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BT Broadband - Forest Hill Exchange Upgrade
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Posts: 11
Joined: Feb 2011
Post: #41
03-03-2011 02:23 PM

Hate to say it (and never thought I would) but a contract with Sky might be on the horizon – fast internet speed, Mad Men, Cricket, Rugby, Football…I really hoped it wouldn't come to this!

Don't be too quick to swap (well, apart from for the Mad Men, Cricket etc...). Virgin have their own fibre optic connection, so that seems to be the best shout if you're within the golden cable area. SKY, however, rent from BT... So if it's a problem with the exchange, you'll find the same problems with SKY.

I speak from experience - our SKY internet is still dire.

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Posts: 89
Joined: Nov 2008
Post: #42
03-03-2011 03:07 PM

If you don't want to or can't go to cable, picking a supplier which offer low contention ratios is recommended. The popular suppliers such as TalkTalk, Sky, etc are over subscribed. Effectively they're serving lots of users off one connection. The result is poor connection speed, especially at peak hours.

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Posts: 297
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #43
03-03-2011 04:11 PM

To BangorBen's question of whether anyone has complained directly to BT (and apologies for what is a summary of another posting/rant of mine).
I spoke initially to BT's Indian call-centre last August. As a result of escalation I finished up speaking to a BT Customer Team in N Ireland who were fairly switched on and were initially very productive in solving how the benefits an upgrade that was to elevate Forest Hill into the upto 20Mbps range could be delivered to me.
They upgraded my package and then lowered my annual charges. However, the promised doubling of the data throughput rate as tested on BT's own software was inexplicably halved by BT to the utter frustration of the NI team. The NI team confirmed what the planned improved speed benefits should have been. Surprisingly they then complained strenuously that they could not get the BT Openreach team in London to explain why this reduction happened.
By December it was suggested by BT that I wait until the rollout of the FTTC phase (which should deliver upto 40Mbps) took place before pursuing matters once more.
The planned FTTC phase was pushed back some 3 to 6 months. It was interesting to see that Forest Hill was also added to the pilot rollout list for FTTP (ie fibre optic cable to the premises with speeds of upto 100Mbps) at the same time.
I hold the view that this is not Customer Care; it is not good project management; it fails to deliver promised service and speed improvements and that it is bumbling of the worst kind.
When it is evident that BT Teams within the UK cannot communicate with themselves, there is little hope that they will communicate effectively with their customers.
Having a third BT component that resides half-a-world away heaps ridicule on the ordure that is deemed by BT to be an acceptable level of service.
On the upside after a 25% reduction in speed throughput in January from December's "high", the month of February has seen a recovery of about half of that loss.
I have also become aware that TalkTalk and other ISP customers have been enduring poor levels of service too.

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Posts: 297
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #44
22-05-2011 11:46 AM


BT broadband performance, for those of us who live south of the Forest Hill exchange at least, has improved by an average of 15% over recent weeks. It was interesting for a week or so where that improvement measured nearly 43% but only for a frustratingly short period of time.

The laying of BT fibre optic cable is now moving forward rapidly and whilst the March deadline has past, there is some optimism that the cable laying phase will be complete by May/June (2011). To counterbalace that, the required server equipment upgrade will not be complete until July 2011 - once step forward and two back.

Local information reliably has it that BT Openreach has altered the design of the cable infrastructure from being sutable for FTTC to FTTP (that means fibre optic cable being linked directly to all of our homes or business premises instead of just to the nearerst cabinet). This is good news for those of us who did not enjoy the benefits of the major non-BT cable laying works of the 1990's.

It is unclear, however, whether BT sees that sufficient demand exists for the take up of the Infinity product in the Forest Hill Exchange area. Rumours say that there is a demand threshold , below which BT will not activate the upgraded service. For clarity, this was originally rumoured to be only for the Infinity product that would provide the upto 40mbps speed but it may now also apply to the FTTP offering which provides upto100/110mbps.

Registration of your interest for these upgrades is possible for free on BT's website and does not commit you to taking up any offer - especially if the price is hiked. Once more it is rumoured that we will enjoy the benefits of these increases without a price increase - and allegedely the fair use policy will be abolished with the threat of speed throttling removed. Watch this space for further info on that aspect.

It is reliably understood that as part of the cable lay that has new fibre optic cable being laid close to all of our premises, the engineers will lay junction equipment at regular intervals that will provide links to 20-30 premise. It is less clear when tha last few metres of cable will be laid from thes manifold/junctions to our individual premises. You might guess that the final connection will be made when a customer confirms they want the service.

So - it can be perceived that there are benefits that for all Forest Hill Exchange broadband users, BT and non-BT, if we all register our interest and secure the highest speeds possible. You might think it strange that I say non-BT customers will benefit, but I think it evident that other ISP's will soon take advantage of the new improved service when BT switch it on.

