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    Continuing Problems with drop-outs and low speeds

    This is a discussion on Continuing Problems with drop-outs and low speeds within the Sky Broadband help forums, part of the Sky Broadband help and support category; Hi, I've decided to post my problems on this forum which seems to have a lot of helpful advice and ...

    1. #1
      TheCowMan's Avatar
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      Continuing Problems with drop-outs and low speeds

      Hi,

      I've decided to post my problems on this forum which seems to have a lot of helpful advice and knowledge a cut above what I receive from Sky when I call them for assistance. Hopefully someone can shed some light on my situation.

      I have been living in this rental property in the countryside for a year now. We have always had problems, as did the previous tenants who were with BT. We elected to use Sky as we were advised that they tended to provide a stable connection....

      We are approximately 4.6km from the exchange and are therefore doomed to receiving a slow broadband connection. This I can handle. The problem is that the connection keeps dropping out and when the Sky DLM is turned on it continuosly drops the speed in search of a stable connection. It bottoms out at around 0.37 Mb/s after a few weeks of getting Sky to reset the speed to about 1.5Mb/s. The speed falls and connection drops regardless of wind or rain -although it drops quicker during bouts of bad weather. I call Sky monthly to get them to up the speed and they are unsure what is causing the problem. We have had BT engineers out 3 times. Twice they switched lines to improve the signal to noise ratio and once they changed the BT Master socket to a new one with integrated ADSL Filter. We have only that socket in the house and we have no other device connected other than the phone and the router.

      Last time I spoke to Sky they tested the line again and found no problems. We have also had the 24 hour line test done a couple of times and all came back ok. The router was also tested remotely and they said it was fine.

      I was hoping that if I posted some of the Router Stats that someone may point something out as I don't really know how to read them. Hopefully too someone will ask me the right questions to be able to provide them with other Stats that may be more appropriate.

      Router Statistics (as of 9am on 1st July 2014)

      System Up Time: 05:27:49
      Port Status TxPkts RxPkts Collision Pkts Tx b/s Rx b/s Up Time
      WAN PPPoA 206041 219467 0 0 0 05:26:52
      LAN Down 0 0 0 0 0 00:00:00
      WLAN Up 273500 245178 0 127094 11760 05:27:23

      Broadband Link Downstream Upstream
      Connection Speed 762 kbps 971 kbps
      Line Attenuation 67.5 dB 38.7 dB
      Noise Margin 6.1 dB 2.2 dB

      System Log
      Jan 1 00:00:07 syslog: BusyBox v1.17.2
      Jan 1 00:00:18 syslog: Line 0: xDSL G.994 training
      Jan 1 00:00:34 syslog: Line 0: ADSL G.992 started
      Jan 1 00:00:39 syslog: Line 0: ADSL G.992 channel analysis
      Jan 1 00:00:45 syslog: Line 0: ADSL G.992 message exchange
      Jan 1 00:00:46 syslog: Line 0: ADSL link up, Bearer 0, us=971, ds=762
      Jan 1 00:00:57 syslog: PPP LCP UP.
      Jan 1 00:00:57 syslog: WAN link UP.
      Jan 1 00:00:57 syslog: Received valid IP address from server. Connection UP.
      Jan 1 00:00:59 syslog: Send out NTP request to ntp1.isp.sky.com
      Jan 1 00:00:59 syslog: Time has been set from ntp1.isp.sky.com
      Jul 1 03:30:14 syslog: Received NTP Sync Reply from ntp1.isp.sky.com


      Things I am a bit confused about with these logs are:

      Why is the System Up Time at 05:27:49? Does this mean that the connection dropped 5 1/2 hrs ago?

      Until yesterday the downstream connection speed was 1020kbps and today it has dropped to 762kbps. Last week when I phoned Sky they turned the DLM off and so I would have expected the connection speed to have remained the same.

      The date in the logs is showing Jan 01 yet it is July 1st. Yesterday the Logs were all showing July (and there were quite a few of them showing ADSL down etc. incidentally). Does this indicate some kind of crash perhaps??

