Dying DSL Modem

Well, it happens. I have an Actiontec DSL modem for my network connectivity. It has been very reliable over the last 3 years or so. Anyway, I started having network problems recently. Just basic slowness, and some uneveness, runs at one speed for a while then another speed for a while.


The Symptom

As I said, network speeds were not too good. I noticed this mostly on my Mac, but Netflix and other stuff that used the network was not working too well eithe. Just general overal network wonkiness. I even booted into my El Capitan Beta and Windows 10 installs and tested it there with the same results. So, what to do.

My Troubleshooting

Being the Mac tech dude that I am I decided to troubleshoot the issue. There are all kinds of things you can do to troubleshoot network stuff. The first thing I did was to check the signal coming into my modem by logging onto my Actiontec modem using Safari. You can connect to most modems (at least DSL modems) using the address Just type that in your browser address window and it takes you to the modem main screen:

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Obviously, you need to know the account info for your ISP. After you login there usually is a place that shows what type of bandwidth your connection is getting like so:

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I blocked out all the info for obvious reasons. You can see my connection speed in the lower left corner. It is 19.5 mbps (megabits per second). Sounds about right since my account is rated at 20 mbps. My typical “real world” speeds are 17-18 mbps. More than satisfactory. The slowed speeds I was getting was about 10 mbps. Sometimes it would even dip down to 7 mbps.

I tweaked a few settings in iOS 10.10.5 Yosemite thinking it may be a software issue. This included changing my DNS to OpenDNS. If you don’t know what that means, just check their website, they provide a good service. I tried a few other software related things, but no joy. No likie folks! I feel the need for speed!!

Company Troubleshooting

Eventually, I called my DSL provider and enquired about my speed issue. They put me through all kinds of troubleshooting steps. They looked at my connection coming into the house and said it was at 99% efficiency. We restarted the DSL modem a few times. We disconnected stuff from the modem (it has 4 Ethernet ports). We swapped Ethernet cables from the modem to the Mac. I am sure we tried a few other things that I cannot remember. After each step I tried running a speed test. Pretty much got the same result everytime, which was 7-8 mbps.

Finally, after a process of elimination, the tech on the other end asked if he could actually look on my modem. We pretty much eliminated every other possible problem area. I guess they can see some stuff on the device itself from their end. She came back online and said she detected several errors on the modem. It was not operating porperly!!

The bottom line is the issue could have been casued by any number of things. A modem hardware failure is not too common, but it happens. We have lots of electricity issues where I live. I don’t mean electric company issues, but lightning, electrical storm issues. The modem is plugged into a power strip, but I just think after a few years this kind of storm activity takes it’s toll on electronics.


In the end, the modem was still running slowly, but I went ahead and bought another one (same model) from Best Buy. The tech gal I was talking to said she thought the modem I was using worked the best of all available models for my network. So, we said goodbye to the old and brought in the new. The good speeds are back and I am happy.