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Broadband in the UK

By Builder in Technology
Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 08:28:58 PM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

I live in the UK (London to be precise). No, wait. Don't click back!

I've been in the country for almost 2 years now, and I've been following (and at times trying to participate in) the 'broadband revolution' that is supposed to be happening here.

I've been watching the so called 'broadband revolution' with a great deal of interest. My main interest has been 'Who's going to pay for all this?'.

After watching BT fail to deliver time and time again with promises of 'Real Soon Now!' they finally launched. The site asking for pre-registration went up last year April. I registered my interest immediately.

In the months that followed, we watched BT miss a few more kick-off times, but finally it was here! Affordable, always on Internet access. Just as an aside at this point, when this launched there was no way to connect to the 'net at no cost. FRAICO only came later. Even when connected to a FRAICO based ISP, you still get kicked off every two hours which makes downloading things a pain.

My first attempt at getting ADSL installed at home led to the creation of http://www.btopenwoe.org.uk (which I've now handed over to someone else). It was an absolute nightmare!

When my lease expired and it came time to move, I thought 'Right. I'm going to move somewhere that I can get ADSL.' I tried to check availability by street and area code, but was told that they can only check by telephone number. As the owner was leaving his current number at the house I was able to get him to give it to me. I checked, and yes, ADSL is available on that number. I ordered the service because they cannot do a line test without an order, and waited.

A week later they came back and told me that I had passed the line test and that I was eligible for installation. I got an installation date, and signed the lease for the property.

The day before I was due for installation I got my welcome pack. There is a note in there stating that I have to pass one more line test before I can receive the service. Had I looked on consumer sites, I would have found this to be the case (it's called a whoosh test), but BT never mentioned it.

The engineer arrived at 10:20 and began the line test. When he began the test he told me 'You only have a 50/50 chance of this passing'. The manual states that there is only a minority of cases where this test will fail. Looking into it now, I can see hundreds of people who have failed this. I failed. Oh well, nice try. Back to dialup.

This is a year in between attempts at installation and not much has changed. Their customer service has remained terrible, their helpdesk staff are still rude. What confuses me the most though is that I have tried twice from 2 separate locations, and not been eligible twice. Yet BT say that they cover most of central London.

Stepping (or sprinting) away from BT at the moment, let's examine our other options. There are two providers who do cable type solutions. One is NTL, the other is Telewest. The NTL service has an excellent track record and reputation with everyone I have spoken to. Telewest's Blueyonder service has only been around for a couple of months now and I don't know anyone who has it so I can't comment. Both of these services let you check availability based on postcode and from chatting to their PR and technical support people they both seem far friendlier and helpful. But because of some strange franchising agreements, neither of them have cable in my neighborhood. BT keeps the lions share of the franchised areas, but is unable to support them.

While this has all been going on in the background, our esteemed government and several private research agencies have got involved and tried to work out why broadband is not taking off as hoped and Several ISP's have filed lawsuits against BT for giving preference on installs to BT's ISP. The main reason these people have been able to come up with for the slow uptake, is that there are no applications available. People don't want broadband because there is nothing to do with it yet. I don't agree. I believe that companies can think. They are seeing the mass of problems that the consumer is having getting such services and they are reluctant to commit money to developing services for an unknown future userbase.

There's a whole bunch of people you can choose from to blame for this. BT for being incompetent. BT for being a monopoly. Oftel (the regulatory body) for being highly innefective. NTL and Telewest for being more effective competition. The consumer for being complacent and accepting poor service. Whoever or whichever combination of these factors is to blame, broadband Britian looks about as real as Never-Never land.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Do you have a broadband connection in the UK?
o No - Don't want one 10%
o No - Couldn't get one 46%
o Yes - ADSL through BT Openworld 17%
o Yes - ADSL through another ISP 3%
o Yes - Blueyonder 10%
o Yes - NTL Cable Modem 10%

Votes: 28
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o http://www .btopenwoe.org.uk
o Also by Builder

Display: Sort:
Broadband in the UK | 37 comments (35 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
Sounds like (3.00 / 1) (#1)
by wiredog on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 09:45:13 AM EST

The situation here in the Good Ol' High-Tech US of A.

