Broadband connections and suppliers

  Podracer 12:41 22 Dec 2012
Locked

I am non-technical, and am having continual problems with my BB speeds, and am trying to get my head round how a BB connection works. I have had several different answers from different people, and any explanations on the www don't seem to answer my query.

The situation is this: during the day we can get 5 to 6 MBS, and I am happy (this implies no fault with my computer, router or phone line). However, in the evening, the connection speed drops to less than 1 MBS, often down to .5 MBS (on some occasions down to .1 MBS (yes, one tenth of a MBS), and it has even stopped completed on some occasions).

The diagnosis which I accept is "network congestion". However, my query is is this a function of the BB provider (in my case TalkTalk), or it is a function of the telephone infrastructure.

BT sales dept tells me that they can provide TV downloads to me, and that means that they "guarantee" 2 or more MBS at all times.

If I change BB suppliers, will I get a more reliable BB, or will the limitations of the equipment in the telephone exchanges still result in very slow speeds? In other word, does the BB use the same physical equipment whether I pay TalkTalk or BT (or anyone else).

Incidentally, we live about 50 metres from our local telephone exchange, and TalkTalk claim to have "upgraded" our BB.

Can anyone comment in non-technical terms?

  wiz-king 13:50 22 Dec 2012

Contention ratio is one answer that may fit. - too many people trying to do the same thing as you want to do on a not fat enough pipe.

Think of a water main - if your area has a 4" main and 10 of you turn on the tap - lots of water, if you have a 1" main and 10 of you turn on the tap - a trickle.

You need to check whether you exchange has been LLU if it has then it will tell you which ISPs have equipment in your exchange. Also check the

However they will all use the same copper cable from the exchange to your house. BT is responsible for all the copper whoever you use as your ISP.

Since the law was changed, in the last year, the ISPs have to give you an estimated speed. So check on your exchange suppliers - also check carefully for contention ratios - the cheaper packages are often 50:1 but a good package could be as low as 16:1 but unfortunately there are often reluctant to mention these figures.

  johndrew 13:50 22 Dec 2012

The speed of broadband depends on several things. This link gives a lot of information that hopefully will answer most, if not all, your questions and to help more this is a suppliers' information on the subject.

As a brief answer to your questions, the speed you get will depend on the number of people using the line from your exchange - this should not be more than 20 generally as this number will slow your speed dramatically. Through the day fewer people are likely to be online and hence your speed will be higher, but in the evening people (and children) will be at home and possibly using their PCs. The closer you are to the exchange the better your speed is likely to be. Changing your supplier may have no effect on the service you get, but moving to the more expensive and faster fibre service may help if it is essential. However if BT give a written guarantee they can be held to it, but check the small print.

If you want more information from us it would be helpful if you could identify the package you have from TalkTalk, especially the speed which is generally given as "up to" a specific figure.

  wiz-king 13:55 22 Dec 2012

Drat missed a bit --- Also check if you can get fibre to the cab from BT, Virgin or Plusnet. I used to have a 1meg connection but changed to infinity @ 34meg both from BT

  rdave13 18:15 22 Dec 2012

Earlier last year I joined PlusNet, not having much luck with other ISPs, and was having similar problems. 3 meg during the day and maybe 1 meg evening times. We went through all the usual checks, changing routers, filters, speed checks at different times for a while. The only fix that worked, after PlusNet sent Openreach out, was to change my connection to another part of the exchange. Since then I get a steady 6 meg at any time. This is not a LLU connection so pretty impressed with PlusNet.

  Podracer 21:09 22 Dec 2012

Everyone, thank you for your comments.

I quite understand the narrow pipe analogy, but I am not sure if BT use the "same pipe" as TalkTalk. Maybe the comment from johndrew sums it up: "Changing your supplier may have no effect on the service you get ..." (I stress the "may" which shows the uncertainty of the issue).

I was interested to hear about the contention ratio; something I have never heard of, and I will try to find out what ratio we are on, and compare TT and BT, and others.

TalkTalk call centre staff (Indian call centre staff who sometimes do not have ideal communication skills, and certainly a very strong degree of conflicting information from the call centre each time you ring them) have so far been unable to tell me if we have been LLU'd, but in view of the fact the TT has written to say that we were about to be "upgraded", I suspect we have been LLU'd.

The packages that TT can offer me here only differ in varying add-ons with free calls etc, and only one speed is offered. We do not have access to optical fibre here.

Finally, thank you rdave 13 for your Plusnet comments - I may try to see if TT can do this for me and try to get a more constant speed.

  Podracer 21:09 22 Dec 2012

Everyone, thank you for your comments.

I quite understand the narrow pipe analogy, but I am not sure if BT use the "same pipe" as TalkTalk. Maybe the comment from johndrew sums it up: "Changing your supplier may have no effect on the service you get ..." (I stress the "may" which shows the uncertainty of the issue).

I was interested to hear about the contention ratio; something I have never heard of, and I will try to find out what ratio we are on, and compare TT and BT, and others.

TalkTalk call centre staff (Indian call centre staff who sometimes do not have ideal communication skills, and certainly a very strong degree of conflicting information from the call centre each time you ring them) have so far been unable to tell me if we have been LLU'd, but in view of the fact the TT has written to say that we were about to be "upgraded", I suspect we have been LLU'd.

The packages that TT can offer me here only differ in varying add-ons with free calls etc, and only one speed is offered. We do not have access to optical fibre here.

Finally, thank you rdave 13 for your Plusnet comments - I may try to see if TT can do this for me and try to get a more constant speed.

  rdave13 21:40 22 Dec 2012

Podracer, what I learnt through my problem was that it takes some time for an ISP to recognise that there is a contention (pipeline) problem. I went through all Plusnet's requirements, even buying a new router, and completed tests for over a few months. At one time I was ready to give up and try another ISP. Even threatened to go to TalkTalk (as they are the only one with LLU on my exchange) but wisely stuck with PlusNet.

The benefit I had over your good self is that I talked to an English person who lives in the UK. Once the ball was rolling I got updated via text as to when Openreach started to change my connection in the exchange.

  spuds 13:36 24 Dec 2012

To find out if you have LLU, then you can check this via BT and their exchange technical information list.

If you are with TalkTalk, then they can supply you with some 'ping' type tests that you can try throughout the day. These tests will send an automatic report to TT test engineers, about possible bottlenecks on your line. It will not show intermittent faults, unless they appear at the time of testing. Intermittent faults can be dodgy cable, water in connections, exchange equipment.

To get a little clued-up on Broadband, then http://www.kitz.co.uk is very good, but can be rather heavy to take all in.

  rdave13 13:51 24 Dec 2012

You should be able to check your exchange via Samknows checker

  Podracer 17:01 26 Dec 2012

Gentlemen - thanks for the advice which is most useful and gives me a few more clues and sticks to beat TalkTalk with - assuming they can understand me! Would have replied sooner, but everyone in our village must have been using BB over Christmas and I had the best part of an evening without any connectivity. Now in a cottage in the Highlands and the only way I can get any BB connection at all is to plug the modem straight into the BT test socket - I feel a re-wire of the house phone system coming up, but that is a different story!

Happy New Year!

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

Elsewhere on IDG sites

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 review

What went wrong at the Designs of the Year 2017

iPhone X news: Release date, price, new features & specs

Comment utiliser Live Photos ?