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BT ISDN Home Highway USB versus Terminal Adapater

shermans
Rising Star
Posts: 1,053
Thanks: 28
Fixes: 1
Registered: 07-09-2007

BT ISDN Home Highway USB versus Terminal Adapater

Can anyone tell me whether I could experience different levels of performance with the BT Home Highway BT Digital Access box between using the USB connection and using a Speedway! Terminal Adapter ?

My problem is this. Four years ago, I subscribed for Home Highway and installed a BT Speedway! Terminal Adapter. I have been generally very satisfied with it; it meets most of my needs with Plusnet Connect.

Three years ago, however, I experienced connection difficulties and after a three month battle with everyone, it became apparent that the problem lay with BT's routing (I live in a very rural area). After complaints to Oftel, the matter was finally resolved by BT who admitted responsibility and actually paid me some compensation.

In the meantime, BT had changed their Digital Access box. The new one had two blue digital sockets for connecting to the Terminal Adapter as before, but it also had an additional USB socket underneath. BT's recommendation was to continue to use the Terminal Adapter in preference to the USB.

Being curious, I thought that I would like to try the USB connection. It actually worked faster. But my curiosity was not satisfied, so I decided to experiment to see if I could connect two computers to the same Digital Access box, one using the USB and one using the Terminal Adapter. Once again, it worked.

I decided therefore to instal a cable from the Digital Access box from my office to another room about ten metres away and to connect via the Terminal Adapter to the second computer, which was already networked to the first computer. The second computer had to use the Terminal Adapter because of the distance limitations of the USB port. Everything worked splendidly, and for the last three years I have grown very accustomed to being able to access the internet either from my office or from downstairs in front of the telly. There have been no problems with this set up at all.

Until this week, that is. Suddenly, the Terminal Adapter stopped connecting. At first I thought it was a hardware problem. I checked and re-checked everything, trying both USB and Terminal Adapter on each of the two computers separately; then I re-installed the software. The USB worked first time everytime; the Terminal Adapter worked only sporadically, no ,atter which computer I used. I was able to prove therefore that there were no circuit problems.

Then I began to notice that the time at which the Terminal Adapter connected without difficulty was usually either first thing in the morning or last thing at night, which suggested to me that this might have something to do with congestion. It made no difference which ISP I connecetd to. The problem was the same for BT, Tiscali and Plusnet.

I cannot be sure whether this is just co-incidence, or that congestion is a likely cause of the problem. What is so very strange is that both systems are connected to the SAME Digital Access box. So why would I never experience a congestion problem with the USB socket, but do experience congestion with the Terminal Adapter ?

Can anyone confirm that there could be a potential difference in performance between the two ? It really is an enigma because I tried again last night and early this morning and there were no problems with either system, whereas yesterday from after lunch until about 10.00 p.m. I could only connect using the USB port. Although I have not kept records, I am sure that has been probably the same over the last week.

I do not want to start chasing BT again if this is all a red herring. The only way to be sure is to go to the expense of buying new hardware, which I do not want to do because I will probably eventually change to ADSL when the full service finally becomes available in my area next year.

So I would be grateful to anyone who knows whether there could be a congestion performance difference between using the Terminal Adapter and using the USB, or whether I am just imagining it !

Many thanks.
11 REPLIES
N/A

BT ISDN Home Highway USB versus Terminal Adapater

Your problem does sound like a strange one.

First off, the USB port simply creates a virtual Terminal Adaptor, and has no priority of the network or lines than a normal adaptor. Thus, if you see problems with the TA, you should be problems with USB too.

As a result, my first two sugestions are the following.

1: When the TA gets into trouble, shutdown the system using the USB. A fault in that system may be hogging the lines the TA needs.

You may need to try this quite a few times to get any conclusive proof of a fault.

Possible causes if this is the issue, include updates to the system and/or drivers, virus related activity, spyware and dialers.

