[SOLVED] Massive ping spike when any other device is on the network.

Cody_49

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Dec 18, 2016
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I'm not sure how unique this specific issue is, or whether there is a possible solution at all, but I have personally exhausted any possible solution to my problem that I could think of, and have come up completely empty thus far.

To give background to my situation, I just moved into a new apartment, and have had problems with my internet ever since I moved in. The apartment complex I live in gives their tenants a choice between two internet providers; AT&T, which is running off of a really old line in this complex, and can only support speeds up to 5mb/s down, and ACR Cable, which is an extremely small operation, and is also coincidentally owned by the people who own the apartment complex, and gives speeds up to 50mb/s down and 5mb/s up. Obviously, neither of these choices is particularly ideal, especially considering I use the internet very heavily, in both recreation, and for my job ( I work from home ), however, I figured while I would see some slowness here and there, when downloading or uploading large files, there would be minimal hiccups in the service itself. Boy was I wrong.
(I wanted to add a small side note before I get into this that the 50mb/s down service is costing me 90$ a month, while a gigabit from Comcast in this area will run me only 80$ a month for the first year.)

l'm really unsure of what the main problem would be, whether its just abysmal service from my provider, with speeds dropping all the way to 5mb/s down at peak usage hours in the afternoon, or if it's some issue with their provided modem. The problems originally started on my first day using the internet, which was a day off for me, as I had just moved in, and as I had finished getting my office set up I sat down to play a game with a few buddies of mine, and immediately noticed that my ping was jumping anywhere from 30 to 200, for reference the game servers are in chicago, and my buddy who lives 5 minutes from me gets 22 ping constant. Anyway, I figured that this was probably some issue with their provided hardware at first, as speedtests directly through the router were reaching only around 20mb/s down and around 1mb/s up. So the next day I went to Microcenter, and grabbed the exact same router I had used at my previous apartment (R7800), went home, hooked it up, and had the exact same problems as before with the ping, except this router at least gets 48/49mb/s down on speedtests. At this point I had just figured that I needed to tweak the QoS on the router itself, which does remove a small amount of the bufferbloat, according to dslreports.com, but in practice does little to help my ping spikes. I woke up the next morning and tried again, and to my surprise, I had no issues with the ping or the download speed. Since then I've found that I can use the service reliably from early morning until about 5pm without issue, unless someone else uses a device on the network to any capacity whatsoever, in which case it becomes immediately unusable. I could be in the middle of streaming a movie, or playing a game, and as soon as my roommate turns on our tv to watch a show on Netflix, or Hulu or any streaming app, I get buffering, or in the case of a game a massive ping spike that makes it unplayable, even with my device set to the #1 priority on the network.

The times where the speed itself dips during the afternoon, I would assume is just really poor service from the provider, and since they're so small they can't reliably handle the amount of usage going on around those times, I could be wrong of course. What I'm hoping to achieve here is to find a solution that minimizes the drop in quality of service when there is more than one device on the network.

Am I experiencing bufferbloat on the modem that they provided me? Is there some kind of QoS thing with netgear routers I don't know about? Is the service just really really bad and I'm doomed until my lease is up? Any info would be a great help, even if it doesn't necessarily solve the issue, as I just like learning about this sort of stuff. Thanks in advance to anyone who answers.

Final side note: I can't believe it is legal for them to overcharge this insane amount for this service that they own, and not provide tenants a legitimate secondary option.

Edit: I've ended up having to tailor my work schedule around when I can use the internet, and it is starting to conflict with my every day life outside of work, which is of course not ideal.
 
Last edited:

SamirD

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Jan 16, 2014
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This sounds identical to an issue I had back in 2012 at our first apartment in Milwaukee. It took me over a year to resolve it and then we moved shortly after (figures).

First thing I would do is eliminate the powerline for testing. While in theory it shouldn't affect things much, we need to eliminate all variables.

Secondly, even though it would cost, get the AT&T line as well. Having a second Internet service you can use will restore your life again. I keep dual Internet connections at any site where Internet is important.

Okay, so here's how I was able to get our service fixed, and it was a mixture of documentation and luck. The root cause of the problem was that the carrier the isp was using was programmatically changing to a lower bandwidth profile after 6pm cst, thereby causing extreme congestion out to the Internet for our location and resulting in up to 10% packet loss. Documenting this was the first step.

To document this, I set up a bandwidth monitor at thinkbroadband.uk. I actually use this on all my isp accounts now to monitor what's going on with them. The service will generate graphs of your service including ping times and packet loss, making it very easy to see if there are programmatic issues going on.

I also used the freeola line test (not speed test) to document the packet loss in real-time as I had issues. I would save the results by printing the page to a pdf.

The luck part was that my building was changing out their fibre plant equipment and I bumped into the technicians working on the stuff and started talking technical with them and then explaining the issues that affect the whole building. One of the techs told me to email him my documents, which I did. Almost a year later when they fixed everything, I saw the tech again and I asked him whatever happened to all the documentation I sent him and he told me it was because of that documentation that they discovered what their carrier was doing, that was in breech of contract with them, and then fired that carrier got a new one and revamped the whole system from what I assume was some sort of settlement. Our max speeds went from 15Mbps to 100Mbps. And then we moved out in a few months, lol.

If I didn't bump into the tech, I don't think the issue would have ever been resolved. But I wasn't waiting for them to fix it. We didn't have an alternative provider available even though cable was available right across the street line of site from my office window (2nd br), so I was working on getting a cable modem off-site and then using some ubiquiti equipment and beaming the service to my apartment. Luckily I didn't have to implement this as I would have been under a year contract and that would have been a mess with the move.

Hopefully, this gives you some food for thought.
 
