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Old Feb 23, 2013, 04:03 PM   #1
Renzatic
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The Internet! Questions And Conundrums!

I'm not sure if this is the right forum for a tech question exactly, but none of the other forums fit, so I went with this one as the catch all.

Be forewarned. This is a long and boring story about stupid computer bullcrap. If this stuff doesn't interest you at all, you will probably die while reading this. Don't blame me if you do.

Okay, I'm having internet problems. It's sorta usual. About every three months or so, I have to get a tech sent out here to check the lines to see why my connection is acting flaky. They'll come by, poke at the splitter in the box, maybe tighten the connectors, shrug, and head on. It almost always seems to level out on its own after a couple of days, so the contractors, who always come out about 5-6 days later, end up saying something like "DAR I DUNNO IT'S JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS I GUESS HURR DUUUR DUR DUB A DUP DEEP DURP DAR". They've never done for a full diagnostic from the tap to the modem. Something that'd make sense to do with an intermittent connection problem that's been going on for about 2 years. Hell, they're rarely ever around for longer than 10 minutes.

Now here I am again. Only this time, it's a little worse than usual. It started yesterday. It was up and down all day long, so I call up tech support, and ask if they're having any problems in my area. First, they walk me through the usual unplugging everything spiel, hooking the line directly up to my modem, blah blah blah. It doesn't fix anything. Then she tells me we're having problems in the area, and they'll be resolved in a couple. I say alright, and head on out to do something else in the meantime. Later that night, I head back home, plug in the router, and...nothing. I can't pull an IP address through it. I fiddle around with it for 20 minutes, go through unplugging everything, swapping wires, all that good stuff. Still nothing. Ain't got no IP address.

So I call up Charter again. End up talking to a tech who I swear to God must've been doped up to the gills on quaaludes. "Haaallllloooooowww. Thank yooooou for calling Chhhhhaaaarrrtttteeerrrrr". Normally, I don't make fun of the way people talk, but when it takes you 30 seconds to say something that normally takes 5, you just gotta comment on it. Not that I blame the guy for doing heavy downers on the job. If I worked tech support, I know I would.

"Hey, my internet connection's still flaky, and I can't get on my router. You all still having problems in my area".

"I'm unaawwwwwaaarrreee of any prrrooobbbllleeems, let me....chhheeeeccckkkk. :seasons pass: Nooooooooooooo. We're Goooooodddddd".

So anyway, it goes on like this. Long story short, I hook the computer directly to the modem, don't get an IP address after 5 seconds (it takes about 15 minutes to resolve one). Guy doesn't know what's going on. My router's probably bad, and I should be up and running tomorrow. The router thing I can understand. It's 6 years old, and has been giving me the occasional problems here as of late. It's a good excuse to buy a new one.

I should also add the guy said "oooookkkaaaayyy" after everything I said. Exact same pitch, tone, and everything. Honestly, I think he was a robot. A drugged up robot.

Now I'm about 2 hours back from Best Buy. Got a fancy new router. I plug it in, name my network Surveillance Van to screw with my neighbors, and....nothing. Same thing. No IP address.

And yes, naming your router funny things will scare your neighbors. The guy next door came over to my house asking me if he was getting hacked because he kept getting this "Windows Viruses" thing pop up on his network list. That's what my old router used to be called. "I guess as long as you don't click on it, you'll be alright.

So that aside aside, I call up Charter again. "Hey, still can't get on my router. I think I'm having problems again". I go through the spiel...again. They tell me I've been dropping my connection every few hours, and that it's my modem at fault.

Now here's the thing about my modem. I bought my own about a year ago after a previous internet connection problem, and they've been trying to get me to rent one from them since. I don't even have HD digital in my house right now because they won't let me get the receiver unless I used their modem. Apparently they ones they use are, in their words, "tested". I did my research and paid $90 for the thing, and it's barely a little over a year old. Chances are better that they're having a problem with the line under the house (woodchucks), the box, or the tap on the pole they haven't serviced in 30 odd years than it would be this modem.

