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retiredcop96

join:2005-06-25
Rohnert Park, CA

[Speed Problem] Regular Drops in Speed or Loss of Connection

Hello;

Please bear with me as I have limited understanding of all the DSL-Broadband technical words/lingo/jargon. Rather than bore everyone here to tears, I'll spare the long unhappy history I've had with Earthlink since switching to them from Sonic. Feel free to review my posts from when I initially signed up with Earthlink last June. Briefly, I'm over 13,000 feet from the CO. Despite this, last June Earthlink promised me 3.0 service. After going through tech support hell, I was happy to settle for speeds that run fairly consistently between 1.5 and 1.9 mbps. It is more than twice the speed I was getting from Sonic at the time for far less money. I can and have been happy with this.

However, over the last couple of months, without any rhyme, reason or pattern and increasing frequency, I either lose my DSL connection entirely or it slows to a crawl (less than 300 kbps)I'm terrified to call/email/chat with Earthlink support, because my last experience, back during the initial setup process and shakedown, changed my download speed from an average of 1.7 Mbps to an unacceptable average of about 250 kbps. Somehow, Earthlink managed to get me back to the 1.7 range by changing the service to our other telephone line. My wife and daughter then put me on notice to leave well enough alone.

Before anyone asks, everything regarding my connection has been optimized and passed all the basic tweak tests here that I felt knowledgeable enough to handle; there is nothing near the router to interfere with the signal; The line from the outside box runs directly to the router first and all phones on that circuit have nice new filters. I'm aware that I'm at the fringe of the ability to get a decent DSL signal. I know that Covad is Earthlink's "surrogate" in my area (Zip 94928). What I'm wondering, just out of frustration, is anyone else in my general vicinity Rohnert Park)having similar problems? If so, I'd like to learn of any successful resolutions and how you accomplished it. Please, remember, I'm not a tech wiz, so go easy on me.

Thanks.

Gerry


Bill_MI
Bill In Michigan
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Hi Gerry, at 13,000 feet that's doing well. All else is speculation. Some thoughts...

In all technical honesty, individual phone filters are a creation of "gotta have self-install kits" thinking. They're better than nothing at best. All DSL providers seems to use them only because of competition.

When you're at the fringe, I highly suggest a whole-house DSL filter. Every DSL install gets better with this (some better than others) and it's as good as you can do. With this splitter, the bad affects from your house wiring are virtually gone - a big jump in stability for most people.

»EarthLink DSL FAQ »Can I see an example of a splitter install?

You'll find a whole-house splitter also called a "home run" in some places. Basically, the splitter sits at your incoming line (at the NID) and allows a clean DSL to go one way and the rest of the house another way.

Yeah... lingo is everything. But knowing the lingo isn't quite the same as knowing the technology.

You can take snapshots of your signal conditions. But it's only a snapshot so it's a good idea to get snapshots at good and bad times. If you have to watch just one thing, NOISE MARGIN DOWNSTREAM (or similar) is the key. You want it as high as possible and below 8-10db is often bad.

»EarthLink DSL FAQ »How to Get to the Logs, the Diagnostics Page, and the DSL Statistics Page - UHP
or...
»EarthLink DSL FAQ »HowTo obtain DSL Stats & Diagnostic Info from the ZyXEL P-660R-ELNK Router?

One common technique is to take these stats AT THE NID with no house wiring attached. Easy to do with the connectors there. This will show the difference a whole-house splitter can make.

»EarthLink DSL FAQ »How do I test at my NID? What does it look like?

Hope this helps. You can always post your stats here and get opinions.


retiredcop96

join:2005-06-25
Rohnert Park, CA
Bill;

Thanks for the quick response and ideas. If the problem wasn't so intermittent, it probably wouldn't be so frustrating. I fear it's going to be kind of like when your car makes a weird noise but when you take it to the shop, the noise suddenly stops and you feel like a moron only to have it start again as soon as you drive home.

When I was with Sonic, we discussed the whole idea of doing the "home-run" set up because I was averaging just about half of the 1.5 mbps service, much like I'm averaging half of the 3.0 mbps service with Earthlink. The difference was that I didn't experience the problems I have now. The techs at Sonic, including Dane himself, didn't think it would improve my situation a whole lot because of the distance factor. Also for what it's worth, whenever I have one of these situations where I start losing speed or my email won't work, I first check network status and it always seems that Covad is doing something or other in my area. Perhaps just a coincidence.