"Anything that's invented after you're 35 is against the natural order of things", Douglas Adams
What? (3.50 / 2) (#6)
by Refrag on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 10:53:09 AM EST

I don't know what you're talking about. I live in Charlotte which can't compare with London in terms of infrastructure, and broadband is abundant here.

AOL "Conglomo" Time-Warner has the area carpeted with access to its Roadrunner service. This is what I use since my I live out in the "country" and can't get DSL. BellSouth has a very high level of penetration of broadband with ADSL. I don't think there is anyone in the entire county of Mecklenberg that could not get broadband service if they wanted it.


Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

npe but nope.... (1.00 / 1) (#33)
by schuye on Thu Jun 14, 2001 at 06:21:08 PM EST

Noope. Please give me me abreak. Pleease let me not handle spam....

[ Parent ]
situation the same around the world? (3.00 / 1) (#3)
by alprazolam on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 10:33:15 AM EST

I live (have a mailing address) in the city of Dallas, TX. Not exactly a backwater country town, it's well known for having a wide array of telecom (real tech) companies, including Nortel, Alcatel, and Cisco. I moved into a four year old apartment building which at the time got DSL from Darwin Networks. They stopped providing service in December and have since filed for chapter 11. No other providers are currently offering DSL service here for some reason. Supposedly it will be available mid-June, although the date seems to slip. A friend of mine in Plano, one of the most expensive suburbs of Dallas, was unable to find an apartment with DSL service. The big providers like AT&T, Verizon, and the bells are incredibly slow acting. And this probably is the case everywhere.

NTL Cable Broadband (4.00 / 3) (#4)
by NoCashValue on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 10:40:20 AM EST

I live in a shared house and we recently upgraded our NTL services to digital TV and cable modem. The service we get from NTL is as far as I am concerned pretty top notch. It might have something to do with the fact that our monthly bill normaly runs over 200 quid, but I doubt it. With all this moaning about broadband in the UK (see almost any article on the subject from the register) I count myself extremely lucky!

As I was saying :) (3.00 / 1) (#7)
by Builder on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 10:54:40 AM EST

Just like what my research has shown so far... NTL seems to have a great rep for this

Be nice to your daemons
[ Parent ]
still no juice (none / 0) (#15)
by ignition on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 12:19:41 PM EST

I'm in an NTL artea, I have a cable telephone line I cannot get their broadband connection, despite technically I should be able to I am on the net at least 12 hours a day- they should give dsl modems away on the NHS!

[ Parent ]
Why dont you consume the net? (4.00 / 4) (#5)
by nhems on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 10:51:24 AM EST

Ever heard of consume the net? its kinda like free software/open source.

Pros: You dont need any cables to connect up to the service. You dont need to suck corporate cock. It's grass roots. Its not a company. It started somewhere in London. (good for you) You can get 11 MBits (theoretically, or something). It is not limited to 11MBit/s (dependant on hardware, and future spectrum regulations, and whether you've got microwave ovens nearby, eating up spectrum bandwidth). It is free. It promises better/comparable than/to DSL performance, I think. It may make telcos/paying for mobile service/WAP/3G/Bluetooth obsolete and redundant. It may revolutionise broadband internet in the future. It shall free us all from the shackles of .. ourselves? (getting confused now ;-)

Cons: Its just starting. Not many people know about it. It may take some serious hacking (hardware and software) to get it to work. It costs about 3-400 pounds for the equiupment. Country access is a pipe dream for the moment. You need to be able to think in a free manner. There are no garuantees, or help lines (or any other corporate 'advantages'). Theres no on to blame if it doesn't work. You may need FreeBSD for some of the routing software to work (could be wrong). Almost definitely need Linux/*BSD (not really a con, unless you like sucking M$ cock:) no offence intended.

