Verizon DSL troubleshooting procedure
My Verizon DSL went down again today. It’s always interested me just how often the outages occur right at the tops of hours, usually about 5:00 pm eastern time. Having worked as a network engineer at a network operations center (NOC), I know full well what happened, even if Verizon does swith between denying it and shrugging their shoulders.
Last time this happened I managed to complain my way up the ladder high enough that I finally got a manager who knew what the hell he was talking about and he gave me a great procedure. The issue with the NOC people will always assume that any outage is your fault. They’ll go to great lengths to try to get you to reboot your machine, turn off your firewalls, your anti-virus, etc. in an effort to find something that will suddenly allow the circuit to work. The trick is to isolate their part of the network and show that the problem exists within it while not touching your home network at all.
In the voice telephone world, you do that with that gray box on the outside of your house where the phone line comes in from the street. It’s called the “network interface device” or NID. Inside the NID is a regular phone jack that a lineman (or you, if you like) can plug in a plain old telephone and try to connect to the phone system. If you can’t call from inside the house but you can call from the NID, then the problem is between your wall jack in the house and the NID. In other words, the trouble is in your equipment. If you still can’t make a call from the NID, then the problem exists between the phone company and the NID which means the trouble’s with the phone company.
Doing this in the DSL world means you need to have the 1st device on the wire make the connection back to the provider. That means the DSL modem itself. The Westell devices Verizon uses fortunately makes that easy. Here’s how. (Obviously, the modem lights have to be showing an otherwise “all clear” before you try this. If the DSL light on the modem won’t steady up then the line has a problem and its definitely with Verizon.)
- Connect a PC or laptop directly to the DSL modem. If you have a home network, that means to unplug the cable connecting the DSL modem to the router and plug it into the ethernet port on your PC.
- Reset the modem. There’s a small, recessed button on the back. You’ll need a paper clip or a ballpoint pen. Press the reset button and hold it, for good measure, for 60 seconds. Release and wait for the status lights on the modem to stabilize.
- Pull up a browser window. Shut off your pop-up blocker for the moment and do the same with any 3rd-party firewall you have. Please note: this is the only time you’ll ever hear me say that. The only reason it’s safe to do so now is because your line’s not working anyway.
- Enter into the address block of the browser the IP address “192.168.1.1″. This will take you to the administrator screen of the DSL modem. It will likely ask you to enter the administrator ID and password since you just reset the modem. Pick something you’ll remember and enter it in.
- On the Westell you’ll jump into a connection wizard. Give the connection a name and enter your Verizon user ID and password. Click Next.
- It’ll ask for the VPI/VCI information. It should default to 0 and 35, respectively, and those are fine. Leave them alone and click Next.
- It’ll ask for the protocol to use. Select PPPoE and click next. Then click done. The modem should reset.
- After the reset it will attempt to connect to the DSL service.
This is the decision point. If the service connects, then there wasn’t an issue with the line. (More on that in a moment.) If it still won’t connect, then you’ve successfully isolated the problem outside your home. Call Verizon and tell them to get with it.
After the line is fixed (or you determined the problem wasn’t with Verizon after all) you need to change the modem configuration to allow your router to reconnect.
- At the top of the administration screen you’ll see “Configuration”. Click on it and select “VC Configuration” from the menu.
- You’ll see a list of VPI/VCI combinations. One of them (likely 0/35) will be showing a type of “PPPoE”. Click the edit next to that one and make 2 changes. First, change the protocol to “Bridge”.
- You’ll see the available entries below that point on the screen change a bit after that and one of the new entries will be “Bridge Type”, or something to that effect. You need it to read “Bridge” instead of “Routed Bridge” so make that choice and click save.
- The modem will reset. As it’s doing that, move the cable from your PC back to the router you had it in on.
- (Don’t forget to turn your PC firewall back on.)
- Check to see if the problem has cleared. Sometimes performing this procedure will actually clear the problem.
I did all this tonite and successfully turned by normal 45 minute support call from hell with Verizon into a 10 minute pleasant conversation. They realized the issue was on their end and they entered a trouble ticket. A few hours later and I was back on-line.
Hope you never have to do this, but this should help if your line drops.
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