In in a position where they have better leverage to get me out of my own modem, and into renting one of theirs. What I need is proof that it isn't the modem (or is, if the case may be), and more something on their end.

So yeah, after that very long story, it all comes down to that one simple question. So is there a way to do this? What do I need to look for?

Last edited by Renzatic; Feb 23, 2013 at 04:21 PM.
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Old Feb 23, 2013, 04:34 PM   #2
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On topic: switch ISP's
Off topic:
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Long story short,
You got balls to say that.

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Now I'm about 2 hours back from Best Buy. Got a fancy new router. I plug it in, name my network Surveillance Van to screw with my neighbors, and....nothing. Same thing. No IP address.

And yes, naming your router funny things will scare your neighbors. The guy next door came over to my house asking me if he was getting hacked because he kept getting this "Windows Viruses" thing pop up on his network list. That's what my old router used to be called. "I guess as long as you don't click on it, you'll be alright.
LOL!
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Old Feb 23, 2013, 04:51 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Squilly View Post
On topic: switch ISP's
It'd be nice, but fiber hasn't been run up to my house yet (nevermind that my neighbors on both sides of me have it), and my only other option is a DSL connection, which'll cost me $60 for 12Mbps, or 25 for $80. Consider I'm getting 40Mbps for $45 with my TV bundle, it's almost better to stick with Charter and deal with their BS.

Though I am gonna call the local telco and beg them to light the fiber line up to my house this Monday. If I can get it, I'll switch in a flat second.

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You got balls to say that
Yes. Yes I do.
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Old Feb 23, 2013, 05:17 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Renzatic View Post
It'd be nice, but fiber hasn't been run up to my house yet (nevermind that my neighbors on both sides of me have it), and my only other option is a DSL connection, which'll cost me $60 for 12Mbps, or 25 for $80. Consider I'm getting 40Mbps for $45 with my TV bundle, it's almost better to stick with Charter and deal with their BS.

Though I am gonna call the local telco and beg them to light the fiber line up to my house this Monday. If I can get it, I'll switch in a flat second.



Yes. Yes I do. Image
Threaten Charter that you'll switch. Usually , they "upgrade" your service free of charge.
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Old Feb 23, 2013, 05:37 PM   #5
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Oh god that brings back memories of when I had Charter because I had the exact same problems you described. My cable internet would go out when it got too cold outside - my neighbors had the same problem, and Charter denied the problem existed because typically, it only got cold enough for it to go out at night, and the Charter techs came out during the day when it was working and were like "Well, your internets are working, there's no problem!" But rest assured, if the forecast predicted temperatures dropping into the single digits, the internet would go out.

Anyways, back to your problem. Is there a contract required to rent the modem? Can you rent the modem, prove that it's not your modem causing the problem, and then return their modem a few weeks later? That way, you'd only be stuck with one month's rental fee

BTW, when the (poorly) trained monkeys at the call center are telling you to unplug everything and reboot it, just tell them you did. They'd always ask me to do stupid crap like shut down every computer connected to the router, unplug the ethernet cable for 30 seconds, plug it back in, wait another 30 seconds, start up the computers. After a few calls when I realized doing that nonsense didn't solve squat, I just stopped doing that and told them I did. Rebooting a computer behind the router isn't going fix a thing when the modem can't get signal lock. It's like a mechanic saying "Hmmm, the car doesn't start. Let's try replacing the wiper blades."

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Originally Posted by Squilly View Post
Threaten Charter that you'll switch. Usually , they "upgrade" your service free of charge.
Did you bother reading the thread? His problem isn't that Charter is too expensive. His problem is that their service is ****ing terrible.

