Tag Archives: pingplotter

Time-Warner Milwaukee / Roadrunner Problem May Finally Be Fixed…?

It’s still too early to say with any kind of certainty, but according to the folks at the Southridge Time-Warner retail store location, it might be.

We just don’t want to see any more of this:

2008-04-09 bittorrent download packet loss

820 lost packets, 57% packet loss. In an hour. Booyah!

So I went into the retail location tonight, nervous about blowing up at people there, because, as I’ve explained before, a person can only endure so much and calmly explain a complex problem so many times with sufficient detail to make the true horror of the situation clear before that person simply…can’t anymore.

All in all, I think I handled myself a lot better than I imagined I would….so that’s good. Am I totally pleased with the outcome? Not really. I’ll explain.

First, I want to thank the people there at the Southridge store–Selenthia and Julia in particular, as they were the ones that worked with me and discussed the situation with me. So thank you to the two of you specifically and to the rest of the staff–including the New Guy I probably scared a little initially, sorry!

So I guess we still have some issues, as I mentioned…

I launched into explaining my issue and was quickly told that they had received a memo about the Turbo service (which we’ve had continuously in its various forms since December 2006) not being compatible with Motorola Surfboard cable modems SB4100 and SB4200.

Take a guess what models we’ve had most of the last year and a half. Yep, SB4100/4200s.

We had an SB4200 when this whole situation blew up in December 2006 (boy, doesn’t that date sound familiar…) for the first time, and we swapped it out–numerous times–and ended up with an SB4100 each time after that. I don’t recall ever getting another SB4200 in exchange, and I know we never got anything newer than that.

The problem is that they got this memo, according to Selenthia, about a month and a half ago.

How hard would it be, really, to notify SB4100/4200 users on Turbo? I was told “they should have notified you”, but I have no idea how or when that might have happened. I don’t recall it showing up on any statements, but we’ll be double-checking that.

Now, we’ve been saying since the very beginning that it seemed awfully coincidental that all of these problems started shortly after switching/upgrading to the “Turbo” service in December 2006. We have mentioned this to every person we’ve ever talked to about this problem as a possible reason for the issue. We were blown off by everyone.

And here we are, almost a year and a half later, and we were right all along. But no one from Time-Warner / Roadrunner could be bothered to even seriously consider it.

Julia, apparently one of the store managers, worked with me to credit our bill for the recent troubles, but as nice and as helpful as she was, as far as the total effort put forth by Time-Warner Milwaukee / Roadrunner The Giant Faceless Company is concerned, it’s just not enough. We put up with most last year being told the problem was ours. That the problem was our house, our computers, televisions, Tivos, our neighbors, and on and on. No one ever accepted or investigated the possibility that the problem was on the TW side of the pole. Ever.

We were blown off by almost every single TW/RR person we ever communicated with.

So we wasted–completely, totally wasted–entire man-weeks of time reconfiguring our network, moving wiring, moving machines, changing out hardware, driving back and forth swapping out modems, sitting in call queues getting the runaround, putting up with incompetent technicians, gutting and changing every device configuration and setup we have…logging and tracking reboots for hours and hours and days and days, totally frustrated.

Unable to do anything online. No work. No fun. Nothing.

All the things Time-Warner techs and engineers should have been doing, as the problem became increasingly, obviously Not In Our House Anywhere…we were essentially forced to do ourselves. No one else was going to do it!

Much of this effort and frustration is reflected in posts presented here on this site. It has been PAINFUL, exhausting, frustrating, and created so much anger. It has cost us so much in so many ways.

Julia told me she would be passing my business card–which has this website’s address on it–on to her superiors. We hope someone in the higher echelons of Time-Warner Milwaukee / Roadrunner takes the time to come here, reads about all we’ve endured, and does The Right Thing. We want a solid, public apology from someone In Charge. Not some slick handshake from a sales or marketing drone, not some PR person or anyone else programmed to lie and tell people what they want to hear. No form letters.

