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Need new DSL modem


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#1 ThaCrip

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 10:17

http://www.newegg.co...N82E16825165003 (for $27.99)

i am thinking of getting that DSL modem for my AT&T internet (my connect speed is 1536kbps down/384kbps up (i.e. 160KB/s / 40KB/s)). but what i am wondering is... are all DSL modems pretty much the same in quality?

my current DSL modem that AT&T gave me (Speedstream 4100) i had since Nov 2006 but i am pretty sure it's acting up as i can't keep a stable connection anymore with it over the last few weeks or so now (it basically disconnects probably a couple times a hour and it's very annoying) and it had some faint noise (like hissing sound) coming from it to if you get close to it. i don't think it's the DSL filters either. i currently have a total of 3 DSL filters in use (used to be four a while ago but i think that one went bad as it would often connect at a slower speed but after i found the one i think was faulty it generally stays at the 1536kbps now(this was months ago now)) counting the one on the DSL modem.

because normally if i get bad weather it kind of acts up but even when it's perfectly fine outside it's been consistently acting up over roughly the last few weeks now which makes me think the DSL modem is going bad as when it does disconnect the lights on the modem appear to be perfectly fine (like the line itself is good) as usually if you get bad weather or something like that it will flash with the red light saying the DSL line connection is bad but over these past few weeks or so the lights on the DSL modem are pretty much all green (like they should be). i do see it disconnect though briefly on the DSL modem itself here and there to like when you access the DSL modems configuration page.

so does it sound pretty safe that the DSL modem is going bad?

also, i am going to get a few DSL filters to just in case. but it's safe to assume all DSL filters are pretty much the same in quality?

Thanks for you're time ;)

p.s. i know that modem does not have PPPoE in it but ill just use my ASUS WL-520GU router to make the PPPoE connection which is what i am basically doing now on my current modem even though it does have it's own PPPoE. ill also have to figure out how to change the DSL modem's address from it's default of 192.168.1.1 back to say 192.168.0.1 (like my current DSL modem is).


#2 V9s

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 13:15

Yeap...sounds like your dsl modem is going. It's pretty old so that's expected.

Why don't you call your internet provider and ask them to replace the dsl modem or check your connection?

I had an old modem that would disconnect frequently due to noise in the line (not audible noise mind you - interference that would affect the dsl connectivity), called my provider up and they replaced the modem with one that could handle the bad line. Newer dsl modems are better with line noise.

#3 Mindovermaster

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 13:18

What he said. I had DSL/Cable modems die on me. AT&T and Time Warner both gave me a replacement modem free.

I have my own router, that I connect all my home computers.

#4 OP ThaCrip

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 23:32

Why don't you call your internet provider and ask them to replace the dsl modem or check your connection?


AT&T and Time Warner both gave me a replacement modem free.


i would imagine those line checks are pretty much useless since if they run the check while my DSL is working won't it just come back on their end as normal? (i don't know the details on how their checks work though so i could be wrong)

also, i am not renting the modem from them (back when i got it, i had to buy it and then used their mail-in-rebate so it was pretty much free) so i would imagine they would try to sell me a modem at a high price which is why i never bothered to call them.

so assuming the line is fine and they won't replace the modem for free... is that modem in my initial post okay?

Thanks for you're time.

#5 Mindovermaster

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 23:49

Call up your ISP, see what is available. The worst thing you can say is no. They do not charge for modem use. They will charge for a modem/router setup.

#6 boo_star

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 03:42

Not useless, no.

They can determine if its a noisy line or equipment failure.

Either way it's better to go the ISP route first and if it doesn't work out, look at internal wiring/equipment if they say there isn't a fault.

#7 OP ThaCrip

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 08:13

as far as the internal wiring thing (which i assume means in my house)... chances are it's fine if it's been working for years fairly well up until recently, right? (because it's basically been sitting there the same way for years now) ; but i guess it can't hurt to have them run a basic check on it and then go from there.

but when you call them and tell them you think the DSL modem is going (like can't keep a stable connection for any length of time) i assume they can run a quick test on their end and determine if it's their line and if it's not is it pretty safe to assume my DSL modem is going out?

also, i noticed this in my DSL modem statistics... SN Margin (dB) is generally in the 11-14db range (it's even raining a bit outside to at the moment) as i assume that's a decent signal according to what i found online which i posted below...

taking a quick look online i see this for the db levels...

