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    Sky router stats (speed, noise, attenuation) explained

    This is a discussion on Sky router stats (speed, noise, attenuation) explained within the Router stats forums, part of the Broadband Technical Help category; The following has been written specifically for Sky’s ADSL2+ LLU products. However, the principles also apply to Connect. Apologies to ...

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      Sky router stats (speed, noise, attenuation) explained

      The following has been written specifically for Sky’s ADSL2+ LLU products. However, the principles also apply to Connect. Apologies to any technical readers – this has been written with non-technical readers in mind.

      Getting to your router stats

      Several useful pieces of information about your connection can be found within your Sky router’s admin pages. To find these you need to first log in to the router:

      • Open up a web browser (IE, Firefox etc) and type 192.168.0.1 into the address bar and click go or enter.
      • In the screen that appears type admin in the username field and sky in the password field then click OK
      • This gets you to the Netgear Router Status page and at the bottom click Show Statistics.


      You now have sight of your router’s current connection details. For the purposes of this guide I’ll concentrate on the set in the lower box.


      Connection Speed

      You’ll see two columns: Downstream refers to the connection coming from the exchange to you and Upstream refers to the connection going from you to the exchange.

      Most people are interested in their downstream speed. There are a couple of things to note:

      • The figure you see is the actual speed that your router negotiated with exchange when the router was connected and last powered up.
      • If you were to run a speedtest at a test site then you will not see this speed because of transmission overheads – expect up to 80-90% of the router reported connection speed for a very fast site. Slow sites will give a much lower result.
      • The figure reported may not be at all close to the speed you’ve “bought”. This is for a number of reasons which should soon become apparent.


      Line Attenuation

      Again for the purposes of this guide we’re more interested in Downstream Line Attenuation.

      Attenuation is a measure of the loss in power of electromagnetic signals between transmission and reception points. Many factors affect attenuation but by far the largest factor is line length. In simple terms, the further you are away from the exchange the higher your attenuation figure will be as the signal loss increases.

      Attenuation is the single most important factor in determining the speed your router can connect at. You may be signed up for 16Mb Sky Max but you will only get close to this speed if your line is fairly short. As a point of interest whilst you can identify the distance between your home and the exchange “as the crow flies” with a site like www.samknows.com, you can get a reasonable approximation of the actual line length by dividing your (ADSL2+) downstream attenuation by 13.8 to get the distance in kilometers.

      The following table shows the relationship between downstream attenuation and potential connection speed on a low noise line:

      Attenuation.............Approximate Line Length............Potential Connection Speed
      32db...................................2.3km.....................................16000kbps
      35db...................................2.5km.....................................14500kbps
      40db...................................2.9km.....................................11800kbps
      45db...................................3.2km.......................................8500kbps
      50db...................................3.6km.......................................6500kbps
      55db...................................4.0km.......................................4500kbps
      60db...................................4.3km.......................................3200kbps
      65db...................................4.7km.......................................2000kbps


      Noise Margin

      Before we go into noise margin we need to cover noise.

      The connection between you and the exchange is made up of two copper wires. Copper is a great transmission medium but it also is susceptible to various electromagnetic interference, generally known as noise. Any length of copper wire will naturally carry noise but the longer it is the more likely it is to be noisy. The challenge for your router is to distinguish between background noise and the ADSL signal. You may have heard the term Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR). This is simply the ratio between the strength of the signal and the background noise on the line expressed in decibels.

      The noise margin reported by your router is not a measure of noise on your line. It is a measure of the margin it has given itself when it negotiated with the exchange. This is in effect the difference between the actual SNR and the SNR the router requires to run at a given speed.


      Why is any of this important?

      Well to understand this we need to consider what is happening between your router and the exchange equipment.

      Again, in simple terms, when your router talks to the exchange when powered up it measures and negotiates a number of factors. First it tests the transmission qualities of your line (in effect attenuation) then it measures noise level and quality. With this information it identifies which part of the frequency spectrum is available and usable and assigns upstream and downstream “channels”. In effect it blocks out part of the frequency bandwidth where noise is above a certain level and doesn’t use this part. A noisy line means less bandwidth is available. Less bandwidth means lower speeds. So going back to the above table, you will only get those potential connection speeds on a relatively quiet line.

      So in summary, if you have a long line then this is the first thing that sets your connection speed. If it is noisy too then the connection speed is further reduced.

      You can’t do anything about attenuation. You can (often) do something about noise and you will find details in the cabling and faceplate help forum:

      http://www.skyuser.co.uk/forum/cabling-faceplate-help/


      What is the right Noise Margin?

      There is no “right” but the higher the figure the better.

      When the router negotiates with the exchange it is trying to sync at the highest speed possible with a noise margin of 6.9db or higher. If you have understood the guide so far you will appreciate that this means that for anyone with a line attenuation of much above 32db will probably always see their router report a noise margin of 6.9db when the router connects.