Besides, in my experience, that never worked with Charter. After AT&T finally got U-Verse to my place and I switched and dumped Charter, they made absolutely no effort to keep me as a customer "Oh, you want to cancel? Okay, done!" Not that I would've stayed if they gave service to me for free. Last thing you'd want to do is call Charter, threaten to cancel to get a better rate, and have them call your bluff, especially if you're currently under a promotional deal or a contract.
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Old Feb 23, 2013, 06:09 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by yg17 View Post
Anyways, back to your problem. Is there a contract required to rent the modem? Can you rent the modem, prove that it's not your modem causing the problem, and then return their modem a few weeks later? That way, you'd only be stuck with one month's rental fee
If the company insists on a contract, see if you can borrow a neighbor's modem for a few hours. They might not be willing to do it unless they're out of town for the weekend, so you might have to do some trading, like offers of a free barbecue or something.
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Old Feb 23, 2013, 06:43 PM   #7
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Oh god that brings back memories of when I had Charter because I had the exact same problems you described. My cable internet would go out when it got too cold outside - my neighbors had the same problem, and Charter denied the problem existed because typically, it only got cold enough for it to go out at night, and the Charter techs came out during the day when it was working and were like "Well, your internets are working, there's no problem!" But rest assured, if the forecast predicted temperatures dropping into the single digits, the internet would go out.
One very slight silver lining to your old situation was that yours was predictable. Mine will work fine for a couple of months, then suddenly get flaky for a few days. Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, the weather has no discernible effect on it. It'll come to annoy me for a bit, then go away just as mysteriously a few days later.

I don't know what could cause it. I've been over every inch of cable in the house looking for snags or stripped wire, and found it all in good condition. None of the connectors screwed on tight, and aren't exposed to the elements save for the one on the tap, which I can't check out because I don't have a ladder tall enough. On the surface, everything looks fine.

If I were to take a guess as to what it could be, I'd say the most likely problem is at the tap itself. It's not run along the street like it usually is in newer subdivisions. It comes out from a pole in the woods out behind the house. There's probably a family of migratory voles or something that have a weekend getaway up there. If I could get Charter to check it, at least it'd knock one potential problem off the list. But no. No matter how much I beg, plead, badger, or coerce, they flat out refuse to go check it out They're there to do the bare minimum and nothing more.

Quote:
Anyways, back to your problem. Is there a contract required to rent the modem? Can you rent the modem, prove that it's not your modem causing the problem, and then return their modem a few weeks later? That way, you'd only be stuck with one month's rental fee
There's no contract, so I could do that. I don't want to, because it'd be a huge pain in the ass driving 30 miles down south to return it when I'm done, and I know...I KNOW...they'll keep charging me for it for an extra 3 months, but...

...I might not have any other choice. As far as I know, it could be the modem. Though I severely doubt it.

Quote:
BTW, when the (poorly) trained monkeys at the call center are telling you to unplug everything and reboot it, just tell them you did. They'd always ask me to do stupid crap like shut down every computer connected to the router, unplug the ethernet cable for 30 seconds, plug it back in, wait another 30 seconds, start up the computers. After a few calls when I realized doing that nonsense didn't solve squat, I just stopped doing that and told them I did. Rebooting a computer behind the router isn't going fix a thing when the modem can't get signal lock. It's like a mechanic saying "Hmmm, the car doesn't start. Let's try replacing the wiper blades."
Giving them the benefit of the doubt, there have been a couple of occasions where power cycling one of my pieces of equipment has fixed the problem. If it's the first time, I'll go through the process just in case.

It's when you've been through the same old tired process three times, and you have to do it to humor the techie before you can start addressing the problem that it really starts getting old. In fact, the third tech I talked to, she wanted me to reboot the computer every time I swapped a wire.

"You have to reboot when you install a new piece of equipment to get the computer to see it, sir. When you switch between the router and the modem, the computer doesn't know which to pull from".

I wanted to explain to her that isn't the case with external hardware, and especially not the case with a modem. In normal circumstances, run the wire, plug it in count to 5, and it's ready to go. Arguing with her would've taken longer than rebooting though, so I went ahead and humored her.

Didn't fix anything. The only way I can get an IP address now is just to wait anywhere between 30 seconds and 20 minutes. If I try to release and renew from the command prompt, it'll only tell me it can't connect to the DHCP server. It connects only when it wants to.

....GAWWWW!

Quote:
Did you bother reading the thread? His problem isn't that Charter is too expensive. His problem is that their service is ****ing terrible.
Yup. I don't care about price. I just want what I'm paying for to WORK!

