Fiber broadband woes

Posted by under Life, Technology, on 6 February 2014 @ 11:02pm.

Up until about 2 weeks ago I was enjoying a lightening quick 80Mbps down and 20Mbps up from my BT Infinity 2 connection, but one day this all changed and I began to have problems. I noticed I was getting frequent disconnections which would cause my home server to stop pinging. Initially I consulted the BT forums to be told it was an issue with the BT Home Hub 5 firmware, however now I am not so sure.

About 2 weeks ago I was getting sick of the pings stopping, even though my connection felt relatively stable. I decided it was time to investigate further to see if it was a problem with my connection or the Home Hub. I started by running a piece of software called RouterStatsHub which allows you to graph your connection stats for easy troubleshooting. Immediately I noticed I had a drop in speed from my usual stable 80Mbps down to 65Mbps. My maximum line speed (the speed the line is capable of, not what you’re synced at) had also dropped from about 100Mbps to 80Mbps. This suggested a fault on the line somewhere.

I continued to investigate and I discovered that when I picked up the phone, or someone rang in, my noise ratios would plummet. This is consistent with a bad line too as it should stay perfectly stable regardless of whether the phone is in use or not. At this point I realised it was time to get a BT engineer to come and look at the problem. I called technical support and got a mid-week PM appointment.

I took a half day off work for the appointment. The slot was 1pm to 6pm, for which I was in for the whole time. 6pm came around and nobody had showed up! I was annoyed beyond belief so I called BT to find out why. Their online chat rep told me it was because they called to confirm but there was no answer, so the appointment was cancelled (!!!). They then called me and put me through to level 2 support who could arrange a new appointment. I asked them the same question and was told a different answer. They told me that nobody turned up because there were no resources available, IE they were completely over-worked and nobody was assigned. They didn’t think it was a good idea to bother telling me this! I asked what sort of compensation they would give for their missed appointment and was told £10 is all they will give… I had no choice but to accept it but I also asked about discounts but was told they can’t apply any until the fault is fixed. I have to call back to sort those out.

Engineer day: Terrible line noise and lots of
disconnections and shows when the
engineer started work

We finally got around to arranging a new appointment and I asked for a weekend slot. They told me they don’t work weekends. At this point I had already looked online and a friend also did and found that they did in fact do weekend appointments, so I pushed the issue. The rep said she would check again, and what do you know, there was a weekend slot available, two in fact! I could have an AM or PM appointment. Since I would be in all day I took the AM slot so the tech could have all day to work on my issue.

Saturday came around and he turned up at about 10.30am and got to work. He ran lots of diagnostics and listened to what I’d done to test the line. He spent all day trying to locate the problem but all he found was errors on the line. He was here until 5pm when he admitted defeat for the day and was going home. Unfortunately during his tests he had also switched parts of the line but couldn’t get it to sync again. This meant I was going to be without a connection until at least Monday. I was annoyed but I understood. I was thankfully able to utilise a neighbours BT FON connection, although this wasn’t particularly reliable due to the signal strength being low.

Line noise after the fix, including
DLM decreasing the noise margin (lower is better)

Monday came around and the technician worked on the line again from about 2pm. About 3.30pm he called me to say I was temporarily back online but on 40Mbps instead. This was due to a fault in the green cab in the road which meant that some of the hardware needed to be swapped out. This wasn’t going to happen for a day or two though but at least I had a connection again.

Come Wednesday I was back on 80Mbps again but my sync is still only 67Mbps. This is due to DLM (dynamic line management) keeping my speed down until it’s satisfied my line is stable. This could take about 7-10 days to return to it’s full speed, which I’m now waiting for. However the fault is now fully fixed. I can pick the phone up and experience no drops at all in noise margin and my maximum line speed is above 90Mbps again.

I can’t say I’m 100% happy with BT’s response to my problem due to the missed appointment and no communication about it, but the technician I had did a fantastic job. He was polite, kept me informed and most importantly he kept to his word. From that perspective I couldn’t have asked for better support.