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AT&T has just insulted me again

the bandwidth start and stop (failure and restart) of DSL connection

The regular pattern of DSLfailure and restart in a harmonic pattern

Trace route of the hops to an outside website where hop 4 is problematic

It looks like hop 4 is the device that is having problems keeping the connection

  1. Issue: DSL starting and stopping (mostly stopping) on a very regular basis (repeatable and capturable with Task Manager and tracert)
  2. Evidence: started with browser and email “timeouts” (taking too much time to send/receive to completion), videos of any resolution stopping for 15-25 seconds then starting for 5-10 seconds then stopping again, Task Manager showing 5-10 seconds of full bandwidth data followed by 15-25 seconds of absolute 0 bits transmission repeated forever
  3. What I know: I work with computer systems and do frequent diagnostics of system related problems… I do know quite a bit about DSL, but not nearly enough to do a complete diagnosis but here is what I do know (much of this was after the initial contact while I was collecting data)
    • Problem is captured visually with Task Manager and tracert and ping tests
    • Problem is repeatable across multiple DSL modems, computers, internal networks
    • Problem is not intermittent, it is persistent
    • Problem does not happen at neighbor’s AT&T phone line (with my equipment) about 1 mile away (same complex so I would assume same end office)… so it is *not* my equipment problem
    • Pattern is regular between on and off, and there is virtually no ‘in between’ (which, in my opinion rules out any line issues which are more chaotic and sporadic)
    • Pattern shows distinct points of network failure and distinct points of re-connection (suggesting that some device inside AT&T is having problems keeping a connection with my modems for whatever reason which is the *real* issue that I want to remedy)
  4. Testing before and during communication with AT&T
    • Two DSL modems had the same issues with very similar patterns on my phone line: Motorola 2210 (backup), Netgear combination modem and wireless router (primary)
    • Three computers and a smartphone running three different Windows and Android operating systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Android 2.3.3
    • Both wired (100Mb) and Wireless (WiFi G and N)
    • Went to my neighbor’s (about 1 mile away who is arguable on the same end office) and tested my Vista notebook on his network… it worked fine, replaced his DSL modem with my Motorola 2210… my computer worked fine… so the issue was not this computer and this modem
    • Collected 20+ window screen shots of:  Task Manager networking tab (throughput over time) showing the pattern with different combinations of modems, computers and network media; Tracert to different outside IP addresses that showed one AT&T router that consistently timed out; Ping tests to gateway and other routers showing some packet loss
  5. Put the issue up on my blog (a previous entry here), and DSLreports forum where one forum participant suggested the solution that AT&T finally came to realize and Twitter and Facebook and others
  6. AT&T Handling of the matter:
    • Standard progression without knowing the expertise of the customer
    • Chat w/ Shane on AT&T website: basic test and escalation
    • Phone call to discuss network issues escalated to manager Brittany
    • Phone call Brittany to advise me of scheduling of tech #1
    • Phone call Brittany to me to check to see if tech had arrived
    • Tech #1 visit to premises
    • Phone call from Brittany on results and schedule tech #2
    • Phone call from Brittany on progress
    • Tech #2 on premises: Jorge focused on the line quality (an issue but not the pattern problem)
    • Phone call to check on progress, found that the case had been closed even after telling Jorge that the pattern still existed and he stated that he would report it to the office. Ted was fixated on my modem being the problem (irrespective of the fact that I had two very different modems and both reproduced virtually the same pattern), and Dave (the manager who had been a network tech) did not want to see what images I had to show.
    • Phone call from Dave reporting the scheduling of tech#3
    • Tech #3 on premises Ray
  7. No AT&T person ever qualified me nor asked me if what evidence I had until Ray (who fixed the problem) looked at my data, watched me reproduce the phenomenon, did a ping test, called his office and reconfigured an AT&T router in their network (something that I suggested with *every* AT&T person that I spoke with).
    • I estimate that the time involved was: AT&T- 470 minutes (almost 8 hours of actual conversation/time on site… not including any admin or other resources); Customer- probably 16 hours of initial diagnostics, interface with AT&T service, hold, reconnections, data collection, reconfigurations, testing
    • at $100/hour for all the AT&T support, that is $783… divided by the $20/mo I spend for AT&T’s Elite DSL service, AT&T will recuperate the cost of this one issue in 40 years (that is 2052), not to mention *my* time and effort
  8. Suggestions for AT&T:
    • Qualify your customer: Neophyte (probably 97% of all customers), Know it all (probably 2%), Helpful (1%) —give us a code where we can bypass all the bozo (‘is modem plugged in? is the computer turned on? we are very sorry for your inconvenience.’)… those that really test and can accurately describe and provide evidence of the phenomenon when asked, those that have technical background and can begin the diagnosis and compartmentalization process.
    • Look and listen to what we have to offer… nobody ever asked (until the very last person) what evidence I had, could I repeat the issue
    • Use remote access software to view issue from the customer’s perspective (if the network is functioning). Even I use LogMeIn for work on my parents’ computers
    • Provide contact information to customer: I never had any way of re-contacting people like Dave with images and data to put in the file (an email would have been very helpful) [calling AT&T always results in 15-30 minutes before actually talking to a person who can do anything… and they are never the same person, so it takes time just to have them read through the file and time to brief them on the important parts that are not in the file].
    • Assign one person to champion the customer’s issue through to *resolution*. Most that I spoke with were good, but there was very little continuity and Ted even said ‘we will have to start from scratch’… that’s  when I asked to speak to his supervisor.
    • Have an internal escalation procedure to get to a real diagnostician earlier in the process if the customer can be helpful [it would save you and me a lot of time]
    • Check back after initial resolution to see if the problem is really *fixed*
    • Thank helpful customers and even reward helpful customers for their valuable contribution… without any thanks or rewards, customers become irritated… make them part of the “team” … Customers can be a much greater asset if they are not blogging about the non-performing side of AT&T
    • Capture information and reward the AT&T employees who actually *fix* the problem with some way of weighting the fixes for their difficulty… and pay/bonus them according to their fixes

