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  1. #1
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    Mar 2011
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    Default SamKnows and best broadband to get

    First time poster, total newbie so please be gentle, I've been reading a lot of guides etc, hoping for some advice!

    First, SamKnows - is always accurate?

    I am positive (from speaking to Sky, my ISP, and BT engineer's) that I'm on the Baillieston Exchange - SamKnows thinks I'm on Glenboig.

    Sky have been brutal, currently lucky to get 1Mb download speed, though they say I should be getting 3.5-4Mb, even that's not great obviously, I am far from the exchange - they keep tweaking the settings, sending out engineers who say the line is fine etc etc, rinse repeat.

    Currently they have scheduled another engineer to come out on Saturday who is instructed to do a health check/quality gate check - not sure how this is different from the previous line checks, or why they haven't done it sooner.

    So, been looking at other ISP's, BE being one of them (enabled at Baillieston, not at Glenboig), some reviews of BE, and of other ISP's for that matter, say their speeds have jumped significantly from BT, Sky, so figured it's worth trying someone else.

    Any suggestions for this rambling post?

    Stats are:

    ROUTER STATISTICS
    Port Status TxPkts RxPkts Collisions Tx B/s Rx B/s Up Time
    WAN PPPoA 28496 32270 0 754 2678 02:42:37
    LAN 16322868 20668577 0 1889 1889 315:47:04
    WLAN 4571668 3838033 0 220322 77145 02:42:27
    ADSL Link Downstream Upstream
    Connection Speed 3388 kbps 412 kbps
    Line Attenuation 59.0db 36.2db
    Noise Margin 10.1db 15.9db
    Last edited by jmo21; 16-03-2011 at 12:12 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default

    Well firstly if you have a doubt about whether or not a particular ISP covers your line then go to their website directly and try their own line checker. Some places border two telephone exchanges and this does appear to confuse the Samknows database, which isn't perfect but still does a pretty good job.

    Based on your connection stats I'd say that a speed of 1Mbps would not be unsurprising, the downstream attenuation is very high at just a point below 60db. A line like that could perhaps do 1.5Mbps and maybe even 2Mbps on very rare occasions, but 1Mbps is about what I'd expect in the real-world.

    Sky's router is telling you that the line should be doing 3.3Mbps+, which seems absurdly over optimistic for those stats. The best thing you could do is to install a ring wire filter or even remove the faceplate of your BT socket (assuming you have one) and plug directly into the test socket behind, just to see if that improves the connection or stats. You can find more on that here.

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    Mark 'Winter' Jackson
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  3. #3
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    Thanks Mark.

    Re-reading my post from last night it is quite a ramble!

    What I didn't state is that each time I phone Sky, they tell me the line should support 3.504Mb, they fiddle with the settings, and the speed does pop up into that range (as per stats, last night after a call with them it came up to the 3.3 level).

    Usually within a few hours it drops down again.

    This morning it was still at 3.3 which surprised me. We'll see if it's still like that when I get in from work.

    The guy on the phone did notice that the line was dropping quite a lot. We only notice it dropping now and again.

    You mentioned bordering 2 exhanges, one of the BT engineers mentioned we are much closer to Glenboig, but it's in a different district, so that's why we are on Baillieston.

    Any thoughts on whether BE might be a better network based on the Baillieston exchange, or would it probably not make much difference based on my line stats?

  4. #4
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    Jan 2005
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    Brentwood, Essex.
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    I'm no expert, but have suffered line problems in the past that have crippled my broadband.

    May not be a line fault problem for you, but if it's a BT engineer coming out (now or in the future) ask him to put the BT Hawk on the line. It's not a trained bird lol, but a tester that can accurately locate a fault located somewhere along the line.

    I had a BT engineer out recently due to irregular slow speeds & dropouts and his normal test routine showed nothing at fault. I was about to have a hefty call out charge on my phone bill when I asked about the 'Awk. He went and got it from the van (why he hadn't used it in the first place, I don't know) and once connected it identified a problem 30 metres away up a pole.

    As I said, may not apply to your problem, but worth passing on.

    Good Luck.
    Essex Guy.

    Isp's so far:
    4uNet, ic24, IGclick, BigBlueSky, 08002Go, V21, Biscuit, Fast4

  5. #5
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    Nice one Essex guy, I have a BT engineer coming yet again on Saturday, Sky have requested to do this Health Check / Quality Gate Check whatever that is - why they have never done this test I don't know.

    I shall be asking for the Hawk too!

