Time Warner Milwaukee / Roadrunner Stinkage, In Simple Pictures

The dropoffs in speed you see in the following graphs appear to be gradual, but the reality is that they’re immediate cable modem disconnects. These graphs are from a bandwidth/speed graph plugin used inside the Deluge bittorrent client under Linux (Ubuntu Gutsy), by the way. Not that the OS or software matters. It could be Windows, uTorrent, FTP, SFTP, WinSCP, large ISO http download, whatever.


The bittorrent software takes some time to tidy up packets from the various download sources, making the dropoffs to zero-speed look gradual, when they’re really not gradual at all. So don’t think they’re gentle disconnects, because they’re not.

The first graph below depicts a typical cable modem (CM) drop/reboot and dead connection with some dead connection time (30 seconds or so), followed by a completed reboot with a live connection that lasted all of about 20 seconds before it dropped/rebooted again.


During a heavy downloading session, this can happen dozens of times an hour.

More examples of CM reboots follow below.

I’ll add that while I’m paying for "premium" 15Mbps down/1Mbps up service I’ve not noticed better than 10Mbps down since this started. And even when I get that kind of speed, it’s never for very long before everything reboots. When I’m downloading something larger, several reboots in succession confuse my router (two different routers, in fact: a Linksys WRT54G (running either stock Linksys firmware or alternative DD-WRT firmware, take your pick) and an older Netgear wired router). This usually ends in a router WAN IP renew needing done, or a router reboot, or a complete router reset (losing all settings).


This situation actually FUBAR’ed my Linksys router last year, but I was able to bring it back from the dead several months later doing a number of warranty-voiding things to it not for the faint of heart; most people would have tossed that $80 router in the trash and bought a new one, even though the router’s malfunction wasn’t their fault, at all.


Is this kind of constantly-unstable connection worth $50-60 bucks a month to you?


I really just want is the problem fixed. However, it would certainly be nice and proper to receive some remuneration from Time-Warner Milwaukee/Roadrunner for all the lost time and hassle, too, both for the current ongoing situation, as well as this same thing when it happened last year and went on for most of a year’s time. Given the lack of response when this happened last year, I suspect nothing will be done again this year.


How many other Milwaukee-area customers, or Roadrunner customers in general out there, have this problem?

It seems entirely possible it’s not your fault.

18 thoughts on “Time Warner Milwaukee / Roadrunner Stinkage, In Simple Pictures”

  1. Oh my god, great post. This is totally what I’ve been going through at my house starting in June (aka the day we moved in). Killed at least three to four routers, problem seems to be worse when you’re using wifi.

    We then went out and got our own modem and got 14mb down for a week or so, then it fried the modem to where we could only get 1mb. Called Time Warner and went through literally one of the worst customer service experiences I have ever had.

    They sent someone to our house after concluding we had burned through all the tech support they had. Took a look at our line, concluded it was too powerful (signal too strong) so they throttled that down. Didn’t really fix anything. Asked if he had another modem to test. He said no. Could he get one and come back? Or have someone come drop one off? No. Could he give us a new modem? No. He told us we had to call Time Warner again and schedule another appointment. My roommate asked him to leave.

    Called AT&T Uverse and had it installed for free a week later. No problems since.

    As a side note, the registration thing on your website is a huge barrier to commenting since it has to email you. Consider just using Akismet and moderation with WordPress.

  2. Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

    I suspect there are problems like this all around Milwaukee for quite a few people, but most don’t notice because they’re basic-browsing/email-type users, or automatically assume because they’re slightly less tech-literate that THEY’re somehow the problem, not Time-Warner. And Time-Warner’s techs are more than happy to tell you it has to be something in your house or something you’re personally doing wrong.

    I’ve never had a worse customer service experience anywhere, anytime.

    As for the registration, yeah, it sucks. I don’t prefer it at all, but I got hammered with a couple giant waves of spam a while back, didn’t enjoy cleaning it up, and flipped on registration. Recently I’ve been considering turning that off again and seeing how it goes; I know it’s been affecting comments.

