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Xplornet/Wildblue Connection Issues

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Swarmtek
Ex Member


Feb 20th, 2009 at 6:17am  
I'm living in Southern Saskatchewan (about 45 minutes southeast of Regina) and have been using xplornet for a little over a year.

In this time I really haven't had any issues with the service till now. A few days ago my internet connection has been dropping randomly about every 30 minutes (can be upto a hour between though). On the modem the two middle lights (Upload and Download I assume) go out for a few minutes and then recycle though what appears to be a reconnection cycle. The modem itself doesn't turn off, only the internet and it is stone-cold dead (messangers stop running, websites are not found).

I assumed the issue might be weather on one of the two ends of the connection, so I left it for a day or so but the problem became more frequent. I phoned up the tech support and after a number of calls to level 1 techs, I was told nothing was wrong on their end and they couldn't see a problem with the usage. Also to phone back when it was offline so they could check it out as it happens.

During one of these outages we phoned and by the time we got to a level 1 tech, they saw we had phoned about 4 or 5 times that day we were transfered to a level 2 tech.

This guy took our info and while on hold with him our connection went out. He came back just as it was going on and said he saw it happening on his end and it wasn't normal. He assumed the modem was to blame and had us direct connect it to the wall (was on a surge protector before, nothing wrong with it). We still had the same problems after this and after removing our wireless router and direct connecting to the PC.

After all of this we phoned again and got though to another tech 2. He asked us how much cable from the Sat. to the modem we have. We have about 30 feet from the Sat to the modem. It is nicely tacked to the floor joists and not pinched or kinked. The tech said we didn't have enough cable and we need atleast 75 feet of cable to have the modem work correctly.

Now I come to my question. I've never heard of not having enough cable (only of max distances and less it better) and how only having 30 feet of cable would be a problem. The local Xplornet installer put it in and said nothing about it (I wasn't personally around when it happened, but my parents were) and haven't had troubles before.

Is this something that can actually be the problem? Do you think the modem or maybe even the Sat. dish is the problem? The level 2 tech put in a order for a reinstall of the cable, but I don't want to pay for the visit/install of something that won't do anything. I am willing to buy another modem (I assume sub $100 price-tag, but no one will tell me how much it is). Is this just what to expect from Sat. internet?

Also a day later the internet drops are even more frequent.... 4 times in about 20 minutes at one point tonight.

Thank you and sorry for the wall of text.
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USN - Retired
Ex Member


Reply #1 - Feb 20th, 2009 at 1:10pm  
The cable length issue is bogus, at least for Wildblue customers. At one time there was a problem at their end, where some customers' signals were coming in "too hot". The idiotic - but fortunately temporary - fix was to make sure all installations had at least 75' of cable to artificially induce signal loss on the customer transmit cable. Brighter minds eventually prevailed, and the extra cable trick was replaced by an inline attenuator. Within a few months, the problem at their end was fixed, and the "75 foot rule" went away. This was at least two years ago. He was right about the one thing though; the coaxial cable should NOT be run through a surge suppressor. The power supply - ok. But NOT the cable.

So assuming that XploreNet installed the same fix at their end that WildBlue did down here, that tech that recommended the extra cable is stuck in a time warp.

The four LEDs on the front of the modem - top to bottom - are Power, Receive (RX), Transmit (TX), Ethernet (LAN). What you describe suggests that the modem is losing synchronization with network timing for a reason yet to be determined. The recycling is it's attempt to recover synchronization.

It's unfortunate that your connection wasn't "up" when you finally contacted that that first level 2 guy. Given you MAC accress, he should have been able to look over the satellite - and view the most current operating parameters inside your modem. That would have helped narrow this issue down. Without more info, I'm guessing that something moved your dish slightly - affecting the pointing angles. Or, you may be experiencing the start of a TRIA (Transmit/Receive Integrated Assembly) failure.

So when the installer shows up, tell him to keep the cable in the truck - and that you'd like those two things checked out first: optimize the pointing angles, and replace the TRIA. They should carry spares.

//greg//
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Swarmtek
Ex Member


Reply #2 - Feb 20th, 2009 at 4:26pm  
Thank you for the quick reply and information on the cable/problem.

Just to clear things up: I had the powersupply connected to the surge-protector not the coaxial cable. I switched it to direct connect to the wall.

The second level 2 tech should of been able to see my connection while it was working atleast. I'll try to give another level 2 tech a call once it goes out again to see what he can see and see what is up with the extra cable.

I'll also ask them about the TRIA/miss-aligned dish. We have had some heavy winds and snows here so maybe something is out of alignment. I'll also have to talk to the installer about prices for these things.

Thanks again and will keep you informed.
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Swarmtek
Ex Member


Reply #3 - Feb 20th, 2009 at 5:21pm  
I really hope it hasn't broke since I can't afford the $300 - $400 dollar price tag I've been seeing in my research. Ofcourse it will be out of warranty since it is over a year now, and I can't get ahold of our installer to get a hard price.

I guess worst case is I just live with this intill the system stops working completely.
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Swarmtek
Ex Member


Reply #4 - Feb 20th, 2009 at 5:45pm  
Thank you for the idea icarus, but I'm just going to leave the dish alone right now.

Finally the installer got back to me and said they got the work order for synchronization issue and to bring spare parts. They knew nothing about the extra cable, and chuckled when I said the level 2 tech suggested it.... he said he would talk to his partner about it but I could tell he thought it was BS.

He also felt it is probably the TRIA and it would cost around $200. He would try a realign first though. Probably be Tuesday by the time he gets out here.
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icarus
Ex Member


Reply #5 - Feb 20th, 2009 at 9:17pm  
If he has to align the dish, and then it works,,, make sure that you ACCURATELY mark the proper location, both in elevation as well as azimuth.  That way you can tell EXACTLY where it should be.  I Drilled a hole through the azimuth collar and through the mounting arm, and threaded a bolt into it.  That way, it CANNOT move unless the entire building moves with it!

Tony
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Swarmtek
Ex Member


Reply #6 - Mar 8th, 2009 at 11:59pm  
Sorry this took so long to update but the problem appears to have been fixed. Here is the story.......

About a week ago the installer came over and replaced the TRIA (refurbished one we found out later), check the alignment (which was fine) and left. We still had the connection problem (happened about an hour after he left) so he said he would be back the next day.

Next day he is back and replaces the TRIA with a brand new one. He leaves and 30 minutes later the problem happens again. The installer comes back out later that day and installed a new modem. He got it setup with all the junk he needs to do to register it and the IP (I assume).

After all of this the internet finally works like normal... or atleast as close to normal as Xplornet gets.

Thanks for all the help everyone.
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