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Broadband stability problem?

Karde
Newbie
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎03-11-2012

Broadband stability problem?

Hi all,
I've started having some problems with my broadband connection, not to do with speed as far as I can tell but more with the overall stability of the service.  I'm hoping that if I describe some of the symptoms I've noticed over the last few weeks as well as post the results of various tests I've performed someone on here will have an idea or two to try to help me resolve this.
1: Symptoms noticed
When streaming services such as BBC iplayer the playback will often hang or cut out completely with the BBC website saying that I don't have sufficient capacity for streaming services.  However using the BBC speedtest it shows I have well over 3.5 MBPS, apparently enough for HD broadcasts let alone the radio I often listen to.  Pressing refresh on a timed out stream will always restart the stream as if there was never a problem (although it might cut out again in a few minutes).
When browsing the web, pages usually load perfectly and very fast.  However sometimes they will just hang.  This will happen on any kind of page from memory intensive ones to simple Google searches.  The connection just appears to timeout, pressing refresh on the page 99% of the time loads it as if there was never a problem and pressing refresh after 2 'timeouts' always works.
When using torrents (overnight so as not to use up my monthly download limit) at some point during the night my entire computer decides that it has lost the internet connection.  My router is still happy and apparently connected to the DSL service.  I've found the only way to get internet back is to do a power cycle on both the PC and the router.
Around the time I first started noticing these problems (although I can't be 100% sure) my upload speed was newly capped.  I used to get over 1 MPBS upload on my connection but now never get over 0.37

2: Fixes tried
I've tried power cycling my router as well as the old 'leave it off for 2 minutes' version.  I've also changed my gateway (logging into router settings, disconnecting manually from the gateway then reconnecting).  Neither seems to have any lasting effect on the connection.
With regard to the torrents cutting out overnight, I've tried manually throttling the max number of allowed connections to both upload and download with no real success.

3: Tests run
Plusnet members Centre puts my current line speed at 4.44 MBPS this seems pretty much spot on with the results of various speedtests I've done.
Speedtester.bt had me achieve a DL speed of 4.02 with a line rated between 2 MBPS-7.15 MBPS and the IP profile for my line is 5.06 MBPS.  It also listed my upload speed as 0.26 MBPS with 0.45 as the max achievable and an IP profile on the line of 0.45 MBPS.  The site also mentions that it was unable to find any performance problems with the service.
Speedtest.net has my ping hovering between 35-55ms which is what I expected, a download speed of just over 4 MBPS and an upload that is consistently 0.37 MBPS.  I will mention that the little graph that is drawn as the DL test is run is full of peaks and troughs, although I'm not sure if this graphic is just for show.
Pingtest.net shows 0 packet loss, a ping around 30ms and a jitter of around 2ms which seems perfectly fine.
I'm unable to perform the quiet test using the BT number as the 1 key on my phone is currently broken so I'm unable to dial the number  Embarrassed

4: Router stats
These are the stats I gained using the links in the Plusnet forum
--- System Information ---
Vendor: Linksys
ModelName: WAG160N
Firmware Version: A1.00.15 , 2009-05-31T16:58:02
GUI Version: A1.00.15_007
Boot Version: 1.0.37-5.4
Hardware Version: 0.01
--- DSL Information ---
DSL Driver Version:  AnnexA version - A2pB022g.d20e
DSL VPI/VCI:         0/38
DSL Status:          ShowtimeRetrain Reason:    0
DSL Mode:            ADSL2+
DSL Channel:         FAST
DSL Upstream Rate:   444 Kbps
DSL Downstream Rate: 5733 Kbps
                                          Down         up  
DSL Noise Margin:        3.3 dB      26.4 dB
DSL Attenuation:          52.0 dB      30.5 dB
DSL Transmit Power:   0.0 dBm     12.8 dBm
The figure that does seem to stick out is the DSL Noise margin Down, only 3.3dB and in fact when I ran this on an evening (admittedly a Friday evening) it was at 0.3dB.  Looking online most places seem to say that anything under 6dB is considered pretty poor?