  3. I am having the same problem. I think I’ve been having random disconnects for about a month and a half now, however in the last 2 or 2 and a half weeks it’s been very bad. I’ll drop my connection almost every 5 minutes during peak hours and maybe every 30 minutes during the day. There’s a topic posted on DSL Reports that TimeWarner has instituted bandwidth throttling in the Milwaukee area and if you download more than 15-18 gigs in a month your account gets flagged as an abusive account and your bandwidth gets throttled. I don’t know if there is any truth to it, but the way my connection has been over the past two weeks it sure seems like it is true.

    See post here: http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r20053273-TWC-Throttling-in-Milwaukee

  4. Thanks for the link; I’ve replied to the thread there:


    Why offer 15MBps service if they’re going to cap you at 15-18GB a month? It makes no sense to me.

    And if they’re actively blocking my service, and still pocketing all of my money, then there’s really no other name for that than STEALING MONEY FROM ME. And you, too, if you’re having same/similar issues.

    This has got to stop. I encourage anyone else, local to Milwaukee or not, to please post a response/comment (at dslreports or here, either way, but please link it somehow so I can track it) so we can get a more complete picture of the extent of the issue and/or possible consumer fraud TW may be committing. And again, I’d love to be wrong about all of this, but I’m not getting any answers from Time-Warner, so all I can do is speculate based on the evidence.

  5. This is not localized to Milwaukee area. I live North East of Los Angeles in California and during peak hours our connection drops to Zero 5 to 6 times per hour. 45 seconds to a minute of downtime and then the link re-establishes till next drop. We play an Online game so this is very frustrating since it kills the online player more often than not. What kills me is paying the fees for such lousy service.

  6. Milwaukee area again here, we’ve been receiving very very similar issues ever since upgrading to the 15mbit down and 1mbit up connection speed roadrunner offered as a promotional thing.

    My roommates at first assumed it was my wireless adapter, because neither of them did anything beyond basic browsing. But then I showed them traceroute logs and ping statistics, along with the fairly obviously massive ping times in my online games, and the guy with his name on all the bills tested it himself and confirmed.

    Of course, when I contacted Roadrunner Technical Support, they narrowed it down to a “problem with our router” and that they couldn’t help me because it wasn’t a “Roadrunner” brand router. Essentially I had to jack my PC directly into the modem via ethernet, and then my ping times were just fine. But I can’t exactly keep it that way when we have three computer users in the house.

    I will constantly and consistently, at least once every other day, receive massive ping times while browsing and attempting to just use the internet access I help pay for. It’s quite frustrating to attempt to play an online game that I also pay monthly for and then end up having my playing experience worsened by the literal 2 seconds it takes for my connection to send a few packets to the game server.

    I’m really really getting sick of this. And it’s not like I experience these issues only at peak times, either. I get this kind of stuff at 3 in the morning. What can any of us do?

    Pinging google.com [] with 32 bytes of data:

    Reply from bytes=32 time=1402ms TTL=243
    Request timed out.
    Reply from bytes=32 time=971ms TTL=243
    Reply from bytes=32 time=1114ms TTL=243

    Ping statistics for
    Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 3, Lost = 1 (25% loss),
    Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
    Minimum = 971ms, Maximum = 1402ms, Average = 1162ms

  7. WOW oh WOW oh WOW. I live in the milwaukee area and I have the exact same high ping problem. I also went for the so-called “premium” service. Forty dollars a month (instead of twenty). It was great for a short while but now I am getting 500 ms ping times instead of 20. (Might as well have gotten satellite). I haven’t call tech support but I am curious to see if they act like this was first time they have heard of this issue. WILLFUL IGNORANCE would smell like a class action suit, soaking customers for twice the money, for a faction of promise. I might have to look at ATT Universal. ::sigh::

  8. hi,

    same issue here. since mid march this year. started with time warner back in august 07. was very happy with the service. got great speeds (at least what i was SUPPOSED to get) and no issues. in january we “downgraded” to the lower speed package…as we felt we could be fine with it.

