It’s reliable

Fibre
Photo by Umberto on Unsplash

I think, though I love the speed, one of the key advantages of my new FTTP connection is reliability. I don’t think I’ve noticed if it has gone down or not.

On my old FTTC connection, it was fall over at least once a day or even more. I would usually notice as my Alexa Spot device would show my hub login screen when the connection failed.

Not seen that since we upgraded.

The other key is how much better the BT Hub is over my older (2017) Plusnet Hub was. The strength and spread of the WiFi is much better and combined with the faster speed means that a stable and reliable connection even at extreme distances from the hub in the house. Pleased with that, I was thinking about buying WiFi Extenders, but don’t think I need to do that now.

It’s fast…

Fibre
Photo by Shahadat Rahman on Unsplash

BT came round yesterday and fitted FTTP or full fibre as BT likes to call it. It was quite a painless process, so much so that I didn’t actually notice that the FTTC connection had been turned off and the FTTP turned on, well I was in the midst of writing an e-mail at the time.

They had to upgrade the terminal outside, drill a hole through the wall and mount the modem and the Smart Hub near some power sockets.

Now we have a 1Gb connection, though the reality with WiFI is that the most I can get is about 500Mb/s, but that is still 25 times faster than what I had before!

The speed and quality of the WiFi signal is much better and is working well It will take a little time to settle in over the next few weeks so the speed will fluctuate up and down. Though for my first Teams call after installation it was working a treat.

Accessing streaming video and downloading files is so much faster, but the other main benefit is better quality WiFi across the house. Though the signal degrades as you move away from the Hub, 20% of 400Mb/s is much better than 20% of 30Mb/s for doing stuff.

I had to go around and reconnect everything to the new wireless network, the Apple devices were the easiest as I could share the password across my devices just by bringing them close to each other.

Where I could use WPS that meant I could connect the printer and some Windows machines. The hardest devices to connect to the new wireless network was the Amazon Alexa devices, but got those done in the end.

We also got new digital phones.

They were outside…

Well there was a BT Openreach van outside our house today.

According to the information I have from BT, when they install FTTP, before the day of installation, they come on another day and put fibre between the pavement and the house.

I don’t know if they did that today, but if they did another step on my way to FTTP.

Automatic cancellation

fibre
Image by Chaitawat Pawapoowadon from Pixabay

Having placed an order for full fibre from BT I was expecting to have to go through the process of cancelling my plusnet account. 

However this was all automated as BT made a request to them, as I was changing provider.

They did make repeated requests to me to change my mind, but the problem was not that I wasn’t happy with them or their service, just that they didn’t provide the FTTP service I wanted. If they did I would have stayed with them.

Alas there wasn’t an easy way to provide them with this feedback, the e-mail I replied to bounced!

Decided not to phone them either.

Just a week to go now…

It’s both the end and the beginning

fibre
Image by Daniel Dino-Slofer from Pixabay

I have placed an order for fibre to the premises FTTP with estimated speeds of 900Mb/s down and 110Mb/s up. Should be up and running in the next couple of weeks.

A few months back our local area was awash with BT Openreach vans.

I did wonder if they were installing full fibre connections, or fibre to the premises FTTP. I remember at the time doing a search, but no news on any kind of upgrade to either cabinet 25 or the Worle Exchange.

Bizarrely enough it was an advert on Instagram that caught my attention back on the 1st October. Almost for a joke I decided to see if I could get faster fibre, I wasn’t expecting to, but was quite surprised to see that I could in fact have FTTP! 

Having suffered poor ADSL speeds for many years, I was really pleased, in September 2017 when BT Openreach finally finished the upgrade to cabinet 25 and we could have FTTC fibre.

With roughly 30Mb/s download and 9Mb/s upload speed I felt I was back, in terms of internet speeds, where I was in 2012 at our old house before we moved. Eight years ago I blogged about how I lost my FTTC connection having moved house (literally just moved down the same road).

It took over five years for BT Openreach to upgrade Cabinet 25 so we could have FTTC.

One of the reasons I didn’t place an order straight away was that, if I ordered BT Full Fibre I would have to close my current internet account with my ISP. Now I have been with my ISP since 1998, they were my first ISP, well the first I paid for after a free trial with AOL. I had seen an advert in a computing magazine, they were called Force9 and were based in Sheffield.

I had a dial-up internet account with them initially where I paid a monthly fee for internet access as well as any telephone charges.

Stayed with them when I moved house. In June 2000, the Force9 brand was changed to Plusnet. This coincided with the introduction of the Surftime dialup internet products, the first real 24/7 unmetered dial-up service in the UK. This worked really well with the Airport Extreme base station I had with integrated modem. I could use my Mac to enable the connection and then use the wifi across the home to use the internet wherever I was in the house.

When ADSL was enabled in February 2003, I upgraded to this new faster internet. The always on nature of ADSL changed how I used the internet, and in some ways how the internet used me. 

Plusnet was sold to BT in 2007 and I think it lost a little of its soul that day, but I stuck with them.

