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Windows 7: troubleshooting frequent DSL internet drops

24 Mar 2013   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
troubleshooting frequent DSL internet drops

I've had DSL disconnections since early January. I've ruled out the following possible causes-

* in-home wiring. I've wired up a new phone line jack with a fresh cable and 6' phone cord to the modem, and still get drops. I've unplugged the kitchen phone and its DSL filter, with no improvement. I replaced the Ethernet cable. I also swapped the modem's AC adapter to a totally different jack, in case my Belkin surge protector was the issue, and no change.
* malware. Just did that in the security sub-forum last night. I've run malware scans the past couple of months, including several last night. Found nothing whatsoever. I've run 7 different known legit programs(MSE, Malwarebytes, TDSSkiller, Spybot, ESET, SuperAntiSpyware and HitmanPro) and found nothing. Just now I unplugged the Ethernet cable and let the modem connect on its own without the PC, and the connection still died after 4-5 minutes so the PC doesn't seem to affect this one way or the other. So not only do I appear to be free of malware, I can rule it out as the cause.

I do not run a router of any kind. I am wired up direct to the phone line and PC, no wireless. I've installed very little on my PC the past few months- 2 AV programs last night, some freeware games. I reinstalled Minecraft a week ago after ditching it a few months back.

Now then... when this first started it happened between roughly midnight and 6 AM. Then it became more frequent and now I tend to get kicked off after 2-5 minutes. sometimes I'm lucky and get on for a few hours. Yesterday I was able to get about an hour of play on MapleStory- roughly 40 minutes straight then a few more short bouts after disconnects. This has severely affected my ability to play any online games though.

I'm on the small town local phone company/ISP, not a major company. They are upgrading my area to fiber optic and I may have that in the next 2-3 months, depending. This means no more DSL. One of my suspicions is that their service upgrade through this area is impacting DSL. Another is that their DSL subscriptions are oversold and its affecting customers.

I am also hearing noises/static on the phone, especially during long distance calls. I have even heard this noise during calls made while the modem was shut off. I can't say for 100% certain they're related but... some of the disconnects happened during noise. I've had a few drops when the phone rings, such as just a little bit ago today.

So then, I have a phone company tech coming out Tuesday. Could this be a modem issue? I've had this Netopia modem for 6 years. The phone line noise suggests not but they can replace it for free(it's their property) which I think I'll do regardless. But does anyone think the upgrading to fiber optic is the likely cause of my problems? It could be a bad cable- I do not have an NID box, my house has an old box where a copper wire comes out of the ground and two wires wrap around threaded copper bolts. Two wires. I can't even upgrade my home to a 2nd phone line with that. But what's the point of them digging and installing a new wire, if they have to do that anyway when they upgrade my home to fiber optic?

My System SpecsSystem Spec

24 Mar 2013   #2

W7 Pro SP1 64bit

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Diosoth View Post
... Could this be a modem issue?...
Yes and no: the line noise is probably the issue. Some modems handle line noise better than others.

If you don''t mind sharing - who is your ISP?

Some ISP's are not running fiber all the way to the home. They stop at some point and convert it to copper twisted pair for the last part of the haul. Other ISPs put a Optical Network Translator in/on your home.

edit: I found this link:
wade thru the text and see the images below.
I know that it deals with TV via copper twisted pair, but this is also how AT&T delivers their internet.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Mar 2013   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

SEI Data, which is the internet side of Southeastern Indiana Rural Telephone Cooperative. I get my long distance, other phone services and DSL as a single package.

I think they're pushing the "fiber to the home" upgrade as a full thing to each actual house. But they've mostly been working on the commercial and dense residential areas first while also having to wire up the massive rural areas. If this is line noise it could be a result of the upgrade process or some other ISP issue and this old modem can't handle it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

24 Mar 2013   #4

W7 Pro SP1 64bit

It does sound like they will be putting the ONT on your home :-)
...some day :-(

When the noise on the line happens, does the person on the other end hear it too? If so, can you call their support staff during that noisy time? If could be that your line tests fine, but someone else's line is causing a problem on your line in some junction box. The problem might only appear when that other line is in use. There is not much we can do except speculate.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Mar 2013   #5

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Yes, people I'm talking to can hear the noise. Calling my ISP... well, the noises are rather random and seem to mostly happen during long distance calls. I can't predict them or force them. I asked neighbors, the few with land line phones said no noise but they may not have paid attention, or written it off. Some neighbors have no land lines and rely on cell phones. I'm the only one local with DSL, it seems- and one of the few with a computer.

