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bt or fibre optic broadband?

sepia
Newbie
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎02-09-2007

bt or fibre optic broadband?

hi all,
I've had broadband conection with plusnet since 2004. I have never been too bothered about the download speeds etc, but recently i have been checking a few things and i think i am not getting much for my money. I dont know much about the tech aspects, so apologies if i sound confused.
Basically my speeds vary between 400kbps and 900kbps. I pay £21.99 for an 'up to 8mbps' connection. I know that 400kbps is the minimum acceptable speed for such connection and that i am above that speed. I have also checked bt's speed tester and it shows a limit of 1mb in my line (sorry, but the tester is not completing at the moment, so i have to remember from previous tests). In brief, it seems that whathever i do, i am stuck with a slow(ish) connection. I am assuming that such limitation would affect any broadband provider using the bt line. Is this correct? so my question is: would i be better off switching to fibre optic (virgin/telewest) which, by the way, have an old connection in my house? Does virgin use the same exchange as bt? any way of finding out how far would i be from the exchange? (i know how far i am from the bt one). Any other alternatives to get a faster connection? or to pay less for what i've got?
thanks
dan
9 REPLIES
James
Grafter
Posts: 21,036
Registered: ‎04-04-2007

Re: bt or fibre optic broadband?

Hiya there,
Cable isn't something I know much about at all to be honest.  It won't use the same exchanges and backhaul, but I've no idea what sort of speeds you could expect on a long line.
sepia
Newbie
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎02-09-2007

Re: bt or fibre optic broadband?

thanks. How do i find out my ip profile through the plusnet web site (bt speed tester not working...). Is this IP profile fixed (ie dependent on exhange distance and line quality/noise) or can it be modified? is the ip the maximum i can expect from my connection?
James
Grafter
Posts: 21,036
Registered: ‎04-04-2007

Re: bt or fibre optic broadband?

Hiya,
Your IP Profile is currently set to 750Kbps.  I've tweaked things at this end to give you a little more out of your line, although you'll need to reboot your router.
The IP Profile is calculated entirely on the synchronisation speed between your router and your local telephone exchange.
Community Veteran
Posts: 3,789
Registered: ‎08-06-2007

Re: bt or fibre optic broadband?

Cable connections use a wholly different technology to ADSL, and is a technology that I'm not overly well versed in.
However, the basic essence is that the aggregator (the equivalent of the DSLAM in the exchange for ADSL) can be located physically closer to you than in the BT system.
This means a couple of things:
1)  Line attenuation is less of an issue, giving you higher 'sync' speeds (using the term 'sync' loosely here)
2)  Backhaul is more directly affected.
I think the important thing here is point 2.  In the BT system, all the ADSL lines are aggregated at the exchange and then fed over BT's 'backhaul' to the various ISP networks.  This allows for fairly efficient management of contention between yourself and all other users, as there is usually enough 'burst' capacity on the backhaul to handle spikes from several users.
In a Cable system, the aggregation can occur much closer to you.  In highly simplified terms it is possible that the aggregator is at the end of your street and aggregates all of the Internet connections for your street alone.  While this means that your connection rate may be very fast (due to short effective 'line length', it also means that if there is one person on your street who is using a lot of bandwidth, it immediately impacts all the other users of that cable service in the street, as there is only a finite amount of bandwidth available from the aggregation point back to the Cable company.
In essence, switching to cable may mean that you appear to get faster internet speeds, but could mean that your internet crawls to a stop during periods of heavy usage in your neighbourhood.
Also, on a slightly more personal note - your only cable option is Virgin I guess and I wouldn't touch them with someone elses barge pole!  Their Customer (dis)Service department doesn't win many awards.
Although in their previous incarnation as NTL, they were the very reason that This NSFW post was written.
B.
paulby
Grafter
Posts: 1,619
Registered: ‎26-07-2007

Re: bt or fibre optic broadband?

A read of this article may prove useful.  Although it's an American article, the cable system in the UK is set up in much the same way, i.e. fibre to the cabinet then coax to the end user.  Broadband is delivered over coax and not over the phone line (which is run into the house alongside the coax as a standard copper pair).
Community Veteran
Posts: 3,789
Registered: ‎08-06-2007

Re: bt or fibre optic broadband?

Interesting link Paul - I shall bookmarkify that Cheesy
Another one for my quest for knowledge Wink
B.
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,735
Thanks: 12
Registered: ‎02-02-2008

Re: bt or fibre optic broadband?

Cable is generally the same speed everywhere as it uses fibre not copper so doesn't degrade in the same way, plus as noted above the connection is usually to a cabinet close by, not the exchange some miles away.
So, being brutally honest if speed is an issue; if you have a very slow broadband connection due to distance and cable is available to you it's certainly worth looking at. Talk to cable users in your area first....
matt_2k34
Grafter
Posts: 1,300
Registered: ‎09-07-2007

Re: bt or fibre optic broadband?

Quote
Cable is generally the same speed everywhere as it uses fibre not copper so doesn't degrade in the same way, plus as noted above the connection is usually to a cabinet close by, not the exchange some miles away.

Right idea - wrong wording, just to clear this up cable uses fibre only to street furniture (so its a FTTC kind of layout) - the 'last mile' is still copper, its just much much much shorter than ADSL. (typically a few hundred meters, apposed to several KM)
paulby
Grafter
Posts: 1,619
Registered: ‎26-07-2007

Re: bt or fibre optic broadband?

...and the "last mile" is also over coaxial cable (coax) which is much more suitable than twisted pair copper (which is used, but only for voice telephony; broadband shares the coax with the TV) for the frequencies in use and less likely to cause degradation of the signal over the distances involved.
Cable broadband also uses the DOCSIS (EuroDOCSIS in the UK) standard and not xDSL.