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BT Wholesale Broadband Checker Adds Observed Speeds Data UPDATE

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018 (9:40 am) - Score 12,417

The official BT Wholesale Broadband Availability Checker (only applicable to ISPs and services on Openreach’s UK network) has received another small but interesting update, which adds a couple of new rows and columns in order to display “observed speeds” for your line.

We weren’t originally going to cover this, but enough people have been emailing in over the past week that we now think it’s worth mentioning. In addition, some people appear to be confused about the different measurements of speed being displayed in the new BTWholesale output.

At the time of writing we’re still awaiting an official statement on the output, but we believe that the new “observed speed” (downstream and upstream) figures relate to Ofcom’s new 2018 Voluntary Code of Practice (CoP) for broadband ISP speeds (details), which is due to be introduced from March 2019. We know that BT Wholesale planned to make related changes on 17th November and that’s when these were spotted.

The checker normally only returns rough estimates based on the operator’s understanding of the line itself, while the new “observed speed” output appears to display a “sync” speed for copper (ADSL2+) and hybrid fibre (FTTC / G.fast) broadband lines (i.e. the max possible connection speed that could be delivered to your home router / modem). A sync speed may thus also reflect any weaknesses in your home wiring, which can slow down the connection.

NOTE: Just to clarify. The “sync” speed being reported is only looking at the wholesale side of a line (i.e. it will report the best “sync” for your line, which might not be the same as your current package).

The extra data is intended, we believe, to help support ISPs as they implement Ofcom’s new code. The code itself requires signatories (BT, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk etc.) to display more detail on their personal estimates of broadband speed when you sign-up to a new provider. Member ISPs are thus required to test the actual speeds of a statistically meaningful panel of customers on each broadband package during peak time.

Admittedly this may be intended to help ISPs, but it’s also very useful for consumers who want to compare the standard line estimates against actual reported performance. One caveat here is that BT Wholesale can only report a sync speed for whatever services have been live on the line before, thus if you can get VDSL2 (FTTC) but have only ever used ADSL2+ then the only “observed” result you’ll see is for ADSL2+ (see below).

Mind you’re were a little wary of the fact that this will also enable anybody to find out whether a specific number has an ADSL or FTTC service attached, which could potentially be abused by scammers (nuisance calls).
bt wholesale broadband checker nov 2018 changes

UPDATE 27th November 2018

Openreach has confirmed that this relates to Ofcom’s planned Voluntary Code of Practice on broadband (BB) speed changes. In short Ofcom want ISPs to use existing BB speed information to support their Point of Sale discussions with customers where it exists rather than predicted speeds to underpin greater accuracy. Ofcom also plan to publish a further Annex to the Code in February 2019, which will set out how observed speeds should be used.

To help ISPs meet the requirements of the new code Openreach are sharing observed speeds in the form of actual sync speeds in Mbps or Max attainable line rates in Mbps on capped lines, for existing or recent BB services on a line through their enhanced Managed Line Characteristics Service (MLC) which is provided for free to established providers.

We further understand that Ofcom are running a workshop in January 2019 with the aim of agreeing use of observed speeds, and the relationship with the minimum guaranteed speed. They also expect there to be 1 year implementation window from publication of the Annex. However there is still some debate across the industry about how GDPR affects the use of observed speeds in some scenarios.

Leave a Comment
32 Responses
  1. Avatar baby_frogmella

    For those of us with an active FTTP line, the following line has been added in the checker recently:

    ‘ONT exists with active service. A spare port is available. A new ONT may be ordered.’

  2. Avatar dee.jay

    Good luck spamming my wires only AAISP service 🙂

  3. Avatar Neb

    I have a screenshot from the BT wholesale speed test showing my rubbish FTTC connection which speed tested 30Mbps down at the time as 339.05Mbps instead… great if it was true.

  4. Avatar Joe

    Interesting. They obviously don’t backdate or keep older records as my old adsl doesn’t exist in observed speeds.

