Sporadic packet loss for last month with Mediacom Internet service

I had planned to post the following on the Mediacom Support forums, but was unable to register an account after triple-checking my e-mail address and requesting a new verification e-mail 5 times over the course of an hour. So I'm posting this here for public view:

 

I signed up for Mediacom service around 6 months ago. Once the setup was complete, service was flawless until early December.

Starting around December 3, we started experiencing sporadic packet loss, most noticeable during online gaming and watching videos online. The connection would drop for 2-5 seconds then resume. This resulted in "rubberbanding" in first-person shooter games like Team Fortress 2, where my character would freeze then reappear 20 steps back from where he started.

I decided to buy a new router for $50, hoping it would resolve the issue. It didn't. I had the same issue on both routers.

The problem gradually grew more severe, so I called Mediacom and they sent out a tech.

The tech said the levels were off, so they would send a second tech out to adjust the levels. I heard nothing back from Mediacom for 3 days, so I called back.

I learned then that the second tech had come out (I received no follow-up call or e-mail when the second tech came and went) and adjusted the levels. Unfortunately, the second tech did not resolve the issue. I scheduled a third tech to come out.

While waiting for the appointment, the issue grew worse. At one point, the connection would occasionally drop completely until I called Mediacom and used the automated system to restart the modem and restore service. Turning the cable modem and router off and back on did not resolve the issue.

 

I later discovered that the cable modem was reporting T3 and T4 timeout errors. I checked the MAC addresses referenced in the logs and discovered one address belonged to my cable modem and the other belonged to a company that sells ISP head equipment.

The third tech came out, checked the levels, checked what he could check on site, replaced some fittings, and things were better–for a while. Then the issue returned again.

I replaced the network cable connecting the cable modem to the router with a known good cable. The issue persisted.

I purchased a second cable modem a Zoom 5341J, for $70 (my first, a Motorola/Arris Surfboard 6141, cost $90) but didn't immediately install it when I received it because the problem subsided for a while.

Unfortunately, the issue returned yesterday (1/6/16). I installed the Zoom modem last night, called Mediacom to provision the new modem, got back online, and went to bed shortly after.

I discovered today that replacing the cable modem did not resolve the issue. The new modem, out of the box for less than 48 hours, is reporting the exact same errors (T3 and T4) as the first modem.

I have now spent $120 in additional equipment to fix an issue that all evidence suggests is the fault of Mediacom. I have spent hours upon hours troubleshooting an issue that has persisted, albeit sporadically, for the last month.

I had AT&T U-Verse Internet for years and the U-Verse service was rock solid for almost the entire duration. (The only reason I left is because they refused to offer a reasonable price for service.)

I am nearly at my wit's end with this issue and strongly considering returning to U-Verse, even if it means paying more, because Mediacom and AT&T have a duopoly on Internet service where I live.

My wife and I use our Internet service for wi-fi calling (Republic Wireless and, soon, Google Project Fi). It's one thing for a game to lag once in a while or a web page to fail to load. It's quite another for us to be unable to drop phone calls or not even receive calls because our Internet service has dropped while we're not constantly paying attention to ping tests.

I really liked Mediacom's service when it was stable. Signing up was easy and, even though it took several calls to get Mediacom to honor the original deal and remove the cable modem rental from my monthly bill, customer service was polite and helpful (eventually).

But I pay too much for a service that has proven so unreliable. Considering the lengths I've gone through to identify and troubleshoot the issue, I don't think it's unreasonable for Mediacom to escalate this issue and provide at least a partial refund on service.

“Access forbidden” error on Straight Talk

My wife and I recently switched from a basic phone plan with AT&T to Straight Talk’s unlimited talk, text, and “web browsing” plan. Almost from day one, we’ve repeatedly encountered an “access forbidden” error message when trying to pull up a web page in Chrome or the default Android web browser. Other apps that require Internet access also fail to connect (e.g. Amazon AppStore, Google Play Store, Facebook, etc.). The issue is not constant, but I encounter it approximately half to two-thirds of the times I move out of wi-fi range and into an area with HSPA+.

And it seems I’m not the only one with this problem. The following threads were posted to the Straight Talk Wireless Forums starting Sept. 22 and on:

Galaxy Nexus (ATT-sim) Web access forbidden

Access Forbidden

Access forbidden issue – a look behind the scenes

“Access Forbidden” each time I try to use the internet

“access forbidden”

Access Forbidden

“access forbidden” (internet over 3G)

There are similar threads on other sections of the ST Wireless Forums and all posts are met with the same response: A user claiming to represent ST asking the customer to contact them via private message.

Customers on other forums have reported the same issue:

 access forbidden

“Access Forbidden” message in browser

Having a very weird issue with data and phone?