I was able to stay on solid for roughly 90 minutes and play MapleStory- then got cut off, reconnected, and got maybe 5 more minutes. I also stayed on for a solid hour overnight when I was running ESET.

I restarted my PC 20 minutes ago- needed an excuse to open the case and clean dust out anyway- but haven't seen any change to the behavior of my connection. Didn't expect to with my proir testing unhooked from the PC.

I should rule it out- any remote chance this is RF interference? My only recent home additions were a new AC last January after my old one died, and a new Belkin surge protector last March after my hard drive got baked during a power outage. I'm generally doubting anything's interfering with the modem that way, unless old age is affecting it. I'm certain the new DVD drive in my PC isn't the cause as this began before I even bought that.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Mar 2013   #6

W7 Pro SP1 64bit

I doubt that the dropouts are due to RF. You would have to be pretty close to a major energy source. For instance, that article mentions a 600W transmitter 200 feet away from the where the wiring comes above ground. I just posted that link to show how AT&T is wiring things: fiber or cable to residential alleys - then twisted pair for the last leg.

As far as why they are wanting to replace your copper twisted pair: that is pretty much the norm at this point. Even if you are going to get fiber soon. There is a list of things to try and replacing their last leg is where they are on that list.

I really doubt that running new copper twisted pair will fix the problem. But a newer modem might just handle the noise enough to keep you connected. Since this happens at night, then the issue seems to be related to other user's activity.

You can ask them not to dig up the yard - but they probably will ignore any calls/complaints between now and when you get fiber. (Around here, they typically do not dig. It is more of a wedge that splits open the soil. The copper twisted pair is only 6 to 8 inches under ground.)

I've looked at the log files keep by some DSL modems and they keep a ton of info. Maybe your newer modem will also help them to track down any future problems.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Mar 2013   #7

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by UsernameIssues View Post
Since this happens at night, then the issue seems to be related to other user's activity.

It started happening at night back in January. Now it happens throughout the entire 24-hour day. When it started my modem would usually reconnect after a minute and it happened maybe 3-5 times a night. Now I can get dropped after 2 minutes and I often have to power cycle the modem for 30 seconds to reconnect.

Granted, it is possible the cable is bad- it's been buried probably 25 years and this happened right after some cold weather- possible that age and wear finally caused underground damage. or the nearest junction box is bad. Not enough to affect phone service but enough for DSL.

This is my line average stats when the service is up. Numbers vary a bit though- upstream data rate can drop as low as the 150 range and some of my upload speeds have been a snail's pace at times which makes email attachments difficult. I did see a very slight improvement on the new phone jack but I cut back from a 25-foot phone cord to a 6-foot so I think it would improve.

As for modem logs, I gather that the modem will often try to reconnect after a drop, fail to resolve a new IP and time out. After so many attempts it quits trying and I have to switch off for 30 seconds. But this browser interface is such 90s-era worthless garbage it's hard to really get much info out of it at times.

I've also run the onboard modem diagnostic several times, everything(excluding USB which I don't use) is a PASS. It's a Netopia 2241N, SN 25448416
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Mar 2013   #8

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Phone company tech came out today and replaced the modem with a Comtrend CT-5072T. He said my old Netopia was really designed for a 1.5M speed, being as old as it is, which is fine because that was what I got when I signed up. Now the service is 4M and the modem was probably unable to handle it well.

When I got the service my download speeds were usually at 150 Kilobyte/s, the last year it's been more around 400-450, up to 475 at times.

The new modem hasn't cut off yet but I'll monitor it, put it through some download stress tests and see if the connection dies but so far it hasn't.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 troubleshooting frequent DSL internet drops

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