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TalkTalk Claims 500000 UK Homes Losing 4Mbps of Broadband Speed

Monday, October 7th, 2013 (10:38 am) - Score 10,368

A new study conducted by budget ISP TalkTalk has claimed that over 500,000 homes in the United Kingdom are losing around 4Mbps of broadband download speed due to a bad in-home setup (e.g. poor wiring, not connecting via the Master Socket etc.). But never fear because they might just have a solution.

The research identified some of the most common problems diagnosed by TalkTalk’s own BrightSparks telecoms engineers, whom are often sent out to help improve their customers home wiring and or to setup the ISPs YouView (Plus TV) based set-top-box.

Overall 38% of the providers engineers found that speed was being lost through poor wiring, 34% reported that a router needed to be set-up or reconfigured, 15% pointed to a failure to connect via the BT master socket (plugging ADSL lines into an extension slot usually produces more interference) and 13% needed a new broadband filter to be fitted.

Keith Myles, BrightSparks Engineer, said:

We see thousands of homes wasting broadband width simply because of a poor in home set up. People need to think about their broadband in the same way as other utilities such as water and electricity – it’s a commodity that can go to waste if you’re not careful.”

But now TalkTalk has come up with yet another method that could help to tackle the problem, an Online Service Centre. The new centre will help customers to run live checks on their broadband, phone and TV services via “in-built self-diagnosis tools” and it will also help to fix common problems like those mentioned above. Issues that cannot be resolved can be reported and tracked for further investigation.

Customers will also be able to receive SMS alerts to get the latest update on their incident. The centre will also automatically identify when customers are due a free router or when they can benefit from an engineer visit to their home or a call back from the help centre.

Tristia Harrison, TalkTalks Commercial Director, added:

The launch of the new service centre is part of TalkTalk’s on-going commitment to improving customers’ experience. TalkTalk was recently top rated for broadband, TV and phone packages in the Which? Customer Satisfaction Survey which shows how customers are already benefitting from our efforts.”

TalkTalk might receive more complaints than some of the other big ISPs, usually for poor service and support, but they’re certainly putting a lot of effort into tackling those issues and appear to be more proactive at doing so than many of their rivals.

The new Online Service Centre is part of TalkTalk’s on-going £100m network upgrade programme, which is also supporting the cost of things like special BrightSparks engineer visits and free router upgrades.

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23 Responses
  1. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

    How I wish I could get an additional 4Mb through working on my internal wiring, or even 4Mb full stop!

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      I think our place might be the sort they have in mind – two pre-1981 master sockets wired in “parallel” with half the signal going to each, redundant GPO “coffin boxes” in the circuitry, ADSL only ever did sync on the longer of the two cable runs etc.

    2. Avatar DTMark says:

      From kitz.co.uk

      Estimation of your maximum rate adaptive adsl speed

      – Line Length 3600m (known value)
      – Downstream Attenuation should be 50db (don’t recall what it was)
      – dslMAX (20CN) IP Profile should be 4000 kbps (actual was 1750kbps)
      – The calculator is based on a default Target SNR of 6dB (actual SNR was 15db)
      – “Each 3dB of SNR is worth anywhere between 400 to 1200kbps of speed”

      Current BTW estimated line speed on ADSL2+ is 3700kbps, which has mysteriously (considering that the line hasn’t been used) increased by 1700kbps over the last year all by itself. Initial estimate for ADSL2+ was same as ADSL Max.

      So that wiring may or may not have been a factor in ADSL being completely useless. I’d say Talk Talk are probably on to something. Are they authorised to rip out all the internal wiring back to the drop-wire (thus taking out the joint repair box in the circuit, too) and start afresh in these sorts of cases?

    3. Avatar Roberto says:

      “I’d say Talk Talk are probably on to something. Are they authorised to rip out all the internal wiring back to the drop-wire (thus taking out the joint repair box in the circuit, too) and start afresh in these sorts of cases?”

      Anyone can touch internal wiring such as extensions etc, you are not (and i imagine they are not either) allowed to tinker with the incoming drop wire and the only other thing you can not replace are BT Master Socket.

      There is nothing stopping you ripping out decades old extension wiring and replacing it yourself with some nice cat5e/6 cable which will perform better than CW1308 cable Talk Talk and BT are likely to use.

      This will help…

      HOWEVER their estimate of getting 4Mb more is a bit wild, replacing wiring unless it is a real mess typically will give you anything from an extra 0.5Mb-2Mb at best.

