Thanks for that, Protuberance. Much obliged.
"What you saw 1 hour before the engineer turned up was probably one of these moments - but they happen hours or days after the original fault has disappeared. They are automatic, so never happen because someone chose to reset the line."
No - I honestly cannot for even a moment believe that this is what happened. What you have to realise is that prior to the engineer arriving the speed had been about half a meg for 2-3 weeks. What must also be stated, very categorically, is that my line does not - *ever* - experience blips where the speed increases for a short time. Rather, it is continuously and permanently running at half a meg. There are never any periods when it increases and then dips again. That particular increase - the one that occurred just before the engineer's arrival - was a utterly and absolutely uncharacteristic. That kind of sudden and extremely dramatic increase (it leapt from 0.5mbs to nigh on 4mbs) was unprecedented. I do not and I cannot believe it was coincidental. Nothing will convince me of this. And the reason for this is simple: it *never* happens.
I am not sitting here day in day out experiencing jolts and spikes in DL speeds. Between us the wife and I are on the internet via our laptops continually all day every day (and in my case, well into the night as well), and I can attest to the fact that the line speed never, ever varies. Ever.
However - just to be clear - I will note here that there ARE times when the line speed increases. But this is only when a moderator emails me to tell me that some kind of action has been taken - I have no idea what action this may be. A line reset? Some kind of tweak at the exchange? I have no idea - because I am never provided with that level of information. However it is then - AND ONLY THEN - that the line speed increases. The same applies in those hours (or days) proceeding a visit from an Open Reach engineer.
At every other time - literally every other - the line speed is significantly and relentlessly registering at half a meg or less. No variations. No sudden increases. No particular times of the day or night when "broadband" miraculously appears. No slightly elongated periods when the speed gradually picks up to 1mbs or more then slumps back down again. None of that or anything like. Rather, my speed is flat-lining - all day every day - at mere fractions of a meg. It is bumping along the bottom, week after week - month after month.
"The problem might be big, and might have dramatic symptoms, but it is still intermittent - which makes it *incredibly* hard to find. Rest assured that Openreach aren't procrastinating or prevaricating. They want to solve this in the least amount of time possible. But finding an intermittent fault, that isn't active when the engineer turns up, is never an easy task."
No - I do not think this fault can usefully be described as "intermittent". As I have said - and said again and again - the low speed is constant and continuous. True - there are short periods following moderator intervention and/or engineer calls, when the speed is increased. However, the resultant increases are so short in the grand scheme of things that I think it is misleading to regard the fault as intermittent. In a very strict dictionary definition of the term 'intermittent' I suppose the fault could be designated thus. But in more practical terms something is just totally knackered.
"the problem might not actually be a fault with the line. It *could* be being affected by severe interference from some neighbouring piece of electrical equipment, anywhere from your home to the exchange (you don't have a plasma TV, do you?)"
As I have said up thread, our domestic set up is very, very simple. This is a household with no gadgets. No complexity. Nothing weird or wonderful. Really - there's nowt in this place that could futz with anything else. No plasma tv, no appliances drawing current all the time (or even sporadically). No home cinemas. Not even a stereo. We're just out in a very rural location, with quite generour gaps between properties - it's a very quiet locale. There are no pylons within a mile of here. There are no factories nor industrial premises - not even any commercial properties. Rather, our house is a fairly modest one in a small village situated at a distance of about three miles from the nearest exchange.
"Contrary to what you believe, the fault could still exist on your side of the line. The engineers can only truly give the OK to your internal wiring when they can see the fault exists somewhere else. Until you get the fault (and I mean the real fault, not the lingering after-effects and slow speeds) to occur while the engineer is present, you need to try to eliminate as much of your internal wiring from the connection as possible. That is why you had been asked to get a filter, and plug it into the test socket with the faceplate disconnected: if the fault (real fault, not lingering after-effects) continue to occur like this, then the internal wiring is not the cause."