Anyway, I'll try some of your suggestions later during the week. I fear, if or until we get fiber optic service in my area, I may have to bite the bullet and go with Comcast (whom I despise, if for nothing else their constant commercial barrages) if I want more speed and stability, when it's time to re-term. My neighbor has had Comcast for about the same time I've had Earthlink and is pretty satisfied overall, plus he doesn't have to go through India for tech support. It's all local and they've treated him quite well. But i still have a few months left to go before I can deal with that. And yes, I know the proverbial grass isn't always greener on the other side of another fence and Comcast has their own set of issues.

Again, thanks for the assistance.

Gerry


Bill_MI
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2 edits
Gerry, your situation is not that abnormal here. When a line is pushed above its limits the intermittent operation you describe is the usual problem. In this regard it really doesn't resemble the car with the squeak. Chances are, reducing to slower speed will stabilize you if nothing else is done.

Why sometimes and not others? Noise is funny like that. One can run well for weeks then it gets nasty for two straight days. When one can correlate the noise source - great! But that's not always feasible.

The "home run" minimizes how much electrical noise the DSL line can pick up. House wiring can be one of the worst things to be on a DSL line - it's neither suited to coexist with DSL frequencies, nor high quality and is probably never installed with DSL in mind.

I realize putting a lot into a telephone line system isn't everyone's desire so I understand. Way back in the old days ALL DSL got the splitter - now it's an extra fee for "expert install" or some such. It's an option that I haven't personally looked into but may be available. The NID test is the golden substitute to see how good it can be.

Good luck and be sure and let us know how it goes.


retiredcop96

join:2005-06-25
Rohnert Park, CA
Bill;

I appreciate the "sage" advice. Any suggestions as to where I might be able to buy a splitter for a reasonable cost? I can do the work, one i have an idea what I'm supposed to be doing . I have heard and read of some people using the indoor splitter at the NID to accomplish this, with some success. It that possible or, as I'm guessing, it's better to do it with the properly designed equipment.

As this is more a nuisance, no that I have a clearer understanding of the problem, than an all out emergency, it going to be one of those "round tuit" tasks.

Gerry


Bill_MI
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1 edit
I got my splitter on eBay a few years ago. A quick search finds a few like mine (search for "Siecor DSL" or "SPS-H70-SR1").

Just once I'd like to see a DSL provider actually supply them on request but liability would probably prevent that from ever happening. (Any DSL provider CEOs listening?)


Doctor Olds
I Need A Remedy For What's Ailing Me.
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join:2001-04-19
1970 442 W30
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reply to retiredcop96


Bill_MI
Bill In Michigan
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I saw that... damn good price. I might get an extra one.

(Is he selling Moby Dick? LOL)


retiredcop96

join:2005-06-25
Rohnert Park, CA
Hey Guys;

Thanks for all the information and the eBay link. I think I've finally reached the acceptance stage that I'm basically in "No Man's Land" when it comes to DSL despite the flowery promises of certain providers.

Do you think the splitter would really make a noticeable difference, if not in speed then at least a stable and reliable connection?

For now it's a low priority as we're saving for a trip to Las Vegas for our 28th Anniversary (29 years together)at the end of May. My spouse actually wants to get tickets for Monty Python's "Spamalot" which opens next month at the new Wynn hotel.

After that, it will be time to re-term and I'm not sure if I'll stay with DSL and deal with the distance situation as well as a new provider or bite the bullet and go to Comcast. It will all depend on who is offering what for best price and best service at the time.

Again, thanks for the ideas and the patience.


Doctor Olds
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1 edit
said by retiredcop96:

Do you think the splitter would really make a noticeable difference, if not in speed then at least a stable and reliable connection?
In the majority of cases YES to both. It however is not determinable until after performing the NID test first. It only takes under ~30 minutes, but you may need to purchase (if you don't already have) either a long twisted pair (UTP) telephone cable or a long ethernet cable (RJ45) to run the test with or use (if you have available) a handy laptop at the NID with existing short cables and the DSL modem.

Simply put:

You reset your modem while at its normal current inside location and then save (copy/paste) those fresh stats from your current setup into a text file.

