Thursday, July 19, 2012

Having Trouble Sleeping; Pondering Why Frontier's Network Monitoring Software Is So Defective

Perhaps too exciting of an afternoon.  The Frontier tech showed up at my mother's place to try and figure out why her Internet connection was going down every five minutes for 15-30 seconds.  According to the tech, their network monitoring center saw no signs of any problems with the line or the connection.  Therefore, it must be software.  While I was talking to him on the phone, he suddenly said, "Wait a minute.  Why did the modem [by which he meant the CPE box that converts DSL to LAN] just go off?"  Sure enough--the new CPE box they installed a few months back was periodically shutting down, then coming back to life.

1. What kind of networking monitoring center can't figure out that the far end of their DSL connection is shutting down for 15-30 seconds on a regular basis?  Even without any active failure, you would expect a series of packets that don't get a response from the far end would set up some sort of alarm...unless they have decided that customers shut off CPE often enough to suppress such alarms.

2. The nice thing is that the new CPE is not only reliable, but produces a much clearer image when using Skype with my mother.  My guess is that whatever was causing the CPE to fail was also interfering with reliable packet transmission, causing Skype to create much lossier compression, and not just when it was shutting down.


  1. So what's the brand and model of the CPE box? Sounds like another high quality product!

  2. I wouldn't make that assumption. Lots of electronics components fail in the first 90 days because of crystalline defects or improper doping. If it survives 90 days, an electronic component can last years without problems.

  3. I was being sarcastic about high quality. Flaky capacitors that fail after a year or two of use are a common problem. Sometimes those failures are intermittent. For example thermal levels can trigger a failure, but then if the component cools it can temporarily start working again.

  4. Motorola 2210 DSL modems were infamous for this.

    The problem tended to develop within a year or two. Failures began as infrequent occurrences. Over time, they increased in frequency, until the unit would fail every few minutes.

    I got some more time out of mine by removing the cover and running the circuit board naked to improve heat dissipation. Eventually, even that began to fail at random times.

    Some people reported finding obviously bad (bulging/leaking) capacitors on these. Mine did not have any such readily visible evidence, but capacitors are the most likely failures.

    I replaced the 2210 with a different type of modem.