Intermittent Problem with U-verse TV - going on 3 mos now!

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Teacher

Intermittent Problem with U-verse TV - going on 3 mos now!

I have had an intermittent problem with the TV freezing which has been going on 3 months now.  I have had numerous techs out (inside and outside) and even got a network manager involved.  Still - almost daily between 6 pm and 7 pm (about the time of the evening news), the picture freezes, or goes into a mosaic and stutters or I get the LOST TV SIGNAL message onscreen that lists remedies like checking cables, rebooting the boxes, etc.  I have had inside techs, outside techs, replaced equipment like STB/RG, etc.  The problem seems to clear up later in the evening.  They have told me repeatedly there is no problem inside the house - they have checked everything.  But ATT has also said multiple times they found a problem and fixed it (presumably outside somewhere) - but the problem continues.  I recall one guy with a laptop saying "you have no backend" - he was looking at a graph.  He acted like that was bad. But I have no idea what he meant.   I have had others say they see lot of errors - but also had them say they were seeing no errors right at the same time that I am viewing my TV screen and it's freezing up!  This occured during the test they run while they have you on the phone.  I have probably spent 30-40 hours of my time alone on this problem (on the phone, meeting techs, etc).  I am not exaggerating!

 

I just loaded the UV Realtime utility and attached the screen shots mentioned in other posts in the hopes someone can help me.  Note - there was no COAX/HPNA data to include.  Thanks.

 

 

 

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Message 1 of 31
Expert

Re: Intermittent Problem with U-verse TV - going on 3 mos now!

When there is a timed pattern to the freezes/pixelation, the usual cause is interference from a device that cycles on at that particular time.  Evening news time is a time for outdoor security lights, air conditioning, etc. to turn on, so I'd look at those items.

 

Other possible sources include:

* Power line interference, such as:
* Fluorescent light ballasts
* High-intensity gas discharge lights like mercury vapor
* Grounding problems, such as improper ground at the NID, the pedestal, etc.
* Electrical system grounding problems, such as improper ground on the RG's outlet, the breaker panel, etc.
* HAM radio broadcasts in the HF band
* AM radio transmissions, such as a nearby radio station

Try to isolate any potential source of these problems and see if you can find one that eliminates the interference.

Message 2 of 31
Teacher

Re: Intermittent Problem with U-verse TV - going on 3 mos now!

Hadn't thought of those things.  I was thinking somehow it was a capacity thing where there was more bandwith being used at that time of day and possibly that's what was causing the problem. I think I came up with this theory when I was trying to watch the worldcup of soccer (which was a bit earlier in the day if I recall correctly - around 4-5 pm) and I was having this same issue.  But someone from ATT explained to me that u-verse technology isn't subject to problems caused by high usage - it doesn't work that way.  I guess that's correct info - so it blew a hole in my theory.  I didn't mention this in my first post but we didn't have any issues for the first 18 months when we switched over to U-verse from Comcast (and we have TV, internet and phone).  Seems odd to start having these problems at month 19 - and nothing in the house has really changed - no new equipments, etc.  It's also a fairly new house (under 20 years old) so the wiring and boxes are in pretty good shape.

 

Anyway, I can rule out some of these items pretty quickly - like mercury vapor - don't have that type of lighting.  And since we are on EDT, it doesn't get dark around here until 8:30 pm or so - so lights aren't really coming on. We are out in the burbs - so no AM radio stations nearby but I don't know about HAM operators - could be some out there.  However, - if that's the case - why only around 6 to 7 pm?  We do have several fluorescents lights/ballasts but those remain on into the late evening and the problem clears up usually around 7 pm.  As for the grounding at the NID - that's something I would hope the ATT tech is checking.  I do recall one of the techs early on that came out when I was losing all 3 services connect a ground wire inside the phone box on the outside of my house - said it was supposed to be connected and it wasn't (said something about some techs don't believe it's needed and some do).  He also told me the coax splitter in the other box on the outside wall didn't need to be grounded - and it isn't grounded (unlike when Comcast was my service and they had it grounded).

 

My wife has been watching TV now for the past hour or more and it hasn't acted up once.  It's almost 9 pm now. I guess I will snoop around the house more and look at your list and see if I can somehow link something starting up with the issue occuring.  Not sure though .... thanks.