The important numbers to look at are:

• Downstream Sync Rate (or Bit Rate)
• Downstream Noise Ratio (SNR Signal to Noise Margin)
• Downstream Attenuation
• Downstream Output Power
• Downstream Attain Rate (Attainable Rate)
• Downstream Capacity Occupation

Note: Not all modems supply all the stats listed above. Just post what you have.

Now you either take the modem outside and hook it to the NID test jack or hook up the long telephone line out a window down to the NID test jack and then while using either long/short cable set (Set A = long ethernet/short telephone or Set B = short ethernet/long telephone cable) and/or a available laptop get new fresh DSL Stats since you are temporarily hooked up directly to the NID. Place those new numbers into the text file and then post both results from the new text file (copy/paste just the contents) here in the forum for us to decipher the numbers.

I've seen it drop noise by 25% to 80% (and in some cases only 1% or 2% which means no change), but there is no way to know either way without going out and physically testing at the NID in one way or the other as described above.

How do I test at my NID? What does it look like?

Regards,

Doctor Olds
--
What’s the point of owning a supercar if you can’t scare yourself stupid from time to time?


Bill_MI
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reply to retiredcop96
said by retiredcop96:

Do you think the splitter would really make a noticeable difference, if not in speed then at least a stable and reliable connection?
Absolutely. It's never worse. As we both mentioned, testing at the NID gives you a look at what a splitter would do.


retiredcop96

join:2005-06-25
Rohnert Park, CA
Well, I guess to sum up,there's something my grandfather used to say in Yiddish for situations such as this; "Well, it couldn't hurt."

Is there any advantage to the Siecor Splitter, you showed, Doctor Olds, and an Opto-Tech DSL POTS Splitter DSL600-PS which fits in the NID I found on eBay?

»cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi···d=1&rd=1

Both cost about $24.00, with shipping, on eBay. It's cheap enough and there's very a little labor involved, so what the heck.

Installation shouldn't be a problem; the telephone jack that the modem is plugged into is on the family room wall which is the back wall of the garage and the holes are already pre-drilled. It's about 35 feet to the NID.

What type of wire would be the best to use than won't break the bank? I'm a bit deficient in the principles/theories regarding what gauge wire to use as well as type CAT 4, CAT 5, etc.

Again, I appreciate your patience. My mind's a bit scrambled at the moment as it's time for another 6 month check with my oncologist at UCSF Med Center. About 18 months ago, I had a new laproscopic operation done on my left kidney where they freeze the tumor (cryoablation). Funny story, the radiologists failed to spot the tumor on 4 other CT scans going back to 1999. But, as my doctor said, at least we know is a slow growth tumor. Any, I'm in remission, didn't need chemo or radiation. I don't worry much about it until it gets to be check up time. This time I know the CT results ahead of time and I'm doing good.

Anyway, sorry to go OT and bore you but at 3:02 AM one's mind wanders a bit. Let me know which way, if any, is the better way to proceed. I'm tired of my wife complaining about the connection.

Gerry


Doctor Olds
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1 edit
I highly suggest the Siecor brand or Corning brand of External POTS Splitters as they also have surge/spike protection with fuses (see image) and twice the filtering electronics inside than a inline filter. I'm not familiar with the Opto-Tech #DSL600-PS Splitter at all (first time seeing it after having DSL for 7+ Years ) and it looks just like a filter in disguise to me since it appears to be similar in size. Filters are nearly useless in comparison to a true Splitter.

As to the wire to use, just the standard CAT5 would be fine and is available in bulk at many locations.

Regards,

Doctor Olds
--
What’s the point of owning a supercar if you can’t scare yourself stupid from time to time?


retiredcop96

join:2005-06-25
Rohnert Park, CA
Well, then, I guess that should do it. Now, if it doesn't decide to make up for lost time and rain for the next 40 days and 40 nights.

Have a good weekend. We're going to make the most of the visit to the oncologist and spend the night before in the City By the Bay. We're going to celebrate Valentine's Day a bit early and avoid the rush.

Unless I run into problems, I'll probably be back when it comes time to re-term in June. At the risk of being repetitive and redundant, thanks again for the the patient detailed help.

Gerry


Doctor Olds
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Keep us informed on what you find with the DSL Stats from the NID test results as that really should be done as soon as possible. Weather permitting of course.