    in march everything changed. i am not a HUGE bit rate user. i upload a few mp3 files per week to my .mac account. i am a music producer, and occassionally exchange music files with clients and labels. nothing major. by march, a 3.0 MB mp3 file would take over half an hour to upload. by end of march…it would just time out.

    i have speant approximately 40-50 hours of my time dealing with customer service, techs, the live chat, management, sending emails, on the phone…etc..etc. i have PURCHASED 2 new routers, and have tried 3 different cable modems. i experience the SAME issue with ANY computer that tries to connect to the internet at my house…..through my wireless router…OR DIRECTLY with an ethernet cable to the modem.

    they have sent techs to my house to verify my connections. all is good. they of course suggest that its my software or browser. its not. i run 2 macintosh quad core intel machines, a macbook dual core intel, a macbook ibook g4, a dell pc with xp, a dell pc with linux, and i have tried at least 5-6 other various systems, os, and browsers….all experience the same issue.

    i live in the latin quarter in s.city milwaukee. a good friend lives 3 blocks from me on mitchell. he has had the same issue. finally, a tech came to his place to work out the problem. the tech told him that TIME WARNER DOES DO TRAFFIC SHAPING. it is REAL. i have had 3 other TIME WARNER TECHS tell me that this is a method they utilize to get people to move up their service level. I have confronted time warner with this….and it has got me nowhere.

    one month ago i upgraded my service back to the mid-level time warner service. i have experience ZERO change. if i run a speed test….my speeds show as fine. THEY ARE LIMITING THE BANDWITH NOT THE SPEED !!!!!!

    i still cannot upload a SINGLE FREAKING 2-4 MB mp3 file to ANY SERVER without it taking at least 15-20 minutes…or timing out EVERY SINGLE TIME. some days i can browse basic pages ok. most days, even loading a googls search page takes a few minutes.

    THIS IS NOT WHAT I HAVE AND AM PAYING FOR !!!! time warner road runner is the SINGLE WORST utitlity service i have dealt with. every call i make to them results in the same process….20 minutes to get them all my account info, tell them my os, walk through MAKOING SURE THE F!@#!@#@# POWER IS ON TO MY MODEM !!!!! and no results.

    we have been searching for a new service provider. i am only contiuing to fight this as a point of issue. I PAID FOR A SERVICE. I HAVE NOT RECEIVED THIS SERVICE…and i am continually told that it is something on my end….except from some techs in the field…who told me FLAT out that traffic shaping IS EMPLOYED by time warner.

    unfortunately i do work for a living, and cannot dedicate a huge amount of time to this issue. when i have a FEW HOURS free…i call time warner or send emails. the last customer service person i talked to told me that it is definitely NOTHING on their end.

    interesting, one day last week i took both my macbook intel, and a dell laptop from 1998 with a $30 wireless usb adaptor to 10 different wi-fi spots.

    NO PROBLEM CONNECTING ANYWHERE except one coffee shop that needed a different password for my mac to connect. the service is fine.

    recently i have been taking my macbook with me to alterra JUST TO UPLOAD MP3 files to my clients on their (thankfully) free wi-fi.

    interesting that i pay almost $50/month, and i cannot upload 50mb of data each week.

    i wish i had more time to research all the folks having the same problem and bring a class action suit. comcast has one right now on the east coast against them for a similar issue. i am not one to just complain about big corporations or anything really. HOWEVER, when one pays for a SERVICE and does not RECEIVE SAID SERVICE…there is a problem.

    NOONE, with the exception of a few field techs, at time warner road runner has given me ANY TRUE help with this issue. a few times i have called and waited an hour or so to talk to someone in management and i have been told that their were NO RECORDS OF ME HAVING CONTACTED THEM about this problem. since that moment, i have been saving every email and transcribing EVERY phone call or contact i have with them.

    today is june 7th. i am now at home trying to upload ANYTHING. everything times out. i am on a macbook dual intel laptop running os 10.4, on safari, connected directly to my motorola cable modem….and all my uploads have timed out.

    maybe this form will actually submit. if so, thanks for listening…and for continuing YOUR fight against this extremely poor customer service of time warner in the milwaukee area.



