Internet Service Providers and Broadband

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Which reports that in a huge win for consumers, the UK’s largest broadband providers are now obliged to clearly tell customers how fast their speed will really be before they sign a contract.
And if your provider then fails to deliver its promised speed and fails to improve it within a month, you can walk away.

I was pleased to read that BT have launched a much cheaper Basic phone and broadband scheme for people who qualify (on benefits). It is only 9.95 a month including line rental and is quite adequate for most users. See HERE

There is an even cheaper version for people who only wish to make calls.  This includes a 10 a month MAXIMUM charge for calls, even to mobiles.

Broadband speeds get ever faster as BT connects more street boxes to exchanges using fibre instead of copper cables. Some areas have been left out because of distance from the exchanges and consequent cost. But connections via the mobile phone systems are also improving the speed. While 4G connections were very must faster than 3G, already 5G is planned with speeds expected to 200 times the speed of 4G. As these connections are from transmitters, one does wonder whether they will eventually overtake the need for digging up roads. Unfortunately Britain is dragging its feet, even with the installation of 4G and are ranked 29th in the world. This is blamed on planning regulations. And the speeds attained with 4G, at around 15Mbps, are much slower than those in places like Singapore and New Zealand. 

 Virgin is now offering speeds up to 350 mbs to places where there is a cable connection to the premises.  Some businesses will welcome this

Wonder what speed your broadband runs ?  It is a good idea to do a test now and then.  There are numerous test sites that will do this free.  But it is a good idea to use one that is NOT a comparison site, which makes its money by getting you to change. They are almost bound to underestimate and make you dissatisfied. I quite like using Ookla.com, which is consistent.  N.B. if you are testing via your wireless router it is important to realise that the distance between your PC/Laptop/tablet and the router makes a BIG difference, especially through thick walls and ceilings.  The example below is NOT using wireless but is by a PC  directly connected to the router and a dedicated cable service to the house. 
Note, also that ALL broadband is very much slower UPloading than DOWNloading

But today, instead of Ookla I used the test offered by Which.  This is the surprising result with Virgin Cable, considering that I only pay for 30mb downloads !

Virgin cable speed using the Which speed test


Finding wifi hotspots.  Apart from connection you can make in pubs and BT have thousands of Hotspots in the UK and Ireland.  Free to their broadband customers and phone contacts.  For others there is a charge e. g. 4 a day. If you search for Wifi on your wireless device you may see these with the FON word in the address. Some hotels are depending on this (and charging).

But by 2019 most pubs and restaurants have wifi. Just ask for the password.  And, more frequently, there are free wifi connections in towns and resurants. Just click on the System of you wireless computer and search for the name of the nearest/strongest connection.

Having difficulty accessing broadband ? http://www.broadbandwherever.net/home.aspx   will arrange a satellite connection from 25 a month plus hardware. This service is also available for Spain and France.

Compare Broadband offers (home or mobile) at www.broadbandgenie.co.uk. Also see smartphone, tablet and iPad deals 

For more information about cable broadband and speed tests see https://my.media.com/discover/broadband/

Mobile Broadband.  If you don't even have a telephone line you can still access the net this way.  Click on Mobile Broadband for an explanation.  Compare prices and claimed speeds But bear in mind that speed depends on your proximity to the transmitting masts and also whether you have access to 3G and 4G facilities.  In the City of London there is talk that they can get as much as 300 Mb by 4G !

If your broadband comes to you via a normal (BT) telephone line you MAY be able to speed it by installing a BT iPlate.  This requires not more technical skill than using a screwdriver and they only cost around 9.  It really is that easy and it may increase your speed by 1 - 2 Meg, which in, some cases, can be vital. Looking at the encouraging reviews at http://www.broadbandbuyer.co.uk/Shop/Reviews.asp?ProductID=7256, what is there to lose ?

The "Up to" story.  Many broadband providers advertise speeds one can expect are 'Up To' a certain level of download. Ofcom insists that at least 10% of customers should be able to actually get that speed but the story is often very different, especially in rural areas. One organisation was offering speeds up to 24Mb but the average which customers were getting was 7.2Mb. Overall the average speed has improved quite rapidly, with some companies now offering 20Mb. BT's new fibre optic to street system is improving speeds considerably.  In fact the latest claim from BT is that they will offer customers already in fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) areas the chance to upgrade to 300Mbits/sec fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) eventually.