Quote:
Besides, in my experience, that never worked with Charter...
It does, you just gotta luck out and get a tech willing to do so. When an old friend of mine switched from Charter to fiber (yeah, he lives 8 miles outside of town, and he gets it ), they bent over backwards kissing his ass trying to keep him onboard. The stuff they offered him was amazing for the price. He still bailed on them though, and hasn't looked back.

Also, this just occurred to me while I was replying. Since all this started, when I reboot when I'm disconnected from Charter, I'll sometimes have a 169.254 IP address. Do you think it could be my network card giving me problems?

----------

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Originally Posted by chown33 View Post
If the company insists on a contract, see if you can borrow a neighbor's modem for a few hours. They might not be willing to do it unless they're out of town for the weekend, so you might have to do some trading, like offers of a free barbecue or something.
Good idea in theory, but I don't know anyone with a cable modem. They're all on fiber or DSL these days.

I could ask a random stranger in one of the houses down the street, but they'd probably just look at me funny.

edit: Just ran a speed test to check out my connection and all that good stuff. Yesterday, it'd randomly kick me off and take forever to load webpages. Today? Everything runs fine provided I'm hooked directly into the modem. If I do anything that requires me to pull a new IP from Charter, it has issues. I can't get on a router at all, and, like I said above, getting an IP while on the modem takes longer than it should.

If I were to take a completely pulled out of my ass totally uneducated guess, I'd say Charter's DHCP servers are the problem. I don't think there's anything on my end that'd keep me from getting a new IP, yet run fine once I do.

Got any insight, people?

Last edited by Renzatic; Feb 23, 2013 at 07:05 PM.
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Old Feb 23, 2013, 07:08 PM   #8
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Also, this just occurred to me while I was replying. Since all this started, when I reboot when I'm disconnected from Charter, I'll sometimes have a 169.254 IP address.
A 169.254 address is the self-assigned link local address range:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private...ocal_addresses
It's what happens if no DHCP service responds within a timeout interval (say, 1-2 miutes).

Quote:
Do you think it could be my network card giving me problems?
Not impossible, so what are your options for temporarily swapping?

FWIW, if there are multiple computers (or any other DHCP client) on your local network, and they also experience the malfunction, then that's pretty good evidence it's not the network card in a specific computer. Conversely, if all devices on your local network lose service at similar times, then it suggests the router or something upstream from that.


EDIT
Quote:
edit: Just ran a speed test to check out my connection and all that good stuff. Yesterday, it'd randomly kick me off and take forever to load webpages. Today? Everything runs fine provided I'm hooked directly into the modem. If I do anything that requires me to pull a new IP from Charter, it has issues. I can't get on a router at all, and, like I said above, getting an IP while on the modem takes longer than it should.

If I were to take a completely pulled out of my ass totally uneducated guess, I'd say Charter's DHCP servers are the problem. I don't think there's anything on my end that'd keep me from getting a new IP, yet run fine once I do.
Your router shouldn't need to get its own DHCP address too often. It should renew the DHCP lease at halfway to the lease expiry. Most expiries are measured in hours, like 12-24 hours or so.

Everything downstream from the router should be getting a local IP address from the router, and shouldn't need the router to ask Charter for a DHCP address. Unless your router is configured to not act as DHCP server.

Every router I've ever used that does DHCP doesn't need an upstream IP address in order to hand out local IP addresses. I have a DSL router with wireless that I routinely run with no upstream connection at all, that I use for testing local wireless stuff.

Last edited by chown33; Feb 23, 2013 at 07:14 PM.
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Old Feb 23, 2013, 07:18 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by chown33 View Post
A 169.254 address is the self-assigned link local address range:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private...ocal_addresses
Right. I assumed it was a hardware problem because that's my usual experiences when seeing a 169.254 address. Though...

Quote:
Not impossible, so what are your options for temporarily swapping?
Right now, probably none. I may have a NIC buried in a box somewhere, but I think I threw all that out when I donated all my old computer junk to the recycling plant. Maybe I'll luck out. If I don't, I'll run down somewhere and pick one up for $10 tomorrow.

I doubt it'll fix my problem, but it wouldn't hurt to try it out.