Basically, cut your losses, stop taking it from those dicks at BT, and support this collaborative, kick-ass, international project. The guys who started it all, already have a network in London somewhere, so what are you waiting for?

cheers -

typo'd link (3.00 / 1) (#8)
by acestus on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 11:01:11 AM EST

I believe you meant to link to:

...and not to
  • http://www.kuro5hin.org/consume.net
Don't forget the scheme (http://) part of a URL! It'll think your link is relative, if you do.

This is not an exit.
[ Parent ]
and another (none / 0) (#19)
by Acous on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 10:04:54 PM EST

let me try :)
  • this is what you want
  • http://www.kuro5hin.org/'http://consume.net'

[ Parent ]
Looked into it (3.00 / 1) (#10)
by Builder on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 11:19:45 AM EST

I actually looked into it a couple of months back. My main issue is the arials and stuff required. My lease says that I can't put any up.

My other issue with it is that you still have to maintain a connection to the net of another kind to be fair. The way it works is that you get to leech other people's spare bandwidth. It seems only fair to provide at least a 64K ISDN connection to the pool. This can be done for £14.99 per month + line rental.

If I recall, £400 will only buy you the kit for a 1.5M connection. My nearest point at the time was 2M away, so I would have needed kit for a 3M connection. I think this was about £600.

And finally, I want it to play games on-line. Back home we used to have lan games every second weekend. This is the closest substitute I can find. It won't have the same social aspect, but it would be better than nought :)

Be nice to your daemons
[ Parent ]
Consume.net (none / 0) (#22)
by kourou on Sat Jun 09, 2001 at 12:59:23 PM EST

Don't forget that (at least until Consume is large enough) Consume does not provide Internet bandwidth to users. It effectively provides a new independent network which peers with the Internet (hopefully at as many nodes as possible).

Some people still have to link their Consume nodes to ADSL/Cable/Wireless DSL/Leased Lines etc.

Unfortunately, one problem currently is that most ISPs prohibit such connection sharing (outside of your own office/home) in their T's & C's (which is fair enough if you think about it - apart from leased lines, those connection types are supposed to be contended).

Andy Nash

[ Parent ]

My node's just gone up... (none / 0) (#31)
by Greyfish on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 11:46:50 AM EST

I've just got my node up, and i'm about to go and meet someone else and give them a hand.

Consume really needs help tho, the web site hasn't been updated for ages...
Fish *are* nice
[ Parent ]
Just the same in France (4.00 / 3) (#11)
by thunderbee on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 11:29:59 AM EST

Remove BT, insert FT (France Telecom). Voilą.

My experience, or lack thereof (none / 0) (#12)
by Cloudane on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 11:53:33 AM EST

I live in the Lake District, and basically ADSL is "sometime in the distant future" here. Last year, we were told it'd be with us by July. Then it changed to September. Then December. Then early 2001. Now we're looking at 2002 at the *earliest* :(
From where I'm standing, it looks like you have to be in London or one of the other large cities to have any hope of getting ADSL in the near future. Sure we'll get it one day, probably in a few years, but they're definitely not rushing it.

As for cable (NTL etc) - in my area, you just forget it completely. I phoned a few cable companies a couple of months ago - they all say the same things: "we do not intend to lay cable around your area any time in the forseeable future" or "we might consider it one day, but we have no plans right now".

Well, it's just too bad. We'll have to either wait for the various restrictions/enforcements on BT to take effect, or move to London.
Remove the nospam. to reply
Anti-broadband conspiracy? (4.00 / 1) (#13)
by SIGFPE on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 12:16:40 PM EST

After living in the US for the last 4 years it was interesting visiting the my home country, the UK, a couple of months ago. As someone who hasn't been drifted promises of upcoming broadband my view was, I think, an unbiased snapshot of the state of broadband in the UK. It seems completely obvious to me that someone is trying to prevent or delay the widespread adoption of broadband at home. The UK has everything in place required for ADSL or Cable and yet nobody seems to have it. I visited many of my techie friends - none of whom have a connection faster than about 30kbps. My sister, who runs a large business from home, has finally acquired ADSL but that is an exception and she's been using ISDN until very recently. It seems obvious that something weird is going on.

