Sorry for the delay in responding, but I've been away and my net usage has been mostly quick bursts and recreational. I didn't have time to work up a proper response to this before now.
No, they've been here since mid-May. He keeps his laptop on all the time (I do the same with my iMac and my mother and son do the same with their PCs). This isn't a constant thing, it just seems that some days the speed is at the point where I look back fondly at dial-up (no exaggeration). Other times (most times, actually), this thing does very well.
Service should be consistently good, so you definitely want to address this.
Existing lines were used.
I'll get back to this after one of your later responses.
When they first installed it, I know they had trouble with one channel. I assumed they fixed it as the system was working properly before they left. Is it possible that there is a bad channel (pretty sure that's what he called it - I suck at networking) that needs to be fixed? Is this something I can do? I've replaced the modem/router (a Ubee model) once already and we still get the shitty service from time to time.
It's possible they patched it up well enough for it to pass diagnostic tests immediately and later that day. For the most part, techs are fighting a losing battle. These services will break down eventually so there is never going to be a permanent fix for anything. The question is how long can you get it working for. The other problem is that techs can be absolutely overloaded with stops. As a contractor, I was constantly given far more work than I should have been which forced me to do patch jobs where possible to catch up and not get docked for being late for something later. So when they said they fixed the problem, there's a wide range of possibilities for what that could mean.
Every company is going to be different, but what I had to contend with was an overloaded schedule most days where I needed to ensure that what was fixed would pass an immediate test, a test that night after 9pm and a possible dock in pay if either failed or if the customer had to call a technician back for the same problem within two weeks. After I got hurt and just before I was laid off, my tech buddies who were still working were telling me that if the customer had to call for any reason at all within 2 weeks they were now being docked.
So the system in place for the company I worked for was not one that was conducive to looking for long term solutions to a customer's problem every time out.
Probably stupid question, but do I need to do anything to the computer when I connect it directly via ethernet cable? I tried this the day of my original post and found no difference, but I could easily have forgotten to do something that would tell the computer to only use the ethernet. I'm running Snow Leopard, turned off AirPort, and chose ethernet. Is there anything else I should've done?
Yes, and I should have mentioned this in my last post. Sorry for being sloppy. Any time you take a cable out of one device and plug it into another device you should restart the modem first. That means unplugging it from the router, then pulling the power and letting it sit for a minute. Then plug the modem back in and let it lock back on. It usually goes through a period of each light coming on until it stabilizes with several lights being solid and sometimes one light flashing. Most modems will have lights marked "power" "send" "receive" and "online/cable" and some have a "pc" or something similar. Power and online/cable should be locked on solid. Send and receive can flicker as can PC if it's there. It's also OK if send and receive are off.
Once that's the case, plug the wire into the laptop and give it a few minutes to recognize it has a LAN connection available and lock on. Depending on your laptop, it might be a good idea to turn your wireless adapter off first. Some laptops have a button you can hit above the keyboard, otherwise you can right click on your wireless icon in the system tray at the bottom right of the screen, then click "open network and sharing." After that, depending on your operating system, you may see a few different things, but try to find something like "manage network adapters." Do a google search for your operating system and "network adapter" if you're having trouble and you should be able to work it out.
If your issue continues, it's probably an issue with the modem or the infrastructure. I'm leaning in this direction based on the numbers you posted below, but I'll get to that in a bit.
Our utilities are all underground.
OK, so the wiring isn't terribly old, which is good. Being underground could mean a slew of other problems, though. A burrowing animal could have nicked the drop wire. The roots of a plant may have caused damage. The hardening and defrosting of the ground could have damaged it. The heavy rainstorms may have caused water damage. Ect ect.
If the wire is in a conduit, it may have had ice build up within the conduit putting lots of strain on the line. Ice can also cut the line as it melts and cracks. If you look at where the wire comes up out of the ground by your house, you may be able to see if it has a conduit or not. Sometimes they're buried entirely, though, so you could have one and not see it. If there isn't one, the line is more susceptible to damage.
The house was built in 2006 and all wires are inside.
This is good. Your interior wiring is less likely to have problems if it's new. That said, depending on who ran the lines, and with a new house it's often an electrician, they could have cut a corner by picking cheaper wire. The wires inside should be RG6. If they're RG59 or if there's even one bit of RG59, it can calls all kinds of problems with signal quality and consistency. RG59 is thinner than RG6, but if it's all in the walls you may not be able to tell what you have. If you have a tech out there, you can ask them to take a look by opening up the wall plates. Typically, if it's RG59 in the walls, they'll tell you that you need to talk to an electrician as many cable companies do not allow their techs to wall fish anymore. There are too many opportunities for the tech to make a mistake and cause damage that the cable company then has to cover.
