Does All DSL Suck, or Just the DSL in this Rental House?

This rental house has AT&T DSL.  Never had DSL before, always use cable for broadband, but I am amazed at the problems it has caused.  After a lot of investigations, it seems to shift my IP address frequently and near randomly, which tends to cause a frequent need to reboot the browser and drives services that try to increase security by tying one to an IP address absolutely bonkers.


  1. Not Sure:

    I don't know about all DSL, but Qwest DSL sucked. Advertised 7k, actual download speed practically never got above 4k. Qwest tech support said it wasn't their problem but then again, these are the same support people who told me after I moved and I couldn't get online that all four browsers I had on my computer were corrupted and needed to be reinstalled. Turned out the modem needed to be reset.

    Cable, on the other hand, has worked great. Advertised 15k, actual download speed of 22k.

    Bite me, Qwest... or should that be Centurylink? Nice slinky, though.

  2. Dan Hill:

    Could be you're blaming the wrong three letters. You did say ATT, right?

  3. John O.:

    If it wasn't for the busybodies at the FCC, fiber optic connections would be available almost nation wide, but instead its not. All because the FCC wants the telecos that install it (primarily Verizon) to run to places that just plain don't have anybody. So instead of fussing with the damn bureaucracy they've decided to stop installing the fiber optic lines to new customer bases.

  4. Will:

    Sounds like bad wiring or a bad modem. The ISP won't change your ip like that, it sounds like your modem is being disconnected and keeps reconnecting and when it does it grabs another IP.

  5. Oswald Mandias:

    I think Dan Hill found the problem for you.

  6. Evil Red Scandi:

    What Will said. Even crappy AT&T DSL should only change IPs when the modem is registering with the system. If it's doing it frequently, you have a modem or wiring issue. In many cases you can plug your computer directly into the modem, reset both, and then navigate to (exact address may vary by modem manufacturer; Google is your friend) and get information on your signal strength. If cable Internet is available, I highly recommend it. DSL is universally awful.

  7. Bill Beeman:

    You've got a bad modem, a bad cable (common with AT&T) or a bad port in the DSLAM. Over the years I've had better luck with DSL than with cable. Once they're nagged into getting DSL running correctly it doesn't give you the widely varying speeds that is common with cable.

    On the other hand, AT&Y (since it was eaten by Southwestern Bell) has generally sucked. Bad mail servers, questionable DNS servers, and a total lack of competent techs. It's not the technology...its the management.

  8. Gary:

    I'll add to Bill's list of possible problems. You may have an overloaded access concentrator. The DSLAM terminates the 'copper' portion of a DSL line but in most configurations the data is then routed over an ATM connection to an access concentrator which actually handles the IP portion of the connection (e.g. IP address allocation).

    About a year ago I debugged an AT&T DSL problem and was actually getting error messages from the access concentrator indicating that resources could not be allocated. AT&T had to dispatch a tech on-site twice before they finally decided to move me to a new access concentrator and the problem went away. It seemed clear to me that they simply didn't bother to see if their own equipment was logging error conditions. They just assumed that it had to be the customer and seemed oblivous to the costs associated with rolling trucks to solve these sorts of problems.

  9. Don:

    ERS is correct, if you're seeing the IP changing frequently, you'd dropping you PPPoE connection and having to reconnect, which likely means the phone line is screwed. Call AT&T and see if they will give you support (prolly not since your name isn't on the bill, but worth a try). Also, since it's a rental, make sure some numb nuts didn't steal the filter off the DLS line and the phone lines.

  10. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States:

    }}}} Could be you’re blaming the wrong three letters. You did say ATT, right?

    LOL, I have a friend who uses AT&T, mainly because the cable wiring in his house is old enough that they can't/won't install cable BB without re-wiring the house, and they're too stupid to figure that they'd've gotten the cost back in fees over the last 3 years, to say nothing of the next 10.

    He doesn't have major problems with it, though it is slower than cable, so I'd suspect it's actually your house. There's no reason for DSL to be constantly shifting your IP. As with any provider, they usually "fix" your IP address so that it doesn't change if you're not offline for days at a time.

    }}}} The ISP won’t change your ip like that, it sounds like your modem is being disconnected and keeps reconnecting and when it does it grabs another IP.

