Many broadband providers used to say that if you signed up with them, you’d get speeds of ‘up to 8 Mbps’. However, there were lots of speeds on the way up to 8 Mbps, such as 1 Mbps for example! If your ‘up to 8 Mbps’ speed was actually 1 Mbps, you’d have a hard time watching online video, or doing anything else that needed a reasonable line speed. Some time ago, the Government told the broadband service providers to stop all this ‘up to’ nonsense and use accurate speeds in their marketing and advertising material. However, a lot of customers in rural areas are still getting very low line speeds despite all the network upgrading that’s supposed to be happening.
I recently visited a customer who was only getting a broadband speed of about 0.15 Mbps, even though she lived very near the main telephone exchange and should really have been getting a much faster speed. The first step was to test the line after isolating all the extension wiring, though this made no difference and the speed was still atrocious. The second step was to replace the customer’s ancient broadband modem with a new wireless router, so she requested one by sending a message to the service provider via their website. Needless to say, the message was ignored, but after a few days the customer telephoned to ask for a new router, and it eventually arrived.
When the new router arrived, it came with a sheet of instructions showing how to set up the wiring, but there wasn’t any explanation of how to get the router to log on to the telephone exchange. Another problem was that although the router had a label on the bottom saying what the wireless password was, it turned out to be completely wrong! Anyway, after the new device was set up properly, the line speed was still only 0.15 Mbps. Reluctantly, the logical third step was to telephone the broadband customer support people, though I wasn’t looking forward to it.
After being authorised by the customer to speak on her behalf, I started to explain to the broadband support person that the line speed was only 0.15 Mbps according to ‘speedtest.net’, but they refused to accept that figure and said that I had to take several speed readings over the next few days using ‘supportal-test.co.uk’ before they’d take any action. I went to the suggested website, but all I found there was a blank page. The support person said that something might eventually appear there if I just kept trying, but that’s when I started to get a little bit angry.
After half an hour of arguing with the support person, who constantly talked over me, I managed to persuade them to check the line configuration at the telephone exchange. There was, the support person said, one thing they could try. ‘Alright,’ I said, ‘try it then.’ A few minutes later the line speed went up to over 12 Mbps, which just went to show that it was a simple problem all the time that could easily have been fixed without sending out a BT Openreach engineer or causing me a lot of stress. It just goes to show that if your broadband service provider turns out to be obstructive, it pays to be tenacious.