Meanwhile BT are doing stupid things like allowing free email access from payphone-like terminals in the street. What the hell is that for? Who's going to go out into the street (in the rain in all likelihood!) to send and receive email. It seems obvious that this is a scam of some sort. Maybe it means BT can turn round to Oftel and say "Look - we've opened up Internet access so that anyone can use email". It probably sounds convincing to committee members.

One of the cool side effects of the low quality Internet access in the UK is that SMS has taken off in a big way. There seems to be a big text messaging culture that hasn't taken off in the US. Maybe BT will eventually be wiped out by wireless competition.

Blue Yonder (5.00 / 1) (#14)
by priestess on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 12:18:42 PM EST

I too found myself completely fed up with BT. Not only were they constantly pushing back the dates for DSL, they were also pushing up the projected prices every other month. In the end, shortly after their 'release', I decided I wanted nothing more to do with that damn company so when the contract on my flat was nearing the end I started to look for a flat which I deliberately insisted would be inside Telewest's area so that I could get a Blue Yonder connection.

Well, to be fair Work's around here as well, and I kinda like it for various other reasons, but it was one of the big ones.

To begin with the Cable company pissed me off nearly as much as BT. I call them up and tell them I want a phone and some Blue Yonder please so they ask me for my telephone number. Um, haven't got one, that's WHY I called you, surely. Then they told me it'd be at least two weeks before they could get the telephone connected, even though the line was already there, BT could have connceted my phone in half an hour in similar circumstances. I think they have to review their policy when they disconnect/reconnect a telephone. There was also no way they'd allow me to get anything without a direct debit form, though I fought on that for a while I eventually gave in.

In the end it was just one day over two weeks before the Blue Yonder system was fitted and it worked like a dream from day one. The engineer set up Win98 (which I'd installed specially) to work properly and left me to struggle getting Debian to accept the connection.

Blue Yonder works through a NIC card, and I just agreed for the engineer to bring one with him rather than buying my own. It was a NetGear which had no drivers on my Debian disks, so I had to spend a couple of days searching for how to get that set up properly, and how to install DCHP but once it was set up I can apt-get install to my hearts content to set up everything else.

It's been fitted about two months now, running a cron every hour to dump the IP address out to a FTP site in case it changes (it hasn't done so far) and that FTP has only failed due to no fault of my own twice, each as one off's so I guess there have been no outages to speak of.

Best of all, they actually give me an IP (BT's DSL uses a NAT I believe) and don't mind if I share that around my LAN. I believe that running a HTTP server is strictly against the rules, but nobody has stopped me yet, and I'm SSH'ed into the box from work whenever I need to be.

If you can handle a bit of bullshit at the start, they're not too bad.

As a final note to show how crap BT is, when I called them to disconnect my old phone at the old flat and send me a final bill they REFUSED. Without some magic code number which I guess I lost ages ago they wouldn't take my forwarding address nor disconnect the phone. I asked three times for them to send a bill to my new flat and eventually told them that I give up, I guess they can chase me if they want the cash now. Idiots, no wonder they're loosing money these days.


My Mobile Phone Comic-books business
Careful.... (none / 0) (#21)
by Nurgled on Sat Jun 09, 2001 at 11:47:21 AM EST

Watch out with that HTTP server. Running public services on your cable modem is grounds for immediate account closure. The Terms of Service require that your services be for 'personal use' which they take to mean be password protected.

A friend of mine with a Telewest cable modem has his HTTP root password protected and gives out the url in http://username:password@hostname/ notation, and unprotects subdirectories where they won't notice. That seems to have worked so far.

[ Parent ]
Hear, hear (none / 0) (#25)
by Morn on Sat Jun 09, 2001 at 07:24:11 PM EST

I usually dislike 'me too' comments, but I have to say, that's just what I was about to write.