On this day in 2010 I upgraded to FTTC and this was a real revelation. With 40Mb down and 10Mb up this is significantly faster than the 1.3 down and 0.6 up I had before.

I was so disappointed when we moved house two years later and lost it and went back to the slow speeds of ADSL.

Five years later, cabinet 25 was upgraded and we had fibre back.

new fibre cabinet 25

All that time I was with Force9 or Plusnet as they like to be called.

When I found out I could have FTTP from BT, I did think I should be able to get FTTP from Plusnet as I recalled they were doing FTTP trials a few years back. Alas it was apparent that they don’t do FTTP products. So it was with a little sadness (don’t know why) that I ordered the BT Full Fibre product and this automatically activated the cancellation of my account with Plusnet.

It’s the end of one era and the start of another.

Landline now back on…

Well, so I thought we had the same error as before.

I found our phone last week wasn’t working, did all the checks, but still couldn’t get a dial tone or receive calls.

Raised the fault with BT who fixed it in a couple of days.

Yesterday I found our landline wasn’t working, still no dial tone.

I couldn’t raise a new fault, as the old one hadn’t been closed. So I went through a long online chat to get the fault resolved and an engineer visit booked.

However in the end it was apparent that this wasn’t a BT fault, it was a problem with one of our sockets (I think more the filter) that meant that our landline was working, so I cancelled the BT engineer visit.

Old Phone
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Landline was down…

Old Phone
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

…but I hadn’t noticed!

Found out this morning that my phone landline wasn’t working. I couldn’t make or receive calls and there was no dialling tone.

The thing is I have no idea how long it has been like this, the fact that the internet is still working, means I wasn’t suspicious something was amiss. It was only after I was having trouble with my mobile on the Three network that I tried the landline.

I mainly have a landline for the internet, so rarely use the phone for making actual phone calls. I wasn’t expecting any calls either, so that didn’t raise any alarms either.

The support process from BT was quite simple, after I had Googled “BT Line Checker” as there didn’t appear to be a path from the MyBT page. Once I found that page, I had to go through a diagnostic process on the website, which included going out to buy a replacement new phone just in case it was the phone, as well as using the test socket on the master socket.

The end result is that BT Engineers will be out to fix this by Friday…

Though I have no evidence, my suspicions are that this fault may have been caused a few days ago when there was a bundle of BT Openreach vans outside our house where they were working on something…

Wazing in and out to Paris…

I spent the last week of July in France and used Waze extensively to ensure we were going in the right direction and to the right place. Generally it worked fine, but I did have a few issues.

I do like Waze and I find that it is quite accurate in terms of arrival times, usually provides effective routing and I like the live traffic updates. I remember once it took me on what felt like a weird route out of Reading, but it took just ten minutes, whereas if I had taken the route I would have taken without Waze (as I didn’t know Reading very well) it would have taken at least thirty minutes. Waze took me down quieter less busy road, so I was out of Reading very quickly.

So I had used it already to get us down to the Eurotunnel Terminal and then after travelling on Le Shuttle to get us down to the campsite at La Croix Du Vieux Pont.

One quirk was that after taking us down lots of main roads, Waze then directed us down some very narrow country roads and lanes on the way to the campsite. I am not sure if this was faster, but was probably more direct. I did find driving down those roads a little nerve wracking, especially at the end of a rather long drive. However all was well in the end and we got to the campsite safely and in a reasonable timeframe.

I also used Waze to get us to Pierrefronds and back again, this time no issues.

So it was without any concern that I decided to use Waze to get a route to the outskirts of Paris. When we booked our holiday we thought it would be nice to visit Paris for the day. When I looked into this possibility at home, the obvious thing appeared to be, was to do the coach trip that the campsite put on, or catch the train. I didn’t really want to drive to Paris, as mainly we didn’t have the right pollution sticker (not enough time) and the thought of driving in Paris filled me with dread. However once at the campsite we found that due to Covid-19 that there wasn’t a coach trip running. As for the train, I did some internet searching and it looked like you needed to book tickets in advance. I then checked with the tourist information office on the campsite, they actually said not to catch the train, as Covid-19 was causing problems with the timetables. The office suggested we drive to the outskirts of Paris, park and catch the Metro into the centre of Paris.

This sounded like a practical plan. I programmed the car park, Q-Park Saint-Denis Université, into Waze the night before and all was fine.

The next morning we set off. Waze it was though was having none of it, and failed to set a route. I thought nothing of this, as I had been having a few 4G connectivity issues at the campsite and I thought once we got going and into an area with better connectivity, Waze would get sorted. On a visit to a nearby supermarket I had seen a road sign for Paris so we set off.

However despite getting better 4G reception, Waze was still failing to set a route. I think that the routing server was offline. So in the end as we approached Paris, we stopped and I changed to Google Maps to get us to that last leg to Saint-Denis Université. This worked fine, and I am glad I had directions, as I don’t think relying on road signs or even a map would have worked.

Having parked, we caught the Metro to the centre of Paris and made our way to Tour Eiffel.

This journey also demonstrated how much I have come to depend on Waze for getting to places (and back).

Interestingly, coming back from Paris, Waze was working fine!