Still checking…

network cable

So just over a week ago, according to BT Openreach they have activated the new cabinet, but we still can’t place an order for “superfast” broadband.

I have also been using another method of checking progress which is the ADSL checker site from BT.

This is the result from my line.

BT ADSL Checker

As you can see the maximum downstream rate is no more than 1.5Mb/s.

According to my DSL router, the actual speeds I am getting are

DownStream Connection Speed – 1152 Kbps
UpStream Connection Speed – 440 Kbps

Which to be honest is not much good for anything these days, even web pages are so bloated these days, it can take an age to download a single web page from some sites. Flickr for example is really challenging to use. So you can imagine the challenges we face in streaming video, using services such as Skype or any kind of cloud service.

Just up the road, with a property connected to cabinet 17, you can see the different having a FTTC enabled cabinet can make on speeds.

BT ADSL Checker

You can see though the ADSL speed is better than mine at 7.5Mb/s, the FTTC rate is around 80MB/s.

I was also interested to see that fibre to the premises (FTTP) is also available on that cabinet to that specific line with a 330Mb/s downstream rate!

Doubt that will be available on cabinet 25.

BBC News are reporting though that this may change…

Telecoms regulator Ofcom forced BT to legally separate its broadband infrastructure division Openreach in March.

Since the split, Openreach has pledged to offer super-fast fibre broadband to 10 million homes by 2025, using technology known as fibre to the premises (FTTP) which it had previously said was too expensive for wide rollout.

I know, I know I should be happy I am getting FTTC and not worry too much about FTTP.

What are you doing Apple TV?

Those who regularly follow the blog will realise that my local cabinet will soon allow FTTC connections, only seven years after the local exchange was upgraded. When we moved house five years ago, we took our internet service provider with us and kept the legacy account. Five years ago we expected to be upgraded to FTTC with a year or two…

This legacy account actually has a bandwidth limit of 120Gb per month, which considering my average ADSL internet speed is 1Mb/s is (usually) more than plenty. Most months we are lucky to hit 60GB. As a result I have never upgraded the legacy ISP account.

As we finally approach the possibility of having a fibre connection, I was checking what kinds of fibre accounts were available, I took the opportunity to check my bandwidth usage and was surprised to see how much bandwidth we had been using. We were using 4-6GB per day (which if you do the math, you will realise would take us over the monthly limit, as especially it is a thirty one day month).

After checking a few things and doing an overnight test, it would appear that the Apple TV was the culprit.

Apple TV

Not sure what it was doing (as it was supposed to be on standby) but I am guessing it was attempting to update itself or downloading one of its (rather nice) screensaver.

Reflecting another culprit could be the Wii U. Well let’s see what happens with the Apple TV turned off. OF course once we have upgraded to FTTC we will have unlimited bandwidth, so I won’t need to worry. Which will be soon…. I hope.

Will we get Virgin Media cable?

Weston Village by James Clay

On the other side of the village…

I like how Weston call their new housing developments villages, this conjures up images of a village green, a local post office, a pub and a red phone box.

Reality is that this is a modern housing estate, though has to be said with an ancient communication infrastructure relying on old copper cables!

It is no surprise that when builders come in and build a new housing estate they provide electricity, gas, water and sewage, but when it comes to connectivity, they fall back to the trusted copper cables.

Why when a new housing estate is built they can’t install fibre straight in, I will never know. Though recent press reports indicate that this may now happen… only taken ten years.

But back to the other side of the village, across the main railway line which splits the village (we do get steam trains on that line, but this isn’t Titfield Thunderbolt railway lines, no this is high speed GWR and CrossCountry) we have seen Virgin Media come in, dig up the roads and pavements and install Virgin cabling to the houses there.

There isn’t much to discover on the web about Virgin Media and what will be available, according to the website, they say it’s not in their plans… seems strange to spend lots of money on the infrastructure to connect homes, but never actually connect them up! I expect it will be available shortly, and I wonder what sort of stuff will be on their fibre cables? In some parts of Bristol for example, we have 200Mbs connections, though I think that Virgin would also like you to take their TV packages as well, something that puts me off them, as I don’t watch that much live TV and prefer BBC iPlayer, Netflix or Amazon Prime.