5: Possibly useful information
The only wireless sources in my house are mobile phones and the wireless receiver on my PC, the telephone that is connected is a corded type so I'm pretty sure the problem isn't due to interference.
Both my router and my telephone are plugged into the master socket in the house using a reasonably new micro-filter.  My internet was working perfectly using this set-up and nothing has changed before I started noticing the problem.
I've not tried running the internet though the test socket yet, the symptoms I'm seeing on my connection are not readily replicable, they just appear every so often and annoy me.  If people think this is really worth testing I could run my internet through the test socket for a week or so to see if anything changes.
My computer itself is regularly virus and spy-ware checked.
Anyway here's hoping someone has an idea that will help me fix these problems,

Thanks in advance,

Darcy
25 REPLIES
CliffTopp
Dabbler
Posts: 22
Registered: ‎30-05-2008

Re: Broadband stability problem?

Looks like you might be having some problems with noise on the line.  BT have been having a lot of problems with infrastructure recently because of the bad weather we have been having so it is possible that your line is one of those affected.  Standard protocol would be to start by eliminating as many internal issues as possible so plugging directly into the test socket would be an advisable first step.
Do you have access to an alternative pc?  Just wondering about the need to power cycle the pc to re-establish connection and whether this is a symptom or a cause.  Do you have access to an alternative router?  Have you tried an alternative filter?  New as the current one may be that does not mean it has not developed a fault.  Do you have, and if so can you isolate, any extension wiring on your telephone network?  Could you borrow a neighbours phone for 5 minutes to do that quiet line test?
Check out this page http://www.plus.net/support/broadband/bbfaults/adsl-connection-troubleshooting.shtml then try the Broadband Troubleshooter once you have eliminated all the feasible options..
Once you have eliminated the possibility of issues with kit, if you feel confident enough to do so, you might try something like a network analyser such as Wireshark or one of its less complicated alternatives to look for packet loss at the point where everything hangs.  Not a cure but it might give you an idea of what is going on and/or possibly confirm that the issue isn't a virus.
Interference doesn't only stem from other wireless products take a look here http://www.pcworld.com/article/227973/six_things_that_block_your_wifi_and_how_to_fix_them.html for starters
Community Veteran
Posts: 4,908
Thanks: 135
Fixes: 25
Registered: ‎14-07-2009

Re: Broadband stability problem?

The symptoms you report are consistent with those you would see with a poor wireless connection between your computer and your router.
Try using Routerstats Lite http://www.vwlowen.co.uk/internet/betatesters.htm to maintain a running log of your SNR.  That will tell you if this sometimes falls too low and causes your router to lose sync.
Community Veteran
Posts: 19,102
Thanks: 443
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Registered: ‎31-08-2007

Re: Broadband stability problem?

