Wireless internet has been broken for weeks, what can I do?

Many of you have heard me ranting about this in the chat, this is only the most recent story of my internet woes, there have been many here. Sorry this is so long, but this has been going on for a while. The worst part is that this is not the most horrible experience I’ve had with Comcast while living here.

First some background, I live in a university housing aparment complex, all apartments recieve “free” (I’ll explain those quotation marks later) wireless internet. Each apartment has a router installed that provides wireless internet to the apartment’s four occupants. Comcast is the company responsible for maintaining internet access.

Over a month ago our internet became very erratic, going out every hour or three. Unplugging the router and then plugging it back in would temporarily fix the problem, but this was obviously very frustrating. After about a week of this I called up Comcast’s tech support, and after half a dozen transfers I was helped by a young man who clearly did not know what he was doing. I’m not speaking out of tech snobbery here, this guy CLEARLY had no idea at all. He instructed me to fiddle with some software settings and that was the end of that. Lo and behold several days later the problem is still there. Not only that, but this was my first experience with what I began to call “fading”. The internet would cut out and need to have the router unplugged and plugged back in, but after a few hours this would happen again, and again, and again, each time becoming more and more frequent until it completely died.
Fake edit: When the internet faded out like this, it was often still possible to use mIRC or play an online game, but not use IE until the router had been reset.

I called Comcast and told them to get a tech out here (Previous experience with them has taught me the phone service is largely worthless), the tech came out the next day, fiddled with the router, and apparently got our interweb back on. After one or two days the internet faded again. The tech was nice enough to give me his number in case something happened so I wouldn’t need to deal with the hellish phone support, so I called him and he came back out. This time he told me there was a problem with the hardware outside that he would need to call another tech in to fix it, but he could fix up the service so that it would run erratically until that problem was fixed. The next day the internet faded again. The techs came out and did their thing which seemed to have no effect whatsoever, I called the tech out for a third visit, assuming this would be the last one to turn on the internet after the problem was fixed, but alas, it faded the next day. I called the tech yet again who told me to call back in a few days after he had talked to his supervisor. I did so and was given the number of his supervisor who only has voicemail and has not returned my calls.
Fake Edit: During these periods when the network could not be reached, one of my roomates was able to get inernet by plugging his laptop directly into the router.

At this point I decided to try my luck again with Comcast’s lovely technical support. After explaining my situation several times and getting shuffled around in the phone representative dance I reached someone who seemed able to help me. Now in this apartment complex, every apartment has it’s own network (Apartment 120, 119, 127 and so forth) our apartment’s network had not been showing up in the list of available networks, only those belonging to other apartments, the central school network, and one called customer ID. The guy I was talking to told me to use the customer ID network and to simply enter in 26 "0"s as my WEP key. This seemed wrong to me, but I am not trained in the wild world of wireless internet, so I went along with it. Since then my internet has been even more erratic, it seems different then it was when the tech temporarily repaired things however, it flickers out for short periods of time. I also no longer seem to be connecting through my router, I can access the customer ID network with my router unplugged. I have also recieved one or two notices that my IP conflicts with another on this network. It has not yet faded though.

I am at this point, at a loss for what to do, Comcast seems incapable of fixing the problem, and after dealing with them for months over other problems, I don’t really have the desire to spend hours on the phone for weeks with them anymore. My school housing is completely unwilling to take any responsibility for anything internet related, and I can’t afford to get another service without a refund. Normally I would have cancelled my service long ago, but I am strongarmed into using Comcast. The cost for internet is mysteriously calculated into rent and then paid by my school’s housing department. I contacted them about cancelling my service, but was basically told it was up to Comcast whether or not they would give me any money. I am also only living here until mid-march and don’t want to bother getting a new provider unless absolutely neccesary. I don’t know what I should do, help me.

Figure out where the problem actually is maybe. Connect a computer directly to the router, stuff like that. Is the problem in the wireless connection or the cable connecting to the modem.


Use something besides Comcast. >.>


During these periods when the network could not be reached, one of my roomates was able to get internet by plugging his laptop directly into the router.

If the hard wired connection is working, it’s got to be a problem with the wireless. If everyone has a wireless router, it could be causing some interference. What brand of router is it? Can you feasibly replace the router? Also, when connected to your router (either hardwired or wirelessly), trying hitting the router settings ( on most routers, on Linksys) and see if it comes up (it will probably prompt you for a user name and password, if you don’t know them, just hit cancel). If you can reach these router settings (even just the password screen), that means you’re connected to your router. At that point, the problem would have to be with the connection.

I’m using Comcast here, and I haven’t had a problem with them; of course, I’m also paying $47 / month for internet, and almost no one else in my apartment complex uses Comcast (they’re all on Verizon DSL). Maybe the arrangement that they have with your housing complex allows them to split the signal between a few rooms to save cost.

What the tech did by having you connect to that “customer ID” network was simply logging you on to another wireless router. Not your own, but someone else’s. I do that all the time if I’m at a friend’s house and they don’t have wireless, or their connection’s out. I simply look for local wireless networks that aren’t encrypted, and jump on in. Sure, those people probably wouldn’t like me using their internet connection if they knew about it, but a) it doesn’t hurt their speed, and b) they should encrypt their damn router.

I’m thinking your router’s fried and/or your wireless cards are fried. I had a sort of similar problem when my usb connector fried a few months back. The bitch is that they’re pricey mother fuckers.

The “fading” is probably the router dropping it’s connection, and then picking it back up instantly. IE checks for a connection much more frequently than mIRC and most online games. So IE will notice there is no connection the second it goes out, and will not attempt to pick it back up. The games and mirc on the other hand, only check for connection ever so often, and if the connection comes back on in this time, they won’t even notice.

I know you’re broke as fuck, but maybe pool together some money for a new router? Are you allowed to do that? The issue here is clearly the router, because if you can get onto the network by connecting directly to it, that seems to scream “there is an issue with the router.” Maybe even petion the school?

And sat could be right too, perhaps having a connection for each room is messing it up, but this can be checked by asking if kids in other rooms are having the same issue. And also, the distance from your room to another.

Other than that, have you tried piggybacking on another rooms connection? How close are the apartments together? Are they like dorms? You could try running a sniffing program, to see how many connections you could possibly connect to, other than yours. Then try cracking their connection and getting onto it. As long as they don’t notice you, or you talk to them ahead of time, i’m sure they won’t care.


  1. Did you and your roommates all go and buy your wireless cards at the same time about?
  2. From the same location?
  3. Do they work with other wireless routers?
  4. You’re all using computer PCI cards, right?

If all the cards were bought at the same time, then there’s a good chance they could have all come from the same botched shipment. Test on another router to make sure that it’s not just a coincidence. If they work elsewhere, or they were bought at different times and all guffed out at the same time, then you’re looking at something wrong with the wireless on the router. If so, there’s only one question left: Did you buy any new electrical appliances that emit an electromagnetic field? If not, then it looks like your router just kicked out. Get the thing replaced.

Everyone has a wireless router, but this is the first time it’s been a problem since September. It’s a Linksys router, owned and installed by Comcast, the tech replaced the router on one of his three visits.

I don’t think so, I was often able to stay connected to mIRC or an online game for long periods of time and hold back and forth conversations while IE was out.

Yeah, apparently that’s what I’m doing now, it runs like complete shit though and constantly goes out.

  1. No
  2. No
  3. Yes
  4. I don’t know
  5. No
  6. It was

I’m thinking maybe I should just buy a 25 foot cable, or see if I can make Comcast pay for one/give me one, and then connect directly to the router.

Go outside

Have you tried fixing your winsock? I can’t imagine that a winsock error would only effect IE, but you never know. You might also want to check for spyware. Hit http://merijn.org and download KazaaBegone and HijackThis, go to http://www.intermute.com/ and download CWShredder, then download the newest SpyBot (1.4b) and AdAware (SE) and run a scan. There could be software interfering with IE, which would explain why the other programs are working.

(I work as a computer technician, and fixing internet problems is almost all I do)

Just IE running is a rare occurance, that would happen during a window when the internet was “fading”, if I restarted the router IE would work again normally for a while. Right now I can’t connect to my router at all, if I open up the list of available networks I can see other apartments routers but not my own.

I regularly run adaware and virus scans, also all three of my roomates are having the exact same problems.

I don’t know how to fix a winsock.

Does Comcast require a proxy server there?

Also, if you can’t connect to your own anymore, try hardwiring a computer into it, and then opening up Internet Explorer and typing in the address bar. When it comes up asking for username / password, type “admin” as the username and nothing as the password. If that logs you in, check and make sure Wireless is enabled, and see what the SSID of your router is.

Sorry, but I don’t know much about proxy servers, or what SSID stands for.

I tried that on the laptop, I got a page cannot be displayed thing. was in the address bar history, and I’ve been asked to go there once or twice over the phone on tech support, but I can’t remember the password; admin + no password didn’t work.

The defualt username and password for linksys routers is a blank username and “admin” as the password.

I am also only living here until mid-march

He means mid-May. [/nitpicking]

Heh, linksys finally changed it eh? It used to be admin, admin. :stuck_out_tongue:

And why the heck would his winsock be causing anything? :stuck_out_tongue: This sounds so hardware related its crazy.

I didn’t realize it was effecting more than one computer when I mentioned Winsock issues. And I stand corrected, Linksys uses blank username and password: admin. D-Link uses the opposite, and Netgear uses the username “admin” and the password: “password.” Since I have to install all three in customer’s houses all the time, I tend to get them confused. I tend to just try all three until one works. :smiley:

And when did Linksys start using over That doesn’t seem like them.

Regardless. If you’re getting the “page can not be displayed” error and you’re still being prompted for a username/pw when you type in that DNS, it means that your connection to the router is fine, but the router itself either isn’t getting a connection, or isn’t broadcasting one. The problem is definitely not on the side of your computer, and is on Comcast’s side. Just call their technical support (1-800-COMCAST, sorry I don’t know what their local number is for you), and get a live agent on the line. I know it’s hard, but if they try to pull that crap with the automated voice that you have to talk to, just say “I want to speak to a representative.” If it tries to say anything back to you other than “Please wait as I connect your call” just repeat it louder and louder, and you’ll eventually get a rep. Once on the line, explain exactly what the problem is, that you can get a connection to the router, but still can’t connect to the internet, and then tell them that the problem will be fixed immediately or you’ll demand a refund of the entire month or so that you’ve been having problems. If they say that’s not possible, threaten to call a lawyer (I know that’s underhanded, but it’s worked for me before when they refused to take responsibility for my DVR not working for 2 weeks). They’ll eventually listen, you just have to be a dick about it. I normally wouldn’t suggest that, but this mistake is clearly on their side.