Winston-Salem, Business, News, Events, Greensboro, Technology, IT Services

I pretty much tell everyone that for high speed access they need to go cable and of course in our area that means Road Runner. Although there is limited choice in our area we do have Bellsouth DSL, ClearWire and Road Runner. Both DSL and Clearwire cannot normally match Road Runner for response times of overall speed and most of the other providers in the area just resell or at least run over the same lines provided by BellSouth. I however have had more problems with Road Runner at my home more or less since it was installed and I wonder just how many others are in the same boat but maybe just don’t know it. In fact I spoke with a customer today that had been having issues for months and they said they finally got Road Runner to come out and do some repair work which helped their connection even though for months Road Runner had blamed the users equipment. I too have had them come out, sometimes noting issues on their end but saying it was gone now or going so far as replacing the underground cable from the box to the house but in the end it’s still problematic if I have high speed on a regular basis.

Take tonight as a perfect example I had been having some issues for the past few hours but I wasn’t needing to work online so I just ignored it until around 10:30PM when I needed to address some customer service issues with an online purchase I had made. The connection was so bad I could not even web browse so I did some basic testing which clearly showed the problem was not on my end but on the Road Runner network. I decided to try an online chat which proved totally useless as the "tech" would only read from their script telling me to reboot this, unplug that and so forth. Frustrated I called the National Help Desk which again wanted to do the same trouble shooting without listening to my explanation of the problems I had already documented and wanted to send him. I finally got him to give me an email address I could send my screen shots so they could directly address why their equipment was being slow to respond. In doing so I also decided to look up their so called "Network Status" since everything was suppose to be ok and would you look at all the problems they themselves acknowledge:

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Now in looking at that list of issues notice it’s not just once and awhile they admit there are problems but close to two times a week for my area. To see the "live" Network Status follow the link.

Now in my case I also did what is called a Ping and Tracert test which any of you (Windows) can also do. I would suggest you do so any time you think your connection is slow or bad as just these basic test will tell you if there is a problem and where it’s at.

So let’s do a Ping test first. For Windows users click on Start, then Run and type "cmd" without the quotes and hit Enter. This will bring up a Command Prompt window where we can now type "ping address", where address is a webserver  or IP. In my case I have done yahoo.com:

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What we are interested in is the "time=" information and in this case it’s over 300ms. That number is horrible for broadband or even dialup and should be down around 30-40ms depending on who your pinging, time of day and so on. So this basic test tells us, Houston we have a problem. Now where the problem is we don’t know yet but using another very basic test we might be able to isolate that.

Tracert is similar to Ping but it doesn’t just ask for a response from the end point but also the path we take to the endpoint as well as the time each "hop" along the way takes. Again from the Command Prompt window we opened before we do a similar command, "tracert address" where address is the server or IP we want to test. Again I hit yahoo,com:

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Again we see some very high numbers being returned but we also see from where the response is slow. By following the path we can see my local network or router (Hop 1) responded very quickly, my second hop to the local Road Runner router was also quite fast but could have been better (14ms) and I even bounced over to Greensboro relatively fast (Hop 3) but from there it went downhill fast. Hops 4 through 12 are clearly on Road Runner’s own network backbone as we go from Greensboro to Charlotte to Atlanta to Dallas/Fort Worth to Houston to Las Angeles to what I suspect was San Jose (sjc). Again this is a pretty basic test and does not account for all the possible causes but it does give us a pretty clear picture that the problem was not local to my network or PC but was on the Road Runner network.

So the question is, and why I am posting this in the first place, are Road Runner customers getting what they pay for? I hope most of you have heard that Road Runner is starting to test limits on high speed bandwidth and tiered pricing but are they already doing that or does their network truly have problems it appears to have? You may or may not know they already stopped providing you with Usenet access without any credit to your service fee! How many times have you thought it was taking Amazon.com a long time to process your order when in fact it may have been a slow network issue and not Amazon at all? How many times have you called Road Runner to have them tell you to unplug everything to reset it and of course by the time you plugged it all back in it was working find when the problem had nothing to do with your equipment?

So next time your connection seems slow before you call Road Runner Support (336-379-0200) do some basic testing and be armed with some basic knowledge that unplugging your equipment is not the answer.

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