Ok. If you wonder what that picture is, it’s my internet connection taking another nose dive for about the 50th time tonight!
I’m tired of working with customer support and now I’m going to take this to the next level. I seem to have real luck with the “Insert name Here Sucks” style posts if you look back at the rants I did on PowWeb, Fox8Fox14, and Vonage that got immediate attention from customer support. So, while I think the word “sucks” might be overkill (at least for now), it will garnish the Google ranking I’m looking for, probably get some DIGG traction, and maybe gather the attention of those at Suddenlink who need to pull their heads out of their rear-end and get this problem fixed. Most people find out in the end that I’m NOT the kind of guy to screw around with Customer Support for long. If they don’t fix the problem I’m pretty quick to get someone on the phone who gets paid enough to listen to me yell at them until the problem IS fixed. And I’m a document nazi… I take notes, write things down, organize…
Why are you complaining Tommy?
Let me start by explaining that I’m NOT your average home user. I own and operate an IT company that services the cable, fiber, satellite, and DSL industry. I do professional installation on T-1, DSL, DS3, VSAT, FIOS, and cable connections. I don’t want a pat on the back or anything, but I just need those at Suddenlink who read this that I’m not a net-tard at home with too much free time on his hands who can’t torrent fast enough. In fact, I was TRYING to work until I finally had to give up entirely because the web server I’m trying to connect to in order to work on a client’s web site can’t authenticate me because my connection keeps going down every 30 seconds, so now I have absolutely nothing to do except sit here and watch my connection flutter while I steam between the ears at customer support. I’ve spent three months trying to work through proper channels, and have gotten nowhere so now I’m taking this story to the blogosphere.
My Story Begins
On February 17th I had been experiencing severe speed issues for almost three weeks. At first I attributed it to just a bad week with the ISP, but after three weeks it needed to be addressed. I called Suddenlink and went through the usual mumbo jumbo with technical support that everyone has to. Is it your jack? Is it your router? Must be your computer. How old is your modem? etc. We moved my cable modem from room to room, tried wired and wireless, replaced the RG-6 cabling, replaced the Cat5 cabling to the router, replaced the Cat5 cable between the router and the modem, and basically went through everything possible to remedy my connection issues with no success. I started pulling bandwidth tests and noticed I’m getting anywhere between 1-3 mbits and I’m paying for 8, to the tune of about $120.00 per month for internet and television. I originally ordered the absolute highest package they had at the time, though they’ve since increased to a 12mb package. So, naturally we scheduled a technician to come out.
I’ll have to apologize for not getting all the technician and support representatives names, but I just didn’t think of it at the time. Anyway… Technician 1 was supposed to be here on the 20th of February, so I waited around all day working at home, or trying to, so I could meet this guy. I finally called and got informed “the tech said no one was home.” WHAT? I was here ALL day. Ok fine, let’s schedule another tech and this time I want a phone call when he’s coming. I’m going to be here but I want this guy on the phone to tell me when he’s here so we can be sure he’s not going to the wrong door or something.
Feb 23rd: The technician they sent out was very nice, very courteous, and completely stumped. He took a look at my speed tests and suggested replacing the cable between the modem and the wall. Ok.. we cut a new cable, tested it for dBm loss on his T-Berd tester, plugged it in place and rebooted. No change. The speed was no better, no worse. We tried connecting direct to the modem, connecting via wi-fi, etc. The end result was that he suggested I buy a new cable modem! Really? You serious? You think cable modems just kinda get slow after they get old? Dude, it was pushing 8 megs solid for the last FOUR years and now it just cant’ handle more than four megs? It’s not a 1960 Chevy with a burnt valve, it’s a modem!
Ok.. so now I’m a little miffed but not at him. He’s just doing his job So I did as I was asked; went to Suddenlink, purchased a new cable modem, stopped by Staples on the way home and got a new WRT54G router because I was pretty sure that would be blamed next. I came home, installed my new modem and router and called to get it provisioned. Guess what… no improvement. Now I repeated the entire phone call except I had to add the “it’s not my equipment” line to my story to get someone to take me seriously.
