Friday, July 3, 2009

Rogers Internet Service - DNS errors - Portable Internet issues

Previous article in this series -

Rogers Internet Service Hijacks DNS Errors - How to fix the problem

As I mentioned in my previous post, last year Rogers Internet Services changed the way their DNS (domain name system) servers handles DNS requests. DNS is the service that all internet users need to translate that yournamehere.com style adress to the 123.234.123.100 format understood by the network. It's what finds the websites you are looking for when you enter an address.


Basically, they just changed
the way they handled typing errors in the address or an non-existent address. Previously your browser (Firefox, IE, Safari, Chrome, etc) just showed an address not found error page - and you could edit the address bar if it was just a typo - but with Roger's "Supported search results" as they called it - you were redirected to a Rogers portal webpage displaying possible search matches and advertising (from which they earn revenue). besides basically breaking the functionality of your browser, their opt-out method was cumbersome and technically challenging. I followed Rogers opt out instructions and saw my internet service degrade.

Anyway, I discussed some fixes which included changing the DNS servers in your system and router settings- although Roger's doesn't provide tech support for this, they suggest leaving your settings as "obtain DNS server address automatically". Check that first article for settings for the public DNS service available at OpenDNS - a very reliable and flexible service. Be informed though - you end up with the same type of custom search page - but I changed mine anyway out of principle due to Rogers un-announced changes and degradation of service. Additionally I added the address for one other additional public DNS server - from Level 3 Communications a huge network service provider for telcos and ISP's alike - they are 4.2.2.2 and 4.2.2.3 (if you're comfortable with making these changes)

Microsoft Help and Support has instructions in Knowledge Base article 305553- one note, if you are using a router to conect your PC to the internet, make sure you follow the router's instructions for making the same changes to the router's DNS settings. Also if you have more than one PC connected in your home network, make the same changes on each PC.

Example - partial screenshot


The DNS changes were probably the least of my connection speed and reliability problems, but they were the first to be implemented with a noticeable improvement in service. Since 2006 my internet service has been Rogers High Speed Portable which is a wireless (non- line of site) service provided by both Bell (Bell High Speed Unplugged) and Rogers, a joint venture called the Inukshuk Wireless Partnership using pre-WiMax (IEEE 802.16) transmission technology. Because I re-locate often due to my work around the GTA, I chose this portable wireless solution - just plug in the wireless modem and you are connected, no re-location of cable (or phone line) service. With an advertised speed of 1.5 mbps down and 256 kbps up it was not as fast as cable or DSL but the flexibility was all I needed.

The connection speed and reliability were fine for the first couple of years - fast and stable for the most part, even with large file downloads for work or home and different multi-media applications - even Skype VoIP. There was a tendency to sporadically lose a fast connection which simply required powering off the wireless modem and turning it back on. But starting around the same time Rogers made the DNS changes (perhaps a coincidence), the service began to seriously degrade: slowing down to a crawl every evening, numerous resets required, file downloads interrupted and so on. So the quest to tweak and improve that connection was on.

One of the best all round forums I found for tech information on tweaking conections - for the wireless service as well as cable and DSL service was DSLReports.com . It's free (there are some paid services that are quite affordable, but not necessary to make use of the site) and has a lot of users that post their high-speed experiences, challenges and fixes. The array of tools they have is very impressive and includes Port Scan, Line Monitor, Packet Loss Test, Line Quality, Speed Test- Java, Flash Speed Test, DoctorPing, DoctorTCP, SmokePing, Whois, Router Watch, Phish Tracker and so on. They even have a simple online speedtest for your iPhone or iPod Touch - at http://i.dslr.net/iphone_speedtest.html and although it is for the iPhone and Wifi, 3G - it will still give you a quick and accurate read on your current PC connection. Mine just showed 1268 kbps down speed, a little shy of the 1500 kbps advertised.

I'm going to add to this post in a new posting soon - but in the meantime, to test your speed and do a little trouble-shooting, head on over to dslreports.com

The latest post in the series, "Rogers Internet Service Slow" is here.
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