Broadband support

Some of you may have seen my tweets saying that I was experiencing Broadband issues. I am an IT networking specialist so when I have a networking issue I have the knowledge and equipment to locate the problem. When my broadband speed plummeted one day, I soon proved it was an external issue.

Broadband fault

At this point, my heart sunk. I would have to contact the broadband supplier helpdesk. As someone whose own life is made easier by the filtering skills of a help desk, I have to admit they serve their purpose. I only wish I could take a competence exam and earn the right to bypass stage one of making a support call.

As I dreaded, my support call failed to get through stage one, their remote diagnostic found no fault, so I started to be bombarded with their “clear your Internet cache” advice. My brother once has his telegraph pole knocked down by a joyrider and the helpline advice was to clear his Internet cache and cookies.

Waiting for action

Days went by, I sent Emails explaining I had swapped all my equipment but the problem remains but the replies where always helpful advice on how to plug in my filters.

One evening I was tweeting on my anonymous account complaining about my broadband problems when our conversation was interrupted by a tweet from my broadband supplier!

How to get support

They obviously scan all tweets looking for their name to be taken in vain but it was quite amusing, and embarrassing, to have my discussion interrupted.

Later, I contacted them again with my proper account and amazingly they got a real engineer to check the line and found a fault. My line was fixed today, unfortunately I now have the wait whilst the speed profile builds up again. To read more about IP profiles please continue reading.

IP Profiles

Sorry everyone, I need to rant about IP profiles. These are an intrinsic part of broadband, but even the engineers seem to be unaware of them.

If you look at your router, you can see a connection speed eg 3776/448(Kbps) This is the speed you are connecting to the exchange and is largely dependant on the distance to the exchange, relating to the voltage drop in the cables between your phone socket and the exchange equipment.

This would be your maximum speed but then the IP profile steps in.

There will always be some interference on the line which will disrupt the network packets. The line is constantly monitored and the speed is reduced to a level where packet loss is at a minimum. This is the IP profile and is your actual broadband speed, for the speed above I would expect an IP profile of 3000kbps. The IP profile is a cap, your actual speed will be under this value, depending on general network traffic.

The problem comes when the line starts developing a fault. If packets are being lost, the IP profile starts to drop to compensate and your broadband speed gets lower and lower. Unfortunately, your connection speed remains constant and your broadband supplier says there isn’t a problem.

Why are IP profiles important

My first encounter with IP profiles was when my broadband had ground to a halt and had a succession of engineers telling me it was connecting at 8Mb so there is no problem. Eventually, I got a knowledgeable engineer who realised the problem was a noisy line, cleaned the connectors and I was running back at full speed.

The other annoying thing about IP profiles is that they drop within a hour of detecting an issue but it takes days for them to increase. Now my line is fixed, my broadband is still running at an unusable 0.5M, it will be a week before I am back to normal. The most annoying thing is that I could be back to normal within minutes if I can persuade someone to manually override the IP profile setting. Especially after a fault repair, I would expect it to be part of the routine. I have been told it can be done, but I even had an engineer trying for an hour to get someone to do it and failing.

Rant over, thank you for listening.

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