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Slow daytime speeds and daily connection drops

Creamtrumpet
Grafter
Posts: 27
Registered: 15-02-2009

Slow daytime speeds and daily connection drops

Hi,
For a couple of weeks I've been experiencing daily broadband connection dropouts in the late afternoon. It always appears happen between 4:15pm - 5:15pm. I can almost set my watch by it. Internet speeds have been slow during the day and become even slower just before the connection drops. Following the connection drop, it does often reconnect, but it never syncs properly and I am forced to reset my modem. After I do so, there's a big improvement in speed and the line doesn't drop again. This is an issue that's only appeared in the past couple of weeks and it's become a real annoyance. I am currently barely getting 2Mbps download speed during the day before 5:30pm. Previously, I was pulling at least 5Mbps, often more, at all times of day. Any idea what could be behind this significant drop in daytime speed and daily connection loss?
I confess that my modem is not left on 24 hours a day - I know that's not recommended as it can cause cause sync issues and prevent the line operating at maximum speed. However, I have always done this during the 10 years I've been a Plusnet broadband customer and have not experienced any problems before. I have eliminated the possibility of interference and wiring problems. Everything appears to be fine in that regard. I have also eliminated the possibility of it being a computer side issue - I've used two different machines and the same connection issues occur.
Any assistance in solving this issue would be greatly appreciated.
Modem Stats
Downstream    Upstream
Data rate (Kbps)
9175                      1016
Noise margin (dB)
6.0                         5.8

Output power (dBm)
0.0                       12.9

Attenuation (dB)
45.0               24.9
BT Speedtest Results
Download speed achieved during the test was - 1.55 Mbps
Ping Latency (ms) - 46.88
For your connection, the acceptable range of speeds is 2 Mbps-7.15 Mbps.
IP Profile for your line is - 8.09 Mbps
Upload speed achieved during the test was - 0.4Mbps
Upstream Rate IP profile on your line is - 0.83 Mbps

Plusnet Line Speed

Estimated line speed:
There's no speed estimate currently held on your account.
Current line speed:
    6.7 Mb
15 REPLIES
Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 10,477
Thanks: 1,929
Fixes: 19
Registered: 22-08-2007

Re: Slow daytime speeds and daily connection drops

Hi,
If you can set your watch by it, then it has all the hallmarks of electrical interference from some timer switched on device or the switching on of something like a TV when the kids get home form school.  The TV need not be in your property, but could be nearby.
You PN profile is lower than your BT profile - though this is not helpful, it has nothing to do with the disconnects.
I would STRONGLY recommend that you stop switching off your router.  Though it is not likely to have any bearing on this specific issue, it is not ideal.
What router are you using?  The format of the stats suggests that it is not one of the more common ones - I'd like to determine if it will work with RouterStats - it would be useful to plot the router's stats through the period you report the disconnection issues.  See http://www.vwlowen.co.uk/internet/files.htm
Plusnet Help Team
Plusnet Help Team
Posts: 12,859
Thanks: 115
Fixes: 35
Registered: 27-04-2007

Re: Slow daytime speeds and daily connection drops

Hi Creamtrumpet,
Sorry to hear about the issue.
Although It's clear from this graph of your connections and disconnections that there is a drop around the time you mentioned not leaving the router on constantly (which is what they're designed for) makes it hard for us to see the difference between you switching it on and off and a fault with the service.
<img src="http://community.plus.net/visualradius/generated/image13988684181281.png"/>
We totally understand and respect the reasons as to why some people might not want to leave the router on 24/7 but as per what I told a family member that I had to convince this was the best way is that turning devices like a router on and off instead of leaving them on tends to put more strain on them and can lead to faults.
With that in mind I don't like the sound of what you've mentioned about needing to reboot the router to get the connection to work correctly again, that should never need to be the case and may mean there's an issue with your router. Are you able to get  your hands on another known-working one I wonder?
If this post resolved your issue please click the 'This fixed my problem' button
 Adam Walker
 Plusnet Help Team
Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 10,477
Thanks: 1,929
Fixes: 19
Registered: 22-08-2007

Re: Slow daytime speeds and daily connection drops

Adam,
I note that the snap-shot you've taken does not show a disconnect late afternoon on 22nd April.  Is it possible to look back from that date and see if this issue can be identified prior to that date.

