Sunday morning, my dad ‘phones me for a chat. As always.
Only this time, I hear just the merest snatches of his voice. Likewise, he can’t hear me. Somewhere on the line there is a problem, and it seems to be with me. Specifically, a connection that’s inadequate for VOIP. That shouldn’t happen: I have cable and pay for a 30Mb line in, and near 2Mb upload speed, which is an order of magnitude more than I should need.
While I figured out an alternative, my dad ‘phoned my mobile number. Not something either of us like, as it costs (he gets weekend landline calls free). I explained my alternative, which was to turn my Virgin router off and use VOIP over my O2 line. Fortunately the weather was gorgeous and it was a pleasure to go and sit out on the front terrace for best 3G signal, though it appeared also to work in some parts of the house.
Later in the day I ran some more tests. Performance was incredibly poor: on average rather worse than a 28K modem (remember those?) and much of the time a complete standstill. It took a long time to get a speed test to run at all. Whoops!
Experimentally I tried a wired connection to the router. Now suddenly all is well: I’m getting the speeds I’m supposed to. So it’s the wireless. A bit of research later and I change the WIFI channel, whereupon all is well. I also come upon a tool called Kismac, which tells me the problem was indeed congestion: my neighbour and I had both been using channel 11.
Is that a common problem in a cable area? Lots of Virgin users, and they ship standard routers with a standard configuration that sets us up for conflict, rather than a more mixed area where routers are (a priori, at least) a random mix?
Credit where credit’s due. Virgin’s help pages were genuinely helpful. It’s a rare pleasure to find a help page that tells me anything that wasn’t already blindingly obvious.
BTW, I have a couple of DECT phones and an ATA adapter to use my old phone&fax on order. Should be arriving tomorrow. So I’ll have a well-equipped house and should hear the ‘phone from anywhere.