Regards,

Doctor Olds
--
What’s the point of owning a supercar if you can’t scare yourself stupid from time to time?


sashwa
Premium,Mod
join:2001-01-29
Alcatraz
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reply to retiredcop96
[OT]Rain has started out here in the Bay Area and is suppose to go thru Saturday.

Running off to hide for going OT.


Bill_MI
Bill In Michigan
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join:2001-01-03
Royal Oak, MI
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reply to retiredcop96
You should find CAT5 but if you see a good deal on CAT3, it's fine for DSL. CAT5E, CAT6, CAT7 (was there CAT4?) are all good - no second guessing for any of those. Good Luck!


retiredcop96

join:2005-06-25
Rohnert Park, CA

1 recommendation

Okay, it's bought and paid for.

I have basic how to do it skills but like learning some of the principles just to understand how things tick, so to speak. Could one of you give me a quick explanation as to what the various wire categories mean and how the gauge of the wire fits into the whole picture?

Much obliged.

Gerry


Bill_MI
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2 edits
Gerry, the specifications of these cables are targeted at performance WAY beyond DSL frequencies. Basically, DSL will see virtually no difference between CAT3 and CAT6.

DSL operates to 1MHz.
CAT3 is rated to 16MHz, 16 times DSL.
CAT6 is rated to 250MHz, 250 times DSL.

They are all solid 24AWG unshielded twisted pairs (UTP).

These "Category" cables are targeted at networking and relatively recent (decades). Someone from the phone company can verify but they use their own cable specifications which to a greater extent specifies lifetime under various weathering conditions. In their own evolution, the phone company has used both 24AWG and 26AWG (26 is smaller) wire so you'll see charts regarding DSL as a result of this.

Yes, 26AWG wire has more copper loss (electrical resistance absorbing power) as well as a generally smaller distance between the wires raising capacitance per foot. Both these makes 26AWG worse at higher DSL frequencies. It cannot run as long a length. Most people have no idea what the phone company uses in their particular area, but a phone tech may be able to tell you.

I haven't read the specs but I don't think you want to run ANY CAT cable outside for a long run. It's amazing what rain, sunlight and wind will do to it in just a few years.

You'll also run into "plenum" cable that's very expensive. Unless you're a business in Chicago and have to be inspected for fire safety, don't go there.

In a nutshell, all these cables are *TWISTED PAIR*. That's a key. Twisting causes both wires to receive identical noise so they "balance" and noise can be canceled out of them. Much older house wiring is NOT twisted (or controlled for other things) and makes a huge difference for DSL by becoming noise antennas. This is the core of house wiring problems for DSL.


retiredcop96

join:2005-06-25
Rohnert Park, CA
Thanks very much Bill. As I mentioned I lucked out with where we finally settled on our computer location. I'll have well under a 50' run of wire(depending on how fancy I get)from the splitter to the the indoor connection plate(yes, I know, not exactly a technical term). The only problem will be working my way around all the "valuable junk" that has been accumulating in the garage in anticipation of a planned spring time garage sale (or a large load to Goodwill if it doesn't sell). IRC, Home Depot has 50' rolls of both CAT3 and CAT5.

This will beat the heck out of my other project on hold; laying down a laminate floor through about half the house. Of course before the floor, comes the painting and before that, moving furniture. But, I'm going to break it down to smaller chunks and it should be less daunting. Funny how easy these things seemed to be to accomplish 20 years ago.

Thanks for all the advice and explanations. This should be one of the easier home improvement chores I have to tackle.

Take care;

Gerry


retiredcop96

join:2005-06-25
Rohnert Park, CA
Hello;

Well, my new $12.00 Siecor Outdoor POTS Splitter arrived today. I have one of the new NIDs but I'm getting a little confused trying to figure out which is right set of the various installation pictures, from Bill's previously posted link (»EarthLink DSL FAQ »Can I see an example of a splitter install?)to use, if any.

Thanks again.

Gerry


Bill_MI
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2 edits
Gerry, I see the first link has broken images. Do the others look like your NID?

Some thoughts...

NIDs always have a customer and telco side. The telco side usually needs a special tool to get into.

My NID customer side is on the left and has 4 line positions. Ones pictured are the opposite.

Find the telephone line feeding the house. Follow it back to the NID terminals. This line and those terminals is where all the work is done.