      So if you check your noise margin now will it be 6.9? Only if you’ve only just powered up the router. Noise varies through the day depending on a variety of environmental factors plus cross-talk from other local Sky ADSL users (the more active other users are the more noise generated). It will have been 6.9 (higher with a short line) when it first connected but the current noise levels may be higher or lower than they were then so the margin will/may have changed.

      Most people find their noise margin is at its lowest in the evening, typically between 6 and 10.


      Noise Margin and disconnections.

      ADSL2+, the technology used for Sky ADSL LLU products should adapt in near real time to changes in noise levels. It should but for some reason in the Sky implementation it (currently) doesn’t. This can be bad news for users because the router needs a certain margin to operate properly. For the Sky router, connection difficulties become apparent if the margin drops below a little over 6db and connection is generally lost if it drops below about 5db. So if you last powered up your router in a “quiet” part of the day, then come evening there is a chance your noise margin may drop below that required for a stable connection.

      Until Sky are able to implement ADSL2+ to automatically correct this problem and renegotiate with the exchange as needed the user must take a simple preventative step: it is easy – power up your router at the time of highest noise and it will sync at 6.9db with the highest speed it can.

      The noisiest time of day is typically the evening between about 5pm and 11pm but you may find variations through the day.

      To "lock" your router to a high noise margin do the following:

      • open a separate browser window, log into the router and open up the stats page and leave it open
      • if your noise margin is at 6.5db or lower then reboot.
      • keep your eye on the stats from time to time - if it reaches or drops below 6.5db again then reboot
      • keep doing this until it stops dropping


      If you then leave the router powered up and connected to the exchange (you can turn the PC off) then it should always have an adequate noise margin right through the following days from then on.

      Alternatively have a look at Mognuts' utility in the sticky in the Tech Discussion forum. With this you can change your noise margin at will. If you consider this route then please be aware that there is always a risk that you could mess up your router. Any changes you make should be removed with a reboot but I think I should ensure that you understand the risks involved.



      Note: if any reader has suggestions for additions or corrections to this guide please let me know and I will update it.
      Last edited by Saturday; 12-12-06 at 05:50 PM. Reason: Added detail to how to "lock" the noise margin
      Steele11 likes this.

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      Nice post, was going to stickie it for you, but someone beat me to it


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      Thanks NewsreadeR - I suspect it was Wheelie. He did a big sort through earlier (moving posts etc.) and this became a sticky about that time.

      I'll wait for feedback to see if there's anything anyone would like me to add or correct. It just seemed this subject came up at least once or twice every day so maybe it might clear up some confusion

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      Yep guilty as charged

      Was also going to post a thank you for a great post but got side tracked by a PM pop-up then forgot all about it.
      Ray

      Some Advice.. Its always advisable to inform your old ISP as soon as you have migrated that you have moved.
      ______________________________________

      If you would like to know the straight line distance to your exchange then
      click here
      Would you like an idea of the possible speeds you will get with the Max Package then click here or for the Connect Package then click here

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      I don't understand the bit about powering it upat a quiet part of the day. If I do that and get the noise level of 6.9Db or above then come the evenigs it just drops to 5.5Db or lower and disconnects.
      It seems somewhat irrelevant then to power it up when it works because it doesn't stay connected and eventually drops out.
      I never had this problem with my BT Broadband ADSL modem, I could always connect whatever time or day.
      Do we have any idea how long Sky are going to take to sort this out. Its pretty useless having a bradband service you can't use in the evenings.
      When I powered up my router an hour ago it was 7.0Db, then half an hour later it went down to 5.2 and dropped out.
      Unplugged it plugged it in again and back to 7, now dropped to 6.
      Seriously thinking about leaving unless Sky pull their fingers out.

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      very informative! @Saturday great post!

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      Quote Originally Posted by moosehunter View Post
      I don't understand the bit about powering it upat a quiet part of the day. If I do that and get the noise level of 6.9Db or above then come the evenigs it just drops to 5.5Db or lower and disconnects.
      Sorry moosehunter but you seem to have misread the post - that's exactly what I said would happen. Quote: "So if you last powered up your router in a “quiet” part of the day, then come evening there is a chance your noise margin may drop below that required for a stable connection".

      My recommendation is to: Quote: "power up your router at the time of highest noise and it will sync at 6.9db with the highest speed it can. If you then leave the router powered up and connected to the exchange (you can turn the PC off) then it should always have an adequate noise margin right through the following days from then on".

      Possibly you are mixing up noise and noise margin?. Remember noise levels rising on your line will cause the noise margin to drop as reported by your router.
      Last edited by Saturday; 14-11-06 at 06:18 PM.

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      Some really good info there.
      I now know why I can only get 512k

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      Hi Paul1777

      I notice your profile says you're not on Sky yet.

      Presumably you're on another service at 512k? If so, bear in mind that The Sky LLU products (Base, Mid, Max) use ADSL2+ rather than the ADSL you are presumably on. If you're looking at your current ADSL stats, bear in mind that because of the different technology you would not get the same stats with Sky.

      I seem to recall there's a website somewhere that will let you put your current ADSL stats in to get a predicted ADSL2+ speed. If I can find it I'll update this post - unless someone else finds it and posts a link.

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