We want a sincere, honest gesture made to us for all of the crap and pain and tears and work we’ve endured, all the business and social losses. All the work Time-Warner should have been doing all along. All the effort that was never made to help us. For nearly a year and a half, all told.

It’s the very least they can do. More would be even better.

What else can Time-Warner / Roadrunner do? Start monitoring comments online, for starters. Even basic searches will quickly lead you back to this very website. Comcast is monitoring online communications and social networks like Twitter. Time Warner / Roadrunner is, ironically, apparently really bad at being online citizens and monitoring that space for opportunities to improve.

They could really be connecting with their customers more quickly and more positively, and word-of-mouth effects from such encounters would dramatically improve the perception of their interest and their brand, increase customer loyalty, and drive new business.

But even before that, listen to your customers. However they come to you. Take them seriously. Do not tell them the problem is theirs if there’s any chance it is not. Give them some benefit of the doubt. Follow up on promises, too. If you say you’re going to call back, call back. This is incredibly basic, fundamental stuff! Don’t let yourselves get so big or caught up thinking you’re so big that even one customer doesn’t matter. Word of mouth–especially now with the Internet–is incredibly powerful. Use it to your advantage!

So back to the solution…

We’re told the fix is a newer-model cable modem. Go figure. So we were given a Motorola SB5100 that’s supposed to work and correct everything.

It’s hooked up. At a glance, speeds seem better. No reboots so far…

That said, we’ll definitely continue to track our connection and log all details until we’re satisfied this actually fixes the problem. We’ll be running speed tests, doing download tests, and verifying stability, reliability, and speed.

We’ll definitely be raising more hell if this still isn’t resolved; there are plenty of places yet to shout and get people looking more closely at this.

And in the meantime, Time-Warner Corporate, we await your review of the entirety of our long-running nightmare and an appropriate return gesture by you for all the hell you put us through. And when you’re done with us, look around a little, refocus, and start helping all the others out there that need you, too.

Cute Pictures For Time-Warner Milwaukee and Roadrunner To Stare At

The idea with this post is to (hopefully) illustrate a bit more graphically what a typical hour or so of Roadrunner broadband service is like for us right now, pretty much every time we try to really use it. Maybe it will help people understand our frustration–possibly even someone with some authority/power to Get Things Done at Time-Warner and/or Roadrunner, who knows.

A few nights ago now (April 9th), as a test, we started a bittorrent download, using Deluge under Ubuntu Linux, and proceeded to watch our connection choke, over and over again. It wasn’t at all unexpected; this is how it was for us most of last year, and how it’s been–and continues to be–still today, since early February this year when it started happening all over again, anytime we try to actually use our Roadrunner service.

The download was started around 8pm. Almost immediately, our connection started acting up, and the cable modem started rebooting.

It really is like clockwork. We can reproduce this EVERY TIME.

It’s worth mentioning again that this is NOT limited to bittorrent downloads. It’s any sustained network activity, but most specifically activity involving sustained downloading. Uploading seems to be less involved, though that’s not always true. And of course our cable modem reboots on its own even with no one around, but that could be due to any of the network-enabled equipment in our house downloading updates, Tivo guide data, or other information…or it could just be happening on its own, completely untriggered by anything on our end.

It’s also not limited by OS or any other factors inside our home. It is not our router or cablemodem. This has been tested repeatedly, with consistent results every time.

The following is a ping latency graph (pinging Time-Warner Milwaukee’s own broadband speed test site, http://speedtest.wi.rr.com) using PingPlotter Pro showing when our internet connection was dying, over and over again, during this one download. Red, of course, is bad:

PingPlotter Pro 8p-915p

As you can see in the graph above, the approximately 700-megabyte download took around an hour and fifteen minutes to complete. At 500K/sec down–which is only about one-third the advertised speed of our “turbo” connection–this download should have taken 20 minutes or so, at MOST. It was a very well-seeded file, to boot, so 1MB/sec down was definitely attainable on a working connection, meaning less than 10 minutes to download in that case.

At the full advertised 15Mbps speeds we’re paying (extra!) for, we should have had the file in about 5 minutes. FIVE.

