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Inconsistent, unreliable internet service (Help needed)

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I thought this might net a better response than calling in, as that didn't do much last night (did nothing in the end).

I have the 30/3 Mb internet only package in the Columbus, OH area, except that I'm getting anywhere from ~1Mb/~3.3 to the full 30/3. I had a random loss the other day (Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013) early in the morning (8ish if I remember), and since then have had no reliable speeds, with many page dropouts.

Using, hopping around Ohio based test sites (Cinci gives the lowest ping of around 13-15 ms).

Looking at my DS channels, I have two that are showing a few uncorrectables. (I'll try to post some pictures, or data here)

This is what I woke up with this morning after doing a test. Sorry for the poor formatting. Basically DS channels 2 and 5 aren't doing so well, and 5 is below the 33dB SNR that I have noticed seems to be the spec. US has zero issues, and has been running very well since day one.

DCID Freq Power SNR Modulation Octets Correcteds Uncorrectables
Downstream 1 12 627.00 MHz 0.94 dBmV 37.09 dB 256QAM 431828173 235 0
Downstream 2 9 609.00 MHz 3.49 dBmV 32.77 dB 256QAM 336855387 14859634 18747729
Downstream 3 10 615.00 MHz 3.22 dBmV 35.60 dB 256QAM 318716195 15 0
Downstream 4 11 621.00 MHz 1.95 dBmV 37.09 dB 256QAM 313727757 3341 0
Downstream 5 13 603.00 MHz ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
Downstream 6 14 597.00 MHz 3.73 dBmV 38.98 dB 256QAM 271603551 2 0
Downstream 7 15 591.00 MHz 4.06 dBmV 38.26 dB 256QAM 296294251 0 0
Downstream 8 16 585.00 MHz 4.03 dBmV 38.26 dB 256QAM 284246584 0 0

The uncorrectables tend to increase after a speed test. I'm also getting MDD Timeout notices and such in the logs. The tech I spoke to last night blamed my modem (An Arris CM820A) which is about 7 months old, and has performed flawlessly until the past few days. The only thing to happen outside in the past few days has been the snow melting, which makes me wonder if something physical is not quite sealed. I had 3 bad channels prior to the reset, and now two, but the overall errors I get now are much higher (maybe 200k errors total before, in several days, vs a few million overnight).

The errors listed were all reset last night during the call to WOW support. Ultimately it was suggested I lease a modem (which won't help with a noisy line if I remember).

I attached the screenshots of the status and log screens of my modem from last night and this morning. I also ran PingPlotter last night, keeping a thousand entries about pinging Google for a couple hours last night. Ping was slightly varied, but I was getting 30-40% packet loss according to the program, which I think is a bit high. I had tried the standard CMD ping -t, and that was showing a bit better swing of between 3 and 40% packet loss, averaging out to be about 10% (this was before the reset).

Also, when doing a speedtest, it will slow way, way down, to say 4 Mb, and then shoot up almost instantly to 20ish, then down to 11 and such. Highly inconsistent.

To finally sum this up, does anyone have any suggestions about this. I'm not much of a modem guy, but this does not look like the earmarks of a failing or defective modem, but of a noisy line. Any help here is appreciated.


Line issue. The signals should be roughly equal across all downstream channels. Yours are not. Plus the SNR on the channel with all the errors is pretty low. You really want 30+ at the least, preferably 32 or higher 29 is too low. Something is wrong with that frequency, and give there is one other with higher errors than the rest it would most likely be a line issue. It could be an issue at the plant, but that's unlikely as a ton of people would be complaining.

Maybe Dan can verify a plant issue or not, but more than likely its a one issue. You would need a tech out. If you don't have the protection plan, call order it, hang up. Call back say you want a tech out, get tech out, hopefully get issue fixed, wait a few days of good service, and cancel the protection plan.


Thanks for the suggestion, I'll look into that. One thing that surprises me is that the original person who came to set up the service claimed they ran a new line from pole to modem (his words).

I never bothered to confirm until late last night, and the reality is the line going to the modem is connected to some crusty line in the house (painted over, etc.) that runs directly alongside a 120v line (not in a conduit, but open, and sitting on the block wall in the basement).

I'm wondering if that could be the issue, but to suddenly crop up with the snow that melted doesn't make me think so. Still, a visit is probably more in order, and if Dan can confirm something as well, that will be all the more helpful.


If its in the house you can just replace it your self. Just to test, go to where the cable comes in the house, hook up the modem right to that line before any splitters, see what signal is like there.


Utica, MI
reply to UnexplodeCow
One crummy channel out of 8 really shouldn't be that big of a deal with channel bonding. I doubt replacing the indoor coax cable will do anything since you can see that the adjacent frequencies are fine. If anything, I'd add a splitter so that your downstream power drops to 0 and your upstream power increases to above 42 db. But even this will likely do nothing at all. Seems to be the case that WOW is way oversold all over the place. My guess is that you will be able to correlate crummy service to the time of day... the time of day when the most customers are potentially using their cable modem and competing for limited back haul.

Are you using a nat router?

One bad channel absolutely can cause issues, and even more so can be a sign of other issues. Add in the fact he says the cable looks old and abused backs up a cabling issue too.

Just try hooking the modem up to the main line before and splitters for tv and see what happens.


reply to UnexplodeCow
There is no specific time when it's crummy. It happens at any given time, and I've tested late at night (2-4 in the morning), 8 AM, 12 Noon, 4PM, 7, 8, and 10PM, between the weekend and this week. It's one definitely bad channel, and another isn't looking too healthy, either.

The only splitter installed is an RFI trap on the outside of the house, at the box (which has dirt and spider nests in it). The trap in question looks a bit oxidized.

Basically it comes off the pole to the RFI trap, to inside the house, hits a single straight-through connector (not a splitter, just a butt connector), and on to the modem. We don't have cable TV here (pointless because I stream, and rely on internet for that), so there's no need for a splitter. I might still have a 10dB tap sitting around to cut down signal.

I suppose I could try putting the modem outside briefly (run an extension cord and long ethernet line), and see if that will make any difference in determining where the noise is coming from, but after seeing the cable box outside (at house, not at the pole) I'm inclined to think it's more outside the house than in.


reply to UnexplodeCow

Re: Inconsistent, unreliable internet service UPDATED

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An update, and a close for this issue.

I did manage to request a tech to come out and take a look at things, as I was getting a few million errors a day on one channel, each time the snow melted here. The tech found the reason, which the picture is of. Apparently a tree was rubbing against the line, and had rubbed through the outer insulation, ground braid, inner insulation, and partially through the center wire.

I have to admit that I'm pretty happy my modem was able to work with that at all. SNR is up to around 38-39 on all channels, no errors, with new cable from the pole to the house. I can't fault the tech for quickly finding the trouble spot and fixing it quickly. Speeds are back up to a steady 30.8M down and 3.3 up, so a small increase over what I already had.