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Posts: 180
Joined: Oct 2007
Post: #45
23-05-2011 11:13 AM

Thanks for this - good update info. I have registered my interest and hope others will do the same.

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Posts: 14
Joined: May 2011
Post: #46
24-05-2011 10:46 AM

I was just doing some research online after seeing the RFP date of 01/06/2011 on Sam Knows and when I did the check availability tool on BT's website I got a response that my number will have BT Infinity available on 01/07/2011 and to register my interest for early installation.

This sounds promising. Does anyone have any info as to when Virgin might be aiming to upgrade our area to 100Mbps?

It's a serious toss-up at the moment as to whether to go BT or Virgin. I do freelance IT and work from home a lot so upload speed is very important to me. BT's initial offering is slated at 10up/40down and Virgin is 5up/50down, but Virgin's 100 service is 10up as well so if that's imminent then that could tip the scales.

BTW- new to the forum, what a brilliant resource!

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Posts: 297
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #47
24-05-2011 10:54 AM

Welcome to the area Moreno.

Not sure when Virgin plans their upgrade in this exchange area.

Two points though: - do you know whether your home has Virgin cable - not all properties in this area had it pass their front door ?


If not - do Virgin plan to use BT fibre in the future where Virgin cable infrastructure is not present ?

Do share any information you find.

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Posts: 1,356
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #48
25-05-2011 11:26 AM

Someone (I think BT) was laying new cables in Hurstbourne Road recently.

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robin orton

Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #49
25-05-2011 12:03 PM

We use Virgin, and had our speeds upgraded in February - don't understand the numbers, I'm afraid.

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Posts: 167
Joined: Apr 2009
Post: #50
25-05-2011 12:16 PM

@Moreno Hello and welcome!

Hate to say it (and never thought I would) but a contract with Sky might be on the horizon – fast internet speed, Mad Men, Cricket, Rugby, Football…I really hoped it wouldn't come to this!

You can get a decent package with top-up tv through your arial which doesnt rely on sky at all. They do sky sports and espn on a monthly payment basis (ie not contract). For internet Im with O2 for my internet (ADSL2) and get decent performance, for my requirements - about 15 Meg (real, not 'up to') which allows me to happily stream HD tele and surf at the same time.

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Posts: 297
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #51
25-05-2011 12:29 PM

Robin Orton

Congratulations - so long as Virgin delivers a service at speeds that meet your needs and is reliable , you should not have anything to worry about and why concern yourself about numbers ?

Virgin's cable infrastructure (originally laid by Nynex - remember them?) did not reach all of our premises and - if you like - the rest of use are effectively playing catch-up.

I very rarely hear of any real levels of dis-satisfaction with Virgin's broadband service delivery from those who can access it, particularly when it is compared with Orange or TalkTalk.

BT's track record in the last two years has been very patchy as you can see from this thread alone and we can but hope that this new infrastructure will deliver reliability at speeds that meet our needs. The numbers we discuss here only help us measure that level of performance.

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Posts: 297
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #52
30-05-2011 11:07 AM

Ho hum. Ho Hum !

I have been pointed in the direction of BT's announcements of its analysis of trial installations for the roll-outs of FTTP.

You may recall in one of my later posts I had speculated about how and when that last few metres of cable would be laid from the manifold/junctions to our individual premises.

Well it seems that during the trials it has become evident that those last few metres have proven to be the most labour-intensive phase and whilst BT had estimated that this would take an average of 4 hours to achieve, apparently 7 hours to two days is proving to be the range norm. BT's preferred method is and was to "blow" the cable into position.

I should apologise for not including this info in the last update because BT's announcement was in the public domain when I wrote last, I just did not spot it.

In BT's inimitable tragi-comedy of errors, the impact of this delay is once more to see our anticipated June/July 2011 date moving to December 2011 (unconfirmed). Overall this represents some 15 months delay.

The unacceptable part is that BT has realised that a major portion of the problem lies in the excavation and clearing of existing ducts that are blocked. This must have been entirely foreseeable given the nature of its day-to-day operations.

In the purist British way, comically, BT has attempted to mitigate the problem by getting the Army in by recruiting circa 200 ex-army bods to do the heavy work.

The different problems lie in four categories of exisitng installations:

  1. Relatively new build property with ducts laid in ground - good straight forward install.
  2. Property where phone line is fed overhead from telephone pole - relatively easy install
  3. Older property where narrow bore metal ducts have potentially blocked up over the years - more difficult install including possible excavation and laying of new duct
  4. Property where cable has been buried in ground without duct - difficult installation with inevitable excavation and laying of new duct

With an eye to a fair wind let's hope BT can sort this out quickly.

For those who want more detail:

I am running out of comedic commentary to add to this - any help appreciated.

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Posts: 14
Joined: May 2011
Post: #53
31-05-2011 04:21 PM

In BT's inimitable tragi-comedy of errors, the impact of this delay is once more to see our anticipated June/July 2011 date moving to December 2011 (unconfirmed).

