Category Archives: DSL

Has your DSL gone stale?

Every so often, a technical tidbit just flabbergasts me.

In the course of a client housecall last week, all the software updates I was attempting to download were taking unreasonable times to complete. I asked the client what speed DSL service she was paying for, but she didn’t know offhand (not unusual, as CenturyLink invoices typically describe their DSL service levels by package titles instead of actual speeds). I ran a test and measured the download speed at about 2.5Mb/sec, with an upload speed somewhat faster (very unusual).

After making sure no other devices in her home were leeching bandwidth, we got on the phone to CenturyLink, who informed us that the contract speed was 12Mb/sec. Indeed, the modem showed it had trained in at 15Mb/sec, but was still delivering a mere fraction of that. The business office transferred us to Repairs.

Lynn, the service agent, ran through her boilerplate and had us check the cabling (requiring the moving and replacing of much heavy furniture).

Next she said something that raised my eyebrows: “I see that this modem has been running continuously for 270 days, so I want you to disconnect the DSL modem from the wall cable, disconnect power from the modem for two full minutes, plug the power back in, wait for the power indicator to go green, then plug the wall cable back in.”

We did this… and the speed jumped back up to 12Mb/sec.

This is the sort of procedure that would have struck me as superstitious voodoo had I not witnessed its success myself.

I said to Lynn, “I wouldn’t think continuous uptime of 270 days would be that unusual. Are you telling us we’re supposed to power-cycle our DSL modem every couple months?”

“Oh, no,” she said—“you need to power-cycle your DSL modem every two weeks.”

Wow. And here I thought that having to change my HVAC air filters every month was burdensome.

I have to say, this maintenance “requirement” was total news to me. I’ve never owned a DSL connection myself, but I’ve installed dozens of them for clients. Not once have I seen any mention in the CenturyLink literature that the customer was expected to power-cycle his DSL modem twice each month.

I can’t imagine how one could even design equipment that requires this. I have networking equipment out in the field that has operated continuously for years without rebooting, much less power-cycling.

What say you, DSL users — were any of you out there aware of this?