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Internet connection is unstable" Arris S33 (but only in Zoom calls)

  • 28 December 2023
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I have Spectrum Internet and get excellent and reliable speeds with my Arris S33 modem. For the last few months in Zoom meetings my screen freezes (everyone except me) and I have no audio. In a minute or so it comes back and I get a Zoom error message “Your Internet connection is unstable.” During these freezes I have tested my connection with Speedtest and with other browser windows. The problem is only in Zoom. I have used Zoom on my MacBook Pro and my Dell XPS 15 laptops and get the same behavior.

The Zoom help is no help. Spectrum insists there is no problem and they can’t help because I am not using their modem. The S33 has current firmware. (And I have rebooted the modem, the Amplifi router, and all other pieces of equipment in my cabinet multiple times). Can anyone help? Thanks.

Edit: I found an forum article instructing a user of another modem to check cable signal levels. I could not found the docs for the S33 but Bing AI tells me:

  • Downstream Power Level: -15 dBmV to +15 dBmV for each downstream channel.
  • Downstream SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio): 23.5 dB or greater if QAM64, 30 dB or greater if QAM256 and DPL(-6 dBmV to +15 dBmV), 33 dB or greater if QAM256 and DPL(-15 dBmV to -6 dBmV).
  • Upstream Power Level: +8 dBmV to +54 dBmV for each upstream channel.

My modem status page says everything is within these numbers, except I could not find any entry for DPL (whatever that is).

I have submitted a support question to the Amplifi router support site too. Thank you for any answers here on my S33, or indeed about anything else that could be the problem.

 

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Best answer by plemans 25 January 2024, 15:45

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Userlevel 5
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Since S33 is just a cable modem we need to confirm whether the intermittent connection issue is happening on the direct connection as well or only with WIFI connected devices? If you find this is on direct connection without router then you have to try re provisioning modem by contacting your internet service provider.

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Of course! I hadn’t thought of that (probably because it is a pain). I will use a direct connection for the next while to see if it still happens. It just means draping a cable from the living room through the hall to my office. Thanks.

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I have not yet had time to settle down and try the Moderator’s suggestion. I have also received support answers from my Ubiquiti AmpliFi router support team. I will report back when this is resolved. Thanks.

Userlevel 5
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Hope you can view the Zoom meetings  without any freezing screen. If still facing the same issue or any other issue regarding the S33 do check the cable signals and see if they are in the acceptable range.

http://arris.force.com/consumers/articles/General_FAQs/S33-Cable-Signal-Levels

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I have spent a month working with my router manufacturer and it seems it is not the router. Now I am back to checking the Arris S33 modem. I just checked the S33 Cable Signal Levels page you link above, and all signals are in range. However, on that linked page there are 0 Corrected and 0 Uncorrectables. On my modems page there are more than 1000 of each for every channel. The graphic below shows just the first few lines. All lines are like this. What does this mean?

I am going to run an Ethernet cable across the house tomorrow and each night after that until it either continues to happen on wired or I decide the wireless is the problem.

Userlevel 6
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Its tough to know if those numbers mean anything because a small amount of errors can be compensated for. So if the modem has an uptime of a month, those numbers are decent. If its been 2 days, the ISP needs to check the line. 

What speeds (both upload and download) do you pay for? 
Zoom is sensitive to latency and low upload speeds. If your upload is low, it can cause issues and be why you’re freezing and not everyone else (their video is downloaded and yours is uploaded). 

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I have Spectrum Ultra, which is 500 Mbps down and 20 up. I needed to check their website because the plan I originally paid for was 300 down, and they periodically have been upgrading the speeds for that plan. The only upgrade would be their 1 gig plan but the upload speed is only 30 Mbps.

On Zoom everyone else freezes, but my camera (my Zoom window) remains active. (I can see me moving.) When the link unfreezes everyone else has been continuing the meeting just fine while they could tell I was frozen.

I just discovered the Spectrum plan includes a free modem (I always thought I would pay monthly) so I asked one be shipped to me. I will try it to see if this stops. In the meantime, starting tonight I am running an Ethernet cable from the living room to my office to test a wired connection.

I just checked and the Arris modem has been up 88 days 18 hours. Does that mean those errors are not relevant? Thanks.

Userlevel 6
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for 88 days, thats not bad errors but its only showing 4x of the 32 channels. You might have a ton on a couple of the other channels. 

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All the other channels were in the same range of errors. Every one of them above 1000.

Last night I ran Ethernet from the router in here to my computer and turned off my Wi-Fi. The freeze happened again (several times) running on wired, so apparently it is not the wireless connection doing this. It seems it can only be the Zoom app itself (both the Windows and Mac versions) or my Arris modem. Those are the only two things in common between my two computers. I don’t remember how old the modem is, but Google says it was first released in Nov 2020, so that is not very old.

It is very strange this happens only on Zoom, and nothing else I watch, such at YouTube or Vimeo, or our streaming TV, stutter or fail. About once every 6 months I need to reboot the Roku.

Since I discovered Spectrum will send a free modem I ordered it, and that will be the next test. I’ll report back after that.

By the way, I got 495 Mbps with Ethernet. I think I need to get up in the attic and run a cable into this office. 😊

Userlevel 6
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Zoom is very sensitive to latency and upload because it can’t buffer. Its a live stream. Versus youtube/vimeo can buffer a head even if its only half a second or 30 seconds. 

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I did not understand that about live stream feeds—thank you. That helps a lot in understanding what is going on. Still waiting for the Spectrum modem to arrive.

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I have received the Spectrum modem but been too busy to set it up yet. Will let you know what happens after I do.

Userlevel 5
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Once spectrum modem arrives, I suggest you to connect it to S33 cable modem through ethernet cable to access the Wi-Fi internet.

 

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Thanks for the suggestion, but can you clarify? The more I try to formulate this question the less I am understanding. Aren’t the Ethernet ports on both modems output? If not, and I can connect them together, which modem should I connect to the ISP, and which one is downstream from that one? Right now I have the S33 connected to my AmpliFi router and from the router to a switch. I am getting my wireless network from the AmpliFi router, not from the Arris S33 modem.

So are you suggesting connecting the Spectrum modem to Spectrum, and the S33 to the Spectrum modem by Ethernet, and then by Ethernet to the AmpliFi router. 

Can you explain the purpose of this? If the problem has been latency caused by the S33 then this would not solve it, would it, because the S33 would still be in the loop.

I am not arguing; I just don’t understand. Thanks again.

Userlevel 5
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I understand that you have ordered free modem from spectrum for the test.

In that case, please check the spectrum modem by connecting with Amplify router to check the internet connection whether the intermittent or slow speed issue is still persists.

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Right. Thanks. Will do.

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