Having been a bit peeved at the recent PN machinations, I decided to look around for another ISP, and also look for some added speed while I was at it. This is a summary of how I got on and may serve to show what may be available after BT and PN pull their fingers out.
Having 2 phone lines is a piece of luck since I didn’t want to jump from the frying pan into the fire, so I thought I would plump for a new ISP on line 2 and compare it with PN on line 1.
Aylesbury exchange is now capable of LLU, and the only way I am going to get more than my PN 2meg in a timely manner is to dump BT – this means UKonline. They offer a 8Meg service, unlimited with a free modem as long as you sign up for a year. Ok I’ll go for that, but I live about 3 Km from the BT shed (exchange) and have a line loss of 43dB on line 1. UKonline said that I might get up to 4Meg if I am lucky. Still looking good.
I placed the order – and true to their promise the modem turns up with a couple of microfilters, and the line is on, all within 10 days and despite being run off their feet by shocking the world with their new cheapo service. Still looking good.
Link it all up set up the modem etc. and It syncs up at link level at 3.6 Mbps, a quick run of the PN speed test and get about 3.0 Mbps (as a reference my PN 2MBPS line syncs up at 2.2 Mbps and I get 1.8/1.86 Mbps on the speed test) This is all with the modem connected to the NTE5 Master socket. Added value from UKOL is that the upload is 512 Kbps – looking very good – but can we get more?
The modem supplied by UKOL is made by Actiontec and doesn’t have any line reports such as S/N ratio or loop loss, so time for a serious modem. It has a wireless option, but being a ‘Wire’ man meself, I prefer Cat5e and a good RJ45. I use a Draytek 2600 on line 1, so let’s go for another as I know it, it can be a spare and I know a couple of tweaks.
Got one cheap off eBay and set it up, syncs at 3.6Mbps as the Actiontec does. Interestingly, the S/N is 2dB – funny that as line 1 is 22dB and comes via the same route – Hmm, something funny on that needs to be sorted, but let’s plough on. Loop loss is at 41 dB - good stuff
The Draytek has a modified set of firmware you can load in especially for UK lines with low S/N and 2 dB is pretty damn low, so I download this and the modem now syncs up at about 3.9Mbps and the S/N margin has gone up to 6.5 dB. Starting to look better – PN speed test give me about 3.3 Mbps
Line 1 was an original BT engineer install and so has a facia splitter on the NTE5 master socket. Line 2 has microfilters on extensions that go here, there and everywhere. Time to get back to basics. I got a faceplate splitter from Clarify to get rid of all the noise from the extension wiring and dump the microfilters. The Draytek now syncs up a 5.12Mbps (!!!!!), the PN speedtest now give 4.3 Mbps – boy we are cooking on gas now! There’s a morale here guys and gals – microfilters are for the bin!!!
A quick test using WinMTR shows pings at min 9ms and max 16ms – eat yer heart out gamers. 4.3M download and 512K upload.
But let’s put this into context – surfing, grazing or whatever you call searching around the Internet is still limited by the far end and latency of other elements such as DNS servers etc. So it does depend on what you are using the link for.
The S/N margin on line 2 is still at 6.5dB and that is the next one to be sorted. (Loop loss is at 40dB - a marginal decrease for the better) Can I get BT to come out to fix the fault – can I sh** - “You have to go via your new LLU service provider” said the lady with the oriental accent? So that is the next step. UKOL have said they will whoosh the line and let me know how it goes, so don’t miss the next thrilling instalment of “Mike’s adventure in ADSL land”. (fading echo)