Troubleshooting Your Home Network And ISP – Packet Loss And High Latency

Troubleshooting Your Home Network And ISP - Packet Loss And High Latency



hey everyone this video is about dealing with networking issues I know very very exciting topic I made the video as a result of the issues I experienced with my ISP the internet service provider Cox Communications over the past 18 months or so between early 2018 and mid 2019 I'll be telling my story along with the methods used to identify and fix the issues I experienced in hopes someone also find the video helpful I hope you enjoy I'm a pretty avid gamer I play a number of competitive games online rocket league a lot halo destiny to all games that are highly dependent on a quality connection between my system and the server I'm playing on I'm also an IT professional I have several certs and a number of years in a position supporting hardware and software in a corporate environment along with networking I wanted to make a video on the issues of experience with in Phoenix Arizona on finding the source of your internet problems and how to deal with them if your ISP is to blame so I'm gonna walk you through what I experienced and couple in with that some troubleshooting tips you can use at home to figure out where the problem lies this video isn't meant as a technical dive it's meant to help the normal user understand how to properly identify issues with their internet service provider as opposed to their internal networks in their home and as such I'm gonna be talking about the technical aspects of networking etc in a very general manner in early 2018 I started to notice a huge number of issues will play in rocket League online my in-game latency would jump to several hundred milliseconds frequently and I started to notice my latency numbers return red and start blinking after a bit of investigating on the rock the rocket League forums turned out this was indicative of packet loss packets are small sets of data that anything connected to the Internet sends and receives when communicating with anything else on the internet packet loss is when the packet fails to reach its intended destination this can occur as a result of numerous networking issues sometimes due to issues inside your network other times due to issues outside your network multiplayer games are especially sensitive to pack a loss as any loss in packets can lead to numerous issues that will impact your ability to play online when experiencing issues of latency or packet loss you always want to rule out your internal network first in other words all the devices in your home between your computer your phone your console on the internet these usually consists of your router your modem switches if you have them any cabling Ethernet cabling you have and anything else between your computer devices and the cable that plugs into your router or modem for most people the two devices you want to think about our router and your modem those are the most commonly used I guess home networking devices that could be problematic so let's go back to my house I was having these issues of packet loss and latency and I needed to figure out what what the cause of this was is it inside my network is it outside all my gaming devices are hard wired so that completely removes Wi-Fi as the culprit if your gaming or connecting to a wireless network they're all subject to interference and they're innately less reliable than a wireless and they're generally much worse for gaming when it comes to latency and reliability when compared to a wired connection so I began with the assumption that either a my router was failing as they tend to do every couple of years or B my modem was failing as they also tend to do every couple years this is not uncommon prior to contact with my ISP about the networking issues I was seeing I wanted to be sure this wasn't an issue inside my network the easiest way to rule out your internal network is to hardwire a computer directly to your modem with no router etc anything else in between and see if the same network issues persist with no other networking hardware or devices in the mix if you see the same network issues wired directly to your modem then that probably means that either a your modems the issue and needs to be replaced or B your networks fine and the issues outside of your home to make sure my internal network was in the issue I purchased a new modem and a new router they were both a couple years old and I just wanted to rule out any type of issues between the two long story short I still had the same latency and packet loss issues and all the games I was playing online and at this point I began paying better attention to streaming video quality and general internet use so my streaming video at home even on hardwired devices would occasionally have to buffer I'd see a drop in resolution making it look pixelated or grainy we're just generally not work as I should at this point I had a 100 megabit per second down 10 megabit per second up cable connection through Cox Communications which should be plenty of bandwidth the stream @ 1080p video so what the hell was going on right after swapping all my home hardware and having the same issues I decided to call my ISP Cox Communications to see if they could provide any help in isolating this issue this was in roughly July 2018 I don't have any hard dates I could go back and look but just for the general purposes of this video it's it's generally July 2018 they suggested sending out an in-home tech to verify any issues inside and outside my home network ie the cable cabling running to my home from the nearby neighborhood node I agreed it's like come on out and they unsurprisingly found no issues with their network your ISP owns the bulk of the networking hardware that connects you in your house to the rest of the world and their accountability they're accountable for its functionality there are segments of these networks that belong to third parties such as level 3 communications for example but your ISP will there be Cox or Comcast or Time Warner or whatever is ultimately responsible for addressing any issues with third party infrastructure on your behalf that impacts your ability to access the Internet I went so far as to replace even all the Ethernet cabling and rg6 coax cabling running throughout my house homes in many parts of the country have coax or rg6 cabling running throughout the house to allow for easy access to TVs if you want to plug them in your