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#@xs4all only over AnnexB with FRITZ!Box 7340 #fail: line sync issues; offline most of the time, max 4 mbit. @xs4all needs to give me some compelling arguments to regain trust in them. @xs4all_HD

Posted by jpluimers on 2012/03/08

xs4all won’t tell you up front, but they changed a couple of things that will bring your 10 mbit down / 1 mbit up to something that hardly connects, and if it does less than half the speed.

This is also a post on how XS4ALL treats long lasting (15 years!) customer relations. Badly.

05.03.12 16:08:01 DSL-Synchronisierung beginnt (Training).
05.03.12 16:06:05 Internetverbindung wurde getrennt.
05.03.12 16:06:05 Internetverbindung IPv6 wurde getrennt, Präfix nicht mehr gültig.
05.03.12 16:06:05 Internetverbindung wurde getrennt.
05.03.12 16:06:05 DSL antwortet nicht (Keine DSL-Synchronisierung).
05.03.12 15:56:30 Internetverbindung IPv6 wurde erfolgreich hergestellt. Präfix: 2001:980:43d9::/48
05.03.12 15:56:30 Internetverbindung IPv6 wurde erfolgreich hergestellt. IP-Adresse: 2001:980:43d9::be05:43ff:fe70:9b53
05.03.12 15:56:26 Internetverbindung wurde erfolgreich hergestellt. IP-Adresse: 82.161.132.169, DNS-Server: 194.109.6.66 und 194.109.9.99, Gateway: 194.109.5.205
05.03.12 15:56:21 DSL ist verfügbar (DSL-Synchronisierung besteht mit 4804/1029 kbit/s).
05.03.12 08:44:20 DSL-Synchronisierung beginnt (Training).

They advertised XS4ALL ONLY (since it on the copper pair you only run DSL, no phone, so you don’t need a splitter) as faster, cheaper and more stable internet and VOIP connection.

It is not.

The past.

Before switching to XS4ALL ONLY in januari 2011, I had ADSL over ISDN (aka Annex B). They indicated that they could not switch this to XS4ALL ONLY Annex A, even though XS4ALL ONLY runs over KPN BitStream which means patching the existing the copper pair to a different DSLAM, I had to stay with Annex B.

Fine. That meant from going from slightly less than 8 megabit to sligthly less than 10 megabit in stead of surely 10 megabit (I live about 2 kilometer from the DSLAM, so that is a reasonable speed).

I made the switch and ended up with this configuration

  • XS4ALL ONLY
  • 10 megabit ADSL
  • DSLAM is BroadCom
  • Modem is Fritz!Box 7340 (mandatory from XS4ALL)
  • Averything behind a big UPS (like all my computing equipment: it makes your hardware last way much longer)

That worked fine for about half a year.

Then I started to get sudden disconnects. Sometimes dozens per day, each for a few minutes. Their helpdesk auto responder did not indicate they would not process incoming mail, only asked to use the online wizard. No words like “instead”, or “won’t respond on email”. For a provider with a premium price like XS4ALL, I expected them to process the email. They didn’t.

Back then, I found a solution myself, based on a couple of posts on the internet on the very much fluctuating quality of Fritz!Box firmware updates, and went back to a version that was stable, but would be limited to German (they broke part of the English UI, fine, I understand German equally well as English).

The solution last year was to downgrade to firmware 99.04.88, and live with the fact that saves configurations cannot be restored on a downgraded firmware. Fine too. Just upgraded, noted all the settings, downgraded, manually restored all the settings.

According to the info.txt file at the AVM ftp site (manufacturers of Fritz!Box), the 99.04.88 exists. But you cannot download it from there: AVM burns old ships before assuring their new ships sail. Fine: I keep backups of most downloaded things.

The present.

Over the last couple of weeks, we got woken up by our alarm system a couple of times a night: it couldn’t call home. Before and after the last year’s firmware downgrade it could, but since a couple of days it can’t.

Since the previous problems were solved by a firmware downgrade, and a fresh firmware was released in december 2011, I tried a firmware upgrade. These were the results:


01.01.70 00:51:09 Anmeldung an der FRITZ!Box Benutzeroberfläche von IP-Adresse 192.168.71.161.
01.01.70 00:00:48 DSL-Synchronisierung beginnt (Training).
01.01.70 00:00:38 Kein WLAN-Gerät mehr angemeldet, Stromverbrauch wird reduziert (2,4 GHz).

Please note the year ’70: that’s what Fritz!Box reverts to after rebooting. Every time it pretends to be ancient crap. Maybe it is.

This is what the Fritz!Box tells me about the DSL:

  • When not connected:
    0 kbit/s 0 kbit/s
    DSL-Version
    1.68.19.04
    Nicht Verbunden
    Broadcom
    98.145 – H0 0
  • When trying to connect:
    0 kbit/s 0 kbit/s
    DSL-Version
    1.68.19.04
    Training
    ADSL 2+ (ITU G.992.5) Annex B
    Broadcom
    98.145 – H0 0

Right now, the Fritz!Box has been “training” for over 24 hours (“training” for what? does it really want to become a DSLAM?).

So, instead of mailing, I rang the XS4ALL helpdesk on monday. Unlike last year, the waiting was only a few minutes. And they told me that there are problems with this combination:

  • XS4ALL Only
  • Annex B configured ADSL line
    (which in the past they told me I had to have as it was not possible to migrate to Annex A without being offline for multiple weeks)
  • Any Fritz!Box modem

I don’t understand this: nothing in my home changed, nothing of copper pair in the ground changed. So why did it suddenly fail again (and why did it last year?). They could not explain: but had a solution: migrate to Annex A. And if that would not work, apply Dynamic Line Managment.

Wow. Lets repeat that: migrate to Annex A, and be offline for more than a week?

They explained that I would not be off-line, but would get a fresh IP address, and it will take them about a week to find someone to do that switch (which then will take a couple of minutes).

But I will be offline, at least until something else restores the ADSL connection. As it is dead. Or maybe it’s alive, but not as I know it.

Even though it will take me at least a couple of hours to find and reconfigure all the places that have hard coded IP addresses, I have asked them to migrate if the current ADSL Annex B connection would at least be online regularly.

Tuesday, I rang them again because ADSL had been down for more than 24 hours. They suggested to upgrade the firmware (which I did) then promised to call back, but they didn’t. The new firmware doesn’t make any difference.

Wednesday I called multiple times as without ADSL online life becomes hard. I pressed them to solve it within 24 hours. They promised to send a new Fritz!Box (model 7360, so configuration backups from the 7340 model won’t restore, really nice!). The nice helpdesk guy (it seems those are always guys) indicated that if it would not get an ADSL sync on Annex B, that I’d need to download (how?) a beta firmware that might sync.

Package service always arrives before 1000, so it won’t arrive today. Hopefully tomorrow.

Today, I got another call from their “klachtenservice” damage control department. A kind guy explained me that the normal Annex B to Annex A conversion would take up to 8 weeks, and this was a rush (funny: their helpdesk indicated the standard transition was about a week) then first wanted me to offer compensation for the days without internet, then (since the long term relation), a free month of internet. I asked for 6 months, as that would cover only a tiny bit of the cost. He indicated I got an email indicating the Annex B to Annex A migration would be finished on march 13 (I never got that email). He also indicated getting us online on march 13th would be the best they could do. But he denied my request to confirm that in writing. I kindly wished him a nice day, indicating this is the way they try to keep long lasting customers that they should seriously think of better ways.

I’m left with many questions, like:

  1. why can’t XS4ALL actively notify and monitor customers that will get in trouble because of the configuration they demand?
  2. why can’t XS4ALL pro-actively recommend customers to switch from Annex B to Annex A when XS4ALL knows Annex B means trouble?
  3. why didn’t I have trouble for about 7 months and suddenly I hardely have a connection at all?
  4. why can’t XS4ALL get us online in a day – through an alternative mobile way – like they offer to new customers?

The future.

Up until now, I always told people “I have XS4ALL ADSL because of the stability and privacy, and UPC Cable because of speed where stability is less important” .

I’ve been an XS4ALL customer for more than 15 years. If this is the XS4ALL way of saying “thank you”, they have a serious business continuity issue.

Currently, UPC Cable at 100 megabit is far more stable than 10 megabit XS4ALL only. And about the same price. So the premium for XS4ALL is only for privacy.

XS4ALL needs to give me some compelling arguments to regain trust in them.

–jeroen

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