March 2nd: After another flurry of support calls I get a guy from maintenance, and as I understand Suddenlink’s hierarchy there are Level 1 Techs, Level 2 Engineers, and Level 3 Maintenance, or so I’ve been told. So, I’m getting a guy from maintenance. I’m thinking we’ll get something accomplished now. This guy arrives at 0750 in the morning. Good GOD I didn’t want to see someone at that hour. I answered the door in my PJs and we talked about the problems. He breaks out his T-Berd and checks the connection from my jack to the building. No problem there. How about from the building to the Tap? (the tap is the connection at the street where this node and others feed into the main line). Yup. That’s good too. So I suggest in my nicest southern manner “Hey, how about checking from the tap to the head end?” He disappears again for a few minutes and comes back in and tells me “Yup. That sucks.” I Swear to God those were his exact words. He was pulling less than 1 mb at 7:50 in the morning. I don’t usually even have problems at this hour, rather it’s the evenings when my speed really sucks and what I’ve been complaining about all along. He tells me he’s quite sure it’s an MTS issue, meaning it’s something that’s got to be fixed in Suddenlink’s main switch location and nothing we can fix on my end at my house.
Brief Mini-Lesson: Cable Modem Terminology
The image above shows a normal cable internet configuration: A “node” is a group of users. It could be 50 or it could be 400 depending on where you live in a town or city. I’m not sure what Suddenlink’s node average is, but it is typically a neighborhood, community, or some substantial group of users.
Many nodes plug into one CMTS (Cable Modem Termination System) located back at the cable company’s switch room. One CMTS can handle up to 1,000 users.
Many CMTS’ plug into one HFC (Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial) to go out to the internet.
It might be plausible to have 400 users on a node in a retirement community because older netizens don't use the net that much, however I would imagine it would be much less users in a community like mine because we’re all middle age tech-geeks that LIVE on the net. (END OF LESSON)
Being the doggedly persistent person I am, I decided to call Suddenlink the next day and check on the process to see what’s happened. Nothing. Nothing has happened. There were no notes about the MTS issue. So, truly miffed, I got on the phone with a Supervisor and explained to him that the issue was on the MTS end and that they needed to fix it. He wanted to know who informed me it was an MTS issue.. so I told him… “your engineer did. Duh.” He really wasn’t happy that the suddenlink engineer admitted it was their fault. Now he KNOWS they have to fix it and he knows I know they have to fix it. I asked how long I could expect before I could have my node transferred to another card in their switching office. I was basically told (and this is true) that they can’t simply unplug my card without unplugging an entire neighborhood. I told him I’ve done multi-thousand DSLAM user installation and I’m familiar with the headaches involved, but I wanted SOME kind of date. He told me I could expect it to be at least two months before anything happened.
March 25th: Email Begins
Having discovered for myself that this isn’t working, I get frustrated after a few more weeks of poor connectivity and decide to try to email customer support about the problem and maybe get a fresh perspective. This is the email I sent to Suddenlink on the 25thof March via their web submission form.
I've been having major internet troubles now for over two months, all documented in my account history. It took me almost a month to get the maintenance department to admit it's an MTC issue on Suddenlink's end, requiring my local node to be moved to new line cards on Suddenlink's end. Repeated calls to customer support have gotten me nowhere. I'm paying for 8 MB of service each month and for the last two months, I've consistently gotten less then 1-2mb. (also documented by your technicians). 1) I'd like my internet bill credited substantially to reflect this poor service. 2) I'd REALLY like to get my internet speed back! I've purchased new hardware from Suddenlink as requested, made myself available for repeated visits to my home, all of which confirm the problem is on your end, not on mine, and the last call I had with a supervisor resulted in him telling me that it would possibly be MONTHS before my service was corrected. This is absolutely unacceptable. I've been a paying customer for over four years and I expect to have this fixed in the proper manner. I'm running out of options except to contact the BBB, but I really don't want to do that either. Prior to this incident, I've ALWAYS been a huge fan of Suddenlink, but lately this customer service stinks!