bedroom or whatever there's already coax cabling running throughout your home in many cases as it turns out in Phoenix our house is one story there wasn't a lot of existing cabling running through the house so my rg6 line that runs from my modem goes straight to the wall and from the wall I go straight to the nearest neighborhood node there's nothing else in between keep in mind your internet provider is not technically responsible usually for cabling problems inside your home but at least in the case of Congress they do offer warranties that cover issues with your internal coax cabling should they should the problem found eggs to exist inside your home so coming back at this point I was fairly certain that the problem was external to my home and subsequently the responsibility of my internet service provider Cox Communications unfortunately every time I called when I was experiencing issues I got the same runaround for their tech support everything's fine your signals looking good there's no issues being reported by other people in your neighborhood and we need to get a tech in your home so on and so forth on-site Tech's came by to pick lee during the week middle of the day during work hours while most people are not at home and thus not using the internet and thus this testing this this network validation was done during off-peak times of utilization meaning when their network has the lowest amount of load on it compared to nights and weekends my issues almost entirely occurred during peak times of utilization during nights and weekends so it was about this time I had a realization that my complaints about my internet functionality were pretty subjective from the perspective of an ISP and probably wouldn't hold a whole lot of weight I'm sure ISPs here my internet isn't working all the time mostly from people with issues inside their own networks so I figured out what I needed was a set of objective data that demonstrated the issues I was could back up what I was saying with some sort of data evidence right so I found this program called pin plotter it's a great utility I still use it 24/7 365 to monitor my network conditions the program can be used to send a couple different types of diagnostic communication to servers and does a really excellent job of graphing latency and packet loss specifically it's really easy to use really easy to interpret so this was the method that I started using to obtain data to back up my complaints with Cox easily readable graphed data with timestamps destination server names IP addresses latency packet loss all of this information was very grand granular even to the point of track latency and packet loss on every individual node or hop between my network and the destination server so when you say my internet isn't working and you call your ISP it's probably gonna get ignored or they're gonna send someone out to your home when you say something like my internet wasn't working during these dates and times and I have data to prove it that's gonna probably make them second-guess at least that they need to look into it a little further as opposed to just scheduling the technician getting him out to your home and getting you off the phone so I obviously began by trying to vet my internal network I did this by running ping plotter while wired directly to my modem with several different systems to validate my internal network with a brand new modem brand new router multiple systems doing this test direct to my modem I was still seeing the same high levels of packet loss and latency during nights and weekends ie when most people are online and when Cox's network is under under the large and largest amount of stress my packet loss percentages roughly between 5% and wait for it 35 percent I'm gonna say that again what I was seeing routinely on nights and weekends was between 5% packet loss and 35% packet loss so more than 1/3 of my packets are being lost on occasion if you look at the FCC data for Cox's an isp 0.1% packet loss is what's considered normal or average for Cox so my numbers were obviously substantially higher than that and should have been considered problematic when calling with this data I even went through the process of buying another modem a DOCSIS 3.1 this time as a last-ditch effort to rule out any type of issues related to the DOCSIS 3.0 to three point three point one transition that was occurring within Cox's network I found it highly unlikely that that could have been the issue but at this point I was worried I was ready to essentially do anything to correct this issue and have reliable consistent internet connectivity so the new DOCSIS 3.1 modem luckily it has a connections tab it's a Motorola that tracks all 32 DOCSIS 3.1 channels and logs corrected and uncorrected packets along with a bunch of other useful data so when it began saving this ping plotted data I also began grabbing screenshots from my modems connections page and corroborated the date/time and amount of packet loss that was shown between ping plotter and the modem connections page so essentially a 2 different sets of data – showing the exact same issue at the same time I had weeks of data at this point all showing the same problematic network symptoms high latency and packet loss during peak times of utilization the data exactly mirrored my network conditions when latency and packet loss spiked streaming video gaming web browsing all was unusable after quite a bit of constant communication with my ISP Cox they were still without meaningful action every time I called they suggested the same thing to have someone come out to my home check the cabling running to my modem check my internal networking hardware etc it was just a big cycle getting me nowhere so at this point I had the data to demonstrate an issue that required corrective action by my internet provider but my internet provider was still unresponsive what other options do you have or did I have as a consumer the most obvious option is to switch internet providers unfortunately in my area of Phoenix Arizona a metro area of over four and a half million people Cox is my only real option CenturyLink offers DSL internet but a door-to-door salesman explain the download speeds are currently between seven and fourteen megabits per second down with no real upload speeds to speak of neighbors with CenturyLink laughed when I asked about their quality of service saying it's nearly unusable under real-world conditions so I have no real competitor to move to and