Matt Connolly's Blog

my brain dumps here…

Monthly Archives: September 2011

Telstra Bigpond Cable crappy Netgear Router part 7

In my last post, I wrote that after too many unsuccessful calls to Bigpond technical support to replace my crappy Netgear CGD24N cable modem, I spoke with someone in sales who said they would send me a replacement modem and that it would be a Thomson cable modem. Well the modem arrived in the mail today, and guess what? They sent me another Netgear CGD24N. Fools.

Enough is enough. I went to my local computer store and bought a Linksys wireless router, disabled NAT on the CGD24N (effectively disabling all of its router functions and using it just as a modem), and connected the Linksys router. Boom. Fast, snappy perfect internet.

It just goes to show that the router part of the CGD24N is total rubbish.

I’ve been on the phone to Telstra Bigpond about a dozen times now, have had a field technician check the line 3 times (it’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with the line) and replace the modem with the same model 3 times (it’s still rubbish) and have no solution. Except for me to spend more money on another piece of gear to do the job of the router that Telstra provided.

Now that I have a perfectly working connection, my motivation to speak to Telstra call centres that can’t do anything about this problem is massively reduced.

However, I think other potential customers should know about these issues. And likewise, so does the TIO.

Telstra Bigpond Cable crappy Netgear Router part 6

So I got home from work and my wife was downloading something onto her computer, I plugged in my laptop and boom… Web pages timing out. Massive SYN_SENT in my netstat output. No problem connecting to the router, I could see that the router had a good signal strength, and the line definitely hadn’t dropped out because the other computer was downloading. I could connect to my nas and do a backup there.

The only piece of the network that wasn’t working correctly was the Netgear router, with the symptoms described by others when the NAT (Network Address Translation) table is full and the router simply cannot handle any more connections.

So, on the phone to Telstra Bigpond technical support again to see what can be done about it. Nothing, it turns out, because all they can do is send out a Field Technician to check the line (which has happened 3 times now), or replace the modem with the same model. Not good enough.

They referred me to sales. Odd, but at least I’m going somewhere else because the people on the tech support line clearly don’t have any capability to deal with my issue. Logically this makes some sense – the sales team have provisioned substandard equipment, what can support do about it?

So I got on the phone to sales to continue complaining about this. After explaining the situation yet again – I need to make a recording to play down the line to them – they decided to send me a replacement modem. I insisted that they needed to provide a “better” modem, because another Netgear would simply result in the same problems (we’ve already been down that path).

The girl tells me that she’s going to send me a Thomson modem. I’d only heard of Thomson making ADSL modems, and she *couldn’t* tell me the model number which is quite concerning. I’ve since looked up Thomson (bloody hard to find anything on Technicolor’s crappy website) and they do indeed make cable modems.

So fingers crossed, this replacement is a cable modem and that it’s router works properly.

Failing that, I can feel a letter to the TIO coming on.

Oh, and if anyone reading this has used a Thomson Cable modem, especially if provisioned by Telstra, I’d love to hear how it went!

When rate limiting your server more than doubles your server output…

At work, we’ve had a few customers mentioning to us that they’ve experienced slow downloads of data from our servers. When I’ve tested it at home, I’ve experienced the same thing, albeit not quite as bad. The best data rate I could get was about 30% of our server’s bandwidth.

In the last few days I’ve had several conversations with the network engineers at our ISP trying to identify exactly what the problem is. (Thank goodness we’re not with Telstra, if we had to wait for 3 times for a field technician to check if it was plugged in ok, we’d lose our business!)

After having the ISP’s network engineer change a few settings on their equipment, and doing some speed tests to a mini speed test site on their servers, we were still only able to utilise about 30% of our output bandwidth. Crapola.

He explained to me that our rate limiting was done by traffic policing at the switch on the other end of our link. After some reading about what traffic policing was, I’m led to understand that when your data rate is exceeded, packets are dropped. Shouldn’t be too much of a drama, TCP is designed to recover from packet loss, and it does a great job of it, right?. But, what does this packet loss mean to our actual throughput rates?

After making numerous other changes, none of which helped our bandwidth problem, I decided to try something else: rate limiting our server.

Our web files are served by apache running on a Mac, and luckily the Mac OS includes rate limiting controls in its built in firewall. (Great little tutorial here).

So with the `ipfw` command at the ready, I limited outgoing traffic on port 80 (http) to 80% of our bandwidth. And viola! Download rates rose more than double from 30% to 80% of our output limit!!

I never expected that rate limiting our server would cause our outgoing data rate to increase! Especially, more than double!

I’m sure there is a time and place for dropping packets (traffic policing), but it appears to be not working well for us. If anyone has more input on where this is appropriate or for suggestions of other alternatives, please let me know!

Telstra Bigpond Cable crappy Netgear Router part 5

When I previously rang Telstra, continuing my hunt for a replacement of Telstra Bigpond’s crappy Netgear CGD24N cable modem, I was told a field technician was required to replace the modem THREE TIMES before they would escalate the issue beyond the call centre to someone higher up in Telstra. Well guess what? The guy never showed up.

I guess this is some ploy of theirs to never get to the THREE TIMES so that they never have to escalate the issue. Bad form.

Last night I rang again, and at least this time was escalated to a senior person in the call centre. This guy, Ed, was pretty bright. But he still didn’t know anything about Network Address Translation as insisted that noise on the line was causing dropouts because of dynamic IP configuration. Yeah, right.

So now I have an appointment for another technician, this will be visit #2 on Friday morning. I hope this guy turns up.

Telstra Bigpond Cable crappy Netgear Router part 4

Today, I rang Bigpond support again about my issue with the Netgear CGD24N router being slow and intermittently having computers time out when accessing web pages. I’m not alone in this issue, simply do a search on the Whirlpool forum to see more people have the same problem.

The girl I spoke to was, as usual, in a foreign call centre. She wanted to check my wireless settings, signal status, etc. I politely obliged her for a while before insisting that she reference the previous information and escalate the issue to a higher level department.

ONLY NOW, I find out that there policy is only to escalate the issue if it persists after a field technician has been to my house THREE TIMES. How much of my time do I have to sacrifice from my work to convince them that there’s something wrong in the ROUTER.