Broadband download speed problems

  Pineman100 19:23 07 Aug 07

I run XP SP2 Home. I connect to the internet via a Belkin wireless router/BB modem, with a Belkin USB wireless adapter in my computer. I have filters on all phone sockets.

I'm about 3 km from the telephone exchange.

My broadband account with Tiscali is nominally "up to 2Mb". But I've never really felt satisfied that I'm getting anywhere near this. So a few months ago I installed Dan Elwell's Broadband Speed Test software (as recommended by someone on this forum) click here.

I've run a number of tests at random times of the day/week/month, and I have consistently achieved very poor results on the "Download speeds from UK servers" test. In addition my "Upload speed to UK servers" is not great. Ping tests to various parts of the world seem generally OK.

Over a series of 6 tests, my downstream averages about 600Kb/sec (optimum would be 2000Kb/sec) and my upstream around 180Kb/sec (optimum would be 256Kb/sec).

I've reported this to Tiscali. I won't bore you with the frustrations I have suffered trying to get their Technical Support Helpline (guess where?) to understand my complaint, but having discussed it in precise detail with a chap yesterday - who said he would report it to BT, I had a message from Tiscali on my machine today telling me that "your broadband line is working again and you can reconnect your modem". Grrrrrr!

My first question (at last!) is this. Should I expect better upstream and downstream speeds than those above?

Second question. If I get really fed up with Tiscali, can anyone recommend an ISP who will give me reliably better speeds at around the same price (£15/month), either without limit or with a generous limit?

Many thanks, and sorry if I've rambled on!

  Graham. 19:44 07 Aug 07

So your connection is wireless? There will be some loss in the wireless connection. Can you try using a wired connection?

To offer an improvement, you would have to move to an ISP such as Sky, who have their own equipment in the exchange (unbundled):

click here

  Pineman100 19:53 07 Aug 07

Sky isn't available here yet. Do you have any idea whether I can find out when it will be?

I'm surprised that a wireless connection could be slowing me down. I was told it was a fast way to connect.

  cocteau48 20:01 07 Aug 07

Most crucial factor is probably that you are 3Km from the exchange.
I am 2Km as the crow flies so probably at least 3Km as the line is routed. I am supposed to be on up to 8 Meg with TalkTalk but was warned by them that about 3.5 Meg would be my optimum due to the distance from the exchange. Got 6Meg intially after unbundling which proved to be highly unstable and it has now settled down to a very stable 3.5 Meg. (Note:less than half of what my "up to" figure could have been)

I also use both DSL Zone
click here
and Thinkbroadband
click here
as speed testers and both come up with remarkably similar results.

  Stuartli 20:21 07 Aug 07

Tiscali have its own LLU equipment in many exchanges now (654).

You can check at:

click here

  Stuartli 20:25 07 Aug 07

Interestingly, that 654 figure is about half of the much maligned (at times) Carphone Warehouse/TalkTalk's LLU equipped exchanges...:-)

  Dipso 21:34 07 Aug 07

In answer to your first question, yes, you should definitely be seeing better than 600k from a 2 Meg connection.

Second question, "can anyone recommend an ISP who will give me reliably better speeds at around the same price (£15/month), either without limit or with a generous limit?" Unfortunately, reliable ISP's with an unlimited or generous allowance tend to come at a price higher than £15. For that you would be looking at more like £20 a month, but you would could get good UK based support and a 1 month contract e.g. click here or click here

As Graham says you are unlikely to get the best speed from your connection over wireless, if at all possible connect to the router by cable and see what if any difference that makes.

I wouldn't say that unbundled (LLU) operators necessarily offer a better service than those who provide services using BT's equipment. All ISP's are subject to contention and capacity issues in the same way. It pays to do your homework before you consider migrating click here

  Pineman100 10:18 09 Aug 07

... for your very helpful comments.

It looks like I've got to do some thinking about this. The inefficient way that Tiscali handled my recent Technical Support question on this topic has probably got me annoyed with them, but I don't want to jump ship if I'm simply going to be paying more for a not-much-better service.

But it's interesting to note that on the DSLZone ratings chart, Tiscali comes third bottom of the ladder.

Does anyone have any further thoughts about how significant my geographical location is, in all this? I'm in a rural area, some 3km from the exchange (which - so far as I can see - has no unbundled equipment in it). Should I just stop moaning and put up with the speeds I'm getting? Would you?

  wee eddie 10:34 09 Aug 07

at the same time as you have taken your readings.

Try 04.00 on a Sunday Morning or Monday morning.

Your distance from the Exchange and the condition of the cables, between, will dictate the best possible speed that you can achieve.

However the more people that there are on-line (The Contention Ration of your ISP) will vary this Base Rate. Also the number of people trying to access the same Site as you is also relevant.

  Dipso 14:18 09 Aug 07

If you are with a good ISP with plenty of capacity you shouldn't notice a decrease in speed even at peak times. If you test the connection in the small hours and don't get the full 2 Meg then, it's definitely time to leave.

Distance from the exchange and condition of cables isn't such an issue with fixed services as it is with "up to 8 Meg". You should pretty much see the speed you are paying for or it's likely to be the ISP at fault. BT have a criteria that states if your attenuation/loop loss on your line is over a certain limit, used to be over 42db, you wouldn't be able to get the 2 Meg service at all so the fact that you have 2 Meg indicates your line to the exchange is fairly short and theres no reason why you should see the full speed.

You are only on a 2 Meg fixed service, many ISP's are now offering "up to 8 Meg" for no extra charge. You would certainly get a lot better speeds than you are getting now if you migrated and upgraded. You mention the DSL Zone ratings, IMO they are pretty reliable and any of the top 10 are worth checking out.

  Dipso 14:05 10 Aug 07

Exchanges do not limit the speed of your connection, the length and quality of your phone line does.

If you put your details into one of the availability checkers it will tell you what fixed services are available to you i.e. 512K, 1 Meg or 2 Meg and whether your exchange has been enabled for ADSL Max "up to 8 Meg". It will then say what approximate speed they estimate your line will achieve on ADSL Max, this differs from line to line not from exchange to exchange.

Roughly speaking, if your exchange is ADSL Max enabled someone living next door to the exchange would likely get 8 Meg and this would decrease the further away from the exchange you were.

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