6dB or below is bad and will experience no synch or intermittent synch problems
7dB-10dB is fair but does not leave much room for variances in conditions
11dB-20dB is good with no synch problems
20dB-28dB is excellent
29dB or above is outstanding

EDIT: i was just refreshing the page some more and i seen it hit as low as 7db. but i imagine it's generally in the 11range or a bit better. so lets just say it drops connection to where the DSL modem is having issues syncing... ain't that when the general RED DSL light starts flashing meaning it can't sync as i still have a green light on modem. (because even when the light is solid green like normal it has issues keeping a stable connection when in the past it seemed to only act up when you got the obvious flashing RED DSL light in which case it's normal at that point for the internet not to work)

#8 V9s

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 16:38

as far as the internal wiring thing (which i assume means in my house)... chances are it's fine if it's been working for years fairly well up until recently, right? (because it's basically been sitting there the same way for years now) ; but i guess it can't hurt to have them run a basic check on it and then go from there.

but when you call them and tell them you think the DSL modem is going (like can't keep a stable connection for any length of time) i assume they can run a quick test on their end and determine if it's their line and if it's not is it pretty safe to assume my DSL modem is going out?

also, i noticed this in my DSL modem statistics... SN Margin (dB) is generally in the 11-14db range (it's even raining a bit outside to at the moment) as i assume that's a decent signal according to what i found online which i posted below...

taking a quick look online i see this for the db levels...

6dB or below is bad and will experience no synch or intermittent synch problems
7dB-10dB is fair but does not leave much room for variances in conditions
11dB-20dB is good with no synch problems
20dB-28dB is excellent
29dB or above is outstanding

EDIT: i was just refreshing the page some more and i seen it hit as low as 7db. but i imagine it's generally in the 11range or a bit better. so lets just say it drops connection to where the DSL modem is having issues syncing... ain't that when the general RED DSL light starts flashing meaning it can't sync as i still have a green light on modem. (because even when the light is solid green like normal it has issues keeping a stable connection when in the past it seemed to only act up when you got the obvious flashing RED DSL light in which case it's normal at that point for the internet not to work)


Trust me, it's your dsl modem that's dying.

I had a similar issue, the SNR would be fine one moment, net would work, then all of a sudden the SNR would go out of whack and the net would disconnect and the dsl modem would try to sync again. The red dsl light usually indicates an authentication error (i.e. your connection couldn't be authenticated with the server in the exchange).

Newer dsl modems can handle SNR variations much better.

#9 Mando

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 16:57

last upgrade I did to my dsl modem/router gave me better connection speeds (only 450kbps download more but substantial on a 12Mbit connection) and increased wifi support/speeds ("n" 300Mbps) over "g"s 54Mbps with my Wifi "n" devices.

Bare in mind also that modems/routers are built with passive cooling and spend their lives quite hot inside/out ;) they do degrade over time, all that heating/cooling is never good on circuitry. And the ones supplied by your ISP are not selected due to features & functions/performance, but on cost when an ISP throws them in free.

Newer ones also support the latest adsl2+ which your old one may not fully (or support draft mode)

If you want cheap/decent Ive found the TP-Link stuff to be decent for the money, failing that get an Asus router for xDSL

Ive personally used Asus adsl modem/routers for the last few years, with great personal results. Customers looking for cheap cheerful yet functional, ive pointed to TP-Link products.

In Regards to your SNR etc, remove all devices except the PC router (remove all connected phones, answering machines, any extension lines) and test from your master socket.

Don't know about USA but in the UK the master socket has a horizontal break on it.
You remove the top plate to reveal the "test socket" behind the plate. Check your SNR at this point and stability of connection.
This is where in the UK your ISPs line terminates (and their responsibility ends) in the UK you can have to pay up for BT/Telco to fix anything past the "master test socket" (do it yourself its so easy, use cat5 cable and Krohn tool to connect the pairs)

IF your ~SNR improves for a period of time, and stability remains, its your modem or the issue is with your extension lines from here, a device on the extensions who has a faulty or missing microfilter is also a possible root cause (these also degrade over the years, replace every 2-3yr) all may be creating crosstalk/noise on the data filter resulting in drops of connectivity which would show as everything's fine from the ISP point of view remotely.

