DSL installation explained from start to finish
by 01:05AM Monday Jun 26 2000
Yes. I am the guy you talk to when you call to find out what is happening with your DSL installation. I will detail the DSL process so that you can understand what happens and what problems can occur. These are my own experiences with the process and they will likely vary for other people in the field.
Some terminology is probably not used correctly and some words are probably not inclusive enough. If you want to nitpick you will probably find a lot of things to nitpick aboutE
There are three stages that I will cover. Ordering, Provisioning and Installation.
You start off by ordering the service from us. We are your ISP and we start and monitor the process but we don’t have much to do with it until it is finished. We take your name and address and run it through a pre-qualification database to see if you are eligible for service.
The pre-qualification guarantees nothing except that someone thinks your central office has DSLAMs installed that may not be too far away from your location. There is no way to test loop length and quality without going through the whole process. Problems here involve matching up phone numbers with a Telco database. A lot of the Telco’s are notoriously picky about the addresses. That is why it is recommended the address be copied from a phone bill, and if we ask you for it 5 times, it is because your order is being rejected.
When you order the service from us, we will place an order with a DSL provider. They are the people that actually own the DSLAMs that put the DSL signal onto your phone line on one side and on the other they multiplex a whole bunch of DSL signals and send them out to the various ISPs that they sell DSL to. A DSL service provider may have multiple services to sell. It all depends on what services their DSLAMs support.
The different service types may require different CPEs (DSL modems) and use different types of signals. IDSL for example is ISDN hooked up to a DSLAM. It is good for 40000ft or so. Although ADSL is good for 8m bandwidth, I have not seen anyone sell more than 1.5m on a national scale. 1.5m will allow you to watch a good quality streaming video clip in a small window. Not DVD but it is great for most everything else. G.Lite/Full is a standard that everyone is mentioning and manufacturers are building into new computers. I don’t know why, it is like having a V90 modem when everyone is still using X2.
To change a service is typically an easy process. A form is filled out and submitted and your settings are changed at the DSLAM. That assumes the service is compatible with your DSLAM and your CPE. Now your ISP will typically only be licensed to sell a few different types of services and they will have to meet some minimum amount of subscribers during a certain period of time or else they will have to pay for not making that minimum level. If you are promised a higher level of service if it is available, then that is crap.
There are two types of DSL, CAP and DMT. CAP attempts to remove noise from the signal to give you the full bandwidth of ADSL. For 1.5m it is good to 12000 feet. DMT is the emerging standard. It will break up the signal into multiple channels and either reduce the bit rate on noisy channels or close them out. With DMT you can go from 18000-21000 feet. Certain vendors will not go beyond 15500 feet because they have service quality guarantees in place and they do not want the issues involved with longer loop length. Other vendors only guarantee a best effort with a minimum to be considered serviceable. Either way you sign up for the service you want.
When they come to install they will tell you if your lines can support the service and they can downgrade you at that point. If you are already signed up for a service and want to upgrade then plan to pay to change and to pay more monthly. Otherwise there is absolutely no reason an ISP would want to move you to a higher service level, especially if they have you locked in to a contract. If you are within 12000ft of your central office then you should be able to get 1.5*256 with good quality. The signal drops from there. I have seen ADSL sold at 21000 feet but with a minimal signal. When a signal degrades in quality the higher frequencies will drop out first. All of the upstream bandwidth is on the lowest channels so you may have seen speed tests where you can upload faster than you can download and this is not unusual. You want to be sure you have an optimized system in that case since the various MTU issues can cause problems. [ed: usually RWIN is the problem]
Your telephone company (Telco) owns the phone lines that run to your home. A DSL service provider may or may not be a Telco and they may or may not be an ISP. We need two things at this stage. We need a working line that can carry a DSL signal from your central office all the way to the NID or 66-block at your home (Where your phone lines enter your home). The Telco owns the entire line from start to finish and they are the only ones who can touch the line. We also need that line to be connected to a DSLAM in the central office. The Telco is responsible for all of that. A Telco can provide three different levels of service for you:
They can be your ISP, own the DSLAMs and the lines and collect all of your money.
They can route your DSL traffic on their DSLAMS to your own ISP and collect about half of the money.
They can lease the lines to another DSL provider and collect a much smaller amount.