The splitter ends up inserted in this line - NID to splitter "NETWORK" and house to splitter "VOICE". The remaining "DATA" feeds your DSL homerun line.

I hope your splitter uses those names for the terminals. If not, what are they?

I've seen telco-side splitter installs but that's really not proper convention.

I put my splitter immediately inside the house, rather than outside.

See the little plug/jack in the NID associated with the line you're dealing with? When you unplug this, you're holding the house feed in your hand and the jack looking at you is the feed from the telephone line. This is the jack where a NID test is done while the house is disconnected. I hope this makes sense. Unplug while you work on the customer terminals - the line will be dead when you unplug.

Did I help or hurt the confusion?


retiredcop96

join:2005-06-25
Rohnert Park, CA
Believe it or not, once I went outside and opened the NID, it all made sense. Once I get the wire, move some the the accumulated cr*p out of the way, it should go very smoothly.

Thanks for the help once again.

Gerry


retiredcop96

join:2005-06-25
Rohnert Park, CA
Hello All;

Well, before I could install the splitter, I began having more problems getting connected at all. The little green DSL signal led on the ZyXEL modem kept going off for a period of time then on, then off, well you get the picture. I contacted Earthlink support during a period where I was able to connect and the support person issued a "Expedited" request for assistance. In my case, the local vendor is Covad. I asked for a face to face meeting to discuss my situation which, which not the smoothest, was still fairly reliable up until about 2 months ago. As of today, I am unable to get a DSL connection at all. I disconnected every device on this phone line just to make sure a filter or something else might be causing this sudden change from an unreliable connection to none at all. Obviously, that was not the cause. I also connected the ZyXEL modem at the NID using my laptop without getting any DSL signal at all. I am fairly certain I properly reset it from bridge to pppoe mode before trying to connect as it seemed the logical thing to do since I wasn't going through my Linksys router. I did set it back to bridge after my fruitless test.

I feel 24 hours should be sufficient to get some type of response back to my request for tech support, even if it is to say "we're trying to track down the problem" or am I expecting too much from Earthlink?

When I contact tech support next, either in face to face or on the phone, are there any particular questions I should ask so I don't get the ole "Shuffle Off To Buffalo" run-around? Could this be as simple a problem as having a failing modem?

Anyway, I wrote support, via dial-up and if I don't have any response by around noon tomorrow, I'll try phone support when I'll be able to devote the time. I'll also be in a better frame of mind.

Thanks for listening, all your advice and assistance.

Gerry


Doctor Olds
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1970 442 W30
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said by retiredcop96:

Well, before I could install the splitter, I began having more problems getting connected at all. The little green DSL signal led on the ZyXEL modem kept going off for a period of time then on, then off, well you get the picture. I contacted Earthlink support during a period where I was able to connect and the support person issued a "Expedited" request for assistance. In my case, the local vendor is Covad. I asked for a face to face meeting to discuss my situation which, which not the smoothest, was still fairly reliable up until about 2 months ago. As of today, I am unable to get a DSL connection at all.
Hop over to the Covad Direct Forum and have them look at your line from their end. Hook up your modem so they can test trying to reach it remotely. No, that doesn't mean they can control it or see it's settings, it just means they can see it is present and able to sync or not.

Yes, it is possible the Modem is bad, but normally they hard fail and do not power up at all which is not what you modem is doing. I'd say the modem is probably still good.

Regards,

Doctor Olds
--
What’s the point of owning a supercar if you can’t scare yourself stupid from time to time?


Bill_MI
Bill In Michigan
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reply to retiredcop96
Gerry,

Doc's idea is a good one. Those Covad guys have been very helpful to me in the past.

It's uncertain if something else happened to your line. The NID test, with house wiring disconnected, should represent the best you can do. I just hope you're not being fooled by a bad cable or DSL has been removed from the line during this process.

Let us know how it goes.


retiredcop96

join:2005-06-25
Rohnert Park, CA
The following morning, my connection was back up and running. Thus far, no broken connections and while the download speed is now averaging between 1.0 and 1.2 Mbps, it has been very consistent. Once the rain stops and I get the splitter installed, I'll see how things run for a bit before contacting Covad direct per Doc's suggestion.

Again, I appreciate your patience and all your assistance.

Gerry