More Information on My Northwestel Cable Problems (Update)

A few hours later, I’m still experiencing problems with my cable internet connection, to the point I find it unusable. Downloading web pages takes up to a minute, and I can’t watch even a short YouTube video without it stopping at least a few times.

However, when I tether my iMac to my iPhone speeds are adequate and page and video load times aren’t a problem. Here are my speed tests from my iMac over my iPhone.

To Edmonton:

To Vancouver:

It feels like a router somewhere is dropping packets. While the speeds have only a minimal measurable difference, the load times when actually using the two different connections are marked. Over my Northwestel cable modem I am forcing myself to be patient as pages stutter in loading and YouTube video feeds stall regularly; over Bell, the pages and videos are loading in a smooth, consistent fashion.

Technical Analysis

(Non-geeks, stop reading now!)

A few friends who also have cable modem accounts but aren’t having problems have shared their traceroutes with me. We’ve tested to Northwestel’s web site host in San Jose, California. Most of the route is the same, save for the fifth hop. My fifth hop is an IP address that does not have reverse-lookup configured, 198.135.216.102. Their fifth hop is a different address, 198.135.216.61, which is properly configured with the correct reverse lookup of so-410-0-drt02-edtnabss.nwtel.org.

This fifth hop is a router connecting to the outside world, a router in Edmonton: 64.230.177.85 (core3-edmonton_3-0-1.net.bell.ca).

I’m not sure why Northwestel would be routing some cable customers differently than others, but this seems to be the case, and there appears to be a problem in the routing between whatever Northwestel device handles the IP address 198.135.216.102 and the device that handles 64.230.177.85 for Bell.

Update

What’s also interesting, is that very different routing scenarios may be applied cable modems users depending on… something. And, depending on which routing scenario is applied to you, your traffic will either be routed through the IP address that’s causing me problems (198.135.216.102) or the one that’s not (198.135.216.61).

You can get new and/or different routing by plugging different devices into your modem or turning the devices on and off.

Bad Routing

First, the problem routing scenario. This one will get you routed through 198.135.216.102. (Let’s call it the Sad IP.)

IP Address: 199.247.234.174 (for example; notice the C class difference)
Subnet Mask: 255.255.255.0
Router Address: 199.247.234.1

That’ll get you routed to http://www.nwtel.ca like so…

  1.  10.0.1.1 (10.0.1.1)  2.286 ms  1.113 ms  1.131 ms
  2.  10.130.63.254 (10.130.63.254)  8.458 ms  13.277 ms  7.430 ms
  3.  vlan-600-crs02.nci.whthyttv.nwtel.org (205.234.44.221)  8.586 ms  10.352 ms  8.042 ms
  4.  198.135.216.217 (198.135.216.217)  8.556 ms  8.890 ms  8.410 ms
  5.  198.135.216.102 (198.135.216.102)  35.620 ms  34.291 ms  32.578 ms
  6.  core3-edmonton_3-0-1.net.bell.ca (64.230.177.85)  40.843 ms  39.466 ms  43.286 ms
  7.  core4-vancouverbg_pos3-0-1.net.bell.ca (64.230.144.126)  50.536 ms  51.032 ms  56.214 ms
  8.  core2-seattle_pos3-0-0_core.net.bell.ca (64.230.144.93)  60.074 ms  61.366 ms  57.041 ms
  9. (it’s the same from here)

 Good Routing

Then there’s the routing scenario that seems to work. This one will get you routed through 198.135.216.61. (Let’s call it the Happy IP.)

IP Address: 199.247.183.106 (again, compare the C class)
Subnet Mask: 255.255.240.0
Router Address: 199.247.176.1 (notice, totally different gateway)

That’ll get you to http://www.nwtel.ca like so… (I’ve bolded the only different in each route)

  1.  10.130.63.254 (10.130.63.254)  5.879 ms  6.186 ms  5.298 ms
  2.  vlan-600-crs02-hfc-whthyttv.nwtel.org (205.234.44.221)  8.229 ms  11.547 ms  7.604 ms
  3.  198.135.216.217 (198.135.216.217)  7.968 ms  6.651 ms  9.691 ms
  4.  so-410-0-drt02-edtnabss.nwtel.org (198.135.216.61)  31.365 ms  31.717 ms  31.468 ms
  5.  core3-edmonton_3-0-1.net.bell.ca (64.230.177.85)  39.749 ms  37.944 ms  38.501 ms
  6.  core4-vancouverbg_pos3-0-1.net.bell.ca (64.230.144.126)  49.958 ms  50.293 ms  50.341 ms
  7.  core2-seattle_pos3-0-0_core.net.bell.ca (64.230.144.93)  50.319 ms  54.457 ms  47.679 ms
  8. (it’s the same from here)

I’ve been in contact with a very helpful Northwestel network engineer on this issue and he has confirmed that both IP addresses, 198.135.216.61 and 198.135.216.102 are different interfaces on the same router in Edmonton. He wasn’t able to identify precisely what may be causing me problems.

However, he has committed to helping me more over the next few days as I spend more time investigating the matter and collecting more data.

I’m posting this just in case anyone else is having similar problems, or can provide additional insight into what may be causing me problems when my traffic is being routed through that one network interface on that router.