      Another point to make is that yesterday and continuosly for the past week there had been a WLAN Collision Packet reading constantly of 1. This has now gone since last night. I guess this is a good thing but is it related to the system stats change?

      Whilst I see the Noise Margin is at 6.1db for the downstream connection it does often drop to about 3 db (which I used to think was a good thing until reading this forum!). I am aware that our distance from the exchange will cause high attenuation but should it be that high? If I turn the router off and then on at night will this stabilise the noise margin or are there external effects that are causing the noise margin to drop that I can't help?

      Sorry for all the questions. I just wanted to get as much info down as possible at once as a point of reference.


      Many thanks to anyone who can help or point me in the right direction.

      TheCowMan


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    3. #2
      Saturday's Avatar
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      Re: Continuing Problems with drop-outs and low speeds

      Your attenuation shows you have a very long line (which you know), probably longer than the 4.3km you think and/or symptomatic of a line issue, which is probably inevitable for a long line.

      To maintain a stable connection your router needs a noise margin of at least 3db and 6db or more for a problematical line. Sky's DLM usually tries to set a noise margin of 6db and adjusts sync speed to achieve this, hence your low sync. Your stats show a 6.1db downstream noise margin but only a 2.2db upstream margin. It would be very unusual for DLM to set a different noise margin for each so that points towards a fluctuating noise problem. You have also noted this yourself. A noise margin of under 3db on a tricky line will often cause a loss of connection.

      Your system uptime is showing your internet (WAN) had been up for 5:26 but your network (LAN) is down. I assume for your router that means it has no devices connected by ethernet i.e. you use wireless only. Yes, it means internet connection was lost prior to that time. The sync speed on reconnection will depend on the time of day and the current noise levels on your line.

      The system log shows the router has rebooted hence the Jan 1 date, connected ADSL, then internet, then made a time check request, then updated the time to the current time.

      For normal ADSL Sky can't/won't turn off DLM. They can pause it but it will come back on again fairly quickly.

      Ultimately you appear to have a very unstable line and it will be difficult or impossible to fix this. It could be you have a local noise issue contributing to the fluctuations which you may be able to resolve. Other than that, all you can do is ask Sky to manually set a much higher noise margin say 9db or even 12db to cope with the fluctuations. The upside is you should then get a stable connection but the downside is you'll lose even more speed.

      Is fibre available? If so, that may be the way forward - cost repercussions allowing.

    4. #3
      TheCowMan's Avatar
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      Re: Continuing Problems with drop-outs and low speeds

      Many thanks for your concise reply Saturday,

      You have confirmed that there is little I can do other than move house nearer to an exchange if I want faster broadband. I have a feeling that 4.5km distance to the exchange I quoted is probably a straight line distance and in reality our distance is more like 7km. Sadly we are just off the fibre optic map so that's not an option at the moment.

      I have a couple of questions though if you don't mind offering answers.

      What could be causing a fluctuating Noise Margin and is it something that is fixable by BT or Sky? Is it likely there's a loose joint along the line somewhere? I have noticed that our line runs through some trees and tall hedges at points near to our property and also that there is some ivy growing up the BT pole beside our house that covers the phone junction box as the line splits to our neighbours. Could any of these cause such issues?

      You mention that we may have a local noise issue but what could this be? As stated there is only one BT socket and we have one phone connected to it as well as the router into the integrated ADSL filter. Is there another point to check such as a BT junction perhaps? We have tried to keep the system as simple as possible.
      Do you have any ideas what may have caused the WLAN Collision Packets? I tried to do a bit of research into what causes these but was bamboozled by technical terms alien to me so I gave up. The line seems to be more stable since last night even with the mild wind we are experiencing today incidentally and so I wonder whether the collision packets have anything to do with the instability.


      Here is a more recent Log I thought I'd post to show that the Noise Margin Upstream has jumped up to 14.9 db. Is this unusual for the middle of the day? The downstream has stayed at 2.2db.

