Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Escaping from Broadband Hell

I'm back - many apologies for the enforced absence.

I blithely assumed that modern technology would keep me connected and working through my house move. Ah, sweet innocence.

Between houses we spent a week in a holiday cottage, but I wasn't worried, as it was advertised as having WiFi. Despite sterling efforts from the cottage's owner, I could only get a signal while sitting in the car park... and never managed to get past login security. No matter, I also had a Mobile Broadband dongle giving internet access over the mobile phone network. But there wasn't a signal at the cottage. I could get one by driving a few miles, and could (painfully slowly) pick up my email, but replying was a nightmare because the mobile folk didn't provide an outgoing mail server and my ISP wouldn't allow me into their server from the mobile link.

Still, it was only for a week. Hah.

Once established in the new chateau Clegg, I was still having trouble with the mobile dongle. It didn't get a strong enough signal in my ground floor office, so couldn't plug it into my main PC and had to run upstairs to use it on a laptop. But at least, a week later, I had a landline. So it was straight onto the ISP to get broadband back.

'Ah,' they said. 'It can take up to 10 days to set up. Oh, and by the way, we've done a line test and we can only offer you a 200K service - around 10 times slower than typical broadband.'

I felt sick. Literally sick. Rapid call to BT. 'Oh we were only asked for a phone line. If we'd been asked for broadband too, we could have made some checks.' After all, not many people want broadband, do they?

So I agree to have a BT business line with broadband put in. They can't promise anything, but will make every effort to get a better connection. It'll take a week to get the line and they'll put in the broadband at the same time. Two hours later I get a call. 'Sorry, this has never happened to me before, but I've had an amber warning. We can't put the broadband in at the same time, we'll need to do a survey after the line is installed. It could take up to 10 more days.'

So the stomach drops again. It's going to be just as bad as the other line.

I won't bore you with the little trials and tribulations along the way (like the way they somehow sent the broadband information to the wrong address, luckily picked up by a savvy postman) - it was installed and, despite the fears, is working at a good speed. Normal life is being resumed. But it really brings home just how dependent on this technology I now am.


  1. Ah, I wondered where you'd 'gone'!

    It's actually one of my fears - the loss of good speed ... we're looking at country properties, but I keep thinking 'but what kind of broadband speed will we be able to get!'

  2. Ah, Brian - good to have you back. I feel your pain, I really do. Reading your post brought back the experience of moving from London to Cromer (now almost three years ago) with a horrible gut-churning intensity. These days one should like to assume that broadband access is a given, rather like access to electricity, gas and water. The real world, unfortunately, has yet to catch up. In London one can have fancy schmancy optical cable. In many other places it's old-fashioned copper; but once one gets into the sticks it's small pieces of damp bailer twine loosely knotted together.

  3. I definitely think broadband speed should be on the house details.

    The bizarre thing is we're less than a mile from the exchange, so our home line with the stupidly slow speed is either routed via Cromer or was a faulty line.

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