Find the distance to the telephone company's exchange?
January 1, 2015 9:41 AM   Subscribe

How can I find out the distance to the local telephone company's switch? (I'm in upstate New York).

I'm at a friend's place in rural upstate New York, and the internet speed is roughly 15% of what's been advertised (Frontier Communications). I'd like to know if this is simply signal attenuation, or if we should ask them to check the wires. I can't seem to find a GIS database anywhere that tells us where the ILEC has it's CO. Is there a datasource of those locations anywhere?
posted by jenkinsEar to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I used to work for a DSL ISP. You should not be getting 15% of the advertised speeds due to signal attenuation to that degree because they shouldn't be setting you up with DSL if you're that far from the POP. Likely issues are some sort of hardware on the wires (often the last but of connection to the house can get fuckity, especially in wintertime) You should do a speed test, record the info and ask the ISP to do a line test and while you've got them on the phone you can probably just ask them how far your friend is away from the POP and they will probably tell you.

Additionally, if your friend also gets POTS from them, it's usually more useful to complain about degradation in the phone service because there are minimum quality standards they're supposed to hit with that (and often it's the same issues affecting both) and then you don't seem like a vexed gamer complaining about ping times and other stuff that is tougher to fix. Sorry this is sort of a non-answer (I don't actually know how you can tell where the POPs are but the people at DSLReports are smart on this sort of stuff if people here don't know) but in the spirit of helping you solve the larger problem, that is my advice.
posted by jessamyn at 10:14 AM on January 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

Call them, they can run a test that will give them the length of the loop, ask them if they can do a dry loop test for you. Geographic distance matters, but not a ton for the distance between the CO and the Network Interface (NID) at the residence, what really matters is the measured impedance of the loop. The phone tech can also tell you what the CLLI code is for the CO and where it is if it matters to you.
posted by iamabot at 10:15 AM on January 1, 2015

Not sure about now, but the location of COs used to be kept secret (often that non-descript brick building in the middle of town with no windows).

Why do the diagnosis for the ILEC - just call and indicate you have a problem. They will certainly be able to tell you (probably over the phone) if its a distance issue, or a potential problem with the local lines...
posted by NoDef at 10:17 AM on January 1, 2015

Best answer: There can be all kinds of problems that have nothing to do with distance to the POP.

1. DSL equipment in the switch--probably old as dirt, and may be malfunctioning.

2. Wiring inside the house can be the problem, are you still using filters? Those may need to be replaced. If not, you may need filters. Copper wiring can degrade over time. I did a number on the 50 year old wires in my house when we had a flood. Totally killed the phone wires.

3. Wiring in the cross-box. I have zillions of bizarre stories of how critters get in the boxes and cause mischief. My favorite is that there was a dead frog in the box. When it was dry, he'd dry out and shrivel up and the lines would be fine, but if it rained (South Florida, it rained) then he'd re-hydrate and swell up and cause short circuits. Lots of things can happen in the cross-box. Bad things.

4. Your DSL modem.

5. Your Cat 5/6 cable.

6. Your entrance bridge, it's a gray box on the side of the house. It too, can be older than Methuselah.

My recommendation is to call and ask for a service tech to be dispatched to figure out why the lines are so crappy, both DSL and Voice! You will be told that if the problem in in the house, that you'll pay for a service call, unless you subscribe to the inside wire maintenance program. So check your bill and see if that's on there. If not, it's typically a time and materials charge, but for my money it's worth it because they can claim to test the lines between the switch and the Entrance Bridge, and they'll tell you they're fine. What recourse do you have?

Or call the cable company and get internet services from them. DSL was great in the Nineties, but at this point, you need double digit throughput.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:14 AM on January 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you want to rule out the inside wiring then plug the modem directly into the NID. Check the SNR at the modem(probably at - google your modem type), then move the modem back to it's original location and check again. If there is a big change then you have an internal wiring issue. If the numbers stay the same, the problem is outside the house.

When we had DSL I had lots of problems convincing VZ that it was not the internal wiring. When I moved the DSL modem to the garage plugged directly into the NID they magically started to find grounding issues and problems in their network...
posted by NoDef at 3:49 PM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You don't actually want the distance to the switch, you want the distance to the DSLAM, and those may be entirely different if the loop is served by an anonymous cabinet of hardware on the side of the road.

That said, will give you the switch address.
posted by kiltedtaco at 4:11 PM on January 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

I use Frontier and am also in upstate New York. I asked where the exchange was (distance and general location) and they just told me. If you're in the Orange/Sullivan counties area, MeMail me and I'll give you the name of the supervisor in charge of this area.
posted by yellowcandy at 5:26 PM on January 1, 2015

god if you have any other options at all just cancel now and get cable or something.

i went through this, and ruled out issues that were "my problem" to the point of buying a brand new cable, and running it from the NID in an open window directly to the modem. they hem and hawed, lied, and eventually pointed to legalese in the contract saying i was only actually guaranteed like 1.5mbps, when i was paying for 7.

i've dealt with this at several locations for work, and at several houses i've lived at. with different DSL isps too. They constantly oversell their capacity, and sell lines to places they know will get mediocre service and then lie about it. Over. And over. And over.

i'd take one good swing at this, then either accept that it's just going to suck or get something else. i have never seen a company, included comcast, that was as unwilling to deal with problems like this as several DSL isps have been with me. It always feels like they don't want to spend the money to re-run wires that are their responsibility, or replace equipment unless there's several people on your block complaining or something.

i really wish i could get what was probably collectively, several months of my life back from fighting DSL isps at multiple locations.
posted by emptythought at 11:30 PM on January 1, 2015

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