Yes - I do accept that the fault could be on my side of the door. I do not discount this possibility. One question I have here though is this: given that I have received a fair few engineer visits by now, why have none of them brought a filter with them, removed the faceplate and shown me and/or the wife how to connect this to whatever it is supposed to connect to? A laptop, or PC, I presume. I am constantly wondering why it is me - and or the wife - who is expected to be faffing around with the faceplate. I have on previous occasions felt that these do not always come off as easily as they perhaps should and - further - that the wires attaching to them are quite thin and delecate. Why would a moderator or whoever ask us to remove them when only days/weeks previously we have received an engineer visit?
I have to say that the whole process I have become embroiled in strikes me as distinctly unsystematic and more than slightly blundering. As you and others reading this will know only too well, electrical/digital faults require a highly disciplined and entirely logical approach - otherwise work quickly becomes replicated, time is wasted and the whole process must be started afresh. Why do engineers keep leaving us hubs when it seems that what we actually need is a filter and a 30 second demonstration of how to use the **bleep** thing? What *is* the obsession with hubs? Why have we not been sent a filter instead of a hub? I am baffled. Perplexed and baffled. Perplexed, baffled and astonished at the level of ineptitude I am encountering on an almost weekly basis.
Regardless, several questions arise that I can't seem to find answers to:
The socket we have has a filter inside it - so why would we need to connect an external filter?
Do we connect the hub to the filter or are we supposed to connect a laptop to the filter and leave the hub out of the chain altogether?
And if that is the case does that mean the wife and I are then limited to using a single laptop at a time? And if so, for how long?
What kind of lead do we need to connect a laptop to the filter? And how long can it be?
Are we obliged to use a short lead and to thus sit on a chair in the hall next to the socket?
Of course, it may be rejoindered that there are several helpful and informative YouTube clips instructing the afflicted on how to a). remove faceplates b). connect their laptops via filters and c). live happily ever after. Indeeed I have on several occasions been told by moderators to use such YouTube resources to learn how to conduct the necessary steps. And god knows I have tried.
I think everyone can see where this is going but I will spell it out anyway: Have you ever tried to watch YouTube clips with a broadband speed of half a meg? It is quite simply impossible.
So when I am told to do just this as a necessary step to curing my slow broadband speed I do begin to feel somewhat frustrated. The circularity is vicious - I have slow broadband speed. To cure it I need to watch YouTube. But I cannot watch YouTube because I have slow broadband speed. I soon start to wish I could punch someone in the throat. ; - )
"Finally, the cable under the laminate flooring: Is that cable on the internal side of the master socket, or is it part of the cable back to the exchange?"
Good question! But I think the inevitable answer is surely "yes!". As far as I can tell the cable coming in goes under the flooring and whatever cable may be going back out does as well. Put it this way, there is no cable running across a wall or whatever. But, more than anything, I think these and related questions should have been asked - and indeed answered - by the previous engineer. Or in fact, the first engineer. Not only has it taken 4 or 5 engineers to even raise this as a potential cause of problems but it was mentioned as a parting shot, when the engineer was literally walking out through the door. I do not think he thought it was even worth persuing as a serious possibility. But now it seems to have been siezed on.
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to give my problems the once over. I think what I should probably do as one next step is to try to get an idea of the kind of speeds my immediate neighbours are receiving - and ask them whether they are encountering any issues with their broadband provision. This may seem like quite an obvious step - and if so, it is all the more surprising that nobody here - moderators or other forum members - has suggested that I take it. I fully appreciate that this would not rule out the possibility that there are also faults with my house's own internal set-up. However if both neighbours have recurring problems with their own connections then it may be that there are issues further up the chain.
No one seems to have mentioned the £96 charges for a while - is that still a problem?
If it is, then I can't believe that no-one has pointed out the following either...
When you go over your usage allowance (which is probably 10 GB, or 10 Gigabytes), you get a warning. From then on, you get charged £5 for every extra 5GB you use, or partly use.
