Methow Valley, Washington

CenturyLink DSL Issues in the Methow

Slow downlink speeds at peak times

More support at the BBS

What you say? 

Anyone remember Centurytel?  How about CenturyLink's merger with Embarq, Quest?  It seems the customer service has gone away with inverse proportion to the number of mergers.  Bigger company, crappier service.

Our recent slow downs in DSL downlink speeds provided the impetus (past problems also) to create this web page and Email list.  Hopefully, with our growing numbers and a coordinated effort, we might pierce the corporate veil in some fashion.  The goal at this juncture is to get our old speeds back and possibly to get some money back like ole SLIME guy Bob Spiwak did in 2009 after his 9 month battle with Centurytel.  I think the complaint to the WA AG's office tipped the scale in his favor as well as putting some money back in his pocket.

Once the Methow gets past this particular issue, this web page, BBS Forum and mailing list will hang in there for general questions, problems and chatter as it is likely another problem of a nature that would involve the valley would pop up again.  As it appears now, a possible resolution is pending and CT may actually re-contract with the PUD or NOAANet/PUD or whoever owns the fiber coming up-valley.  More when we learn more or we see a return to normal speeds in the evenings.

Join the mailing list and the bulletin board.  If you see something on the BBS's, re-post on the mailing list as each post is archived and it will be handy to be able to search back as I think it is likely that CT will continue to be a painful company for it's customers.  You can select immediate Emails, daily digests or now Emails at all, your choice.  You must join to read the archives however.  Your Email address will be seen by other members but not the public.  I know the BBS tends to be anonymous but not on the mailing list.

The goal here is to get the CT's speed issues fixed.  But history teaches us that CT customer support reps (CSR's) must follow a which seems designed to wear down the customer as well as shift the blame to the customer as the source of the problem.  History tends to show that CT will not fix it until forced or confronted by the WA AG.  That may come also, but to make a case, we need the support from a large number of Methow Valley CT customers.

Speed Tests: 

We are primarily interested in downlink speeds which are the speeds that you use to download files, movies, streaming or other things that require a constant connection.  So if you have High Speed CT DSL, you could be getting close to 10 mb down.  Most of us get much less routinely.

We need to determine your normal speeds as well as your speeds when at peak use times (when it's sluggish as in most evenings).  That way you have a baseline of normal as well as worst case, which is what is driving us nuts these last few weeks.  So using Toast, a simple downlink speed tester is appropriate for most of us in the Methow.  I would suggest you use the Boise Idaho server and Shuttle for slow speed periods and Blue Angels for normal times.  Blue Angels is best anytime but may not complete the test if your speeds are very slow, so try both. 

CT has there own speed test which looks much like Vudu but it can be handier for several reasons; the results are from their own server(s)...and it shows the results in plain text including the date/time.  Very easy  to clip/paste into your running file that documents your crummy speeds.  Watch out as they display speeds in what appears to be faster bits rather than don't think you are getting 10 times faster speed than your actual bytes.

You should (ideally) if on a router or router/switch, disconnect everything except the connection to your speed testing computer.  This will provide the best accuracy but again for our purposes, slow speeds are less likely to be caused by your other equipment in most homes unless you have someone downloading big files during your speed tests.  It's good to be able to say to the CSR that you have no devices on your router except the computer conducting the speed tests.

This effort will provide us a base of data that should be useful to convince CT that it is a regional problem (which they surely know but likely don't tell their Tier 1 CSR's and likely not their level 2 techs) and not just your crummy flakey equipment.

If you are into the nuts n bolts of TCP/IP etc, then use the advanced speed tests.  Uplink speeds should be normal or near normal even during peak periods.  So they are not really useful except possibly to further demonstrate that the imbalance of normal speeds speaks to a problem...somewhere.

Create a Trouble Ticket, the hard part: 

This will require 1 to 2 hours to get through and Tier 1 CSR's will follow their script and not deviate by much.  Just be nice and try to open a ticket.  More detail here in the near future...

CT wants your modem to be the one they sold you so they can look at it's stats.  If you have it bridged, then you will need to reset it for testing and then put it back into bridge mode.  They tend to blow you off if they can't test it, blaming the issue on you.  How you choose to proceed is up to you at this point.  Whatever you do, get your ticket number so that it can be used later if needed in a group effort to demonstrate the widespread speed problems.

We still want to get help you get some money back.  One customer has already reported a $25.00 credit just for a call back and making the request.  So get that trouble ticket created.  That refund request is likely to garner more effort for CT to fix the bottleneck than any mass complaints to the WA AG, sad to say.

...more on this process at some point if normal speeds don't return by 11-05-2012. 

 Other Links of Interest
DSL Issues Mailing List Toast; a Simple Speed Test
Methownet BBS Thread on issue 10-26-2012 CenturyLinks Own Speed Test; up & downlinks
CT's Ticket Creator; you must be logged into your account Speakeasy: a Good Speed Test; up & downlinks+
  DSL Reports: a Speed Test; up & downlinks
Methow.US BBS Vudu: a Speed Test
Email Mike with reports, ideas or complaints VoIP; Advanced Speed Test; up & downlinks+

Revised: 01/27/2013