    4. Avatar DTMark says:

      Thing is, we don’t have any phone extensions or extension wiring. It’s all BT (I should say GPO) equipment and I believe that the demarcation point is both of the master sockets e.g. we’re not allowed to touch anything.

      There’s an odd dichotomy in BT saying that VDSL is the way forward and it’s fine to supply “fibre-optic” connections over telephone lines, and then insisting that “the line is fine for voice so there is no fault” when it performs abysmally.

      If the Talk Talk engineers can’t rip all the wiring out and redo it properly, I wonder what the point of the visit would be other than to confirm it’s substandard and that, er, nothing can be done so it was a waste of time.

      It doesn’t affect me as we have another solution but I’d bet a fair few homes round here still have old GPO circuitry and “star configurations”.

      I can’t see “self-install VDSL” being a winner.

    5. Avatar FibreFred says:


      Have you tried disconnecting the ring wire from your start set-up as per:- http://www.kitz.co.uk/adsl/socket.htm

      I wonder what BT do with star set-ups for Infinity installs, if there’s ever a time to sort it out its then surely.

    6. Avatar DTMark says:

      I didn’t do that when we had it, we found 3G was quicker, and so cancelled the phone line and broadband altogether and went with that, and we’ve had it since. Well, until today – now on EE 4G. It’s very, very quick 🙂

      If I recall rightly, the “half” of the circuitry which went to the socket which worked for ADSL didn’t have the bell wire connected, but the “other half” which would not sync for ADSL did still have it connected.

      I only began looking into it more deeply when I got involved with the project to build a broadband network for our area as we’d left ADSL behind years ago. I imagine other homes may well have similar socketry which may be a reason why the average ratio of sync speed to theoretical sync speed for line length is only 55% round here.

    7. Avatar TheFacts says:

      The rob-r guide looks very comprehensive. I helped someone move a router from extension wiring to master socket and the speed went from 600k to 3M.

    8. Avatar Roberto says:


      Internal wiring you are free to move, replace etc, whoever installed it, even BT. If BT did additional connection points and wiring IN HOME it would had been charged for previously either to you or a prior home owner.

      The only wiring you can not touch is what comes into your home and connects initially to the master socket (often this is the drop wire and nothing else).

      There will only be one socket which has the drop wire going to it, other sockets will be extensions either using the proper 1-6 punch down extension connectors as shown in the guide or if a bodge install wires will run back to the A-B connector on the actual Master and connect to the same points as the drop wire.

      The Master socket (one with drop wire) if it is a BT owned one you can not replace yourself (well you can but legally its not allowed) In reality if it is decades old and you replace it with decent equipment (a nice VDSL filtered master) they are unlikely to care.

      In your particular case DTMark if you only got a few Mb with ADSL and you are getting 20+Mb with 4G mobile it probably is not worth your hassle, unless your area has FTTC available and the guesstimate speed is the same or better than you are getting via 4G.

      @Thefacts, glade you like that guide, it is useful but it needs updating to include some of the latest filtered faceplates. CAT5E/6 cabling though is far superior to standard phone wire for any extensions no matter if a user is running ADSL or VDSL. Id bet doing it yourself following that guide will get you more speed than anything TalkTalk or BT can give you back over extensions using standard CW1308 cabling 😉

    9. Avatar DTMark says:

      If we had never discovered 3G we’d probably still have the phone line and grudgingly fork out money for that every month for 1.5Meg down and 0.7Meg up or thereabouts.

      DSL = 1.5Meg down, 0.7Meg up (assumption for ADSL2+, we only had ADSL Max)

      3G = 12 to 21Meg down, 2 to 4Meg up with 77% signal.

      4G = 18 to 25Meg down, 12 to 18Meg up – latency is superb even with only 50% signal.

      I can improve on the 4G getting my antenna guy back around to rotate it towards the EE cell, but the DSL is a lost cause.

      VDSL versus 4G would be “interesting” over a 1280m D-side and naff circuitry.

    10. Avatar Roberto says:

      VDSL remember though will be down to the distance from you to the cabinet DTMark not exchange. Im assuming your area does not currently have FTTC though.

      It would be interesting in your case what 4G Vs FTTC would be like as im guessing if you did have a fibre cab it would be around the mid point on that 1280m figure so about 650m which would put you in about 40-50Mb territory based on some guesstimates BTs checker currently spews out, which would put it very similar to good performing 4G.

      ADSL if 1.5Mb is all you can get is probably a lost cause, unless your wiring is a complete and utter mess and damaged you would probably only gain at best 0.5-1Mb more even with a rewire, filtered faceplate etc.