To be paying more than £50 extra on usage alone implies you are using 50 GB extra, or a total of 60GB.
Lets put this in perspective...
2 years ago, before moving to fibre, my wife and I were consistently below 10GB. We both worked from home, and were both online continuously all day, every day. Remote work connections, email, and browsing the net. Plenty of download/upload. Some youtube-style videos, but not lengthy TV or movie streaming.
That line ran perfectly, at 8Mbps. No faults, no errors, no disconnections.
Even now, on fibre at 10 times that speed, with a soon-to-be-teenage daughter learning to stream TV, and the adults both still working from home, but now including rather more iPlayer TV streaming, we're still below 60GB.
I don't believe you can reach this usage level when you have such a poor speed most of the time, and when the experience you get is largely unusable.
Something about these charges should be checked.
Even if you are using that amount of data, why has no-one pointed out that you should migrate to the "unlimited" package instead? That would cost, what, £6 per month instead of £50?
Heck, you'd even be better off if you migrated to either of the Unlimited Infinty packages. If you had the option, of course.
Thanks for this too Protuberance.
The wife and I have of course given the BT bills quite some scrutiny in light of the fact that we are being thraped for nearly a hundred quid a month, every month. But we're still not sure how and why we're paying this. We do acknowledge that there have been calls made to mobiles that have bumped the monthly direct debit up somewhat. However, no matter what way we slice it or dice it we do not think it is possible that the telephone calls - to mobiles or any other - can account for the massive charges we are paying. Rather, we have had to conclude that it is also - and indeed mainly - due to broadband useage. And more specifically, us exceeding a limit that was part of an initial package we were placed on.
Suffice to say we feel we were very badly advised in that initial consultation - I was and indeed am quite clear about how much broadband we use.
In any case, our monthly bill of £96 is hard slap in the face given that we are continuously receiving broadband speeds of less than one mbs.
It is not an understatement to say that I feel as though British Telecom are robbing us hand over fist, and are compounding the whole situation by their failure to locate and remedy the fault on my line.
My time with Talk Talk was not a bed of roses - but I can tell you this much; compared to British Telecom it was absolute paradise.
£96 pm seems high to me. have you gone to MYBT and examined your bill to see where and how all the charges arise?
My role here isn't to solve your problem - the mods are better placed to do that than me.
However, I wanted to make sure you were suitably informed as to your situation, so that you understood why you are getting the experience you are, why the engineers aren't able to repair things the way you want, and how you can help yourself.
So, let me help with that understanding part, but I'll do it in a few small chunks...
" I do not think this fault can usefully be described as "intermittent". As I have said - and said again and again - the low speed is constant and continuous."
Absolutely, but the low speeds you are seeing for the majority of the time are caused by the lingering after-effects, and are a symptom that is to be expected. The actual physical fault on the line, whatever it is, is highly intermittent, and isn't there most of the time.
Let me explain a little, but I'll try not to get into too much technical jargon...
The behaviour of your internet connection - the"experience" that you see as a human - can be broken down into 4 layers, each dependent on the layer below in ways that are not straightforward.
1) The physical copper line to the exchange. Faults here can last a long time, or be brief and intermittent.
Generally a fault causes either noise or interference to the broadband signal, or a total disconnection.
2) The sync speed between the modem in your house and the exchange building.
Faults in the previous layer - the physical layer - can cause sync to be lost.
A resync is required to regain the connection - and if noise is present, the new speed will be lower.
Note 1: that when noise disappears, the modem does not automatically re-sync at a higher speed. It stays at the same, lowered, sync speed.
Note 2: the speed you experience on speedtests can never be faster than this sync speed.
3) The speed of the path through the BT wholesale core network.
BT have a system to limit this speed to match (as near as possible) the sync speed in (2).
BT have set this system so that it responds instantly when you resync (in 2) at a lower speed, and sets itself to the new lower speed.
