We've got Charter. The good, the bad, the ugly can sum it up if used respectively to describe the speed, the value, and the reliability. And, really, if not for the reliability, then it's a reasonable value too. However... the reliability. The connection becomes unstable on some days. Not often, but when it happens, it's infuriating. I cannot stay connected to work. I cannot stay on a conference call. And when I call then to get tech support, I have to wade through 10 minutes of automated "support" spiel asking me to reboot my computer, reboot the cable modem (actually, Charter's term for this is "power cycle"), check the status lights, basically check everything there is to check on my end. Only, the problem isn't on my end. It's on theirs. Actually, to be fair, the last time we were having problems, they came out and replaced the modem just on principal since it was old. And, by the time the tech was done, the problem went away by itself. So, we may never know if the old modem was defective or not. I'm guessing not.
This morning the connection became horrendously unstable, blacking out several times, and then conking out entirely. The phone router is plugged into our cable modem. As I always do, I ensure the problem isn't on our end before calling. After "power cycling" the cable modem, I went to the phone router's admin console and hit "renew" on the DHCP lease. Nothing. I unplugged the phone router and plugged the wireless router into the cable modem directly, and "power cycled" the wireless router, checked to see if it was getting an IP address. Nope. Tried hard-coding the last known one. Nothing. Plugged my computer into the the cable modem directly. Again, nothing. No IP address. Plugged shortindiangirl's Mac into the cable modem directly... instantly, Charter's DHCP server wakes up and serves up an IP address, and we're connected. Wait... what? The hell?
Plugged in the phone router again... nothing. Wow, this is getting stranger by the minute. And worse. Meanwhile, shortindiangirl has called Charter to have them send someone out (why they always insist on doing this when the problem is actually on their end, I don't know). Just imagine, the Charter guy comes out the next day, finds one machine that is able to work perfectly well with the cable modem, and just proclaims that therefore their service is working fine and that our phone router, our wireless router, and my laptop must all be malfunctioning.
Not so fast, though. Most routers let you spoof their MAC addresses. So, I had to try it: I plugged the phone router back into the cable modem. Again, it gets completely ignored by Charter's DHCP server. But, then I change the MAC address to match that of the Mac (Yes, we're talking about two different types of "macs" here. Try to stay with me, OK?). The router reboots itself. And, upon waking back up... instant IP address.
Worth noting that since doing this, I've had the connection black out a couple more times briefly, actually causing me to have to "release and renew" on the phone router again, but, still, every time it renews successfully.
So, what the heck is going on here? What is Charter doing with certain MAC addresses? And why does it happen to coincide when a day of very unstable connectivity? Something reeks here. I can't quite tell yet what it is, but it doesn't look good.
Tomorrow a tech comes out. It could get interesting.