    [removed your email address to prevent any possible spam coming your way. -admin]

    p.s. if someone from time warner reads this….at least 5 other people who have posted on this site have the same problem as i do. maybe you can do SOMETHING !!!!

  9. @jchristopherhughes (and others): Thanks to everyone for posting. We’ve been a bit busy with a new house purchase, moving, etc that we’ve not kept up with the site and comments very well lately.

    We’ve received so many mixed messages from Time Warner’s customer service people, tech support people, and local onsite techs, etc over the last year and a half now (yikes) that it’s not at all clear what the real truth is about traffic shaping, blocking, quotas, etc. We don’t doubt they can do some or all of it, but we wonder just how competent they are at any of it.

    If you’ve been swapping out SB4100 or SB4200s for more of the same models, go back and get a SB5100 or newer from a local TW office. It solved our speed/connectivity problems (finally…). We were told the 5100 was necessary for Turbo-class service to work properly, so it might not help non-Turbo customers…but it can’t hurt to get one and see, as cablemodem swaps are free except for your time.

    If you’ve tried this, then I don’t know. 🙁 If you’ve got a Windows machine, give PingPlotter Pro at http://www.pingplotter.com/download.html a try. 30-day trial, fully-functional. It will show you bottlenecks, let you see connectivity issues, etc. Handy, and 30 days should be enough to get an idea of what’s wrong. It’s Windows only, but OSX users may be able to run it in a VM.

    You may also benefit from keeping a closer eye on the cablemodem logs at (for Motorolas) for any obvious issues. Our SB5100 doesn’t seem to log the actual boot messages anymore (like the SB4100/4200s did), so it’s impossible for us to tell if our 5100 is rebooting or has rebooted lately; you may need to sit and just watch the cable modem lights as you try to upload or do tasks that seem to kill your connection. We’ve used PingPlotter with great success as a way to monitor connectivity in the absence of boot messages from the CM logs.

    By the way, if any of you ever want to share your emails and transcripted phone conversations with Time-Warner here, I’d be happy to host them for you, or link to them if you’re already posting them elsewhere. It really doesn’t matter to us if you’re Milwaukee-area-local or not, we’d love to hear from you and post your stories and see if we can continue to focus attention on Time-Warner and our issues with their service and support.

    Best of luck, everyone, and please, keep us informed. 🙂

  10. its now nearly end of august….and my battle to simply obtain THE SERVICE I HAVE BEEN PAYING FOR is over.

    time warner…you have beat me. good bye.

    tonite was the last straw…i have literally been battling this company to simply obtain even CLOSE the level of internet speed that i pay for…for nearly a year now. they do not care. period.

    i have exchanged modems several times, i have replaced my wireless router 3 times. i have exhausted all possibilities of computer, os, hard drive, wireless, cables, etc…etc… problems.

    i even upgraded my service to the next highest level in a hope to at least obtain USUABLE internet speed.

    at this point, i CANNOT even upload a single 3.0 MB file. through any means.

    last night i answered the doorbell to a “audit” team from time warner. they asked if i was happy with my service…i started to tell them my issues…and they repeated…like a mantra…EXACTLY what everyone else at time warner tells me…”its probably your computer, you need to defrag your harddrive, check all your connections, update your os, blah…blah…blah”

    then they tried to convince me to upgrade my service…and also upgrade my cable package…..they would even give me free showtime for a year.

    i asked them if there was anyway i could just get WHAT I PAY FOR. they seemed to be confused by this request….handed me a flyer with all the digital cable channels i could get…and told me good nite.



    customer service at its ABSOLUTE BEST !!



  11. @jchristopherhughes: So sorry to hear it. There’s clearly a LOT of work left for TW to do, if they’ve even started at all in many cases. 🙁

  12. We’ve had Time Warner on a newly rented house for a little over a week now. As above we have the same problem ie every time a large file or lot of data is uploaded out goes the connection. This can be an email attachment, file transfer to a server or even 2 people gaming online at the same time.