However, when a resync (in 2) results in a higher speed, this system does not respond instantly. It can take some time (hours or days) before it jumps back up to the new speed level - and so leaves you running at the original lower speed for that time.
Note 3: The speed you experience on speedtests can never be faster than this "IP Profile" speed, as it is named.
4) The speedtest that you run from your PC to a server in the internet somewhere.
This will go at a speed that is limited by every single link in the chain. If any one part is slow, then the whole thing is slow.
If you have a lingering after-effect in either (2) or (3), then the speedtest in (4) will be low.
So, here's what can happen when your line has a fault:
1) If you have a severe fault on the line, such that is causes a resync at 160kbps, it only needs to last a few minutes to cause this effect.
2) With such a large interference, the modem will resync at 160kbps. After that it is highly likely to stay at that speed unless you manually trigger a resync of power-cycle.
Your speedtests will show speeds of around 130kbps.
So - even if the fault disappears after 10 minutes, you will remainon a low speed - and this is one form of the "lingering after-effects" that I mention.
3) If something manages to trigger a new resync (perhaps some really bad noise), and the sync happens with less noise present, it will get a mid-level speed (like the times you have seen 1.9Mbps).
Here you will still see speedtest results of 130kbps for a limited time - because of the internal BT Wholesale system that restricts the speed in the core network. That will still be set low for a few more hours (or possibly days).
This is the second type of lingering after-effect.
4) Now you are back at a higher sync speed (but still low speedtests), your line is more susceptible to interference again. When the intermittent fault strikes again, it drops the modem's sync more easily. The sync speed drops to 160kbps again; the internal system sticks to 135kbps, and your speedtests stick at 130kbps.
So you see... the real fault can strike for just a few minutes, but you continue to have a painful experience for hours, days or weeks longer. Really!
"I am not sitting here day in day out experiencing jolts and spikes in DL speeds. Between us the wife and I are on the internet via our laptops continually all day every day (and in my case, well into the night as well), and I can attest to the fact that the line speed never, ever varies. Ever."
Given my previous post, and what I have seen in those ADSL statistics, it looks like you leave your modem turned on 24/7, and don't power-cycle it yourself.
That means that, most of the time, you are likely sitting with a modem synchronised at the lowest possible speed of 160kbps. The longest "uptime" figure was on one of the 160kbps reports, where it stayed connected for 109 hours. It stays connected like this because this speed, once set, is the least susceptible to any ongoing interference.
The normal advice given is indeed to leave the modem turned on 24/7, and leave it synchronised. In your case, this is only succeeding in keeping you on a low speed for too long. In your case, while this fault exists, it might be better to turn the modem off more often - especially if you see a sync speed measured in kbps, with a noise margin above 20dB. [Does anyone else have an opinion to this suggestion? I realise it is a bit non-standard]
Your line is extraordinary. The attenuation level is 46dB, which suggests a line length of 3.3km and a maximum sync speed of around 5.5Mbps - and we have seen this achieved. This part is normal. This is what you can expect.
However, for a fault to cause a speed drop from 5.5Mbps to 160kbps is truly amazing. And for it to remain unfound by the engineers is also amazing.
"However - just to be clear - I will note here that there ARE times when the line speed increases. But this is only when a moderator emails me to tell me that some kind of action has been taken - I have no idea what action this may be. A line reset? Some kind of tweak at the exchange? I have no idea - because I am never provided with that level of information. However it is then - AND ONLY THEN - that the line speed increases. The same applies in those hours (or days) proceeding a visit from an Open Reach engineer."
In these cases, your modem is likely to get reset. Perhaps one of the mod triggers something at the exchange DSLAM that causes a resync, or you (or the engineer) unplug the modem from the socket.
After any of these events, a new resync will happen. And because the interference is likely to be missing at the time this happens, the higher sync speed will be restored.