We've had Blueyonder here [Edinburgh] for around a year now, and it's great (and cheaper than ADSL). The only annoying thing is that I'm moving soon, and will probably have to go back to modem speeds...

[ Parent ]

OK to run services on Blue Yonder (none / 0) (#27)
by wilton on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 08:42:57 AM EST

I signed up with Blue Yonder about 4 months ago and it has been great, 512K download, and they have just reduced their prices to £25 !!

Before I had the service installed, I checked if I could run a service, and they said it was fine. I asked, quote, 'Can I run an NAT/Masq, SSH and web server on a Linux machine?', they said it would be fine. Currently I have an OpenBSD machine doing all the above and it works all the time.

[ Parent ]
Another satisfied customer (none / 0) (#30)
by Aquarius on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 11:16:58 AM EST

When I first moved into a Telewest area, just after Christmas, it took them a while to sort the phones out (so I had no phone for about two weeks, which was nothing short of torture). However, I've now had BY's cablemodem service for a week or so, and I've been nothing but satisfied. They turned up when they said they would, and installed it fine. They will only install on a Windows machine in this area, but they are happy to register up to 5 additional MAC addresses for NICs that you can plug your cablemodem into, so I just had them install on spike (the Windows box) and then unplugged the cm and plugged it into the Linux box. <code>apt-get install dhcp-client</code> and poke around a little in the startup files to get it to work, and, pow: broadband connection. No problem. Kudos to BlueYonder, I say.

"The grand plan that is Aquarius proceeds apace" -- Ronin, Frank Miller
[ Parent ]
Similar experience (none / 0) (#32)
by keyeto on Mon Jun 11, 2001 at 07:37:28 AM EST

I live in a shared house in Edinburgh, and we use Blueyonder. The only problem we've had is the less-than-transparent web proxy they run. Sometimes you have to hit the reload button to get a page to actually appear. There appear to be smilar problems making connections with ftp, ssh, scp and apt-get, but pressing the up arrow in your command line histry usually does the trick.

It's pretty cheap, and has dramatically reduced our BT telephone bill, which was previously nearly all down to dialup charges.

"This is the Space Age, and we are Here To Go"
William S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]
Move to Canada. (none / 0) (#16)
by Inoshiro on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 04:09:42 PM EST

From my own personal experience, Canada is the only country in the world where you can order broadband, get it setup in you home, and use in for a reasonable fee. With a max time to install of 2-3weeks, well defined service areas, and provider leased cable/DSL routers, it's a buyers market.

Compare this with the US, which is ~5 years behind us. There you have to buy the router, spend a month (min!) on determining if you have availability (much less installation apointments). Then you get to struggle with DSL which drops carrier -- wonderful!

From there it gets worse as you move to other countires :-/

Our government has committed to getting broadband everywhere by 2004 (silly promise on the part of the Liberals to get the tech vote, but it worked). Hopefully this will fixup the situations in some of the worse off provinces (the DSL in Alberta is not unlimited; you get a max # of 'free' GB up/down, even on the 200$/month business DSL plan -- worse than the equivalent Sasktel package).

[ イノシロ ]
re: From my own personal experience (1.00 / 1) (#17)
by cicero on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 06:18:53 PM EST

now, I may have missed your posts aobut this but, which other countries have you lived and tried to get broadband installed?
Here in the good ole us-of-a (silicon beach, dontcha know) my install took 3 weeks, and they ended up coming out on a saturday (!) to do it. The install guy even realized that I was running linux and gave me an alternate tech support number.
granted that mine was a pretty rare experience, but I would be forced to say that a statement like
Compare this with the US, which is ~5 years behind us.
is borderline flamebait. wouldn't you?

