Still with the ongoing DSL saga…

We’re still – still! – having DSL issues. But I hope that finally we’re going to get some relief. Let’s start at the beginning:

Back in February we had a new “dry” DSL line (let’s call it line #2) setup alongside our existing dial tone/DSL line (line #1). Then we cancelled all service on line #1, and began relying on Vonage for VoIP service via line 2’s DSL. Sounds real easy, doesn’t it? Especially when you factor in that our subdivision is only 5 years old and is teeming with spare Bell wires all over the place.

Well, once I got a bulletproof router setup, everything seemed fine. Then, out of the blue, we started having very weird intermittent line issues. One day the DSL would be bulletproof, excellent utilization and signal/noise numbers. The next I’d be unable to keep line sync for more than a few minutes and the line numbers would be terrible. Most times this happened, I’d call my ISP and report it, they’d check the line stats and notice the horribleness, and we’d troubleshoot. But between the NID (grey box where Bell’s wires and my wires meet) and my basement, there’s nothing to troubleshoot: the wires terminate with a single jack, with a 3′ RJ11 cord going to my DSL modem. A few times I even took my modem outside and plugged it directly into the line at the NID. No change.

I went through every possible troubleshooting step possible, and everything pointed to some problem with the wires in the ground. The DSL on line #1 was always bulletproof, and I was using the same modem and the simplest inside wiring possible. It had to be the line #2. From talking to a friend’s friend who works as a Bell lineman, I learned a lot about how this stuff works, what everything is called and how to bitch loud enough to get it fixed – indispensible information to say the least.

So finally, finally, after documenting it enough times my ISP (TekSavvy, who I cannot say enough good things about) finally got Bell to notice the issue. They opened a ticket with Bell and put all of these details and more into it. I just found out that they spent a good 30 minutes talking with Bell about my problems, and finally got Bell to realize that YES, it’s the ground wiring – and they’re finally going to send a tech to fix it!

Apparently the deciding factor was when my ISP mentioned that my DSL utilization numbers (a measure of how much bandwidth the DSL layer is using on the wire) went from a very good 40-60% to a horrific 100% every time. As soon as Bell heard that they said “oh, yeah, there must be a short somewhere along the line.” Um, no shit!

So I’m hoping to get a call from Bell soon to find out when they’ll come, and I’ll for sure stay home in order to catch and talk to the tech to make sure they do the work right.