The other option you might have would be to run an exterior line along the siding to the room and to punch through from the outside and install a new wall plate on the inside. They seal the hole with silicone, but if it's a new house many people aren't comfortable with punching new holes through the walls, even one's as small as a nickel. If you feel this way, that's completely understandable, but you might be stuck dealing with intermittent service or paying through the nose to have an electrician rerun higher quality wires.
Regardless, this is a last resort. Don't jump to this until you exhaust all other possibilities.
From the status page:
What I'm seeing here is a downstream of 7.3, 5.7, 6.3, 7.0 and an upstream of 31.4. I don't see a signal to noise ratio, but that's OK. Your upstream power level is very likely the problem.
The ranges I posted above are a general rule and might vary a db or two here and there from company to company, but 31.4 is very likely well past an acceptable range for your service. The good news is that there are a number of ways to deal with this and there might even be a cheap way for you to patch this without having to deal with a technician.
As I mentioned above, the stronger the signal the lower your upstream power level will be and the higher your downstream power will be. With 35 and positive 10 being the respective limits on that end of the spectrum, you're likely dealing with a signal that's too strong. It's possible that it was just strong enough when they were last there and that some maintenance or line replacements increased signal strength in your neighborhood which brought you above the signal strength needed for clean service. So cutting down the signal strength could solve the problem.
If you can get your hands on an attenuator
, you can use it to weaken the signal right before it goes into the modem. Click the link to read up on them if you're interested in the nitty gritty. Otherwise, you can order them online or stop at a shop that sells cable and cable accessories to see if they have them. They're not expensive. They look like this:
You'll notice a number right before the DB. You want one no lower than 6 but can probably go as high as 10. Just screw the cable wire into the back of it, then screw the attenuator into the modem. Again power down the modem first, then plug it back in once the cable wire is reattached.
So, if you have a clean run of wire from the street and are just looking at too high a signal strength, this should fix your problem until the signal strength changes drastically at some point in the future. Again, nothing is ever fixed forever.
Now, this does bring up a question. At any point between where the wire enters the house and the modem, is there an amplifier? An amp will often be a square or rectangular device that has a cable wire going into it and a power wire as well. Often, the power wire is made of coax cable. The amp will then have a cable wire coming out and continuing on into the house or directly into a device. So you should see three wires attached to it. Many also have a light (usually green) to indicate power is on.
The generally look something like one of these:
If you have an amplifier, you'll want to call TWC and have their technician come out and deal with it. It was probably put in for a reason and just pulling it out might make things worse. They typically bring a weak downstream up into passable ranges but will also bring the upstream level down, sometimes significantly.
The fact that your downstream is as high as it is makes me think you probably don't have one, but if it's right behind the modem, I could see it being boosted by that much. Typically, you find them in houses with a bunch of active cable jacks where a normally healthy signal just isn't enough to cover all the devices drawing from it. Though, sometimes techs will slap one on a mess of a house to get it working long enough for them to get out of the house without being docked or having to do a significant rewiring job. Doesn't sound like that's likely to be the case in your house, though.
So take a look where the wires come into the basement and behind the modem. If there isn't one in either place, you probably don't have one. Rarely, they're outside in a house box, but you shouldn't be opening that if it's there and the attenuator I mentioned above may still work even if you have an amp somewhere.
Most of the above is greek to me, but I REALLY appreciate your help. I'm happy to provide any other information from my modem/router, if you're willing to help me troubleshoot this. TWC service sucks, in case you didn't know that. If this is something I can fix myself - even going back and forth with you and others here for a few days - rather than waiting for them to send someone out on a day I'm available for 5 hour waiting blocks, I'd much prefer to do so.
Oh, and by the way, while reviewing my modem/router info to post here, it locked up again between pages. It's been painfully slow again since I came home from work. Not sure how it was all day while I was out, but I'm sure my parents will let me know all about any problems they had
edit: crap. Everything looked nice in little tables when I pasted it. I'll look for the SoSH table maker thingy and try to make it look better and easier to read. Sorry about that.
Based on what you've described and the numbers you've given me I think an attenuator will smooth out your service. Give it a shot and see if that takes care of it. The numbers in the table you provided should change so that Upstream power level is between 35 and 52 and Downstream power level is between -10 and 10. If there's no change, call TWC.
Hopefully this helps.
Edited by Snodgrass'Muff, 08 October 2012 - 02:14 PM.