2: Check the cable to the TA. As only the TA is effected, there may be a fault or short in the cable, caused by trapping in a door, kicking or chairs banding against it.
shermans
Rising Star
Posts: 1,053
Thanks: 28
Fixes: 1
Registered: 07-09-2007

BT ISDN Home Highway USB versus Terminal Adapater

Thanks for the suggestions. I will try both but I think your idea of "interference" from the USB computer is a possibility.

Having said that, I asked BT to check the line today which they did and reported no faults. However, since then there have been no further problems ironically, and the Terminal Adapter has been working fine since then. I wonder if they "tweaked" something and do not want to admit it ! This would not be the first time that BT have not been entirely straight with me when reporting faults.

Thanks again.
N/A

BT ISDN Home Highway USB versus Terminal Adapater

However, No ammount of tweaking on BT's end could fix the symptoms your reporting.

The fact only the TA was effected and not the USB connection is all but conclusive proof that it is a local issue between the HH box, and your computers.

As noted, the USB has no priority what so ever. If you like, it is a standard USB TA, glued inside the faceplate, and simply saves you buying a seperate one.

Because it has no priority, it would suffer from the same issues as your seperate TA, if it was a BT fault.
shermans
Rising Star
Posts: 1,053
Thanks: 28
Fixes: 1
Registered: 07-09-2007

BT ISDN Home Highway USB versus Terminal Adapater

I am sure that you are right as it did not make sense to me that the same digital access box could perform differently for the Speedway ! TA from the USB TA. However, I left replying until tonight while I kept trying the system all day. I am touching wood with everything I can when I say this, but since the BT test was undertaken yesterday, I have not had a single further aceess failure. The TA has worked consistently without problem, but I have not done anything to the system at all during that time. We live in a very rural area at least two miles from the exchange over fields with overhead cables, and although the cable was replaced about ten years ago, it still is a bit shaky especially when the wind blows. We get cut off whenever there is a storm and have been cut off for several hours this week more than once.

I find it difficult not to conclude that BT did do something to the line which has resulted in the system starting to work again. It may be that the disparity between the USB TA and the Speedway ! TA was just co-incidence, but the other thought that occurs is that, if the BT signal was weak (I do not know whether they can increase the gain on an ISDN line like they can on an analogue line), or there was some other interference on the line, maybe the USB TA was able to deal with it better than the Speedway ! TA. I may not have mentioned that the Speedway ! TA is sited about 30 feet away from the digital access box, whereas the USB TA is right adjacent to it, and therefore the signal does not have so far to travel.

Thanks anyway for your advice; I have learnt something more about TAs as a result. It is most appreciated.

Nick
N/A

BT ISDN Home Highway USB versus Terminal Adapater

Did you rset the power to the HH box before attempting to further diagnose?

It may be a case that BT sent a reset signal the HH box, as part of the test. This may have cured issues too.
shermans
Rising Star
Posts: 1,053
Thanks: 28
Fixes: 1
Registered: 07-09-2007

BT ISDN Home Highway USB versus Terminal Adapater

No, I did not think of that. It was left powered up all the time. But of course, as we have been having power cuts, it is quite possible that the power cut upset the digital access box and as you suggest, when BT tested the line, they re-set the box remotely.

Interestingly, early the other morning I was woken by the Windows start-up WAV sound as my USB system suddenly started itself automatically following a power cut ! It had been fully shut down and was not on stand-by. (It is a lap-top in a docking cradle). That has never happened before, and I am wondering whether there might have been some surge as the power came back on that triggered the start-up sequence in the docking station. As soon as you dock the laptop, the docking station detects the presence of the lap-top and starts it up automatically, but that does not normally happen when you just turn the power off. Something else triggered it to cause it to start, and I suspect it was a surge.

One of the draw-backs of living in the sticks I suppose.
Pooks
Grafter
Posts: 27
Registered: 30-07-2007

BT ISDN Home Highway USB versus Terminal Adapater

Just thought I'd add my two cents (pence?). You should actually get better performance with the Terminal Adapter rather than using USB. Also, depending on the HH box you got from BT, some of them are notorious for problems with USB. Usually plugging in and unplugging the USB 4 or 5 times causes the box to reset allowing connection again. If you have the option I would recommend using the TA card.