You don't need to borrow a phone for the Quiet Line Test, just blip the receiver rest once - you can pulse dial the 1 - all correctly working lines support pulse and tone dialling.
As you are clearly on a 21CN service, your US seems to have been banded back to the capped value, this could have been caused by high error rates resulting from noise problems on the line or filter problems. When using your phone, have you noticed any audible noise or have you experienced any other problem with incoming or outgoing calls? Or noticed any problems with the broadband when using the phone? There may have been some intermittency on your line if BT have been working in the area, in the cab or at the exchange.
If you experience any noise it may be wise to try your phone on another line to confirm the phone is good. When you hear noise, Disconnect your modem/router PPP Internet session (disconnecting from the gateway) wait a moment and then power down wait a minute before unplugging from the line and then plugging you phone direct into the test socket. If you hear noise, report it to your line rental provider whilst it's noisy, get them to confirm they can hear it, log it as intermittent and pass that fact to Openreach. Don't mention the Broadband otherwise you'll probably get the run around.
I would avoid rebooting the modem/router or just unplugging it from the line, use the disconnect and power down method whenever possible, this is to avoid the Exchange DLM thinking you have a dropping connection.
As far as all your speeds are concerned, I'm sure you mean Mbps (Mega bits per sec) not Mega Bytes per sec. A Byte is 8 bits.
You should always confirm speed checks and streaming issues via an ethernet connection as a wireless connection may be suffering interference.
Now your "symptoms" are possibly 2 or 3, if not 4 separate issues.
Audible or other noise on the line could be one issue which if present can result in high error rates and streaming problems could occur.
It could also cause the stalling of web pages loading, etc.
Exchange congestion could also be a cause of throughput problems. Check the VP status of your Exchange here
Your interpretation of Downstream (DS) Noise Margin (SNRM) isn't quite correct. On 21CN (ADSL2+) a Target SNRM of 3dB is quite common on a line that has no or few drops and doesn't have high DS errors, whereas on 20CN 6dB is the lowest Target SNRM. Variations on SNRM after sync indicate varying noise levels being picked up by the line - this may not be as a result of any fault as such and is not uncommon on longer (overhead) lines and often shows most as a deterioration in margin during hours of darkness primarily due to increased radio propagation of MW band frequencies, with sometimes a little bit  extra from discharge lighting, TV's etc.. Large daytime variations need investigating. Such deterioration can be worse if there are internal wiring issues or use of plug-in extension leads, even on shorter lines. I hope you aren't using any plug-in extension leads. Do you have any hard-wired fixed extension sockets?
However, I have also and still do periodically experience the web page loading stall, I have a noise free, very low error rate, stable line.with only a small deterioration after dark.
Also pressing refresh on a stream will certainly cause it to restart, timed out or not. I don't stream much, but only occasionally get buffering on iPlayer, but regularly on Youtube.
Your "lock-ups" after you torrent downloading suggest some sort of modem/router  or computer interface bug. If you are using wireless, you should try an ethernet connection and see if the problem occurs that way. Make sure you are using the latest drivers for your wireless.
Can you login into the modem/router or ping it from a cmd prompt when this happens? From a Cmd prompt (DOS box) run ipconfig and see whether it returns the correct IP address allocated by the router when this occurs.
Does your computer hibernate when your torrents have finished?
Overall, if you don't have any obvious noise fault on your line and you don't have wiring problems and you've changed the filter, if the exchange VP status is Green, and the other checks don't show anything obvious, I'd be suspecting a possible modem/router problem. So see if you can try an alternative (borrow one if you haven't a spare).
Community Veteran
Posts: 4,908
Thanks: 135
Fixes: 25
Registered: ‎14-07-2009

Re: Broadband stability problem?

Hmm; ask a long question, get a long answer?
Community Veteran
Posts: 19,102
Thanks: 443
Fixes: 21
Registered: ‎31-08-2007

Re: Broadband stability problem?

Sarcasm doesn't become you, especially as your suggestion didn't really address the issues mentioned. Oh, and here is the correct link by the way http://www.vwlowen.co.uk/internet/files.htm
Karde
Newbie
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎03-11-2012

Re: Broadband stability problem?

Heh, reading back I guess it was a pretty long post, but then again I've read enough of this forum and others to know that if you only do a short post you just get asked to perform loads of other tests or answer extra questions anyway so I tried to cover as many bases as possible in my original  Wink
Anyway, thanks for all the replies everyone, I'll try to keep this short (and fail) and just post a couple of thoughts;
I've always suspected the torrenting issue was completely separate from the other problems I've been having, personally I suspect its due to my Linksys router having a minor fit and there's not much I can do about it until I get around to replacing the router.  Also the problem occurs sometime in the small hours of the morning so forgive me for not wanting to sit up all night watching numbers on my screen waiting for the moment the connection drops to run a test  Grin
The various tests I performed where all done with a wired ethernet connection to make sure they were as precise as possible.  That said - my router & main PC are very close to each other so wireless signal is pretty much a none issue, constantly at 5 bar signal and various ping tests on the router as well as programs such as inSSIDer show no problems.
VP status of the exchange is fine, I forgot to mention that I had checked that earlier.
The master socket is the only phone socket in the house and there are no other extensions of any kind coming from it.
As mentioned a 3dB SNRM is 'fine' for my line connection, but how about when I've tested it and its been at 0.3dB?  Since the fault is intermittent could this 0.3dB reading  have been taken when a fault was much more likely to happen?

Anyway,  Things to test:
Perform the BT quiet line test (using pulse dialing, nice tip that), has to wait till my baby is not wailing his head off but I'm sure that will happen sometime soon, right....right)
Run my internet from the test socket for a week or 2 and see if the problems still happen.
Try a different micro filter

I'll post back if I get any joy,

Darcy

P.S. kicking myself for using the wrong abbreviation for the line speed, silly basic mistake.
Community Veteran
Posts: 19,102
Thanks: 443
Fixes: 21
Registered: ‎31-08-2007

Re: Broadband stability problem?

