Modem-router

Out in the boonies of the north Olympic Peninsula, our only internet service provider is CenturyLink. We have DSL service added to our land line. We pay for 3.0 Mbps download, which is slow but usually adequate.

We use an Actiontec PK5001A modem 802.11n WiFi router received from Centurylink on 8/1/2018.

Lately, our internet has been stopping. The only way to re-start it is to unplug and replug the router. I went to the CenturyLink Troubleshooting web site where their “Expert Chat” button doesn’t work. I phoned CenturyLink’s tech service line. A computer analyzed my system and said it has an “internet configuration problem.”

I phoned Tech Service with my land line and sat on hold for 1/2 hour. The rep told me to unplug the green DSL cable. When I did, it cut off the land line. I phoned and sat on hold for another half hour.

Meanwhile, I IM’d CenturyLink over Facebook. The rep there wrote that he isn’t tech service. He said, "The system I have access to doesn’t say if the issue is with the line or the modem. I can only see that it drops connection. There isn’t an alert about an internet configuration issue that I can see.‘’

I did a modem test. The firmware is up to date.

The rep is saying that maybe I should buy a new modem since it’s so old.

I hestitate to phone Tech Service and sit on hold interminably again. I know they will run the same tests as the computer ran.

Should I phone Tech Service? Should I replace the modem?

Wendy

A 4-yr old modem is fine for DSL. I used one (Cisco) for 12-15 yrs (also bought new from Centurylink–$100). It had a max capacity of 8mb and when they went to 12mb DSL I had to get a new one. The key issue is whether they changed something in the DSL without telling you.

If there are no reported problems with your modem/router (i.e. it says is it working correctly), then it is likely a line problem (lines do degrade over time).

Tell Centurylink to fix it (upgrade/replace their line?) because there is no reported problem with the eqpt at your end.

This is especially true if you are NOT really close to a telco DSL switch and they had to use newer tech to get you DSL because you are “too far away” from their service area for normal DSL. Original DSL was extremely distance-limited(~800 ft from memory), so it was not really available outside cities/towns. Then they got “creative” and were able to make it work over longer distances (further from their DSL switches). If that long line goes marginal at any point in its run, it could drop the DSL signal intermittently.

Consider fiber optic as an option IF it is avail (likely not, but you never know). Or consider cable (if avail) just for the Internet. That is what I do. Comcast for Internet ONLY and Consumer Cellular for two cell phones.

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Not much to add re: DSL, but it’s probably up to Centurylink to replace your modem if they ever deem it at fault (unless you bought it rather than rented it). I’m with Centurylink now as of a couple of years ago when they upgraded from 3 mb/s to 40 mb/s. This was a whoo hoo moment after years of a satellite that claimed 25 mb/s but was usually something like 12. ViaSat was better than Dish internet or Hughes and gave better service. But they are expensive and may not handle VPN (ViaSat does) or internet calling for your phone. The best in your situation is to get Centurylink to upgrade their equipment, which happened here a couple of years ago (there is no cable, no fiber, and no cellular connection at my house).

I only mention satellites because as limited and expensive as they are, they are certainly much better than the DSL you have (or don’t have as the case may be).

Have you considered StarLink?

<Have you considered StarLink? >

People in my area were discussing Starlink on NextDoor.com. Long wait – months for the equipment.

Starlink provided equipment for the Hoh Tribe. They are even more remote than we are.

I would consider it.

Wendy

<Original DSL was extremely distance-limited(~800 ft from memory), so it was not really available outside cities/towns. Then they got “creative” and were able to make it work over longer distances (further from their DSL switches). If that long line goes marginal at any point in its run, it could drop the DSL signal intermittently.>

How can I tell whether the problem is with the modem or a marginal DSL line dropping the signal intermittently?

Wendy

I had a very similar problem years ago with my cable modem and router. Sometimes it would work for a week or two and then it would need restarting 3 times in one day. Towards the end I was restarting it 10-15 times a week.
I traced the problem to unstable house power. I purchased a uninterruptible power supply strictly for my network gear. At the time that included a cable modem, router, switch and special voice router for our “BasicTalk” landline phone. Problem solved. May be worth a try.

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I traced the problem to unstable house power. I purchased a uninterruptible power supply strictly for my network gear. At the time that included a cable modem, router, switch and special voice router for our “BasicTalk” landline phone. Problem solved. May be worth a try.

I use Verizon FiOS for my Internet connection (and voice line). It could also supply video if I wanted it.