Creamtrumpet,
Is it possible that post 22nd April you acquired a new electrical device, changed the timer on something - for example switching heating on later (after you switch on the router)?  The connection graph suggests that the event time varies between 15:00 and 17:15 - does that help identify a "switching" event in the household?
Creamtrumpet
Grafter
Posts: 27
Registered: 15-02-2009

Re: Slow daytime speeds and daily connection drops

Thanks for your help and advice, guys.
As far as I can tell, nothing is being switched on or off in the house to cause interference. No timers recently altered or introduced. No new electrical devices. Can't be sure of anything in neighbouring houses. However, I'm in a detached house, so if that is indeed the cause then it would surely have to be something pretty substantial to create enough interference. I use a wired connection to the router, if that makes a difference to the diagnosis.
Yeah, I appreciate that it's hard to see from the graph which disconnections are the modem being turned off and which are service dropouts. The noticeable gaps are periods when the modem is turned off. However, I can see from the graph that there are regular connection interruptions during the afternoon, especially around the times I mentioned. You will note that evenings/ early hours of the morning are all fine, just as I described. Clearly something is going on during the afternoon that's disrupting my connection. Could it be a local exchange issue?
I'm using a Belkin F5D9630-4 modem/router. It is a few years old now, so I guess it is possible there could be an issue with it. However, it seems odd that it would have a problem only at a particular time of day. I'll see if I can set up RouterStats to log during the problem period. Maybe that will help shed some light on things.
Plusnet Help Team
Plusnet Help Team
Posts: 12,859
Thanks: 115
Fixes: 35
Registered: 27-04-2007

Re: Slow daytime speeds and daily connection drops

Hi Creamtrumpet,
Looking at this in terms of the "long game" I agree it's unlikely that a router issue would cause problems at a particular time of day I'd still recommend trying another if you can before we take this further.
My reasoning is that (and as you may see from other posts on these forums) that we'd need to report a fault with our suppliers (BT Wholesale) and that's likely to involve an engineer visit as a matter of course. Such visits can lead to you being charged if the fault is found to be due to your equipment too.
Do give routerstats a go but in the end I think this is something we'll need to follow up through our faults process
If this post resolved your issue please click the 'This fixed my problem' button
 Adam Walker
 Plusnet Help Team
Creamtrumpet
Grafter
Posts: 27
Registered: 15-02-2009

Re: Slow daytime speeds and daily connection drops

Thanks for the speedy reply, Adam.
I don't have another modem/router to try, unfortunately. However, as this one is getting rather long in the tooth, I might purchase a new one, just so that can be eliminated. I'll also try using RouterStats for a few days to help try to build a clearer picture of exactly what's going on.
Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 10,477
Thanks: 1,929
Fixes: 19
Registered: 22-08-2007

Re: Slow daytime speeds and daily connection drops

Adam,
An "off the wall" thought...
Given this user keeps turning their router off is there any possibility that these afternoon disconnects are the DLM attempting a "better" profile after a period of good connectivity?
Is it practical to obtain the disconnection reasons for the events in question?
The radius log plot only shows single disconnections in the afternoon since 23rd April - a RouterStats plot (though a bit of a fiddle) might illuminate what is causing theses events.
Kevin
Creamtrumpet
Grafter
Posts: 27
Registered: 15-02-2009

Re: Slow daytime speeds and daily connection drops

Update:
I managed to install RouterStats Lite (couldn't get the other version to work) and have been monitoring it for a few days. I'm still experiencing line drops almost daily during the same late afternoon period (3pm - 5:15pm), but using RouterStats I've been able to see a pattern emerging that appears to be related to the drop outs. The Noise Margin on the line seems to waver around 6db for much of the day, but suddenly drops in the late afternoon. Weirdly, it drops below 0db, and when it does, my connection is lost. It then takes a while for the line to stabilise. Once stabilised, the Noise Margin returns to 6db, though my speed drops by around 1000kbps. In addition, I have noticed that Interleaving is off during the morning and afternoon, but it's switched on just before 6pm. Once the interleaving is switched on, the line seems to become more stable, and the Noise Margin drops to a consistent, unwavering 0db.
I've attached two grabs of the RouterStats Noise Margin graph from today. Note the drop below 0db at 17:09 - this is when the connection was lost. The second grab shows the change to 0db when interleaving is turned on.
Interestingly, I didn't get any disconnects over the Bank Holiday weekend (nobody around to be fiddling with the line. Coincidence?).
Does this pattern help explain what the problem might be? To me, it suggests something is being done, either by Plusnet or by BT,  to cause the Noise Margin drop and interleaving switch during the mid to late afternoon.
Plusnet Staff
Plusnet Staff
Posts: 6,346
Thanks: 31
Fixes: 5
Registered: 26-11-2011