March 29th: Email Response From Suddenlink
I got an email back from support 4 days later. It reads as follows:
Dear Tommy Jordan,
My name is Chris and I am the supervisor for the online department. I apologize that you have had to go through these problems with your internet service. I noticed that you have called in several times in February and March, so instead of applying a few minor credits to your account, I credited your internet for a full month. You now have a $31 credit for your internet service on your account now. If there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know.
Ok, I was credited for a month, which I truly do appreciate, but this says nothing about actually Fixing my problem. The “anything else you can do for me” part is to FIX THE PROBLEM! Considering the speed I was currently suffering, prior to that email… it’s a good thing this wasn’t over the phone. Here’s my speed from that same time frame (below). Hint: If that Download number isn’t VERY VERY close to 8.0, I’m not happy!
March 26: Tech 3
It’s now the 20th or so of March and it’s been three weeks since my last technician came by to stare blankly at my problem, so I called again to check on the problem. I’ve heard nothing, been emailed nothing, not been called, nothing… So, I get technician number 3 on the 26th. He comes out and again is very nice, very courteous, very knowledgeable and basically can’t do squat. It’s not his fault; he checked the connection and said “well sir, there’s nothing further I can do from here. This will have to have an engineer come out or someone from maintenance. I informed him that I knew he couldn’t do anything, I knew it wasn’t his fault, and I thought that Customer Support was wasting his time and mine by sending a tech out. This guy completely understood the MTS issue, agreed with it, and left without being able to further assist in getting my connection working right.
Tech Support Gets a Rest
I decided to wait it out for a few weeks at this point, assuming that maybe someone was actually working on my ticket and that they would be getting this handled sometime in the near future. I really used to LOVE Suddenlink and I just hoped that maybe some supervisor was doing as he said he would and attempting to remedy my problem. I managed to wait until about the 20th or so of April and called again. The lady on the phone pulled my ticket and told me there had been no activity on it since the last time I called. Ok.. now I’m really kinda pissed, not at her, but just in general.
So, guess what we’re doing… again? We’re getting maintenance back out here to look at the problem. I just told her what the problem was, like i told the last technician and the three previous people I’d spoken to on the phone, but customer support can only do what they’re allowed to do and all she was allowed to do was get me another maintenance guy. (Whew.. at least it’s not a new guy from tier-1 support, right?)
Not being able to scream at this nice lady, I decided to take it out on the customer support email department, hoping maybe someone would respond who knew how to actually escalate problems to the proper department.
So I sent this email:
April 16th, 8:23 PM - Email To Tech Support
Chris, (Or tech support)
Thanks for the email you sent a few weeks ago. I do appreciate the credit on my account. I’m writing tonight to see if maybe you can help me further. I’ve gone as far as I can with telephone support and don’t know where else to turn.
It’s now the 16th of April and I started tracking this problem on the 17th of February. I’ve had engineers to my house, the maintenance department, various technicians, etc. One of them slipped up and told me he knew very well it was an MTC issue that had to be escalated and most likely wouldn’t get fixed for quite awhile. When I told the Suddenlink supervisor that, he wasn’t too happy, but I sat here with the engineer running the T-Bird who tested the network and he agreed…it’s nothing on my end at all.
Synopsis of the problem: I’m an IT engineer.. so I do this for a living all day long every day. It’s not Rocket Science.. it’s Torrent traffic.
I maintain a home office in addition to our main office downtown. If I work from home, as I do some days, my internet service is up around where it needs to be when I start in the morning; somewhere between 6-7 mb. (Look at the attached PNG file for clarification). Throughout the day, traffic is fine. Basically its fine because everyone is at work, school, etc. Around dinner time each night, and I mean EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, my connection starts to suffer, most noticeably around 7 PM and later. At 8 PM, I’ll get 1.32 mb. By midnight, I’m down to less than 1 on most days.