Quote:
FWIW, if there are multiple computers (or any other DHCP client) on your local network, and they also experience the malfunction, then that's pretty good evidence it's not the network card in a specific computer. Conversely, if all devices on your local network lose service at similar times, then it suggests the router or something upstream from that.
They don't, at least not from what I've seen. My laptop and iPad can connect to the network just fine on both the old router and the new. It's just that the router can't connect to the internet.

When I jump into them and try to renew my IP, all it'll give me is 0.0.0.0 across the board.

edit: keep in mind that I'm talking to you right now on the computer because I'm not on the router at all at the moment. I've got it hooked directly to the modem.
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Old Feb 24, 2013, 11:16 PM   #10
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Okay. I know you all have been waiting with baited breath to figure out what happens next. Will Renzatic be able to get back on the internet through his network? Will he ever be able to use his iPad at home again? Find out on today's episode of...

The Internet! Questions And Conundrums!

...I got a dud router. Figures. I grab a brand new one off the shelf, and the damn thing don't work. Course I couldn't find out immediately because it was doing the exact same thing my old router did while the internet was flaky. Since it couldn't pull up a WAN IP address, I figured it was a continuation of my problem.

Just my luck.
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Old Feb 24, 2013, 11:33 PM   #11
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This reminds me of a problem I had about a year ago. Over here, you typically have a separate line company from your ISP. The ISP will wholesale a connection from the line company (Chorus).

So, because I physically live a long way from the nearest exchange, my connection speeds used to typically about 4 Mb/s. This changed in early 2011, when Chorus upgraded the network in my area, pushing my speed up to about 12 Mb/s. A future upgrade will increase it to 100, but that's not related to the story

So, about a year ago, my connection speed suddenly plummeted to about 3 Mb/s. This was still an issue the next day, so I talked to my ISP (via their ticketing system since I didn't want to sit on hold all day). I got the usual "turn it off and back on" and then eventually managed to escalate it to the faults department. They proceeded to apparently open up the oldest logs they had, "we see that you normally get 4 Mb/s so 3 is within spec" *ticket closed*

*SIGH*

I re-open the ticket and tell them that Chorus upgraded the network a year beforehand, and that I normally get 12 Mb/s. After literally a week of arguing, they finally booked a Chorus tech to come out.

He fixed it in 5 minutes. The cable out in the "mushroom" on the street was corroded; he was amazed that I had a connection at all. He also replaced the neighbours' cables since they weren't looking the best either. I mentioned to him that it took a week for my ISP to acknowledge that there was a problem and he didn't even blink; seems to be par for the course!

I'm with a different ISP now, cheaper and better service
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Old Feb 24, 2013, 11:58 PM   #12
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I'm with a different ISP now, cheaper and better service
At least we know bad ISP service is a universal problem across the world. It doesn't doesn't make me feel better exactly, but it's nice knowing others are suffering alongside me. :P

Though I will give credit where credit is due. Charter, when everything is running smoothly, isn't all that bad. My connection speeds are always consistent even during peak hours. Plus they have been good enough to bump up my connection speeds by 20Mbps over the last year and a half without charging me a dime for it.

Though I wouldn't say it was all done out of the kindness of their hearts. I live just outside of Chattanooga, which up until recently had the fastest residential internet connections in the entire country. Every local telco in all the satellite suburbs have been upping their game in order to compete with the EBP, and the cable companies followed suit to compete with them. With cable alone, I could get upwards of an 80Mbps connection. I've also got access to two types of fiber (just figured out Verizon FIOS is available in my town), and faster than usual DSL. I live out in a fairly rural area, yet I have far more choice and better connections than most large cities.

Long live competition, huh?

edit: Aaannnnd I'm back up on the internet with my old router. Par for the course, it goofed up on me for a couple of days, then went right back to normal. All this running around, buying new equipment, and brainstorming issues has all been a wild goose chase. Just like all the other times this has happened.

I'll be back in another 6-8 weeks, folks! Thanks for all the help!

Last edited by Renzatic; Feb 25, 2013 at 01:43 AM.
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