I am sorry Cisco, for Microsoft has found a new RPC flaw - tonight your e0 shall be stretched wide like goatse.
[ Parent ]
competition good (1.00 / 1) (#18)
by rebelcool on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 08:06:51 PM EST

govt-supported monopolies bad.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

Move to France (none / 0) (#23)
by Betcour on Sat Jun 09, 2001 at 01:32:27 PM EST

The food is better... seriously, France should be in the same situation - but isn't. France Telecom is the same huge governement-supported-telco, has the same track record of being bent on keeping its monopoly at all cost as British Telecom. Yet, for some reasons, they are deploying ADSL everywhere, with excellent service quality, reasonable prices, etc... the thing is, FT is trying to outrun the competition and use its unfair monopoly situation to equip everyone, so that when the market is ready for real competition, FT has saturated the market already.

I dunno why it's such a mess in UK, especially since Internet users are more numerous than over here, but for some reason the same situation evolved in two very different ways. As a French, all I can say is : you burned Jeanne d'Arc, now suffer with your loosy broadband, hospitals and trains ;-)

There are other ISPs too - but even then... (none / 0) (#24)
by kourou on Sat Jun 09, 2001 at 02:09:34 PM EST

<declaration of interest>I work for an ISP (Houxou.com)</declaration of interest> and I see the same things you do from a slightly different perspective, though I feel as frustrated as you do. [these are personal opinions and not of my employer blah, blah...]

First - remember that it is very important to distinguish between BT Ignite (a part of BT plc which provides the ADSL service wholesale to ISPs) and BT Openworld (who are an ISP wholly owned by BT plc.). They both seem to have appalling service though - you saw what BT Openworld are like, and we hear that regularly from people who ring us up and would like to change provider - which is sadly impossible within your 12 month contract.

There are so many other ISPs (not just Houxou) around who absolutely cane BT Openworld in all areas - service, speed, reliability, value-added services, and the all-important fixed IP addresses, that there is no reason for anybody to deliberately choose BT Openworld unless they are uninformed. Unfortunately it is very easy to accidentally fall into BT Openworld's arms as many people do not understand that other ISPs can offer this service. For example, i have dialled BT's consumer number - 150 - a number of times and enquired about ADSL. Each time I end up being put through to BT Openworld - I am pretty sure this is not supposed to happen. A cynic might say that a certain amount of effort appears to have been made to cause confusion and make access to the full picture difficult for consumers and SME's alike. Yes, I am one of those cynics.

BT Ignite on the other hand seem to think faults should be resolved at 'telephone speed' and not 'internet speed'. They have no appreciation of the way ISPs (the good ones at least) handle technical support which is ASAP. We don't pass things on to some technicians desk to get looked at the next day - we get them sorted right away if possible.

However every fault we raise with Ignite takes a minimum of 24 hours to resolve, and it can take weeks! When you speak to them on the phone you are shunted around, promised phone calls that never materialise and you are never allowed to speak directly with engineers working at the exchange. Often, they will send out engineers to our customers, even though we are 100% sure that this is unnecessary and that the fault lies in the exchange. Such a visit delays a resolution by up to 48 hours. Many problems could be solved in less than an hour if we, the ISPs, could speak directly to technical people within BT. An escalation manager in BT recently told me he considered 24-48 hours a perfectly reasonable length of time for a fault to be resolved. Wake up and smell the 21st century!

If only they had some management prepared to stand up and be counted and make some radical changes! But they don't seem to, and their corporate culture sits on innovation and change - people enter the company intending to make changes and one year later are faced with the same intransigence as before.

We have corporate customers who understand they are not paying for a leased line, but rightly expect a perfectly reasonable level of service. We can't give it to them because BT Ignite can't keep up with all this new-fangled internet technology, and we get stuck in the middle looking as if we are making excuses (Customers are not allowed to communicate with BT directly). Reselling BT ADSL is frankly an embarassing experience. We have to put so many of our resources to use fixing installation problems (> 50% of our installations have been messed up in some way by BT) and other failures which crop up that we don't have time to market our proucts to new customers, which is partly why ADSL hasn't taken off like it has in the US, Canada or Germany.