So we have placed an order. The next step is to provide a dedicated port in a DSLAM. It is reserved solely for your use and an electrical signal will run from it directly to your computer. If no port is available you will be put into “pending facilitiesE That means that you can have a spot when one is free or when they install more DSLAMs in the central office. That does not mean you can jump from one ISP to another and suddenly get DSL. That is the equivalent of going back to the end of the line. One could argue that a Telco would give preference to its own customers and that might be the case. But switching to a Telco ISP will probably not get you a slot right away, since I doubt they would reserve slots when they could be making money off of them. Next stage is having a line delivered. If your Telco owns the DSLAMs this will not be an issue. For all ADSL services they will run the signal over your same voice line. There responsibility ends at verifying that you have sync at the NID. In other words their DSL signal runs all the way to your home. For other DSL providers though, they will have their own DSLAMs in a fenced off part of the central office.
Your Telco will be responsible for ‘deliveringEa loop. In other words they have to find a free pair in the central office and physically connect it to a pair allocated for you by your service provider. Then they have to wire that pair all of the way to your home in an unbroken line. If any cable segment lacks a free pair or if that pair has been diverted at some point and there are no free pairs available, then you have a ‘facilitiesEissue that the phone company may or may not resolve. If it is ‘short-termEthen they might handle it in 30 days. If it is ‘long termEthen that is considered for more than 90 days and your order will likely be cancelled. Ok, so the line goes to somewhere outside your house. On the line that runs to your house, do you have a free pair? No? The Telco may help you or they might require a contractor to run an aerial line or do trenching (as in $$$$). Or if you have multiple voice lines then you can give one up and they can use that for DSL.
When a phone company comes to deliver a line they will usually require you to be there for the whole day with no estimated time of when they will show up. This is called your FOC date. It is a firm order of commitment. The phone company has been asked to provide a line for your use and that is the date they have stated it will be available. Their job is to go to the demarc (the NID or 66-block), and then to call your service provider who will then run tests on the line. They will check for loop length, shorts, opens and noise. That is a loop test. The technician should also describe exactly which pair is wired for DSL and what to look for. That is demarc info. It is really important for big apartment buildings. A lot of these calls never happen but a loop test can still be run without them and installation can proceed. But wait, the phone company didn’t show up and this is the third time and are we going to compensate you for all of your lost wages? I can only say that I am very sorry to hear that. Many Telco’s try to be responsible about delivering lines. Others are notoriously bad about showing up, and to add insult to injury they will report a customer no-show as the reason why.
More than half of the complaints I personally get involve the Brooklyn area. I won’t mention the Telco involved, but when customers finally submit reviews it is usually to the horror story area. Sorry. I can only verify that you have an appointment. I cannot verify anybody will show up. I cannot make them show up. I cannot get in touch with the central office to see if they will come out. You can try and you will probably have the same results I have had. None. Neither can your DSL provider. I have pushed. There is no communication with a Telco except through trouble tickets and FOC dates. Sorry. I feel your pain. I see it multiple times every day. The only thing we can do is to get a new FOC date. Yes, I know that is another 2 weeks or so. But it is just the way that DSL has to work for now and there is pretty much nothing that anyone can do about it.
So we currently have a new line sharing agreement. What does it mean for you? Nothing. It means that once your DSL provider signs a contract with your Telco then all of the new customers after that point will be able to use shared lines for DSL. Sharing a line will probably cost your DSL provider just as much money as the dry copper. Don’t think that since the Telco’s are only getting a small part of the pie they will now want less. What it will mean is much faster provisioning of lines and fewer issues with line facilities.
For the next phase we will arrange for your DSL service provider, an outside contractor or yourself to connect your DSL line to your modem and then to the computer and also to install the software involved.
This is the easy phase and one that we can semi-guarantee someone will show up and follow up on where he is. Usually some type of loop test will be run before the installer comes. If the test is negative then the install will likely be cancelled and you can go back to the part about FOC dates. If your service is using line sharing then he will likely install filters as described below in the self-install section. If he cannot get a signal at the jack but he can at the NID then either he can put a splitter at the NID and then run the DSL signal over a free pair of wires to your computer (most phone lines will have an unused pair) or run a direct line from the NID to your computer. Most installers can do some wiring, but only simple wiring, ie: 20 minutes or so, 50Ecable, any crawlspace has to be at least 4E no masonry drilling, etc. If they determine that your wiring is bad then you might have to hire an outside contractor or pay additional fees for the wiring. An inside wiring contract with your Telco might cover this.
