DSL Dead, On Schedule
November 29, 2009 7:52 PM   Subscribe

My DSL stops working every Sunday afternoon for about 4 hours. WTF?

Like clockwork, my DSL goes down every Sunday afternoon between about 2pm and 6-6:30 pm. My DSL box connects and re-connects over and over, but the network fails after only a minute or two during this period. Other than this window, it seems to work fine all week.

I truly dread calling SBC/AT&T about this. I know I am going to spend an hour on the phone getting various suggestions like "reinstall your System software" or something.

Does anyone have thoughts on what this might be or how I can fix it (or get it fixed)? Thanks
posted by Mid to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's not scheduled maintenance is it?
posted by IndigoRain at 7:54 PM on November 29, 2009

Not that they've informed me about, no. You'd think they would do scheduled stuff after midnight or something, also.
posted by Mid at 8:13 PM on November 29, 2009

Are there any other indicators that might help you track down the problem? If your DSL line is shared with your landline, does the landline still have dial tone during this period? Or if it does, is the dial tone degraded or staticky?

Are there any power fluctuations occurring during this period that are noticeable (flickering lights, dimming, etc.) that might be an indicator of a problem upstream?

It's often easy to find the CO that your phone line (and DSL line) links back to. It's usually a big grey box on the side of the road or up on a pole. It might be worthwhile to scout out the CO during one of these outages to make sure nothing unusual is occurring there. Unlikely, but plausible. Worth ruling out.

This is probably only going to be solvable by your phone company. Whomever you talk to, be persistent (and pleasant) and ask to be escalated to a higher level of tech support until you get somebody on the phone who understands your problem and can offer a level of support beyond reading from the "dummy script" that the lower level techs are using.
posted by mrbarrett.com at 8:14 PM on November 29, 2009

The DSL line is shared with my voice line and I can hear very faint beeps and stuff on the voice line during the "problem" period (but the problem persists whether or not I am on the voice line).

I am having more general phone trouble (phantom single rings and cross-talk from a neighboring business), and have had the phone company out more than once without solving the problem.

But -- this DSL thing is so regular, and so specific to a certain time -- that I thought it must be some other problem entirely.
posted by Mid at 8:21 PM on November 29, 2009

Do you have an alarm, satellite/cable/someOtherTelevision box or any other device that does an automatic call-out? Also, does every device that's plugged into the same circuit as your DSL connection have a DSL filter? Alarms are the most common cause of this, and most dial out during a specific, scheduled-with-the-alarm-company time.

If none of the above applies, if you can hear faint beeps or other sounds on your voice line (try pressing a digit to get the dial tone to go away for a short period) during the problem, this means there's some form of crosstalk happening. If there's interference that you can hear, there's very likely interference in the frequency range you can't hear, which will disturb your DSL modem. I would get the phone company out again and ask if you can be switched to a new pair. Unless every pair in your residence (either to the street if this is single family, or to your building/complex if this is an apartment) is taken, a swap should be possible and has a good chance of clearing up the problem. AT&T/SWBell had to do this quite often in older parts of where I live to make DSL work properly.
posted by fireoyster at 8:28 PM on November 29, 2009

Very interesting. I do have a new alarm system. I have no idea if it is on my phone line or another line for phone-home. But would it phone home for 4 hours?
posted by Mid at 8:33 PM on November 29, 2009

But would it phone home for 4 hours?

It might if it's trying to do a software update, or if the dsl modem and the analog modem are interfering with each other and it's re-trying constantly duing that 4 hour window.
posted by iamabot at 11:55 PM on November 29, 2009

I've had this problem with a tivo accidentally plugged into the phone line without a dsl filter; the dsl connection went wonky whenever the tivo tried to connect, AND the tivo couldn't make a connection. So the alarm system theory -- assuming they didn't put a dsl filter on the phone line -- sounds like your best first place to start.
posted by davejay at 2:19 AM on November 30, 2009

That makes sense- DSL and Voice share the line by literally talking at the same time. Voice uses the part of the line that's under 3000hz, DSL uses the part of the line that's over that. But many devices probably aren't built to respect this, and that's why you need filters- to keep the noise of the other device out.
posted by gjc at 5:45 AM on November 30, 2009

But assuming the alarm talks in the DSL-range of hz, won't a filter on the line break the alarm's ability to talk?

Maybe what I will do as a work-around is unplug the DSL when I first encounter the problem on Sunday afternoons, wait 10 minutes, and then plug back in. Maybe then the alarm will have a chance to get it's process complete and will drop off the line?
posted by Mid at 6:57 AM on November 30, 2009

I think the alarm is trying to go out on the phone line without a filter and those "overlaps" in the DSL range are what is causing the issue. You can probably replicate the issue by plugging in a fax machine or similar without a filter (assuming this is the issue).
posted by syntheticfaith at 7:48 AM on November 30, 2009

Nthing the suggestion that you have an unfiltered device on the DSL line. You should never be hearing "beeps and stuff" on the phone line. At 1:30pm next Sunday, walk around and unplug everything from the phone line. Especially the alarm box, assuming its not hard-wired. For that matter check the alarm or call the service company right now; alarm phone hookups are a bit odd and it's quite easy to install it wrong and break your DSL.

BTW, you'd rather go to AskMe for tech support than call the company providing your service. I understand, I've been there too. But there are good smaller ISPs that sell DSL with actual good support. In the Bay Area I love sonic.net. Consider changing ISPs to one who will actually help you.
posted by Nelson at 8:40 AM on November 30, 2009

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