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back to article Is this possibly the worst broadband in the world?

Four kilometres to the north of here, in semi-rural Kent, the pavements are stuffed with fibre-optic cable and the streets are lined with drab green cabinets, all nicely tooled up for superfast broadband. But here, we rely on plain old ADSL piped in from a small BT exchange, 1.7km to our south (as the crow flies). You can see it …

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Gold badge

Straight line distance is 1.7km

I quoted road distance before... have updated the article.

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Unhappy

Re: Straight line distance is 1.7km

Hmm. In that case the cables are poor. Trouble is there's no legislation on cable quality. Or rather there is but it's currently 'Most support voice and data rates of at least 9600bps'. A couple of attempts have been move it beyond the analogue modem era but they've stalled.

But still - 2.5km should be around 34dB and maybe 13Mb/s during the summer.

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Coffee/keyboard

Arse-end of nowhere != crap speeds

I live pretty much out in the sticks, and out of the "up to 8MB" potential I get... 8MB. I've no idea how or why, but I'm not arguing.

At my last house I started getting crap speeds though. Many "line resets" later, they send an engineer out, who assured me I probably had faulty wiring in the house. After going to check at the cabinet the real issue was revealed: as he was tracing the wires they literally fell out in his hand because they'd never been properly connected.

None of that is worth publishing though :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Arse-end of nowhere != crap speeds

Yes you can get decent speeds in rural areas, my parents lived in the darkest depths of Wales and got excellent speeds... BUT I do also agree with @AC, people in the countryside squeel like bitches, yet you don't here me screaming because somehow BT failed to enable FTTC on my road, even though the rest of my area has it..

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FAIL

Re: Arse-end of nowhere != crap speeds

BUT I do also agree with @AC, people in the countryside squeel like bitches, yet you don't here me screaming because somehow BT failed to enable FTTC on my road, even though the rest of my area has it..

People in the countryside are not squealing they are asking for some service. I notice you do not mention what line speed you get now. I bet it is not low (yes low speed is not just a rural issue but is more prevalent).

Most people in the countryside do not get anything anywhere near fast enough to run all these "modern" services. Most days I for example get 500kbps, try streaming on that or in fact doing web browsing as most sites nowadays do not attempt to optimise their sites, because, as you know, people all have fast connections.

Our green cabinet is not even in the village, it is a good half a mile from the first house. And our exchange is in the nearest town, 5 miles away. Do you understand why we want fibre? It is the only way we are likely to get faster speeds and is the same for a lot of rural communities. Even then we will get no where near the speeds capable from FTTC because of the copper/aluminium wiring in the village.

I live in a village not because I am rich or because it is pretty. I live there because it is how I was brought up. It is what I know and who I am.

Our village is lucky, we will get fibre soon. I have no idea why, we are not a large village but the only thing I can think of is that we are on the route to the next town that is set to be fibred up by March 31st. I have seen BT blowing fibre down the ducts and digging up the road already.

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Bronze badge

Re: Arse-end of nowhere != crap speeds

There is, indeed, no reason which fibre can't be run in from another exchange if there's suitable ducting. Indeed, I believe it is not uncommon for FTTC to be provided that way. Given that, it might well be cost effective to provide FTTC to your village if there's a sufficient concentration of housing as it would not be necessary to upgrade your local exchange.

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Silver badge

Re: Arse-end of nowhere != crap speeds

> There is, indeed, no reason which fibre can't be run in from another exchange if there's suitable ducting. Indeed, I believe it is not uncommon for FTTC to be provided that way

Yup. In fact some entire towns are being serviced from other exchanges. Mine is apparently like that. Brackley has FTTC but it's being provided by the Banbury exchange over ten miles away.

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Silver badge

I see a different angle for this

I too suffer from lower speeds than I should be getting on my home line. We live less than a mile from the exchange and yet for years despite the houses in and around our area (literally every road but ours) getting 20mb, we were stuck on 4. Not as bad as the author I know.