The equipment supplied by Verizon includes a Box on the side of the house that the fiber-optic goes in and ethernet and voice line(s) come out. Also co-ax could come out for the video.
They also supply a router. The box on the side of the house requires power that is supplied by a little power supply inside of the house. It includes a built-in UPS that shuts down the Internet if power goes outs, so only the voice line will run. The router would also cut out were power to fail.

All works just fine for me because I have a lot of power protection. I have a spare UPS that drives the little power supply inside the house. I have a big UPS that drives the computer and the router. There is also a whole-house surge protector in my main power panel. And also a natural gas powered backup power supply outside the house that comes on within 10 seconds of a power failure.

I do not imagine you will ever get FiOS, but I find it nice that Verizon thought to include that little UPS in their power supply. One less problem to have to deal with.

The modem is plugged into a fairly new Tripp-Lite uninterruptible power supply battery. Is that the same thing?

Wendy

<I use Verizon FiOS for my Internet connection (and voice line). >

Unfortunately, not available in my area. I checked.
Wendy

Since you have somewhat ruled out the router. My first guess is that critters (squirrels etc) have chewed up your overhead service drop from the pole to your home, causing the cable to lose connectivity sporadically. You need to have the service provider come out and inspect the cable for damage and test the line for faulty connections.

Please report back what the cable crew discovered to be the problem after they inspect the line on the pole, and the service drop to your home.

Troy

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<I use Verizon FiOS for my Internet connection (and voice line). >

Unfortunately, not available in my area. I checked.
Wendy

I know.
The purpose of my post was to point out that Verizon thought a UPS important enough to build one into their unit. They did not want a lot of service calls due to power flicks. They also wanted to be sure you could call 911 if you had to, even if you lost power.

How can I tell whether the problem is with the modem or a marginal DSL line dropping the signal intermittently?

You have your modem/router connected to a UPS, so it is NOT a power problem.

Your modem/router is NOT telling you it is having problems (i.e. it works fine as far as you can tell). You can access the modem/router from your computer and see its status–no problems reported.

So, that only leaves the cable as the problem–which is a Centurylink issue to fix.

Another hand in the air for a history of having DSL lines messed with by nibbling squirrels!

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which is a Centurylink issue to fix.

Back when I had DSL and the squirrel problems, I would call the telephone company and they would send someone out whose first task was to test the line at the side of the house. When that tested bad, they knew the problem was not in the house and would backtrack testing the line until they found the problem.

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<Since you have somewhat ruled out the router. My first guess is that critters (squirrels etc) have chewed up your overhead service drop from the pole to your home, causing the cable to lose connectivity sporadically. >

I’m not sure the router is OK. Centurylink’s automated diagnostic computer “found a problem with the internet configuration. Unable to reset.”

Also, the landline phone is working without interruption. If critters have nibbled the outside cable, wouldn’t the phone as well as DSL be affected?

I’m still trying to contact Tech Service. Wasted all of yesterday with no success.

Wendy

Our copper landline is buried, so it wasn’t squirrels, but water that was the problem, leaky splice box, broken conduit under the street, an old copper plant from the '60s with little or no maintenance. But the clue it was in trouble was generally static on the line, dialing a digit to remove the dial tone, I’d hear the crackling… Call it in, they’d see it in their testing, send out the construction diggers… But it became a habit, Comcast came along, faster service, and they updated their coaxial cables over the years, pretty solid…

Either way, it’s their problem to fix…!

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Also, the landline phone is working without interruption. If critters have nibbled the outside cable, wouldn’t the phone as well as DSL be affected?

Not necessarily. Voice is analog, so it works fine in most conditions.

DSL is a separate digital signal sent over the same set of wires–but at a different frequency. It is not a signal you can hear–but it can be interrupted by outside interference. That is why each telephone connected to the DSL line requires the little in-line suppressor–to filter out whatever outside signal on the line (from the phone[s]) could interfere with the DSL signal on that line.

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Not necessarily. Voice is analog, so it works fine in most conditions.

True, unless you were converted to VOIP (Voice Over IP) when DSL was set up. That was how it was with me quite some years back.

True, unless you were converted to VOIP (Voice Over IP) when DSL was set up. That was how it was with me quite some years back.

Then, IMO, the voice calls would also be interrupted because both are digital on the same line (same device)–so both should be experiencing a similar problem. But only the DSL has problems–not voice.

Wendy should ask if they use VOIP or analog for voice phone calls.