Intermittent DSL Access

Old 10-01-02, 06:30 PM
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Question Intermittent DSL Access

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I've been experiencing intermittent internet access for a few months. Oddly enough, when the access disappears, I can usually make it come back by picking up the telephone (cordless) in an adjacent room, and accessing the dial tone. More specifically, when I actually break the dial tone by dialing a number, the internet access re-appears with normal speed. I had assumed that the problem was with the internal wiring in our house - it's 25 yrs. old, lots of daisy-chain connections between the network access box and the jack in my office, etc. So, this weekend, I re-wired the computer phone jack with a Cat 5 "home run" directly from the jack to the network interface. And, you guessed it - I still have the same problem. I've called the phone company (now thinking that it's something on their end) and am waiting for them to research the problem and get back to me.

In the mean time, though . . . does anyone have any ideas as to why this might be happening and how I can fix it?

Old 10-01-02, 10:51 PM
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It sounds to me as though the circuit is taking errors which would make it work intermittently. When a circuit takes errors it can be an intermittent problem, where the errors come in bursts. A burst of errors will make the circuit drop. One or two tricking errors every now and again won't really be noticed. I would open a trouble ticket with your DSL provider and have them dispatch a tech to test it with a meter. Usually a good 30 minute test will normally be enough to determine if there is a problem with the circuit. I'm not particularly sure which type of DSL you have but I would assume that there is some sort of circuit card that the provider had mounted either on the outside wall of your home or maybe in your basement. If you were to look at that circuit card there is a series of LED's on there. If you see any red lights it could indicate the circuit is bouncing up and down. Usually this will be associated with a yellow flashing light as well. There should be NO flashing LED's on that card at all. Everything should be illuminated green and steady. Now, to determine where the trouble lies you can do yourself if you have the correct type of jack before your router. If you have an RJ-48X you can test it pretty easy. To identify an RJ-48X jack it should have an orange tag on it that says just that. If not then it is an RJ-48C and the test cannot be performed. To test it, first start at the network interface and unplug you in house wiring from it, notice the lights on the circuit card. When you unplug your inside wiring one of the LED's should light up Red. Then, plug your inside wiring back in. Now go up to the RJ-48X jack near the router and unplug your router from it. By unplugging your router that puts up a loop on your circuit towards the provider. Another words it takes the signal they are sending you and shoots it right back. Again, go back to the circuit card at the Network Interface and see if the light that lit up Red when you unplugged your in house is either off or green. If it stays green and happy then it is more than likely not your problem. Of course, this method is not as accurate as using a test set to do it but if the problem is severe you can surely see it this way. If you do not have an RJ-48X I'm not sure if Radio Shack has them or not nor do I know if you can get them at Home Depot or equal type place. I purchase mine from a supply house. Otherwise, the only other things you can do is exactly what Customer Support will tell you and that is, reboot the router and check all your cable connections. In my opinion by you redoing all your in house wiring I'm sure it's not your problem, I would have them dispatch a tech and let them worry about it. Please let us know how it works out!
Old 10-03-02, 01:02 AM
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I would like to add something more to this. Some types of DSL do not have a circuit card at your premises and they come to your home just like a regular telephone line. If this is the case there still is one way that I can think of to further test your circuit. You have to go outside to the network interface with a multimeter set for DC. Your going to do this test on your REGULAR TELEPHONE LINE NOT your DSL. I'll explain why in a minute but just bare with me. First, either remove the little phone plug (called an RJ-11) which connects your inside wiring to the outside wiring or remove the wires off the screw terminals. Check the voltage with your stuff removed. It should read somewhere around -48 volts plus or minus a couple volts. Now, reconnect your wiring and take the reading again. It should not change, if it does not much. Now that you know those readings, write them down for the time being. Next, remove the wires going into your home that are connected to the DSL line and move those inside wires to your regular telephone line. Take another reading with your multimeter. The numbers should be similar to those previously recorder. If any readings vary more than 2 volts I would suggest removing all equipment from all the phone jacks and check it again. If there is still more than a 2 volt difference then it is the wiring. If the voltage goes back within normal parameters then plug each piece of equipment back in one at a time until the culprit shows up. If I can think of anything else I will let you know but I still would have them dispatch. Again, please let us know how it works out for you!
Old 10-03-02, 06:54 PM
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Phonetek - thanks for replying, and for the follow up post.