my ISP is unresponsive what then what do you do so I decided to turn to the FCC the FCC has an isp complaint form but the complaint is technically informal a formal complaint requires a $235 fee and to quote the FCC information page parties filing formal complaints usually are represented by lawyers or experts in communications law and the FCC's procedural rules no attorney fees may be awarded so this was a no-go for me I went the informal complaint route I submitted an informal complaint along with a lengthy description of the issues experienced and supporting data it was at this point that Cox's executive support team reached out to me as a result of the FCC complaint I worked with one person in particular on this team but again ran into the same issues hearing again that Cox is unable to verify issues with my connectivity despite the large data set I had supplied both the FCC and Cox directly a Cox suggested having a person out to my home again for the 12th time since we moved into our house and I again obliged hoping to find some type of issue as it turned out the in-home technical auth and latency issues at the cable house had my home excluding my entire internal network so I thought awesome a fix has gotta be coming at this point right so Cox replaced the RG 11 cable that runs to my home from the nearest neighborhood node along with the rg6 line running from that RG 11 line to my modem unfortunately the packet loss and latency issues persisted at this point all internal networking hardware as well as the entire coax run from my modem to our neighborhood node had been replaced leaving only hardware at or beyond the NIR in the neighborhood node as the potential culprit Cox was at this point very lethargic and responding after the 13th in-home visit in September 2018 at this point I had sent dozens of emails called in several dozen times to report outages send in numerous datasets showing issues over the course of 2018 and still despite all that my internet was still unusable regularly on nights and weekends Network issues had been ongoing from early 2018 through late 2018 at this point with no resolution in sight so seems kinda hopeless I was fairly frustrated at this point but I wasn't willing to give up so I continued voicing my frustrations through several online mediators I reached out to the cox internet support forums the Better Business Bureau the City of Phoenix cable complaints department as well as the Arizona State Attorney General's Office and this all occurred between about October 2018 through February 2019 in each circumstance I supplied supporting documentation and a lengthy explanation of issues I continued filing FCC complaints despite the FCC being mainly a mediator and not forcing any type of actual action by Cox due to the informal nature of their complaint process the FCC eventually resolved to simply close out any subsequent informal complaints I filed telling me the next step was to file a formal complaint offering no real or tangible assistance I finally received word in March 2019 I believe it was March 2019 from Cox that the neighborhood no time tied into was quote oversaturated and was being split in q2 2019 this oversaturation and consequential node split wasn't communicated to me until after my complaint through the arizona attorney general's office roughly six months after official complaints began and nearly a year after the network issues became too much to ignore it could be that they've been working on this the whole time behind the scenes since early 2018 or late 2018 and maybe they just failed to communicate that to me I don't know I can't say that for sure the node split occurred at the end of June 2019 I'm currently about two weeks into the node split immediately after the node split my latency spikes and packet loss issues disappeared the entire 12 to 18 month time span of network problems impacting everything from gaming streaming video to simple web browsing to VPN a VPN again for work was resolved due to an oversaturated node an issue entirely beyond my home and beyond my ability to personally do anything about it very frustrating but glad that it's finally potentially fixed unfortunately in my opinion the situation has been a tremendous failure of my ISP by way of little and very slow action on behalf of their customer a failure of the isp market in a major US city as well as a failure of the regulatory responsibilities of the FCC without the data from ping plotter and my modem as well as persistence through the various methods of complaints that i filed i highly doubt this node split would have taken place or i doubt that would have taken place in the same time span in which it did if you're experiencing networking issues i highly suggest and suggest following these procedures just do a couple simple things to start with number one start monitoring your network check out ping plotter it's a great utility it does what it does very well start checking your network conditions see if you can replicate packet loss latency issues they at certain dates and times if you are graphing packet loss and latency issues make sure it's not your internal network hook up a computer directly to your modem run the tests again and see if you get the same results if you see the same results with nothing else in the mix other than your modem try replacing that modem if the same issues persist with a new modem that at that point it's time to reach out to your ISP so at this point you'll probably have a decent amount of data which would be step two when you reach out to your ISP be sure that you're supplying data to support what you're saying that will at least give them something to look at in reference when they're checking things from their end if it turns out like my situation where your ISP is unresponsive at that point you have an option you can file complaints with public and private entities who can meet to fix in your behalf or at least attempt to get the ball rolling on the fix I'm gonna leave links to the FCC the Better Business Bureau etc etc in the comments as well as ping plotter so if you want to use some of those references please do so and I hope this story and guide helps you in some way my goal was to help the average user understand what's going on when network issues occur and how to make sure it's not internal to your network and then how to deal with your ISP if it is external to your network so if you're having these issues good luck and thanks for checking this video out

