Ever since the COVID-19 quarantine has started, our home internet with Izzi has had reliability problems.

Izzi woes

The speed with Izzi was good, when it was there. But we would get frequent, short drops throughout the day. 10 seconds here, 20 seconds there, a minute later on. In general, that wouldn’t be a huge deal. Even when watching Netflix, it wasn’t normally an issue, as the Netflix app buffers enough.

But, where it was especially problematic was video calls. We both do a lot of video calls (Zoom, WhereBy, Slack, etc.), and having a video call drop for 20 seconds seems. like. forever…

For example, here’s an example of our Izzi network outages for one day:

7/28/2020 1:09:49 AM 0:00:12
7/28/2020 7:57:07 AM 0:00:07
7/28/2020 7:57:43 AM 0:01:18
7/28/2020 8:19:48 AM 0:00:11
7/28/2020 9:11:33 AM 0:00:19
7/28/2020 9:21:44 AM 0:00:09
7/28/2020 9:22:00 AM 0:00:08
7/28/2020 9:39:18 AM 0:00:09
7/28/2020 10:01:37 AM 0:00:23
7/28/2020 10:46:01 AM 0:00:20
7/28/2020 10:46:28 AM 0:00:12
7/28/2020 11:01:33 AM 0:00:08
7/28/2020 11:06:15 AM 0:00:19
7/28/2020 11:11:17 AM 0:00:10
7/28/2020 11:11:34 AM 0:00:08
7/28/2020 11:48:19 AM 0:00:20
7/28/2020 11:49:33 AM 0:00:25
7/28/2020 11:50:40 AM 0:00:31
7/28/2020 12:00:57 PM 0:00:21
7/28/2020 12:01:43 PM 0:00:08
7/28/2020 12:02:39 PM 0:00:36
7/28/2020 12:03:59 PM 0:00:09
7/28/2020 12:04:50 PM 0:00:26
7/28/2020 12:06:24 PM 0:00:24
7/28/2020 12:07:13 PM 0:00:39
7/28/2020 12:09:55 PM 0:00:41
7/28/2020 12:10:49 PM 0:00:10
7/28/2020 1:02:06 PM 0:00:54
7/28/2020 1:03:53 PM 0:00:22
7/28/2020 1:43:28 PM 0:00:10
7/28/2020 1:57:18 PM 0:00:06
7/28/2020 1:59:55 PM 0:00:05
7/28/2020 2:00:24 PM 0:00:05
7/28/2020 2:01:08 PM 0:00:55
7/28/2020 2:02:26 PM 0:00:35
7/28/2020 2:07:30 PM 0:00:12
7/28/2020 2:11:45 PM 0:00:44
7/28/2020 2:12:52 PM 0:00:08
7/28/2020 2:16:19 PM 0:00:22
7/28/2020 2:17:04 PM 0:00:11
7/28/2020 2:26:59 PM 0:00:11
7/28/2020 2:47:35 PM 0:00:23
7/28/2020 3:18:40 PM 0:00:06
7/28/2020 3:19:15 PM 0:00:11
7/28/2020 3:19:48 PM 0:00:06
7/28/2020 3:20:18 PM 0:00:24
7/28/2020 3:21:39 PM 0:00:20
7/28/2020 3:23:07 PM 0:00:09
7/28/2020 3:23:39 PM 0:01:03
7/28/2020 3:27:25 PM 0:00:06
7/28/2020 3:30:56 PM 0:00:16
7/28/2020 3:32:02 PM 0:00:14
7/28/2020 3:32:39 PM 0:00:07
7/28/2020 3:33:16 PM 0:00:05
7/28/2020 3:33:49 PM 0:00:06
7/28/2020 3:34:40 PM 0:00:10
7/28/2020 3:35:13 PM 0:00:05
7/28/2020 3:36:43 PM 0:00:05
7/28/2020 3:37:58 PM 0:00:05
7/28/2020 3:38:26 PM 0:00:11
7/28/2020 3:39:18 PM 0:00:16
7/28/2020 3:40:41 PM 0:00:16
7/28/2020 3:41:44 PM 0:00:15
7/28/2020 3:42:46 PM 0:00:30
7/28/2020 3:43:59 PM 0:01:05
7/28/2020 3:45:49 PM 0:00:08
7/28/2020 3:46:45 PM 0:00:05
7/28/2020 3:47:59 PM 0:00:56
7/28/2020 3:49:19 PM 0:00:10
7/28/2020 3:49:52 PM 0:00:09
7/28/2020 3:53:47 PM 0:00:24
7/28/2020 4:01:03 PM 0:00:11
7/28/2020 4:01:21 PM 0:05:24
7/28/2020 5:21:02 PM 0:00:06
7/28/2020 5:37:08 PM 0:00:07
7/28/2020 5:43:52 PM 0:00:11

