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Diagnosing a Slow Internet Connection

Think your internet connection is slower than it should be? Find out for sure by following these four simple steps.

Modern internet connection speeds are mind-bogglingly quick compared with what most of us dealt with five or 10 years ago. Still, occasional segments of pixilated video and time spent watching download-progress bars can leave you wondering if your internet connection is as fast as it should be.

Usually it is. Most of the time, a long download simply indicates a really huge file. Modern games, for example, can be bigger than 50 GB. No matter how fast your connection, downloading a gargantuan file like that will never be instantaneous.

But sometimes there might actually be something amiss with the signal coming into your home. And you don’t need to call technical support to figure out if this is the case. Follow the simple steps outlined below and you might be able to diagnose whether there’s a problem all on your own.

Step 1: Log In to Your Modem

Start by connecting your computer to your modem via an Ethernet cable to establish a direct link and remove any potential Wi-Fi issues from the equation. Then open a Web browser and enter the following numeric address:

You’ll land on the gateway login page, which will ask you for a username and password. Assuming you haven’t changed the password since acquiring your modem (and you should know what it is if you have) enter the following:

Username: cusadmin

Password: password (yes, unless you’ve changed it, just type the word “password”)

Congratulations! You’ve successfully infiltrated your modem’s mind.

Step 2: Find Your Wide Area Network (WAN) Data

After you’re in, the next step is making your way to the wide area network (WAN) data. This is a snap, though you’ll find it in different areas depending on the type of modem you have. To figure out which modem you have, take a look at its rear panel and look for the words “Model Name.”

Once you know your modem’s model number, make sure “Status” is selected at the top of the page in your open browser window. If you have a Hitron CGN2, click on the “CM Status” tab. If you have a Cisco DPC3825, Hitron CGN3, or Hitron CGN3ACR/CGNM, click on the “DOCSIS WAN” tab.

Get ready to be bombarded with rows of numbers and some unfamiliar acronyms. Don't be intimidated. You’re almost there.

Step 3: Examine the Channel Data

The chart on your screen should be displaying rows of downstream and upstream channels. The downstream channels are the conduits responsible for pouring the internet into your home. The upstream ones are the avenues through which you send data back out into the world.

And here’s the good news: you don’t need to understand terms like “signal power” or “signal-to-noise ratio” – or even the units used to measure them – in order to get the gist of the numbers in front of you (though if you really want to bone up on your network-engineering knowledge, you can read this informative Wikipedia entry).

All you need to be concerned about is whether you have the proper number of channels and that the numbers for each channel are sitting in their respective sweet spots. Here’s how you can tell.

Downstream Channels

For downstream channels, the ideal signal level – potentially called “signal strength,” “signal power,” or “power level,” depending on your modem – is 0.0 dBmV. However, it’s normal for this number to range between 10 dBmV and -10 dBmV. And the range between signal levels in different channels can safely be as many as three or four dBmV.

You’ll also want to look at the signal-to-noise ratio. This should be above 25 dB for each channel, but it’s not uncommon to see numbers range two or three points outside this range.

Upstream Channels

The key indicator for upstream channels is simply the signal level (or “power level” or “signal power,” depending on your modem). This number should be between 35 and 52 dBmV – again, with wiggle room spanning a few dBmV.

Missing Channels

Depending on your modem, you’ll have either eight or 20 downstream channels. And you should have at least three and maybe as many as four upstream channels. Missing channels in either group probably means that your cables and connectors have grown so old that they’re no longer operating properly, forcing the modem to drop one or more channels. That’s not so good, and likely means it’s time for you to move on to Step 4.

Step 4 (If Needed): Reach Out to Rogers Technical Support

If you’ve gone through the first three steps and everything seems copacetic, then it probably is. Your internet is functioning as intended. Go back to enjoying it.

If the numbers in your channel chart seem wonky or you’re just plain missing one or more channels – and you’re also experiencing clear issues with your internet or quality of TV viewing – then it’s time to talk to the professionals.

You can start by jumping over to Rogers Community Forums, where you’ll find loads of smart people capable of recommending next steps. Or you can call Rogers technical support at 1-855-381-7839 and let them know everything you’ve done. They’ll take it from there.

Regardless, you’re now a bit of networking guru yourself. Nice work.

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