      Router Statistics (as of 1pm 1st July 2014)
      System Up Time: 09:06:37
      Port Status TxPkts RxPkts Collision Pkts Tx b/s Rx b/s Up Time
      WAN PPPoA 477223 493246 0 5629 21848 09:05:40
      LAN Down 0 0 0 0 0 00:00:00
      WLAN Up 567251 531843 0 155279 19246 09:06:11

      Broadband Link Downstream Upstream
      Connection Speed 762 kbps 971 kbps
      Line Attenuation 67.5 dB 38.7 dB
      Noise Margin 14.9 dB 2.2 dB

      Once again thanks for your time in helping me get my head around our broadband issue.

      TheCowMan

    5. #4
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      Re: Continuing Problems with drop-outs and low speeds

      Quote Originally Posted by TheCowMan View Post

      What could be causing a fluctuating Noise Margin and is it something that is fixable by BT or Sky?
      A fluctuating noise margin is caused by fluctuating noise levels on the line. All lines have some degree of noise but usually it is fairly constant so typically someone might see a change of 0.5db through the day on a good line. A poor line however may see much bigger fluctuations of a couple of db or more. Very poor lines may also suffer from noise "bursts" which mean the noise levels can fluctuate wildly over a period of seconds rather than hours for a more stable line.

      Whether it can be fixed and who would be able to fix it will depend on where physically any fault lies and the nature of the problem.

      Quote Originally Posted by TheCowMan View Post

      Is it likely there's a loose joint along the line somewhere? I have noticed that our line runs through some trees and tall hedges at points near to our property and also that there is some ivy growing up the BT pole beside our house that covers the phone junction box as the line splits to our neighbours. Could any of these cause such issues?
      Yes, any of those could be contributing to the problem. Take a walk and physically by sight, inspect the cable from your house as far back as you can follow it. If you see anything that looks like wear/physical damage report it to BT. They will be particularly interested and do something about it if you have any noise on your line detectable when making a voice call. You've not mentioned whether this is an issue. Provision of a good quality voice service carries a higher priority in BT than for Broadband for historical (and regulatory) reasons.

      Quote Originally Posted by TheCowMan View Post
      You mention that we may have a local noise issue but what could this be? As stated there is only one BT socket and we have one phone connected to it as well as the router into the integrated ADSL filter. Is there another point to check such as a BT junction perhaps?
      Local in this context would normally mean from the back of your master socket inwards. Your wiring seems straightforward and you have an ADSL faceplate which is good. Things to check are that if there any unused extensions leaving the master socket, these are disconnected, similarly there may be some benefit in removing the bell wire again if present. Extension wiring/bell wire can act as an aerial picking up RF noise and effectively polluting the ADSL signal. A properly fitted ADSL faceplate should mean that either of theese isn't an issue but sometimes they aren't fitted properly. But if you have no extension wiring in your house at all then there is no potential issue to be concerned with.

      Although not strictly local and not strictly something which you can deal with, many older properties have a junction box both outside the property where the line meets the house and also a junction box inside the house which may have been used for extensions in the past, still has redundant wiring and is not protected by the faceplate. Junction boxes both inside and outside often have connections which deteriorate over time and corrode which is an issue.

      Quote Originally Posted by TheCowMan View Post
      Do you have any ideas what may have caused the WLAN Collision Packets? ...... I wonder whether the collision packets have anything to do with the instability.
      Don't worry about it. WLAN is your wireless network. What this means is that your wireless signal got a tiny bit confused for a moment - possibly because of a router reboot.

      Quote Originally Posted by TheCowMan View Post
      Here is a more recent Log I thought I'd post to show that the Noise Margin Upstream has jumped up to 14.9 db. Is this unusual for the middle of the day? The downstream has stayed at 2.2db.
      Two things here: wow that's a very unstable noise margin! Secondly, that 2db upstream (not downstream as you say) is too low. What I suggest is that you reboot your router through the web interface. When it comes back up you should have something like 6db on both. If it doesn't and one of them is below 6db (because it coincided with a noise burst) reboot again. Check again a few minutes later. If one of them has dropped to under 4db reboot again. You may need to do this a few times but eventually you will get a connection where neither noise margins drop lower than 6db. Doing this will probably get you a stable connection but at a cost in speed. It may also trigger DLM if you have to do it a lot of times but that's not necessarily a bad thing at the moment.

