Broadband Problems

Created by: Lester Caine, Last modification: 10 May 2019 (14:53 BST)

Being located in a fairly rural location, broadband was always something of a problem, with at times under 5Mb download and often under 100kb upload, so we had two telephone lines to get some level of multi tasking while uploads to hardware on a remote hosting site took place. Connections may have been slow, but they were essentially reliable and even if the connection was dropped it was only a minute or so to pick back up again which was nothing in the scheme of transmission times. Superfast Worcestershire's high speed broadband roll out finally caught up with our area two years back, some time after Broadway itself got fibre connections so at last we would have good quality speeds? Since it's fibre to the cabinet, and I can see the cabinet out of the bedroom window the potential is excellent, and we are getting 80Mb down and at time over 20Mb up despite the reported maximum being 20Mb. The second line was initially dropped, but we were being dogged by regular dropouts and still are. Fibre modems take several minutes to reconnect, but often don't do that automatically and having had to power down the hub to get it to reboot, it was also loosing the port forwarding settings which on early Hub6 units was apparently a common fault. So locally hosted sites were off line for some time especially if the dropout happened over night.

After having a BTHub3 that just ran and ran, the problems these days are getting more annoying. Perhaps the initial BT support should have indicated there was going to be problems. When the line was first installed ... on a Friday morning ... we were told that it would take a little while for the new line to sync up, but when it still had not connected by late afternoon a check with the fault line revealed that the Hub3 would never sync up, we needed a newer hub. Since it would be Monday before they could ship one, if we bought one locally they would refund the cost! The first trip to the local PC World resulted in another 'fibre ready' modem that would only work with an external box be the second trip replaced it with one that restored a connection in half an hour and the last days worth of emails could be cleared. When the BTHub5 rolled up it was left in the box, and the Netgear was left in place, but we were seeing quite regular dropouts an of cause the first suspect was the 'non-BT' Hub. So they were swapped ... No change ... daily dropouts for several minutes at a time and difficulty getting work done. The Hub5 was then replaced with a Hub6 and we are currently on the third Hub6, but the problem with those was the loss of configuration every time you had to power cycle them. This had been going on for around a year and so the next fix was to restore the second phone line and with Vodafone's line rental free offer, the second broadband line is costing less than the original analogue service. BUT it had problems from day one and eventually every joint on both lines was reworked to get the same performance on both lines. These faults were probably also throttling the original analogue connections!

The result was a much more stable connection on the BT line, and even longer gaps between dropouts on the Vodafone line. Of cause BOTH are actually Openreach circuits back to the exchange, but I am convinced that at least part of the problem is the network authentication failing rather than the physical connection, and BT or Vodafone provide that side of the jigsaw? Anyway while the Vodafone line manages weeks at a time without a break, the BT line is still up and down. It manages a couple of days and then drops, so we decided that to eliminate the Hub6 from the equation, a second Netgear hub would be worth trying especially since at the time it was showing 22 days up time. Typically the D6220 was no longer available, so a 'better' D7000v2 was offered as an alternative. Well it would be if it actually PROVIDED proper port forwarding! Having lost THREE DAYS trying to get it to work eventually I was directed to BT's premium support service and was warned I would be charged for their help. In the end no bill was raised as the support guy could see from all the fault reports that I should never have been directed to them anyway. But he did establish that actually port forwarding was working - externally - I just could not see those websites internally. Netgear had blamed BT for the problem when once one knew what questions to ask it is a known fault on the D7000v2 which they have no intention of fixing. Anyway, we left it running for a bank holiday weekend, to see if the dropouts still happened. I could work around the problem of accessing the sites by simply using the other broadband connection. But the Netgear dropped out twice in the four days, so it was packaged up and returned for a credit. It was not worth £170 if i was not going to fix the problem or actually work anyway! And the Hub6 was restored.

In the last 7 days the BT line has been down for over an hour! Interestingly, the Vodafone line has also seen a similar number of outages but the old Netgear hub has restored things in minutes ... well several minutes. So now were are awaiting yet another visit from Openreach since the line test IS still showing fluctuations in readings, something that the last two engineers have been unable to confirm this end.

Anoher visit from the openreach engineer ... actually the same one who visitd a few weeks back and once again he could not find a problem, but the cherry picker was requested to have another look at the connections at the top of the pole one garden over from here. That rolled up about mid day and almost as soon as they got to the top they found a 30cm loop of old wire from the overhead wire to the cable termination which fell off when moved! That has been replaced and properly crimped, but one has to ask why it was not picked up a year ago last time we chased to get something done. One also wonders if that was the cause of the poor performance of the analogue broadband in the previous years? Anyway we are now monitoring for another week to see what happens ...