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Alameda, CA

Modem ZTE 2XDSL 831

This is the second fusion modem to die on me. I called and complained about this type of modem. made a poor judgment and now the loyal customers are paying the price. I normally don't brag about issues like that, but because is one of my favorite ISP and I like the support guys, and I have been recommending them to all of our clients. But now I am reconsidering after I've recivd a call from Sonic customer support telling me there is nothing they can do.

The last newly ZTE ZXDSL modem was shipped 3 months ago, and last-week died on me.
Called Sonic support and they got me going again for few hours.
After 6 reset. So now i am left with 3 choices:

One: Buy my own modem
Two: Op-in for $6.00 Rental
Tree: Drop

Any thought you guys out there?


Santa Monica, CA
·Time Warner Cable
Modems die. Whether Sonic selected the right one and/or properly evaluated it, that's hard to say. Often such corporate choices are made based on product availability without the benefit of MTBF forecasts.

I would suggest you buy your own modem.
Then shop for a backup unit.

Unlike new Sonic customers, you have a choice.

Even if you are immune to the price increase ("modem rental"), owning a hot spare is still the superior choice, rather than waiting 24-96 hours for Sonic to decide and for you to receive the "free" replacement unit.

Sunnyvale, CA
reply to iabukhalaf
I would like to know based on what criteria you think that Sonic made a poor judgment with the ZTE modem ?

Consumer grade network equipment (regardless whether you are talking about dsl/cable modems, routers or wireless gear) has appallingly poor quality regardless of brand.

While yours is far from the first report to indicate a problem with a ZTE modem we also had posters in this forum indicate the ZTE worked better for them.

In my experience with DSL modems the main reason for erratic or poor performance, randomly dropped connections and early equipment death is heat. Despite the fact that most modems produce sufficient heat to get uncomfortably hot they generally do not contain any active cooling (fans). To make matters worse, the majority of dsl modems even fail to properly perform passive cooling by allowing sufficient airflow through the case (factors such as an "elegant" design and "compact" form factor are more important to the designers then longevity of the product).

When it comes to heat (universally the enemy number 1 to all electronics) the user however plays as important a role as the device manufacturer. Putting the DSL modem in direct sunlight is a big (but not necessarily obvious) mistake and so is placing the modem somewhere without or with insufficient airflow (all it takes is a single piece of paper laying on top of the dsl modem to prevent any release of the hot air inside).

I always make sure to inspect modem cases to see where are the actual openings that allow air to enter and leave the case. You would think that manufacturers would choose those openings in such a way to allow bottom-to-top airflow (hot air rises) through the inside of the case (going past the circuit board with its hot components) when the case is standing on its feet or is hung as designed on a wall mount. However with some modem cases I found it necessary to place them in a different orientation then intended by the manufacturer to ensure that all important bottom-to-top airflow through the modem.

In other situations I made sure to place the modem into an active air stream for even better cooling. This doesn't have to require additional expense, in some cases I simply put the dsl modem near a computers exhaust fan.

My current dsl modem (Comtrend Nexuslink for Sonic bonded Fusion) has a USB port and I use that to power a laptop fan under the modem. In this particular case I didn't wait to see if it too had heat related reliability issues, I added the cooling as a preventative measure.

Whether you choose to buy your own replacement modem or opt for the modem rental is totally up to you (I think both are reasonable options). However regardless of that choice I would recommend to look whether anything you did with regards to modem placement may have contributed to an early death by not providing sufficient airflow for cooling.
Got some spare cpu cycles ? Join Team Helix or Team Starfire!


Santa Rosa, CA

1 edit

1 recommendation

reply to iabukhalaf
i had some issues with that modem. sonic told me it had become clear to them that there had been a bad batch of modems produced and quickly replace mine, as it had a serial number that was know to be from the bad batch. the replacement has operated for nearly 2 years without issue.
how could sonic have known ahead of time there would be bad batch(es)?

leibold's advise is golden..(back in the early days sbc dsl i had several modems die,,,turned out it was because i had it setting on my heat/rf interference producing crt monitor....I also helped a neighbor with his bad satellite modems than kept dying...he always put them out of the way,,,in a sunny window... when moved to a cool shady spot, they had no more issues.)


Alameda, CA
reply to leibold
From working with ZTE for the last few years I can say its a basic modem and low grade product. And the proof is that Sonic no longer deploying ZTE's and now moving to Motorola's.

Now to answer you second comment.
Of course first we blame the consumer for the cheap China products.
So, It's not a consumer error or heat issue, The modem was placed in a cooling cabin in our server room and Its a controlled temp for the rest of the servers. We're using sonic as a backup dsl and we like sonic because of the customer support and we're supporting local business.

Thanks for your opinion.