But when you're paying for "up to BLAH" I really would rather see them measure your maximum speed and have different tiers of pay. I know it'll never happen, but on the other hand, why am I paying as much for 5MB as the guy round the corner from me is paying for 14MB, or 20MB?

Even worse for the author of this article who's paying that same fee for 0.1MB.

I'd much rather see them charge a base price + extra per theoretical max as calculated by your ISP after a month. So you sign up it might be £5 per month + £1 per MB connection up to 10MB, followed by £1 per 2MB connection etc etc.

Why pay more for less?

Of course we all know that'd never happen, but still.

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Bronze badge

Re: I see a different angle for this

YOu would trust the "up to BLAH" bullshit artist who sold you the lemon to accurately report how well it performs?

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Our exchange is 2.5Km away and serves a miserable 138 properties. No mains gas, no mains sewers, no mains drainage...we do have mains water though! So our exchange is Market 1 and likely to always be; no-one else will add their kit to it. We get "upto 8Mb" and I get exactly that, 8Mb, through tinkering with internal cables, disconnecting bell wire etc. So living in the sticks does not necessarily mean carp broadband speeds. Admittedly we will never EVER get "up to 24" or FTTC/FTTH, but 8Mb does the job and allows me to work at home (in I.T.).

BT don't give a stuff if someone is getting low speeds. All they are interested in is headline-grabbing stuff about how many exchanges are fibre-enabled (never mind all the cabinets which are not). Sounds like you have duff cable or joints, or the cable is taking the sightseeing route to your house.

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This post has been deleted by its author

You're doing pretty well compared to me in a quite comparable environment in France, where up to 2.5MB is promised by Orange and less than 0.7 delivered. My upload speed is often less than 0.1. Horrible latency means that video streaming of even crappy quality YouTube or Skype is not possible. We got fibre-optic to the exchange recently but that made zero to negative difference downstream.

However from my window I can see my neighbours who have no option but very expensive satellite.

Mostly posting due to the "worst in the world [except in other countries]" headline.

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Silver badge

see if there are any wireless providers around. There are a few serving villages in Lancashire and Cumbria to places that are market 1 ADSL shitholes. Sure it is usually circa £25 for 10mb but its better than nothing!

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Anonymous Coward

Stop being tight

and pay the fee for them to run fibre to your house. You can do it for under 2 grand.

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Re: Stop being tight

Really? Where from? I've been looking for something like that for about a year but haven't found anywhere (unless I want to pay about 2 grand *per month* that is!)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stop being tight

Try looking at Plusnet www.plus.net

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Re: Stop being tight

Already tried them. They aren't interested unless your house already has FTTC, which seems to be the same as every other provider I've looked at!

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Re: Try looking at Plusnet www.plus.net

"Try looking at Plusnet www.plus.net"

Plus.net are owned by BT I believe.

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Devil

Re: Stop being tight

This if Fibre On Demand (which is being trailed). It needs FTTC to work in the first place, currently with FTTC the fibre goes from the exchange to the cabinet and then copper to the home, FoD replaces the copper from the cabinet with fibre (at cost, which you pay) but it needs to have FTTC in the first place, no fibre, no FoD.

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Silver badge

Don't like BTs service?

Stop paying them. They'll get the message.

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Meh

This is why for me if I'm looking to buy a house I check the broadband availability. If it's appalling, that area is off my list.

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You and most other homebuyers apparently.

Realtors have found that half their customers will reject a house if the boradband isn't up to snuff. It's rated as more important than offstreet parking and working toilets.

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Try PO13 0AE - Gosport. Not in the arse end of nowhere, in a bloody town - and it still gets less than 1mb. Not my postcode, mind you, my fathers - I get lovely 100mb :)::)

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Mushroom

There is worse

I moved from blighty to the back end of nowhere in Ireland.

Now, while the majority of Ireland has quite good ADSL, with 20 Mb/s being a regular occurrence, I thought I'd be able to at least get 1 Mb/s.

Mobile connections are also flaky at the top of the valley I live in, so what was I left with?

