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Old 01-13-2009, 08:43 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default EarthLink/ DSL Connection

Hi all.

Let me please get your input, opinions, and technical feedback on this.

My ISP is EarthLink, and I’ve been with them for about ten years. Back in 2002, I switched from a dial-up connection to a DSL connection, and have had this DSL connection ever since. Basically, no major problems and no major complaints.

However.

There’s always a “however”, isn’t there?

A couple of years ago, my connection would “freeze up” and web pages wouldn’t load. I did some troubleshooting with tech support at EarthLink, and they ended up just sending me a new DSL modem. Things seemed OK after that.

However.

Recently, this “freezing up” problem resurfaced. I started thinking my ZoneAlarm firewall’s settings were too strong, so I tried lowering things a bit. No help. I tried totally disabling ZoneAlarm as a way of troubleshooting it, to see if it was interfering at all. No help. I even tried both browsers of Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator, but neither would load.

The thing is, this was now happening EVERY day and MANY TIMES a day. This was ridiculous. The only thing that would “fix” this was to power cycle the modem (turn it completely off and then back on). But, I don’t feel like power cycling every darn day.

So, I was back at EarthLink’s web site to contact tech support. I noticed something at their site in and of itself.

As part of their tech support, EarthLink used to have an e-mail link. Now, it’s either launch a “Live Chat” window, or, call them on the telephone. I myself prefer e-mail; this way, I can make sure I get all my thoughts out properly and with the necessary detail. Sometimes when you talk on the phone you forget to mention a “certain something”, and then you hang up the phone and are like, “Darn, I forgot to mention “such and such”.

I did some general “random” searches on the ‘Net, and it seems there’s a fair amount of people out there that seem to think that EarthLink’s tech support has taken a downturn in recent years.

From some articles and forum posts I read around the ‘Net…….it was all reinforced for me when I called them on the telephone recently. I am no computer expert (mostly self-taught), but I have a pretty good working knowledge, but when I talk to tech support, I expect the person I’m speaking to to have a more advanced knowledge than me. The people I spoke to did not instill confidence in me. From some articles and forum posts I read, I have to agree with something I came across: It seems like the people you are talking to are reading from a “script”. If they can’t solve your issue, then they connect you to a “higher level” tech. Perhaps this is all just part of standard protocol. It just got annoying for me when the tech I’m speaking to suggests things that I’ve already told them I’ve tried…..and then they start repeating themselves.

From some of the articles/ forum posts I’ve read, I discovered that EarthLink has done much outsourcing to India and the Philippines (in an effort to cut costs). From one of the posts I came across – and I agree with them (and I don’t mean this to be offensive in a prejudicial way) – it can be difficult to understand them on the telephone because of their accent and rapid speech. Here in the U.S., I’ve spoken with people with many various accents, from Northeastern (Maine, Vermont), New York, Jersey, Southern, “Texan”, and Mid-Western, and through all of those accents, I can still understand the English they’re speaking.

So if anyone from India is reading this, I mean no offense or disrespect; I’m just being matter-of-fact.

So……………

Enough of my rambling and onto the issue.

When these connection problems were happening EVERY day and MANY TIMES a day….I was contacting tech support. One of the techs I spoke to said he tested my line while I was speaking to him, and that yes, the connection was dropping in and out. He was going to leave a message or a “ticket” for another advanced technician to give me a call back within 24 hours.

They didn’t call.

I had to end up calling them back. When I got connected after 20 minutes of on-hold, the tech disconnected my phone call. Grrrr. I called again, and then this tech told me that at first he didn’t see any problem. He advanced me to a “higher tech”. This tech decided that something was wrong with the software in my modem that has to do with the PPPoE. So, he gave me some instructions to follow to “disable” it, and then had me do a configuration and create a shortcut on my desktop that I now have to click on to “connect” (previously I was always “connected”).

The lights on my modem are: Power / Ethernet / DSL / Internet. Previously, all light would light up when connecting. After this tech had me reconfigure things, the “Internet” light doesn’t come on anymore. But, I am able to connect steadily now.

But now there’s something else…….it never ends, eh?

