Question Why does my Xbox have high packet loss on my ISP only?

Dec 23, 2021
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This is really strange, so hoping the genius-hive here can help!

Recently, I've been experiencing frequent connection errors to my Xbox party chats. After exhausting all of the Microsoft & Unifi forums, my best guess is that it's tied to my ISP somehow.
Through the Xbox network settings, I see I have a consistent 49-54% packet loss, while always showing full (750down/300up) speeds and good MTU. Investigating that packet loss issue, here is my workflow so far. Nothing has changed that high packet loss yet and I'm hoping if I can solve that, I can solve the dropped chat issue.
  1. Using Terminal on my Mac, pinging Google DNS servers resulting in 0% packet loss.
  2. Checked port forwarding on Unifi, all routed to correct static IP setup for Xbox.
  3. Reset/unplugged/restarted Xbox several times.
  4. Restarted entire network.
  5. Unplugged wired network and tried WiFi.
  6. Wired Xbox directly to ISP fiber box. This step got me thinking it's the ISP and not a Unifi problem, since this step bypasses all my networking gear.
  7. Tethered Xbox to my iPhone Wifi on AT&T resulted in 0% packet loss. Further reinforcing my thoughts on the ISP.
  8. Tested ping again on my Mac, showing 0% to Google DNS.
  9. Called ISP, they say they can't replicate the problem and can't test for Xbox-specific issues. Since I'm only experiencing it on my Xbox, they say to call Microsoft.
  10. Call Microsoft, they say it's not their issue since I can get it to 0% packet loss when tethered and blame my ISP.
  11. Call my ISP back and again get the "it's not us" routine since I can't replicate it on any other device.
  12. Write this essay on the Unifi forums.
All kidding aside, this is super frustrating since there's only so much I can try and both my ISP (Hawaiian Telcom) and Microsoft couldn't help. I'm hoping you guys can give me some new ideas to try or help me understand what's going on.
I don't think it's my Unifi network, since I was able to replicate the problem connecting directly to the fiber box, but here's my setup anyway:
  • ISP Fiber (no router in between fiber connection and USG)
  • USG-3
  • 8 Port 60W Switch
  • Switch Lite
  • Xbox
  • All managed by a CouldKey 2+
Thanks in advance for any ideas or help! Really appreciate it!
 
It can't really be the ISP you ruled that out in your first test.

The ISP can't tell which device in your house is sending the ping packets when you have a router in the path. All the traffic actually appears to come from the router. So if there was a issue with the internet the mac would see the same loss.

I guess the key thing is what is different between how you connect the xbox to the router/isp and when you connect it to the iphone.

Do you see packet loss if you ping other device in your house.

Try to disable the IPv6 support on the router if you can. Game console like to try to use IPv6 and it many times the paths for ipv4 and ipv6 are different with IPv6 having more issues. I guess it depends on if you are ping by IP address or by name.
 
Dec 23, 2021
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Thanks for all the info! Here are my responses...

I guess the key thing is what is different between how you connect the xbox to the router/isp and when you connect it to the iphone.
If you mean physically "how," I tried connecting the Xbox to the WiFi on my network and got high packet loss. I tether it to my phone via the WiFi connection on my phone and get no packet loss. That should be the same connection, right? I suppose it could be a certain way that the iPhone treats the connection and/or the way AT&T treats it, but I'm not sure how I could diagnose that. Any ideas?

Do you see packet loss if you ping other device in your house.
No, no packet loss when I ping another device in my house from my computer. No ability to ping other device from the Xbox.

Try to disable the IPv6 support on the router if you can. Game console like to try to use IPv6 and it many times the paths for ipv4 and ipv6 are different with IPv6 having more issues. I guess it depends on if you are ping by IP address or by name.
IPv6 is diabled on my Unifi controller. My ISP does not support IPv6 so I disabled that long ago.
 
I was more thinking you tethered using a USB cable but if it is wifi then it is the same as when you do wifi to the ISP.

What is strange is you get such high speed on speedtest. When you get packet loss the data must be retransmitted which if you have 50% loss should cut your speed by at least 50%. Also the way fundamental TCP data transfer works is it will reduce what is called window size trying to reduce errors. This is the method it figures out how large the bandwidth is. If you tried to transfer 1gbit/s over 100mbps connection you would get 90% data loss but TCP is smart enough to keep reducing the bandwidth it tried until it minimizes the errors.

To get 750mbps the speedtest must not actually be getting data loss. There has to be something different about ping packets.

Normally I would suggest looking for some kind of game QoS at this point. But I don't think that software runs on consoles and you are not using a router that might also have that feature. That type of software tried to prioritize game traffic but does a very poor job.

Can you run tools like pathping on a console.
 
Dec 23, 2021
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Normally I would suggest looking for some kind of game QoS at this point. But I don't think that software runs on consoles and you are not using a router that might also have that feature. That type of software tried to prioritize game traffic but does a very poor job.

Can you run tools like pathping on a console.
Believe me, I wish I could too but unfortunately I think that's the deal with consoles or any consumer-designed product. Simpler use, but not as easy to diagnose. Appreciate your help trying though!
 
Dec 23, 2021
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Alright, big update to report, so strap yourselves in!

I'll leave out all the lengthy, unnecessary details, but moral is that I found the source of the packet loss! In my bid to understand this better, I came across an iOS app called "PingPlotter" which was super helpful understanding which "hop" the packet loss is happening on. I'd highly recommend this app, especially if you're running traceroute to diagnose. This is like a traceroute but much easier to understand.

Using PingPlotter, I was able to see the exact IP address where the packet loss was happening. No matter which destination server I pinged, the packet loss would happen at this hop every time, from the same source IP. I've even had a neighbor with the same ISP verify the same hop using this app. The packet loss is definitely happening within the ISP network and I'm guessing it's when our neighborhood switch distributes the signal wherever it's going. I spoke to another neighbor who actually had this issue for a couple years and only recently switched to another ISP because our ISP couldn't diagnose the issue.

Anyway, I wish I had good news to report but it's still ongoing. Over the past month and a half, I've spent hours on the phone with Hawaiian Telcom trying to figure this out. My first task was convincing them that it was their issue, and last weekend was the first time I got through to someone higher up who agreed that the packet loss was happening at this particular hop and localized to our neighborhood. Not sure what the solution is for them, but hopefully it's something that has a positive resolution. If there's anything any one of you can think of to try or do, let me know. Otherwise, the case continues!
 

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