It’s apparent this is a widespread issue and I’ve yet to find one fix that works consistently (or at all). Straight Talk has not provided a public explanation or solution, suggesting they either are unwilling or, more likely, unable to resolve the problem.

It’s possible that this issue is not specific to Straight Talk, but also affects other AT&T MVNOs. It’s not unreasonable to suspect that AT&T is purposely crippling their MVNO users’ data to push them back toward a post-paid plan with a subsidized phone, higher cost for the consumer, and greater profit margin for AT&T.

I’m strongly recommending that all Straight Talk customers that encounter this issue file a complaint against ST with the Florida Office of the Attorney General. Until customers put pressure on Straight Talk to resolve this issue, they likely won’t put any pressure on AT&T and we likely won’t see a solution.

How to play Soma Bringer on the Nintendo DS in English–legally

Want to play one of the greatest action RPGs ever but can't read Japanese and don't want to break the law? Then read on for instructions on how to play Soma Bringer for the Nintendo DS–legitimately.

Step 1: Buy a flashcart. If you have an original DS or a DS Lite, I recommend the R4 DS Revolution. If you have a DSi or DSi XL, I recommend the Acekard 2i.

Step 2: Buy a copy of Soma Bringer. You can purchase a new copy from Play-Asia.com (recommended) or a used copy on eBay.

Step 3: Back up your Soma Bringer cartridge. This step is a tad complicated, but there's an excellent step-by-step guide over at RomUlation.

Step 4: Download the Soma Bringer Open Translation patch. You can read more about the patch at its official thread on the GBATemp Forums.

Step 5: Apply the patch to your Soma Bringer backup file. Instructions are included with the patch download linked above.

Step 6: Copy the patched Soma Bringer backup file to your flashcart.

Step 7: Insert the flashcart into your DS and play!

I hope to post similar tutorials for American gamers after Xenoblade and The Last Story are released in Europe and after the Pandora's Tower fan translation patch makes further progress.

How I Spent Last Year’s Gift Money (2010 Edition)

Merry Christmas, everyone!

I wanted to thank everyone for their wonderful gifts this year. I heard at least one family member express a desire to know how my wife and I spent our gift money, which reminded me to post how I spent the gift money I received last Christmas (2009) and on my birthday earlier this year.

Click past the break for a list of items I purchased with gift money this last year.

Continue reading

Local Dragon Quest IX event a success

Huzzah!

While Gamestop may not be my favorite company, I have to give credit where credit is due: Today’s Dragon Quest IX event was much more fun than anticipated. More people attended than I expected, most of the attendees were adults, and the children that attended were all very well-behaved. I didn’t attend all 4 hours of the events, but the time I did spend there was very enjoyable.

I had wondered how Dragon Quest IX’s Tag Mode would see any use in America. Now I know. While most Americans are highly unlikely to come across any other DS owners with DQIX in Tag Mode during their travels, “magnet” events such as this can be surprisingly successful, even in smaller metropolitan areas.

If you missed today’s event, don’t worry: There will be another DQIX event at Best Buy locations next Saturday (August 7) from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. And if you don’t already own a copy, you can purchase Dragon Quest IX from Amazon.com for $34.99 with free Super Saver shipping.

Port forwarding configuration for Borderlands online play

While hosting public Borderlands games, a few people have told me they’ve had trouble hosting games that other players could join.

I opened the following ports on my router and was able to host public games:

  • 7777 (TCP, UDP)
  • 27900 (UDP)
  • 28900 (TCP)
  • 28902 (TCP, UDP)
  • 28910 (UDP)

Consult your router’s documentation for instructions on opening ports as methods will differ according to router manufacturer and interface.

Fatal Frame 4 fan translation available, patches game on the fly

Bummed that Nintendo has no plans to localize Fatal Frame 4 (Japanese title: Zero: Gesshoku no Kamen) for a US or Europe release? Be bummed no longer.

A team of translators and developers have released a fan translation patch that allows English-speaking Wii owners to play Tecmo‘s and Grasshopper Manufacture‘s critically acclaimed horror game in their own language.

What’s particularly impressive about this fan translation is that it can patch a retail copy of the game on the fly, meaning that Wii owners will not need to “softmod” their systems or venture into legal “gray areas” to play the game with English language text.

To play Fatal Frame 4 in English, you’ll need to purchase Zero: Gesshoku no Kamen from Play-Asia or another retailer, download the fan translation patch, and install the patch according to instructions available on the translation developers’ site.

Aside from being great news for English-speaking fans of the Fatal Frame series, this patch opens a host of new possibilities for fan translations. With a 100% legal method of translating in-game Japanese text to English, other popular Japan-only Wii releases could receive their own fan translations.