Satellite, that's what. The cap is minimal (26 GB), the ping rate is horrendous (700-900ms) and the price is offensive. But that's what I have to put up with to live in the area I want to.

As an IT professional this initially made me weep, but I have come to embrace the consistent speed it provides (18 Mb/s).

To quote the article though: "Roll on 4G. It must be better, mustn't it?"

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Meh

Re: There is worse

I hear yer.....I was on a split Eircom line so that meant no DSL and 28Kbps max speed on the modem.

Took over 4 yrs to finally get 'our own' single line that DSL could run on.....and a lot of hassle. But at least our exchange has ADSL, unlike some of our friends houses, although it is a technology that's over 12 yrs old now with a lovely contention ratio and big slow downs at peak times.....

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Get a new modem....

I too live in Rural(ish) Kent, I was told that my property would never get better than 500k ADSL due to the length of the line (a smidge over 6km). After reading various websites for boosting line speeds, my line now synchs at ~2.8meg.

I removed all of the existing cabling and ran a shielded cat 5 cable from the point where the dropwire comes into the house, twisted two of the pairs together, bought an NTE5 and filtered faceplate, no extensions are run off this socket, the phone is a DECT plugged into the faceplate. I bought a Billion 7700 modem/router and tweak the settings to force the line to synch at ~1db. The line profile is set to 12db and with that I get ~700k, with the forced ~1db I get ~2.8, some days it'll be as low as 1.5meg and the best I have seen is 3.2meg.

My next door neighbour has done none of this and his line speed is less than 500k.

It'll stay up for a few days and then drop, I don't mind having to reset the modem every now and then, it is a small price to pay for a useable speed.

Don't rely on your service provider to give you the best service, do a little bit of research and you can help yourself.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Get a new modem....

> I bought a Billion 7700 modem/router

Billion gear seems to have a good reputation for getting the best out of marginal lines. Ugly as sin mind you...

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Pie

Do a quiet line test, get a normal wired phone plug it in to your master socket. If you can unscrew the face plate of the socket which will disconect any internal wiring you have. Then Dial 17070, press option 2 (quiet line test) you should hear nothing, no crackles hums or anything. If you do then report it to BT as a line fault don't mention broadband problems, they will fix that hopefully and your broadband will improve.

Oh you can also do distance from the exchange (copied and pasted)

Distance From Exchange

Dial the same line test number as the quiet line test (17070). Then press option 3 (fast test) then press option 1 (to say you are authorised, don't worry about 'not being officially authorised'). The press option 2 (ring back test). Then put the phone down.

You will get called back by the test facility within about 10 seconds, one of the bits of information given will be distance from exchange (in kilometres).

*The distance result may not be accurate if you have a 'DACs' fitted. It is not 100% accurate but does serve as a guide.

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Pint

An interesting post. Have a pint as it's Friday!!!

Does this work with other providers? For example I have my phone line through Sky and suffer with a crackly line occasionally.

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Pie

Probably not, it didn't work on a talktalk line I was trying to check, worth trying, if you do get a crackle on the line it is worth reporting to your phone line provider so they can do something about it as it will affect your broadband.

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Pint

Had a look around after being suitably inspired by your post. Apparently with Sky the number is the same but the options are slightly different. It's option 4 for the QLT. Option 2 gets you to say a phrase which it then plays back and gives you other line info.

Will be testing it tonight. Have another pint!!

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I had an amusing call-in to BT once for that:

"Hello, how can I help?"

"Hi, I'm calling about my very noisy line"

"Could you repeat that? There seems to be a lot of noise and it's hard to hear you"

"Yes, that's right"

"Could you rep.... Oh, I see. We'll schedule an engineer and call you back with a date"

"Thanks!"

It sounded like gravel in a washing machine, but the ADSL was still chugging along at about 1mbit/sec (down from its usual 4mbit/sec) which was pretty impressive.

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Bronze badge

Count yourself lucky

Count yourself lucky that you can get ADSL at all, I know of people who live so far from the exchange with such crappy cabling that they can't get any ADSL.

