My ISP is Bell Canada, and my LAN connects to a service of theirs called ‘Fibe 50′, which stands for a 50 Mbps, DSL connection, to a Local Node, which in turn is connected to Bell via Fibre Optics. And this connection of my LAN is accomplished through a Home Hub 3000 Modem / Router.
The fact that I use my home PC as my Web-server, also means that a stable Internet connection is especially important to me, even though officially, I’m just a Home User. Just recently, my site experienced some down-time, due to problems with my DSL. And I’d like to weigh in on how good or bad the Home Hub 3000 might be, based on personal experiences.
First off, this Modem / Router once had a very bad reputation, when it was first released for public use, in the year 2016. But because that release of the modem preceded my personal range of experiences, I’m going to ignore this piece of History for the moment. It could very well be that in the year 2016 the modem was not ready to be released yet, but that in the year 2019, it is. This would be one example, where the service provider did their best to patch the behaviour of the modem, with many firmware updates, but without any actual modifications to the circuitry being possible.
Just recently I experienced down-time with it, during which the modem’s 3 lights displayed changing colours, especially through the circled ”i” button changing from yellow to red, and through the modem displaying terse error messages in its message window.
My first phone-call to a tech support person, on January 15, resulted in a brief exercise, of disconnecting the low-voltage power-supply cable between the power-adapter and the modem, as well as disconnecting the actual, 2, DSL cables, and then waiting for 30 seconds or so, before reconnecting everything, and waiting for the modem to reboot. What this seemed to do, was to cause the modem to start working again, with 3 solid white lights. But unfortunately, within 30 minutes to 1 hour later, the malfunction just came back.
So what I needed to do next, within the same day, was to phone tech support a second time. And this time, I reported an error code to tech support, which was ‘Code 1101′, displayed in the modem’s message window. Apparently, Code 1101 means that there is a problem with the line, between the modem at my end, and the local node at Bell’s end. Because of that, the tech support person told me that he’d actually need to send a line-man to my location, to continue troubleshooting.
That was around 17h00, on January 15. I left everything turned on and without trying to manipulate anything in the meantime. This first line-man was due to arrive between 12h00 and 15h00, January 16. The next morning, by 9h00, I discovered that the problem seemed to have resolved itself. And in fact this behaviour does not strike me as strange enough, to be classified as ‘paranormal’. So what I did next was to cancel the visit from the line-man because I don’t believe in wasting the resources of Bell Canada, or even, eventually my resources. This may have been a bad decision.
But around 10h00 on January 16, and continuing to keep an eye on the Home Hub 3000, I formed a summary of this modem, the way its firmware allows it to work in the year 2019:
There is a huge merit, in the fact that the modem displays an error code, which can be looked up, and which actually means something. Apparently, when the unit is working properly, it can diagnose an issue with the DSL connection. The only fear I have about this, is that some tech support people might be tempted just to ignore the error code, and to apply a stereotyped solution to the problem. Yet, to apply a standard solution to the problem, when it’s reported for the first time, still ‘makes sense’.
As for the idea that there was a line problem, which within a few days just seemed to go away, this was also explainable. Until this past weekend, that is, until January 13, my neighbourhood was experiencing some extremely cold weather, meaning at or below -20⁰C. During such weather, water cannot be liquid outside, and such a malfunction would be difficult to explain. But from January 14 until January 16, the temperature outside actually became very mild and above freezing.
And this means that liquid water could easily have entered the phone cable, which in the suburbs of Canadian cities is often above-ground. And that water had enough time to seep out again – around 4h00 in the wee morning of January 16. As long as any liquid water might have entered the outdoor cable, this could easily have short-circuited the DSL wires.
I was just very lucky that the weather stayed mild long enough, for the water to clear out.
So far, the modem has scored well. The real problem that I see, is with the fact that the many high-tech services which we receive in Canada, still depend on such old, outdated infrastructure as above-ground telephone wires.
But there is finally a dark lining, to my rose-coloured view of the world of DSL modems. Between 13h00 and 14h00 on January 16, we had a blizzard again. And again, the modem’s LEDs started to flash slightly, showing problems with the line, and showing error code ‘1101’. So what I actually found myself doing next, was to phone the tech support at Bell again, and to make a new appointment for the line-man to come in the afternoon of January 17.
What I can’t really size up, is whether it will be the new norm, that in extreme weather situations, my DSL gets buggy. This did not happen while I had 12 Mbps service, but may be much more the norm, for 50 Mbps service. One idea which I’m still convinced about though, is that this set of malfunctions is due to the poor quality of the twisted-pairs of wires outside, and not due to the modem itself.