2 Comments

  • Its criminal what isp's are being allowed to get away with. In the last two weeks my network is randomly showing packet loss with no load on my end. I'm used to packet loss when my entire family is on or one of us is downloading a game. I'm getting the opposite from my isp. Tech support is saying my connection is unstable but the on-site technician is saying everything is normal.

  • Johny2x4 says:

    Very happy to hear that you have stable internet now. When you mentioned the 3rd party bit (Level 3) I was concerned it was going to be a peering bandwidth issue. I've got a pretty shitty story about a peering point with Level 3 in Texas…

    One minor addition on a piece to avoid confusion. The RG11 from your house is not directly connected to a physical 'node', it's connected to a Tap, which then goes upstream to the node through several splitters and likely power supplies. The term node is used to reference a both a piece of equipment, as well as a service area that is connected from said equipment.

    As for the node split, based on my knowledge of the metro networks at Cox at the end of 2017, the network engineering/planning team was likely already aware of the oversaturation and a process had begun to implement a node split (There is automation in place that monitors these conditions, but also be aware that oversubscription is a well known practice in HFC networking). The downside here was timing. Cox was amidst a large push to Docsis 3.1 to push their gigablast service out, which required pretty substantial network overhaul. Unfortunately for you, again, this meant your node fell on a smaller priority. Given the population density of Phoenix, your node was likely not alone in this queue of pending splits. I would 100% agree that your persistence lead to it being moved up in priority above others though, so this is very solid advice.

    It's really awesome that you put this out there for folks struggling with similar issues. Very well thought out.

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