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Insanely high Network Buffer (uplink) making online gaming a no-can-do.

Kritya
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Insanely high Network Buffer (uplink) making online gaming a no-can-do.

http://n2.netalyzr.icsi.berkeley.edu/summary/id=36a470be-18005-6249b620-258e-4363-913f

As seen in the above report, there's an average of 620ms response time when the uplink buffer is used, for online gaming this is an absolute killer as it means every time the buffer is used I am unable to send commands to the server for 600+ ms, in some games this length of time flat out disconnects you from the server.

 

So, I live in a shared flat, and my housemate has the internet in his name. Before I go barging in there asking him to make phone calls and explaining what the uplink buffer is, I need to know if plusnet will actually do anything about this. Will you reduce the buffer so that it is not a problem, or will it just be a case that as the service has no issues in a basic connection test, nothing will be done?

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Re: Insanely high Network Buffer (uplink) making online gaming a no-can-do.

No ISP can control the level of uplink buffer bloat on the BT network.

 

There are two solutions to this problem -

1) Change broadband product to something with a higher upstream bandwidth.

2) Use a MUCH BETTER router which has uplink QoS controls and outbound traffic shaping.

 

I am on 6Mbps ADSL and at times have three gamers (Xbox, Steam, and PC) plus a Netflix (SD) stream, and a music stream, plus two web browsers.  We used to lag to >5000ms,  but by "simply" applying uplink QoS and outbound traffic shaping in our router, we now rarely exceed 40ms and sit around 20mm..30ms most of the time.

 

In addition, if anyone in your house has an iPhone, iPad, or i-whatever,  I would recommend using a router applied uplink and downlink rate limiter (to perhaps 80%)  of the total bandwidth to those devices,  as my experience is that these devices easily (and unnecessarily) saturate a slow internet connection and make every other persons latency unbearable.

 

Last time I looked at tuning buffer bloat on my connection I used the buffer bloat tuning tools on the "DSLReports" website.  I had a look just now and that tool doesn't seem to be working for me, but it may be OK for you.

 

So to answer your question, No, Plusnet will not do anything about this - because they can't, and it's not their problem.  I know that's not the answer you wanted, but that's better than phoning up and having a rant at customer support with no possibility of a satisfactory answer, and being left thinking Plusnet are just making excuses.

 

The first thing to do is find out what "QoS" and uplink "traffic shaping" capability YOUR router has, and then read the handbook on how to use it.

 

I would also check that you are achieving the maximum bandwidth on your broadband connection, as every little improvement helps.  Use a filtered faceplate on your master phone socket, disconnect any phone extension wiring, and connect your broadband modem directly to the filtered faceplate using the shortest possible RJ11 round-profile cable, and don't switch off the modem when it's not in use.

Community Gaffer
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Re: Insanely high Network Buffer (uplink) making online gaming a no-can-do.

I think you need to start looking a little closer to home. Around the time you ran that test, the connection was being heavily utilised.

Between 8pm and 9pm last night about 12GB of data was downloaded and about 0.5GB of data uploaded. That suggests the downstream link was being saturated for almost the full hour.

That's not going to help with in game latency.

Bob Pullen
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Re: Insanely high Network Buffer (uplink) making online gaming a no-can-do.

You might want to consider setting up a ThinkBroadband "Broadband Quality Monitor", to get a continuous graph of how latency is affecting your connection.

 

You do need your router set to reply to external PING requests.

If your router is capable of selective PING replies, then the ThinkBroadband IP addresses to respond to are 80.249.99.164/28 and 2a02:68:1::164

 

Wink

Kritya
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Re: Insanely high Network Buffer (uplink) making online gaming a no-can-do.

I've ran this test multiple times. Times when I've been the only one in my house with only a single firefox tab open. The results are always around this mark, varying from 580-640ms.