It’s to the point now that I can’t even watch anything online, much less actually get work done after 7 PM. (It’s pretty bad when you can’t watch Hulu because your connection times out and you’re paying for 8mb service!!!). Forget trying to FTP files to servers, perform remote service on other computers, design web sites, or whatever else I might need to do that evening. Based on usage patterns and time of day, you and I both should be able to deduce it’s torrent related. You’ve got 200 students (or however many) on this node bit-torrenting their tails off all night after they go to bed, or when they’re playing xbox, or whatever, but its eating my bandwidth to death and there’s been absolutely NO remedy for months now.
I called tonight to check on my service ticket…. Nothing. No news, no changes, etc. I had to call because every night this week, EVERY night, about the same time of night, my network crawls to the point that I can’t even send out http requests to web sites. I only know I’m online because Skype takes very little packet traffic to remain connected. Basically the net gets so slow I can’t load a web page… ANY web page. This continues for about ten minutes, after which the network stops altogether, the cable modem loses signal, and then it resets itself automatically and the speed is back up again for awhile, before slowing down again within the hour. No, it’s not my computer. I have two computers in the house and other net and wifi appliances and it happens across the board.
Your own engineers have verified that the copper to my building is experiencing very minimal loss, much less than expected. The SNR is fine on the copper outside, inside, and to the tap. I purchased a new cable modem through you guys because they told me it had to be that. There’s another $50.00 I didn’t need to spend. I replaced the router as well, updated the firmware, and then replaced the firmware altogether with DDWRT to get better access to my net statistics. I’ve done everything your support personnel have asked me but the problem hasn’t been fixed at all. The ONLY fix for this is to move my account (and most likely those geographically near me) to another node… at least that’s what your Suddenlink customer service supervisor told me the last time I talked to him. His words were “Well, Mr. Jordan, it’s most likely going to take months for that to happen.” What I want to know is WHY? Obviously my network node is overloaded. Ok fine, put me on a node that’s NOT overloaded so I can get the bandwidth I’m paying for. I’m paying for the next-to-highest package you have and getting HORRIBLE speeds. To top it all off I have to deal with customer support people on the phone who think everyone is a 65-year old grandmother who’s never used the net. I get really tired of telling them there’s no need to reboot my computer just so you can verify what multiple engineers have already told us both…
What can I do, who can I talk to, where can I go to get this fixed? I even looked at dropping cable altogether after about 8 years of service because the quality is so disgustingly poor, only to find out that Embarq’s pricing is HORRIBLE for similar speed packages. I’m out of options here. Please help.
This is the attachment I sent with that email: (Click it to see it full sized)
April 21st: Response from Suddenlink
This is the response I got. Remember, at this point I’ve been reporting this issue for over two months. This is week 9 AFTER I reported it, but closer to week 13 since it actually started becoming a problem.
Hello, this is Chris again. When I am looking at the bandwidth graphs for your node, I noticed that there is an extreme spike of bandwidth usage in the evenings. This would explain the speed issues that you are having in the evenings. I also noticed that a work order was setup by a dispatcher in your local office for maintenance to be done; however this order still hasn't been closed out. I emailed that dispatcher, as well as the plant manager (the dispatcher's boss) to see if we can get an idea as to when this issue may be fixed. Once I receive a response from either of them, then I will notify. Unfortunately as of right now I am unable to do anything given the problem. Hopefully they are working on a resolution to this problem as we speak. In the meantime, if you have any other questions please do not hesitate to contact me.
PS: Chris… You’ve yet to notify me of anything… Thanks buddy!
April 22nd: Maintenance Returns
On the 22nd of April I get yet another Maintenance guy. I’m going to skip the part where I repeat the last five service calls. They’re starting to go something like this:
- Tommy: My internet is broke.
- Tech: Let’s reboot your cable modem
- Tommy: (thinks: Damn. I never thought of that… ok)
- Tommy (says) Ok.
- Tech: There. It still slow?
- Tommy: Yup. Why don’t you check the cable at my building.
- Tech: Ok. (returns 2 minutes later) Cable looks good.
