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Broadband Update

Yes, well, apparently it’s not an instantaneous bump up in speed as I’d hoped it would be. Yesterday (3 days after my official regrade date) the only difference I saw was a 15kB improvement uploading and 3 or 4kB downloading. At first I thought it was my router. I’d decided not to go with buying one from BT whilst ordering the regrade since I’d only recently bought my Netgear DG834G.

My wireless router happily reported that I have a Downstream Connection Speed of 8128 kbps and an Upstream Connection Speed of 448 kbps, but this doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll get 8Mb downloads. What actually happens is that they do a regrade, which mostly likely consists of a monkey flicking a switch from 2Mb to 8Mb. Then over the next 10 days they run a series of tests that tweak various settings to try and get the maximum possible speed my phone line can handle without setting on fire and burning down telegraph poles.

Given the crusty old technology involved (which I’m starting to understand, thanks to Computer Comms at college) this varies depending on how far you are from the exchange and whether or not your phone line is made of string. The thing is, BT are a bit vague are the details of this.

Yes, I’ll give them credit that they do tell you this in a round about way, but only on the day of the regrade, not in advance. I suspect that if they did, not as many people would regrade. Effectively you’re looking at so many weeks til regrade plus 10 days. Anyhoo, a marketing speak floaty light description of this wasn’t really good enough, and on my travels I found this scarily technical article that does tell you what the heck BT is doing.

Of course I didn’t know this at the time (bah, who reads emails!) so started tweaking my poor router. In fact I spent fecking ages trying various versions of firmware thinking it was that. But it wasn’t a total waste of time because I was able to upgrade the last “stable” firmware, v3.01.25, with the latest beta version, v3.01.31 (funny that I have to use an obscure Australian messageboard to find firmware updates) which has been great. It no longer goes tits up and require the power yanking out the back of it when you tweak the odd setting.

In my stupidity I even went to the trouble of browsing the wonderful BT Broadband help site and downloading the BT Broadband Desktop Help software, but I think by virtue of the fact that I…

  1. managed to open a web browser,
  2. load up BT’s site and
  3. download the software…

…showed that I was way beyond it being any use to me! It’s a horrible little program that seems to think it’s important enough to be running all the time in the background checking your connection! Yuck.

Whilst fettling I kept hammering the Speakeasy speed test (for Washington DC) looking for the slightest change. Not a sausage. Until a couple of hours ago! My best initial speed test came in at:

  • Download Speed: 1853 kbps (231.6 KB/sec transfer rate)
  • Upload Speed: 367 kbps (45.9 KB/sec transfer rate)

Now it comes in at:

  • Download Speed: 4900 kbps (612.5 KB/sec transfer rate)
  • Upload Speed: 369 kbps (46.1 KB/sec transfer rate)

OK, so I’m not exactly rivalling the 1Gb you can get in Hong Kong, but it’s a nice speed jump. Hopefully over the next few days it’ll just inch up a bit more. The moral of the story here is, don’t go tweaking a damn thing!

Pauked.com » Broadband Update 2 said,

July 8, 2006 @ 12:59 am

[…] It’s gone up slightly since last Friday and now seems to match what I was quoted as my max speed when I ordered, at 5.5Mb. And that’s it really. From what I understand there isn’t anything more that can be done due to my distance from the Exchange. Can’t grumble at 600kb a second downloads though! […]

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