After a long enough delay for the new speed to filter through the core network control ("IP Profile" mechanism), then hey-presto... you experience improved speedtests.
At least until the next time the intermittent fault rears its head...
"Rather, my speed is flat-lining - all day every day - at mere fractions of a meg. It is bumping along the bottom, week after week - month after month."
And that is why a speedtest is an almost-useless diagnostic tool. It tells you there's been a problem somewhere, sometime, but it doesn't tell you where, and it doesn't tell you if the problem still exists.
You need some new tools in this battle...
1) The ADSL statistics - specifically the downstream figures.
These show the current sync speed - so you never hope to go faster than this. It also shows the current interference level, relatively, by giving you a "Noise Margin" figure.
If you have a low sync speed (like 160kbps) with a high noise margin( above 20dB), it means you have suffered interference that is no longer present. Power-cycle to get a higher sync speed back.
[For others reading, I know this could trigger DLM here, but frankly, DLM is the least of our worries]
If you have a low sync speed with a low noise margin (around 6dB), it means you are experiencing the interference right then. Try listening to the phone, to see if you hear anything. This is the time to correlate against things turned on/off in the house, or in the neighbourhood, or to look for patterns.
2) A speedtest using BT Wholesale tester, including the extra diagnostics.
This test is useful, because it gives you a speed test and (provided you ask for the extra diagnostics) it gives you the "IP Profile" value.
Between the sync speed in (1) and the "IP Profile" in (2), you will know know which part is slowing you down.
3) A software monitor for sync speed and noise
Step (1) is OK until you have to do it every 5 minutes, trying to figure out *when* the problem happens.
There are tools that can help you out here, if you wish to try using them. They help log the details for as long as your computer is running, and provide graphs. That can help you correlate against other things happening.
What router do you use? HH3?
[Unsure on the rules on this forum. Can I link to RouterStats?]
no link but google is ok
"As I have said up thread, our domestic set up is very, very simple."
OK - I was just trying to come up with some examples (Plasma TV's can be devastating, as can christmas lights), rather than trying to systematically eliminate them. Probably the best thing that can help is to run some monitoring software, so see if you can see any patterns at all.
"why have none of them brought a filter with them, removed the faceplate and shown me and/or the wife how to connect this to whatever it is supposed to connect to? A laptop, or PC, I presume."
I guess because they are investigating, not you. The ongoing problem only happens because they fail to find a cause.
The filter is just a small box on a tiny lead, ending in a standard BT plug. The plug goes into the BT test socket (behind the faceplate), and the router cable plugs into the filter. Modems often come with some filters - and you've had 6 hubs. Are there any in the boxes?
The faceplate is left dangling on the end of the internal wiring, so it stays disconnected from the incoming phone line.
"I am constantly wondering why it is me - and or the wife - who is expected to be faffing around with the faceplate."
Because, maybe 10 years ago, it was felt that a "wires-only" service was felt to be cheaper to install broadband with. BT don't need to send an engineer, and you get to do all the work instead (using filters).
The downside occurs when it doesn't work, or faults happen. Because it wasn't fitted by an engineer, the retail ISP has to take extra precautions: If an Openreach engineer turns up, and discovers the fault to be within your internal wiring, then you get a hefty bill. The retail ISP people tend to go to a lot of effort to make sure that doesn't happen, because they get a lot of grief from subscribers who get an unwanted bill.
Ironically, for someone like you ("Send an engineer. If it is my fault, I don't care about paying. I just want it to work", though I'm paraphrasing) it ends up being a palava.
"I have on previous occasions felt that these do not always come off as easily as they perhaps should and - further - that the wires attaching to them are quite thin and delecate. Why would a moderator or whoever ask us to remove them when only days/weeks previously we have received an engineer visit?"
Two reasons, I guess.
The real reason is the self-defense reaction, to protect them (and you) from the unwanted bill. It is almost always the first step that *any* retail ISP asks you to do - and for good reason. The vast majority of faults happen on the internal wiring.