 

I

Message 3 of 31
Teacher

Re: Intermittent Problem with U-verse TV - going on 3 mos now!

One other thought.  In addition to the picture freezing up and going mosaic - it also goes completely black and I also get the NO TV SIGNAL screen message for a few minutes at a time. Would interference cause that as well?

Message 4 of 31
Expert

Re: Intermittent Problem with U-verse TV - going on 3 mos now!

Yes, an interference issue could cause that issue as well, as it could cause the 2Wire RG to reboot. A reboot will interrupt TV viewing for 3-4 minutes.

Sometimes fluorescent lights (or street lights -- remember, the interfering device may not be in your home, but somewhere around it) cause interference when they first start up, and then the interference goes away as the ballast/transformer/power supply heats up. This usually indicates that the ballast/transformer/power supply is bad and needs to be replaced.

 

Also see the following post where I tracked down an interfering device in my house:

 

http://forums.att.com/t5/Receivers/Tracking-Down-Line-Interference/m-p/2654177#M47347

 

 

Message 5 of 31
Teacher

Re: Intermittent Problem with U-verse TV - going on 3 mos now!

That link provided excellent info!  I will try emulating what you did.   There are several places in my home where we have a huge mess of wires/components in a very small area ...

Message 6 of 31
Teacher

Re: Intermittent Problem with U-verse TV - going on 3 mos now!

I was having the signal loss problem yesterday in the late afternoon - 6 pm to 7 pm.  So I went around to each computer/STB/stereo during the period while the main TV screen was frozen and I unplugged coax, turned off surge protectors, etc.  Nothing I tried corrected the picture.  So I started moving things around - repositiong them - surge protectors, coax, etc.  I made sure all the connections were tight.  About that time (7:10 pm), everything was working again.  I doubt anything I did actually fixed anything - it's just the nature of this problem that it routinely goes out from 6 pm to 7 pm.  I guess if I actually DID solve anything - it should be evident over the next day or two.

 

However, I am thinking that the issue is more complex now.  Perhaps it has to do with a HAM operator - or temperatures in the late afternoon causing a weak card somewhere in the network to overheat and malfunction.  We live in FL and it's been getting up to 100 or more.  By 7 pm however, things have started cooling down some.  If it's a HAM operator - I am totally lost on how to track that down.  I doubt it has to do with lights, ballasts etc because this is too early for those things to kick on - beside that, if that were the case, I'd expect the outage to last all night as happened to other U-verse users.  While I can't say the outage is alway in the 6 to 7 pm hour - it's almost always somewhere around that time frame and about that duration - which makes you think it's something that's kicking on - but what?  Pool pumps, A/C units, etc all run for much longer than that and over a wider time period.  What runs for only about an hour or two in the late afternoon (but well before it's dark outside)?  I have no idea ... all I know is it prevents me from watching the evening news just about every single day.

Message 7 of 31
Expert

Re: Intermittent Problem with U-verse TV - going on 3 mos now!

Next time it happens, see if you can capture some UVRT screen shots during that period of the Error Table, IP/Profile, and Bitloading tabs. Something might show up at that point that doesn't show up at other times.

Also take a look at the 2Wire RG during this period and see if the Broadband light or Service lights are blinking and/or red.
Message 8 of 31
Teacher

Re: Intermittent Problem with U-verse TV - going on 3 mos now!

I thought you might ask for those so I did capture the UVRT screen shots during the outage period last night.  BTW - tonight I am not having any problem whatsoever with the TV - ironically it's raining and heavy thunderstorms!  Here's the screen shot during the outage period last night:

 

 

 

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Message 9 of 31
Expert

Re: Intermittent Problem with U-verse TV - going on 3 mos now!

Are your TV boxes connected to the RG via coax or Ethernet?

Your line isn't the best in the world, but the error table shows that there isn't too much wrong with it.

If some of your boxes are connected on coax, there may be something else that needs to be checked.
Message 10 of 31
Teacher

Re: Intermittent Problem with U-verse TV - going on 3 mos now!

We have 3 STBs - all coax.  We have one Samsung HD TV (in a bedroom) but the other two are Sony WEGA CRTs which still work perfectly even though they are going on 10 years old - so I don't really have an inclination to replace them.  So we don't have the HD service.  As for the wiring, it's the original coax that was prewired when the house was built 18 years ago.  Crystal clear picture when we had Comcast.  U-Verse TV picture has never been as good as Comcast (in my opinion). Perhaps related to your comment that I don't have the best line in the world?  Is there a way to make that line better without rewiring to Ethernet?

