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Ongoing intermittent cable outages - can an Optus rep help?

ninkasi

Hi

 

Over the course of the past few months I have been struggling with getting an unreliable home phone and internet service fixed. After a year of fairly decent service with the new Netgear CG3000v2 modem, problems started becoming particularly noticeable in December 2015 when we found our mobiles seemed to be using far more data than normal, and then the Fetch tv service started to drop out. This was combined with people complaining about not being able to call us, or having bad quality incoming or outgoing phone calls and/or the phone simply going dead.

 

Checking the downstream and upstream SNR and Power levels all appear to be excellent and they also do not appear to vary significantly over time, making me believe/suspect that the issue is either a faulty modem or a problem on the Optus network itself. The modem has now been replaced with another of the same model, so if it is an issue with the modem it is something inherent with the type of modem. The logs in the modem itself are not particularly helpful, but basically full of timeout messages (eg “Started Unicast Maintenance Ranging - No Response received - T3 time-out;CM-MAC=2c:30:33:02:2a:30;CMTS-MAC=bc:16:65:27:ae:cb;CM-QOS=1.1;CM-VER=3.0;”). Whenever there is an outage, however, there seems to be no corresponding message in the logs. It now appears that the modem is resetting itself (with no entry in the logs that this is happening), during which time it loses its IP address. When it finally syncs up with the cable network, it gets assigned an IP address and everything is good until it resets itself again.

 

As I originally reported the issue on 6/1 and it’s still not resolved, if I claim compensation via the CSG (http://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/customer-service-guarantee-for-phone-users-faqs) then I suspect I could be entitled to close to $2k now and climbing. I however really just want it fixed. Is there some way I can escalate this? Tech #4 is coming out on Thursday 10/3 but I am getting very VERY tired of all this. I am a long term customer – I was in fact a beta tester of Optus cable but after nearly 18 years I am now seriously thinking of jumping to Telstra. The Optus service has been good, but it is not good value if it doesn’t work!

 

Other than one failed callback, I have not been proactively contacted with respect to this issue. I believe that I have been calm, professional, and as helpful as I can be about this, but I have been paying for a service and not receiving it for over three months, and Optus have been aware of the issue for two months. I frequently work from home, and this impacts on my ability to do so effectively.

 

In general I am happy with the sincerity of the people who have tried to help. It is clearly apparent however that they do not have the correct tools to do their job. It is also apparent that the customer is generally assumed to have no technical ability to assist with diagnosing an issue – I provided a lot of information to Optus over two months ago that was ignored and I was instead asked to do things like change the channel the modem was using for wifi services. The tech who came out last was only informed about local network outages after he’d tested everything locally. It amazes me that there appears to be minimal proactive monitoring of the network, but rather Optus waits for people to complain....

 

The only positive out of all this is I discovered and am getting very good at jumping the dinosaur over the cactii game (I do find it hard when I get to the pterodactyls) that Chrome shows when you lose internet connectivity..... 

 __________

 

So, the support history [PM me if you’re from Optus and I can give you the support numbers]. Note that the tense does change every now and then as I have been noting this all down over time...:

  • 6/1 - I contacted Optus support to address an issue with our bill – we had been charged $104.50 for our “$90 cable bundle” on 25/12. After some initial confusion, it was decided that this was obviously a mistake and would be reversed. Great. One issue down.
  • 6/1 – I then contacted Optus support to address the unreliable ‘phone and internet service. Described what was happening – service would drop out intermittently over the course of the day, causing no internet and no telephony. People would try calling us and not be able to get through. People would complain about not being able to hear us. Optus support could not see any issues remotely, but I reiterated there were problems and that there were error messages in the modem log. Had me do a number of basic troubleshooting steps and then said would monitor the service for the next few days and contact me if there was an issue detected. Did not get contacted. It appeared that Optus could still not see any issues remotely, but locally the service did not improve. I need to collect some objective data to show Optus that there actually was a problem. Setup a workstation running a ‘ping’ script to track how many times the issue was occurring then went on holiday.
  • 22/2/16 – Came back from holiday and contacted Optus again. Repeated that ‘phone did not work reliably. Internet did not work reliably. My script was showing the service dropping out on average once every ten minutes. Some outages were only for a few seconds, others for hours. Was asked to do some basic troubleshooting again, and then they arranged for tech to visit as they “could see there were issues with the service flapping”. So I guess they could tell there was an issue, but did not think to actually monitor it or contact me…..
  • 25/2/16 – Tech #1 visited and replaced modem power supply, and junction box on side of house. Said would also ask for connections/network away from house to be checked. If no improvement, suggested that they might try replacing the modem. Service did not improve.
  • 29/2/16 – Contacted Optus again. Was given a problem report number [nnnnnnnn]. Arranged for ‘lead technician’ to come out. “They will definitely fix it” I was assured. Was also asked if I had a separate ‘phone service with Optus. I said, again (on every call I have clearly stated that internet and phone are both being provided via the cable modem and both are being impacted by this issue), that the phone service came via the cable modem, so it was also having issues. They told me no, in fact it is separate. I told them no, it is in fact actually physically coming out of the cable modem itself and that their records were wrong and had probably not been updated after our house was demolished along with the old splitter box on the side of the house, when we changed to the SIP service about seven years ago. They said oh – ok, we’ll fix that as well.
  • 1/3/16 – Service has been completely dead over the morning. Tech #2 came early, checked everything. Quality of service etc seemed fine locally. He contacted support and found a network ticket open “14961561” for the local area. Expected it to be related, causing the ‘flapping’ of service. I reiterated that we had been experiencing issues since December so was not so sure it was actually connected. He said it almost certainly was, he would include the new ticket with ours, and we should be notified when it’s fixed. He expected it would take no more than an hour. That was 12pm ie noon. If there are still issues after that, then it would be reviewed, but he expected that would be it.
  • 2/3 – Still had drop outs up to 23:52 1/3, then no drop outs…. Until 09:30. Then they came back. Called again @ 15:15. Apparently a ‘bucket truck’ is being organised to fix the pole – expected to be Thursday (tomorrow).
  • 3/3 – Outage has been resolved according to the web site. My service is still patchy. Dropped out for a while around 10am, 10:40, 12:10, 2:45, and 3:50. Was on the mobile when Optus tried to contact me @1:30pm. Received an SMS message saying will try calling again in 48 hours, or send a reply “call” to get earlier call back. Responded back. Nothing.
  • 4/3 – Called at 12:00. Put on queue for 30 minutes call back. Spoke to support – apparently “It wasn’t all your fault – the previous technicians fixed some things at your house, plus some other work was done on the network”. Right. That made me feel so much better. Nice to know it wasn't ALL my fault. The previous technicians however were both contractors apparently, but next technician to come will be an actual Optus technician who will test everything. Makes me wonder what the other two guys did, but ok. Maybe this actual Optus tech will know how to use their test equipment. New appointment made for Saturday at noon.
  • 5/3 – Technician #3 came out. Checked box on side of house – found that the cables going into the new box there were loose, so tightened them up. Climbed up the pole and checked the connection, found that there was corrosion on the connector so re-terminated that. This did not fix the issue so he then did some other unspecified things up on the pole. (An interesting thing was he noted that some work had been done there recently – I have also noticed two new optus wifi SSIDs being broadcast, so that makes me think that I have recently had some additional customers on my cable and I wonder if that has had an impact….). There were still some dropouts so he replaced the Netgear modem with another one (both CG3000v2). Appeared to be ok for a while…. Only issue was that the ‘phone was no longer working at all. Not sure if it had been working before the modem swap, as frankly it has not been used now since December. He contacted the service desk and requested it to be enabled and then left.
  • 6/3 – Internet still dropping out. Phone not working at all. It’s a Sunday, so will wait.
  • 7/3 – Internet still dropping out. Phone not working at all. Too busy at work to spend time on ‘phone talking to Optus. That night however I setup a video camera pointing at the cable modem to see what was happening. I also managed to capture an outage ‘live’ with my mobile (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0e4fuM4J3U)
  • 8/3 – Internet still dropping out. Phone not working at all. Called again @ 10:45am. Was told again that the phone was not being provided through the modem. Corrected them again and asked for it to be provisioned. Booking another tech to visit on 10/3. New fault number [nnnnnnnn]. Asked if it was possible to check if any other customers in the local area were having issues, and apparently they can’t do that. They have to wait to be contacted by each customer! Oh, and two hours later the ‘phone still hadn’t been provisioned.