 

I was the one who downloaded the data, and it wasn't at the same time as this test being done. Nor is there a noticeable issue with the downlink at only 54ms, as you can see in this repeat test (http://n1.netalyzr.icsi.berkeley.edu/summary/id=369839a0-12906-ef7d0fce-487c-41c1-bca4#DNSLookup) the downlink buffer wasn't even able to be loaded enough for the test, whilst the uplink is still having long delay times.

 

The other user posted saying that this is an issue with the router settings, but from researching, I came across the following result: http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=212996 which is someone else having the same issue as me, in the same game. With the response being "Network Buffers can only be controlled by your ISP, so you have to contact them and hopefully they will adjust them or remove them.".

If this is not the case, then I will be glad to adjust settings in the hub provided by PlusNet, but if the hub itself is causing these issues with default settings then it raises the question of why it's being provided to customers in that state.

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Re: Insanely high Network Buffer (uplink) making online gaming a no-can-do.


Kritya wrote:

I've ran this test multiple times. Times when I've been the only one in my house with only a single firefox tab open. The results are always around this mark, varying from 580-640ms.

... and your point is what ?

When you run a buffer-bloat test, your connection is deliberately saturated, then PING times are measured WHILE the connection is overloaded. This gives the latency of your connection when the router is running flat out.

To reduce the latency, you need to apply uplink QoS/Traffic shaping to REDUCE the uplink bandwidth (to about 85..90%) to give enough headroom for higher priority packets (such as gaming and PING, etc) to take precedence over normal browsing, streaming, and downloading. In addition, by applying router QoS/Limiting, you are moving the point where your upstream is losing packets, and control of TCP ACKs, from the point of lowest uplink bandwidth (i.e. your phone line) to the outgoing buffer in your router. This means your network has much better buffering and stream control, as the local buffer properly handshakes, rather than relying on packet resends otherwise required to recover the lost packets on your WAN port.

 


Kritya wrote:

Network Buffers can only be controlled by your ISP, so you have to contact them and hopefully they will adjust them or remove them."

For the problem you are describing, the above statement is irrelevant.

ISPs, on the BT network, do have limited buffering on the downlink side. but that is to ensure that the rate at which data is sent from their servers to the BT exchange, matches the BT profile.

Uplink isn't really buffered once it leaves you router, as the slowest point in the network is your connection to the telephone exchange. Therefore if you want to improve latency, then YOU need to control the uplink buffer from your network.

The only buffer related issue that Plusnet are likely to help you with, is if the Plusnet "Current Line Speed" profile is incorrectly set higher than the BT "Line profile", which can result in packet loss and latency - because that means Plusnet could be sending more traffic to your exchange than your line can handle.  This seems unlikely from the figures you've quoted.

 

Kritya wrote:

If this is not the case, then I will be glad to adjust settings in the hub provided by PlusNet, but if the hub itself is causing these issues with default settings then it raises the question of why it's being provided to customers in that state.

The equipment provide by Plusnet is the cheapest that they can get away with, that suits the vast majority of customers. It is NOT suitable for demanding users, who require extensive network controls, or low latency.

If I were you, my advise would be to research which router would fit your requirements, and then buy a 'used' router on eBay, as people are always upgrading broadband equipment, and second hand prices are often next to nothing.

 

If you want a better understanding about eliminating latency then watch this YouTube video -

Traffic Shaping with pfSense

This is the video I used to eliminate latency (I run a pfSense router).

To get the explanation on traffic shaping, skip to 15:35, as up until that point is just an overview of pfSense router software.

The principles of what this video explains, can be applied to other routers with QoS / shaping.

 

Good luck !  Wink

Kritya
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Re: Insanely high Network Buffer (uplink) making online gaming a no-can-do.

Rather than go for a router I'm going to take advantage of some wiring in the house and a web-managed switch to control traffic in the way you are describing. None of the devices that would continue to use wifi do anything time critical.

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Re: Insanely high Network Buffer (uplink) making online gaming a no-can-do.

