More on Broadband performance – the Ring Wire

I have been doing some work recently to try to resolve poor broadband performance.  I though it would be worth recording my experience and the eventual outcome – if you are interested – read on!

Initial problem
In the village where I life it is possible to achieve a broadband speed in the region of about 14 – 17 Mbps download and about 1Mbps upload.  The service I was working with was consistently running at .46 Mbps download and about .95 upload.  Slower on upload than on download!  Something was clearly not right.  Also apparently when there was a telephone call active the broadband service would go down.  This later issue was easy to fix – there was no ADSL filter on the secondary socket where a wireless phone base station was plugged in!!!  Fitting a filter to the secondary socket fixed that problem 😉  But the speed performance remained poor.

The diagnosis
I did a reboot of the ADSL router which was an old Netgear one.  Same effect.  Having been through this sort of situation before I removed the faceplate on the BT main telephone socket and plugged in to the main socket – thus connecting directly to the incoming telephone circuit.  I expected that if there might be a problem with the internal telephone wiring that this would over come this and better speed would be possible.  This made no difference.  I examined the router management system and could see that the basic connection which was being made was 1.5 Mbps download and 1Mbps upload.  I understood that this would mean that there was not way that the ADSL speed could be improved.

Diagnosis phase 2 – phone BT Business Broadband helpline
I dialed 151 armed with all the results of my tests so far!  The operator went through the standard script that they follow and eventually conducted a line test.  First when I was plugged into the line with with the faceplate in place and then with the faceplate removed.  This revealed that there was interference on the line which was coming from the internal wiring.  This needed to be fixed before things can improve.  BT will attend but there will be a charge for the call out…….  I wanted to avoid any unnecessary costs!!!  The technician did a reset on the line and the speed went much higher when connected with the face plate removed but on replacing the face plate the speed deteriorated.  We did notice that with wireless phone connected things were at their worst.

Diagnosis phase 3 – google for help!!!!
Learned a lot – check out these posts  and  just a couple many good sources I found!  Bottom line is that it is suggested that on internal telephone wiring there are three wires normally connected 2, 5 , and 3 where 2 and 5 are the two blue/white wires (essential for the phone system to operate ) and 3 is the orange wire – 3 is sometimes referred to as the bell or ring wire.  The orange wire is historical and would be needed unless you have very old telephone in your house!!  Most people do not so this wire is not needed.   Also it acts like an Ariel and can introduce noise in to your system which may not be noticeable when  making voice calls – but can affect your broadband performance.  Solution is to simply remove the orange wire from all sockets in the setup.

I did this and the contract BT to get them to reset the ADSL line again – result is that the broadband is now consistently connecting at much higher speeds with speed tests now demonstrating fairly consistently at around 14Mbps download and 1Mbps upload.  This is a good result.

Note – Important of getting BT to do a reset
The line speed reset is a very important part of this process.  It seems that when an ADSL service is first installed the exchange will adjust the line speed to achieve the most stable and reliable performance it does this be checking the statistics on the link performance lowering the speed until stable operation is achieved.  When it gets to its optimum speed the link parameters are fixed.  Interestingly even if the line quality improves the speed will never increase unless BT reset the line again.  This reset process takes place over a period of 10 days and cannot be started again during this period.  So it is important to get this reset done after all issues/faults on the wiring system have been removed.  The above process took about 12 days to complete because of the 10 days needed to complete the line reset.

Interestingly the BT Broadband helpline did not recommend the removal of the bell wire this – their only offer was to send out an engineer at some cost – which I suppose makes some sense from their point of view as this will generate them some revenue 😉

T – Shirts – thing of the future ;-)

Check this article out which provides details of a new dimension to clothing. The T Shirt featured cans sense if there is a WiFi network in the near vicinity and also indicate what the signal strength of it is.

Click here to read more

Also linked into the article is another story about how BT is encouraging its broadband subscribers share their connection with other nearby WiFi users. The methodology sounds pretty feasible with a wireless router configured to have two WiFi network one which is private for the owners use and an open on which can be used by any member of the ‘Fon’ community. I would hope that this means that some one if tracking the use of this open service so that any misuse can be attributed to the visitor not the owner ( should any take place). Also how is the host user compensated for traffic usage if the visitor starts using the host bandwidth to perform large downloads – is this free??? There is scope for further investigation here.

Click here to read more

In view of my previous posts about the quality of broadband service in some places in the UK I am not actually convinced that this would actually a very attractive approach. Lets face it if a home user is subscribed to an ADSL service then they are already contending for up stream bandwidth!!! I we know the sort of effect that this can have on the user experience. This could introduce another level of contention on the link up to the DSLAM at the Local Exchange. I don’t think I will be rushing to subscribe. Mind you I suppose this could be a good thing for friendly visitor to the home – but then I can give them access and already do without making my network open to all an sundry!