    They seem to have added other info (or I’ve just not looked in a while and didn’t notice before)

    I have additional notes of: “Overhead feed with Line of sight problems Trees”

    • Yes some extra data points have also been added, although they’re not as visually noticeable. As for the new speeds, they’ve only recently started tracking these as it took awhile to develop the necessary system, thus you shouldn’t expect to see any data for historic connections.

    • Avatar Joe

      Ah good to know

      Do you know what the last testdate covers? (surprisingly in the last 72hrs in my case.) Copper and fibre?

  5. Avatar TheMatt

    Pity it’s not correct. Apparently they observed 80Mbit on my line on the day it was installed. It’s not true at all. The maximum the line has ever done was 75 and even my ISP has confirmed that.

    • Avatar Joe

      I’d be surprised if it was wrong (as in never right) as its doubtless an autofill from their data checks. It might have been brief and if its not holding that it ought to drop the the correct typical speed.

    • Avatar bob

      80 would be what it is showing direct out the port at the PCP. Openreach bring the port into sync on the day so this new test Im assuming will show that if its the highest speed the lines been in sync at. regardless of what speed you are getting at the socket. be interesting to see how often the data gets refreshed

    • Avatar TheMatt

      Well I just find it odd that it’s 80 down and 20 up and precisely these amounts. Which is about maximum for VDSL and i’m 285m away from the cabinet at least following the footpath around to it. So for me to get 100% of available upload and download just seems a bit unrealistic. It will be interesting to see if it changes, but i’m coming up to a year on this ISP now and it’s still showing that it was observed on day 1.

    • Avatar Joe

      Hmm.. that does seem like a fault then. I thought perhaps if it was a new line it might just have not had time to get a refresh (we don’t know the interval). No idea how you could get them to reset/check that (not that it matters really)

    • Avatar joseph

      @TheMatt is correct and so is @bob with his comment of “its the highest speed the lines been in sync at. regardless of what speed you are getting at the socket. be interesting to see how often the data gets refreshed”

      My parents line when it is working properly gets 62 Mbps and not a jot more. Unfortunately its a notoriously unreliable line which has a noisy line fault about twice a year and has done for about 3 years. When that happens the broadband speed also drops to aound 30 Mb (depending on how bad the noise is) and even when the noisy voice side is fixed will never recover to its best. Typically it will only fix itself after a week or 2 to the tune of about 50 Mb but not increase after that without a DLM reset.

      BT Openreach engineers have been reasonably good about things, though they were not in the beginning. Now when they attend as they line has a notorious and documented problem my parents only have to tell/show them its affected the broadband speed also and ask for a DLM reset and 9/10 times there is no argument and they ring through if needed (depends on class of engineer that attends) to get it done. In the beginning they would pull the ‘im only here for the voice fault’ or ‘the broadband will fix itself’ line, but after 3 years they know that will not wash anymore so just fix it all in a single visit.

      After the DLM reset the line will as @TheMatt and @bob mention default back it is new/out of the box (or should that be cabinet) default of 80 Mb. After a week or so that will reduce and settle at the 62 Mb which is their regular speed….. Until the noise fault comes back and the merry game starts again.

      Looking at the checker for their number it has a result recorded back in October also of 80Mb down and 20Mb up just like @TheMatts, which is no shock as that is exactly when they last had Openreach out to fix their noisy line, complete with DLM reset. Their actually speed right now as measured through speedtest.btwholesale.com is what it always is when working properly and that is 62 Mb.

      LONG story short…. I hope this new figure is not being used to calculate speeds as per Ofcom rules for 2019 which the news item mentions, because NOPE it is not accurate or even correct in any way. UNLESS and i doubt this, it is going to updated regularly. It certainly is not being updated once or more per month because the recorded October speed for my parents is over 1 month ago (IE before the 21 October).

    • Avatar Fastman

      that becau se it looking at the wholesale level of the line its only ever 76 at the retail level as 4mg get taken up by service provider monitoring and Stuff , more mis/Dis information as ever

    • Avatar Joe

      Reporting the port speed would be pointless. It may be the case that this data is being rolled out slowly as its not required to be accurate yet.

      fast: The packages are up to 76 now and have been for some time.