Apartments are special cases and also present a lot of trouble. When the phone company comes out they are supposed to supply demarc information and tag the DSL line. Otherwise you may have hundreds of lines going to multiple 66-blocks and no way to find out which has your DSL. Add two weeks to have the phone company come back out. Some buildings will have managed wiring, where you have to pay them to have an outside contractor to pull the DSL signal from your demarc to a jack in your apartment. In other cases a free pair may not be available to your location and would require having someone do the wiring. If you are in an office then your DSL will have to be on a dedicated line, same as with a modem or fax.
If you are in an area that allows for line sharing then you may be eligible for a self-install kit. It is easy. It involves placing filters on all of the lines except for the DSL modem, installing a NIC into your computer, installing the software, and connecting the NIC to the modem. It is an easy process that should only take 30 minutes or so. NICs are a tried and true technology. If anything is compatible with your computer they should be. If you have a Mac then a requirement is to have a NIC available. Networks are not supported by us or by any ISPs that I know of at this service level. Sorry, we are selling you one DSL connection to one NIC to one computer. You can certainly do a lot more with it but when you start talking about adding multiple NICs to a computer then we have no guarantee that the our software will see the correct NIC. We have no guarantee that you will have configured your subnets properly to route Internet traffic to the DSL connection and so on. Personally I don’t mind trying, but some ISPs have the attitude of take your system off of the network, remove the extra NICs and call us back if you are still having problems. Yes, I am sorry that your computer can no longer see the network. But you need someone qualified to resolve the network issues and also to fix the security holes presented. That is not us nor is that the service we are selling you.
Installers cannot fix computer issues. They are most likely not certified computer technicians. They will be linemen that have learned how to install NICs and DSL onto computers with no issues. Anyone can do this. Some installers may be able to help with issues, but if your computer is having problems using a NIC and different configurations have been tried then you will need to have a professional resolve the problems.
Problems at this point might include “No sync at the NIDEor “Sync no SurfEor throughput issues. Most of these are best diagnosed with a test modem/system connected directly to the NID. This help to rule out a computer, wiring or modem issue. Generally, if you reach the “authenticatingEstage of your connection then our job is pretty much finished. Your system can likely use some tweaking and your mail connections may have to be told to use DSL, but that is largely a technical support issue, and the installer is not expected to help with any of that.
Ok, so your DSL doesn’t work. If you have sync then we can probably make it work within 24 hours. It might mean that you are correctly wired to a port but your traffic is likely flowing to the wrong destination and returning to nowhere. In that case your circuit would need to be reprovisioned. This would ensure that the DSL provider’s information matched up with ours and we have a loop from the ISP to the DSL provider. In some rare cases, a person might receive authentication errors. This can happen when he is physically wired to the wrong port or the port is set to direct traffic to another ISP.
Another fix is the same as with the throughput issues. That is to disconnect everything from the NID and run a line test. If the line is clean but loop is too long then you are out of luck. Nothing can be done about that and either you can live with it (slow DSL is still a lot faster than 56K) or cancel. Sorry. If there is excessive voltage or other issues found with the line then a trouble ticket will be opened with the phone company. If they are your DSL provider then this is usually a straightforward process. Otherwise for an idea of how trouble tickets are resolved, go all the way back to where we first mentioned FOC dates, and follow all of the steps through to here and keep repeating the process until the trouble ticket is closed and the issue is resolved. Phone companies hate fixing line issues even more than they hate selling the dry copper and it isn’t uncommon to have multiple visits alternate between a Telco and your DSL provider. Sorry. I feel your pain once again but there is pretty much nothing that we can do.
Anyway I hope that this has helped you understand the way that DSL works from ordering to installation and who is responsible for what. Working for ISP we take the heat for all of it. At least now you might be able to understand why your install is taking so long...
Re: DSL installation explained from start to finish You have to understand that the telco is an unwilling third party here. Sure they are mandated to provide access to their lines but that doesn't mean they have to do it well. They would rather sell you their own internet service so selling you a line instead can be viewed as being against their best interests.