- Tommy: Yup. Why don’t you check the cable at the tap.
- Tech: Ok. (returns 5 minutes later) Your speed sucks! That’s a problem!
- Tommy: (wondering if I’m in Dante’s 8th level of IT hell)
- Tommy: Can you call somebody to get this fixed?
- Tech: Yup. I’ll open a trouble ticket when I get back to the office.
- Tommy: Ok
- Tech: (Leaves)
- Tommy: (Bangs head on table for a few minutes before returning to my internet misery)
- Tommy: Calls to see if he opened a trouble ticket. Nope! So I opened ANOTHER ONE!
May 5th – Call to check Status
I called May 5th and spoke to Andrew. It should be noted that this guy has been the most sincerely awesome customer support guy I’ve ever dealt with from Suddenlink and if I knew how I’d hire him right away from you to work for us instead. He’s been very understanding and made every effort to request a team leader each time he’s seen this mile-long list of ticket notes.
I told Andrew I was calling to check on the status of my support ticket. He clicks some keys and tells me that ticket was successfully closed on the 22nd of April.
WHAT! Holy St Peter on a Stick! Who closed the ticket, I asked him. He informed me the ticket was closed by the tech who went on the last call, on the 22nd.
I informed him that it most definitely was NOT to be closed and I had it reopened. So, guess what I got… another technician!
May 8th- Technician Number 5
So, three hours ago the technician shows up, and again we go through the whole process. I informed him that I need someone to come by here at about midnight, not 5 in the afternoon, because the problems don’t start severely until peak-time, usually after 7 or 8. He checked the connection here on the cable modem and got a rocking 12mb downstream. Ok.. let’s connect the cable modem and see what we get. I sat here with him on both my computers and my iPhone and ran speed tests on the network…
Here’s a few hours ago:
And again a few minutes ago:
Then I showed him the stats I’ve been aggregating for the last THREE months, shown below for the benefit of any Suddenlink staff who might read this page.
|IP||DATE||Down (Megabits)||Up (Megabits)||Latency||Server||Miles to Server|
|184.108.40.206||2/17/2009 14:17||5.02||0.53||22||Washington, DC||250|
|220.127.116.11||2/18/2009 19:36||1.16||0.51||141||Greensboro, NC||150|
|18.104.22.168||2/19/2009 17:31||1.33||0.52||102||Greensboro, NC||150|
|22.214.171.124||2/19/2009 18:18||1.99||0.52||356||Greensboro, NC||150|
|126.96.36.199||2/20/2009 8:56||6.86||0.52||287||Greensboro, NC||150|
|188.8.131.52||2/20/2009 8:58||7.49||0.52||286||Greensboro, NC||150|
|184.108.40.206||2/22/2009 23:45||1.85||0.51||350||Greensboro, NC||150|
|220.127.116.11||2/23/2009 11:51||6.71||0.52||288||Greensboro, NC||150|
|18.104.22.168||2/23/2009 15:46||4.77||0.52||283||Greensboro, NC||150|
|22.214.171.124||2/23/2009 21:12||1.96||0.5||450||Greensboro, NC||150|
|126.96.36.199||2/24/2009 0:10||2.49||0.5||291||Greensboro, NC||150|
|188.8.131.52||2/25/2009 16:39||2.49||0.52||385||Greensboro, NC||150|
|184.108.40.206||2/25/2009 20:31||2.53||0.51||403||Greensboro, NC||150|
|220.127.116.11||2/26/2009 18:19||3.93||0.52||291||Greensboro, NC||150|
|18.104.22.168||2/26/2009 20:15||0.93||0.49||407||Greensboro, NC||150|
|22.214.171.124||2/27/2009 11:09||2.93||0.52||280||Greensboro, NC||150|
|126.96.36.199||2/27/2009 16:56||5.78||0.52||306||Greensboro, NC||150|