    TBH I simply do not have the time or energy to sit on the phone to poorly trained, uneducated TW ‘techs’. I’ve emailed them about the problem and it either gets resolved within the next few days or the service is cancelled.

    Were this a ‘one off’ I’d have patience but a very quick Google of the problem shows it to be very common so there are no excuses for not resolving it.

    We’re in mid-Maine for those curious as I know many of these problems seem to be location related.

  13. Roadrunner used to drop every few minutes – I may have stumbled upon something interesting. I connected to a VPN (which looks like a different IP to TW) and it doesn’t drop at all! Sirius online (low bandwidth) used to drop all of the time and it was soooooo frustrating. Now I can listen no prob at high bandwidth plus remote desktop to a work computer at the same time.

  14. I have the random drops now and then, and it’s worse this year than it ever has been, but nothing nearly as bad as what others here have experienced. I’m in Milwaukee and have used RR for 5-6 years–still using the original surfboard modem they gave us.

    RR customer service is crap for any reason. I had months of fun a few years back when they finally discovered squirrels had chewed up some outisde cable lines. The only proactive, good support from RR I’ve had is when a friend brought an infected zombie laptop on my network and it started issuing tons of spam.

  15. Hello Everyone! I can say that TWC is full of it. I have been with TWC since the late 90s. I can say for a while I was happy with their service until early part of last year(2009). I had their business class offered by TWC for speeds of 15 MBps download and 2MBps upload, and retain the same price as the top home service. For some reason they changed my modem out when I told them that I was not getting the powerboost option. I had the service person test it and knew what I had before he started the service work. The reason to change the modem was that it was not excepting the update to work with the powerboost. At the end of the service call, I got the powerboost (that works once in a great while) and I went down to 1 MBps upload. After I told the service person and on the phone with TWC tech support, they said that is what I had all along even after showing the speed test off their owe site before the work. They said it was the modem reading things incorrectly. I told them I needed the upload speed back being I do a lot of remote assistance to help with computer troubleshooting, and for web conferences on WebEx. Now I lag more than every before, and they keep on blaming it on my router that has no issues with my inhouse testing. To shorten this up, I feel I paying too much for too little, and they do not care how it affects me. Their only idea to correct this matter would be to install the business class T1 line in my home that would cost me over $150 per month just for the internet, not including the cost of cable and phone. I am sorry, but I do not make that kind of money to afford that kind of service. I wish that Verizon would come in their Fios network, or another service company to take away the customers and get the service that is becoming more important. I have read on other sites that TWC is giving the same garbage service in NC. TWC paid off all the right people to block a good service company for offering the same package Verizon Fios and what Google is offering for a cheaper price. I can go into this further, but you can search it on Google. Add me to the list of people would like to see TWC lose major business or just go out of business.

  16. @Fred: Thanks for commenting. I know your pain all too well, and it’s very, very frustrating. If you had better speeds before the modem swap, I’d seriously try swapping again. Even if you still don’t get powerboost, you’ll at least (hopefully) be back up and running better than you apparently are now. Call TWC’s 800 number and talk to (what should be a national-level) tech and find out what the best cable modem TWC currently offers is. Then call a local TWC office and make sure they can set the same aside for you to pick up and swap out yourself (there shouldn’t be any charge for this at all, by the way, and it’s super-easy if you’ve never done it yourself before). While you’re at the office, see if they can look up any other complaints similar to yours, including any memos involving hardware/service-level incompatibilities that match or are close to your setup. Also, while you’re there, make sure they credit the crap out of your bill for your screwed up service and all your hassle. Be nice, of course, but don’t let them push you out the door unsatisfied, either.

    It’s amazing how stupid some companies can be; if they can’t figure out what’s wrong with your (well, their) setup now, I certainly wouldn’t feel confident having them set up a more expensive level of service only to blame your hardware again when it still doesn’t work correctly. One TWC tech once tried blaming everything from my router to Vonage to our TVs to neighborhood radio interference, even sunspots. Sunspots! So very frustrating.

    Good luck. Let us know what happens if you can.

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