Not to worry, we all make basic mistakes from time to time  Embarrassed
If you have absolutely no hard wired extensions, it's a bit pointless specially testing at the test socket, all you are doing is checking there are no connection issues between the front plate and test socket, and judging by the sync speeds you are getting, things look fine. It's something just to try at some point when you happen to be disconnecting and powering down - plug-in and remove the plate half a dozen times to ensure all the contacts stay fairly clean. Apart from the remote chance it may have some minor effect on your noise margin, it is highly unlikely to affect or cause the other issues.
So when your baby is howling his head off in the middle of the night you could run those quick checks after your torrents have finished  Wink  [coat]
I'll be a little more serious - you can do those checks next time you go to the machine, I would have thought the situation is not likely to change even when it's a few hours later.
I've encountered a similar issue on very rare occasions, some while back now. When it occurred I found I just couldn't talk to the modem/router any more - couldn't login to it, ping it etc. local IP addresses were fine though - my conclusion, it had just got it's knickers in a twist due to being upset by something it received from my computer/a program running at the time - possible obscure firmware bug - Solution, wait until daylight and reboot modem/router (unless I was desperate for an internet connection there and then!). Using a different modem/router might prove that, but it's so rare, and the alternative doesn't perform as well as the regular one, so can't be bothered to try for any extended period.
Now this SNRM drop to 0.3dB is a touch more of concern if it's a regular occurrence after dark. You're some way from the exchange and if a good length of your line is overhead, there may not be much you can do if it's noise and fault free. The standard of the incoming BT cable (drop-wire) may be worth checking. Have a look outside where it enters, it should have a black sheath, be round & about 5.3mm in diameter.
HTH.
Community Veteran
Posts: 4,908
Thanks: 135
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Registered: ‎14-07-2009

Re: Broadband stability problem?

Quote from: Anotherone
Sarcasm doesn't become you

Oh, I don't know, I think I did it rather well.  But my serious point was that it is probably better to hone in on the problem by a process of elimination rather than trying to cover every possible issue simultaneously.
Quote from: Anotherone
...especially as your suggestion didn't really address the issues mentioned.

Are you sure about that?
Quote from: Karde
The figure that does seem to stick out is the DSL Noise margin Down, only 3.3dB and in fact when I ran this on an evening (admittedly a Friday evening) it was at 0.3dB.

Low SNR, very low in the evening and problems arising in the middle of the night when everyone but the computer is asleep?  Surely this is exactly the situation where RouterStats will help? 
Community Veteran
Posts: 19,102
Thanks: 443
Fixes: 21
Registered: ‎31-08-2007

Re: Broadband stability problem?

No, as you clearly didn't understand the specific problem. There are 2 separate issues, only one of which RSL might help with. Karde undoubted read your reply #2 and will do whatever they feel necessary. Just because you chose not to address the other issues does not validate your reply #4, which was totally unnecessary.
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,319
Thanks: 86
Fixes: 3
Registered: ‎08-01-2008

Re: Broadband stability problem?

Gents (Ladies?), let's please let's not argue about how best to assist a fellow Plusnet user.
Both of you have history of very helpful posts but I think RR's post was a bit unnecessary (and out of character).
@Karde, sorry about this, let them have their moment but, once the silliness disappear I'm certain you'll get the best possible advice available on the entire internet.
Call me 'w23'
At any given moment in the universe many things happen. Coincidence is a matter of how close these events are in space, time and relationship.
Opinions expressed in forum posts are those of the poster, others may have different views.
Community Veteran
Posts: 4,908
Thanks: 135
Fixes: 25
Registered: ‎14-07-2009

Re: Broadband stability problem?

Quote from: Karde
The various tests I performed where all done with a wired ethernet connection to make sure they were as precise as possible.  That said - my router & main PC are very close to each other so wireless signal is pretty much a none issue, constantly at 5 bar signal and various ping tests on the router as well as programs such as inSSIDer show no problems.