|188.8.131.52||2/28/2009 2:12||6.6||0.52||309||Greensboro, NC||150|
|184.108.40.206||2/28/2009 21:02||0.55||0.35||610||Greensboro, NC||150|
|220.127.116.11||2/28/2009 21:04||0.69||0.35||701||Greensboro, NC||150|
|18.104.22.168||2/28/2009 22:15||0.48||0.34||896||Greensboro, NC||150|
|22.214.171.124||2/28/2009 22:19||1.19||0.51||117||Greensboro, NC||150|
|126.96.36.199||3/1/2009 12:39||5.22||0.53||75||Greensboro, NC||150|
|188.8.131.52||3/1/2009 23:09||1.26||0.43||153||Greensboro, NC||150|
|184.108.40.206||3/2/2009 9:56||5.85||0.52||74||Greensboro, NC||150|
|220.127.116.11||3/3/2009 0:20||1.91||0.51||396||Greensboro, NC||150|
|18.104.22.168||3/3/2009 19:24||1.64||0.5||381||Greensboro, NC||150|
|22.214.171.124||3/4/2009 20:08||0.32||0.21||566||Greensboro, NC||150|
|126.96.36.199||3/6/2009 7:31||7.14||0.52||302||Greensboro, NC||150|
|188.8.131.52||3/6/2009 20:11||1.32||0.46||1439||Greensboro, NC||150|
|184.108.40.206||3/11/2009 14:28||2.95||0.51||85||Greensboro, NC||150|
|220.127.116.11||3/17/2009 0:26||2.04||0.43||135||Greensboro, NC||150|
|18.104.22.168||3/18/2009 12:23||7.09||0.52||95||Greensboro, NC||150|
|22.214.171.124||3/19/2009 10:00||4.82||0.52||87||Greensboro, NC||150|
|126.96.36.199||3/24/2009 23:37||0.62||0.44||116||Greensboro, NC||150|
|188.8.131.52||3/25/2009 12:34||3.6||0.49||73||Greensboro, NC||150|
|184.108.40.206||3/25/2009 13:23||3.7||0.48||73||Greensboro, NC||150|
|220.127.116.11||3/27/2009 14:09||6.98||0.52||283||Greensboro, NC||150|
|18.104.22.168||3/27/2009 20:28||1.48||0.48||95||Norfolk, VA||100|
|22.214.171.124||3/31/2009 8:08||7.87||0.53||60||Norfolk, VA||100|
|126.96.36.199||4/6/2009 22:56||2.16||0.41||74||Greensboro, NC||150|
|188.8.131.52||4/10/2009 17:10||3.1||0.22||282||Norfolk, VA||100|
|184.108.40.206||4/16/2009 19:50||2.84||0.32||754||Greensboro, NC||150|
|220.127.116.11||5/6/2009 16:14||5.26||0.36||24||New York, NY||400|
|18.104.22.168||5/6/2009 16:15||2.03||0.44||155||Morristown, TN||350|
|22.214.171.124||5/6/2009 16:16||5.18||0.24||43||Atlanta, GA||450|
|126.96.36.199||5/6/2009 18:06||4.71||0.43||488||Greensboro, NC||150|
|188.8.131.52||5/6/2009 18:10||12.09||0.5||397||Greensboro, NC||150|
|184.108.40.206||5/6/2009 18:11||4.86||0.49||438||Greensboro, NC||150|
|220.127.116.11||5/6/2009 18:13||6.12||0.49||435||Greensboro, NC||150|
|18.104.22.168||5/8/2009 17:14||4.49||0.5||367||Greensboro, NC||150|
|22.214.171.124||5/8/2009 17:33||5.5||0.5||496||Atlanta, GA||450|
|126.96.36.199||5/8/2009 18:21||7.45||0.51||309||Greensboro, NC||150|
|188.8.131.52||5/8/2009 18:22||7.77||0.51||300||Greensboro, NC||150|
|184.108.40.206||5/8/2009 18:23||2.63||0.51||73||Morristown, TN||350|
|220.127.116.11||5/8/2009 18:24||7.56||0.51||37||Atlanta, GA||450|
|18.104.22.168||5/8/2009 20:31||3.94||0.52||312||Greensboro, NC||150|
As we’re talking, he tells me that he’s going to put me on PingPlotter back at the office and track my connection over the range of a couple weeks. AMAZING I said… I use the same program! Here’s your ping plotter stats from yesterday:
Those red lines… yeah those are all the times i completely lose connection to Suddenlink over the period of about five minutes… in FIVE minute between 2:01.00 and 2:05.50 I’m losing about 60% of all traffic from the modem. What else in the name of all that is holy can I possibly do to help you people remedy this problem.
