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Firmware Update Cripples Some Motorola SB6120 DOC 3 Modems
Charter users left with very nice paperweights...
by Karl Bode 08:58AM Tuesday May 11 2010 Tipped by Jerm See Profile
Jerm See Profile directs our attention to the fact that Charter (or Motorola) has pushed out a firmware update that appears to have bricked many user-owned Motorola DOCSIS 3.0 modems. According to discussions in our forums, many users who purchased a Motorola SB6120 now own a very lovely black paperweight -- one that's completely unable to get an IP address. Customers who lease modems (Charter only uses the Ubee DOC 3.0 modem for leases) are unaffected. We're hearing reports from some users that this may be a Motorola problem extending to other ISPs, so if you're also have a problem -- drop us a line. We've reached out to both Charter and Motorola for more detail.

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R4M0N
Brazilian Soccer Ownz Joo

join:2000-10-04
Glen Allen, VA

Ouch...

Knowing the cable company's disdain for people who do not pay them to lease the modems, I see a lot of headaches trying to get the ISP to remedy this in a timely manner.

I hope I'm wrong though.

tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5

Ask ComCast too.

Likely that Motorola actually writes all the firmware.
Several similar complaints surfaced in the ComCast forum (OP was in south florida) last week. so far unresolved.

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

Re: Ask ComCast too.

said by tshirt:

Likely that Motorola actually writes all the firmware.
Several similar complaints surfaced in the ComCast forum (OP was in south florida) last week. so far unresolved.
Yes, Motorola maintains the firmware, but the underlying firmware OS is written by VxWorks. If this turns out to be a VxWorks bug I wouldn't be surprised (I've seen many over the years, in all sorts of different products).
--
Making life hard for others since 1977.
I speak for myself and not my employer/affiliates of my employer.
MOTO6809

join:2007-11-05
Springfield, MA

1 recommendation

Re: Ask ComCast too.

said by koitsu:

said by tshirt:

Likely that Motorola actually writes all the firmware.
Several similar complaints surfaced in the ComCast forum (OP was in south florida) last week. so far unresolved.
Yes, Motorola maintains the firmware, but the underlying firmware OS is written by VxWorks. If this turns out to be a VxWorks bug I wouldn't be surprised (I've seen many over the years, in all sorts of different products).
You would think Charter would test this prior to pushing the code out since they use different vendors CMTS's like Arris and Cisco.

I'm not sure if Motorola includes testing across different boxes or just their own. I know it's all DOCSIS, but I'm sure there are some differences.

Bottom line is Charter will fix it, because paying customers are suffering and the customers don't care who's fault it is they just want it fixed.
cramer
Premium
join:2007-04-10
Raleigh, NC
kudos:9
vxWorks is the underlying RTOS. They don't have jack to do with the modem firmware -- that'd be like blaming Redhat when firefox doesn't work. The firmware running on a Motorola cablemodem is written and maintained by Motorola. While it *could* be a bug in the RTOS, that's very unlikely in this case. Since only the non-leased SB6120's, and none of the leased ones, are failing, from my chair that suggests foul play.

Did they upgrade the network and leased modems but leave the non-leased modems alone, creating an incompatible network? Did they screw up the firmware on non-leased units? Did they drop the non-leased units from the list of authorized systems? (the latter being the most likely.)
DToX69
Premium
join:2009-02-02
US
SB6120 does not run vxworks, that's the SB5100 your thinking of

koitsu
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-16
Mountain View, CA
kudos:23
Well then, excuse me for watching Motorola SBxxxx series modems for years, all using VxWorks, until the latest model. Sheesh.
--
Making life hard for others since 1977.
I speak for myself and not my employer/affiliates of my employer.

PGHammer

join:2003-06-09
Accokeek, MD
Except that unlike Charter (who doesn't lease Motorola D3 modems), Comcast has a very large Moto inventory in their warehouse (and always have; they are Moto Broadband's single biggest customer, and have been since 1998 and the days of the infamous CybrSurfr, Moto's pre-DOCSIS cable modem). Comcast *did* have an issue with bad firmware and Motorola modems, but not one that caused bricklaying.
Mele20
Premium
join:2001-06-05
Hilo, HI
kudos:5

Re: Ask ComCast too.

Why do you say the "infamous" Cybersurfr?

PGHammer

join:2003-06-09
Accokeek, MD

Re: Ask ComCast too.

said by Mele20:

Why do you say the "infamous" Cybersurfr?
Because it held on long enough to cross over with DOCSIS (during 1999-2000). It was harder to troubleshoot a CybrSurfr than it was a DOCSIS modem (including the GI, later Motorola, SurfBoard, which would replace it) both for end-users, and for CAE/CSR folks.