Of course, unlike ADSL providers in other countries, BT refuse to provide SLA's and compensation, which gives their employees absolutely no incentive to get anything done... Until they do, many companies will refuse to get involved, and continue paying ludicrous leased line and ISDN charges to - guess who!

When running ADSL is great, and since leased lines and ISDN are kept artifically expensive (also by BT), ADSL is still fantastic value. But with no effective nationwide competition, and limp-wristed inaction on the part of OFTEL, do you really expect Ignite to ever make the effort to improve things?

Of course there is one other point - nothing to do with BT - which explains why there are so many complaints from customers about internet access in the UK in general:

What do get if you want cheap services?

Cheap services!

ADSL is a very low margin product. If Internet users in general can be shaken from their mistaken belief that everything can be free, and that cheaper is better, it will be much easier for people to roll out expensive technologies like ADSL...

BT OpenWorld charges £40ish for a product that costs them £5 from BT Ignite. That's £5 per month for 512k bandwidth and tehnical support amongst other costs. Do you really expect to be happy with using that service? Most other ISPs charge at least £50. I rest my case.

My advice is: get a decent, committed small/medium-sized ISP who can offer friendly, well-informed support, pay for what may not be the cheapest service on the market, and be prepared to suffer at the hands of BT's fault resolution processes.

UK broadband is not going to kick off the way it should unless OFTEL takes a harsh stand against BT (which is almost certainly not going to happen...)

Andy Nash

Would trying a different ISP really help? (none / 0) (#28)
by Builder on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 10:02:38 AM EST

Because if it would, I'd try in a flash! I'm going to call Monday and chat to your sales team anyways, but would it really make a difference ?

One of the things that I've heard can be done to fix the line noise problem is to change the gain on the line from 0dB to 3dB. This should bring a line that is just out of spec into spec. Can Houxou.com have this done? Because the Openwoe crew couldn't.

The other thing I'm doing is having a new line installed this week friday. The reason for this is that there are 8 extensions on the current line in the house. There is nothing plugged into them, but there is a total of about 100m cable running through the house. I can't see that helping!

As for costs go, see my the start of my story. I've always wondered who is going to pay for all of this. I would gladly pay double the asking price of ADSL. The only thing I would expect at this rate is good service, and fast turnaround time on faults. For what you get, it is easily worth £80 per month!

Anyways, enough said. I'll call you guys tomorrow.

Be nice to your daemons
[ Parent ]
I can sympathize (5.00 / 1) (#26)
by tarpy on Sat Jun 09, 2001 at 10:47:04 PM EST

I live on the border of Sunnyvale and San Jose (you know, the heart of Silicon Valley) and can get neither ADSL, nor cable access, despite living in a modern apartment complex in the heart of the metro area. Apparently PacBell and AT&T (the local cable compaby) have more important things to do than wire up all of us overpaid .com workers. Not only that, you can't get a 56K connection to any of the major dial-up ISPs....it may not be irony, but it sure is delicious. :)

On a side note, my apartment complex is getting so pissy with PacBell's outright lies when *DSL will be available to the complex, they've bought a T1 connection and installed an 802.11 network for residents that will go live either Monday or Tuesday.


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face

On the Gripping Hand (none / 0) (#29)
by aidan on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 10:09:43 AM EST

I just got ADSL isntalled at home, through Demon.

The install went quite smoothly, a minor SNAFU at the exchange held it up a little bit (hours), and there was a cock up with the paper work, but it was isntalled within 3 weeks of the order, is quite fast and I haven't had any problems with it.

To be honest, i was completely shocked and astounded by this, because I know what BT are like...

ADSL is more expensive than it should be, and it's not being marketed right, and BT are evil, but there is hope for Bradband in the UK.

- Aidan

Telewest (none / 0) (#34)
by willijar on Fri Jun 15, 2001 at 02:39:48 AM EST

Just for reference. I live in Birmingham (UK) ave had Telewest's Blueyonder cable modem service for a couple of months now. Overall I would say that my experience was favourable (relative to the stories we here about ADSL installations at least). It has certainly not been without problems though.

