Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Bloody BT

I know this post is not really a boaty post but I do feel annoyed enough to post it.

BT Phoneline and Broadband

We have the great misfortune to be a customer of BT. Unfortunately, being fairly rural, we don’t really have any other realistic options and believe me, we have searched.
These are the options we looked at:

Wireless Broadband:

We approached AB Internet and Xwavia Ltd. AB Internet were polite and helpful and sent out one of their technitions to see if we were in a viable spot, o receive a signal from their mast. Unfortunately, as it turned out, the signal would be too weak. Xwavia didn’t even bother to respond to any of the emails sent to them. Well, if they don’t respond to potential new customers, I doubt you would want to be one of their existing customers.

Satellite Broadband

It seems there are two main players in this game: Avanti and Tooway. From what I could see from their on-line packages, Avanti offer more packages and it looks to be better value for money. The trouble is that, whilst it looks like a great option, it turns out not to be once you have spoken to them. VOIP calls would have a 1.5 second delay, which means, we would still need a BT landline and the minimum average speed they claim to provide is based on an average of all their customers, so not at all area specific. They also admit they will throttle the speeds during peak or high usage times and that your speed could drop to less than 100 Kbs instead of Mbs. Also, having researched some reviews of satellite broadband, I was struck by one person saying that satellite broadband should be called “last resort broadband”. Perhaps, it is better the devil we know, which leads me back to BT.

So, I bet you are wondering what the problem is? Well, the phone line has never been particularly good nor has the broadband but 8 years ago, I accepted that a speed of 1.5 Mbs was as good as it was going to get. Roll on 8 years later and the speed is now 0.8 Mbs on a really good day and tends to vary between 0.3 Mbs and 0.8 Mbs. Acceptable? I think not. As far as the phone line goes, we have had multiple faults. We have also in the last year had the local Pheasant Shoot come through the area and shoot out the phone line. BT finally got off their arses and did a ‘temporary repair, which involved a piece of plastic being taped round the break in the line. Once I had complained about the plastic bag repair, it was then replaced with black insulation tape, which slowly unravelled itself. Apparently, according to BT, this was a perfectly acceptable repair, despite the fact that condensation gathering amongst the tape made the phone unusable in the morning until about 11 am. It then took 6 months of arguing with various BT robots and Lord only knows how many engineer visits (I lost count at 13), to get them to replace the section of cable that needed repair. I might add that, the neighbour was also subjected to all this BT Bullshite.

Now, we are back to square 1 again…. The phone line has gone down…unfortunately during a Pheasant shoot. I’m not sure yet if the shoot is responsible for my line going down or if it is merely co-incidental. We shall find out when I finally manage to get someone from BT to take interest. You see, it could have actually been solved quickly because a BT engineer has come out to deal with a fault on the neighbour’s line, which just so happens to be the problem we are experiencing. I told this to the engineer, including the fact that the neighbour’s line and my line both went down at the same time. His response was “You are not on my job list and your neighbour is not in.” So, the lazy bastard sat there for 10 minutes in his van and then buggered off, not having fixed anything. I really have to wonder at the sense of logic. Surely, even to someone with only 2 brain cells, it’s obvious that it makes sense to schedule jobs in the same area for the same day and that if the 2 jobs happen to be next door to each other, that there might be a common fault?

I can only conclude that BT basically doesn’t give a continental hoo ha! Really, why should they? They have a monopoly and enough separate entities, that there doesn’t actually have to be any real ownership of a problem. After all, you call a call centre, which is clearly not based in the UK and then depending on your problem, they call Openreach or BT Broadband Boost or whatever other part of BT they can foist the problem on to (this is all assuming you can get them to acknowledge there is a problem*). Then you start on the to and fro of trying to get an engineer to actually show up or to actually fix a problem.

*Getting BT to acknowledge a fault is extremely trying. They basically seem to think that if you have a dial tone you have a service, even if every phone call involves a crossed line or a line so bad that they cannot hear you! I once had a BT operative telling me she couldn’t hear me and then in the next sentence telling me there was an acceptable level of noise on the line. BT….. go figure, I certainly can’t.

Fast Forward a bit: an engineer came out and looked at the line, turns out the line had been shot in several spots, which meant a section of line needed replacing. Several days later, BT came out with their hoist and replaced the section of line and buggered off again, without coming in to check if it was actually working. As you might have guessed, it wasn't. We had a crossed line and what sounded like an angry swarm of bees on the phone line. So the next day, they came out yet again and scarpered off as quickly. Well, the phone line was up but the broadband was still not working - I might add that by this stage we have reached day 15.

We got hold of BT again and a Broadband engineer came out. He basically said that as the line quality is so bad (although it falls within BT's range of acceptability), he was going to sync our broadband speed at 500 kbs to stabilise the line and that, the most we can expect is 610 kbs. This is despite our neighbour getting 1.3 mbs. Fair enough, I thought, if it stabilises the broadband, we will just have to live with it, except it hasn't. Our broadband has been up and down like a yo-yo. We cannot maintain a connection and sometimes the connection drops for hours. 

So, I phoned BT yet again. I have explained that we have several pairs of lines coming into the house and if the pair they are currently using is so bad they should consider changing it. Apparently, an engineer is coming out in a week. So, we wait and see.


The promised engineer arrived promptly at 8 am, despite getting lost, which is easily done on our lanes. He spent a couple of hours clearing various noise issues on the lies and lo and behold, we now have a 1.25 mb connection!! In addition, BT have agreed to monitor the quality of the phone line and the broadband connection for the next few weeks. They will be calling me once a week, to check on the telephone line and broadband stability and quality. Fingers crossed it stays stable. I will update again in a month.

Another Update (7/01/2016)

Line is down again (seem to have a crossed line and loads of crackling noise) although we have broadband... well some of the time. It went down on the 27th of Dec, came back up on the 30th and back down on the 1st of Jan. Apparently, it is scheduled for repair by the 11th.

I think there is water getting into the line joint.... who knows?

Line repaired on 9th of Jan. Let's see how long it lasts this time.

Further Update (9/5/2016)

We have been placed onto a new pairing of wires as the phone line is very crackly and the Broadband is down more than it is up. Bizarrely, if the BB is actually working and someone calls on the landline, the call will knock the BB off. also our downstream is approximately 1.8 Mbs but the upstream varies between 64 Kbps and about 128 Kbps. Very odd. Next engineer visit booked for 19/05/2016, as the problem is still persisting

Update: 19/05/2016

BT have not turned up.

Mini Rant: I see the twats in Government have decided that people in rural areas don't need or want Broadband. Knob-heads! Why does it not surprise me that they are going back on an election promise....?

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