Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The trials and tribulations of rural broadband

Rural broadband is fraught with slow speeds and unexpected outages following wind and weather or unexpected birds or leaves on the line or whatever. It leaves us at the mercy of BT Openreach and, like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, you never know which engineer you're going to get.
Over the years we've had the know-it-all one, the tirelessly-climbing-each-pole-between-us-and-the-exchange-in-the-snow one, the one-the-dog-jumped-on one, the I'm-the-boss-and-this-has-all-been-done-wrong-by-idiot-underlings one, the really grumpy one (who left bits of equipment behind) and last, and probably most important of all, the I'm-going-to-give-you-sensible-advice-so-it-doesn't-cost-you-an-arm-and-a-leg one.

He was an interesting chap, from the valleys, and he liked to pop outside for a fag while the machinery did its calculations. He checked the line, measured it between where it comes in, via the socket in Mum's part of the house, scratched his head, had another fag, fixed the fault and told Brian part of his life story and then related the rest to Mum while he discovered what and where the fault was and that it wasn't yet terminal but soon would be.

As he was leaving, he explained there was a conflict between our phone and broadband, exacerbated by the 8.9m of wire between the line entering the house, splitting (we have two lines) and then wandering around the room to our PC. Basically, it shouldn't work and it won't for much longer and we should think about getting it fixed or face big bills.

Via Pinterest
Which is when the penny dropped. We hardly use our landline; we mainly use mobiles like the rest of the population. Mum does use her line and wanted to keep it, so hers would be useful in emergency for us. The broadband now comes in that way (she gets much faster speeds on her line) and then to our PC and wifi router via ethernet cable. I've just speedchecked it and it's faster.

So today it was goodbye Plusnet and thank you. They seemed miffed that we were leaving, but let us go with good grace and a disconnection fee of just under a tenner. That's a small price to pay to say goodbye to all the calls from Indian call centres (one famously called me 'fatty' to my answerphone because I didn't pick up!) No more Swansea call centres offering to sell us solar panels (we've got those) and double glazing (ditto) or a new boiler (they haven't yet laid a gas main in the Preseli Hills, so, no.) And no more PPI calls! Yippee! Now I've just got to keep my mobile number a secret....


  1. Brilliant blog. And such a superb solution.

    The infrastructure choice needs to get better for us in the countryside. If there were more wireless solutions, then competition would be driven up which would mean reliance on BT Openreach would fall. Now that would be good. :)

    1. Yes it would! It's ridiculous that, no matter who your broadband supplier is, you are at the mercy of BT Openreach. More wireless providers are needed to bring in an element of competition, especially in rural areas. BT has had its own way for far too long.

  2. I'm glad to hear that you finally got advice from a sensible technician. You've made me smile with your wish to keep hold of your mobile's number.

    Perhaps you'll find it interesting that over here in NYC, some very tech savvy friends of mine have been having some of their own broadband situations, that finally resulted in their cancelling their landline.

    For now I am holding on to my landline...after all it wasn't all that long ago that I still used a rotary phone!



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