Installation should have been in about 3 weeks but actually took another 3 weeks as there problems with the cable modem, and Telewest and Blueyonder passed the buck backwards and forwards (was it hardware fault - Telewests responsibility or a software problem - Blueyonders responsibility). Once installed there have been a couple of times when I have had to ring up customer service to sort out DHCP (dynamic IP address allocation) problems. They have been able to sort that out on the phone. Otherwise the service has been fine and has mostly delivered the high speeds expected (50kbyte/sec download, 10byte/sec upload or thereabouts). The price has recently been reduced to £25 per month which is certainly favourable compared to ADSL. Of course we have to wait and see how Telewest deal with local loop dimensioning when more users take up the service and the bandwidth requirements increase.

Local Loop (none / 0) (#36)
by Aztech on Fri Jun 15, 2001 at 07:01:54 AM EST

"Of course we have to wait and see how Telewest deal with local loop dimensioning when more users take up the service and the bandwidth requirements increase."
Non of the cable providers have to open their local loop to competition, not yet anyway, I believe the government gave them at least a 20 year monopoly as an incentive to build the networks.

We can't choose our cable provider, but fortunately they've been largely benevolent with their monopoly so far, obviously because the TV service has to compete with the likes of SkyDigital and OnDigital, and the telephony has to compete with BT and the mobile networks (Orange have been trying to kill of the home phone for a while).

BT are in the process of opening up their local loop to competition, but thanks to Oftel it's largely been a farce so far. Obviously competition on BT's local loop will indirectly increase the competition for cable providers.

[ Parent ]
Telewest's Blueyonder (none / 0) (#35)
by Aztech on Fri Jun 15, 2001 at 06:45:12 AM EST

Telewest's service is around a year old I believe, in that time the price has dropped from £50 ($70), to £33 ($46) and recently to £25 ($35) which I'm told is a bit cheaper than some of the US cable providers after the recent rate hike (they probably get more bandwidth though). The speed is 512k/128k with no transfer caps, shame the upload couldn't be higher.

I've had it around 6 months, the service is quite good, the speeds were a bit patchy sometimes but there has been a steady stream of upgrades at LINX over the months. I'd never go back to ISDNe or 56K.

BT is a waste of time to be honest, they still have all the hallmarks of incompetence and inefficiencies from their state dinosaur days, plus their infrastructure on the local loop level is falling apart. Thankfully I don't deal with them anymore, I get my telephony from cable also.

The cable system in the UK is only around 5-10 years old, and the operators seem to be fairly proficient. Obviously if you're not covered by cable you're stuffed, but I believe nearly the whole of London is covered. If not, it might be worth looking into Fixed Wireless or Satellite access.

Blueyonder (none / 0) (#37)
by Adrian2 on Fri Jul 06, 2001 at 04:27:48 PM EST

I got my cable modem from Telewest Blueyonder about three months ago and I have to say it's rather superb. No, I'm not trying to rub the noses of those who for one reason or another are still on dial-up, rather, I'm expressing my surprise at Telewest actually getting something (mostly) right for once.

I had huge problems (and it wasn't just me) with the Telewest dial-up ISP: you could get connected, but nothing would be coming down that line for hours at a time. The cable modem system is apparently running on a different network and this problem has only been very occasional and quite brief. And of course, when it goes, it flies!

My original installation date was set for 10 days after I orderered. That was then delayed for another two weeks. But the chap finally came and as far as I can tell went beyond the call of duty to make sure the thing worked. What was supposed to be a half hour installation took three hours. Yes, I sweated, but finally it happened.

Telewest aren't a great company, they're ok. Customer service is quite good and generally punches above the weight of the company as a whole. It's the technical expertise and resources that run the systems I have my doubts about sometimes. But overall I'd say if you can get a cable modem from them, do it. The £25 a month price is only for customers that have other services (phone, TV) I think. Otherwise it's £33.

Broadband in the UK | 37 comments (35 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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