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Slow internet and download speeds

Last response: in Networking
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September 10, 2013 6:21:50 PM

Hello. This issue has been 2 years in the making, and I am pretty sure that I will include all information needed to make you guys helping me out find a solution. Below is my hardware/software. Some probably wont matter, but might as well list them just in case.

Computer:
Microsoft 7 x64 Home Premium, updated regularly
AMD x4 955 3.2GHz
16GB RAM
3 HDD 57% full (500GB Primary, 630GB media, 1TB games)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 (driver v 9.18.13.1407)
Creative SB X-Fi 7.1
linksys WMP54GS Wireless card (approx 25ft away, through a hallow wall)

ISP:
AT&T 1.5MB ADSL 2+

Network set-up:
Netgear 7550, 4 months old, using as my router/modem. No bridging
11b, g, n
Connected devices: 7 (more on this later)
Security: WPA2-PSK password and MAC filtering
Max Allowed Speeds (kbps)(down/up): 1536/381
SN Margin: 17.3/23.9
Line Attenuation: 47.9/28.4
CRC Errors: 121/0

Devices connected to internet:
my computer, listed above (wireless)
my laptop (rarely powered on) (wireless)
my iPhone (wireless)
my son's iPhone (pretty much iTouch, no SIM inserted) (wireless)
mom's computer (walmart build, cheap) (hard wired to internet)
mom's Android cellphone (wireless)
mom's Kindle (wireless)

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OK So I believe that is enough of the boring information. So for the past 2 years I have been having consistent internet issues. Possibly longer, but only started monitoring it for 2 years. Initially I was on the 3.0Mbps plan from AT&T. I just downgraded at the beginning of the month to 1.5Mbps (more on this later).

3.0Mbps era

My download speeds are greatly limited. I normally only get anywhere between 100 - 300 kbps fluctuating on average. I often have long periods of times during downloads where no data is coming in AT ALL. And during those times, the lights on my router is all green, as it is when it works properly. As I am writing this, my peak download rate is 510.6 kbps. It really doesnt matter what program I am using to download things (Steam, iTunes, or uTorrent), the above listed speeds are pretty consistent. Also, if I decide to open all listed programs and download something from each of them at the same time, the 100-300 kbps gets spread between the programs somewhat evenly, but still fluctuating depending on what the computer deems more important at that particular second. Never do I get 300 on each at one time (so 900 kbps total). Also, when watching YouTube, there is constant stopping and starting on the buffer, even at the lowest setting (144p).

Now these speeds aren't specific to just my computer. This also happens when my mom is using her computer just browsing the internet, my phone when downloading apps or browsing internet, or on my sons phone when he wants to watch YouTube (again with the starting and stopping). Now I understand if I had all devices running and me having all 3 download programs running that my speeds would be shot, but we almost always use just one device at a time. My son will occasionally want to watch YouTube on the computer, and then pick up his phone to watch YouTube at the same time there. I promptly pause the computer's YouTube when this happens.

Now it sounds like an issue with the ISP. I don't know where the problem is.

Over the past 2 years. I have had probably about a dozen phone calls with AT&T technicians. They have checked the lines on their end every time and it always comes back great. I should be getting what I am paying for. Problem is I am not. So what, AT&T, can I do? Truck roll? So I tried 2 truck rolls. The first one, the technician checked from outside my house, all the way back to the CO. He didn't come in the house. He told me he found a copper wire crossed when it shouldn't have been, uncrossed, and that should fix it. Restarted computer and router, but didn't help. He did mention in passing, that in some rare occasions, downgrading to 1.5 mbps service, if you are far enough away from the CO will resolve the issues I am having. He suggested that I NOT downgrade, as I am not far enough away from the CO. I can stand on my back porch and read the stickers on the side of the CO box.

OK so tech guys checking remotely? No issues
Tech guy coming to house and checking from CO to my house? No issues.

Finally I get annoyed, and go to my Ace in the hole. DOWNGRADE!!! I honestly didn't think it would work, but whats the worse that can happen? It starts working correctly AND save $5 off my bill? Worth a try.

1.5Mbps era

At the beginning of this month I downgraded to 1.5. ABSOLUTELY NO CHANGE. All my downloads are around the same speeds. I am still getting about 100-300 kbps, which is below the 'minimum' AT&T says I should get, which is 800 kbps. Whats worse, is every day some time between 9:00pm and 1:00am, my internet goes out for 1.5 hrs. I don't know why, and I cant fix it by normal means. I just have to wait for restoration. I have called AT&T about this, and even during an outage they did a check and couldn't see anything on their side that would be causing it. Absolutely no explanation.