What IS the problem Tommy?
The problem, for the 487th time is that the node my building is connected to has become overrun with users or at the very least with data. It’s too full. Basically there are too many people using the net and not enough speed to go around. There are two plausible scenarios to remedy this:
- Implement traffic shaping in an extreme manner and deprioritize torrent protocols, meaning those guys who are downloading porn and movies all night cant use all the available connection the rest of us are paying to use! They won’t EVER do this and I can’t blame them. ComCast tried this and almost got sued out of existence.
- Split the node I’m on up and put it on a less-congested CMTS at the head-end. This is a big pain in the rear for Suddenlink and I don’t envy them one bit all the headache it’s going to be to do this, however at this point, I no longer care how much of an inconvenience it is for them. I’m paying for quality service and I think three months is long enough to wait.
So, like I did with the other posts from previous customer support nightmares, I’ll keep this post updated for better or for worse and let you know how it goes.
Now, I’ve been at this for 3 hours, spewed 4,813 words, and missed half my Friday night ranting about Suddenlink. I’m going to email this link to customer service and go watch my DVR since I can’t actually get any work done because I can’t stay connected long enough!
Well, to be fair to Suddenlink in all this, I think it only right to post an update. After I made this blog entry I posted it on Reflector.com, the local newspaper’s web site to see if I could get the attention of Suddenlink locally. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I’m not alone in my gripes with Suddenlink over this issue. However, I think it fair to state that I didn’t always have poor service. Sometime in January it just went to absolute crap, seemingly overnight. I used to host the gaming sessions for our Tuesday night gaming group, host the 8 man conference call, run 4 messengers, check email, and game all at the same time with not one but TWO computers (since April played and Skype’d too). All of the sudden… crappy connection. Back to the story:
One of the members on the Reflector forum made a comment that I should make my post on dslreport.com in the Suddenlink section because Suddenlink people kept an eye out on that forum, and he was nice enough to give me a link straight to it. I did, and that’s when things got interesting.
- My reflector.com post is located at: http://discussions.reflector.com/read.php?3,64954,64954#msg-64954
- The suggestion to post on DSLreports.com is: http://discussions.reflector.com/read.php?3,64954,65025#msg-65025
- And the DSLReports.com post is here: http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r22368793-Suddenlink-Broken-for-3-Months-Greenville-NC
If you’ve read the comments to this post, you’ll see that I did indeed get the attention I was looking for. A gentleman by the name of Pete Abel, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications was kind enough to comment and inform me of his intention to help out. To his credit, he’s still waiting on a response from me as I only got the email this afternoon and haven’t had time to write him yet. I’ll do that later tonight.
Out of the blue tonight a Suddenlink technician shows up at my house and asks if he can fix my Internet problems. Well, not knowing what else to say I said SURE.. c’mon in! He informed me that I started experiencing T3 and T4 errors on the 8th of May and that’s when my problem started. I courteously informed him that no, my problems did NOT start on the 8th. I called tech support and asked Andrew to put me on PingPlotter on the 8th of may. THAT is why he was seeing no errors before that… because they weren’t tracking my modem before I asked them to. I never did get him to understand this. I think he thinks I’m just an idiot with a little lingo under my belt. Basically the T3 and T4 errors on my modem mean that my cable modem is losing packets. The modem has a processor that’s supposed to account for that, which it can do when there is only a small amount of data lost. This would be the T1, T2 level. When it gets to T3/T4 it means the modem is losing so much data that it can’t put the data stream back together and it just has to reset itself. This explains my sudden dying and then amazing return speeds I’ve been experiencing. It also explains why it starts cycling again 15 minutes later every night all night.