Just realize that the main reason that people go elsewhere for DSL is that they don't want to deal with a telco as an ISP.
You also neglect to mention how much the T1 costs, the additional hourly fees, the line conditioning charges, the contract duration and the ISP fees. Even if these are rolled into one monthly fee they will add up to some pretty huge numbers that makes the service out of reach for the standard consumer and very profitable for the telco.
A full T1 is essentially 24 phone lines, only good for 12K feet, and requires extensive line conditioning. The telcos, in servicing a T1, not only return your calls, but they probably say thank you and hold the door open for you. DSL is much simpler, easier and cheaper to implement. A dry copper line is probably the cheapest service you can buy from a telco and probably has the lowest priority of all whereas a T1 will use the same line, conditioned, to a phone switch where it counts as 24 lines (+1 for signaling data). Even if it goes to a different service provider for internet services only the telco will still be collecting fees in installing and maintaining the line.
In a free market economy things would be different, you could punish a poorly performing company by not buying their services, but how are you supposed to punish a telco? You have to use their lines and there is no way around it.
Allow me also to restate that these are not typical cases. They happen to many people, but many telcos and technicians are reliable and responsible about their work and they do their work as well as possible.
| The big difference between ordering a T1 vs. an ADSL is the T1 is handled by the "old phone company." A T1 order goes thru the Telco's Bussiness Office, Assignment, Engineering, I&R, Special Services, Cable Maintenance and sometimes Construction. All of which are parts of the regulated "old phone companies." These departments will get involed, in limited capacities, with an ADSL-- but are not ultimately responsible for the ADSL. Most of the ADSL work is handled buy subsidiaries and contractors. The difference being the employees of the "old phone company" have been around 20-30 years, plan on staying and know who to call when things break-down. For the subsidiaries and contractors the work is just a job, it is not a career, they have little time, little training and few contacts outside their building. DSL is just the tip of the iceberg, wait for full blown unbundling.|
| || And I'm the guy that's pissed off at your employer.|
I understand that the reseller (ISP) is the small guy in the tandem of three, but as I said many times, I have a DSL account with a reseller not with a provider or a Telco. Let's do this: when my speed is crappy and tech support is blaming it on total different issues just to distract the customer from the real problem -CORPORATE INCOMPETENCE (they asked me if I have fluorescent lights in the house, give me a break!! they have a full list of them by now) or when they disconnect my copper pair from the CO, "We thought nobody was using it, oops!"I will tell them that they can't not charge my credit card monthly because my employer didn't make a profit therefore he didn't pay me this month so I can not pay my DSL bill.
Get a freaking conscience and start assuming responsibilities as an ISP, I don't care what Telco or DSL provider do or says, it's crunch time, you are responsible for my line and service. Bottom line I pay you and I want service, real service for $50 bucks not the crap you give me now 95kbps-down/14kpps-up when it's supposed to be 1.5M/386(best effort).
What I know for sure it's that the customer has it's own fault, like me, I went to Earthlink/Mindsping at the time 'cause they had the best value for the money and now I will not go anywhere else after so much hassle that I went thru. I'm not sure there is any decent ISP and if there is I apologize and can I please have a link to them
Why the customer has his own fault? You might ask, well as we all know everything revolves around the mighty buck, we don't subscribe they don't make any dough; stockholders jump at their neck.
I know it sounds extreme and it's hard to achieve but I don't think as customers we have other choices (unless your uncle is the CTO of an ISP,he,he,he).
It's bad PR to have a bunch of customers drooping service on you. Forget it! that will never happen .At least flooding their mail servers with complaints. But that just me, I've been wrong in the past also.
At least I did my part:
"Do you think I'm funny? Do you?How about you?Yeah?
So what am I now a f*****g clown?"
| || I appreciate the effort you expended to review the subject from your point of view. I agree that the problem here is that the Telcos have no competition. As providers of the line, they are forced to cooperate with the competition (outside DSL and ISP providers). As such they have little incentive to provide excellent service to you or to the customer (unless of course they are the ISP &/or DSL provider). I also appreciate the frustration you must feel at not being able to control the inner workings of the telco, who we all rely upon to do their part, while having to interface with the customer who thinks you do have that control.|
This technology is in its infancy, and in 5 - 10 years, I predict that infrastructural problems like the ones faced today will appear archaic and passe. We, as relatively early adopters of this new technology, are going to pay the most in terms of time, hassle, frustration, and dollars, in order to experience the best technology has to offer. It really is true that you get what you pay for, and some of what you "pay" to get DSL is the struggle.
