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…

Tech Stuff: Top Ten Blog Posts of 2017

Over the last twelve months I have published 26 posts, many of these were about my return to fibre. So it is nice to see that the tenth most popular post on the blog this year was from nearly a year ago.  We will have fibre in “12 months”!  I said back then that according to BT Openreach we would have fibre within twelve months, I was slightly sceptical, but nine months after publishing that post I did get fibre.

new fibre cabinet 25

The ninth post was about when my iMac Fusion Drive Failed and had to have it replaced.

The post at number eight was another post about my fibre journey, Still checking… was when the cabinet was activated, but alas wasn’t accepting orders.

The seventh post was from 2012 when my HP Photosmart printer died. My printer is dead! was a sorry tale about how replacing the ink cartridges on the HP B110a resulted it in destroying the print head.

The post at six was about  Dusting off the Pogo my old Polaroid Bluetooth pocket printer. Still going strong.

Polaroid Pogo printer

The fifth post was how I don’t like BT FON which was originally published in 2011.

The post at number four was wondering Where are my Comic Life Styles? I found them.

The third most popular post was about the free wifi (or lack of) on my holiday, Haven no wifi

The post at number two was Comic Book Fonts which was about the amazing comic book fonts from Comic Book Fonts.

So the most popular post on the blog was my post about QR codes on chocolate bars,  Cadbury QR Coding and Twirling was published in 2015 and was one of many posts I published on the use of QR codes back then.

Cadbury Twirl Bites QR Code

Finally…

network cable

Well if you have been following my sorry saga of Cabinet 25 in Weston Village and it’s journey to fibre, you will be pleased, sorry relieved, that I finally have fibre. Five years after moving house my broadband is now FTTC and much faster than the 1.4Mb/s ADSL speeds I have had over that time. It’s being seven years since the Worle Exchange was upgraded for FTTC, but as with any FTTC enabled Exchange, you can only upgrade to fibre (FTTC) once the cabinet has been enabled.

I had been given an activation date of the 19th September. I had seen BT Openreach vans there that morning (they had been there the day before) so had reasonable expectations that the activation date wouldn’t be missed.

The only timing I had been given was that it would be completed by midnight, but I did wonder if it would be finished earlier, I just couldn’t see BT Openreach being there in the dark.

Mid afternoon my ADSL connection stopped. I did restart the router/modem but no connection. An hour later the modem went blue, I had a fibre connection.

It takes time for the connection to settle down, but I am pleased with a 25Mb/s download speed and it was nice to see how a 1GB software update which would have taken up to eight hours, take just eight minutes! The upload speed is slower than I would like at 2Mb/s but that’s still five times faster than what I had before.

Later it was nice to be able to be downloading an iOS update whilst streaming BBC iPlayer at the same time and browsing the web.

So I now have fibre.

Still waiting…

BT Openreach Faceplate

Okay so maybe being a little impatient, but I am still waiting on my fibre connection to be enabled.

BT Openreach finally enabled the cabinet on the 30th August and I placed my order with Plusnet the next day.

In my initial correspondence with Plusnet they seemed to imply that my connection would be upgraded on the 7th September.

However as with others I have since found out that my connection would be enabled on the 19th September. No actual time, but sometime during the day.

What I was confused with, was when I got FTTC at my old place, we had to have a visit from a BT Engineer who fitted a new faceplate to the master socket. So I was expecting to have some kind of appointment to have a faceplate installed. Talking to Plusnet customer service I have realised that as the predicted speed is low then I won’t need to have a new faceplate and “filters will work just fine”.

It was back in 2014 when BT decided that for up to 38MBps fibre connections that this could be a self-install option and therefore no faceplate needed to be fitted.

However some sites are recommending that you fit a faceplate anyhow.

We urge anyone considering or opting for a self-install fibre broadband service to install a faceplate filter. These are inexpensive and will generally deliver significant improvements in broadband speeds.

So I have been thinking that once I have the upgraded connection to fit my own faceplate. You can get them quite cheaply on Amazon.

So not long now and really fast speeds…

Well maybe just fast speeds…

Well faster than 1Mb/s at least!

The cabinet is enabled…

Originally BT Openreach said they would upgrade Cabinet 25 in Weston Village by the end of March, this deadline was quickly moved to the end of August. If you have been following my saga you will know that the final phase has been dragging.

Today, the 30th August, one day before the BT Openreach deadline, they have finished the process and are accepting orders for FTTC connections.

The cabinet is enabled...

I had checked earlier today and as for most of the last month the websites were saying, still checking stuff and no you can’t order a fibre connection today. This evening that has all changed and I could now place an order for a FTTC connection.

