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I am posting this in the hope that someone can advise on what my next course of action should be. Apologies for the length.
My physical setup:
The BT landline connection comes from a pole over the road to the front of my house. It runs down the front of the house and enters next to the downstairs window, with the BT socket actually mounted on the windowsill. The drop wire is dark grey and looks like simple “flat twin”. The socket is a non-NTE5 type with the old British Telecom “T” logo on the front. This arrangement is at least 15 years old and could well be much older. My wireless router sits next to socket (on the windowsill) and is a TP-LINK TD-W8951ND. Previously it was a Netgear DG834G, but both have suffered the problem I will describe below. The only other thing plugged into the socket, via a microfilter, is a BT phone, although the below problem also occurs when just the router is plugged directly into the socket. I have no other extensions or wiring connected to this socket, and I use RouterStats-Lite to monitor the connection speed and noise margin on my PC. Broadband is provided by Demon/Thus.
Most of the time this arrangement works fine, although noise margins are never very high – rarely higher than 6dB and sometimes very close to 0dB. I typically suffer a brief line drop every hour or so, but I can live with this, and I’m happy with the connection speeds I usually achieve. However, every month or so, and always at a weekend, I experience around two days of the connection dropping approximately every five minutes (whilst, it seems, the connection speed is reported as higher than usual!) This is also accompanied by audible noise on the landline if I try to use the phone. The problem usually self-clears by Monday, but I will have been left with a “lost weekend” of no usable internet access, which is very frustrating.
What I have tried so far:
The problem occurred again this weekend and my first contact was with my ISP. Although they could observe the frequent line drops, they could find no fault at their end and suggested that it could due to me having a noisy phone line (the tech could actually hear it on the phone!) He suggested I pursue the matter of a noisy line with BT, which I agreed to do. After a frustrating (and often incomprehensible) discussion with BT tech support on Sunday, I still had no resolution and was told that the line would be monitored for faults for 48 hours. During another linguistically challenging phone call this morning (Tuesday) I was told that no fault had been found (well I never!) and, well, basically, too bad – or at least that was the gist as far as I could make out. I had stressed several times during both calls that the fault was INTERMITTENT, but this seemed to fall on deaf ears. I was given an automated number – 0800 028 5705 – which simply seems to take me through the basic fault-finding which has already been tried at least once. Incidentally, I have also tried looking for any nearby source of RFI which might be responsible for this weekend-only problem, but I really cannot find anything. So although I now have working broadband again, it is highly likely that in the near future I will experience another “lost weekend” unless I try to get the problem sorted.
What should I do next?
I appreciate that the drop-wire and socket are very old and could do with replacing anyway. Does this seem reasonable? Can I ask BT to do this and if so how? And will I be charged? I actually wouldn’t mind paying for this if I have to if it solves the problem. What I really don’t want to do, though, is have another painful conversation with someone in a call centre who I can barely understand and quite possibly can’t understand me either. Alternatively, if anyone can provide any other helpful suggestions then I am all ears.
Incidentally, if BT are interested in a little customer feedback… It’s hard enough trying to explain a technical problem as it is. However, trying to do so whilst also fighting a language and accent barrier really is an exercise in pain. If my experience is typical, and not just an unfortunate one-off, then I really think you need to re-think where you locate your call centres.
Thanks, and apologies once again for the length.
Unless your ISP is BT Broadband, there is very little anyone can suggest here, as this forum is for BT Retail customers.
It Openreach who look after the external network, so you will have to ask your ISP to arrange a visit from an Openreach Field Technician.
Openreach can also replace the socket, but you will be charged for it.
Keith, thanks for your rapid response. I had assumed that because the noise problem manifests when making voice calls, that that would be a problem I could take up with BT. Of course I don't expect them to sort out any broadband problem from a rival supplier. As for asking Demon/Thus to contact Openreach, they've clearly expressed the opinion that anything to do with the line itself is not something they can address, so I can't see them contacting Openreach on my behalf.
So perhaps I can rephrase my question:
I have an intermittently noisy BT phone line with an ancient master socket and wiring. The noise is sometimes so bad that it's difficult to make intelligible voice calls. Having exhausted the call-centre route, is there some way I can have BT come and look at the problem?
Thanks once again.
If you disconnect your broadband router, and plug a corded phone into the test socket, and the line is noisy, and if pay your line rental direct to BT Retail, you can simply report it as a noisy phone line, and let them arrange to repair it.
Do not mention to them about the broadband. Once the noisy line is fixed, then your broadband will work better.
Keith, already done as you suggest. Their response was to monitor the line for 48 hours and conclude that there was no fault. Not completely surprised by that as the fault is intermittent (although that word apparently isn't in call-centre vocabulary).
My guess (not completely uninformed - I've got an MSc in electronic engineering) is that the old socket and associated wiiring may very well be contributing to the noise problem I'm experiencing and so I would like them replaced with up-to-date kit.
I'm pretty much resigned to paying for an up-to-date master socket and associated wiring. Can anyone PLEASE tell me how I go about arranging this? I've looked around the BT website but it's not obvious to me how I would go about placing this order.
If you report it online, you are normally given the option of a visit by an Openreach Field Technician, with a warning that you may be charged.
When they visit, insist that they change the master socket, and upgrade any wiring before the master socket.
You will be paying for the visit if they do not find a fault.
They will not work on any extension wiring, as that is your responsibility.
There is some guidance here.