Lost my fibre…

fiber optic light

Back in October 2010 I upgraded my broadband to FTTC and improved my internet speeds dramatically….

Finally had my broadband upgraded to FTTC and I am impressed. With 40Mb down and 10Mb up this is significantly faster than the 1.3 down and 0.6 up I had before.

It has already changed how I use the internet, whereas before I would probably not consider downloading a film from iTunes during the day, as it would soak up my bandwidth and would take hours to download; now it takes under five minutes to download! No problems with downloading large files and updates now.

This week I lost access to FTTC and dropped back down to those old slow ADSL speeds I thought I had left behind.

The reason was simple I moved house!

Though I only (really) moved down the road and even though I am still connected to the same enabled telephone exchange, it would appear that the cabinet I am connected to hasn’t been upgraded! So as a result no FTTC for me.

The first big issue was digging out an ADSL Modem to use, and alas the one I had, had probably been in the garage or a while, and didn’t work. You can’t use the modem that is provided with FTTC, hence the need for an ADSL Modem. Spent about an hour trying to work out why the old D-Link modem wasn’t working. Doing a hard reset didn’t work. So it was a quick trip to PC World to find a cheap ADSL Modem. In the end I got the Netgear N150 Wireless ADSL2+ Modem Router. I didn’t in fact need the wireless as I use Apple’s Airport Extreme for my wireless networking.

It was easy to configure via a web browser and it wasn’t long before I was connected and using the ADSL connection.

Back when I got fibre I wrote:

The other key advantage is streaming video, which was almost pointless before due to buffering, and like downloading, previous streaming would soak up my bandwidth, having 40Mb down means I can stream and do other stuff at the same time.

Now that I am back on ADSL (and slow ADSL at that) I am once again unable to stream video through my connection and do anything else. An experiment with BBC iPlayer resulted in a slow browsing experience and buffering video. Now that’s going to be annoying and frustrating. The first casualty looks like it will be my Netflix subscription… if I can’t stream video then what is the point? It will also become a hassle to download video files from iTunes too.

I also have concerns about webinars and Skype as I have a very poor upload speed.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love our new house, it’s great. I just hope that BT will get around to upgrading the cabinet soon so I can get FTTC. I also hope they can upgrade the cabinet…. would be doubly annoying if I could never get back on fibre.

Tech Stuff – Top Ten Posts of 2011

Here are the top ten blog posts (by views) for 2011.

10. Joikuspot s60 limitation

This blog post which described a major limitation with Jokuspot on the Nokia N95 was the principle reason I bought a MiFi.

9. No joy with Sony PSP and JoikuSpot Premium

This was quite an old post, from nearly three years ago, when my primary method for mobile internet was using Joikuspot on a Nokia N95. Since then I have used a MiFi and now in the main use the portable wireless hotspot on a Google Nexus One.

8. Insufficient Bandwidth

This post described how a problem with my FTTC was causing me to have issues with iPlayer streams. I think in the end it was more of an issue with BBC iPlayer than an issue with my internet connection.

7. New Sony Tablets, the Tablet S

In this blog post I was looking forward to the new Sony Tablet. Having now seen the Tablet for real I am slightly disappointed. It didn’t feel like a Sony product and seemed overpriced for what it was.

6. Instagram on the Desktop

My sixth most popular post looked at a couple of Mac apps that allowed you to view Instagram images on your desktop. I really like Instagram, but sometimes feel disadvantaged when I want to see a feed of Instagram images on my Mac.

5. ITV Player and 4OD on the PS3

An update to the PS3 provided access to the watch again services from ITV and Channel 4.

4. iPhone Portable Wifi Hotspot

Back in January Apple announced a new feature for the iPhone, that allowed you to turn it into a portable wifi hotspot, something I had been doing for a while using my Froyo Google Nexus One.

3. I don’t like BT FON

My third most popular post was a rant about BT FON, well actually it wasn’t a rant about BT FON itself, it was rant that BT routers configured for BT FON also broadcast a BT Openzone SSID which wasn’t a real BT Openzone and so as a result my iPhone (which has free access to BT Openzone) couldn’t use it.