The speeds compared to my previous fibre connection are not as good.

The cabinet is enabled...

Back in 2010 I was getting 40Mb down and 10Mb up. According to the above information I can expect roughly 25Mb down and 4Mb up.

So the next step is to place an order…

I did try and upgrade my Plus.Net account, but their website failed with an error.

Probably down to the age of my old account, so I need to phone them…. and the phone lines are closed.

So tomorrow I may be able to order fibre, then there is a ten day wait.

I have been waiting five years, I think I can wait ten days.

They’re at the cabinet…

BT Openreach

While waiting for BT Openreach to finally finish activating the cabinet, they have been there for the last two days.

They updated the status on the BT Openreach back on the 20th July, back then they said:

You can’t order a fibre service today but typically it’ll be available to your premises within the next month.

Now over a month later, you still can’t place an order a fibre service.

I do wonder if they are finalising the activation, but who knows.

Still waiting….

Hmmm…

It’s being quiet…

No wonder BT Openreach still haven’t finalised the fibre upgrades to cabinet 25.

There is only so much checking you can do.

We're performing our final quality checks and making sure everything is ready for your fibre order.

I suspect the person responsible is on holiday.

Still checking…

network cable

So just over a week ago, according to BT Openreach they have activated the new cabinet, but we still can’t place an order for “superfast” broadband.

I have also been using another method of checking progress which is the ADSL checker site from BT.

This is the result from my line.

BT ADSL Checker

As you can see the maximum downstream rate is no more than 1.5Mb/s.

According to my DSL router, the actual speeds I am getting are

DownStream Connection Speed – 1152 Kbps
UpStream Connection Speed – 440 Kbps

Which to be honest is not much good for anything these days, even web pages are so bloated these days, it can take an age to download a single web page from some sites. Flickr for example is really challenging to use. So you can imagine the challenges we face in streaming video, using services such as Skype or any kind of cloud service.

Just up the road, with a property connected to cabinet 17, you can see the different having a FTTC enabled cabinet can make on speeds.

BT ADSL Checker

You can see though the ADSL speed is better than mine at 7.5Mb/s, the FTTC rate is around 80MB/s.

I was also interested to see that fibre to the premises (FTTP) is also available on that cabinet to that specific line with a 330Mb/s downstream rate!

Doubt that will be available on cabinet 25.

BBC News are reporting though that this may change…

Telecoms regulator Ofcom forced BT to legally separate its broadband infrastructure division Openreach in March.

Since the split, Openreach has pledged to offer super-fast fibre broadband to 10 million homes by 2025, using technology known as fibre to the premises (FTTP) which it had previously said was too expensive for wide rollout.

I know, I know I should be happy I am getting FTTC and not worry too much about FTTP.

Activate

So when is three months only two weeks? When you are upgrading cabinet 25 in Weston Village to FTTC.

Well we have reached the next stage of the Fibre Journey, moving from Connect to Activate.

We're performing our final quality checks and making sure everything is ready for your fibre order.

We’re performing our final quality checks and making sure everything is ready for your fibre order.

At the previous stage, which was on the 6th July, it said:

You can’t order a fibre service today but typically it’ll be available to your premises within the next four months.

Well here we are two weeks later at the Activate stage and the site says:

You can’t order a fibre service today but typically it’ll be available to your premises within the next month.

So I am anticipating that this may take less than a month.

However the process is moving faster than it says on the website, it’s one of the reasons I am blogging about it, so I can see if we are on target or slower than the website says. The build phase (which should be a “month”) was just a week and at the end of that we had a new cabinet.

new fibre cabinet 25

So I should be able to place an order very soon….

Making a connection

After seeing BT Openreach vans and engineers around the cabinet, the connecting website shows Cabinet 25 has moved into the Connect phase.

We’re connecting power to the new fibre cabinet and joining the new fibre lines to the existing copper network.

Now there is a caveat that…

You can’t order a fibre service today but typically it’ll be available to your premises within the next four months.

However the process is moving faster than it says on the website, it’s one of the reasons I am blogging about it, so I can see if we are on target or slower than the website says. The build phase (which should be a “month” was just a week!

Now the building work is done, BT Openreach need to connect the cabinets and connect power to the new cabinet.

For a Fibre to the Cabinet connection this stage is about connecting the power and fibre cables to the cabinet in your area. The existing and new cabinets are now connected to each other by underground copper cables. The physical build is now completed and there shouldn’t need to be any further works in your area.

After this has happened then BT Openreach can activate the cabinet, inform service providers and then I can place an order.