    As ERS notes -- that still shouldn't happen, every ISP I've ever heard of "leases" you an IP address when you sign on, and, unless your connection is down for days at a time it doesn't change the IP address assigned, which clearly doesn't happen here.

    I'm going with Gary on this one, it's something majorly hinky. Might not be worth it for a rental house, though getting them to fix it would be a nice gesture to the next tenant.


    }}}} It’s not the technology…its the management.

    Indeed. Remember, most of Dilbert's early stuff came from Adam's experiences working for Pac Bell.

  11. John Moore:

    I had a DSL connection for years in Paradise Valley (ok, Clearwater Hills). It worked extremely well, even though it had a mile of underground, ancient copper to the DSLAM (on Tatum). I now have Cox Cable and have had nothing but problems with it, even though it does, when working, have a significantly higher speed.

  12. Dave Lynch:

    In my experience DSL tends to be less reliable (and cheaper) than Cable.
    It tends to be slower and have more problems.
    But not to the level you are experiencing.
    But it does have one significant advantage, the division of outgoing an inbound bandwidth is more reasonable, and harder to choke.
    All it takes is a single neighbor on a Cable system trying to upload a large file and everyone in the neighborhoods performance goes completely to hell for the duration of that upload.
    This does not happen with DSL, it requires multiple subscribers overloading a single direction to choke a DSLAM

  13. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States:

    >>>> All it takes is a single neighbor on a Cable system trying to upload a large file and everyone in the neighborhoods performance goes completely to hell for the duration of that upload.

    I live in an apartment complex with a fair share of college-age students, and never really noticed this to be a problem. It probably depends on the quality of service your local cable provider sets for themselves... and yeah, my local provider is Cox, just FYI, John. Your local group may well be less well managed than mine. You might try complaints to the uber-company, rather than the local management.

  14. LoneSnark:

    Many DSL connections I am aware of don't issue you an IP, they put you in a pool of users sharing an IP through a NAT server. This is similar to your cable connection where all the computers in your house are sharing one IP, but this is a bunch of DSL customers sharing an IP (or a pool of IPs).

  15. T J Sawyer:

    I was at a telecom seminar in 1987 (yes, a full twenty-five years ago) where the highly entertaining Harry Newton was telling the newly birthed "baby bells" to just start ripping out the copper and replace it with fiber to the home. And, he said, it wouldn't happen unless customers started lobbying their PSCs to make it happen.

    Twenty-five years later he could give the same speech. Do you know who is on your state PSC and what they are doing to let competition into your own "last mile?"

  16. Matt:

    I had AT&T (well techinically SBC) DSL for years and never had a problem with it. I wanted a faster connection and to save a little money over DSL + cable (no tv without either cable or a tower antenna where I am at) so I switched to AT&T Uverse. I have never had any significant problems with my UVerse internet or TV. If you have AT&T DSL, consider upgrading to Uverse.

    Note: Cable isnt necessarily faster than DSL. The speeds / bandwidth you get quoted for cable are the bandwidth to the local node. However, many customer's have to share that node and if there is a high bandwith customer on the same node as you so you aren't getting the quoted bandwith you are SOL.

    With Uverse/DLS you have an SLA for a specific range of bandwidth. If you drop below that AT&T has to either fix the issue or drop you to a less expensive SLA unless they can prove the problem is inside your house.

  17. Jeff Hall:

    For what it's worth: I've had Earthlink, Verizon and AT&T DSL. Never had a day's outage with Earthlink and Verizon. Your AT&T DSL experience sounds like mine.

    Two years ago I had to switch to AT&T U-verse. That's been a different world of awful, but I pay twice as much so it feels better.

  18. Nobrainer:

    Beware of 3rd party DSLs such as Earthlink. I used them in college, and actually without any incident. However, when I had an issue with the phone company, they said "what's this weird charge on your account?" Well it was my Earthlink DSL. Seems I was getting the same DSL as everyone else (which made sense when I bothered to think about it) but under a different brand name.

  19. morganovich:

    dsl is simply a bad technology. it uses a twister copper pair in a manner that was never intended.

    it can work acceptably, but only at very short range. the distance from the modem rack (dslam) is a major issue and if you start getting over a mile, performance degrades rapidly.

    companies like att also horribly overload their modem racks/routers and use far too high a value for statistical multiplexing, which is likely causing your ip addresss issues.

    i agree with jeff that there are some other isps's that can do dsp reasonably, but att is the absolute pits.

