Saturday, October 15, 2011

Virgin Superfast Broadband!

Apologies, I haven't been able to post for a while due to my moving house. For non-UK readers, this is a lengthy ordeal that involves many months of paying people to sit around and do nothing whilst you tear your hair out and wonder why a solicitor will charge you £75 for two phone calls you had to make.

Anyway, I have moved, 5 miles outside of the 5th largest city in the UK. This is relevant as for the last 8 years, I have enjoyed high speed Internet access via fibre optic cable. Well, those days have now ended. Even though I can see Bristol city centre from my house, I am stuck on Virgin Superfast Broadband (VSB) no cable out here in the sticks.

So, I moved and as requested, my VSB kit was waiting for me in my new house. I followed the instructions (basically, plug in a splitter on your phone line, plug half of the line into a combined ASDL modem/wireless access point and away you go. Indeed, away we did, it all worked swimmingly well for the first day or two. Two iPads, a MacBook Pro and an iMac sat nicely on the network, two Linux Netbooks where added and all was well, speed was down a little but this was to be expected. The fun started when I wanted to update a couple, of apps on on the iPad, I kept getting an error message saying the server timed out, strange. Then I ran software update on the iMac and got a similar error, hmmm. Then I started getting signal drop outs on all the machines, my network also had the speed and reliability of a message in a bottle, time for action, time to phone Virgin

Virgin where very accommodating and informed me, quite nicely but with a firm tone, that the problem lay with British Telecom (actual owners of the line). This was quite perceptive of Virgin given I hadn't yet told them what the problem was! Anyway, they where quite insistent so I phoned British Telecom (BT). They informed me that the line was state of the art (although they didn't say for which decade) and that the problem was most definitely with Virgin and not with them! A pattern now developed with each side playing one another off until I finally got fed up and decided there was only one way to solve the problem-Internet forums!

They long and short is:

1. To solve ASDL problems, find the socket that comes into your home,
2. Unscrew the faceplate and take it off to reveal a hidden phone socket.
3. Plug your equipment into this socket (it is the engineers test socket).
4. Wait a couple of days, it won't solve your problems but will p**s off your telecoms company who will send an engineer round and sort your line.
5. Take the supplied equipment (usually a combined Netgear job) and throw it in the bin.
6. Buy a proper ASDL modem and a proper Wireless Access Point.
7. Buy a proper splitter and cable.
8. Under no circumstances must you mention any operating system other than Windows* as doing so will severely delay any proper response to your problem.
9. Do not move to the country.

So, I bought a Netgear ASDL router (big up to PC World Cribbs Causeway who actually knew what they where talking about and gave me sale or return on the kit), plugged it into a new splitter and wire and connected it all up to my Airport Extreme and we now have a stable (ie. no dropping out) network and the line is a little faster too.

Anyway, I'm back up and running inn cyberspace and will post more soon, off to grab iOS 5 and have a play.

*when asked what computer I had, I stupidly said "an iPad". This was met with "ah, well there's your problem.." Regardless of the fact that my Win XP machine wouldn't play either (in fact worse really as its a Netbook with a rubbish wireless card), the official diagnosis was now "it's a Mac problem".

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post! Any suggestions for a home really out in the countryside (other than moving) where even broadband not really an option?

We have a BT line, but are last but one house on line, around 6 miles from exchange, and should technically be able to get half a meg speeds. But an engineer who came to fix one of our (many) faults said there are so many clips (repairs) on the overhead cables it should really be replaced, and unless that happens, we'd see little improvement in speed over dialup. Needless to say, we were politely and firmly told by openreach this wasn't going to happen.

3G not an option as can't even get reliable signal there either, and satellite just too expensive... I don't care that they're investing £2.5 bn into getting super fast fibre optic services to two thirds of the population, cos I know we won't be among them. And frankly, I'd be happy just to get some sort of reasonable broadband connection...