Why does my AT&T DSL speeds vary?

September 24, 2014 at 06:17:36
Specs: Windows 7, 8
I have an Actiontec Gt784WN gateway for my ATT DSL service. I pay for 6 MB download speed. For the last few days, my speed as checked by speedtest.net and ATT speed test has varied from normal 5.7 down to 0.3 mbps! Up and down all day.
The ATT service man visited yesterday and confirmed that I had a steady 8 mbps at the connection to my gateway. Checking the modem with its utility shows 8 mbps available even when the speedtest shows 0.3. Doing a CMD tracert www.google.com shows 1ms for the modem and huge delays for all the rest of the jumps. I'm talking from 800ms to 10,000ms! The ping test also shows huge numbers instead of the usual 20ms during slow download/upload speeds.
Is this a hardware problem or an ATT problem that they don't want to acknowledge?

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September 24, 2014 at 06:39:35
Can sometimes just be down to the internet being overloaded but see what others say. Downloads speeds are often much higher than upload speeds.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks

message edited by Derek

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September 24, 2014 at 06:57:19
One of the common and frequently overlooked problems with dsl ccts and the speed one gets - is the actual quality of the connection itself. By that I mean the phone wires (presuming your on copper/phone wire ccts - not cable). Often that connection can be somewhat deteriorated over time - either at the point where it enters your premises; on the pole (if you have a pole feed); or even in the street cabinet/wallbox.

Also useful to know that (at least with copper/phone-line ccts.) the dsl signal comes in down "one" wire only; the return presumably being via the ground path or whatever... A common symptom of degraded physical connections is intermittent loss of speed. I know this to be so on at least three occasion. One was my own home; another my brother's service; and the other my (late) Mum's home. In my case (and my brother's was very similar) the incoming phone line connection was seriously corroded. I had endured varying speeds, and in the end almost no signal for an age. Router replaced; filters renewed; all the standard test completed and still no joy.. Then Sky (my brother and I are in the UK) booked BT (who service SKY's dsl side) to check external system/wiring etc. and found as above... New phone line installed/connected from the point where the feed arrives on-site (fresh connection etc.) and also a new master socket (mine was an old type - but OK..). All is now as it ought to be...

My late Mum's service dropped to 20th of what it ought to have been; and also "no phone service" either... When BT arrived to fix that (after all the usual operator tests - who insisted the fault was in the house, when it wasn't as well I knew) the engineer determined the pole connections had failed; simply corroded due to "age" - they'd been up there since heaven knows when...! Renewed connections and all is now well. It was this BT engineer (one of the olde school fortunately) who confirmed that dsl uses only one of the two incoming wire from the exchange... With a high level signal there likely will still be a notional signal getting across even with an otherwise failed cct...

Your symptoms as described suggest possible connection problems as earlier suggested - if on copper/phone-line ccts. Equally if on cable - again I would be much inclined to have all physical connections - external to your property - checked thoroughly. It's standard form for dsl providers to say it's all right their end; that the problem is yours - equipment etc...; when frequently it isn't your stuff, it's theirs and/or the connections en-route - external to your property.

If you are having the problems with the router plugged into the master socket, or the equivalent if on cable, and if you have tried with another router - and get the same results... then lean hard of your isp to get across it and resolve it. You're paying for a service and they are failing to deliver...

If ATT provided the router... then they ought to send another to try/test - over a prolonged time period. If it's your router then can you borrow another known to be good one? Similarly ensure all your cables are OK; that the crimped plugs are secure - no dodgy ends. And cary out all your tests with the router in the master socket or equivalent; i.e. at point of entry to property.

I have heard this sort of tale of woe a few times both in UK and in USA; and frequently it turns out to be a problem with the incoming signal - wiring/connections - "somewhere" along the route from your isp to your property; but the isp really don't get across it properly until one really rattles their cage.

When the engineer arrives again, chat him/her up to actually check connections and so on - both inside and outside the property. Also many isp can set up a monitor across your service to see what's happening. SKY have done so in the past... Often it's for a few hours; a few days; even a week or more... - I'm speaking from personal experience here.

At risk or repetition... What you describe are the symptoms of classic degraded or faulty connections - somewhere along the line...; presuming "your" kit is OK - and the master socket etc. is OK as well. Filters can fail/go intermittent; as can master sockets... Filters you can test by substitution. Master socket ideally whoever installed it checks that; but one can of course replace it oneself; or at least seriously encourage the service/support for your dsl (or whomever phone/cable etc.) to check it - properly?

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September 24, 2014 at 08:10:46
You and I apparently think alike, trvlr. My modem is NOT an 'approved' ATT modem so, of course, it's my fault. :) Yesterday, I bought the ATT approved modem and when it arrives we shall see if the problem persists. If so, then I will have the repair man up the pole (so to speak as well as literally!). I have run solid copper wire directly from the modem to the exterior box, which is also new, prior to the problem.
You're also right about one side of the line carrying the signal and the other is the ground or return line. This the tech told me while here.
I'll update once the modem/router arrives for the benefit of the next guy. Have a Newcastle Brown on me! Had quite a few visits to Peterlee on business, which is just south of Newcastle.