You need to test very systematically. You need to run with just 1 single device hooked up via ethernet. This will quickly let you know if you ISP is the cause. You to some extent need to watch your usage but as long as your are not exceeding the upload/download rates you will never get things like bufferbloat. Pretty much your data should not be delayed because it "should" never be queued. If no data is queued then QoS will have no effect.

Now what can be happening when a ISP over sells their network is that your data and your neighbors data is competing for bandwidth so the data is being queued at that common point. Nothing you can do about that. Any solution you try to implement will try to restrict your traffic which just makes your neighbors traffic get less delay.

What you should be able to do is load your link to amount less than the max and see if ping is affected. Download is pretty easy you use something like steam and set the download rate limit. Upload is a little more tricky but some of the so called free cloud backups also have the ability to limit the traffic rates. In this way you could simulate some other device using data and see if it has the same effect.

It should not matter how many devices you are using...again you want to always test ethernet wifi has to many unknowns that can affect the testing. As long as together you never exceed the upload or download bandwidth you should not see ping spikes because again your data is not being queued which is what causes the delay.
Your router may have the ability to see utilization and how much each machine is actively using.

2 devices should run fine together as long as there is enough bandwidth. If your connection was say 250mbps I would recommend you actually turn off the QoS because the router CPU will max out and cause issues. You could try it but I don't think it is your router.

If this issue only happens when you are using wifi I do not know what to suggest. There is very little you can set or change on wifi.
 

Cody_49

Reputable
Dec 18, 2016
29
0
4,530
0
You need to test very systematically. You need to run with just 1 single device hooked up via ethernet. This will quickly let you know if you ISP is the cause. You to some extent need to watch your usage but as long as your are not exceeding the upload/download rates you will never get things like bufferbloat. Pretty much your data should not be delayed because it "should" never be queued. If no data is queued then QoS will have no effect.

Now what can be happening when a ISP over sells their network is that your data and your neighbors data is competing for bandwidth so the data is being queued at that common point. Nothing you can do about that. Any solution you try to implement will try to restrict your traffic which just makes your neighbors traffic get less delay.

What you should be able to do is load your link to amount less than the max and see if ping is affected. Download is pretty easy you use something like steam and set the download rate limit. Upload is a little more tricky but some of the so called free cloud backups also have the ability to limit the traffic rates. In this way you could simulate some other device using data and see if it has the same effect.

It should not matter how many devices you are using...again you want to always test ethernet wifi has to many unknowns that can affect the testing. As long as together you never exceed the upload or download bandwidth you should not see ping spikes because again your data is not being queued which is what causes the delay.
Your router may have the ability to see utilization and how much each machine is actively using.

2 devices should run fine together as long as there is enough bandwidth. If your connection was say 250mbps I would recommend you actually turn off the QoS because the router CPU will max out and cause issues. You could try it but I don't think it is your router.

If this issue only happens when you are using wifi I do not know what to suggest. There is very little you can set or change on wifi.
I should have mentioned in the original post, it's my mistake, but I am the only user on the network that has a device hooked up through ethernet, my computer, via power line adapter ( the building is fairly new, and the router is only one room over, so I doubt it has something to do with the power line adapter ). Every other device that is used on the network is through wifi. I have also monitored the exact usage of the wireless devices, and there should, in theory, be plenty left over for me to get work done, or play a game or whatever it is I'm doing at the time. In the past there have been times when my computer is the only one on the network, and during peak hours the router will test at around 25-30mb/s with only the computer on it in idle (I can run this test through the router itself, rather than on the pc, so the speed is raw, and not affected by the connection to my pc).
Is there a way for me to limit the usage on a per-device basis, and would that even have any effect on my issue?
 

SamirD

Honorable
Jan 16, 2014
1,351
179
11,490
43
This sounds identical to an issue I had back in 2012 at our first apartment in Milwaukee. It took me over a year to resolve it and then we moved shortly after (figures).

First thing I would do is eliminate the powerline for testing. While in theory it shouldn't affect things much, we need to eliminate all variables.

Secondly, even though it would cost, get the AT&T line as well. Having a second Internet service you can use will restore your life again. I keep dual Internet connections at any site where Internet is important.

Okay, so here's how I was able to get our service fixed, and it was a mixture of documentation and luck. The root cause of the problem was that the carrier the isp was using was programmatically changing to a lower bandwidth profile after 6pm cst, thereby causing extreme congestion out to the Internet for our location and resulting in up to 10% packet loss. Documenting this was the first step.

To document this, I set up a bandwidth monitor at thinkbroadband.uk. I actually use this on all my isp accounts now to monitor what's going on with them. The service will generate graphs of your service including ping times and packet loss, making it very easy to see if there are programmatic issues going on.

I also used the freeola line test (not speed test) to document the packet loss in real-time as I had issues. I would save the results by printing the page to a pdf.

The luck part was that my building was changing out their fibre plant equipment and I bumped into the technicians working on the stuff and started talking technical with them and then explaining the issues that affect the whole building. One of the techs told me to email him my documents, which I did. Almost a year later when they fixed everything, I saw the tech again and I asked him whatever happened to all the documentation I sent him and he told me it was because of that documentation that they discovered what their carrier was doing, that was in breech of contract with them, and then fired that carrier got a new one and revamped the whole system from what I assume was some sort of settlement. Our max speeds went from 15Mbps to 100Mbps. And then we moved out in a few months, lol.

If I didn't bump into the tech, I don't think the issue would have ever been resolved. But I wasn't waiting for them to fix it. We didn't have an alternative provider available even though cable was available right across the street line of site from my office window (2nd br), so I was working on getting a cable modem off-site and then using some ubiquiti equipment and beaming the service to my apartment. Luckily I didn't have to implement this as I would have been under a year contract and that would have been a mess with the move.

Hopefully, this gives you some food for thought.
 

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