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285 posts

Ultimate Geek


Topic # 23585 3-Jul-2008 13:27
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Hi fellow geeks. I live in Wainuiomata (Lowet Hutt) where we have Telstra's cable network available. I am on the Lightspeed plan which offers speeds of 10Mbit down / 2Mbit up and the speed tests I have run tend to be very close to this (depending on the server used).


However, as an avid Xbox360 gamer I have been having real issues hosting GRAW2 multiplayer games. Typically, the game is running absolutely fine (no one complaining about lag) then bang -the entire room drops leaving me alone in the lobby. I've been playing this game long enough to notice a pattern: The room drops tend to happen during peak usage times (eg mid-evenings). If I host a game very late at night (like on weekends) this simply does not happen. I get rock-stable performance and can run game after game without any room drops at all -which leads me to the conclusion that the cable performance is being negatively impacted when large amounts of people are using the service at the same time.

I guess I am sharing this experience with others in an effort to discover whether anyone else has noticed anything similar, and/or whether there are any options available to me in terms of further diagnosing my suspicion. I may well register a complaint with my ISP but I have real doubts that will get me anywhere. I assume they have no obligation to disclose usage numbers; capacity limits etc. and I doubt they would be motivated to address the issue (if it is what is happening) because a single gamer is whinging about service levels.


I should mention my techincal level is quite high (software developer by trade). I am 99% sure this is not related to any of my equipment or router settings. I have a Dlink DIR-655 xtreme N and use a wired port for gaming; I have the 360 in the DMZ, and have SPI and dynamic fragmentation turned off. QoS engine is confugured to give the 360 top priority. Typically I have all other PC's/network devices turned off when I'm gaming (unless my partner is surfing the net) so the 360 has access all available bandwidth. But none of this seems to matter: Mid evening gaming = room drops.

I have tried running continuous pings against my default gateway when I get these issues but it never reveals a problem. I'm typically getting consistent 30ms or less response times. Nevertheless, the pattern continues and it is the only thing I can think of. It may be that this particular game is very sensitive to latency issues, as I must admit, I have no such issues with other games -but this happens to be my favorite.


Lastly, my understanding of cable internet is that it is transmitted in exactly the same way a TV channel is, with a 6Mhz ferquency range reserved for download, and 2 for upload. The more people attached to this "channel" then the more traffic is travelling through it -potentially saturating it's full capacity thus causing intermittent delays in packet delivery. The solution is to add another channel and split the users between them.

Thoughts; advise; criticism and contempt all welcome.





"There is no way to Peace -Peace is the Way" (A. J. Muste)

 


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  Reply # 142525 3-Jul-2008 13:50
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Hi, as you say TCL have a 36Mb/s stream pointing at you, exactly how many are on using that stream (ie what contention ratio) is commercially senstive information, but normally accepted domestic contention ratios are in the region of 20-50, (accepted commercial rates are 5-20), this means that you could be sharing that 36Mb/s with anything from 80 to 250 odd other users, so not too many guesses how much you get at peak times.

Cyril

PS: to calculate contention ratio use: (offered_plan_rate x no_users)/uplink_capacity. So (10Mb/s x 120users)/36Mb/s = 33. Obviously not everyone is on a 10/2 plan most would be on the 4/2, so you infact could have anthing upto 400users clambering for that 36Mb/s.

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  Reply # 142526 3-Jul-2008 13:58
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I'm in Wainuiomata also and on the 80g plan (10 down / 2 up).  I'm constantly on the net and streaming 24/7 complete with FTP uploading/downloading happening (automated).  Haven't noticed any issues myself.

What area in Wainuiomata are you in?  I'm in Arakura.




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Master Geek
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  Reply # 142529 3-Jul-2008 14:03
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These multiplayer games---where (physically) are the other players. In order to play the game, do their packets go directly to you, or do they pass through some intermediate gateway (such as X-Box Live)?

I.e., is it maybe not the cable network, but some other link in the chain?