Re: Ongoing intermittent cable outages - can an Optus rep help?

ninkasi

FWIW Downstream power tends to be between 0 to 3dBmV (I understand that this should ideally be between -8 to 8) and SNR around 40. Upstream power usually around the 47dBmV mark, although a couple of weeks ago it was as low as 41. (Understand that should be 30 or higher so again should be fine)

Re: Ongoing intermittent cable outages - can an Optus rep help?

ninkasi

Update - tech #4 came this afternoon (10/3), replaced the isolator on the side of the house (again) and replaced the cable modem (again). He reduced the power to the modem, and also managed to get through the system to have the telephone service deployed to the modem so that's working again now. So far it last reset at 13:39 so that's 40 minutes - a new record of stability. Fingers crossed. If this fails, then we're going to try a Cisco bridge modem.

Re: Ongoing intermittent cable outages - can an Optus rep help?

ninkasi

Spoke too soon. Still dropping out. Will see if I can get a Cisco cable modem and try that instead.....

Highlighted

Re: Ongoing intermittent cable outages - can an Optus rep help?

Hollie

Hey @ninkasi, 

 

That is quite a detailed account of events! Definitely sounds like this is a frustrating situation & something I'm more than happy to escalate for you. Whilst you have provided a lot of information I would need one of the fault reference numbers you've been provided for your specific service as the one listed in your post is for an area issue that we had.

 

Once I have the details I'll send this through to my Case Management team and ask them to look into this further and contact you. 

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Re: Ongoing intermittent cable outages - can an Optus rep help?

[ Edited ]
ninkasi

Hi Hollie. Thanks for the offer - I believe it is all now finally in hand. I have personally identified a temporary workaround, and my request for compensation for three months of poor or non-existent service is being dealt with by the Optus Escalated Complaints group.

 

Although sadly the Optus support people weren't able to resolve the issue (and I know they tried as hard as they could), I found that it appears to be a bug with the Netgear EMTA. I now know (sigh) that a similar issue was believed to have been addressed some time ago via a firmware update, but it appears it didn't really fix it. To understand further what I was going through, here's a typical record of a day:

