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Troubleshooting: Dropping Connection (Intermittent Fault)

  • 10/09/2008 8:55 PM
  • Broadband
  • 4969 views

This article provides guidance on diagnosing the cause of connection drops (intermittent connection faults) with Broadband ADSL services. It describes the first steps the customer can take to try and resolve these faults, before contacting Technical Support for further advice and diagnostics.

What is an intermittent connection fault?
An intermittent connection fault would describe a fault which results in connectivity to Aquiss being lost, but returning after a short period of time or after a hardware reboot. It may also describe disconnection faults which occur at specific times of the day. Intermittent connection faults can be caused by problems with wiring or the telephone line, or problems with communications between the equipment at customer premises through to those at Aquiss.

Getting started - checking your setup:
The majority of intermittent connection faults can be fixed or avoided by ensuring your equipment is set up correctly. The most common causes of intermittent connection problems are missing filters, or incorrectly connected filters. For best performance and reliability you should connect your Broadband ADSL equipment at your BT master socket - this is the first telephone socket in your house, which will have any extention wiring connected to it. The most common type of master socket is the NTE5, illustrated below:

MasterSocket.png

If you have other telephone sockets these should all have DSL Filter/Microfilters connected, if they are being used for other telephony devices - including Sky digital boxes, telephones or fax machines. If it connects to the phone line then it will need to be filtered. If your computer is not near a BT master socket connect long Ethernet cable from your computer to the router - if this is not feasible then consider using a Wireless setup. Avoid using telephone extension cable from the BT master socket to the router. Extension cable may pick up line interference and cause a reduction in speed or connection drops. Some computer stores sell Broadband modem extension cable - however this may still cause problems so should be avoided.

ADSL equipment checks:
It's possible that a temporary issue with your hardware may be causing your intermittent connection fault. Before starting more extensive checks there are some basics to cover with the ADSL equipment which could result in a quick resolution to the fault.
Step 1 : Reboot your ADSL router or modem when you experience the problem. Once done monitor the connection for long enough to see if the problem persists.
Step 2 : If the problem persists Check your router's configuration is correct. If it is, then proceed to step 3.
Step 3 : Make sure any peer-to-peer software, or other bandwidth-intensive services, are not running and monitor your connection. In some cases load on the router can result in it dropping the connection. If no such software is running and the problem persists then proceed to step 4.
Step 4 : Reset your router to factory defaults. It sounds drastic, but many routers provide a concealed button (usually reachable with a pen tip, or paper clip) which allow you to reset the router to factory defaults. The manual should tell you how to do this. This can eliminate any problems that may have developed with the configuration, but aren't visible through the setup screens you can see. Once done, reconfigure with your settings and monitor the connection again.
Step 5 : If available, use another ADSL router/modem, maybe from a friend or neighbour, to see whether the problem continues.

Checking for faulty DSL Filters/Microfilters:
Once the above checks have been done you should begin looking at the possibility that a fault has developed with a DSL Filter/Microfilter. Ideally you would have spare filters available so you can try replacing the filters in use one at a time until you find the faulty filter, or eliminate the possibility of the filters being the cause of the fault. However, it is more likely spare filters are not available - and you only have two filters. In this case you should unplug all of the telephony equipment from the telephone line so you have just one telephone and the router plugged in to a telephone socket through a DSL Filter/Microfilter. Once all the other telephony equipment has been unplugged monitor to see whether the intermittent connection fault is still present. Then swap the filter being used with the other, and monitor again. If you find the fault is not present with one of the filters, but is with the other, then you have most likely identified a filter fault. However, you may wish to monitor for an extended period to be sure that this is the cause.

Checking for faulty extension wiring or telephony equipment:
It is possible that extension wiring has degraded or become damaged over time -particularly if it is old, runs under carpets or through doorways - therefore you should eliminate this as a potential cause of your intermittent connection fault. Other equipment could also be causing interference, despite being filtered. If you already connect your ADSL router/modem through a filter to your BT Master socket then this should be a simple process, if you do not then you will need to move your equipment in order to do this check. Begin by ensuring your ADSL router/modem is connected to the BT Master socket, through a DSL Filter/Microfilter. Next, unplug all other telephony equipment and any extension wiring you have connected to BT sockets yourself. If you haven't already, conduct the filter check to ensure you're not connecting through a faulty filter. Monitor your connection and see whether simply removing the extension wiring has resolved the problem. If the problem is no longer present then connect your extensions and telephone equipment one-at-a-time to see whether one of these results in the fault returning. If the problem continues with your ADSL router/modem connected to the BT Master socket through a DSL Filter/Microfilter then the next step will be to eliminate any extension wiring which is connected to the BT Master socket. With older Master sockets there is no easy way to do this without contacting a qualified telephone engineer yourself; however, if you are using an NTE5, as illustrated further up the page, this has been designed to allow you to reach a special BT Test socket, which excludes any extension wiring. Connect your DSL Filter/Microfilter to this socket, and then connect your ADSL router/modem. Once again monitor the connection for the intermittent connection fault. If this is no longer present you have identified a fault with the extensions in your premises. If this is the case we would advise you to contact a qualified telephone engineer to resolve the problem.

Checking for problems caused by electrical equipment in your premises:
It is possible that other electrical equipment in your premises is causing interference. Common causes can be (but are not limited to) Televisions, Sky Digital Boxes, other electrical equipment connected to the same socket or multi-plug as the router, Central Heating Systems, Microwaves and Christmas Tree lights. To determine if other electrical equipment is responsible for the problem first follow the advice for eliminating faulty wiring and filters. If the problem occurs at specific times of day make a note of the times and identify any electrical equipment that switches on at these times. Monitor the connection with this equipment switched off. If the problem occurs regardless of the time of day power off as much of your electrical hardware as possible one at a time and monitor for intermittency. If the problem is eliminated then you have most likely identified the cause of the intermittent connection and will need to consult the supplier of the equipment for further advice. Alternatively you may find that the intermittent connection does not return if the ADSL router/modem is connected to the BT Master socket (through a DSL Filter) permanantly, rather than through a telephone extension socket.

If the problem persists:
If the problem continues, even when connected through the BT Test socket and having eliminated as many causes of electrical interference as possible, then contact Technical Support for further advice. You must leave the router connected to a DSL Filter plugged into the BT Test socket (where available) when contacting support, and until the fault is resolved, in order to ensure diagnostics return accurate results for your service.

When contacting Technical Support please advise of the time of day (or day of the week) and frequency of the disconnections. Include details of the tests you have performed and results. Also please advise whether the equipment is connected to the BT Test socket, or if this will need to be arranged in order for diagnostics to be conducted.

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