Hence *infamous*. Yes; those of us in support were glad to see DOCSIS take command in 2001; that three year overlap was harrowing for us.

2000 was especially rough (I was at Silver Spring) because we had some markets still transitioning from CybrSurfr to DOCSIS (MD/DE Region), DOCSIS deployments in others (DC Metro, now Beltway, Region) and the acquisition of systems from Jones Comminications and ATTBI (not to mention a swap with TWC).
Mele20
Premium
join:2001-06-05
Hilo, HI
kudos:5

Re: Ask ComCast too.

Thanks for the explanation. I was curious because CybrSurfr in Hawaii (Oahu only) lasted well past 2001. Folks in certain areas of Oahu still had it as late as 2005 and it was fabulous because it was not capped. Speeds were great. When Road Runner first came to the Big Island, and to Hilo, I was among the first to get it in June 2001. The software installation tech was from Oahu flown over to help out in the launch. He gave me a crap Toshiba 1100U modem but left a brochure on the Motorola CybrSurfr. I only had that Toshiba for a couple of weeks and exchanged it for a Surfboard 4100 which allowed me to see the problem which was an extremely poor SNR and, on that basis, get Oceanic out to fix the problem.

But I heard so many tales from CSRs and Tier3 techs on Oahu at Oceanic Time Warner who had the Cybrsurfr still for years and how it was like prying it out of cold dead hands for Oceanic to be able to move those uncapped users onto the newer network that was very much capped.
--
When governments fear people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. Thomas Jefferson
NeoandGeo

join:2003-05-10
Harrison, TN

.

Does the firmware update happen automatically? I am using this modem, and so far no problems.
Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL

Re: .

said by NeoandGeo:

Does the firmware update happen automatically? I am using this modem, and so far no problems.
I think each cable systems pushes / forces the updates they want to the modems.
jus10

join:2009-08-04
Sterling, VA

Comcast has had this one for a while

Hmm, 1.0.2.4 has been pushed out to Comcast for a while. I don't think I've had any issues with it. The Comcast 6120 thread on updating firmware is talking about the new 1.0.3.0 version.

So hopefully this is just Charter specific.

OldschoolDSL
Premium
join:2006-02-23
Indian Orchard, MA

1 edit

1 recommendation

I'm a comcast member

And if this happens to me... I think I'd be in hot water. My main phone is VoIp so I wouldn't be able to call very quickly for help & also my PC, xbox 360, Pandora, and Netflix membership would all be out (yet I'd still be paying for it).

I've got a bad feeling its going to happen.

Then they'll use this as an excuse to say that I should have LEASED & not bought my modem. I'm kind of wondering if this really is a mistake or some kind of "gimmick" to get people to lease & say that owning isn't always best (which is a lie).

Chris 313
Come get some
Premium
join:2004-07-18
Houma, LA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
·Vonage
·Comcast
·Comcast Digital ..

Re: I'm a comcast member

said by OldschoolDSL:

And if this happens to me... I think I'd be in hot water. My main phone is VoIp so I wouldn't be able to call very quickly for help & also my PC, xbox 360, Pandora, and Netflix membership would all be out (yet I'd still be paying for it).

I've got a bad feeling its going to happen.

Then they'll use this as an excuse to say that I should have LEASED & not bought my modem. I'm kind of wondering if this really is a mistake or some kind of "gimmick" to get people to lease & say that owning isn't always best (which is a lie).
Ooh, I would definitely hope you're wrong about this. Cause if they did use it like you say, I could see this becoming a very big potential lawsuit. Or at the very least, some very bad PR for them.

After all, if SB6120s are effected, how would it look if only bought ones were affected and Leased stayed working. That'd be a very damaging piece of evidence right there.

MovieLover76

join:2009-09-11
kudos:1
This is why I don't buy cable modem's anymore, by the time I've saved enough to pay for the modem which is now $85 on newegg
at the $3 a month rate I pay it would take me 2 1/2 years when you count shipping and taxes to save the money for the modem
and by the a new better modem will be out and mine will be obsolete or worse yet the thing could die in the first year in which case I've lost money because cablevision will just give me a new one if it breaks when I'm leasing my modem.

Brad Bishop
Premium
join:2002-09-27
Atlanta, GA

1 recommendation

Re: I'm a comcast member

I had my last Motorola Surfboard modem (SB5120, I think) for nearly 10 years.

It was working fine. I only upgraded because I thought: "Well, it's been about 10 years, probably time to upgrade..." I'm not really experiencing any greater speed with the new DOCSIS 3.0 modem, though. I'm still on one of the cheaper tiers.

OldschoolDSL
Premium
join:2006-02-23
Indian Orchard, MA

Re: I'm a comcast member

said by Brad Bishop:

I had my last Motorola Surfboard modem (SB5120, I think) for nearly 10 years.

It was working fine. I only upgraded because I thought: "Well, it's been about 10 years, probably time to upgrade..." I'm not really experiencing any greater speed with the new DOCSIS 3.0 modem, though. I'm still on one of the cheaper tiers.
Kept my modem for long then 10 years. I think I was using an original DOCSIS 1.0

edit: v1.3 Motorola Surfboard
--
HP Pavilion a6750f (tweaked)
Windows 7 Ultimate 64 * Ubuntu 10.04 64 * SuSe 11.2 64 * Mac OS Snow Leopard

"I could always tell you the truth, but would you believe?"

PGHammer

join:2003-06-09
Accokeek, MD
I've had my own SB-5120 since 2005 (which replaced the SB-4100, which I bought in 2001). What problems I have had aren't the modem's fault, but entirely due to too little signal.

OldschoolDSL
Premium
join:2006-02-23
Indian Orchard, MA

1 edit
said by MovieLover76:

This is why I don't buy cable modem's anymore, by the time I've saved enough to pay for the modem which is now $85 on newegg
at the $3 a month rate I pay it would take me 2 1/2 years when you count shipping and taxes to save the money for the modem
and by the a new better modem will be out and mine will be obsolete or worse yet the thing could die in the first year in which case I've lost money because cablevision will just give me a new one if it breaks when I'm leasing my modem.
For me it was worth the save....

Comcast lease modem fee: $7.00 x 12 months = 84.00 (not counting tax)

Motorola DOCSIS 3 Modem: 78.00 (no tax or shipping on Amazon).

For those who lease the cost continues to go up as leasing fees go up & taxes and other fees which maybe added later.

--
HP Pavilion a6750f (tweaked)
Windows 7 Ultimate 64 * Ubuntu 10.04 64 * SuSe 11.2 64 * Mac OS Snow Leopard

"I could always tell you the truth, but would you believe?"

MovieLover76

join:2009-09-11
kudos:1

Re: I'm a comcast member

If you keep your modem for that long then I guess your good.
I normally want a newer modem after a few years they tend to get better and the newer modems tend to work better with current equipment and I've had good luck with requesting particular brands from my cable provider I've always had Motorola modems.
Also I've had voip from comcast, which requires a special modem and from cablevision another special modem. I move a lot so I'm never sure how long I'm going to need a cable modem and I just checked cablevision doesn't charge you for your modem lease it's free, or included I guess, either way my own modem wouldn't save me any money in my circumstances.

I may switch to fios also after my promotional period with cablevision is up, I guess I'm just not loyal enough to a type of connection to benefit from owning my own

OldschoolDSL
Premium
join:2006-02-23
Indian Orchard, MA
I've switched from Dial up to Cable to DSL, back to Cable, to wireless, to Dish (Network), and back to Cable.

Moved a few times from Verizon, to ATT Broadband (Comcast), to Dish Network, to T-Mobile, to Charter, to Comcast again.

But my cable modem worked on Charter & Comcast, but also worked on DSL (had a hybrid modem, which I do not think they make any longer).
--
HP Pavilion a6750f (tweaked)
Windows 7 Ultimate 64 * Ubuntu 10.04 64 * SuSe 11.2 64 * Mac OS Snow Leopard

"I could always tell you the truth, but would you believe?"

Shamayim
I already have a Messiah.
Premium
join:2002-09-23

1 edit

Not taking chances

I've taken my 6120 offline and reconnected the 5120, until further info becomes available.

Thanks for the heads-up Karl!
frdrizzt

join:2008-05-03
Ronkonkoma, NY
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Optimum Online

"whoops"

Generally the manufacturer (Motorola) writes the code with the features the ISP wants, so it's likely tied into multiple ISPs. Hopefully for the affected users the problem is promptly fixed (probably would have to rollback firmware for those users, since development & testing would take a long time).

hhawkman
Premium
join:2001-02-08
Port Hueneme, CA

Re: "whoops"

Unfortunately, If the Firmware "bricked" the modem, It would have to go back to the factory for repair. There is usually no way to communicate with such a "bricked" device in the field to repair.

sigh yes

@charter.com

Yep..