Maybe you should consider getting 2 phone lines and using a bonded connection to double your speed. There a number of ISPs which provide this.

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Get a Group going

I'm some 5/6km from the Exchange (Rural) and have 1.5mbs - which obvoiusly is liveable, but further from the Exchange things get ludicrous, so some Generous Community types, setup a scheme to get better broadband, so hopefully this month (The FTTC in place already) I'll be switching to a VDSL2 service.

Check out www.gowerbroadband.com

All this faff shouldn't be necessary most of the money channelled into Broadband improvements in this counrty seems to be creamed of by committees/reviews/surveys etc. The powers that be should set up a model like the National Grid/National Rail - it's effectively the case with OpenReach anyway - but one broadband network for all the ISPs to share and cut out all the waste?

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Re: Get a Group going

Been there started that...

In the village I used to live I seriously looked into it - bank finance arranged, business plans sorted, publicity ready, customers waiting, then out of the blue BT decided 'oh yes, we WILL upgrade your exchange even though it's down as 'not for the foreseeable future' in all our published roadmaps'.

As I understand it they pulled the rug out from under a lot of rural providers that way, they just used them to drum up and prove the demand then jumped in and obliterated them.

Luckily I didn't get far enough to end up massively in debt.

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Silver badge

Re: Get a Group going

I really am surprised that OFT hasn't gotten involved - but then again if people aren't complaining about this activity (They told me there is a lack of evidence and complaints), then they can't start.

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Silver badge

Price up 2.5km of cabling, including digging up pavements or erecting poles to run it to the exchange (or 4km of fibre for the equivalent "independent" option).

Price up a leased line of your own maximum speed from that exchange to an Internet hub somewhere that will peer with you.

Now divide by the number of people that would serve (one). That's how much your house will cost to wire for broadband no matter who does it. If it's cheaper than a leased fibre line direct to your house, I'll be amazed.

Now consider the only economy of scale. Do the same calculation for a line to EVERYONE in the town (including all the cabling etc. that would cost, extra cabinets, etc.). Multiply up the leased line to the exchange to handle some proportion of them being "online" simultaneously. Now divide by the number of people who would buy it. I will still be similarly amazed if the per-customer cost was recoupable from the profit you could make in under 25 years of everyone being connected -ONLY with you - on your most expensive package.

You don't live "out in the sticks" but you do live 2.5km from an exchange, which is probably 20+km away from a point it can connect to the Internet reliably with an SLA. It costs as much to wire you as any company will quote you for to wire just you anyway. Hell, even if you imaginarily did a Heath-Robinson job, you're talking 2.5km of cable or fibre and technology out of your price range on either end before you even start.

You do not have a right to broadband access. And providing it to you, like BT has been saying for DECADES, costs more than the 50-year-old copper line that gives you phone calls cost to install (which is probably something that, nowadays, they wouldn't fund either with increasing metal costs). This is why cable is only in pre-cabled areas (because companies went bankrupt running that cable to you, because they could never make their installation costs back, and only the companies that snapped them up "for nothing" actually run a good cable service in this country - because they basically got the copper installed for free - and that's why they won't install new areas unless the end cost of X% of customers paying £Y a month for Z years actually makes their money back AND A BIT MORE).

You are stuck. Until someone funds a closer exchange, a better leased line to that exchange, or some other alternative that passes closer to your house and doesn't cost about £10,000 to install (which you won't pay back on a basic ADSL service for about 42 years - and that's assuming there are NO ongoing costs in keeping it running).

Suck it up, or fund it yourself. Much as I like to point out how crap BT are, they really do have a point about rural broadband installation.

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Anonymous Coward

Now subtract from your figures the income to BT from lines that are only kept to support broadband and are in effect a double charge on the cost of connectivity - the ongoing income from exchanges supported on the pathetic upto 8 meg service using ( more than paid for ) old kit salvaged from luckier upgraded areas and add to that a complete lack of upgrade investment - the pricing which continues to be farcical - or even an ability to maintain lines to an acceptable state and you might get an idea why most rural dwellers rightly see BT group as an abusive incumbent telco that need stripping of control of the national network.

