plan on sticking with 747 for the time being (will let the NE supervisor and the maint tech know how things look after 24 hours), then after some time (maybe a week?), reboot it and see if I can get 753 and keep an eye on that for a while. It's a good thing I wrote my polling/logging script, saves me a bundle of trouble.
--
Making life hard for others since 1977.
I speak for myself and not my employer/affiliates of my employer.