My Sunday Part Two – A Fix For My Teksavvy DSL Issue

So, after my server upgrade, I raced home to make sure that I was there when Bell arrived. Now my wife who is training for the Scotiabank Marathon managed to get home at 11:30 so that if Bell arrived at 12 (since the window was 12 – 6 PM) to fix the DSL issue that I spoke of here, there would be someone to meet them. Now I had done a fair amount of work to diagnose this issue and I kind of figured out why I was getting constant disconnects. Take a look at the screenshot below:

Untitled

This is a screenshot from my DSL modem. Most if not all DSL modems have the ability to log into it and pull up a page that displays all sorts of useful info, as long as you know what it means. I have highlighted a section called SNR margin. SNR stands for Signal To Noise Ratio. The lower that this number is, the more likely you are to have slow speed or stability issues. To give you an idea of what this number means, here’s a quick chart to give you an idea of what is good and bad:

  • 6dB or below is bad and you 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

So I was basically at the floor. That explains why I was having constant disconnections. Now it was possible that my wiring was causing the issue, so as a troubleshooting step, I plugged my DSL modem into the RJ-11 jack that is the one that comes up from the telephone room in my condo (if you’re in a house, this will be the jack that is closest to where the telephone line enters your house). That is called the demarcation point. By plugging my modem into that jack with the shortest RJ-11 cable that you can find, It eliminates any internal wiring issues. I did that and got the same results as above. That way I was certain that this was a Bell issue.

Now bell had phoned just before 11AM to see if we were home (which we were not as my wife got back from her training run at 11:30) and when we got to about 3:30 PM and discovered that this had happened, and Bell hadn’t shown up, I called Teksavvy to see what the status was on my ticket with Bell. The guy I spoke to seemed more intent on troubleshooting my issue rather than simply looking into my ticket. That was really was weird. I put an end to it by e-mailing the above screen shot and explaining that the issue had been previously diagnosed, but I had had also come to the same conclusion based on the screen shot. Only then did he put me on hold to see what the status of my ticket was. Or at least he tried to as we got disconnected. But that didn’t matter as the Bell tech knocked on my door.

Now after I showed him the he walked over to the demarcation point and plugged a device to measure the SNR among other things. He didn’t like the numbers that he got so he called into Bell to get a line test and that uncovered the problem. My condo is roughly 3.7 kilometres from the Bell central office that my line is being fed from. The DSL profile that I was set up for was 16 megabits downstream and 1 megabits upstream. The problem with using that profile is that everything from the central office to my home is all copper. Pushing a profile of that speed over copper over that distance is a #fail and will never be stable because it will have a low SNR. Thus they had to change my profile to 12 megabits down and 1 megabits up. Here’s the net result:

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You’ll now notice that the SNR is up to over 7. Not the best, but it will be stable. That’s all I want. Now the profile change also means a speed drop. Prior to this, I was getting this via Speedtest.net:

This is the result after:

Now I can live with that because everything between 6 megabits downstream and 15 megabits downstream is the same price with Teksavvy. I can improve both the speed (to a degree) and the SNR by moving the modem to the demarcation point and running a long Ethernet cable from that point to my Apple Airport Extreme router. I’d have to use a UPS with the DSL modem as well since I want my Internet to be up during a blackout. I don’t have a spare one at the moment, so this will be a project for another day. Also of note, when the Bell tech (who was extremely nice by the way) was done, Teksavvy called back and I reported to them what had happened and what the fix was.

I’ll monitor this over the next few days to see if it stays stable, but I think that we’re in good shape from this point forward. I’ll wrap up my thoughts on this whole experience at a later date. Part of that included me reaching out to Teksavvy on Saturday for an interview as I wanted to get their side of the story. I reached out over Twitter to Andre Cleroux who is Teksavvy’s Director of Online & Operations Intelligence with this:

and he replied with this:

Points to him for responding. We’ll see if the interview actually happens or not.

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