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Silver badge

Still don't think it comes CLOSE to profit, that's the point.

You can badmouth BT all you like but keeping a phone connection open even just for emergency calls costs them money on every bit of the backend from your copper connection up to their national infrastructure.

ADSL just add huge data requirements on top. And even if you assume they should plough back every bit of profit into upgrading lines, etc. it doesn't add up to supply a line that will make a loss (after nothing but running expenses) for 25-30 years, and which at any point you can tell them to stuff it and go with their competitor who might not pay toward their upkeep of that same line but run their own cables by then. Add on actually having to make a profit (they ARE a business, not a government entity any more), and having to subsidise other, even poorer connections elsewhere (some of them by government order, e.g. the "proper" rural broadbands like the islands and the 50km runs, etc.) and it's of course going to be damn expensive for the homeowner.

But the fact is, even if you popped down to your local cabling supplier and picked up some ADSL backend hardware and did it yourself over 2km, it's going to be YEARS before you save enough to make it cost-effective, and even more years if you had to do the same for the whole town (which is why just about every "community broadband" supplier ends up folding, conceding, with ludicrous prices or low-speeds, or selling out to a multi-national in order to stay afloat).

Hell, if it's THAT profitable, buy yourself a leased line at business prices (they will run it to your door and GUARANTEE uncontended service, no matter what the obstacle), and offer it out over wifi (no cabling costs) to the entire town. You could easily run a 100-1000 customers over a single leased line of a decent speed, but I doubt you'd ever pay for the line itself, BT involvement or not. That's what a load of community project did and you realise that actually it's damn hard to make any money at all, let alone recoup the outlay.

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I have every sympathy with Drew. There were times when I was getting less than 0.1 Mbps; and note that I was paying BT for "Business Broadband service" so I was paying a lot more than most people.

In my case, the situation was quite simple; I was in an area served by an older exchange and the cable from there to where I lived was over 50 years old. The BT engineers knew (and had highlighted many times to the relevant people) that more than half of the cores were dead.

The cable needed to be replaced, but BT wouldn't do this; they were planning to replace the exchange, only didn't know when they would do that. The original date of 2009 was pushed back to 2010, then 2011 ...... As for fibre; yeah right, maybe one day when pigs fly. Changing to a different supplier won't make the slightest difference if the cable to the local exchange is so poor.

All of the local businesses are having problems because of this. Local phones are noisy as hell and sometimes, conversations of more than a few minutes are just not possible. It's got progressively worse and I spent part of 20011 and the first half of 2012 arguing with BT support, who insisted that there was "nothing wrong" with the connection and would insist on sending engineers out to check the wall socket / internal equipment; only for the engineer to point out each single time that it was the line. This is actually the same problem as for a lot of other areas.

It still hasn't been fixed; but I've moved out of the area. Several of the local businesses are also considering their future in their current location.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "The cable needed to be replaced, but BT wouldn't do this"

Did no one think of ripping the cable up (or tearing it down) as a means to force BT's hand?

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Re: "The cable needed to be replaced, but BT wouldn't do this"

>>Did no one think of ripping the cable up (or tearing it down)<<

Rather a lot of cable to tear down, but the thought had occurred to several people; but being law abiding, and such activity being viewed as criminal damage it was of course seen as inappropriate. (I couldn't possibly comment on what happened when a couple of trees fell over during some poor weather a while ago.)

BT simply patched the missing cable with older cable that they had recovered from somewhere else.

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IT Angle

Rural Kent - VFast Orbital

I lived in the outskirts of a major town in Kent, Ashford, I upgraded my 2mb line to "up to 8mb" I too found my broadband dropped to 0.5 if I was lucky and often dropped off the face of the internet.