Yep...happened to me just the other day. Really makes me mad.

I am now using a mediocre rental modem from Charter now so I can get online. Thanks a lot Charter!
sticke

join:2007-01-19

1 edit

yep..thanks!

Yep. I'm having this same issue currently. I'm the on phone with charter right now.

Pretty annoying that this has to happen.

Edit: Doesn't seem like the tech is going to credit me anything but a month of rental fees.

Shouldn't Charter be liable to pay for a rental replacement of these modems that they crippled? I have mine plugged into a 3000w UPS...it can run DAYS with out power. So it wasnt due to powerloss while a firmware update was taking place.
drblanke

join:2010-05-08

Re: yep..thanks!

As far as I know, Charter doesn't lease the SB6120 at all. The
only DOCSIS 3.0 modem that they lease is the Ubee.

So everyone who has been affected by this owns their modem,
which doesn't make things easy when dealing with Charter
customer service.

I really wonder how many users have just accepted
the "bad modem" line from Charter customer service. If
you call Motorola, they know all about the issue. If you
call Charter, they say "bad modem", your problem. Certainly
most users aren't savvy enough to log onto a discussion forum
to correlate the failure.
sticke

join:2007-01-19

Re: yep..thanks!

Yep. I own my modem, have for a while.

The tech I talked to was very friendly, but was unaware of the issues. I pointed him here to take a look.

I would tell more about what he told me, but I'm wanting to make sure they do what they said they would before I start posting about it.

Currently using some ambit modem (docis 3 is not in my area) that charter supplied.

XLIV
UFO

join:2003-02-24
Bossier City, LA

2 edits

hmm

My sb6120 firmware is still 1.0.1.8 but I'm with SuddenLink.

I probably shouldn't worry since I'm still running old firmware.
--
.......................................................

looking

@rr.com

firmware policy

One thing I don't get is why would they push out firmware updates to modems that they don't lease or supply? I thought it was policy not too...

I had a hell of an unsuccessful time trying to get firrmware updates from TW (including speaking with a few managers) for my previous modem which was not supplied by former-Comcast.

I have the SB6120 in question so I hope this won't affect me. We don't have DOCSIS3.0 here and the sb6120 is not an official modem by TW yet? AFAIK here..
k1ll3rdr4g0n

join:2005-03-19
Homer Glen, IL

Firmware was not meant to be rewritten

I don't understand why this was even in the RFC, but I whole-heartily believe that NO THIRD PARTY SHOULD TOUCH THE OS ON ANY OF MY DEVICES. Or even have the ability to flash a new OS remotely. Third parties can push a config, and that should be IT. This is a perfect example of my point. ANY NUMBER of things can go wrong when you send out new firmware. ESPECIALLY if you don't control or see the connection between the 2 parities.

In any case, the firmware update should be the CUSTOMERS choice of if/when they want to install it. NOT THE ISPs. Simple reason is because if the ISP nukes the modem, the ISP claims NO LIABILITY. "We screwed up your equipment, but we won't do anything to repair it or replace it...even though it was our fault".

oh_really

@uk.net

Re: Firmware was not meant to be rewritten

said by k1ll3rdr4g0n:

In any case, the firmware update should be the CUSTOMERS choice of if/when they want to install it. NOT THE ISPs. Simple reason is because if the ISP nukes the modem, the ISP claims NO LIABILITY. "We screwed up your equipment, but we won't do anything to repair it or replace it...even though it was our fault".
Given that you're connecting the modem to their network, and that many of the security features of DOCSIS are implemented in said modem, it is entirely justified that they can upgrade the firmware on their whim.

What wouldn't be acceptable is them bricking your modem and making you buy or lease a new one.

anhisr

join:2001-12-01
Ballwin, MO

Firmware Update Cripples

So far I have been lucky and I guess they have not pushed the update on my 6120. Firmware is SB6120-1.0.1.3-SCM00-NOSH Dec 8 2008 15:37:58
g2slater

join:2004-05-13
Kalamazoo, MI

Mine was quasi bricked.

I have a sb6120 that has firmware:
SB6120-1.0.2.4-SCM01-NOSH
I discovered a few interesting things about this.

First I realized I was not getting an IP address. I thought that it was my router at first (wrt54g v5.0 with dd-wrt micro). But soon realized that other devices could not get an IP from the sb6120.

Next I found that If i restarted the sb6120 and connected my gigabit NIC directly to the router that it would connect just fine.

Currently after resetting the sb6120 many times and trying all manner of things to get it to connect, I have revived it into giving my WRT54G an ip.

