Fusion Troubleshooting

Internet access discussion, including Fusion, FTTN and Gigabit Fiber!
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by thulsa_doom » Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:19 pm
DIY Fusion Broadband Troubleshooting guide

For broadband troubleshooting, Sonic.net Technical Support generally breaks out problems into three broad categories: No Sync, Sync-no-Surf, and Performance issues. Any of the above can be either intermittent or continuous, chronic or acute.

A no-sync problem's primary symptom is that the modem indicates that it is unable to synchronize with the equipment on our end of the line. This prevents any data from crossing the circuit in either direction.

A sync-no-surf problem often looks the same to the end-user, where the modem is asyncronized with the Sonic.net equipment but no traffic is able to cross. If your computer's Internet access is as bad as having the modem turned off but the Sync light is on, you have a sync-no-surf issue. Sometimes labeled "Line" or "DSL" or "ADSL" depending on make and model. From the perspective of using your connection, the problems are identical, but from the perspective of fixing the connection, they are quite different.

A performance issue is whe modem is connected to the equipment on Sonic.net's side and traffic is able to pass through, but not in a satisfactory way. This can range from general slow speeds to high latency to packet loss or routing problems to specific hosts on the Internet.

For the purposes of this guide I will treat these separately in their own posts below so you can skip advice that has no bearing on your situation:
John Fitzgerald
Sonic Technical Support
by thulsa_doom » Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:19 pm
A failure to synchronize is most frequently a physical problem. No settings on your computer or SOHO router would cause a no-sync situation, and it is very rare to encounter a modem whose configuration is set so as to cause this. Physical problems can take the form of damaged wiring, large amounts of electromagnetic noise on the line, or faulty equipment.

To rapidly troubleshoot a no-sync problem it helps to use process of elimination, cutting out potential issues by bypassing them where possible. During initial troubleshooting the physical problem could be nearly anything, so narrowing down the possibilities is a great first step.

First turn the modem off for about ten seconds, then turn it back on. This is a shot in the dark, but works more often than you may suspect.

Having tried that, ensure that the modem is properly plugged in. Ideally it should run directly to a wall jack carrying your Fusion circuit with as few splitters or couplings as possible. Ensure that the line is connected to Sonic.net Fusion Broadband by plugging a regular corded phone (you should have one of these as you live in California and we get earthquakes) and check for dial tone.

If there is no voice service here, this is a strong indication that the modem is not at fault and that there is a wiring issue. Try again with the corded phone at your phone box. Most single-unit residences have a grey plastic box mounted on the exterior where phone service enters the building. A reasonably-modern phone box will have test jacks specifically for this purpose; just open the box and plug the phone into each jack until you get dial tone. You can make sure the dial tone is provided by Sonic.net by dialing '933' for an emergency 911 location read-back.

If there is no voice service at the phone box, it is possible there is another box on your building. Failing that, you really need to get in touch with Sonic.net. Inform us of what you observed and we will get the appropriate technicians dispatched to fix you back up.

If there is voice service at the phone box but not at the jack your modem uses, you may need to re-terminate the wiring that runs to that jack. We can send a technician to do this, but fees may apply.

If there is voice service at the jack but no sync, some interference may be introduced by other devices on the line, or by damaged or improperly-installed wiring inside the premises. The most efficient way to eliminate this possibility is to take your modem out to the phone box and try again there. For most phone boxes, the internal wiring for your building is disconnected whenever you use the test jack, so any interference from those sources would be removed from the picture.

If the problem is with the outside wiring or you cannot test at the phone box, there is not a lot of additional troubleshooting to be done for a no-sync issue.

If your modem achieves sync at the phone box, you have an internal wiring issue. Internal wiring can include other devices on the line such as phones, answering machines, fax machines, credit card terminals, DVRs, alarm systems, or anything else that connects to the phone line. Any such devices should have a microfilter attached; typically a modem will come with three to six of these in the box. Unplug every device other than the modem. If the problem persists, the problem is probably the wiring inside the building. Sonic.net may be able to remedy this by running new line to where you keep your modem and filtering off the rest of your wiring.

If your modem cannot sync at the phone box either, the problem is either with the outside wiring or the modem itself. Trying an alternate device would tend to eliminate the modem as the cause of the problem or confirm it.

For intermittent no-sync problems, all of the above is relevant, but most especially while the problem is happening. An important factor in troubleshooting an intermittent problem, where it works sometimes but not others, is when the problems happen, how often, and how long it lasts. If there is any electrical device in the building that is always in use when the problem is happening it may be a contributing factor.
John Fitzgerald
Sonic Technical Support
by thulsa_doom » Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:20 pm
If your DSL modem indicates that it has sync but you are unable to make use of your connection, you can generally skip all of the "no surf" troubleshooting steps above. There is probably not a physical problem between your modem and Sonic.net's equipment.

The first step in troubleshooting a sync-no-surf issue is to make sure it is truly a sync-no-surf issue at all. If you are having problems accessing a specific website, try browsing to another website. Try checking your mail using something other than a webmail client (such as Windows Live Mail, Apple Mail.app, or Thunderbird), or even an internet-connected video game or chat program. It is possible that the problem at hand is with the server you are trying to talk to, not with your connection, local area network, or computer.

Failing that, simplify the local area network. Connect a single computer directly to the modem with an Ethernet patch cable, bypassing any switches, routers, hubs, or wireless networks that may be complicating matters. You may need to change your computer's network settings. Check if the problem persists. If you are able to surf under these conditions, the problem lies with something you just bypassed and is beyond the scope of this article.

If still unable to surf, stay directly connected to the modem and check to see if your computer is resolving names to IP addresses properly. Try to surf to http://www.sonic.net/ , then try to surf to (the IP address that http://www.sonic.net resolves to). If you can open the website by IP address but not by name, your system is having a DNS resolution problem. Statically assigning your DNS settings to and would be the next step.

If you cannot surf by name or IP address, there may be an issue with with your software firewall. Consulting the firewall logs may clarify exactly what the issue is.

Failing this, give Sonic.net a call. The issue may lie with a configuration issue that we can help remedy.
John Fitzgerald
Sonic Technical Support
by thulsa_doom » Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:20 pm
This broadest of categories has a number of potential symptoms, each with a number of potential solutions that do not lend themselves to a document like this.

If you have a connection that previously ran well but has slowed down significantly, it is possible that a change in the line's physical condition has degraded the rate at which your modem has synchronized with the equipment on Sonic.net's side. Any new phone devices introduced to the line should be filtered or removed, then see if the problem persists.

Slow-downs can also be caused by simply saturating your connection with traffic. Peer-to-peer sharing software is notoriously aggressive with using all available bandwidth, sometimes to the detriment of other applications. If any device on the network is running a program that hogs your connection's bandwidth, it will affect all other devices as well. Frequently this happens on the upstream side, as the software attempt to upload data faster than the connection can handle. Consult the program in question's documentation on how to limit the speeds it attempts to use.

Wireless routers use unlicensed frequencies that just about any device can broadcast on, which can result in signals from one device interfering with the signals of another device. Wireless security cameras, baby monitors, and other wireless computer networks can all result in noise and congestion issues for a Wi-Fi connection. If you normally connect wirelessly, connect your computer directly to the modem and see if the problem persists.
John Fitzgerald
Sonic Technical Support
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