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September 24, 2014 at 10:46:17
a CMD tracert www.google.com shows 1ms for the modem and huge delays for all the rest of the jumps

This is indicative of network congestion or issues on your Telco's network. Not your physical connection as the issues appears to be beyond your modem as per the tracroute above.

I would contact your provider again and talk to them about this if the problem persists after connecting the new modem.

Oh and if it were me, and the problem persisted after installing the new modem, I'd ask for my $$$ back (if you paid for the modem yourself) since that wasn't the issue in the first place. Luckily, the modem is included in the cost of my service so if I ever need a replacement (happened a couple years ago) they just send me a new one out and there's no additional cost.

It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

***William Henley***

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September 24, 2014 at 13:30:59
I got much the same results via assorted tests when I had issues with my own service... and it went on like that for several months- up and down... When the line in (connection etc.) was renewed - all returned to normal; stable signal and the max possible in my area... Similarly with my brother's signal... At my late Mum's home it was a simple broken/corroded connection at the pole which resulted in low signal and no phone; which as I indicated earlier was what I expected - or at the worst a street cabinet/box fault. The latter is not unknown over in the UK as occasionally/often then they go into the street cabinet do one job/connection - they frequently upset another... A business chum will readily attest to this (having lost his complete phone system for a working week - until they acknowledged it and tracked down what/where - in the street cabinet).

Will be interesting to see what the final phyxe is...

I agree re' going for a modem refund if possible if the modem is cleared of all involvement. Over in the UK a modem is standard part of the kit for just about any isp. And although they don't like it if you use your own - many of us do. Although one occasionally has to run a routine (at least with SKY routers) to determine the login/password details for one's account if wishing to use one other the SKY provided one; as SKY preconfigure the router with that info - and don't willingly divulge it!

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September 24, 2014 at 19:15:19
What other locations are you testing with speednet or ping test?
The speed up to the gateway is the speed you pay for. In this case 8Mb. It doesn't mean you will get that speed from any other server outside the ISP network aka Internet.

Speedtest and ping are low priority services for most servers so delays will vary with traffic load, network conditions/congestion and distance.

My subscription is 10M and I get 10M within the ISP network (up to the gateway).
Checked (from PH) with some US based servers and delays range between 250ms and 350ms and download speed around 5Mb, upload 0.35Mb.

One possible cause you may experience is packet drop. Can be from routers in the ISP network or adjacent routers.
Below test software could be used to check your network quality with relatives/friends using a different ISP. The result you can forward to you ISP as proof of poor quality.

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September 25, 2014 at 01:02:58
In the UK there was (may still be) a habit of promoting high speed connections (over copper) knowing only too well that wouldn't be deliverable. A promoted (say) 20Mbps service frequently failing to deliver; maxing at significantly less. Yet pholks paid for what they were not getting, and were never likely to (as the assorted isp well knew). There was some official intervention not too long ago, to promote a more open admission of what is actually available to a given area subscriber. Though whether or not subscribers are still falling for fudge - paying for a service thet will not (never?) receive - who knows...

Equally there were (possibly still are) services which have been poor, unstable/irregular speed, and those affected frequently are led a merry dance if they seek to have things improved. I have a colleague in Surrey (he's way out in the sticks) who has been down this road over the years. Routers changed and the usual "It's your kit, it's your internal connection etc." when it transpired, in due course, that it was a combination of dodgy line in and distance from the exchange... After "much jumping up and down/cage rattling etc." he finally managed to get the line replaced, the service tweaked to as best the distance ill allow, and has a reasonably stable 3-5Mbps service. It still suffers from problems with local squirrels (the "imported/immigrant" grey/black variety not the better behaved "native" red variety) who get a hit from chewing on the plastic coated line in from the poles, and augment it with a "buzz" from the 48-50volts they inevitably get when they pierce the
plastic... Until recently he was regularly being prodded to upgrade - to a service he would never receive...

I go along with all the suggested causes for the OP's posted situation; but in truth "every" domestic/soho service I have come across which is/was having similar issues, finally had it resolved by line-in connections being addressed. Invariably local (outdoor/pole/street cabinet) ends or POE into the property itself having been addressed and renewed - problem solved.

I have had experience where an in-house lan suffered variable speeds, due to faulty switches etc.; and on one occasion a multi way cable itself had been damaged during installation of and upgrades to fresh kit in the area (it was in an open office style newsroom).

As earlier it will be interesting (informative) to learn what the final outcome is...; what is/was the problem and resolution...

message edited by trvlr

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