2. BT Openzone-H

This post was a follow on to my BT FON rant, it was apparent that BT were aware of the problem I discussed and are in the process of changing the settings on the BT Homehubs so that instead of broadcasting the BT Openzone SSID they have renamed it to BT Openzone-H. I should say that though I posted this in July, here nearly six months later my neighbour’s BT HomeHub is still broadcasting BT Openzone and not the new Openzone-H.

1. Live BBC TV on the iPad

My most popular post was not really a post more of an addendum to another post reviewing the BBC iPlayer app for the iPad.

The addendum mentioned that the main advantage of the app over the web interface was that you could access live TV through the app.

Insufficient Bandwidth

I really do like the speed of my fibre connection so was slightly annoyed whilst watching a programme on BBC iPlayer on my iPad to get this message.

It said that You have insufficient bandwidth to play this programme.

This was puzzling as I usually have no problems with streaming video… so off to speedtest.net and a quick test.

Well that was surprising and slightly unexpected. My usual download speed is 37Mb/s, under 7Mb/s is much slower than normal.

I did a reboot of the modem, but that another helped slightly.

The plan this morning was to turn it off for twenty minutes and see if that made a difference. However a check this morning saw that my speed was back to normal.

I don’t have an idea why the speed dropped so much, might just have been a one off, but then again it may be something else. Will test the speed later this evening and see if I get similar results.

Connectivity Issues

For the first time in ages my internet fell over. I can’t actually recall the last time it did something like this.

The first I knew about it was a web page failing to load on my MacBook. I assumed at first it was the website… then I checked the MacBook and noticed an Airport issue. I then opened the Airport Utility to find that my Airport Extreme was having a few problems and showing an orange light in the utility. I found though I could restart it from the Utility, which told me that it was very likely not going to be the problem. Generally if I have an issue with the Airport Extreme, the only real solution is a hard reboot, i.e. turning it off and back on again.

In the end the problem I decided must lie with the Modem, so I unplugged it, counted to ten and then plugged it back in again. Within about 30 seconds all was back to normal and I could surf the web without any problems. Not sure of the reason for the failure, probably either an issue with my ISP, or an issue with BT. However as I said it happens very rarely and I think this is only the second time since I had FTTC installed that the connection has gone down. No real concerns, as rebooting the modem has fixed the issue. Will make a note though just in case (this is it, this blog post).

How long….

Last night I needed to download a 364MB update file.

I was totally surprised that according to Safari that it was going to take nearly ten hours!

I knew it wasn’t my end as my connection was working fine. I even checked by downloading the 666MB iOS 4.3.5 update from Apple, and though it was nearly twice the size it only took three minutes from the iTunes servers.

Putting it down to the remote server, I left it to download overnight. Reminded me of the time when I was less fortunate and didn’t have the speed of fibre.

Came down the next morning to find that the download had failed to download properly.

So I set it go again, expecting that it would take a fair few hours again…

Nope did it in a couple of minutes!

Putting it down to the remote server having issues last night.

Nowhere near my limit

I wrote earlier about how I nearly reached my broadband limit in December. In January what with no snow, no school holidays and a bit of travelling here and there, I was nowhere near my limit. Well under, about 50% of my December traffic.

So back to normal.

Limit reached…

Last month I got very close to reaching my broadband cap. The account I have with Plusnet (a legacy account) has a limit of 80GB. When I had my ADSL connection I never got close to the limit. Having upgraded my connection to FTTC (fibre) and having 37Mb/s download speed means it is now much easier for me to reach the limit.

I know that I got close to the limit due to the holiday season, spending a lot of time at home meant not only was I using the connection a lot, but the family were also streaming a lot of video too. BBC iPlayer is great for catching up with programmes you have missed, but also means using a lot of data.

One of the features of Plusnet I like is that the cap does not apply to downloads between 12am and 8am. This is great for downloading stuff from iTunes, but less useful for streaming BBC iPlayer content. I usually watch BBC iPlayer content through the TV, it has BBC iPlayer built in, however it doesn’t allow me to download BBC content and play back later, I have to stream live!

The other problem I am having is that scheduling iTunes downloads is problematic.