It could also be a "dry joint" in your PSTN line outside, if its worse in rainy or wet weather then that's a good root cause also.

Ive seen all sorts play havoc with PSTN and data comms, from Noisey old fridges knocking out Wifi signals and DSL on the other side of the internal wall, to Cheap Chinese christmas tree lights creating havoc with ISP modem/routers not uncommon.

ensuring you test at their point of entry to your premises ensures the fault will lie with them (outwith the router of course).

#10 OP ThaCrip

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 03:05

Well thanks for all of the advice everyone. i went ahead and placed the order for the DSL modem (and 3 DSL filters just in case) for $49.99 out the door.

and it's nice to see some reassurance there 'V9s' as i to think odds are it's the modem especially given how old it is (would be 7 years this November) and the way the general internet is acting. before in the past (maybe a year or so ago) it would still work but was fairly often lowering the connect speed and i would have to reboot the DSL modem pretty often to regain the full 1536kbps but after i removed a DSL filter (like just disconnected one of my phones completely) it started staying pretty stable at my max connect speed again and then that lasted pretty good up until the last month or so as even though it's connect speed stays at 1536kbps a large chunk of the time now it has probably a couple disconnects a hour or so (AND... i think it might get a bit worse under a load to. but i can't say for certainty though.) but still keeps the 1536kbps connect speed when it does come back on.

so is it safe to assume if a DSL filter starts going bad that connect speed will start varying like it did on me before or is it still possible to have your DSL modem still connect at it's full speed but disconnect much more often if a DSL filter goes bad?

also, thanks Mando for the fairly detailed description there on running a proper check on the entire DSL system.

Ive personally used Asus adsl modem/routers for the last few years, with great personal results. Customers looking for cheap cheerful yet functional, ive pointed to TP-Link products.


Yeah, i like ASUS products in general as they tend to last (i got a ASUS mobo/ASUS monitor/ASUS router) but i already got a decent (non-N) wireless router and it's good enough for what little i use the wireless.

i guess i just mostly want a DSL modem that will last (and as you said it supports more up to date standards and supposedly ain't as picky on line quality as the older DSL modems) as i am hoping the TP-Link will get me at least another 3-5 years. even if it gets me 3-4+ years it will probably still be a solid pick due to it's cheap/reasonable price as i imagine the more name brand modems are probably in the $50+ range so if this modem can last nearly as long as the name brand modems it will be a all around better pick. plus it's not like my 1536kbps/384kbps will push the modem much. lol

It could also be a "dry joint" in your PSTN line outside, if its worse in rainy or wet weather then that's a good root cause also.


i want to say it is a bit worse when it's raining quite a bit and thundering outside but once i get the new modem ill see how my connection is over the next few months. but i imagine within the first few days or so ill probably be able to tell if the new DSL modem fixed the issue or not and then when it rains ill see how it works then as since summer is less than 2 weeks away i am sure we will have a fair amount of rain over the next month or so.

#11 OP ThaCrip

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 07:07

Well i got the modem and all and it sort of seems better in a way as in when it's connected surfing the internet seems to be a bit more reliable, like pages finish loading more consistently now. but at the same time it's still disconnecting too often (i.e. the problem is not fixed) and i noticed the SNR Margin (according to new DSL modem's GUI) seems to be all over the place (like before basically) with it sometimes being as high as 17 (which is good) and sometimes i seen it drop to -1 or maybe 1-6 area but is usually 10-17 (when it's in these 10-17 ranges it's pretty much fine) and you can even see the 'line status' in the DSL modem GUI trying to reconnect a fair amount to. but you can tell when the signal takes a hit the connection pretty much goes out the window and disconnects etc.

but anyways...