My problem is that currently it always loses sync (T05.0), then it loses MDD (T202.0), then I get Received Response to Broadcast Maintenance Request, But no Unicast Maintenance opportunities received (R04.0), and then the modem automatically reboots.

So for a while I was stuck just not able to get an IP address, but after turning off and on a few times and plugging into my gigabit NIC directly (bypassing router), I can now connect but it only stays that way for a short time and then reboots, then repeats the whole process about 2-4 times per hour....

UNACCEPTABLE.

note: I also use ooma for my main phone, so this has screwed me big time.

•••••

mmainprize

join:2001-12-06
Houghton Lake, MI
Reviews:
·Charter

1 edit

Lets hope it is not bricked

I am one who's modem is dead at this time. I see the word bricked being used, i think it is to early to say that but of course i hope that is not true as like you said it would be a $90 paper weight. I only bought it because Charter told me i needed it by e-mails. Once i got it they had not even turned on DOCSIS 3 in my location.

Let hope that Charter can find a way to send a fix to the modem while it is connect to the cable system. If not then i would hope if i took the modem to the local office they could Jtag it back to life. The last resort would be to send it back to Motorola and hopeful they would bill charter. Hope i am not dreaming. LOL.

The worst thing they could do is just stick use all with a bricked modem and say it your problem.
whoaru99

join:2003-12-17

3 edits

Re: Lets hope it is not bricked

said by mmainprize See Profile...The worst thing they could do is just stick use all with a bricked modem and say it your problem.


Seems there are enough people affected and enough visibility where that would be a pretty bad PR move, IMO.

I wonder how many people may have bought into the "your modem is bad" thing and have now purchased or rented something else, blissfully unaware of the situation, never to be heard from in public nor question it beyond face value.

GvilleDSL

join:2009-11-12
Greenville, SC

Fine here...

I have the updated firmware as of last week:

Firmware Name: SB6120-1.0.2.4-SCM01-NOSH
Firmware Build Time: Nov 24 2009 19:46:23

No problems here. My link light on my modem constantly blinks now however.

Arb

@charter.com

Re: Fine here...

Same here, i am michigan charter user with that firmware, not sure how long never payed attention when it was updated but i haven't had an issue.
diablito24

join:2005-12-02
Miami, FL

SB6120 compability issue with comcast hsi

The firmware that i have for my sb6120 is SB612X-1.0.3.0-SCM03-NOSH. The tech that came by on 5/12 was told by someone in the company that was recently brief of the problem with sb6120 cable modems and comcast. I was told that there was a software compatibility issue between the two. My modem does get connected by only at dial up, less than dial up (if such a thing exist), and not even get connected sometimes. I have a lease modem that works fine , now if only i can use that "black paperweight"

Torm

@charter.com

Charter "Broadband" and Moto 6120

I have charter broadband, and the 6120. So far no problems, I did have trouble for a few moments, unplugged modem power, restarted computer, then plugged modem power back in. Using it now. No other troubles.
kiwanda

join:2010-05-15
Saint Joseph, MN

Re: Charter "Broadband" and Moto 6120

I'm also a 6120 user w/Charter. On Friday my service dropped, lost VOIP, etc. After many power cycles I was able to get it restored but bandwidth is now only 10% of what I had previously-- down from 20-24 mbps to 2.5 or so, confirmed via multiple test sites. I don't know which firmware version I might have has previously, but now I'm seeing the 11/09 release that others have reported as stable. The rep on Charter's 800 line wasn't able to confirm that anything had been done on their end but clearly something has changed...I'm waiting 'till Monday and will call again when I have time to stay on the phone for an hour.

-kiwanda
Pasjmb1

join:2009-11-11
Burbank, CA

Re: Charter "Broadband" and Moto 6120

I too have a moto 6120,

I got some speed variation.
Steam games download can go up to 2.4mb/s
rapidshare download only top 370kb/s
(used to have 1.3mb/s)

I need to reboot often
My log has a weird dates:
Jan 01 1970 00:00:12
Jan 01 1970 00:00:03
I'm not sure what to do?
Charter tech on the phone always want to send
a tech home and advice to lease a modem and get a wire maintenance plan
What a scam IMO
But there is no other options around..
I wish I could hop to another cable and vice
to get some real CS

Model Name: SB6120
Vendor Name: Motorola
Firmware Name: SB6120-1.0.2.4-SCM01-NOSH
Boot Version: PSPU-Boot 1.0.0.4m1
Hardware Version: 1.0
Firmware Build Time: Nov 24 2009 19:46:23