TROUBLESHOOTING TIPS FOR INTERIM SATELLITE SERVICE (ISS) SPEED PROBLEMS *
The rule of thumb is that if you get good speed tests first thing in the morning and last thing at night (when most people are asleep) but you get terrible speeds at peak times, then that’s congestion and you probably don’t need to spend time troubleshooting.
Nowadays, bad congestion on the ISS means that your RSP has congestion on their network. There shouldn’t be a huge difference in speed test results between peak time and off-peak time (since NBN co spent $18.3 Million on upgrades early this year and are now enforcing their ISS ‘Fair Use Policy’).
If your RSP tells you that the ISS is congested and nothing can be done, ask them for their most current nbn Interim Satellite – Performance Report chart. If your RSP’s chart shows their performance is much lower than the average of all RSPs, that’s likely to be the problem and you may as well not bother troubleshooting.
If you get slow speeds all the time, it’s likely the problem is at your home, so here are 14 STEPS to try before calling your RSP. (It’s a good idea to do methodical tests and make detailed notes while you’re trying to find the cause of speed problems. You might like to take screen shots of the speed test results you get, or create an account with www.speedtest.net and store them all online.)
- First check that no one else in your home is downloading or streaming anything. If you have teenagers, ask them to take a break from using the service and shut down any downloads and close YouTube. YouTube’s new auto-play feature is a big data thief.
- Next check your usage to make sure you’re not speed limited for exceeding your Data Allowance. (Sounds simple, but RSPs get lots of calls from speed limited customers).
- Run some speed tests at www.speedtest.net and manually choose a Telstra or Optus Sydney-based server. Your service lands in Sydney no matter where in Australia you live. Telstra and Optus have good servers and lots of bandwidth for their speed tests, that’s why we recommend them.
- Power cycle everything, including your Gilat modem, your router (if you have one) and your computer(s) – turn everything OFF and then back ON in THAT ORDER. A monthly reboot of everything often makes a performance difference. Do some more speed tests and see if that made a difference.
- What’s the weather like? Bad storms and heavy cloud cover may reduce speeds, but only a little. That’s also the case at your Beam’s Gateway – Kalgoorlie, Broken Hill and Rosebery. That shouldn’t be an excuse for your RSP all the time. Wait until the weather clears and run some more speed tests.
- Download and install a fresh copy of a browser you haven’t used before. If you use Windows and Internet Explorer, try Chrome or Firefox. If you’re a Mac owner using Safari, try Firefox. Sometimes browsers get clogged up with cookies and other stuff and that can affect your speed.
- Windows users should Google how to set your computer into ‘Safe Mode with Networking’, and also how to get out of Safe Mode. Reboot your Windows computer in Safe Mode with Networking and run some more speed tests. That starts your computer with the bare basic software, so if you have anti-virus or some other program that’s slowing your computer, speed tests in Safe Mode will reveal that.
- If you’re using the service via Wi-Fi, plug your computer directly into your router with a network cable and run some speed tests. If that solves the speed problem, your Wi-Fi signal may be poor, or you have a dud router (technical term) or the Wi-Fi device drivers in your computer may need to be updated. You should ask your local computer specialist (or a young relative) for help with device driver updates as it’s tricky if you’re not sure what you’re doing.
- Plug your computer directly into the Gilat modem with a network cable, bypassing your router (if you have one) then reboot everything. It’s best to wait for the modem to be rebooted first then reboot your computer. Do some more speed tests, and that will tell you if your router is causing speed problems.
- Try a different network cable, just in case that’s the problem. If you have a few of them in your home, try them all just in case you have a dud cable. Network cables lull you into a false sense of security by rarely being faulty, then when you least expect it, there they are!
- Try another computer (if you have one), plugged directly into the Gilat modem, in Safe Mode with Networking if it’s a Windows computer. More speed tests will tell you if you have a computer problem rather than a satellite service problem. ***
- Reach around the back of the Gilat modem and locate the connectors for the two black co-ax cables. Make sure they are finger tight and not loose. Do the same if you have a wall plate for the two cables. Don’t put a spanner or pliers on the connectors as a heavy hand could break the connectors and that would mean a service call. ‘Finger tight’ is the go.
- Take a look (from the ground) at the satellite dish and make sure there are no trees or branches close to the dish. Cockatoos chewing the cables usually take the service offline rather than making it slow, but it can’t hurt to check for obstructions or any obvious damage. Do not climb on the roof, do not go anywhere near the dish, do not knock it out of alignment!
We recommend doing this step while you’re on the phone with Support (at least for the first time)
- Occasionally static electricity builds up around the dish (it’s more complex than that, but that’s the simple version) and causes issues. Before you start, mark one or both of the black co-ax cables with masking or electrical tape so you know which one plugs in where. They are not interchangeable. Gently undo the connectors from the back of the Gilat modem with your fingers (don’t use a spanner or pliers please) and hold one cable in each hand.
If you can’t get them off with your fingers, skip this step as it’s not worth damaging the connectors.
If you can, you’ll see there’s a small, delicate copper signal wire sticking out in the middle of the connector. Gently touch the two signal wires together and hold for a few seconds. (Don’t press them together with force or you could bend them.) Touching them together will drain the static electricity, according to Optus. When you put the connectors back in place, make sure you put them back where they were because they are not interchangeable. Tighten them finger tight, don’t use your teeth or a spanner or pliers.
If you don’t solve the speed problem using these steps, you can forward your notes and your speed test results to your RSP and say “I tried all these things, what’s next?”.
*Report compiled by Paul Rees, Skymesh.
**SkyMesh chart – https://www.skymesh.net.au/iss/2015-08.pdf
*** SkyMesh has miniature test computers we can send out to customers if the problem is evading a solution.
Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your service provider regarding your own connection issues.