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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Saturday, 15 October 2011

Router woes and fast broadband...

We've recently discovered that our dear old wireless router (a Linksys WRT54G) has been suffering a little, dropping wi-fi connections and even completely forgetting the internet was there.

At first, we thought it might be our connection to Virgin Media - not least because of my suspicions that the cabinet up the hill from us had been left unlocked and water might have got in to disrupt the connection. I have to say that, in the times we had trouble with the internet dropping out, the customer service centre and the social media team on Twitter have been remarkably helpful, to the point where I finally concluded that the router was at fault.

Linksys WRT54G - no longer usable
Linksys WRT54G - no longer usable.

Why? Well, the advice I received over the phone, when the internet connection next failed, the 'cable' light extinguished on the cable modem, was to plug a computer directly into the modem and enter "" into a web browser. That would display a page that indicates whether the problem is 'upstream' (i.e. beyond the cable box in the street) or 'downstream' (i.e. from the cable modem to the box). Armed with this information, I didn't have long to wait until the next internet failure - I plugged a laptop into the network connection of the cable modem, and... straight away the internet started working!

This reminded me of something. Earlier on in the year, my Dad had been complaining that his desktop computer had been refusing to connect to the internet, and he was unable to connect his laptop to the wi-fi router, so he'd given up and plugged the computer straight into the cable modem, which seemed to work (although rendering his laptop frustratingly offline). Guess what.. yup - he had a WRT54GL.. practically identical to ours!

My theory is that, as broadband speeds have increased, the ability of such routers to cope with the amount of data that can be passed from WAN to LAN reduces to the extent that, on occasion, they simply give up.

I ordered a cheap - but modern - router to replace my Dad's ailing Linksys (a TP-Link TL-WR543G for less than £20) which seems to do the trick, and, since we have tens of wireless devices that might connect to the network from an iPod Touch to an internet radio - and since I had some savings, I thought we might need something a little more robust, so we ordered the DrayTek Vigor 2830n, which can do lots of cool interesting things like plot graphs of our internet usage and limit bandwidth to PCs which would otherwise use up the traffic limits Virgin media applies to their customers.

Vigor 2830n Traffic Graph
DrayTek Vigor 2830n Traffic Graph

Co-incidentally, I related my tale of woe to my brother Dave, who said that he had just replaced his router because it kept losing its internet connection. Yup.. it was a WRT54G! He's got himself a Draytek, too (a Vigor 2110 in his case) - they clearly come highly recommended.

So far, the new router's done us very well - at least the internet doesn't inexplicably stop working now!

Posted by james at October 15, 2011 11:55 PM

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