Unbearably Slow Internet

I searched a bit and couldn't find an existing thread, so here goes:

Over the past several weeks my internet speeds have dropped dramatically. Right now I'm paying for a 25mbps down/2mbps up package from Cox (31/3 with "powerboost"), and I never see those speeds anymore. About two months ago I would consistently get the promised speeds, often times 50/40 or more, but now it's the complete opposite. I've been using speedtest.net on a regular basis to check, and roughly 75% of the time my speeds hover around .65 down/3 up with a ping of 700 or more. I've done all the troubleshooting I can on my end, pinging my router is always <1ms, the next step after the router is the bottleneck and is usually 700ms or so.

I live on a military base in a barracks, so while I've got my "own" cable modem/router hooked up in my room, there are still dozens of other people with connections in the same building. As far as I know Cox is the only provider for our area, that's something I plan on looking into tomorrow. Is there anything I can do to remedy the current situation? I feel like calling them probably won't do much good but I'll give it a shot anyways. I just don't want to spend the next 2 weeks having technicians stop by and lie to me about how it's a problem on with my modem or router.

Also, I've always expected the connection to slow down during peak hours, but in my case it's an all-day type of thing.

Does anybody have any recommendations or experience with this? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

pinging my router is always <1ms, the next step after the router is the bottleneck and is usually 700ms or so.

Okay, that usually means the upstream bandwidth is saturated. What you probably want to do is shut down everything but one computer, and then try that test again, while simultaneously opening the Networking tab in Task Manager (shortcut: left control-left alt-escape) to make sure that there's not really any bandwidth being used by your local machine. If you have only the one machine on the network, and its connection is barely ticking over, and you're still getting 700ms pings, then it's likely to be a problem at Cox.

If, on the other hand, the situation immediately improves, or if you see a lot of mysterious traffic coming out of that system, then you've probably been compromised, and are running a botnet. The botnet is taking up all your upstream bandwidth, and that's why things are sucking.

edit: I'm assuming that you're not getting any local packet loss -- if you're connected wirelessly, that could also be an issue, but your symptoms sound like they're caused by an upstream bottleneck, not the local wireless link, if you have one.

Well, do 3 tests a day at Speedtest.net on 2 different servers for maybe 3 days, if you have more than one device, try to test at least on two different devices. Also try doing the same tests connected directly in the modem if you can if you're using a separate router

If you consistently get Sub-par results, it has to be your ISP's fault and I'd call your provider with the cold hard facts.

I work for a big ISP/cable/phone company and the most frequent culprits (besides the customer's own equipment) are the modem, the inside wiring (on DSL) and outside wiring but it could be so many things... don't feel desperate, I just hope you have a provider that has decent tech support and customer service.

Thanks, I'll start recording the speeds I get before calling them and I'll let you know what happens.

A few years back I had similar issues with our cable ISP. I ran speedtest.net at peak and off-peak hours and noted that the real drag was only during peak use hours. I had to go through several layers of tech support and having a service technician come to the house before they admitted that the area node was saturated. I had to wait a month before they addressed the issue on the back end.

Unfortunately it really could be a lot of things. A bad cable modem will cause that, though when I run on these types of service calls, that's the last thing I attempt to rule out. A few things that I would consider when troubleshooting:

1. Watch for Upstream SNR spikes. Whenever you get a lot of people in a small node, you tend to have issues with US SNR. Unfornately it's also one of the hardest things to fix (trust me, it's probably 75% of the work I do). On your end, make sure all your connectors are tight, and if you have a tech come, have them run an ingress scan on your line to check for noise feeding back. Most of the time though, it's an issue caused by one of your neighbors.

2. Poor MER/BER from the taps. Only a tech with a signal level meter (and one that can measure these values on your downstream line(s)) is going to be able to tell you if these values are good or not. If your downstream levels are being affected, this would probably be the first thing I checked.

3. Damage to your drop cable (the cable running from the tap to your home). Water, and rust later on, play havoc on digital signal. This would cause the same issue in #2, but usually fixable by the tech that comes out, depending on what type of place you're living in.

Generally speaking, try not to think of all the people arround you as taking up the same bandwidth as you. While it is true, the network will be designed in such a way that if everyone on the network is downloading like crazy at the same time, each customer should receive speeds comparable to what their paying for. So if you're having a considerable loss of speed, it's most likely an equipment or signal failure, not bandwidth congestion. The best way to defend against a lazy cableguy is to ask questions they're not going to expect. Things like:

1. What were the tap levels?
2. What should they be?
3. What is the MER/BER reading on the downstream HSI channel? MER should be above 35 minimum, and BER should be 1E-9 on both pre and post.
4. What was the attenuation from distance on the drop line, and is it appropriate for the amount of distance there is? RG-6, which just about everyone uses, loses 1.5 dB at 55MHz, and around 5.6 dB at 650MHz per 100'. If you can get the tap levels and the distance out of them, you can do the math yourself. If the math doesn't add up, it's a bad line.
5. What is the US SNR? Too much noise on the upstream will cause dropouts, slowdowns, high ping. DS SNR causes the slow speeds down, but it's harder for most techs to measure that (typically can only be measured on the server end from data being sent back from the modem).
6. Was there any ingress measured from your home? I train techs to follow the ingress scan to fix problems they wouldn't normally find otherwise. But like I said above, it might be a noise issue that is affecting you, but you're in no part it's cause.

If they can't answer 1-4, ask to speak to their supervisor, because they aren't doing their job. All signal we look at while troubleshooting is relative to the taps (hard lines), so if they don't know that, they don't have a clue as to whether the signal in your home is good or not. 5-6 are a little more advanced, and most techs will have a hard time with them. Still, you can check the US SNR from your modem (or at least most modems) by going to, and it should be listed somewhere in it's diagnostics. Make sure your dowstream power isn't too high or low (most modems function best between -8 and +8 dBmV), and has a decent Upstream Transmit power reading (under 54 in our system, could be slightly different in yours, but shouldn't be by much). Again, all this is relative to the tap levels.

Good luck.

Thanks, PurEvil, I plan on monitoring my connection over the next few days and giving them a call, I'll make sure to ask them 1-4 at least, 5&6 if I can remember them I'll follow up and let you know what they say, and then let you know how awkward it gets when he thinks I know what I'm talking about and then realizes I don't.

At least this bot is using somewhat intelligible English.

I'm no bot!

Schrensky wrote:

I'm no bot!

The original (above) post must have been deleted.