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  Reply # 142532 3-Jul-2008 14:10
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PS: to calculate contention ratio use: (offered_plan_rate x no_users)/uplink_capacity. So (10Mb/s x 120users)/36Mb/s = 33. Obviously not everyone is on a 10/2 plan most would be on the 4/2, so you infact could have anthing upto 400users clambering for that 36Mb/s.

Actually, no. Given that there are multiple plan rates, that formula doesn't work. In fact, for the case that there are multiple rates, 'contention ratio' is literally mathematically meaningless.

In general, for packet networks, 'contention ratio' is not a useful concept---unlike say the dial up network where the contention ratio of custoemrs to modem pool is/was a useful metric.

Sorry 'bout the rant, but it's a pet cause of mine :)



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  Reply # 142553 3-Jul-2008 15:01
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Hi, my post did acknowledge the fact that the figure would be different as there are multiple plans on the same feed. The primary reason for the post is to express how typical domestic BB feeds are provisioned, and to have anthing from 80-400 users sucking on a 36Mb/s pipe is what you should expect. I think this is often a revelation to many.

Cyril

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Reply # 142555 3-Jul-2008 15:06
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Hopefully its not the cheese stealing all your bandwidth... I'm sure its not. :)




Check out my LPFM Radio Station at www.thecheese.co.nz cool

 

 

 

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285 posts

Ultimate Geek


  Reply # 142636 3-Jul-2008 17:30
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Thanks for the response guys.

Cyril, thanks for your comments.  It is indeed somewhat of a revelation to recognise the number of people potentially all sucking bandwidth off the same pipe, and leads me to believe my theory is more likely to be correct.

Zolly, I'm in Parkway, and I'm on the 20gig plan -It doesn't sound like I use nearly as much bandwidth as you -infact, now I know who to blame!

Michaeln, it varies. Sometimes most of the gamers are NZ/Australian, and sometimes there are lots of internationals (U.S. mostly).

It is not entirely clear to me how Xbox Live operates.  I know they have "servers" in the U.S. and I think it is likely that certain games have dedicated servers that hold statistics and details specific to that game (such as rank, etc) -which are probably owned by the companies that developed the games (eg Ubisoft).

However, as far as hosting goes, my understanding is that my xbox is used as the "gaming server" and thus the upload speed of my connection is very important as I'm sending a lot of game information directly back to all the clients (I would assume).  Most Kiwi's and Australians I know are not able to host games at all -it seems like the 2Mb upload makes a big difference.

The point is, if a single individual lags out, you can blame their connection.  If the whole room drops (as tends to typically happen with me) then it seems reasonable to assume I've had an issue at my end.

ps. Cheese?  Certainly not when gaming

pps. the U.S. guys who game with me regularly have commented that they get very little lag when I host, which is why they come back.  So the speed of my connection is not the issue.  I really think there is bottlenecking due to usage numbers, it seems like the most logical answer


Cheers
b




"There is no way to Peace -Peace is the Way" (A. J. Muste)

 




285 posts

Ultimate Geek


  Reply # 142828 4-Jul-2008 08:48
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Hi.

Murhpys law, but last night was very bad regarding my connection. I simply could not stay in a game for more than a minute or two without being dropped.


It was so bad that I decided to run a continuous ping against my default gateway and sure enough, I was getting sudden lag spikes of anything between 100 to 1000ms or even complete timeouts:


Pinging 121.73.26.1 with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from 121.73.26.1: bytes=32 time=16ms TTL=127

Reply from 121.73.26.1: bytes=32 time=16ms TTL=127

Request timed out.

Reply from 121.73.26.1: bytes=32 time=168ms TTL=127

Reply from 121.73.26.1: bytes=32 time=12ms TTL=127


At this stage, it is probably worth sharing a bit more background. A few weeks back, I was getting similar ping results and lodged a complaint with Telstraclear. A few days later I got an email back suggesting that my router was the problem.

