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High Packet Loss in the Evening Only

3: Seeker
3: Seeker

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:Screenshot_20230118_084948.png

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 :Smiling:

120 REPLIES 120

Sadly still having up to 50% packet loss in evenings here (Shropshire). I live in hope of it being resolved at some point but no sign of improvement yet.

Ah crap, so it was only resolved for me - not network-wide. I'd recommend raising complaint (don't bother with the customer service stuff - just a waste of time), request compensation for the affected months at 50% of your bills, and then request updates concerning fixing the issue from network engineer.

Can you guide how to check destination ect ? I am not very familiar with network IT.

4: Newbie
  1. Contact Your ISP (Vodafone): Given the consistent timing of the packet loss and the fact that you've tried different SIMs and devices, it's possible that the issue could be related to the network infrastructure on Vodafone's end. Reach out to their customer support and explain the situation, providing them with the data and patterns you've observed. They might be able to investigate further on their side.

  2. Check Network Congestion: While you're in a remote area and the cell tower is nearby, network congestion could still be a factor during peak hours. The increased demand on the network during those specific times might lead to packet loss. Your ISP might be able to provide insights into network load during those periods.

  3. Firmware and Updates: Ensure that both your TP-Link router and your connected devices have the latest firmware updates. Sometimes, outdated firmware can cause unexpected issues.

  4. Test Without Smart Devices: Just to eliminate possibilities, you might want to temporarily disconnect your smart devices and see if the pattern of packet loss still persists. It's unlikely that they are causing the issue, but it's good to rule out all possibilities.

  5. Consider External Interference: While less likely given your proximity to the cell tower, external interference (such as from other electronic devices) could potentially disrupt your signal. Try moving your router to a slightly different location and observe if there's any change.

  6. Alternative Connection: If possible, consider testing a different form of internet connection, even if temporarily. This could be a wired connection via DSL or cable, for instance. This would help you determine if the issue is specific to your mobile SIM connection.

  7. ISP Investigation: If the problem persists and you've exhausted all other troubleshooting steps, it might be worth requesting a more thorough investigation from your ISP. They should have the tools and resources to delve into network logs and diagnose the root cause.

    Also, check out AC Football Cases.

Just for the lols I don't suppose anyone has an update as to when the packet loss issue may be fixed? Or have we all moved to different networks?

Well answer kinda is in front of us. The issue started November last year it is 10 months already. So the answer is never. I moved to smarty its cheap, speed is 20% what i got with Vodafone, but no packet loss at all. 

I spoke with them multiple times, many times they did not even knew what does it mean packet loss. I said to all my friends and family to stay away from Vodafone. 

Sad as first year with them i had great experience. 

Many people I know and myself are going to be moving away from Vodafone for this reason, it is not fit for purpose, what was once one of the most robust and reliable networks is now almost unusable in many cases. Its clear they dont care about the quality of the service they provide, so they dont deserve out money.

I'm still very much experiencing the same issue, with terrible packet loss most noticeable around 7-10pm every evening (Central W1 London). It gets so bad that YouTube/Twitch cannot stream (even when set to 480/320p), and will constantly buffer. Websites take seconds to "start up".

I have 2 more months to endure before switching networks.

Yes, similar times and exact same symptoms regarding YouTube. Obviously gaming is a non starter also. My packet loss monitoring shows the same frequency of loss as has been ongoing for months.

Three are putting up a mast near us soon so I'll migrate to that when I can. For now Voda are the only 5G option so I'll just have to bear with. Like you I now make a conscious effort dissuade people from going to Voda should they ask for a recommendation. 

Just an update, we gave up on Voda as the packet loss was affecting evening enjoyment of YouTube/other streaming too much. Moved to Three and although it's a lot slower due to distance from the mast, there's now no packet loss issues and we can stream/game again :Smiling:

I really wanted to stay with Vodafone but they simply don't care to acknowledge this fault so I'd say save yourself some stress and move to another network if you can.