Thank you for reading this post to the end…

PS for some reason this blog’s text editor replaces the outline second level bullets with a second level of numbers… quite confusing… my apologies.

My AT&T DSL fluctuates from full throttle to zero in a very regular pattern (using different modems, using different computers with different operating systems)… and having tested one computer and modem at one of my neighbors that is far enough to be on a different path but most probably to the same end office (where it functioned flawlessly)…

DSL Data Pattern for Suspected Network Failure

Pattern while downloading a large file (is typical of all downloads)… What is the problem and how can AT&T fix it?

Trace routes with 4th hop timing out frequently

Trace routes with 4th hop timing out frequently

Have a look and tell me what you see to be the issue and the resolution… Thanks, J

AT&T technician Ray looked at the data, ran some tests, called the ‘office’, had an AT&T router reconfigured (one in the EastBay) and all is right with the internet world (WoooHooo)…

three separate DSL downloads without any interruptions

Three separate file downloads without interruption… what a DSL data plot should look like

My great friend and mentor (and supervising Professor) Lawrence Schkade (Scotty to the community) asked me:

“Why did you choose to buy android instead of an iphone?”

…and here’s what I replied:

  • I will never buy a ‘proprietary’ system when a good ‘open source’ option is available…
    • they charge too much
    • they give you fits if you ever consider integrating with somebody else’s brand/technology
    • they have a general arrogance that borders on rude
    • their owners think that every body else is a fool

…in all truth, I did buy an iPhone 3GS on the day that they came out for $200 (with a 2-year contract extension… two years ago), then promptly put it on ebay and sold it for $630, bought my Nokia N85 for $280 and put the $150 difference in my pocket [thanks ATT]… I knew at that time that I wanted an android phone, but not just then (July of 2009) because Android was not a real player in the market and I thought that Nokia’s Symbian OS (which they had just made Symbian OS open source) was the only other major player that was NOT Apple or Microsoft or Blackberry… Since then Nokia has done very poorly in the smartphone space… and I can tell you why!

  • I really like HTC… they have been flying under the radar for 4-5 years making great OEM phones for ATT, Google and others… great quality/durability/functionality…
  • sooooo, when the newer versions of Android came out (2.2 and 2.3: read: stable and powerful with lots of apps that are targeted at business) and
  • higher bandwidth 4G was a reality, and [iPhone won’t do that]
  • bigger, high-resolution screens, and [same as iPhone]
  • faster processors along with all the functionality I can imagine (at least til Android 4.0 gets here) [same as iPhone]
  • I can read books, listen to classical music (and a little jazz) [same as an iPhone… but I don’t have to mess with proprietary iTunes or Apple Books …or Kindle for that matter]
  • I can swap out batteries if one gets low… I went out to ebay and bought four additional batteries that I carry in shaving kit when I travel, in briefcase when I am around town… and just do a quick swap (four additional batteries cost me $13 delivered to my door!!)… [iPhone won’t do that]
  • I can swap out up to 32Gig microSD cards [iPhone won’t do that] if I ever run out of the 8Gig already in place
  • $0 with 2 year renewal of my contract  ($200-300 less than a new iPhone4)… I jumped on it
  • …and lastly… it ain’t an iPhone (just look at me Scotty… do I look like an iPhone type of guy???)

In the vernacular of today’s student who really cannot explain why he/she does what he/she does… “It was a no-brainer!!”  J

PS I never really even considered an iPhone… it was between Sprint and ATT for service and between HTC, Samsung and Motorola for the Android handset. I really wanted to go with Sprint but they would not let me test a phone to see what kind of signal I would get at my home office… and I am kinda on the outskirts of Sprint’s 4G footprint. Sooooo, now you know…. Are you happy you asked?

Best regards,  J

On 7/20/2011 3:30 PM, Lawrence Schkade wrote:

Why did you choose to buy android instead of an iphone?


Well now that AT&T is allowing VoIP over 3G for the iPhone, Skype’s first priority should be to the *Biggest* cellphone manufacturer (Nokia) and operating system (Symbian) to improve the non-VoIP mobile client they call Skype “lite” that uses local phone numbers… pretty darn useless! What we want is VoIP over WiFi and 3G.

How about it Skype? Do you want my Nokia N85 VoIP business that runs on Symbian… or will you let all the mobile VoIP prospects go with someone else (56% of the *total* 2009 market sales if you include Samsung who uses the Symbian OS)…? …Apple has 1/3 the Q2 2009 smartphone sales as Nokia.

I am holding my breath!

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