Notes on DSL problem

My DSL internet connectivity via SBC/Yahoo/AT&T has been pretty good.  I’ve finally got some intelligence in the script that pings my ISP so it can power cycle the modem and router when it detects loss of connection, and I think that has helped a few times.  This note is to record some details of a failure that required a phone call to fix.

We lost connection tonight for an hour or so.  I could still connect to the modem (an old SpeedStream 5100) from the main PC, and ran the “Check Connection” diagnostics from its web interface.  That’s a pretty nice feature.  You’d think when I had a service tech on the phone and could say “The modem diagnostics show ADSL is OK, but ATM connectivity fails.” it would get me a long way toward not having to deal with “Did you reboot the computer?” questions.  Doesn’t help as much as you’d hope when you have a “tech” in Bangalore reading from a script.

I called the support number (1-877-722-3755, still named SBC in my contacts folder) and got an AT&T robot.  I think the fact that I was calling over the landline that hosted the DSL connection might have helped.  I interacted with the robot for a few minutes while it tried some diagnostics, and it finally handed me over to a human (or another robot that passed the Turing test – hard to tell).

I opened with what the modem diagnostics showed, including a little more detail from the “Details” button.  She seemed a little surprised, and that might have gotten me a pass on the first few “is it plugged in” kinds of questions.  She asked me to look at the modem lights, and while I was watching (power, Ethernet and DSL were solid green, Internet flashing green) it all went dark.  I asked if she had remotely reset the modem and she said she hadn’t.  Oops – the script on the Pogo was still live and probably still power cycling the modem (and router) every few minutes.  That was not going to help things, so I (climbed behind the water heater and) unplugged the router resetter PIC node from the network.  (I could have disconnected the wire from the node to the controlled power outlet, but it’s just a 2 pin header and I didn’t want to take the time to note which way it went so I could plug it back in correctly.)  I need to remember to do that before I call next time.

She ran some more remote diagnostics and (after several minutes) checked their outage database.  There was an outage of some sort in the Chicago area.  That didn’t stop her troubleshooting though, and after while she reported that there seemed to be a problem with my ATM provisioning.  Gee – that sounds real consistent with the fact that the modem said it could get DSL sync, but ATM OAM ping failed.  She continued and said she would fix the provisioning (!?).  Shortly thereafter (and maybe another manual power cycle) it all came up!  The modem showed all green pass marks, and I could connect to the Internet.

I thanked her and tried to get off the line, but her script apparently required her to offer me the “Connect Tech Plus” service to get better support for only $15/month.  I politely told her that was ridiculous, and she even had the good grace to laugh a little.  I thanked her and said good bye.

Within minutes it was doing the same thing again.  It did bounce, and occasionally came back up, but stayed mostly down for another hour? or more, pretty much with the same symptoms.  I’m typing this into a local text editor, since I can’t access WordPress.

So the takeaways are:

  • before I call, disable the stuff that can do automatic power cycles!
  • if it fails on ATM, maybe asking them to check the “ATM provisioning” could speed the repair process
  • don’t forget to re-enable the restart stuff
This entry was posted in Home Automation, Home Repair. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *