Possible Fix For ATT Fiber Intermittent and Frequent Disconnects

Author:
phil
Created:
Sunday, June 26th, 2022
Last Updated:
Wednesday, June 29th, 2022

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In Nov of 2021, I was able to switch off of Cox cable and pickup ATT Fiber. In the Wichita KS market, Cox has dominated and had a monopoly on the area because no-other companies wanted to spend any money to directly compete with Cox cable. Until recently.

Initially after getting ATT Fiber, the connection seemed rock solid. Until it wasn't. I started having the dreaded 'frequent intermittent disconnects' like so many other people. There are countless horror stories in the ATT forums and on Reddit from folks all over the country with the exact same problem. I've see this issue in posts anywhere from a last month all the way back 4+ years ago.

Here's a few examples of the hundreds of posts talking about frequent disconnects to show what I'm talking about:
https://forums.att.com/conversations/att-fiber-equipment/att-fiber-frequ...
https://forums.att.com/conversations/att-fiber-equipment/frequent-discon...
https://forums.att.com/conversations/att-fiber-equipment/fiber-gateway-d...
https://forums.att.com/conversations/att-fiber-equipment/new-customer-fi...

Trying to track the problem down myself, I figured maybe it was because of the new Nokia BGW320 modem, specifically the limited NAT table which off the top of my head, I believe is limited to 8MB. The NAT wasn't it, even though the BGW320 doesn't properly do ip passthrough and fills the NAT table up... (Turns out the NAT table is plenty big on the 320)

I suffered daily, sometimes for weeks with the internet being intermittent. It was getting so bad at times that streaming media was running out of buffer and cutting out. Let's not even discuss gaming which basically became a past-time.

What's weird is that it would act up, then clear up all on its own... It would last for a day, several days or sometimes several weeks and then just magically clear up.

Finally after some pretty frustrating days of the connecting dropping out, I dug into the forums and read as much as I could get my hands on. I finally ran across THE post that pointed me in the right direction: https://forums.att.com/conversations/att-fiber-equipment/att-fiber-drops...

It was here that I discovered that the fiber lines are way more susceptible to bends than what I think even ATT understands... Sure, there's mathematical formulas and specifications that tell you exactly what the radius of a fiber bend can be but what I've decided through my own educated guess is that the wall plate ATT uses for installs is a horribly designed wall plate. My guess is that the early days of ATT rolling out fiber, they specced out and tested one manufacturers fiber line and made all of their SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) based on this initial fiber line. Over time, ATT wanted to cut costs so they sourced a different manufacturer and with that comes a host of different problems that are unforseen with out proper testing. So, the guess is that the wall plate being used was fine for their initial lab tests but hasn't been re-tested since with the change of materials used. Again, it's all a guess. I'm telling myself a story that I will probably never know is true or not, so take what I've said with a grain of salt.

In my testing, I did a ping test to both Google and as suggested by that one guy on the ATT forums who doesn't work for ATT, but seems to somehow have the time to comment on pretty much every single post, I did a ping test to the next hop after my modem and every single time the drop was at the modem. Sure, there were rare times when pinging Google that I got a few drops en-route which is to be expected, but the testing I did led to the direct coorellation that there was a problem between my modem and whereever the next hop is. I don't know if ATT puts L3 switching in the nodes themselves or if it's purely just L1 cabling with some L2 connection devices so I can't say exactly where the break might have been if it didn't turn out to be the fiber line.

The Problem

So here's a picture of the wall plate as correctly installed by the technician. Here-in is where I believe the problem lies...

It is my belief that the far left radius bend, is too much for the fiber. Not enough to be noticeable right away, but enough that if the power from the head-end fluxuates, it will cause problems with the signal at the modem.

What I ended up doing was removing the connector out of the wall plate and re-routed the entire fiber line so it had a bigger radius bend. That's it. My multiple intermittent connection drops happening multiple times per hour on ATT Fiber have gone to virtually zero.

I will note that I experienced one (that I know of) drop since I re-routed the fiber, but that's it.

Additional Thoughts

Some thoughts on this potential fix are that not everyone has the luxury of re-routing the line that comes into their home. If the fiber is in a wall, re-routing the line might cause un-seen bends that could make things worse.

Another thought is with the manufactured cable for the BGW-320 modems since is has the built-in ONT. If this cable is wound too tightly, it could also cause signal loss. It might be worth re-routing or loosening the coil of this cable. Maybe it's the culprit in your scenario.

Yet another thought is that the problem truly is on ATT's end. I ran across another forum post in my searching that said the problem was indeed on ATT's end (according to what the technician told the user). The user said the port was bad somewhere up the line and when the technician swapped ports, their problem went away.

Finally, if you have the older BGW-210 modem, maybe you can see about having it upgraded to the BGW-320. The 210 is known for the NAT filling up (even in passthrough mode because ATT wants to spy on literally everything you're doing...). The 320 has a bigger NAT table so you could rule this one out. The biggest issue from my understanding if you get upgraded is that a tech needs to re-work the fiber line to properly work with the 320. I never had the 210, so I don't know the details.

Conclusion

So if you're like the tens of thousands out on Fiber, having the same problem where the connection wants to frequently drop out intermittently for no apparent reason, try fiddling with your fiber lines. Inspect them for tight radius bends and see if that improves the situation.

I used the free Ping Plotter to watch my connection.

If you tried re-routing your fiber lines and this helped fix your problem, feel free to post in the comments so we know my situation isn't a one-off coincidence.

If you're still having problems... Contact ATT or continue checking the forums if you still need help as those will be the best places for getting a resolution.

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