For the last several days, my DSL connection has slowly been losing speed.  It’s been interesting to see it slowly slide from my normal 1200 or so downstream to about 650, and no amount of power cycling the modem will change it.

(I have a 2Wire DSL modem/wireless gateway that very conveniently shows speeds on its status page, so it’s not a subjective ‘things are getting slow’ thing, it’s an objective measure).

That doesn’t mean much to SBC/ATT; I was patiently running the Level 1 script earlier today, but balked at ‘restart your computer’: I refrained from being rude or angry, but did say that wasn’t going to happen, it was a line problem not a computer problem, and we agreed to stop there.

I find that techies at 0300 are either more knowledgeable or more likely to listen to people, so there’s now a repair scheduled after only 10 minutes on the phone, surely an AT&T record.

I’ll keep you posted.


  1. GD, I feel your pain. For many years, I have run operating systems firmly in the “other” category. When I call in with problems, I find their scripts lacking in the possibility of it being on their side.

    Yay monopolies.

  2. TheNewGuy says:


    I find when I offer to send them the snort logs right off the bat, they usually bump me up to the second-tier tech-support guys pretty quickly. The first-tier guys often don’t have a clue about Linux, and getting connected to a true geek helps tremendously.

  3. Wow, I’ve been there. It’s so frustrating to have to run the script when you know what the problem is and know that you need to be bumped up to someone who understands DNS, routing tables, etc. We eventually came to an impasse at something like “deleting all cookies.” I wouldn’t do it, but she wouldn’t pass me on until I did it.

    I’ll have to remember the 0300 trick next time :)

  4. I’ve had pretty good service from AT&T/SBC. Granted, I’ve had my share of script-defying moments: “Please reboot your computer.” “Which one? I have three on static IPs, a wireless router, and two boxes on the internal net.”

    When I have problems I try to verify that it’s not my internal wiring by plugging directly into the interface box on the outside of the house. If bypassing internal wiring doesn’t fix matters then I call; I get the standard “We’ll have to charge you if we send out a truck and it turns out to be internal wiring” deflection and counter with “I checked and it’s definitely upstream of my wiring – roll a truck.” It’s a game and most of the time the support staff Does The Right Thing (Eventually.)

    I make sure to get ticket numbers and staff names and ask for an address where I can make sure the support person gets credit for being helpful. This serves two purposes – first, I get tracking numbers and names, and second, I actually write in and compliment people on their helpfulness. Tech support is a shitty, underappreciated job and as a sysadmin I consider it a professional courtesy to give props where it’s due. Hopefully it helps boost morale or gets someone a raise or promotion.

    My weirdest story was the time that my DSL went out but miraculously recovered when I took my phone off the hook. I noticed this when calling tech support – DSL would come back while I was on hold so I’d hang up and it’d go out again. After a few times calling support I noticed the pattern. The tech was dubious but sent out a truck, warning me I’d pay for it if yadda-yadda…

    So the truck arrives and the tech is rummaging in the interface box and we confirm the problem is upstream and repeatable, but damned if we can figure out why. I look down the street and there’s another SBC truck with a lineman up a pole. So the DSL tech wanders over to the lineman and they talk for about five minutes and the tech comes back and gives me the skinny:

    “Turns out they’re replacing the phone line on your block. The way they do that is to string a new line in parallel with the existing line and tap it in at both ends. Then they move the house taps from the old line to the new line one at a time, then cut down the old line when it’s all done. That way they keep POTS outages to a minimum. Near as I can figure it, the current divides when it hits the junction between the old and new lines making your DSL signal drop to an unusable level, but when you pick up the phone it draws enough current to boost your DSL signal into a usable range. The linemen will be done in a few days so if you can keep the phone off the hook until then, that’ll probably keep your DSL running. And to be perfectly honest, I’ve never seen a problem like this before.”

    So as much as people complain about the telcos and ISPs (and so much of it is warranted) I have to counter with at least one anecdote of the technicians doing a really good job sorting matters out.

    The 0300 trick is nice because the only people up that late (early?) are customers geekier than the techs. The call volume is probably low so they’re under less pressure to get you off the line whether your problem is solved or not.

  5. Nurse 1961 says:

    Know the difference between a Geek and a Nerd????

    Geeks think computers are a fun part of life.

    Nerds think computers are life. That and a pocket protector.

  6. Jim in Texas says:

    [homer] Hmmmmmmmmmm FiOS[/homer]

  7. Doug Hudson says:

    Static can buildup in the phone lines and cause slowdowns in the DSL service. I had this mysterious slowdown and the helpful technician suggested moving my phone cable off the carpeted floor. Worked like a charm.

    You can also “power cycle” the cable itself–unplug it from the wall for a minute or two.