Here is what they said:


I have a couple of Questions, I have checked your modem which is showing an uptime of 1 day, with no errors, do you use a router? I suspect you do, if so there are 2 things I am going to ask:

1: What range is your router running on? if it is running on 192.168.1.1, 192.168.100.1 or 192.168.0.1 then it may be listening into our networks ARP traffic and resetting its ARP cache and causing the issue.

2: Can you run a continuous ping to your Default gateway but at the same time run a ping to your Router and your Modem (192.168.0.1) and see if you get the timeouts again and where they occur.


based on the above comments, I simply changed the value of my routers IP address from 192.168.0.1 (the default value for most d-link routers) to 192.168.0.2


I re-ran my ping tests and amazingly, I was not getting any lag spikes anymore. My pings were consistantantly under 30ms, and typically a lot lower. I even changed it back to 192.168.0.1 and re-ran the tests (lag spikes) then back again (no lag spikes). I therefore assumed the fault diagnosis was correct.


ps. ARP is Address Resolution Protocol and is what converts a logical (IP) address to a physical (MAC) address. For the next week or so, I got only very occasional drops, but it has steadily got worse, to the point where it is just as bad as when I lodged my original complaint.


Anyway, last night, as well as pinging the default gateway, I also did a ping to my router and it was consistent with 1ms response times, so that pretty much rules out the issue of the router resetting the ARP cache as a reason for these latest lags -and infact I now doubt if it was the original reason too. Having said that, it occurs to me it might be worth changing my routers IP address again just to see if it has any impact.


What a drag.





"There is no way to Peace -Peace is the Way" (A. J. Muste)

 


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  Reply # 142833 4-Jul-2008 08:59
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Hi, if you go to the Telstra Clear sub forum you will find several threads on issues relating to the excessive ARP traffic and floods of ARP requests that flood the TCL DOCSIS network. You may well ask why this is, well it seems that TCL operate the network as a simple Layer2 one, and therefore there is little if any partitioning off of Network segments, nor any real ability to tame or control ARP traffic (or any other low level network control elements) as there are no routers to contain it. Personally I am surprised that a company with the resources and presumably plentiful supply of talented network engineers would run such a low rent network, however to their credit its seems they are about to upgrade it to include partitioned sub nets with router control, so hopefully these issues will significantly reduce.

Cyril



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Ultimate Geek


  Reply # 142836 4-Jul-2008 09:15
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Thanks, didn't know there was one -will check it out.




"There is no way to Peace -Peace is the Way" (A. J. Muste)

 


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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 142938 4-Jul-2008 13:03
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Hi all

I live in Khandallah and am getting extremely frustrated of late...


Someone may be able to help me.

I play WoW most nights and also have ventrillo on at the same time.
I have had telstraclear cable broadband for several years with no issues.

Since sometime last year I have been experiencing numerous game/vent disconnects usually mid evening. These disconnects are usually only for seconds and can log back to the game immediately afterward.

I have had two technicians here this last week and 3 here the last 3 months trying to fix it. They havnt, and fotr example last night about 4 disconnects between 8.30pm and 9.30pm. Off the record 2 of the technicans tell me that the problem is with telstra and that it is congestion on the lines and there is nothing i can do about it, as telstra will never admit to it. Remember, it only happens at peak hours. I have a direct connection PC to modem, and yes modem has been replaced. Yes, my speed is fine....I just want to be connected more.

I have called telecom this week and they confirm that the exchange (1km away) is now ADSL2.


The question I have, is ...would I get a better connection from ADSL2?

Thanks in advance



285 posts

Ultimate Geek


  Reply # 142975 4-Jul-2008 14:43
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Well this is slightly depressing news. just to be clear, you are saying you do not use a router, and still suffer these disconnections?