Instead, it took 75 minutes. An hour and fifteen minutes. Our Roadrunner connection was more down than up during the 75 minutes this download took to complete. Our connection was also completely unusable for anything else during this time, of course, because it’s constantly disconnecting.

We’re paying for 15Mbps service, and in this case we were lucky to pull around 1.3Mbps, average. We’re only getting around 8-9 percent of the advertised download speeds we’re paying (extra, again) to get.

The resolution of the graph doesn’t allow you to see ALL of the disconnects/reboots, either. Some are unfortunately run together because the graph is rather tightly rendered (it was set to display a 3-hour timeframe) and the reboots were occurring very frequently, often 5-30 seconds after a reconnect.

The long red blob in the graph above is that time period where the router didn’t gracefully recover and reconnect and had to be manually fixed. Around 806pm, our router (Linksys WRT54G v2 running dd-wrt firmware) was unable to recover from the disconnects, forcing us to log into the router and issue a DHCP Renew to tickle the router into connecting properly again. That happened around 826pm.

ddwrt screen cap of dhcp lease

DHCP Renew, Our New Best Friend...

Correcting this problem would be impossible to do (securely) if someone wasn’t on site to handle it, in which case the connection would be down indefinitely, awaiting manual assistance.

Sadly, this situation happens quite frequently. It might also seem easy to blame the router here, but our connection shouldn’t be dying over and over again, either. Most of the time, the router does in fact recover on its own.

So, what this means is, had we reconnected the router right away after the ~806pm reboot/disconnect, there would be lots more reboots/disconnects! The end result–a completely useless Internet connection–remains constant, of course; practically speaking, that’s all that really matters.

All this performance and speed, for only $55 a month, folks!
(excluding taxes and fees)

Around 830pm, after we renewed the router and got our Internet connection going again, we decided to start capturing some screenshots of the reboots as displayed by the Deluge bittorrent client. We didn’t catch all of them, but we did catch some. Note that many are very short reconnects followed very quickly by immediate disconnects. Also, as explained in an earlier blog posting, despite the tapered appearances on the downside of each graph, the disconnects from cable modem reboots are in fact immediate.

If you’re comparing the PingPlotter Pro graph with the timestamps of the following images, you may notice they’re by off a couple of minutes. PingPlotter Pro was actually running on a different machine than Deluge, and there is a clock/time difference of a couple of minutes between the machines. Here are the images, accompanied by the times the images were captured:

2008-04-09 20:30:


2008-04-09 20:31:


2008-04-09 20:33:


2008-04-09 20:37:


2008-04-09 20:38:


There were several more we had planned to post images for, but in the interests of completing this post, we’re going to skip them. We can provide them to anyone that wants them.

Here are the approximate date/time stamps for the remaining 20 minutes or so of reboots/disconnects:

  • 2008-04-09 20:39
  • 2008-04-09 20:40
  • 2008-04-09 20:43
  • 2008-04-09 20:44
  • 2008-04-09 20:47
  • 2008-04-09 20:49
  • 2008-04-09 20:51
  • 2008-04-09 20:52
  • 2008-04-09 20:54
  • 2008-04-09 20:56
  • 2008-04-09 20:57
  • 2008-04-09 20:59
  • 2008-04-09 21:02

Connect, ramp up in speed a bit, then die. Connect, ramp up a bit, die. Rinse, repeat.

Simple browsing will often not trigger anything. Speedtests usually reflect slower download speeds, but are often such short tests that you don’t notice the connection crapping out. We suspect most people doing simple browsing would never even notice they had this problem, and it makes us wonder if others around us or on our node have similar issues and are similarly being ripped off without even realizing it.

Sooo…. that’s basically what happens every single time we try to do anything online. We are frustrated every time we go online to do anything. We don’t use our connection very much as a result, expecting to be tossed offline anytime we need it. It’s unreasonable, though, to wait over an hour for a 10-minute download, or to expect every Vonage call you make or receive will end up in a disconnect, for example. But here we are.

We’d love an answer, Time-Warner. We really would.