    • Avatar joseph

      I am not a liar…

      As said it is not accurate or even correct in any way. Certainly not disinformation from myself. Tell BT to sort it out if it is wrong.

  6. Avatar Meadmodj

    The sections come from different sources and as always should be treated as a guide. However it appears reliable for my line and I get the full table for the products available including observed VDSL figures. However it does not appear to be dynamic and is itself coming from derived data.

    My neighbour who’s house has always been via Telewest/VM only gets the basic product elements related to the address.

    The BT Wholesale speed test will still need to be used to identify any improvements made. It is always over optimistic but good enough to show a change in either direction. ISP service or internet speed tests will always of course be lower. However the more information on the broadband availability checker the better and good for those considering moving from one Openreach area to another.

    The issue is will Openreach proactively respond in any way if the observed speeds drop significantly below the estimated speed for the address as this clearly shows that the data is readily available. i.e a theoretical Superfast (> 30 Mbps) line delivering 15Mbps.

  7. Avatar Ian

    On my line, it’s reporting 55.3 / 20 with a last seen date in July on a VDSL line that’s on a 40/10 package for over two years…

    • Avatar Joe

      Thats ok. Its just the synch speed your line could hold before the cap of 40/10 is imposed over the top. (albeit the 20 looks odd to my eye)

    • Avatar Fastman

      Ian that because your service provider has capped you at the service you have chosen, the premise is actually able to get greater than that, but yours is capped by either yours or yours service provider commercial decision

  8. Avatar Curious

    On checking a line today (through the BTW’s own re-seller DSL checker), I’m seeing:

    Downstream Observed Sync Speed (Mbps) – 6.14
    Upstream Observed Sync Speed (Mbps) – 0.45
    Downstream Observed MALR – 5.18Mbit/s
    Upstream Observed MALR – 0.93Mbit/s
    Last Observed Date – 2018-08-22

    MALR: Max Achievable Line Rate.
    Funny how the ‘observed rate’ is higher than the max achievable rate..

    Wonder if MLAR is only shown on the checker that requires a login, or if it’s shown on all.

  9. Avatar Jigsy

    Tried my number on the site just to see what it would say.

    Apparently I’m not a BT line.

  10. Avatar Brian

    It show issues with estimate speeds

    Estimate ADSL max downstream up to 1Mbps Downstream range .75 to 2.5 Mps
    Max observed 4.13 down 0.45 up

    From router
    Data rate: 448/4256
    Maximum data rate: 988/4524
    Noise margin: 18.0/9.0

  11. Avatar Freeola

    Only seems to appear on 21CN connections.

    • Yes that would make sense as the 20CN platform will have been almost entirely replaced by 21CN come March 2019, with only a very few thousand premises left to solve. No sense building a new system for something you’re in the process of scrapping.

  12. Avatar Mark Edwards

    Just wondering how often observed speed will be updated?

    • Avatar Joe

      No1 knows yet afaik. But Ofcom will have to have a agree check frequency so they can match it against the promised contract speed range.

    • Avatar gerarda

      From my experience they use the observed speed to alter (lower) the handback threshold whenever it is in danger of being triggered, so they will change it at least as frequently as they need to do this.

  13. Avatar JT

    I’m still on 20CN and no date for 21CN so no data
    Are you aware if the 21CN completion date in March 2019 is a line in the sand and confirmed? (appreciate you’re not BT)

  14. Avatar hv42

    Curious. No additional info whatsoever for my EO line in SE16.

    • Avatar AdamH

      I’m on a long rural EO (Exchange-Only) line, on a 21C (Market A) exchange (with only ADSL / ADSL 2+ showing as available) in Wales (Rhydlewis exchange), and the checker shows no “Observed Speeds” section for me.

  15. Avatar Brian

    I’m on ADSL max and the speed shown it fairly realistic, far better than the very pessimistic estimate. The real work of fiction is the ADSL 2+, which had been a month away since since last August 2017, then it became fixed on 29/11/18, until today when its gone back to a month away.

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