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How good is ADSL2+?

How good is ADSL2+?

How good is ADSL2+?

We all want to go faster.  And one of the most anticipated changes in the UK broadband market has started. As part of BT's 21st Century Network project a programme to upgrade the UK's exchanges to support ADSL2+ is well under way. We want to be able to offer our customers the fastest speed possible as soon as possible. But we also want to make sure customers will get a reliable service. So I wanted to see for myself just how good ADSL2+ is. Back in June we first wrote about our plans to use BT's new products to offer our customers faster speeds. We provided an update in September to confirm that our new backhaul link had been successfully installed. From the outset we've made it clear that we plan to take things steadily - we and our customers had a tough time in 2006 when the IPStream Max 8Mbps upgrades went a little awry. So this time round we want to be certain we won't drown in a wave of service issues as customers get faster speeds but less stable lines. So lots of testing is key to that, and the first round of trials involves staff broadband lines. When the Plusnet product team first asked me if I wanted to be the first staff member to trial ADSL2+ on my line my answer was a very straight 'no'. Why? Because I rely on my broadband line for working from home. I watch iPlayer most days, I'm always on email and use the web for news, blogs, banking and entertainment. I couldn't tell you the last time I looked in the Yellow Pages, because like many people now I rely on Google to find everything I want. So the idea of going onto a trial that might mean intermittent service did not appeal at all. So after half a dozen staff lines had been upgraded (and admittedly a few of those were a bit bumpy!) I finally succumbed to Dave and James' nagging and the order went into BT Wholesale. My line synchronises to the exchange at 7.5Mbps usually and I get a pretty steady 5 or 6Mbps throughput on speed testers. Despite being a constant web user I rarely use more than 5GB in a month. My line was upgraded, on time, with no noticeable down-time. Using my existing router, a 2-Wire gateway, I could see that my upstream synch had increased to 855Kbps and speed tests confirmed this. However my downstream synch speed had only increased to about 8Mbps. Slightly disappointed by this, I followed up with the guys in the office the next day. James checked my router stats (6dBs is apparently pretty good for downstream SNR) and we decided my router was probably the issue. So armed with a shiny new D-Link 2640B I tried again. Straight away things improved. Synch increased from 7.5Mbps downstream to 12Mbps, upstream stayed the same at 855Kbps. A new speedtest showed the increase in throughput too. So what of the experience? Well, web browsing seems to be a little snappier. Top Gear looks great in high quality mode on the iPlayer and Skype still works fine for video-conferencing to Japan. I used to get one or two drops in synch a week but so far my line actually seems more stable with ADSL2+ than it did ADSL. All in all I'm happy. But I have a feeling there's more I can do to get my synch rate up from 12Mbps to perhaps 16Mbps. I'll keep experimenting and will let you know how I get on. In the meantime BT has announced a whole load of new exchange go-live dates which you can check at SamKnows or from the Plusnet Usergroup site. The product team will also be back here to update you all on how our testing is going and when we hope to launch upto 24Mbps speeds for our customers to try out. We also need to decide what headline speed to use. Happy surfing 🙂 Neil Armstrong Products Director, Plusnet

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