Date

Outage #

Started

Finished

Total Outage

8/03/2016

1

0:04:25

0:04:35

0:00:10

8/03/2016

2

0:04:51

0:05:01

0:00:10

8/03/2016

3

0:21:12

0:23:00

0:01:48

8/03/2016

4

0:23:42

0:25:30

0:01:48

8/03/2016

5

0:55:05

0:56:48

0:01:43

8/03/2016

6

1:05:55

1:06:06

0:00:11

8/03/2016

7

1:26:50

1:28:31

0:01:41

8/03/2016

8

1:29:09

1:30:52

0:01:43

8/03/2016

9

1:31:26

1:33:09

0:01:43

8/03/2016

10

1:33:47

1:35:32

0:01:45

8/03/2016

11

2:03:53

2:04:04

0:00:11

8/03/2016

12

2:05:32

2:07:16

0:01:44

8/03/2016

13

2:24:50

2:25:01

0:00:11

8/03/2016

14

2:41:18

2:41:29

0:00:11

8/03/2016

15

2:55:57

2:56:07

0:00:10

8/03/2016

16

3:04:44

3:04:54

0:00:10

8/03/2016

17

3:07:39

3:09:27

0:01:48

8/03/2016

18

3:10:06

3:11:54

0:01:48

8/03/2016

19

3:20:40

3:20:52

0:00:12

8/03/2016

20

3:24:03

3:24:14

0:00:11

8/03/2016

21

3:25:13

3:25:25

0:00:12

8/03/2016

22

3:41:30

3:43:17

0:01:47

8/03/2016

23

3:44:03

3:44:13

0:00:10

8/03/2016

24

3:44:55

3:45:05

0:00:10

8/03/2016

25

3:49:06

3:49:16

0:00:10

8/03/2016

26

3:53:05

3:53:15

0:00:10

8/03/2016

27

4:12:53

4:14:39

0:01:46

8/03/2016

28

4:39:39

4:39:49

0:00:10

8/03/2016

29

4:44:37

4:46:21

0:01:44

8/03/2016

30

4:46:58

4:48:38

0:01:40

8/03/2016

31

5:00:00

5:00:10

0:00:10

8/03/2016

32

5:09:12

5:09:21

0:00:09

8/03/2016

33

5:24:36

5:24:46

0:00:10

8/03/2016

34

5:34:48

5:34:57

0:00:09

8/03/2016

35

5:54:39

5:54:49

0:00:10

8/03/2016

36

6:16:09

6:16:19

0:00:10

8/03/2016

37

6:43:52

6:44:02

0:00:10

8/03/2016

38

7:20:21

7:22:09

0:01:48

8/03/2016

39

7:51:43

7:53:19

0:01:36

8/03/2016

40

8:06:19

8:06:29

0:00:10

8/03/2016

41

8:10:52

8:11:02

0:00:10

8/03/2016

42

8:24:49

8:24:59

0:00:10

8/03/2016

43

8:36:38

8:36:48

0:00:10

8/03/2016

44

8:40:28

8:40:38

0:00:10

8/03/2016

45

8:49:49

8:49:59

0:00:10

8/03/2016

46

8:53:49

8:55:43

0:01:54

8/03/2016

47

9:06:44

9:06:54

0:00:10

8/03/2016

48

9:25:08

9:26:57

0:01:49

8/03/2016

49

9:27:39

9:29:19

0:01:40

8/03/2016

50

9:51:06

9:51:16

0:00:10

8/03/2016

51

9:57:33

9:57:43

0:00:10

8/03/2016

52

10:16:39

10:16:49

0:00:10

8/03/2016

53

10:20:38

10:20:48

0:00:10

8/03/2016

54

10:57:43

10:57:53

0:00:10

8/03/2016

55

11:00:13

11:02:00

0:01:47

8/03/2016

56

11:02:38

11:04:23

0:01:45

8/03/2016

57

11:05:17

11:05:27

0:00:10

8/03/2016

58

11:19:35

11:19:45

0:00:10

8/03/2016

59

11:31:22

11:31:32

0:00:10

8/03/2016

60

11:33:57

11:35:44

0:01:47

8/03/2016

61

11:40:13

11:40:25

0:00:12

8/03/2016

62

12:00:06

12:00:16

0:00:10

8/03/2016

63

12:05:21

12:07:11

0:01:50

8/03/2016

64

12:15:52

12:16:03

0:00:11

8/03/2016

65

12:20:30

12:20:40

0:00:10

8/03/2016

66

12:36:41

12:38:33

0:01:52

8/03/2016

67

13:04:13

13:04:23

0:00:10

8/03/2016

68

13:08:05

13:09:58

0:01:53

8/03/2016

69

13:18:44

13:18:54

0:00:10

8/03/2016

70

13:39:26

13:41:14

0:01:48

8/03/2016

71

13:46:46

13:46:56

0:00:10

8/03/2016

72

13:47:17

13:50:17

0:03:00

8/03/2016

73

14:09:09

14:09:50

0:00:41

8/03/2016

74

14:11:48

23:59:59

9:48:11

9/03/2016

1

0:00:00

7:50:15

7:50:15

 

My last call with Optus support was a depressing one that ended with with a discussion that it possibly could be fixed by replacing the cable modem with a Cisco, but they were no longer available, so there was not much more that could be done. With no resolution in site, I was going to have to move to Telstra - but after nearly 18 years with Optus I was desparate not to do that, so tried to think of what else I could do.

 

I couldn't replace the cable modem with an alternate model such as a Cisco as apparently they are no longer available. I tried using my older DOCSIS 2 Scientific Atlanta (Cisco) cable modem, but the sytem would not let me enable it. My last option was to turn the modem into a bridge to reduce any possible load on the device to the bare minimum. Doing that and using a separate old router I had to provide firewall and dhcp services fixed it instantly. It has not sufferred a loss of service since I did this on 15/3. Today I replaced the +5 year old router with a new one.

 

The last reference number was 14992906 if you want to review the case for support reasons, but otherwise it's fine.

 

So in short - the EMTA was resetting itself on average every 20 minutes for the past three months - outages being from 10 seconds to multiple minutes or even hours. When it reset, all telephone and internet services failed. Optus support tried to resolve the issue via troubleshooting over the 'phone, and four separate physical tech visits, all with no luck. The customer (ie me) has now been able to show that the outages have been caused by the EMTA (CG3000v2, V2.08.04) itself when in AP mode, that hopefully in the medium/long term can be addressed by Optus/Netgear via a further firmware update. The immediate fix is either to replace the EMTA with a different brand (eg Cisco) if available, or to change the EMTA to bridge mode and use a separate router for firewall/dhcp/wifi.

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