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1
. What determines my connection speed?

2. My speed is poor, what do I do?
3. What steps do I take before involving my ISP?
4. OK, did all that, didn't help. Now what?
5. Still no better?
6. When my phone rings the third flashes orange. Is this bad?
7. I've done everything here, the best sync rate I get is (apparently) 640kbps. Is this as good as I can get? What do I do now?
8. My download speed is 70 (or 80 or 100 or 20) k BITS per second - now what?
9. What about the Registry Tweaks I read about in Speedguide.net?
10. They just switched my area from DHCP to PPPoE and my speed crapped out. What do I do?

1. What determines my connection speed?

Your line speed is determined by exactly three components - nothing more, nothing less:

- Your xDSL modem
- The line card, installed in the Telco Central Office which serves your location
- The wire in between (quality, wire gauge and length)

When you turn on your 1MM (Applies specifically to Nortel Networks 1 Meg Modem users only), the third light will flash a variety of colours until it settles to green. During the flashing process your modem and the line card are negotiating and testing the fastest speed at which they can transmit data with acceptable errors and minimal data loss.

It is less challenging to correctly transmit data at a slow speed, so if there is noise on your phone line, you'll end up with a slower connection speed.

Running at full speed, your connection will download at 960kbps, and upload at 120kbps. But because the speed test involves more than just the line (the Sympatico server to send the data, probably some network lag, the requirement to send "successfully received" packets back to the server, the speed of your computer, running the Java Virtual Machine in your computer, etc.) you'll never see 960kbps - if you see a download speed in the 880kbps range, you've connected at 960kbps.

You determine your connection speed by going to and running the test.

The newer Nortel 1MM (the black ones) can connect at higher speeds, but to obtain the higher speed you also need a new line card. Bell isn't installing those (??). No matter which 1MM you have (gray or black), the fastest you should be able to do is 960kbps. There should be no speed advantage to having black over gray.

2. My speed is poor, what do I do?

First, run the test and quantify "poor".
Disconnect using Access Manager / EnterNet or WinPoET.
Power down the modem.
Wait 10 seconds.
Power on the modem.
This sequence causes the modem and the line card to retrain, possibly at a higher speed. If whatever caused your connection to "spiral down" was transitory, this will reconnect you at a higher speed.

Run the speed test from time to time.
If you generally stay connected at a higher speed, you're in fine shape. If you slow down again, or if you simply cannot connect at a high speed, go to the next question.

3. What steps do I take before involving my ISP?

Ensure the installation of your modem is optimal.
- Ensure your computer and all peripherals are plugged into a surge suppresser.
- The gray 1MM's are somewhat sensitive to electromagnetic interference (EMI), the black ones less so. Don't put them near your monitor or a radio. Keep them at least a foot away.
- Clean up the wires behind your computer. Use cable ties or split tubing, lay the cables out neatly, etc. In particular, isolate the phone wire which connects the 1MM to your phone jack.
- If you are having problems, connect the 1MM directly to your wall phone jack (this is Nortel Networks' recommendation). If you see good speeds, run the phone line from the wall jack to your surge suppresser, then to the 1MM.
- Install a filter on every phone in the house. Cheap phones, and (it's rumored) the Vista 350, can cause the third light to flash orange when in use.
- There is a filter built-in to your 1MM
- do not install a filter between it and the wall jack. Don't put a splitter into your wall jack
- if your computer has a modem, or if there is a phone near your computer, plug it into the back of the 1MM.

4. OK, did all that, didn't help. Now what?

Unplug all phones in your house, reset your speed (power off/on etc.), then test again. If you suddenly sync'd higher, you have a cheap or noisy phone. Have someone else plug them in, one at a time. If the third light goes orange when a certain unit is plugged in, you've found the culprit.

- How many phones do you have? Each device to be connected to the phone network has a Ring Equivalency Number (REN), which should be documented on a label somewhere on the phone. The total for all devices should be no higher than 100 - the lower, the better.

- Get a flashlight and have a peek inside your wall phone jack. The contacts should be shiny. If they are not, a Q-Tip and some rubbing alcohol will help.

- In your basement where the phone line comes into the building, there will be something called a "demarcation point". Bell is responsible for owning and maintaining the network to this point. After this point (all the wires in the house), it's your network (which means you have to pay Bell, or someone else, to resolve problems on your side). The demarc point looks like a wall jack. Do the flashlight trick to make sure the contacts are shiny. Then get a phone extension cord, and run a wire directly from this point to the 1MM. If you sync at a fast rate, the problem is in your house wiring.

Plug a splitter into the demarc point, run a phone wire directly to your computer, and plug the rest of the house (through a single filter) into the other side of the splitter.

- Unplug all phones, computers, modems, etc. except one. Dial 1. Listen for noise on the line.

5. Still no better.

At this point, you've optimized your in-house connection. It's time to call your ISP

6. When my phone rings the third flashes orange. Is this bad?

Yes, this should not happen.Unplug all phones in the house and have someone call you (or call yourself from a cell phone). If the orange light flashes with no phones plugged in, you probably have a bad line card. Call your ISP. If the orange light flashes only when phones are plugged in, isolate the problem phone and pitch it (or accept the slow speed). [Assuming you have filters on all phones!]

7. I've done everything here, the best sync rate I get is (apparently) 640kbps. Is this as good as I can get? What do I do now?

Your ISP probably hasn't guaranteed any specific speed - they have only advertised the maximum possible speed. You'll have to live with this speed. There may be several marginal components that individually meet spec, but together they prevent you from reaching top speed. You may be a long distance (as the copper stretches, not as the bird flies) from your Central Office (CO).

8. My download speed is 70 (or 80 or 100 or 20) k BITS per second - now what?

Complain. Often. While your ISP probably never guarantees any specific minimum speed, your value is clearly out-of range. You should be able to get up into the 500's, ideally into the 800's. When you get a lineman from Bell , you will hopefully see an increase in speed. But do all the steps above first - don't waste your ISPs (and Bell's). Also, if you can categorically list all the steps you've taken to your ISP, your chances of getting them to respond are that much higher.

9. What about the Registry Tweaks I read about in SpeedGuide.net?

Don't do them verbatim - they are designed for a "pure ethernet" configuration. Today, if you install them as-is, you will have to adjust MTU values (see the Windows page, or the main PPPoE page. However, doing these tweaks (but with PPPoE-sensitive values) can improve your connection.

10. They just switched my area from DHCP to PPPoE and my speed crapped out. What do I do?

If you have Registry Tweaks (see above), remove them. Pure Windows default values are better than bad tweaks.
Do a speed test. Determine if your connection is slow.
See all the PPPoE info on this site.
Have a cup of coffee.
Call your ISP and speak to them about it (they may not be able to do anything about it, but you want them to be aware).
Wait for 1-2 weeks. Speed will come back.
Replacing a DHCP-based service with the PPPoE service is a major change, and any major change will disrupt a network for some time until it is re-tuned.
No amount of screaming or whining will hurry this up.
Experience so far has suggested that your speed will suck for some period of time, but then come back.