  2. Avatar Phil says:

    Easy: copper wire is not good designer for ADSL2+ or FTTC. It always use old technology old copper wire. I was surprise that many brand new houses built still using copper wire (not fibre all the way from the exchange)

    1. Avatar Phil says:

      BT probably want to do this way because of forcing us all have line rental from copper wires.

    2. Avatar telecom engineer says:

      Copper wire is exactly what adsl and vdsl were designed for. The line rental exists on pure fibre lines aswell, we even pay line rental on contract phones. Whatever you wish to call the invoice there are costs which need covering to deliver communications. If someone wanted to offer naked dsl with no line rental they could, your bill would still need to be similar level as with line rental to cover the costs.

    3. Avatar Roberto says:

      “Copper wire is exactly what adsl and vdsl were designed for….”

      If that were 100% true BT would not need government cash to provide VDSL and Fibre cable to cabinets.

    4. Avatar Telecom engineer says:

      Fibre is effectively back haul for both. Dslam to eu both standards are for copper wire as you well know.

    5. Avatar Roberto says:

      Indeed i do know which is why i said your statement is not 100% true. VDSL2 which is what we have was not designed for copper. It was designed for exactly what you have corrected your statement to that being a fibre backhaul and copper to user premises. It is exactly that a hybrid solution and that is what it was designed as.

      Because of that Phil is technically correct it allows BT or any supplier to continue to charge phone line rental for copper wires. However i will agree with you in the regard that it makes no real difference as I also imagine when FTTPoD gets here in mass BT will insist you take a voice service over that also meaning it will have line rental charges regardless, as you basically said.

    6. Avatar DTMark says:

      Someone has to pay for the upkeep of the infrastructure in some guise. I think people still see “line rental” as “phone line rental” and begrudge paying it since so many now have no need of or use for phone lines.

      But then line rental is the cash cow. I wonder how the £16 a month or whatever it is over here compares with other countries.

      And a point to be made is that a fair number of lines are in truly abysmal condition, so I think a valid point is that from that perspective and BT’s “it’s fine for voice” mantra, people understandably feel just a little short-changed by what that length of copper/aluminium achieves for data services, or not; it more or less has to break completely for broadband before the cash cow is put at risk and something might get done.

    7. Avatar Roberto says:

      Line rental is the cash cow and BT know it. If it were not they would allow you to have internet without a phone service active on the line, just like most cable companies including virgin here and those in the USA allow and just as some providers in Europe where you can get FTTH allow.

  3. Avatar Telecom engineer says:

    That cash cow pays the wages though. Line rental is fair charge as you still need a line. If a cp offered metallic path rental, adsl service and evo tam connection would people be happier? What could you realistically save by not having voice – not forgetting voice generates revenue for the cp so could offset some rental charges…. If BT called it just broadband and charged £3 less people would feel ripped off still. I think the true cost / value difference could be found if we looked at slu or sdsl services and compared to llu. People believing talk talk etc could give you a data service for £5 are kidding themselves, however you package it you are going to pay for the maintenance of the service either through a regular monthly fault insurance ( or rental ) or huge one off repair bills (£300 to £2500) depending on issues, plus of course true install costs ( £300 assuming engineer visit). Personally I’d rather pay the £15.

  4. Avatar Roberto says:

    “That cash cow pays the wages though. Line rental is fair charge as you still need a line”

    As stated cable firms allow you to have internet without having to pay for a voice line rental.

    “If BT called it just broadband and charged £3 less people would feel ripped off still.”

    Considering they wholesale broadband for around £8 it would indeed need to be cheaper to not be a rip off.

  5. Avatar David Johnson says:

    I have had three so called “Bright Sparks” to sort my internet out, three improved the connection while here. Five minutes later after the BS had left the system was back to what it was before and cost me another 18 month contract. I started with TalkTalk at a speed of 2mb and over the years has gone down to 0.600mb. I have phoned them without any changes on many occasions running thru the now boring do this do that done that got the T shirt etc. and had the phone put down on me. This has gone on too long now and I pay £35 a month. Every time they say you need a new modem which they have sent but they start the contract for another 18 months TalkTalk have been just one BIG con. Oh yes I am leaving them in December 2013.

  6. Avatar Andy says:

    My parents have been with talktalk for a couple of year, and I moved home about 6 months ago. I noticed the download speed (though talktalk speed check) was 0.36. So far, one Brightspark engineer has called and one BT. (Another tomorrow). So far, no speed increase, no problems with setup at home, a new router from talktalk and until a conversation today, a £50 charge for visiting the home. After tomorrow, if things not sorted, I think we will be leaving talktalk and letting everyone know how bad a service provider they are.

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