Tuesday, 07 August 2018 10:09

NBN Co says Internode has not made contact over user's HFC issue

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NBN Co says Internode has not made contact over user's HFC issue Pixabay

NBN Co, the company rolling out Australia's national broadband network, the NBN, says it has not been approached by Adelaide-based Internet service provider Internode about fixing the issues that a user in North Salisbury, South Australia, is facing, with constant dropouts on his HFC connection.

The problems facing the user in question, who goes by the pseudonym harrybexec, were ventilated in these columns on 8 June. Though it has been nearly two months since then, he is still facing the very same issues.

Briefly, he wrote that had been experiencing very short dropouts which are common on HFC NBN connections and had an idea that he may have found the reason. He sent screenshots of Windows Task Manager illustrating what was happening.

At that time, he said in a post on the Whirlpool broadband forum: "The problem is called 'impulse noise' and is usually caused by electrical equipment. As the impulses appear every two seconds, I don't think that this will be my case.

"HFC uses the DOCSIS system which sets equalisation parameters every 20 seconds. If an impulse occurs at the same time the parameters are read, the system receives and operates on corrupted data for 20 seconds when there is a good chance that the right parameters will then be sent."

He said the chances of this taking place "several or more milliseconds out of 2000 every 20 seconds means that the dropouts would be intermittent and unpredictable".

When iTWire initially highlighted his problem, harrybexec did not wish to reveal the name of his ISP. iTWire contacted the NBN Co at the time, but the company did not respond to a request for comment.

Over the weekend, harrybexec again contacted iTWire, saying that despite a detailed back-and-forth with his ISP, nothing had happened. "This morning (4 August) I received a phone call from my ISP during which various tests were conducted," he wrote in part.

hfc slow

"The final test involved downloading a test page and monitoring the progress in my browser's (Firefox) download window. The disruptions were still apparent in Task Manager as per a 12.5Mbps example in an attached document (graphic seen above).

"The last word was that the disruption every two seconds is normal Ethernet overhead that Windows Task Manager was incorrectly displaying and that the browser download monitor proves it. There is no problem they said."

iTWire contacted both Internode and NBN Co at about 10.30am on Monday, giving both companies time until 10am on Tuesday to respond.

While Internode has not responded, NBN Co was very prompt with its reply. A spokesperson sought further details about harrybexec and, once these were supplied, provided the following response:

"There has not been an incident raised at this address by his RSP with NBN Co since it was connected on 8 August 2017. My suggestion would be to ask his RSP to raise an incident with us if they are unable to resolve it themselves.

"Coincidentally, there is a network fault impacting just over 20 users in his area but this was only logged this morning and a technician is on site now repairing it, so it is unlikely this is related to his ongoing issues."

When harrybexec wrote to iTWire on 4 August. he included detailed notes of all the observations he had made about the issue he is facing; he has a diploma in computer and information science and considerable expertise in systems analysis, software engineering, programming, Linux servers and networking.

He now intends to approach Internode and check why the company has not approached the NBN Co about the dropouts. Having tested with two versions of Windows — XP and 10 — two different routers supplied by Internode, and drafted detailed reports of what he has observed, harrybexec is now at his wit's end.

He has sought reaction from readers who have experienced similar dropouts on HFC.

"My Internet connection via the HFC network has always had issues; browser freezes, broken downloads, pages not loading correctly etc," he wrote. "These issues were not fatal, in that browsers can be restarted, downloads resumed and pages refreshed. I assumed that remedial action to be undertaken at a future date would eventually resolve these issues.

"When I had the occasion to use a Web server that did not support resuming, this problem then became an issue and that is when I started in earnest to try to identify a cause. These problems occurred randomly and varied from a few minutes to half an hour or more between events. Dips in the graphs below occur at about two second intervals."

Update, 8 August: Internode contacted iTWire last evening and requested details to contact harrybexec. A spokesperson provided a contact email address where he could contact the company to get the issue resolved, and apologised for the tardiness of the reply.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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