Re: Slow daytime speeds and daily connection drops

Is there anything that you can think of that changes at that particular time?
It would seem a little odd if this happened at around the same time everyday, it would lead me to think that it's something set on a timer or something similar - this could be internal or external, it can be a little tricky to track down!
Chris Pettitt
Cloud Environments Engineer
Creamtrumpet
Grafter
Posts: 27
Registered: 15-02-2009

Re: Slow daytime speeds and daily connection drops

Thanks for the reply, Chris.
Already ruled it out being something in the house being switched on/off/on a timer.
As I say, I had no problems over the Bank Holiday weekend, so that rules out interference from a daily timer switch device somewhere nearby, I think.
Is there anything that Plusnet or BT do during the late afternoon that might be the cause of the disconnections? Traffic shaping? Gateway switching? What could cause a sudden drop in the line Noise Margin?
Plusnet Staff
Plusnet Staff
Posts: 6,346
Thanks: 31
Fixes: 5
Registered: 26-11-2011

Re: Slow daytime speeds and daily connection drops

No problem.
Not that I can think of, if we did, it would cause a large number of our customers to drop their connection, which it doesn't :/ It was fine over Bank Holiday, could there have been something in use locally, I'm thinking industrial or any other businesses in the area? They may have some electronic equipment that could be causing interference - it may seem like a long shot but I've come across this happening too many times!
@Townman - Sorry I missed your post before, we can see certain messages as to why the connection has dropped, (I think I've listed them on a thread to you somewhere....*starts digging*), I'll track those messages down tomorrow. In the meantime, I'd like to see if there's anything locally that could cause this kind of issue.
Chris Pettitt
Cloud Environments Engineer
Creamtrumpet
Grafter
Posts: 27
Registered: 15-02-2009

Re: Slow daytime speeds and daily connection drops

I can't think of anything in the area that might be causing this issue. There are only a few houses between me and the green BT connection box, no industrial or business properties nearby. Of course, it could be something being messed with at the local exchange, which is just under a mile away.
Is there an explanation as to why interleaving is off in the daytime, but then on during the evening? Is this something Plusnet instigates? I'm just a tad confused as to why the noise margin during the day wavers around 6db, but then after the interleaving is switched on, it drops to a rock steady 0db. Ideally, what should the noise margin be?
Plusnet Staff
Plusnet Staff
Posts: 6,346
Thanks: 31
Fixes: 5
Registered: 26-11-2011

Re: Slow daytime speeds and daily connection drops

Not from what I can see, unfortunately. Interleaving is off at the moment.
It's likely that in the evenings, that something is causing a burst of errors on your line which Interleaving tries to deal with. Once the errors have gone, Interleaving is no longer required as the line is not erroring.
I would suspect that when Interleaving removes itself, it may drop your connection for the change to take effect. We can change the Interleaving option to either ON/OFF/AUTO - it's currently on Auto so it sticks itself on when it needs to.
I'd raise a fault at http://faults.plus.net it might be an idea to have an engineer take a look over things, you never know what might have changed on the network.
Chris Pettitt
Cloud Environments Engineer
Creamtrumpet
Grafter
Posts: 27
Registered: 15-02-2009

Re: Slow daytime speeds and daily connection drops

Thanks for the help, Chris,
After monitoring RouterStats for a week or so, I can see a pattern of behaviour in regards to interleaving. It appears to be off all morning and afternoon, meaning it's still off when the mid-afternoon connection problems occur. It usually gets switched on between 5pm - 6pm (today it was switched on just before 5pm). As soon as it's turned on, the noise margin drops to a solid, consistent 0db.
Do you think it would be worth switching interleaving permanently on or off rather than having it on auto? I'm not sure which is preferable though. Is 0db better than 6db for line stability? Judging by the RouterStats data, I'd have said 0db is more stable, so therefore interleaving ON is preferable. However, I admit my knowledge about these things is rather limited so I may be way off the mark with that conclusion!
I actually haven't had a disconnection so far today. The RouterStats noise margin graph shows a hiccup at around 3pm, where it briefly went up to 7db and then dropped to 5.5db before returning to is regular 6db-ish level, but it didn't fall below 0db, which usually causes the disconnections.
I'll continue monitoring RouterStats for a few more days. If the disconnections keep happening, I'll raise a fault, as you suggest.