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House has no fibre - options?

fedupuser56

Casual Member
Hello,

We live in a rural area of Scotland and currently have basic internet access via the phone line. I'm a heavy user of tech for personal and work reasons (in terms of speed and volume of data - multiple smart TVs, chrome devices, security cams hooked up to an internet feed, work video calls), and in the three years we've been living here, I've been hoping to make some progress on making our internet access more... fit for purpose. It's a daily PITA!

Options I've explored:

1. Virgin Media - no coverage, nada, zilch, nothing planned, have registered interest in 2017 and heard nothing back. Used them when we lived in a city, amazing, but no luck here.

2. Hotspotting on a Vodafone 4g work connection - occasionally ok but not viable day-to-day - doesn't work well because it burns through my work phone battery, there's a 4gig/month data limit which is nowhere near enough, and you have to sit with it propped up at a window to get 4g mobile signal anyway else it drops onto 3g (no network has coverage here on 3g or 4g "officially", but you can get ok signal to receive calls and text in the garden reliably). And vodafone is the best network (we've tried Three, O2 and EE, all were worse).

3. Satellite wireless access - ones covering my area are hugely expensive and come with low gig/month limits, i.e. not unlimited data, and since I'm not a busiess I'm not sure I'm their target market for the unlimited data plans they have available (£120/month plus when I last checked).

4. Looking at the gigabit voucher scheme. Unfortunately, a few months ago I looked into this but spotted that https://www.scotlandsuperfast.com/ has our house as having fibre available.. which it doesn't. An appeal for a data fix to their team in September, and a couple of chasers since, hasn't fixed the dud data about our house. They won't even reveal what kind of SLA they have to fix incorrect data about our internet access, nor what the source of the information was. So I'm in limbo there too.

5. Openreach had our house "in scope" for fibre connection in 2018 but this was silently de-scoped. They put in the green box but failed to supply a power line to it, so despite seeing a green fibre cabinet from my living room window, it's useless. I've raised a complaint to Clive Selley's Exec Complaints team (in October 2019!) who didn't respond, but I chased them, and they eventually advised:

6. Universal Service Obligation. Unfortunately, the BT USO website claims that we already get 10mpbs speeds. This is misleading data, which they control! This speed check accounts for neither the phone line instability (which Openreach have many engineer call / visit logs for), nor the speed flux (I have Google mesh WiFi logs stating that our average speed yesterday was 9mbps after a quick check over the last 30 days), nor our domestic needs.

7. Their latest suggestion is to try and get me to organise "10+ neighbours" to sign up to a Community Portal Fibre Partnership to share the cost of installing fibre.. but that's difficult in our rural situation (in a detached house, along a B-road, surrounded by fields, not 10+ properties wanting broadband!). I've asked them (again!) to provide a cost estimate to hook up my + 1 neighbour's property, but since there is no real transparency or market competition to offer that service, I'm doubtful that Openreach's estimate is going to be reasonable... if it ever arrives.

I'm getting increasingly frustrated at how difficult it's been to try and get a decent internet connection here, and Openreach don't seem to operate in a normal business fashion where I (as a customer) can obtain a service that I can pay for directly.

I've spoken with my existing internet provider (Plusnet) who are generally awesome, and even they said they are entirely "held captive" by Openeach here.. I asked if they had better internal visibility of whether Openreach might stoop to provide a better service for a lowly pleb like me, a service user, and the guy on the Plusnet helpline basically said they check the public Openreach website.. they do not have special info on Openreach's rollout plans, no transparency, no accountability, nothing.

I'm stuck at what to try next.

Has anyone got any further ideas, buttons, levers to pull....?

(The government propoganda about ensuring everyone has access to decent broadband, even if you live rurally, is a bit of a running joke in the house, but it's laughter tinged with a huge dollop of frustration!!)
 

fedupuser56

Casual Member
p.s. another option I've triggered a few weeks ago was escalating it to my local MSP (broadband access, or lack of it, is a devolved matter for MSPs rather than my MP). I had an update from the PA to the MSP who said they'd approached Openreach for comment, but Openreach has told them to hang tight because they're dealing with a backlog of queries.