 

Fast moving shots (like football plays) and brightly lit scenes (like fireworks, or award shows where you have lots of bright lights and theatrics) have moments where you see a pronounced loss of detail (not sure what to call it - it's not pixelation - it almost grainy).  It's been this way since day one of U-verse but it's goodpoints tend to outweigh the bad over Comcast (this current problem removed). 

Message 11 of 31
Expert

Re: Intermittent Problem with U-verse TV - going on 3 mos now!

The picture quality issues may have something to do with the coax, but probably not the line.  The line has built-in error correction so the IPTV stream arriving at the RG is identical to everyone else's.  Your error table shows very little error correction, so I doubt there are any severe line problems.

 

If your STBs are connected on coax, you may have a coax issue in your house.  You may need to call tech support and request a technician to come and troubleshoot the coax installation.  He should look for and/or accomplish:

 

• Replacing cable end connectors with compression fittings

• Replace barrel connectors

• Replace splitters with 1.5GHz HPNA-certified splitters

• Replace the diplexer (if used in the installation)

 

Message 12 of 31
Teacher

Re: Intermittent Problem with U-verse TV - going on 3 mos now!

Thanks.  I feel like I am getting somewhere with this now.  When the service was first installed over 20 months ago, we had an initial issue that lasted a few weeks.  The service would simply go out intermittantly - lights would start flashing on the RG.  Come to find out, the installer hadn't crimped the coax connector properly on one end of the coax that connected the RG to the wall.  It was truly as simple as that!  Once they put a new connector on - no more problems - until now that is!  

 

Since I moved my wires around the other night and reconnected/retightened all the coax cables - I haven't seen an issue.  It's only been one day though.  It's amazing how sensitive this technology is to any slight anomaly. 

 

If I continue to have issues going forward - I'll go down the route you suggested and have an inside tech come out to check those items.

 

Just wondered what your thoughts are regarding the need to use the Tripp Lite Isobar units?  They gave me one of the Isobar units when they did the install and it's on the RG and associated equipment in that room.  But the main TV/STBs in the other rooms only have Belkin surge protectors on them.  They all claim to have some level of RFI filtering - but wondering if I really should move to all ISOBAR units due to their claimed superior performance and isolation.  Here's what I have on the main TV/Home Theatre (note I don't use the coax filtering on these):

http://www.belkin.com/IWCatProductPage.process?Product_Id=329553

Message 13 of 31
Expert

Re: Intermittent Problem with U-verse TV - going on 3 mos now!

The Tripp-Lite IsoBars are the only surge protectors out there that filter between the different devices plugged into the unit itself. This is important in computer installations or home theater installations where you have a large unit with high current draw at startup or during operation (such as a laser printer, AV receiver, or plasma TV) and you also have sensitive components on the same power strip (computer, U-Verse STB).

Normal power strips will allow interference from the heavy device to get directly to the sensitive device, whereas the IsoBars will filter that.

The IsoBars also have higher spike/surge joule suppression ratings, and better EMI/RFI filtering.

I use these almost exclusively at work and several at home.
Message 14 of 31
Teacher

Re: Intermittent Problem with U-verse TV - going on 3 mos now!

Ok - I am going to pick-up a couple more ISOBARs.

 

Was watching the PGA tournament this afternoon and the picture started freezing again.  Around 5 pm.  So I went into the PC room where the RG and Belkin backup are located and started moving some of the wires around a bit.  I noticed the alarm system started beeping (this indicates no dial tone).  So I got to looking at the splitter I had on the wall phone jack - this allows two phone wires to connect to the wall.  One wire is for a phone and the other to the RG.   So I removed the splitter and took the phone out completely (put a cordless satellite in there instead).  Now the RG phone line goes straight into the wall phone jack - no splitter.  I also moved the Belkin backup power supply away from the RG and untangled all the wires.  I tightened the coax at both ends (wall and RG).  Again - it's hard to say if this really did anything - but I noticed the golf I was watching stopped freezing and the alarm system stopped beeping.  Could be a coincidence - could be something I did ... time will tell.

Message 15 of 31
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