Your reference to a 'main PC' seems to imply that you have more than one, so do they all suffer problems?  If your wireless signal strength is good then it is unlikely the loss of internet is a wireless issue but I have seen faulty wireless adaptors (on either the router or the computer) that behave as you describe, losing the signal and sometimes failing to reconnect.  So I think it is still very important to establish if the problems you see still arise with a wired connection.  And on all your computers.
SNRs tend to fall-off at night and this can lead to two possible problems; either your router can lose sync or the error rate on your signal can rise so high as to render it effectively very slow as most data packets get corrupted and have to be re-transmitted.  Running RouterStats or RouterStats Lite will enable you to monitor what is happening to your SNR, and if your router loses sync, without the need for you to stay up all night constantly checking.
Anotherone is absolutely right; my answer only addresses two possible causes of what may be multiple issues with multiple causes.  But personally, I favour a step-by-step approach.  If we can eliminate the possibility that the problems you observe are down to a wireless issue or confined to one PC then I see that as making good progress.  And by running Routerstats we should see if your concerns over SNR are justified or a red herring.

By the way
Quote from: Anotherone
As you are clearly on a 21CN service, your US seems to have been banded back to the capped value

or it was never unbanded by Plusnet.  As ADSL2+ was rolled-out, Plusnet initially worried that there might be problems with unbanded upstream connections so if you were moved to ADSL2+ a year or two ago your connection might have remained banded at 448kbps.  More recently Plusnet stopped worrying and no longer impose banding.  I think I read that they have a rolling program of unbanding the previously banded connections but I don't know if that has completed yet.
Community Veteran
Posts: 19,102
Thanks: 443
Fixes: 21
Registered: ‎31-08-2007

Re: Broadband stability problem?

And you think I didn't know that  Huh
Quote from: Karde
I used to get over 1 MPBS upload on my connection but now never get over 0.37

Don't think there's any need to comment further on that.
Karde clearly isn't daft judging by the structure of the post and has clearly checked out several things in a logical manner and at no point have I suggested not taking a step by step approach  Roll eyes
Whilst what you say about SNRM's after dark is generally true (I've never said anything different), how much an individual line's SNRM drops at night will depend upon the particular line's conditions. The stats and Karde's post certainly don't suggest there is any particular problem with losing sync on a regular or repeated basis, the DS sync speed isn't banded and the Target SNRM doesn't seem to have been raised, and the torrent downloads seem to be completing as Karde has mentioned they need to be redone.  I don't think I suggested staying up all night to check the SNRM, nor did I say anything about not running RouterStats. I have suggested some checks to discover if one can still talk to the modem/router after one of these "lock-up" events (one suggestion tongue in cheek) and RouterStats does not provide that information.
However, now that you've drawn attention to running RouterStats and talking about a step-by-step approach, actually thinking about it, I would not recommend running RouterStats on the nights or times that the Torrents are running until one had discovered more about the circumstances of this "lock-up". RouterStats will affect the way the modem/router uses its resources. That's working on the assumption that the basic circumstances surrounding the "lock-up" event are going to be checked. After that, well it depends on how much of an ongoing problem it is.
Community Veteran
Posts: 4,908
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Registered: ‎14-07-2009

Re: Broadband stability problem?

Quote from: Anotherone
And you think I didn't know that  Huh

The quantity of your submissions to the forum amply demonstrates that you know a great deal.  But do you really think that Routerstats will affect the normal running of a router.  It polls the router every 15 seconds (by default) for a small quantity of data.  The data bandwidth consumed must be negligible so I presume you think that the router must be 'distracted' from its normal operations?  In which case this implies that running a speed/latency test with or without Routerstats running should show different results.  I'd be surprised if anyone could produce figures to demonstrate that is so but very interested to see the data. 
Plusnet Alumni (retired) orbrey
Plusnet Alumni (retired)
Posts: 10,540
Registered: ‎18-07-2007

Re: Broadband stability problem?

Guys, come on - this is starting to look a little silly with the unnecessary back-and-forthing. You're both very knowledgeable people and we're very grateful for your input to these forums.
@Karde - hope the test socket testing is going well, and regarding torrents - some routers can have difficulty with the number of connections that come with torrenting, though it's a bit of a surprise to hear it affects a linksys - maybe that's not it, but I've seen a few issues of that type. As ever some routers handle it better, some don't. I know a mate had a SoHo firewall that used to just break the connection when one of his housemates started a torrent off.