So even if you're a Member of the Scottish Parliment asking about crap service, it doesn't seem like Openreach care too much about providing a service that's fit for purpose....

(Thought I'd mention that in case anyone suggested it)
 

TTJJ

ULTIMATE Member
Your most viable and simplest option here would be to try a 4G router together with a Vodafone (as the only working network) unlimited SIM.

The routers can usually be picked up for about 100 quid online, especially with places like Amazon. The most popular by far and the easiest to come by are the Huawei ones. They're relatively basic but quite reliable, personally have two of the B535 models.

The routers tend to get a better signal on them largely due to the fact that they're physically larger than phones so have a better antenna inside of them. As Vodafone gave you an iffy signal on a phone indoors, you may find it's just stable enough on a router. The signal can sometimes be improved with an external antenna - though highly advisable to not try this first.

They do unlimited options for these with pricing comparable to standard home broadband - cheaper if you shop around.

All of the other options you presented, whilst good, aren't going to resolve your issues at any point in the near- to possibly distant future as they just take so long.
 

fedupuser56

Casual Member
that's an interesting idea - one point to note is that my vodaphone mobile is a work one, tied to their 4gig/data per month plan, and i have to justify any personal use on (so i can use it for data video calls tethered on a hotspot but i'd be in big trouble if i use it to watch netflix and went over the 4gig limit).

we only have PAYG mobiles for personal use because we never "call" anyone these days (facebook calls, whatsapp mostly :))... but if there is a vodafone monthly contract with a 4g router which is less than the slow copper internet network.. that's DEFINITELY something i am going to look into. right now.

thank you!!
 

fedupuser56

Casual Member
so, after a quick google, it's definitely viable. they seem to have an unlimited data plan sim on contract for £30 at the fastest speed:


... which, together with £100 ish on a router, isn't bad at all.

I'm going to explore this option next but keep the complaint open with Openreach (I don't really have much to lose, other than getting a fascinating insight into an organisation that clearly isn't working for consumers) just in case it ever bears fruit!
 

tims20

Casual Member
Give Vodafone a go - if you sign up through https://www.4g-internet.co.uk you get a 14 day trial period to test it all out.

Might need to add an external omni or directional antenna for best service but they'll be able to advise on that side too. Would recommend looking at a Huawei B818 router for best speeds though.

We switched to Vodafone 4g for our main connection a few weeks back - nothing whatsoever to fault so far and pretty steady 60-75Mbps down, 30Mbps up. Game changer compared to 5Mbps upstream on fttc.
 

Lucian

Top Member
@fedupuser56
You can test with a Voxi (vodafone) monthly payg sim, no need for contracts. They have unlimited data @ £35.

+1 on the B818, it's much better than b535 and not much more expensive.

You can test initially with your phone, keep it near the windows, even outside, see what speed it gets etc. You can do this now with your current sim, but speed tests will quickly eat through your data.
 

fedupuser56

Casual Member
Thank you so much!

Can I ask a dumb question about the 4g router? We currently have a setup where our PlusNet router is plugged into the wall socket (with its duel telephone line / data socket) then a Google mesh base station is plugged into one of the router ethernet ports. Other Google mesh stations piggy back off that base station to provide the same network ssid throughout the house for wireless access (thick walls, there was no hope of the router going very far). Plus a couple of other devices hard wired through ethernet cables into the other router ethernet sockets (an old smart TV without any WiFi capability or Google Chromecast, plus a gaming pc whose ping/latency really matters).

Is the idea with the Vodafone 4g router that I put the sim card in it, put it on a window ledge with decent Mobile signal nearest the garden, and that provides the wireless service, fine, but is there any ability to plug the Google mesh base station in too, so it's actually the Google mesh providing household coverage, and to plug any hardwired stuff like the older tv into the 4g box... similar to present?