So I decided to get a second truck roll, this time in the house. He comes and first checks outside at the CO, then to my house. He checks the physical cable itself, then to the phone line I have ran. It is about a 30 year old apartment, but the tests came back perfect. No noise. No interference. Just for good measures, he replaces the phone jack and runs the test again. No noise. He says that his tests show that I should be getting the speeds I am paying for. He leaves and I instantly call AT&T help desk. They start running tests on their side. She finally tells me the tests come back with something about 'upload violation', which she explained could be something like a virus or a program running in the background of the computer that is eating up bandwidth. I tried explaining to her that it happens on all devices, regardless of how many are on, or just one individual device, not just my computer. She insisted I have a bandwidth leech somewhere, but I know its not an unauthorized device (MAC Filtering). After a few hours on the line with her and their tests, I finally call it quits.

Now an interesting note, is that with all of these calls, I am told to go to speedtest.net. Now my understanding, is that these tests do not measure my computers internet connection, but the CO. regardless, these tests bring back the speeds of what I am paying for, not what I get on a normal basis. When I did it earlier today, a thought hit me. Windows Task Manager. So I open windows task manager and go to the networking page. Now my wireless card is maxed at 54Mbps for a LAN style transfer, so I know I'm not going to get 100%. I close all programs that I am not using and monitor the network. 0% on my computer. I then start Steam, and begin a download, and it jumps to 2.7%. Now 2.7 of 54Mbps is approx 1.5Mbps. So that adds up. but even when the graph is showing 1.5Mbps, steam is showing a measly 100-300 kbps. The same thing happens if I open up iTunes to download a file (I pick a large MB file to get a longer test). Even as I type this now I have 203.9 kbps and 2.59% network usage. but when I pause the download, the percent drops instantly to zero.



Now for what I need help for. What is wrong with my internet? I went to school for networking and computers, but don't work with them daily as a profession. Am I doing something wrong and I am completely blind to it? I tried MSI and Spybot S&D and they didn't find anything, so it shouldn't be a leech. Active running processes and services all seem in order or normal entries (csrss, explorer, distnoted, etc). My system shouldn't even be a factor, since its not just my computer that has the issue. 1 technician said my house wiring was fine, and he and 1 other said the outside wiring was fine. Numerous help desk technicians said that the remote tests they did came back fine. Why does 1 test (speedtest.net) say the right speed, but other tests (downloads) give me a completely different result.


I feel that I have exhausted all options with this issue, and finally turned to you guys. I searched the forum for hours, but couldnt find anyone with similar issues to mine.



S.O.S.
~David
September 10, 2013 7:12:19 PM

1. Buy your own modem AND wireless router. I've always had terrible experiences with those 2 in 1 devices from manufactures. When troubleshooting for family it's the first thing I make them do.

2. In the meantime. Try running the test w/o any Wifi protection and then again with WEP. sometimes the added load of processing encryption is too much for crappy company issued equipment. Try to only use wired connection while you are testing.

3. If you have to use those line filter things, make sure you them attached to all necessary devices.


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September 10, 2013 7:55:03 PM

PsyKhiqZero said:
1. Buy your own modem AND wireless router. I've always had terrible experiences with those 2 in 1 devices from manufactures. When troubleshooting for family it's the first thing I make them do.

2. In the meantime. Try running the test w/o any Wifi protection and then again with WEP. sometimes the added load of processing encryption is too much for crappy company issued equipment. Try to only use wired connection while you are testing.

3. If you have to use those line filter things, make sure you them attached to all necessary devices.




Buying a new modem and wireless router isn't in my price range right now, but I will definitely consider it when I have the cash. I mentioned in my first post that the current modem I am using is about 5 months old. I got it from AT&T about 5 months ago because they said my current one was probably having issues. It evidently wasn't, as nothing changed. This is my 3rd router (AT&T 2Wire, then Cisco that I bought, now Netgear) in that 2 year span.

As for WEP, MAC filtering, and so on, I have heard once upon a time that the extra protection could hurt your service. I also chopped it up as an old wives tale. But as you requested, I first disabled MAC filter, restarted modem and connection. 5 minute test showed no change to speeds. Task manager still showing 2.7%. Then I went back in and disabled password protection to make it 100% unsecure. 10 minute test later and more of the same. 388.7 peak with 100-300 averages and often drops out completely for a few seconds. Then I went in and made it WEP-Open for security. Same as above. Though it does seem that WEP has given me less drop-outs than the other 3 options. I am going to keep it WEP for now. Wired connection for all 4 also produces the same.

On a tech call about 6 months ago or so, I was told I didn't need the filters. I removed them like they said. I didn't notice a positive or negative difference after I removed them. I tried reinstalling them during these tests and didn't notice a difference with it on. We do not have home phone.
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Best solution

September 11, 2013 7:42:46 PM

Well without replacing the networking equipment I'm running out of ideas. However I'd like you to clarify what units your testing.

1 MB/s is 1 Mega Byte per second
1 Mb/s is 1 Mega bit per second
In 1 byte there are 8 bits
If your connection is rated at 1.5 mbps it could be 1.5 megabits per second. If you reading speeds at Bytes then 1Mb/8 = 0.1875 Mega Bytes that times 1000 will give you 187.5 kiloBYTES per second. This all means that your speeds are where they should be.
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