To be honest, I was kind of hoping that the problems I've been having might yet be related to my router. I am going to try direct-connecting my 360 to my modem and then try hosting some games. Assuming I get improved performance (eg the rooms don't drop) it seems like a reasonable conclusion that the router is the issue. If not, then it's either a line fault or an issue with Telstras network. The latter are issues outside of my control, and based on your post, you can't blame the router if you aren't using one!


ps. I was wondering about ADSL2 as well -but from what I've seen, nothing competes with the 2Mb upload speeds offered by Telstra, which actually seems quite generous, compared to what they offer in Australia (1Mb upload max)

Anyway, please keep us posted if you do make any progress with this.

ps. Cyrils comment about an imminent network upgrade do give some reason for hope..





"There is no way to Peace -Peace is the Way" (A. J. Muste)

 


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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 142983 4-Jul-2008 15:37
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Thx for your response.
I am connected direct ie no router.

It happens every night (usually) between 7pm and 9.30pm and are momentary, but enough to dissconect from game and vent. As you can imagine my WoW guild is getting a bit pissed at it.

I actually have asked Telstra to cyhange me from cable to their PDQ service (ADSL2). This got them fired up, but still not resolved and they have a policy that if you are in a cable are you are not eligible for ADSL services.

All I am going on is the technicans who come out all say that it is congestion caused during peak hours due to overselling services.

Still interested if ADSL2 will provide a more stable connection...as I said..speed isnt the huge factor for me..its having a constant connection.

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Master Geek
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  Reply # 142992 4-Jul-2008 16:53
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Quidam:

Well this is slightly depressing news. just to be clear, you are saying you do not use a router, and still suffer these disconnections?


To be honest, I was kind of hoping that the problems I've been having might yet be related to my router. I am going to try direct-connecting my 360 to my modem and then try hosting some games. Assuming I get improved performance (eg the rooms don't drop) it seems like a reasonable conclusion that the router is the ps. I was wondering about ADSL2 as well -but from what I've seen, nothing competes with the 2Mb upload speeds offered by Telstra, which actually seems quite generous, compared to what they offer in Australia (1Mb upload max)


G.992.5 (ADSL2+) is limited to 1Mbps upstream unless annex M is deployed---which requires a different upstream/downstream frequency split.
As far as I know, it's not used in New Zealand by Telecom, so 1Mbps upstream max it is.


As to the lag: if two of you are both having lag at the same time, but are in different suburbs, then it's probably nothing to do with any overload on the cable network (which would be localised to a cable node) and more likely to have to do with the international bandwidth. And that is identical for TelstraClear's cable and ADSL (including PDQ), so a change to ADSL would not improve that at all.




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Ultimate Geek


  Reply # 143000 4-Jul-2008 17:08
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michaeln:
G.992.5 (ADSL2+) is limited to 1Mbps upstream unless annex M is deployed---which requires a different upstream/downstream frequency split.
As far as I know, it's not used in New Zealand by Telecom, so 1Mbps upstream max it is.


As to the lag: if two of you are both having lag at the same time, but are in different suburbs, then it's probably nothing to do with any overload on the cable network (which would be localised to a cable node) and more likely to have to do with the international bandwidth. And that is identical for TelstraClear's cable and ADSL (including PDQ), so a change to ADSL would not improve that at all.



I agree that ADSL is a step backwards from Cable (in NZ).  However, I don't agree that this problem I've been having is related to international traffic.  I know for a fact that I have friends from NZ (on at the same time) who do not drop.  They are on slower ADSL, I am on faster cable, yet it is me that drops -so how does that work?

Anyway, I'm going to try a direct connect (to see if I can isolate the router as the cause of my problem) however, I just got a reply from telstras helpdesk (relating to this latest problem):

I have checked your modem and can now see 5 resets in 8 days, a modem shouldn't show any resets this looks like the modem might be crook aswell, I have forwarded this to our callback team to get in touch with you to book a technician to swap that modem out and see if that solves the problem as I suspect a modem issue aswell as the ARP cache issue we encountered earlier. the reference for this request is...

So it looks like I'm up for a new modem.  Who knows, it might even help





"There is no way to Peace -Peace is the Way" (A. J. Muste)

 


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