  20. Jay Solo:

    I never had trouble with Verizon DSL in 2 apartments and about 3 years I had it before FiOS became an option.

  21. Mark2:

    I think problems with various services are regional. I have COX in Poway,CA and am suppose to get 12mb/s but usually get 25, yes twice the rated service. Sometimes in the evening when all the gamers come on I get only 16mb/s. I have stopped checking because the speed has been such a non-issue.

    When I was in Iowa, the DSL service was more stable than the Cable. It also depends on who upgraded the system last (AT&T only offers 756K, yes last century K, to my home)

    I think the comments above are on the right track.

  22. Bram:

    I had Verizon DSL for a while. It was slow and nothing but problems. I gave up and went back to cable.

  23. The Other Me:

    AT&T uverse in my area sucks ass. 10-15 minutes to load a 2 minute youtube video. Cable is the way to go.

  24. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States:

    Yeah, as others seem to note, I get the impression even with the same company (Cox, AT&T, etc.) there's substantial regional differences in quality.

    I've never had any issues with Cox in FL.

    }}}} companies like att also horribly overload their modem racks/routers

    AT&T? Bad service with a bad attitude? Nawwww.... say it ain't so, Joe, say it ain't so!!

  25. Mark2:

    morganovich's comment

    "companies like att also horribly overload their modem racks/routers"

    has a truth most people don't know about. Yes cable service is a shared channel between your neighbors, if the local line gets overloaded your service goes down.

    Yes DSL is technically full speed from your home to the station - but in both cases they don't tell you it is the router at the other end of the pipe which forwards your data requests for you that is the bottleneck. If a million people are hitting the service at once, I don't care if the DSL line between your home and the phone company is rated 30 mb/s, you are going to get slow service.

  26. tomw:

    Go to DSLREPORTS.COM and check out your bandwidth. You can also check there for reports by ISP and, I think, geo location. Most ISP's have a rep that checks regularly or sub-thread of their own.
    Installation of fiber to the home is likely not an economical money maker. Fiber to the DSLAM or concentrator makes more sense. At least with the stuff I was aware of. OTOH, if they now make plastic fiber that can be terminated easily and cheaply, installing fiber in place of copper can cut maintenance costs to the bone. Fiber doesn't corrode, thieves don't dig it up nor rip it out of the walls. Thing is that the Telco's don't want aerial fiber, they want to bury it, and that costs a lot of moolah. Perhaps aerial to the house could be made economically attractive. Either way, they want their monthly fee for service, and it won't be less for fiber.
    My experience with DSL is that it works pretty well as long as someone doesn't take your card out of the rack and assign it to someone else... If I had more bandwidth, I'd spend more time on the computer and that is not a good idea, so I stick with my low-speed and live with jerky video if I look at it at all.

  27. mark2:


    Here is a good measuring site too

  28. Matt:

    I had AT&T DSL for around 8-10 years before I upgraded to Uverse. I started with SBC before the bought out AT&T mostly just for the name.

    While I had some trouble with the initial setup which after several service calls turned out to be a cracked wire in the DSLAM. It was a hairline crack that wasn't an issue for my voice service, but was just wide enough to completely drop the DSL signal. I never had any significant problems with my DSL after that.

    The few problems I did have were at their end and were promptly fixed after contacting their helpdesk.

    Maybe I was just lucky.

    I was in the second highest tier available for residential customers at the time. The equipment I got from SBC was a 2-Wire home gate way as I signed up for the home networking option. The gateway I had had at through put meter Up and down measured independently on the home network page for controlling the gateway. At the time, I consistently got through put at the top of my SLA bandwith range when I watched the meter durring large downloads.

    I have never had a problem with SBC/AT&T customer support either.

  29. Vic Kelley:

    I've had it for years. I've been unhappy with it for years. Seems like whenever we have rain or a storm - which is daily here in FL - it goes out. I've been told to replace my DSL/phone filter and to replace my DSL modem. Been there done that. Still get the same marginal service. When cable comes to this area maybe I'll get cable internet.

  30. David Johnson:

    Don't have a problem with my DSL. As others have said, it's probably the fault of your provider not the technology. There's no reason in hell for your IP to change during a connection. You might get another the next time you connect, but once you are issued an IP address it should remain stable.