Prior to getting FTTC I could before I went to bed I could set iTunes to download movies and TV programmes knowing that the majority of the download would be during the cap free period between 12 and 8. However FTTC is so fast that it only takes ten minutes to download a movie from iTunes so generally I download when I wake up and not when I go to bed (I am usually in bed before midnight). What I would prefer to do is let iTunes download any big purchases after midnight. It’s not just movies but also some iPad apps are in excess of 500MB. I would also download OS X and Windows updates overnight, again with my old connection the majority of the download would take place in the cap free time, now with the faster connection it’s done very quickly.

Luckily Plusnet provide a decent tool for measuring how much data I have used and also warn me when I get close.

However this does show that ISPs need to rethink their bandwidth caps once more people can get FTTC.

Some things now working…

As I have upgraded to FTTC and one of the requirements is that your router supports PPPoE. As a result I have replaced my old aging Netgear ADSL modem router with my Airport Extreme Base Station. I wasn’t able to use the Airport Extreme before as it did not support PPPoA, but as FTTC requires PPPoE I can now use it. As a result, it is a new(ish) router and therefore I anticipated that I would be able to do two things, one is use EyeTV remotely across the internet and two use Back to my Mac.

So what of EyeTV?

Watch, record, and enjoy live TV on your iPhone or iPad via a 3G or Wi-Fi connection. At last, you don‘t have to leave all your great TV shows at home; the EyeTV app puts the power of award-winning EyeTV in the palm of your hand.

The EyeTV app accesses EyeTV running on your Mac at home to deliver these great features to your Apple device:

  • Watch live TV and change channels anywhere (via a Wi-Fi or 3G connection)
  • Watch your EyeTV recordings
  • Browse the comprehensive Program Guide and view details
  • Start recordings back home on your Mac immediately or schedule them for later
  • View and edit your recording schedules
  • Automatically launch EyeTV on your Mac at home as needed
  • EyeTV has an iPad and iPhone App which have worked really well on my home network, but so far I have not had any luck accessing it away from home, even though it is correctly configured.

    I do believe though this is because of the remote network I was on. I have yet to try on a public wifi network and I suspect I will have better luck then.

    As for Back to my Mac, Apple says.

    Back to My Mac puts any Mac OS X Leopard- or Snow Leopard-based Mac you use within easy reach. MobileMe finds your remote Mac computers over the Internet and displays them in the Finder on the Mac you’re using. So you can connect from anywhere with just a click. Edit and save documents, open applications, and move folders. With Back to My Mac Screen Sharing, you can control your remote Mac as though you’re sitting in front of it.

    Again on my home Mac, everything seems fine.

    Well I did try and do this, however I couldn’t get my work Mac to recognise my MobileMe account and again as with EyeTV I believe this is because of the remote network.

    So near, yet not quite there.

    Really fast…

    Finally had my broadband upgraded to FTTC and I am impressed.

    With 40Mb down and 10Mb up this is significantly faster than the 1.3 down and 0.6 up I had before.

    It has already changed how I use the internet, whereas before I would probably not consider downloading a film from iTunes during the day, as it would soak up my bandwidth and would take hours to download; now it takes under five minutes to download! No problems with downloading large files and updates now.

    The other key advantage is streaming video, which was almost pointless before due to buffering, and like downloading, previous streaming would soak up my bandwidth, having 40Mb down means I can stream and do other stuff at the same time.

    My only concern is that all this speed I will probably exceed my bandwidth quite easily…


    BT Infinity is BT’s new broadband product that makes use of fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) to enable even faster speeds than available via normal DSL. In some cases 40Mbs download speeds are possible.

    Of course if you are going to make best use of this and have a wireless network, if you use 802.11g then you may find this is not fast enough and want to get an 802.11n wireless router.

    Another feature of FTTC is that unlike traditional UK ADSL that uses PPPoA, FTTC uses PPPoE so that a router like Apple’s Airport Extreme is now possible to use direct with the broadband connection. Before you would have needed to use a ADSL modem between your broadband connection and your wireless router.

    My local exchange has just been upgraded to FTTC so looking forward to upgrading and trying it out.

    There are also trials with FTTP (Fibre To The Premises) that can result in even faster 100Mb speeds. I can wish.