What has got me wondering, now they have installed cable on the other side of the village, will they cross the railway line and do our side of the village, will they get us some decent internet connectivity, as BT Openreach have consistently failed to do so. There are some CATV covers quite close (and on our side of the railway line) but not sure if they are anything to do with Virgin Media, or even if they are related to any possible roll out of Virgin Media Cable.

Of course no news on the Virgin Media website, so we shall have to wait and see.

ADSL Modem Woes

I have now been back on ADSL for six months and it’s not been a smooth ride. I moved house in June and as a result my phone line was linked to a different cabinet, even though it was the same exchange. The exchange was upgraded for FTTC, but the cabinet I was connected to wasn’t part of the upgrade plan. As a result I was booted back down to an ADSL internet connection.

My connection is certainly better than the one I had just before I moved onto FTTC. What I have noticed is two things, firstly, the connection goes down a lot more than it ever did on FTTC. Now this could be the connection, but I am slightly suspicious that the fault lies with the Netgear ADSL Modem/Router I am using rather than an issue with the connection itself.

Netgear DGN1000 Wireless-N150 ADSL Modem Router

This is reinforced with the second thing I have noticed. When we’ve had a power cut (or as I did the other day turn off the power to do some electrical work) it seems to be really problematic to get the three Apple Airport base stations I have back up and running. After reconfiguring the base stations and failing, I did a software reboot of the Netgear Router through the admin screen (as opposed to turning the thing off and back on again) and this time the Airport wireless base stations did sort themselves out.

The main problem I was having with the Airport base stations was that they couldn’t get an IP address from the router through DHCP and when I gave them a static IP address, the DNS didn’t work as expected.

When I had FTTC, as it uses PPPoE I was able to use my Apple Airport base station as the main router for the home network. When I moved back to ADSL I needed to get a new ADSL Modem/Router that supported PPPoA. I did have one in the loft that I got out, but I think it was fried or just too old because I couldn’t get it to work or even configure it. So I went out and bought a Netgear ADSL Modem/Router from my local PCWorld. With hindsight this was probably a mistake!

After blaming ADSL for my lost connections I am now basically convinced that the fault is not with ADSL, but may well be with the Modem/Router. The issue with the DHCP is I think a separate but connected issue.

As a result I am thinking about getting a new ADSL Modem/Router, so do you have any suggestions?

No magic with BBC iPlayer

No magic with BBC iPlayer

I know many people out there have no sympathy for me now that I have lost access to fibre (through FTTC) and have reverted back to a relatively much slower ADSL connection when I moved house. I am aware that much of the UK population only have similar broadband speeds.

However I do think it is interesting to note the problems I am having, it has certainly made me much more aware of the advantages of FTTC over ADSL and the need to speed up all of the UK (not just my neck of the woods).

The other evening I sat down to watch Merlin on BBC iPlayer and it was stuttering like crazy… My Sony TV has internet capability and BBC iPlayer is accessible from the user interface without needing to use a laptop or iPad. I was slightly surprised as I had recently moved a few things around and connected the TV direct to my router. Previously I had used wifi to connect the TV to the internet and this had proved unreliable; when I had FTTC, it had worked fine over wifi. When I did a direct wired connection this appeared at the time to resolve those buffering issues.

I tried again, and once more it didn’t work…

I thought about it, checked upstairs and found that my son was streaming BBC iPlayer on his computer at the same time.

It was apparent that though my ADSL connection was fast enough for BBC iPlayer, it couldn’t cope with two streams at the same time. When I had the FTTC connection, it coped fine with higher quality BBC iPlayer streams, and streaming two programmes (and doing other stuff on the web as well) was all fine and dandy.

So we waited until my son’s programme had finished and then we watched Merlin.

What this incident made me realise was that the real advantage of FTTC wasn’t so much the speed of the connection, but the width. I find on ADSL that I can cope with waiting for things to download, but what I really miss about FTTC is the ability to use the full capacity of the fibre “tube” to do lots of different things all at once. Now with ADSL I need to schedule streaming and downloads to ensure that, not only do they work, but also to not inconvenience others in the house.

So is FTTC anywhere on the horizon for me? Not that I can see, which is a real pity.