- Modem reboots and starts processing packets.
- T1/T2 errors in the data stream are being self corrected by modem.
- Packet loss gets to be too much… T3/T4 errors start happening.
- Modem can’t take it.. takes a nose dive and resets.
- Repeat Steps 1-4 until I want to bang my head on a table for three months.
Amidst the checking of my wiring the technician informs me of the Suddenlink internal speed test site, which is the one we’re “supposed” to use. Well, I’d like to make it known that no tech I’ve ever spoke to even KNOWS about this internal speed test site. I’m pretty sure you can call Suddenlink customer service and ask for the Speed test site and they’ll tell you www.speakeasylcom (which we all know DOES fluff it’s ratings!)
Anyway, for those of you who Do want to use it, you can find it here:
Like most technicians, be bashed a little on my usage of speedtest.net, with the standard “they’re a commercial site trying to make ad-revenue so they fluff their statistics. They’re not accurate.” Rather than argue the point with him I just let him proceed to do his job, which he set right to pretty quickly. When I explained that suddenlink recommended speakeasy.net he told me the same thing about them. What’s the deal with techs hating speedtest sites.
So, he cut a new RG-59 coax cable for my cable modem and tested it out. We got crappy connection still… about 2.91mbits at 6 PM in the afternoon. So he plugged in his laptop and checked it on his side. I never saw what the results were, but the basic consensus was that we hadn’t replaced my coax cables the first five times I had techs out. For the record, we DID replace my cables before but another technician had swapped them back out again later and we never swapped them back.
Once we were all completed and all his tests were done, we checked it again on my laptop. I didn’t get the records for proof because the Suddenlink site has a crappy reporting process, but we landed 2.92 the first time, 3.3 the next time, then 5.1. According to the technician I’m losing 20% of my signal because I’m testing via wi-fi. (Pardon me, but I call bullshit.) I’m eleven feet direct line of sight from a 70 milliwatt antenna, not the standard 30mw crap that comes off the shelf. I reflashed the router to DDWRT a few months ago to try to correct this issue already. Basically my router is putting out twice the antenna power it’s supposed to be. I can pick up a strong signal from the pool 150 feet away through a building! It’s NOT my wireless signal. Let’s just assume that if we can technologically invent 3G and 4G wireless networks that deliver 5 megs to my phone, that my wireless router technology is sufficient to broadcast eleven feet… ok?
So, now what? I have no idea. I’m definitely going to email Mr. Pete Abel and see what he can do to correct this issue because here is what I got out of the guy who came by tonight:
- Speedtest servers can’t be used because they’re never right and only suddenlink’s internal server is correct, but customer support doesn’t know the address of that one so you can’t ever get the url (until now, you’re welcome very much).
- Wi-Fi signals suck and you can’t expect to get a signal even when you’re within 11’LOS of your router.
- If I’m paying for 8MB and consistently get 4, that’s all I’m supposed to get. (Not kidding. He said that…)
Let me tell you what I think:
I think I get a freakin’ bill for 8mb of service! I want 8mb of service guaranteed or else I want you to change the damned name to 4mb like it used to be and take the price back down! 7.97? ok. 7.55? ok. Less then 7 Consistently? NOT OK. I asked him tonight if I could upgrade to the 12 mb service. Sure! So, if I upgrade to 12, what do I get?
8 MB plan with 4mb consistent to meet the TOS standards = 50% of what I’m paying for? So it follows that:
12mb plan with 50% consistent would equal 6mb using the same billing plan. So if I DO upgrade to 12, I get 6? WAIT A DAMNED MINUTE! I’m ALREADY PAYING FOR 8 that I can’t get NOW!
Grrr.. maybe Mr. Pete can help. Here’s hopin!
PS: RIGHT now I’m getting:
And here are my stats for the last 24 hours in case Suddenlink needs to see them:
More updates to follow…