I've called the phone company, but they won't be out until next week. You're right - we don't have a card for the DSL. It just comes into the house over the regular phone lines.

In the mean time, here's how the wiring looks. The network interface box does have a phone jack connecting the phone company side to our side. Our side of the box has four screw terminals (red, green, black, yellow), each terminal has multiple washers. As I mentioned above, I ran the CAT 5 from the box up to the 2nd floor office (computer) jack. Just used the existing jack, which is a standard jack. Connected the CAT 5 blue/white-blue to the green and red terminals in the box. Folded back the unused CAT 5 conductors.

There are two more cables connected at the network interface box - both on the same red and green terminals. One cable runs directly up the side of the house an into the bedroom phone jack (adjacent to the office). This is the cordless phone I refer to above. The other cable runs into the house, is spliced just inside the garage, then runs to a junction box. From there, four other phone jacks are run throughout the house. Each of those other phone lines has a filter on it between the wall jack and the phone (provided by the phone company when I signed up for the DSL).

Given the above info., how do you recommend I check for a voltage drop, when all of the lines tie to the same screw terminal? Thanks again.

Old 10-04-02, 01:28 AM
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I didn't realize that your phone number is actually a part of the DSL circuit. See, there are several types of DSL out there ADSL, HDSL, SDSL, IDSL and the list goes on. I'll say right now that I'm not familiar with all of them that are out there nor how all of them work as of yet. Some are just data circuits, others both voice and data and others actually are the same as a T1. So please forgive me as it's difficult to determine which type each person has. Anyway, to answer your question about the voltage drop test. As far voltage on your type of DSL circuit I am not sure of the technical specs on what the voltage should be on that particular kind of circuit. What I would do depends on the how frequently you data cuts out on you. If it happens every day no matter what I would call forward all of your voice calls to a cell phone or pager or anywhere you can and totally disconnect everything from the network interface except for the wiring going to your computer. Monitor it close for 24 to 48 hours and see if it happens regardless if your phones wiring is attached or not. Since you recently rewired your drop to the computer jack I wouldn't suspect that wiring. If it still continues to happen then you know where the problem is, if the problem goes away then you also know. This way you know what your next step is. By the way, if you do not have the call forwarding option on your telephone line you can call the phone company directly and they can do it for you with a few keystrokes. When you are completed testing you can call them back to remove it. If you have no place to forward your calls to but you have voice mail, you can ask them to put your line on "Make Busy" this allows you to call out but all incoming calls will either get a busy or forward directly to voice mail. If you had to make a call you can temporarily hook it back up and then disco it when your done.
Old 10-04-02, 07:00 PM
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I would hazard to guess that 99% of all residential dsl customers are using ADSL. And have their phone lines cross connected at a remote terminal, and are capped at 1.5/256 (if your lucky, a lot of area's are capped below 800k) Some metro area's are using a hybrid of ADSL and putting fiber in the loop. Maybe I should say hybrid"s". One type gives you seperate data pairs and connects directly to a NIC (not a nic card, network interface card card, hehe) no need for filters. The other hybrid that I know about is identical to standard ADSL uses a modem ( it just uses optical cards in the field and co. It would also be safe to say that most companies will not need or use more then ADSL for many years to come. Reasons; Its the cheapest both for provider and customer. I thought I had more reasons, but the others are technical bable that are availible to all types.

If you are using the filters and are still getting the disconnect problem its probly (I hate that word) a phone co issue.
Old 10-05-02, 01:05 PM
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Thanks for following this one, guys. I'm still waiting for the phone company to come out (scheduled for this Tuesday), but I realized one additional piece of information which may or may not be helpful . . . it usually happens (not always, but usually) that we can get online fairly easily when we first turn the computer on. After we've been online for awhile (say, 10 minutes), the problems start. That's when we usually have to resort to picking up the other line to break the dial tone, etc. I'm not an electrical guy, so I'm not sure how these conductors work. Is it possible that the conductors heat up (maybe expand?) after passing data back and forth for awhile, and that this somehow causes a problem? That seems to be the only thing left I can think of that corresponds to our symptoms.

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