Cheers,

Craig.
shermans
Rising Star
Posts: 1,053
Thanks: 28
Fixes: 1
Registered: 07-09-2007

BT ISDN Home Highway USB versus Terminal Adapater

That's most interesting.

I definitely get a faster "reaction" time with the USB than the TA but I suspect that the end-to-end time from dial-up to password verification is probably about the same. The difference is that the message "dialling" remains much longer with the TA than with the USB which makes a difference psychologically ! I think the USB is therefore working faster when it probably is not.

With regard to reset, I have the same sort of experience only with the USB as you. I just thought it was me, but it is interesting to know you have the same problem. It only happens occasionally' the dial-up either just fails to connect at all or the connection hangs afetr dis-connection. But I only usually have to unplug the USB cable from the HH box once to get moving again. But this never happens with the TA, only with the USB.
shermans
Rising Star
Posts: 1,053
Thanks: 28
Fixes: 1
Registered: 07-09-2007

BT ISDN Home Highway USB versus Terminal Adapater

BT visited today to check their installation following my complaint. They confirmed the problem had been caused by the HH box dropping out, and that they had re-set it remotely without telling me. They explained that adverse weather conditions frequently cause these problems in this locality and apologised - for what it is worth.

They admitted that they should have told me that they had re-set the HH box but there is not much they can do about logging a complaint - it will be recorded on the job sheet but that will just be entered into the database and no-one will ever read it. My only recourse is to make a complaint myself through 150 - but I do not have the time or patience to sit there and be told for two hours how important my call is to BT again !!

I've given up with all call centres and refuse to deal with any of them - if it is important, then I will always find a way to by-pass them or at worst, I always insist on talking to a manager from the very beginning - I will not waste time as a matter of principle talking to "agents". When is British Industry going to do something about improving the general repuation of call centres in this country ?

Sorry, that is all a diversion. Thanks to those who offered to help me understand the technical problem. The system continues to work A1.

Nick
N/A

BT ISDN Home Highway USB versus Terminal Adapater

Good to know. May be worth a letter though. more focused and channeled anger. probably chaper too Tongue

It may be a case the call centre didn't know a reset is a standard part of the test. Local engineers are much better people to talk to, as they know the hardware in use, and its history.
Pooks
Grafter
Posts: 27
Registered: 30-07-2007

BT ISDN Home Highway USB versus Terminal Adapater

Hi, good to hear its all working anyway. Thought I'd provide a little info I dug up:-

From BT's website:-

Quote
Can I use the USB connection to do everything I could use the blue digital ports to do?
connectivity for a computer, mainly to get connections to the Internet for surfing and e-mail etc. If the following is relevant to the connections you wish to make you should consider connecting via a Terminal Adapter/ISDN PC card:

Online gaming: The USB functionality was developed to work reliably with all types of USB chipset that can be used in different models of computers. In order to ensure consistent reliable functioning, the USB chipset used in the Home Highway box had to be configured so that it could 'talk' to the USB chipset in the motherboard of any computer/laptop. Consequently, you may experience reduced ping rates using USB compared to using a Terminal Adapter/ISDN PC card, even if this equipment connects to your computer via the USB. If fast ping times are important to you then you may be advised to connect to the blue digital ports using a Terminal Adapter/ISDN PC card with a fast ping time.


As for the delayed logon times, I can't say that I have noticed a difference personally. Ensure that 'Logon to Network' isn't ticked in the advanced properties of the connection if you are using anything other than WinXP.

As for call centres, I have to agree and I used to be a manager in one.... Although saying that, the one time that I have had to phone Plusnet regarding my account it was dealt with without too much trouble. BT certainly have a reputation for being hopeless.

Cheers,

Craig.