By all means give that a try,  but I'm slightly doubtful whether any 'switch' can manage internet gateway flow control,

as (most) switches tend to have little (if any) buffering, whereas flow-control / QoS / traffic-shaping, requires decent sized buffers AND managed queues for the different levels of traffic priorities (i.e. gaming / VoIP / ICMP / http / torrent / etc).

 

Good luck with your efforts, and let us know how you get on.  Smiley

Kritya
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Re: Insanely high Network Buffer (uplink) making online gaming a no-can-do.

So, while using the switch with a wired connection, everything seemed to work fine.

 

However I wasn't able to test for very long as after a few hours, the plusnet modem stops transmitting to the switch, the only way to get it to transmit again is to go and unplug the ethernet cable from the modem and plug it back in. Restart doesn't work, factory reset doesn't either.

I get that it's a cheap device, but that's not normal behaviour. Any idea what might be up? I've tried ports 1 and 4 so far, can't test another one however as the guy whose room the hub is in is out so his room's locked.

Kritya
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Re: Insanely high Network Buffer (uplink) making online gaming a no-can-do.

The first time this happened I moved from port 1 to 4 (the fix appeared to be physically unplugging the cable and plugging it back in) and it worked for a short time. Since it happened again on port 4 I have tried the following:

Restart hub one remotely.
Restore hub one to factory settings.
Upgraded switch firmware to latest version.
Restore switch to factory settings (before and after firmware upgrade).
Used all 5 ports for incoming line from hub one (all 5 work at gigabit speed connected to my pc).

So I'm rather confused, what appears to have happened is that the hub is no longer sending a signal over the ethernet cable connected to it, despite numerous restarts and resets. But there's no way any router/modem/switch would stop communicating over any of it's ports unless they were no longer working, this case would mean that ports 1 and 4 are both broken, which is highly unlikely. And even if so, why would physically unplugging and replugging the cable fix that?

I've made some changes to the switch, enabled loop protection as I think that might be the culprit for causing the disconnection, but I have no idea why only a physical reseat would cause it to come back to life.

JayG
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Re: Insanely high Network Buffer (uplink) making online gaming a no-can-do.

Ethernet cables can go faulty without any outwardly visible signs - have you tried a different one?

Kritya
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Re: Insanely high Network Buffer (uplink) making online gaming a no-can-do.

I've set it up using a different one, hoping my new setting changes work out. Unfortunately my switch tests have revealed a cable fault, but it's measurements are more than the wiring along the walls + the ethernet cable, so I'm not sure what's up there. Maybe a misread.

Kritya
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Re: Insanely high Network Buffer (uplink) making online gaming a no-can-do.

Apart from a short period of slow speeds yesterday which seems to just have been a temporary issue on plusnets side as it was affecting everyone connected and I didn't change anything for the speeds to return to normal.

 

The switch appears to have solved the issue. The router/switch not talking to each other after a while appears to have been because loops kept occurring, i set up loop prevention and it hasn't dropped since.

With all our pcs connected through the switch and using QoS and limiting upstream from each computer to 80% there have been no issues in games anymore. The upstream buffer isn't a problem if you just don't use all your upload bandwidth.

Community Gaffer
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Re: Insanely high Network Buffer (uplink) making online gaming a no-can-do.

With all our pcs connected through the switch and using QoS and limiting upstream from each computer to 80% there have been no issues in games anymore. The upstream buffer isn't a problem if you just don't use all your upload bandwidth.

Yeah, that is what Nibiru was trying to get you to do with the suggestion of upstream QOS.   You still have the possibility of maxing out your upstream though if you have multiple PCs doing 80% of their available upload, that's likely more than your total upstream bandwidth?

 

Eitherway, glad you've got something sorted.

Superuser
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Re: Insanely high Network Buffer (uplink) making online gaming a no-can-do.

Nice to see you posting again @Kelly  it's been a while?