  6. #6
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    What can sometimes happen with an ADSL service, and it looks quite similar to your problem, is that there is a fault within the internal wiring ring within the premises (cut, loose wiring, etc.) which can act as an antenna, picking up rogue signals (microwaves, radio waves etc.) transferring them down your line and interfering with your ADSL signal.

    What is likely to be happening with your connection, when you call sky, is they are adjusting your SNR margin to the lowest possible value (possibly 6dB), which will allow your line to connect at the highest possible speed, then after time, the interference is increasing the noise on the line, and increasing the SNR margins (higher SNR = lower speed).

    Like mark says, you can try a ring wire filter or BT iPlate to minimise interference locally, or remove the front cover off your master BT telephone socket, and connect into the 'test' socket (this only applies if your socket is a newer style Openreach socket, where only the bottom half slides off when unscrewed), and connect your equipment directly into there.

    If you do not have one of these, it may be worthwhile having one fitted (at a cost), however, this is not guaranteed to rectify your issue, you are only ruling out possibilities at this time.

    Also,
    Do you have any other sockets within the premises, whether in use or not?
    Are they ALL filtered? If not, it is recommended that you filter every socket in use.

    You could try using an alternative micro-filter, which sometimes causes the issues I described earlier. Again this is just ruling out possibilities.

    It might even be worthwhile 'borrowing' a router off a friend or family member, just to rule out the possibility of hardware failure, which may save you time and money in the long run.

    ____________________________________

    One other thing to try, as this has not been mentioned before, do you use the phone that the broadband is connected to (I know some people use their broadband line for broadband only, so never use it to make or receive calls). The reason I say this, is sometimes noise on the line can increase SNR margins.

    Try dialing 17070 from your handset, and running the 'Quiet Line Test' - Option 2. There should be no noise heard at all, not even buzzing or hissing. If you do, try running the test from the 'test' socket and if the issue is the same, raise a voice fault for a noisy line.

    Hope this information helps.

    _______________________________________

    Lastly, if you want to PM me your number, I can run it through the BT Wholesale availability checker, and this will tell me which exchange your line is running from.
    Vispa Internet Limited
    T: 0844 979 8888
    F: 0844 979 8889
    http://www.vispa.com

  7. #7
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    Thanks MusicMaker.

    To answer all your points, Sky do go through all of those types of things when you phone support.

    All my testing is usually in the Test socket, the line drops in speed even when in the Test socket.

    Sky replaced all my equipment, so all new router, filters, wires.

    I did have all filters in my phone sockets, though one of the previous times the BT Engineers was here he gave me a bigger socket (I forget the name) that means I do not need filters on the other sockets, and he hoped might minimize issues on the line - it hasn't.

    I'll try the quiet line test tonight!

    Thanks again!

  8. #8
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    For the last part of my initial post, connected to Baillieston, how likely is it that BE would be better than Sky?

    http://www.samknows.com/broadband/exchange/WSBAI

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmo21 View Post
    how likely is it that BE would be better than Sky?
    It's really difficult to say, you might receive the same speed as you are getting now, with the same problems, if the issue is not exchange equipment related, as moving to BE will not remove a fault, with say tie pairs in your street cabinet (tie pairs are 2 pieces of cable that connect you telephone line to points in this cabinet, to carry your signal back to the exchange). The issue will still remain, and you will need to go through the whole process again, with a company that does not know your past history.

    Speed is determined, mainly, by the distance you are from the exchange, and the quality of your copper line between the DSLAM (exchange equipment) and your equipment.

    However, it also depends on the signal the DSLAM sends out. If it sends out a faster speed down the line on say BE than sky's DSLAM, then you will notice an increase in speed, if they use the same speeds (upto 24 Meg) then you will receive roughly the same speed.
    Vispa Internet Limited
    T: 0844 979 8888
    F: 0844 979 8889
    http://www.vispa.com

  10. #10
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    update:

    BT guy just been.

    Asked about the Hawk..... it's been replaced by the newer device that he was using, which all the engineers have used when they've been - all line tests passing fine.

    He fitted a radio frequency blocker which is supposed to block the line from being affected by other devices radio waves.

    So we'll see what happens.

    He again suggested a "lift and shift" of equipment at the exchcnage which sky appear reluctant to do as there hardly any errors on the line.

    Next thing after would be a "rain test" (spelling?) which is where someone comes out with a device to monitor for radio waves, maybe something is affecting it from a neighbours house even, but they'll only do that if they see a specific pattern of drop outs on the line.

    Sigh!

    Why didn't I buy a house near an exchange with FTTC, or on a Virgin Media street

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