When I was at EarthLink’s web site, I was looking at the page trying to entice new customers to sign up and the “deals” they can get. I fully understand about “introductory” offers, and how eventually they will expire, and then your monthly rate will be “adjusted”. But after looking at the introductory rate, the adjusted rate, AND the connection speed that’s offered (“….up to 6.0Mbps”), I was like, Wait a minute……

Whenever I would do DSL speed tests at various on-line web sites or use a piece of software, my connection speed has always been around 1.5Mbps.

So I’m back contacting EarthLink.

Like I said, I understand about “introductory offers”, but, even the “adjusted” normal rate turned out to be less than what I’m paying now.

I was paying MORE money and getting LESS speed. This sucked.

The EarthLink rep I spoke to this time looked up my info and said that when I signed on that I signed up for 3Mbps (I had forgotten what it was!!!!). But I told them I was only getting around 1.5Mbps. AND I told them about the money issue. So good news.

This rep said my monthly bill would be adjusted to the current lower rate, AND, I would get the faster DSL speed of “….up to 6.0Mbps”.

I am basically very pleased.

However.

There’s always a “however”………

I’ve been doing speed tests again, and yes, it’s gone up. But, I’m getting readings of 3Mbps. Technically, this is the rate that it turns out that I signed up for years ago. When I was speaking with the tech, I first made sure to ask if the 6Mbps speed was even available in my area (sometimes these things are not). But yes, it was available in my area.

And I know various things can effect connection speed, like physical distance from the digital subscriber line, high traffic times, etc.

So I called again and asked why I’m not getting closer to 6Mbps, and I was told this by the tech:

That I was put in a “safe mode” for my DSL connection so that there will be a “stable” connection. Meaning, even though it’s advertised as “….up to 6.0Mbps”, that I will get about 4Mbps but it will be “stable”.

Is this “real”? Is there such a thing as “safe mode” for a DSL connection so that it will be “stable”? Or is this a bunch of crap?

So please let me know what you think everyone. I know I wrote a lot here, but, I wanted to paint as detailed a picture as possible.

Please let me know what you think of EarthLink’s tech supports ideas, suggestions, and actions, mainly:

- That thing about disabling the PPPoE software so that now I have to click on that shortcut to “connect”.

- And connection speed: Should I be getting the advertised 6.0Mbps or at least close to it?

Thanks for any input.
Pez
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Old 01-14-2009, 11:16 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: EarthLink/ DSL Connection

PPPoE connection in your modem could be faulty.
there is no firmware to upgrade that fixes this problem?
PPPoE on your desktop just means your PC is doing the 'dialing' and not the modem.
you can probably set this to connect automatically?

have you tried switching cables between your modem and wall?
faulty wiring can cause connection problems.



supposedly 'safe mode' stabilizes the line. why it's used...i'm not sure (possibly for older phone lines?).

ask to be taken off 'safe mode' because you want your 6.0Mbit line.
if they say they cannot do that, demand why.
if you feel they are giving you a b.s. answer bring up the fact it's advertised 6Mbit and where in your agreement it states they are allowed to bring you down to 4Mbit without your knowledge. they also confirmed you can receive a 6Mbit connection and did not mention you would be stabilized at 4
if they are still giving you a run around, playing the 'leaving for the competition' card is always a valid option.


for the web pages not loading...
you can always change your DNS servers to look somewhere else. Usually ISP's default it to their own, but changing is perfectly fine.
i changed and it sped up lookups

208.67.222.222
208.67.220.220
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Old 01-15-2009, 07:13 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: EarthLink/ DSL Connection

CntdwnToExtn: thanks for the reply.

Some good info here and nice suggestions!

Say, that thing you mentioned about "PPPoE on your desktop just means your PC is doing the 'dialing' and not the modem. you can probably set this to connect automatically...." So I see that you do understand that previously with my DSL connection that it was "always on", that I was always connected. Would you know what I need to configure to get it to automatically connect and always be connected after boot up? The tech support technician that I spoke to had me create this shortcut on my desktop I mentioned.

I changed those DNS numbers to the ones you provided, and yes, I did see some boost in speed! Thanks!!!

And I'm going to take your suggestions you wrote and contact EarthLink again soon about this 6Mbps and this supposed "safe mode". Personally I do think it's a bunch of b.s., so I'll see what they have to say and get back to you to let you know the outcome.

Thanks again!
Pez
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