As you can see, there were lots of short drops throughout the day.

In case you’re curious, I use an app called Net Uptime Monitor to track my network – that’s where that data came from.

Here’s a speedtest for our Izzi service. Our contract was for 100/10.

So when it was up, it was great. But all of those drops were killer.

Sharing is Not Caring

Cable internet (like Izzi) is shared from a central node where the ISP meets the local coaxial network. This means many homes have to share a single node. Sharing like this often leads to low speeds during peak use hours. And since so many more people are at home due to the pandemic, we were feeling the cable internet sharing pains.

Izzi connection problems

I was also starting to experience some Izzi connection problems to certain sites. In particular, I was seeing a lot of dropped and reset HTTPS connections to Amazon web services (such as *.s3.amazonaws.com). Many websites use Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3) for storing static content and images, including Github. I also had issues connecting to the AWS console (https://us-west-1.console.aws.amazon.com/).

I even tried switching my DNS settings, using Cloudflare (1.1.1.1) and Google (8.8.8.8). That didn’t help.

If I used my PIA VPN to connect to the United States, those connection problems went away. Still, it was annoying.

Telmex Fiber

This past week I finally said Enough!, and we contacted Telmex, and signed up for their fiber optic home service. Within a few days, their techs showed up, and did the install. They ran a new line from the pole at the street to our house, and ran it into the house exactly how I asked them to (to be fair, I did throw them a few extra pesos – money well spent – especially since they worked outside in the pouring-down rain).

We signed up for the 200 Mbps package for $899/month.

Now here’s our Telmex speed

And over the last 5 days, here’s my network outage report:

8/6/2020 5:07:26 PM 0:00:06

One outage, for 6 seconds. That’s it!

Needless to say, I’m pretty excited with Telmex so far – both the speed and uptime.

Mesh Network

I’ve had a few people ask me what we use for internet at home – especially since Elizabeth and I work online.

Both the Telmex and Izzi routers are also wireless access points, so you can connect via WiFi. That works great, especially if you’re somewhat close to the router. But, since all of our houses here are concrete, the signal quickly fades. Our router is downstairs, but we work upstairs, and the WiFi signal isn’t great. So, we use a Google WiFi mesh system.

We’ve been using this now for 3 years, and it’s worked great.

We have 3 “pucks”. One plugs into the router, and then we have two upstairs. The 3 pucks create a wireless “mesh” network, allowing you to extend your WiFi system throughout the house. We can even connect when we’re on our 3rd floor terrace, and outside by the pool.

There’s now a newer version of the system called Google Nest Wifi. I don’t have personal experience with that, but it looks to be an improved version over the original system.

Additional Access Point

Our property actually has 2 houses on it – the main house where we live, and the smaller casita. As good as the Google mesh system is, it just didn’t make it into the casita. Between the amount of space between the two houses, and all of the concrete walls, the WiFi in the casita was weak.

So, to solve that problem we hired a friend to run a Cat 6 cable between the two houses. In the main house, it connects to the main router. And in the casita, we added another wireless access point.

I actually had a pretty high-end Netgear router / access point that was in my box of tech goodies, so we plugged that into the casita, and boom! Super fast WiFi in the casita.

Internet is a utility, not a luxury

So between the new Telmex fiber optic, our Google Wifi mesh, and the additional Access Point in the casita – we’re in pretty good shape internet wise.

We still have our Izzi internet as well, for the moment. We’ll let the new Telmex service play out for a month or so, and if it continues to function well, we’ll completely drop Izzi.

And we’re still using our UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), so on those occasions where CFE fails us, at least we still have internet for a few more hours.