about the only thing left i can do is wait for the DSL filters (the three i ordered) to get here as that's about all i have left to try as i even tried the DSL filter that comes with the new DSL modem and not much seems to change. we also got a phone wire to the pole barn (which has a phone in there with a DSL filter and a single phone) which i believe we had to wire (underground, like from the house outside underground to the barn (it's buried in the ground)) back when we moved into the house in 1994 but i would imagine that's fine.

also, i tried using another jack in my house to just now for the DSL modem and that don't seem to be doing much. so currently there is only 2 phone lines in use and one is on the same jack as the DSL modem itself (in the house) and the other is in the pole barn. so tomorrow i think ill go outside and change the DSL filter to the one in the pole barn and see if that does anything as if that don't do much i am thinking i am pretty much screwed.

but i am starting to wonder if it's a flaky line in the area as i pray it's not something AT&T won't bother to fix (i.e. something out of my control that will be hard for them to find/fix) as using this internet like it is, is pretty damn annoying to the point i would rather not deal with it as i don't mind disconnecting once in a while but this quite often stuff makes using the internet more of a chore.

bottom line... i am just praying it's the DSL filter in the pole barn acting up otherwise there probably ain't much else i can do myself.

side note: it was raining some earlier so it's possible it could have something to do with it but even when it used to act up in the past it was never this bad for this long as it's been consistently acting like the way i was explaining now for probably at least a good month or longer which means it's pretty safe to say it can't be the raining etc since we had plenty of good days in the last month or two and the internet line is still not stable.

p.s. either way, it was probably a good idea to get the new DSL modem as my old one clearly had a noise coming from it which stops after i power it off with it's on/off switch.

#12 OP ThaCrip

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 05:15

well... i messed around with the DSL filter earlier today (i ain't received the new ones yet(which i personally don't think will help at this point. although that's THE last thing i can basically check when they get here)) and i am reasonably sure it's in their line.

so assuming that's true... would it even be worth calling AT&T and telling them? ; since i tested about everything you can reasonably expect it to be (DSL Modem/DSL Filters) and you can see out of no where the signal on the line drops out and disconnects. but it makes me wonder if they will just give me the run around and if they do i think they should be obligated to give me a significantly reduced price if they can't fix it.

p.s. i am just assuming it's not the wiring in the house as more often than not it would be more likely on their end than the house, right? ; given that it's been working here basically fine since Nov 2006 and never started becoming a real issue til about the last month or two makes me thing it's most likely something on their end.

also, do you think i should hook up the old DSL modem that they gave me before i call AT&T since i believe they don't support (like can't troubleshoot) the TP-LINK DSL modem even though i am sure it's fine. but if i do call do you think it would be worth mentioning that i tried a brand new DSL modem and the same issue happens on the one they gave me and the new one.

#13 helpifIcan

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 15:28

If you have a box on the outside of the house there might be a connection that you can unplug (depending on how long ago this was installed) disconect the jack that goes into the house and hook up your modem and laptop if you have one or can borrow. If the signal says steady it's your wiring if it still drops than it's them. This way you force them to solve the problem.

I would only do this if they give you a runaround and as a last resort because this is a bit of trouble.

#14 OP ThaCrip

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 03:31

Well i finally called AT&T earlier today (Monday) and to sum it up they are going to send out someone to check the lines on Wednesday as i told the guy on the phone that i tried two different DSL modems and changed around DSL filters and that my SNR Margin i see drops off when the line acts up etc and then he put me on hold while they ran a check on my line and they came back saying the line was acting up (like they found a line error) about once every 30minutes (they must have something in place that monitors line connection over a period of time) which plays inline with my general experiences as sometimes it's even worse (like acts up more than once every 30minutes) than that and sometimes it's better (like might go maybe a few hours without too much issues).

 

but they asked what modem and model i had and i told them i originally had the Speedstream 4100 but currently had the "TP-LINK TD-8616" in place and they did not complain about it as from what i seen online they apparently don't support it.

 

but i imagine the equipment they use hopefully can narrow down this issue and get it fixed as it would be great just to have a stable connection again that stays connected with only occasional disconnects like it was a while back but hopefully after they fix the line it will be more reliable like Cable internet is which that rarely went down when i used to have it back in the years 2000-2005. because my DSL even before these recent major issues was still clearly not as reliable as Cable was in my experience but it was not to the point it was a big issue though either.