      Let us know how you get on. If you have more questions, ask away.

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    7. #5
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      Re: Continuing Problems with drop-outs and low speeds

      If you have a Windows device downloading and running Routerstats Lite may be a good idea. This will show how the Noise Margin is behaving. You would need to keep it running for over 24 hours to get an idea what is happening. Internet Software

      It is not a fix, more a work around, but you may find that switching the router off during the 'noisy' period on the line allows you to maintain a higher speed, especially if the noisy time is during the night. I would not normally recommend switching the router off, but in your case it may be a benefit.

      Regarding the router rebooting(it appears to have done this about 3.30am) did you have a power cut? Possibly your router firmware has been updated, apart from a power cut this is about the only thing that could cause the router to reboot, outside a manual reboot of course.

      TomD


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    9. #6
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      Re: Continuing Problems with drop-outs and low speeds

      Quote Originally Posted by Isitme View Post
      apart from a power cut this is about the only thing that could cause the router to reboot, outside a manual reboot of course.
      You sure Tom? DLM will do it and so I think will a dropped connection causing a resync and new dynamic IP

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      Re: Continuing Problems with drop-outs and low speeds

      Reboots, resets & power cycles all cause everything, including system uptime to zero.

      DLM resyncs, new ppp sessions resulting in a new ip address & disconnects only reset the WAN uptime to zero.

      At least for the sagem 2504n.

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      Re: Continuing Problems with drop-outs and low speeds

      IsItMe, I've downloaded RouterStats Lite and it is currently running. Thnaks for suggesting that bit of software. It gives me a decent view of the logs over time which is handy.

      Saturday, I have tried a reboot of the router a few times. The Noise Margin after the first reboot has decreased for the downstream to about 8db. The upstream is now 3.3db but it won't change (as yet) after each reboot. I'll try a few more times and let you know the result later.

      To you both, I have not experienced a power cut here overnight and neither did we turn the router off manually so I suspect another cause. Is it likely that the DLM may have kicked in overnight after a period of being on 'pause' as Sky had done?

      I have had a look at the incoming line for the run of about 500m from my house and I noticed a number of sections where the line passes through thick areas of overhanging tree branches. In places I even lose track of the cable because of the density of the branches. Who would be responsible for cutting these back? The landowner, council or BT? I haven't been able to inspect the condition of the cable properly as I'm not that tall!

      Many thanks again for all the help.

      TheCowMan



      Thanks to all for their inputs.

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      Re: Continuing Problems with drop-outs and low speeds

      If the upstream noise margin seems to be "locked" at around 3db then I guess DLM has decided that your line can handle that i.e. your upstream isn't varying much below that figure. Seems low to me though for such a long line with obvious problems.

      Reboot each time your downstream gets to less than 5db. If an intermittent line noise issue that will be tricky to spot and if transient the noise level may well have dropped by the time the router has re-synced. Give it a go though if you can.

      Yes, I suspect DLM is active again. If it is you may see another re-sync in the early hours of the morning.

      I believe it is down to the landowner which is probably the council or highway authority to keep trees etc clear. However you often see a BT team doing the work so whether there's some sort of agreement or funding for this I couldn't say.

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    14. #10
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      Re: Continuing Problems with drop-outs and low speeds

      Quote Originally Posted by Saturday View Post
      You sure Tom? DLM will do it and so I think will a dropped connection causing a resync and new dynamic IP
      As already mentioned, DLM will only reset the WAN time, it cannot reboot the router.

      As for the trees, I know it is the Electricity Board's responsibility to keep trees off the overhead power lines. I know as we get a visit every couple of years to crop back a tree in our garden which could grow into the power line. I would think it would be BT's responsibility to keep phone lines clear, but getting them to do anything is another story.

      TomD


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