There is probably a silent majority of consumers who get up and running without too much hassle (myself included), and for who, all of the behind the scenes activities are completely transparent (as they should be). The efforts of persons like yourself go unrecognized in that regard. Your article was very helpful to me to understand all of that. Thanks.
| |Will0wThe Shadow Doesn'T Hold Sway Over Me
Re: DSL installation explained from start to finishFirst off, huge thanks to Zorch, this sheds a lot of light on my predicament (yep.. Brooklyn.. you hit the nail right on the head there.)
There's no excuse for BA to continue aggresive advertising and accept new orders when (I would speculate) thousands if not tens of thousands of customers are served the standard ADSL "meal", which seems to consist of a large plate of GREED, topped with a huge heaping of INEPTNESS and sprinkled with an abundance of LACK OF COMMUNICATION.
". First take a deep breath.
3. Then call up your tech support and remember don't be a f*cking *sshole to the tech support. Believe it or not tech support really is your best friend when you have a problem.
Ok, I've tried that. For the last three months, infact, on a daily basis, being more than co-operative, friendly, cordial ad nauseum with the people on the other end of the telephone and choosing to smash inanimate objects only AFTER the call has been completed...Altough to be sure, I wouldn't wish some of these "best friends" on my worst enemies. Now what?
Nonsence, all of it. I as an individual do business with dozens of partners and can co-ordinate the successful resolution of a problem within a matter of hours, if not less. There is no excuse... What a miserable business you guys are in.. In all honesty, I'd hate to be in your shoes (or cubicles, rather) as this seems to me more shady and iffy than used car sales.
A consumer's perspective.
PS I WANT WHAT I AM PAYING FOR! (or rather, I don't want the privilage to PAY FOR speaking with more teenagers, and loosing more time, money and patience in the process. And yeah, I know where my PC's power button is, have known for quite some time. Not that it helps any in getting a god-damned sync signal to my adsl modem... What a load of bull we, the consumers are served on all fronts... Technical problems? Can't get the signal from a-b? Then don't SELL THE SERVICE and if you're going to sell, then be sure it works first... Cable is here, and Roadrunner, Cablevision (perhaps others) are already beginning to target the area. People will jump ship, and that will be the end of it, except it is costing US, not the telco b*stards.
ROADRUNNER & CABLEVISION, I hope you're getting all of this. Get some service to the Brooklyn/NYC region and make a killing, as there are thousands of people here who'd pay double BA's prices to get a decent level of service. (I know I would.)
| System|| When it comes to DSL, at first I was really upset, My telco is my ISP and I got it dec 31 1999 and the first week it wouldn't even work, They did there normal check list OVER and OVER check your settings each time they would change one thing, They had me even reinstall windows and it still didn't work. Over the week they said they would call me back in 24 hours and it ends up 75% of the time I had to call them cause they didn't even bother to call me back as they promised, After a week I had gotten tired of them lying and told them I would cancel the order go to someone else who would give me service I paid for and not tell me lies and take a week just to get up and running, I said I give you 24 hours to have it up or I call pco (product control operations) on them. They finally said I was put in the router wrong and they were so sorry, I explained I was not going to pay for my first month of dsl as I couldn't even log in on my free dial up they provide, The whole time they said oh we can log on here so its your computer crap they finally admitted to being in the wrong and gave my 1st month free. Several months later I find out the dsl modem (efficient networks speedstream 3060 PPPaA) i got with my service has many problems with conflicts with SoundBlaster sound cards, so I made them give me an external modem (Westell wirespeed PPPoE) that finally rocks with no problems with install, They were fast on bring the new modem (24 h) they swapped modems said it would be at the most 24 hours for them to reprovision my account from PPPoA to PPPoE and this time they were on the money,|
Im sure they have a nice LONG record of my 1000 calls of complaints to them so they rushed it hehe