If you can get vfast orbital, get it. I used this for over a year, and can confirm the experience I had was great, it was around £25 per month, but I didn't need a BT line, so I made a saving that way; cost of installation at the time was around £100. In fact the only reason I switched back to BT was because they promised FTTC was coming in the April, I wanted to be ready so switched over in March, a year later I finally had BT inifinity, which is moderately fast broadband. not 40mbps but a close 25-30mbps.

I would have gone for Cable, but that was only installed at the bottom of the hill I lived on so I couldn't get it.

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Personally, I think it's serves you right to a degree, for paying BT any money whatsoever. Whilst you may not have an option as to whom you pay your line rental, you almost certainly have a choice as to whom you pay your broadband subscription, yet you choose to pay that money to BT.

I've been aware for 15 years to pay BT as little mind as possible.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, red arrow me

I don't have sympathy for people who live in the sticks and then moan about their Internet. They wouldn't do it about the lack of a nearby Ikea or poor public transport, but for some reason they expect the same Internet service as city dwellers.

It's a trade-off. If you want convenience, faster Internet and 24 hour megamarts, live in a city or large town. If you want a quieter life and to be closer to countryside, live in the country but don't expect the same convenience. Your Internet will definitely be slower and you'll get innovations in technology later. You can't have everything.

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Bronze badge

Re: Yes, red arrow me

If you want convenience, faster Internet and 24 hour megamarts, live in a city or large town. If you want a quieter life and to be closer to countryside, live in the country but don't expect the same convenience.

Not everyone gets full choice of where they live and why should it have to be one or the other. Let's move society forward; not hold it back with continuing divisiveness.

I would rather we strived to deliver the best we can to everyone, minimising disadvantages for all. We should be aiming to give country folk better infrastructure as well as giving town folk greener spaces and better environment.

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Mushroom

Re: Yes, red arrow me

So you would happily do without / pay much more for the Oil, Power and Gas supplies that may well have come from this area? Rural we may be... idyllic we ain't.. and while rural areas give so much to the economy of the UK we get naff all in return - services either don't reach us at all or have been centralized. Add to that huge travel costs and suddenly you realize what city dwelling trolls lack in terms of real knowledge. AND I say that having lived in postcodes starting with SE24 SW8 SW9 SM3 and SM5.

You'd look kinda funny walking to work then hand cranking your IT kit because the energy sources located within 10 miles of me were not running because everyone had followed your suggestion and moved back to the city. Quiet life? You have been watching too much period drama. here we have 44 tonne trucks moving 24/7 from 2 ferry ports - even xmas day!

We have been paying through the nose on IPSC 8 megs because BT couldn't be arsed to invest. Yep we had leverage (higher) pricing and low allowances to encourage ISPs to move people to WBC - even where WBC wasn't available (still isnt on my exchange - 10 k lines - hardly a shed on a village green) you have to wonder how much of the higher charging for services on old and paid for kit has gone to subsidize expenditure on upgrade after upgrade in the urban areas? we sure as hell don't see any investment here - not even in maintenance.

You really don't have a clue!

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It could be as simple as a line fault. Mine at home (also in the sticks) was horrifically slow. After some time the landline stopped working completely, no dial tone or any sign of life. broadband wasn't affected as it seems to work okish on a single wire. We got the line fault fixed and broadband went from 1Mb to 6Mb and the router has not dropped the connection since. Whilst we were having problems, the landline was fine until it died.

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FAIL

Quite simply, it's a case of suck it up or move house, you're not alone. With that said...

I'm on Infinity. Which is all well and good - for me. But the people I support are often in situations like you describe.

What annoys me is that BT are keen to "improve" Infinity instead of fix rural blackspots! I appreciate that if the infrastructure is in place, going from 20Mb to 200Mb is probably just a flick of the switch. I also appreciate that a heap of people paying for Infinity1/2/3/4/5/X will probably fund the improvements required in rural areas.

But don't leave the sheep without broadband!

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Headmaster

Worst broadband in the world? Well, no.

Because at 0.1Mbps, it isn't a broadband service. If memory serves, the minimum speed requirement for a service to be considered broadband is 160kbps. Services which cannot consistently attain that speed cannot legally be described as broadband.

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