BT have a help page with a number of points to ensure that your broadband speed is maximised  http://bt.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/12666#void()

What if you want to get 'Roving Broadband ?'  It is certainly possible in many areas to get a reasonable broadband speed to your laptop or netbook (or other mobile device) via the mobile telephone network. One can buy a 3G 'dongle' from many places including WHSmith, which will fit into the USB port of your PC and sets itself up simply. This can be on a PAYG basis or can be on a monthly contract.  Typical of the latter is "3"s two year contract which costs 16/month and allows 15Gb of downloads/month. But compared with home broadband it will be more expensive.  e.g. T-Mobile charges 2 a day for Pay as you Go. To check on charges go to BroadbandGenie

Ofcom has a BB speed map at http://maps.ofcom.org.uk/broadband/  Click on your area or check out the best broadband for your area. Enter your post code at http://www.moneysupermarket.com/broadband/

BT have wireless connections all over Britain.  If you search for a connection it will sho was BT Fon and there is a charge. 

If you are stuck with a really slow broadband connection you may find that a site you would like to view has a 'mobile' version of web pages, designed for mobile phones. e.g. The BBC has one.  To view it change www. to m.  So that is http://m.bbc.co.uk

Studies show that people using wi-fi get 30% slower speed than people who get it via a direct connection  So, if you want to get the fastest connection, connect via a cable to the router.

Discussions are going on as to whether ISPs should 'manage' broadband speeds according to the type of files being downloaded - and whether they should inform users about what they are doing. i.e. game players may get precedence over people just downloading files

To get information about the situation at your local exchange enter your post code at http://usertools.plus.net/exchanges/?

Good article on broadband choices at http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/phones/cheap-broadband

Slow ADSL broadband speed ?  The first thing to do is use a broadband speed checker on the net.  Be aware that ALL broadband connections DOWNLOAD much faster than they UPLOAD.  You will get two readings and the one may be an eighth of the other. If you are not getting the speed you are paying for, there may be factors beyond your control such as the distance you are from the nearest digital exchange.

Some of the filter/internal cabling problems can be tested by a 'trial and error' process using other pieces of equipment. It might even be worth checking by attaching the modem directly to the main BT socket. If your modem connects to the USB socket (especially the older type one socket, speed may be improved by connecting the PC by an RJ45 (Ethernet) cable.  But this needs an Ethernet socket on the PC and on the modem and router

An 'iPlate' is a 10 device from BT that could save your broadband. BT Wholesale have been trialling a new device that could radically improve the speed of ADSL broadband connections, allowing customers to finally enjoy speeds close to the advertised limit. Fixing an Interstitial Plate to the master telephone socket helps to improve connections by eliminating exterior interference. Broadband connections can be seriously affected by electronic noise from basic household appliances with faulty power supplies. Bad power supplies from electrical equipment interferes with the so-called 'Bell Wire' which runs throughout households, and creates noise on the line.  In a test a basic ADSL connection running at 3.8Mbps was throttled down to 700Kbps when a nearby fluorescent tube with a faulty power supply was switched on; when an iPlate was fitted to the master socket, the connection returned to its normal speed. The iPlate is installed by unscrewing the face plate in the master socket and slotting iPlate into place. It is easiest fitted to sockets which are split into two halves. It is expected that iPlates will become part of the regular installation feature for new customers. Ashley Pickering from BT Wholesale said ;We've seen huge increases in speed, stating that on average, it makes one and a half megs of difference.

There might be various reasons as to why you are getting a slow speed and they could be:

Another useful site is http://www.ispreview.co.uk

Want to change from one ISP to another ?  These days is should be comparatively easy, although you should check the small print to see if you have any 'tie in' with your current provider.  With Broadband, as they often supply equipment and software there is often a 1 year contract.  Having sorted that out what you need from your current ISP is a MAC address.  That is nothing to do with those pretty computers often favoured by designers. It stands for Migration Authorisation Code. Once you have this it should be comparatively easy to change. Internet Providers have an Association. See www.ispa.org.uk, especially if you have a complaint against one that you cannot resolve.
You can get useful information from places such as Internet Magazine, which lists ISP's and how well they are doing

SkyDSL provides broadband  (via satellite) anywhere in Europe from  and can provide up to 16 megabits per second.  However, you require a dish and a dialup connection to your own ISP, too, which takes the shine off that rather.

To settle complaints about ISP's you can look at the following sites  www.ispa.org.uk (Association of ISP's)  Ombudsman Services:communications ), www.cisas.org.uk  (Internet Services Adjudication Scheme)


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