The second reason is that, while the fault hasn't been truly identified, then it can still be internal.
The best answer is to keep running with the faceplate disconnected for as long as you can possibly get away with. If you can prove that the fault occurs (and not just by low speedtests) while the faceplate is disconnected, then you have helped narrow down the problem.
"I have to say that the whole process I have become embroiled in strikes me as distinctly unsystematic and more than slightly blundering. As you and others reading this will know only too well, electrical/digital faults require a highly disciplined and entirely logical approach - otherwise work quickly becomes replicated, time is wasted and the whole process must be started afresh."
So very true. Cost-cutting is the answer, whether it is a phone support desk in India, or scheduling of an appointment with an engineer in Openreach. You get impersonal service from a whole sequence of staff who know nothing about you, or your problem, and specifically the history of your problem.
The good news is that the impression I get here, is that if you engage with a moderator, you get consistent service from an individual. They might be busy, and not get back to you instantly, but do add some coherency to the situation.
"Why do engineers keep leaving us hubs when it seems that what we actually need is a filter and a 30 second demonstration of how to use the **bleep** thing? What *is* the obsession with hubs? Why have we not been sent a filter instead of a hub?"
I might be confusing things. *my* investigation technique would start with a filter in the test socket. The moderators here might do different things.
Openreach engineers, though, are there to solve the problems themselves. I don't think I've ever seen one give up, and hand you the tools to carry on yourself
"I am baffled. Perplexed and baffled. Perplexed, baffled and astonished at the level of ineptitude I am encountering on an almost weekly basis."
Probably all answered because of a lack on continuity between different people trying to fix the one fault.
I still can't get over 6 hubs though!
"The socket we have has a filter inside it - so why would we need to connect an external filter?"
You mean the socket you have has an ADSL filter as part of it, right? If so, the filter should be part of the faceplate, or act as an intermediate "interstitial" plate.
The reason that, when trouble-shooting, you are asked to use an external filter is because one of the suspect components is the filter. To check it out, you need to remove the existing filter, and try a different one.
"Do we connect the hub to the filter or are we supposed to connect a laptop to the filter and leave the hub out of the chain altogether?"
Hub to new filter, with the usual cable (called an RJ11 cable). You should try a different cable, in case the fault is with the cable. Then laptop to hub in the normal manner.
For the purposes of the test, it is best if the RJ11 cable is as short as you can make it. RJ11 cables have been known to add even more interference into the equation.
"Are we obliged to use a short lead and to thus sit on a chair in the hall next to the socket?"
LOL. Only if you connect to the hub by ethernet, and have a short cable.
"I think everyone can see where this is going but I will spell it out anyway"
I think I got there about half a sentence ahead. It shouldn't be funny - your line should have plenty of capacity for Youtube.
" I soon start to wish I could punch someone in the throat. ; - )"
Sometimes I think the government have it wrong with BDUK in guaranteeing a 2Mbps internet connection.
I think they'd do better is they guaranteed that it just *%^&^ worked instead.
"Good question! But I think the inevitable answer is surely "yes!". As far as I can tell the cable coming in goes under the flooring and whatever cable may be going back out does as well."
So the cable from outside (and the exchange) just appears in the socket, with no idea of the path it took to get there? Where does it approach/enter the building? Overhead or underground?
"but it was mentioned as a parting shot, when the engineer was literally walking out through the door. I do not think he thought it was even worth persuing as a serious possibility. But now it seems to have been siezed on."
That's a thing that we, readers on here, can't tell - the probability that the engineer(s) have mentally assigned this as the possible cause. We only seize upon it because you mention it!
"I think what I should probably do as one next step is to try to get an idea of the kind of speeds my immediate neighbours are receiving"
Certainly worth doing.
Protuberance, you have taken a long time to address my problems. You've obviously given my points quite some thought, and I have learned a lot from your responses. I am thus very grateful. Thanks again.