 

but anyways... ill make another post (probably sometime on Thursday) after they send out the repair person and use the internet for about 12-24hours as i figure if it don't act up in that time frame odds are it's fixed.

 

p.s. side note: i received my DSL filters (3 of em) today so i got those just in case i have issues down the road but i probably won't even need them since chances are all of my old DSL filters, which i had since Nov 2006, are still working good enough.



#15 OP ThaCrip

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 03:27

well here is a bit of a update as it took me a while to post this message due to the Neowin website being down for a while and just got back from out of state. but anyways...

 

after they attempted to fix it, it's not 100percent fixed but it did get quite a bit better. so in short... it's up to a standard i can easily live with, so far as the disconnections are generally at a minimum. only a couple disconnections per day tops based on the couple days of testing on it, so far.

 

but basically the AT&T guy said that the house's phone wiring is pretty much shot (i believe him to) as there is a short in the wiring somewhere but since coming into the house would get expensive (said $100 initial charge and then basically $100 per hour after that) he did what he could without charging us (i think he even did a bit more than some other guys would have to. he was cool about it all.) as he somewhat re-wired the DSL line a bit differently (like we can only use the DSL line itself on the phone jack it's currently on) and it was floating in the 2000-2300kbps area at the phone jack in the house and now, after his slight re-wiring, it's in the 3000-3500kbps area to the phone jack connected to the DSL modem. even at the main house jack (the one that's just before it's routed into the house) it's max is a bit over 5000kbps. so that 5000kbps is the theoretical maximum i could get even with perfect lines and i imagine by the time you wire into your house, even with good wiring, you would probably lose some of that speed. either way, it won't matter currently because i only have 1536kbps connect speed as what's currently to the DSL modem is already exceeding the allowed speed anyways.

 

he was also saying that with DSL you can have it drop to 1000kbps or so at the phone jack connected to the DSL modem and it will most likely stay connected but once you start having it drop to 500-700kbps area then it can start having connection issues.

 

but basically i have about another 1000kbps stronger connection (like the low 3000's(after re-wire) vs low 2000's kbps(initially before re-wire)) which my theory is being i got a stronger connection, even though the short (which explains whether related issues with increased moisture etc) is still there, it probably needs to short harder to actually drop the connection and, at least so far, it's been mostly stable now as it kicked out 5am on June 19th and then once in the 3pm area on the 20th of June. i was gone for most of June 21st-June 23rd as it's late the 23rd now so i did not see how it did over the last couple of days now.

 

also, the connection SNR Margin in the DSL modem itself is generally better (when it's at it's best it's 20-ish db where as before at it's best it might have been 17 or so) and i been monitoring it here and there and you can see it drop down like 10-14db, sometimes even a bit less, but luckily it don't stay that way (like below 10db or so) for too long and jumps back up which seems to further suggest my theory is probably right being that it's still shorting like it was before but being i got a stronger connection to begin with it's got to short harder in order to break the connection (i.e. lose internet) which probably explains those couple of disconnects over the first day or two after AT&T doing their slight tweak. because he was saying what he was doing may or may not fix it but he said he felt it had a reasonable change to work otherwise he would have not wasted his time on it as the guy said he was working for AT&T for 17 years or so if i recall correctly.

 

but if it stays roughly at that rate i should be good enough for now but i still want to test it longer to see how it holds up during rain/thunderstorms as i figure by the time i get through this summer with higher humidity etc that should be a good test to see how my line will be for a while. but it does make you wonder if the line will eventually deteriorate even further down the road and eventually hit a point to where you will be forced to re-wire the house's phone wiring otherwise you will get no DSL/no landline phone.

 

p.s. he was even saying the phone line, with the phone itself, is teetering between working and not working. but so far it's not really gave us issues on the phone side of things so it might be just barely stable enough to keep on working as far as the regular phone goes.

 

side note: at the time i type this the DSL SNR Margin is generally in the 12-14db area and it was pretty hot (nearly 90f outside) and basically humid today.