21 Nov

Posted by Roger Martin

We moved into our new office ‘The Old Schoolhouse’ in Castle Ashby back in June of 2010.

One of the things that was pretty important to us as a digital marketing agency was the speed of the broadband, so we were fairly pleased when we found out that we should be getting approx 3.5mb downstream.

On the allotted day the man came and fixed it up, and after an initial period of 4 days where we had virtually NO bandwidth it duly settled down at 3.5Mb. But here came the problem. every time anyone uploaded a file, however small the downstream died- period. Now I know that ADSL stands for asynchronous and that the upstream is always slower, in this case about 300K, but we’ve had plenty of experience of ADSL elsewhere and never seen this problem.

BT’s response? That’s normal, but if you want an engineer to come and investigate its going to cost. Now, having had problems with lines in other locations and calling engineers out we knew it could soon run into billing of thousands of pounds for them to not solve the problem!

So we persevered, until it became untenable, and then we ordered a second line, just for FTP use internally to alleviate the problem.

Interestingly the BT survey this time told us to only expect 3Mb, so 500k less than before. We didn’t bite, just waited for the installation and then our IT guy set up the line through the same router as the other one, reserving the bandwidth to one machine at first.

We let the line settle for 10 days and then performed some speed tests. Bear in mind that this line comes from the same exchange, no difference.

The results? 7Mb downstream, 512 up! And that’s consistent. this one flies, and there is NO problem when you upload.

What does this tell us? Well either there is a fault on the other line, or there is another operational reason, and this is the one that got us thinking….

At our last place a couple of miles down the road, our unit was getting just over 1Mb, and there was no performance issue when uploading, but next door were getting 6Mb! We got fobbed off by the BT standard response of you are 5Km from the exchange so that is the best you can get. The unit next door was approx 12 feet closer to the exchange!

Putting both lines into the new building has proved that BT’s broadband infrastructure is at best a lottery, at worst an operational nightmare.

And the theory as to why the broadband lines at both locations showed such vast differences in speed? Well it could all be to do with the routing of the lines themselves.

The fast lines would appear to route straight out of the exchange to the locations receiving them, but the ones with poor performance may be ‘routing’ around the village before reaching their end destination therefore increasing the ‘distance’ that the broadband signal has to travel.

Either way, it is a complete lottery, and not even a ‘postcode lottery’ as The Old Schoolhouse proves. Maybe BT would like to respond with something more scientific or credible than ‘It’s the distance from the exchange mate, can’t do ’nuffink about that.’

Just so you know the score;

  • Yardley Hastings Exchange to the Old Schoolhouse Castle Ashby (approx 3km)
  • BT Business Broadband option 2 (2 lines)
  • Line 1 giving download of 3.5mb
  • Line 2 giving download of 7Mb

However, none of this explains the performance problems when uploading on line 1. The downstream just drops to nothing. Is this not a fault? Perhaps someone with some real experience might like to post an answer? Thanks!

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