Dad! The movie stopped again!

No, it’s not 1989 and the VCR didn’t just eat your tape. Today, in the modern household when your kids are heard screaming a line like this it’s because your network is struggling to download your movies (along with all the other network traffic) and as a result, some of the traffic (like your kids’ movie), pauses or buffers. As the popularity expands for streaming movies on multiple screens through Netflix, Amazon, HBOGo, Showtime, Hulu and other content providers, this problem is likely to intensify. More importantly, it’s not just be the movies which are being interrupted. You only happen to notice a buffering movie because a person is actively watching every second of it. The reality is that it could be any one of the hundreds of IP-enabled devices on your network which are also “pausing” or just losing service entirely. This includes your computing devices, audio-visual gear, security cameras, appliances, lighting, automation touch panels and pretty much anything else which connects to your network.

Paying for the bleeding edge

Having been a bit of a tech geek for most of my adult life, I’ve always been trying to smarten up my home with simple conveniences we all take for granted today. Back in 1999 I was able to load my Mp3 files on a desktop computer and stream them through my family room stereo via my MP3 player. It was all run over a Nortel networking product which let me send my Ethernet through the electrical system. I even digitized some VCR tapes through an RCA jack on my computer, giving me the bleeding edge feature to skip ahead. None of it was an easy set up and it hardly ever worked correctly, but it was definitely something to geek-out on. Back then, you had to deal with the inconveniences and sacrifices which accompany products on the bleeding edge, but today most people won’t. When the movie pauses, your PC backup fails, a device drops offline or your network just crashes, it’s either the homeowner or the integrator who will be making the fix. If you are the integrator, that probably means you are getting a phone call.

Whether you actually handle the issue over the phone or if you have to spend money to roll a truck depends upon which tools you have in your arsenal.

Is my ISP delivering what I pay for?

Recently, I was at the office working late when I got the frantic call, “The movie keeps pausing, can you fix it?”. Typically, the first go-to is to stop everything I’m doing and unplug the modem and the wireless router. Not being at home at the time, I now had to ask my wife to unplug these devices for 15 seconds, re-connect the modem, wait for the lights, then plug back in the router. Five minutes after that, AppleTV has usually reconnected and the buffering issue is “fixed”. The problem is that this was the third time I had to go through this process in a month. I needed to know why this kept happening and understand how I could finally solve the problem. I had just read the about the court case where AT&T was found guilty of throttling the Internet speed of their customers and immediately I wondered if this was the case here.

Aha! I have Ihiji

This time, I wasn’t just going to settle for pulling the power cable. I had just installed an Ihiji appliance on my network and I was planning on getting to the bottom of the issue. Utilizing the Ihiji Invision remote managed services portal, I was able to see my network from work and run a WAN speed performance test on it. Using Ihiji, an integrator could see this information from across town, or from anywhere in the world. After just about a minute I got the results; and what a train wreck.

This particular test displays the download speed, upload speed, network latency and jitter in an easy to read graph representing several speed readings throughout the day. It was clear, my network’s download speed was taking a serious dive every time the network latency increased. At the same time, the jitter was introduced and everything just grinded to a halt. This is where the real troubleshooting power comes into play with Ihiji Invision. Using the diagnose section of the Invision portal, I was able to get detailed information on the devices which could be causing the the latency problems which ultimately sent my network off the rails.

Ihiji Connected = Problem SolvedISP WAN speed drop chart

It turns out that I was having an issue with a wireless extender which was installed on the network. Some of the devices (including my movie streaming device) was not able to reconcile whether to connect to to the main wireless router, or to the extender. As the device connection bumped from one wireless source to the other, the time it took to ping the main server got longer and longer, which caused the latency to go through the roof. This is where my download speeds dropped to a crawl.

Turns out that it wasn’t my ISP throttling my speed this time. Simply reconfiguring and placing the wireless extender in another part of the house was the fix and Ihiji was the hero.

This was a real-life fix completed on a few devices in an average sized home, but this entire process of testing, troubleshooting and resolving issues is what Ihiji users get every day on an industrial scale and across any sized property and spanning all of their client’s sites around the corner or around the world.

Get a live demo and see for yourself.

 

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