I'm going to look at the technical specifications of the suggestions tomorrow but thought I'd ask here in case I start looking through for something which is totally not supported/the idea (my suspicion in light of your comments about boosters)..

Thanks,
Sarah
 

fedupuser56

Casual Member
"2 Gigabit RJ45 ports (10/100/1000) including 1 LAN / WAN port
1 RJ11 port for analog or DECT telephone, to make and receive calls from the SIM card number , supports VoIP / SIP"

.. so it looks like it has 2 output ports for our old ethernet wired devices after all. Plus the spares on each Google mesh station.

Looking promising!!
 

Lucian

Top Member
Yes, indeed. And if the 2 are not enough you could always plug a switch in one of them and get quite a few extra ports thyst way. Switches can be bought for as little as £15-20.

However, before buying the router, do test with your mobile phone, if it's a newish one.
 

TTJJ

ULTIMATE Member
We currently have a setup where our PlusNet router is plugged into the wall socket (with its duel telephone line / data socket) then a Google mesh base station is plugged into one of the router ethernet ports
This is perfect really - the 4G routers don't tend to have great WiFi coverage, at least the ones I've tried. Using something such as Google WiFi negates that.

If you go through resellers for the Vodafone SIM such as mobiles.co.uk (part of Carphone Warehouse) you often find the unlimited SIMs for about 30 quid also have cashback deals included which can get the price down to the equivalent of half price.

Do remember also you have a 14 day cancellation window if it doesn't work out for you.
 

fedupuser56

Casual Member
I've done a few speed tests (using Google's online tool: https://www.google.com/search?q=speed+test) with my work Vodafone on its 4g data connection... it's reliably 13-16mbps download, varying at 5-9 upload.

That's in the best window of the house with 4 out of 5 mobile signal bars showing up. I was getting 2mbps download speeds in my study (spare room) window.

That's a lot worse than I'd expected - ouch!
 

Lucian

Top Member
If you go outside, does it get better? If it does, you can consider getting an outdoor router or an external antenna.

Having said that, those speeds are not "brill".

Can you share partial post code? Let's check the other operators, perhaps you get lucky with the likes of EE or O2.

BTW, for speed tests you can also use www.fast.com which is a Netflix service.
 

kommando828

ULTIMATE Member
I am in Rural Scotland, ADSL is 8mb but subject to constant line faults, FTTC is offered as well for some reason, 2 to 3mb with handback of 2mb so a pointless offering.

So I use 4G, two 4G routers each pointing to a different mast, Three and Voda, both 4G routers connect to a Draytek 3 Wan router and these 2 connections are 'Load Balanced' by session giving me 50mb down 40mb up.

To get this I have 2 external antenna and a lot of experimentation to find the right place and direction for the antenna. The 4G routers are close to the antenna so that cable losses are low, long runs are on the network cable where losses are negligible or non existent.

If I use my phone as a hotspot that will only connect as 3G, so the 4G router with directional antenna has been a significant improvement to signal levels.

Longer term I am waiting for the R100 lot 3 rollout which will give me FTTP post Dec 2021.
 

fedupuser56

Casual Member
So:

Fast.com gave speeds of 5-7mbps in my study. At the "best" house window it's highly variable at 7mpbs-15 ish. Plan to do a "garden test" as advised when it stops tipping it down outside.

As mentioned, the R100 would be amazing to benefit from in the long term, but isn't a decent short term option (for now).

Postcode is TD5 btw (but i'd be genuinely surprised if there's any better coverage than Vodafone here? I last checked in 2017/18 ish on O2. Three's a definite no-no, we have a PAYG phone on them which can literally never receive or make calls, it's simply an internet phone.. used to be a main phone, which was always fun when banks wanted to send SMS messages to authenticate online banking access. EE might have got better with time?)
 
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