Surely from reading the article referenced this just pertains to getting the final FTTP upgrade to the service? Have you heard anything different that would point to the anticipated July rollout of FTTC service in our area being pushed back?

On a separate note... I got a call from Virgin Media's technical department about my enquiry regarding 100Mbps BB in our area. Even though I made it clear that any confirmation of future availability would be enough for me to go ahead and contract their services they couldn't confirm any plans or time frame for availability of 100Mbps service in our area.[/quote]

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Posts: 297
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #54
31-05-2011 05:09 PM

That is a very fine distinction Moreno and makes for an excellent question.

It is known with some certainty from local sources that the architecture for the cable infrastructure has been altered from FTTC to FTTP.

What I am less certain about is whether then a mix of FTTC based service and FTTP based infrastructure can be run side-by-side.

Any statement by me would only be a guess at this time.

A little more investigation might provide an answer - or indeed are there any techies out there who may already know.

As a footnote, in this exchange area, the copper based infrastructure performs appallingly even at the shortest of distances for reasons that even BT cannot articulate. I know of one BT copper-based connection that is less than 285 metres from the Forest Hill exchange and BT are struggling to make it perform at 25% of the calculated capacity.

There lies the potential weakness of the original FTTC plan - how close is each premise to the nearest cabinet and how good is that last leg of copper-based network from cabinet to premise ?

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Posts: 14
Joined: May 2011
Post: #55
03-06-2011 11:26 AM

You're not wrong about the copper issues and it's not just Forest Hill, it's over a wide area of South London. It could be worse though! I used to live in Camberwell which is fed by the Brixton exchange and one of the longest cable lengths in London... the most they could supply there was 4 Mb!

I'm an IT Consultant (though not a telecoms engineer) and it was my understanding that FTTC and FTTP were essentially compatible and that upgrading from FTTC to FTTP involved fitting new equipment at the cabinet and running the new fibre line to the premises? Hence why BT talks about getting the 40Mbps Infinity service out to customers with an eye on the 100Mbps upgrade for the future. They wouldn't waste running the FTTC infrastructure if it weren't upgradable to FTTP without running new lines- surely?!?

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Posts: 297
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #56
03-06-2011 01:14 PM


I held the same view that as FTTC involved fitting new equipment at the cabinet and used the existing copper to reach the premise, then commissioning FTTP would mean running new fibre line to the premises from those same cabnets.

That was until about two weeks ago when I was shown how cable-laying engineers were pulling cable through existing pits and manholes past our premises and were then laying manifold/junctions in each pit and manhole. Your premise would then have a new fibre cable linked to the nearest manifold/junction and not all the way back to the nearest cabinet.

That still does not answer the question as to whether FTTC and FTTP services can run side-by-side.

I have heard reliably that FTTC installs in exchanges adjacent to Forest Hill have not delivered the promised 40 mbps and are running at 13-14 mbps. Perhaps an indicator once more that the choke point in performance terms is always the copper infrastructure.

I am sure we will find out whether this mix of FTTC and FTTP is possible.

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Posts: 14
Joined: May 2011
Post: #57
21-06-2011 11:34 AM

Surprise Surprise!

I just went on the BT site to check my phone number for services available (as July 1st is around the corner) and the date for Infinity to launch on our line has magically changed to the 30th of September. Looks like Virgin Media it is. Congrats BT, you've lost me as a customer before and just when you might have lured me back you've screwed the pooch yet again!

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Posts: 377
Joined: Feb 2008
Post: #58
21-06-2011 01:45 PM

That's better than my line

bt Wrote:
BT Infinity is not currently due to be rolled out in your area within the next 6 months.

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Posts: 14
Joined: May 2011
Post: #59
24-06-2011 09:43 AM

So here we go,

I looked up our exchange on SamKnows to see if the FTTC installation date was listed as september 30th there as well, and their info lists FTTC status at our exchange as "Available in some areas." Is there anyone in our area who registered their interest with BT who have received any emails from them about this?

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Posts: 297
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #60
24-06-2011 10:10 AM

This develops into a bigger can of worms from BT Openreach.

Both BT's Home Broadband and Business Broadband checkers state that there is no proposal to offer ths service in the next six months.

Sam Knows and other sources who publish the information that Openreach distributes to the industry, show that September 2011 is Openreach's new forecast date.

Openreach's senior manager in charge of the FTTP programme as been quoted as saying December 2011 will be earliest date for phases beyond the existing trials.

None of these sources has proved to be reliable and as customers looking to make informed choices, it appears tha Openreach's inadequacies are highlighed by consistent non-delivery and programme slippages.

This incompetency is best exampled by the absence of clear and consistent information shared and disseminated by all of the customer facing BT Busines Units.

It also appears to be exascerbated by their installation team's cavalier approach to the management of the so-called programme.

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