I've been having periodic packet loss for the last month or so at very specific times in the evening, and am at a bit of a loss on what to do.
To start off I'll explain that I live in a remote area, so I use a mobile SIM in a TP-Link router for household internet. The phone mast is quite literally at the bottom of the garden, so I've always had a very strong signal and quite fast speeds - enough for gaming and streaming simultaneously. I also have a number of smart devices around my home, including several Google Home devices and smart switches. Never had any issues in nearly 2 years with this setup.
Beginning at the start of December 2022, I noticed that I was getting very high packet loss (up to 30%, with higher spikes) while playing online. At these times my wife also noticed that YouTube, Netflix and iPlayer were buffering regularly or playing at low quality. We assumed at first that it would just be a temporary glitch, and left it at that.
After a few more nights I started investigating further. To start off I tried disconnecting our wifi boosters - no change. Resetting the router - no change. Comparing wired (PC) and wireless connections no difference. After resetting everything and even trying the hotspot on my phone, I gave up. Give it a couple of weeks, I thought. It's the Christmas holidays, maybe the lines are just busier than usual.
Come January and with no further change, I used pingplotter to test our connection over a few days and the results have been quite interesting:
This is an example taken over a 48 hour period. My latency (black line) is very stable. The red bars show packet loss. What's interesting here is that every day, at 15:00 on the dot, the packet loss starts to rise. It peaks and drops again at 19:00, then rises sharply throughout the evening before tailing back to zero at 23:00.
This cycle repeats every day, without fail, near enough to the minute. And it's exactly the same whether I'm on a wired or wireless connection, and is also the same using the hotspot on my phone (and we've tried this with 2 different Vodafone SIMs).
Surely this must be some technical glitch on Vodafone's end? As I mentioned it only started beginning of December 2022, but the connection is unusable for gaming in the evening and streaming is also slow.
Is there anything more that can be done?
Thanks for any help
Hello there @dncan29 🙂 Welcome to the Community and thank you for taking the time to explain what's been happening - I understand it's frustrating when things aren't working as expected.
So we can look into your local network further, please follow the checks on our "Network issues - initial checks and template" page and complete the template. I appreciate that some bits may not be relative to you, so please fill in as much as you can.
We'll then be able to take a more in-depth look into things.
Hi @Amanda , thanks for taking the time to look at my situation. I have filled the Network Issues template below:
1) Does the issue happen in just one location? If so, how far do you have to travel to regain service?
It's a household 4G internet issue, so I can't replicate it elsewhere. However, as I mentioned earlier, the Vodafone mast is very close to the house.
2) What is the full postcode (e.g. ST1 1AA) of where the issue occurs?
Area code beginning FK6, full postcode on my profile.
3) Does the issue occur if you try your SIM card in a different phone?
Yes, I get the same results whether the SIM is in my router or hotspotting from a phone. I have tried 2 different handsets. I have also tried on both wired and Wifi connections.
4) What errors are seen or heard when the issue occurs?
High packet loss (up to 30% with higher spikes) between 15:00 and 23:00 every day. This makes streaming slow, and online gaming impossible.
5) Does this happen on 2G, 3G, 4G or all?
I only have 4G available.
6) When did you first notice this issue?
Beginning of December 2022, and daily since.
7) Is the issue permanent or intermittent? If intermittent, are there certain times of the day when it occurs?
Daily between 15:00 and 23:00.
Thanks for confirming this @dncan29, I've taken a look at the mast serving you (5935) and this appears to be preforming as expected and hasn't experienced any downtime or interference that may cause the issues you're experiencing. We'd really need you to check the performance in another location to see if you still experience the same problems. If it's not possible to relocate the router, would you be able to pop the SIM into another device and see if you still experience the problems elsewhere?
If you could also pop us a couple of speed tests taken from Speedtest.net. Please provide one before 3pm and one from the evening during the affected times.
Hi @Mark ,
I've done the speed tests from speedtest.net:
At 9pm, when packet loss is at its worst;
And just after midnight, when everything is back to normal;
As I mentioned earlier, my latency tends to be around the same at both times (and the graphs I shared earlier reflect this). It's certainly an odd one.
I can try the SIM in a different area but it'll probably be a few days before I have time to do so between 3 and 11. I'm not really sure how this will help though, I've already established that the problem is the same on multiple devices - the common denominator here is surely our mast?
@GWSTURGESS it's certainly reassuring that I'm not the only one. Is there any chance it's a similar area? Have you used PingPlotter and come up with similar results?
I'm in a rural location in Leicestershire on a farm but can also see the mast from my house. I'll do that test & post results here.
They've changed something to cause this I swear. I thought that before I saw your post, and with everything including even the time it starts then works properly again, it HAS to be! It's basically confirmed it to me.
Good luck & I'll let you know my results!
Got some more information as per your advice @Mark ...
So I brought all my kit to a friend's house in Dalgety Bay (KY11 area) and ran PingPlotter again. My results were exactly the same - packet loss fine until 3pm, then through the roof until 11pm. And again, same results using the hotspot on a phone.
Interestingly, on the advice of a friend I tried using a VPN on TCP mode and this actually fixed the packet loss - though the latency was fairly poor so it's not a permanent solution. I don't really know what to make of this.
Considering that @GWSTURGESS is having the same problem in another completely different area, I think we can establish a wider issue. Is it possible there's an underlying traffic management system causing the problem? That's really the only thing I can think of that would explain the set times of the outage.
An update from my end.
I contacted Vodafone through Facebook as suggested by @Gemma and they've confirmed that this is an ongoing problem across the network that several users have been having. The networking team is working on it and will keep me posted.
As of the end of January, the problem persists - that's 2 whole months now.
Same, still ongoing & Vodafone doesn't show any signs of actually fixing issue.
I bought a EE sim as I know they share masts (it's stamped on the mast) & had good 4g coverage here. Well its perfect, no packet loss & a nat type 2 for gaming.
I don't understand why this thread should be gone over again on social media, retreading the same ground for nothing to be fixed.
I was flatly told by an agent it's not the mast, but It's definetly Vodafones back end issue on how they distribute 4g