At 02:01 PM 2/4/2008, David Banning wrote:
I run a small FreeBSD server with a standard DSL line. I have it ping
the ISP every five seconds, and when it doesn't ping it logs the

I notice very inconsistent results. Sometimes it's up for a week
without a single drop, while other times it's up for 30 seconds,
down for a minute, up for 2 minutes, down for 1.  That can go on
for 10 hours, and then maybe it's stable again for a day or so.
It's always appears to be the DSL signal itself, as I can see the
modem sync light starts flashing when the signal goes down.

To end any possibility of the phone company pointing their finger
at the wiring in my house, I put the DSL modem right at the phone
connection block where the line enters the house and then called
them. Problem persists.

The phone company say they have replaced lines all over the
neighborhood while trying to fix the problem.  Eventually the
connection becomes stable, the phone company declares that they
"found the problem", but when he's gone, the trouble starts again.

Now knowing how common this is,  I installed the same logging system
at another company's server, that is located a few miles away. Guess
what?  Same drop-in drop-out problem.

To any average computer user, these lines might appear normal -
when a page stops loading for a minute they just live with it, and
forget about it.

So here's my question:

1. is there anyone who has a lot of experience monitoring DSL lines
   that can tell me how common this is?

It is fairly common as the number of DSL providers is large, but they rely on the copper wires in place that may or may not be well maintained that are usually owned by another firm. So getting the copper actually fixed can take a lot of persistence and patience. Often these lines are from old voice circuits that were not nearly as demanding as DSL. Worse, at least around me in the midwest, often indoor boxes and such are used outside which causes a lot of issues with digital lines.

2. Is there any way to avoid it?

Get all new wiring in place.

3. I have used three different DSL modems, but the are all home
   quality: an Alcatel Speed Touch, a Speedstream 5260,
   and a Westell Wirespeed. Would spending more money on
   another type of modem help? If so, what is recommended?

I'm not sure if the modems really matter as it is likely a "noisy" line either from other drops still in place, bad junctions, or just old wires getting crosstalk.

Keep a log of problem times, noting the weather, time of day, and anything else that could be a factor.


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