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Standard User Digfox
(newbie) Sat 08-Feb-14 13:55:10
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Slow FTTC connection (Zen Fibre Pro)


[link to this post]
 
Hi All

Have an issue with my FTTC connection which I'm trying to get to the bottom of. In short I think the speeds I'm experiencing are too slow to what I should be experiencing, and are being held back somewhere artificially.

My local exchange; Billericay (SamKnows) was one of the first exchanges to get FTTC so I signed up for the product as soon as it was available and moved onto Zen Fibre Pro in October 2010. I remember at the time that I was under the threshold for the order becuase of my distance to the exchange; around 1.15 mile (was estimating 14MB download rather then the 16MB+ it should have been). I straight away was hitting 30Mbps downloads and soon after it would fluctuate between 35-38Mbps. It always hit the 2Mbps maximum for the upload which was the maximum back then.

Apart from the BT modem developing a fault a few months later (it started making funny noises and was a pain convincing the BT engineer but the modem intermittently stopped working) the speed and product has been great.

Then coming up for 2 years ago I received an email notification that I would automatically be moving to the BT Infinity 2 (or equivalent of in May 2012 onward). Since then I've noticed that my speeds have been pretty much locked to 30Mbps download and 6.xxMbps no matter what I do. There's only one phone in the house and the router is attached to the master phone socket via about 12ft or so of data cable and my iMac and Windows PC sit next to the router so are connected by Ethernet cable. I've tried resetting the modem and router for more than 30 minutes, I tried upgrading the router from a Netgear WNR2000 (N300) to a Netgear WNDR4300 (N750) because I wanted faster Ethernet ports, connected the modem to the Windows PC via PPPOE all to no avail the speeds remain constant no matter what I do.

The speed checkers estimate that I should be achieving 35.xxMbps download and either 6Mbps for upload (or 20Mbps on the BT Wholesale checker) but to put it bluntly I don't trust them. I've seen speed checkers return wrong results before, for example, one of my family members lives next to their exchange (meters away) and should have been able to get maximum ADSL speeds but becuase the database said there current phone number could not receive broadband no ISP would serve them! It was insane and in the end Zen did take the risk, processed an order and now they enjoy maximum speeds on their line. I assume the results estimates I'm getting are influenced by the existing product.

Anyway I finally phoned Zen on Monday and was able to log a call (have a reference number) with the following summary (customer service was exemplary btw):

- Unrelated but WBC to WBMC process underway anyway on 3rd Feb, may or may not be related to speed issues.
- Reset router for more than 30mins was last done on 25th Dec.
The representative tried removing and putting in an order from the 'Radius Process' which displayed max speeds 81Mbps and upload 20Mbps (I may have caught what he said incorrectly but it was something along the lines). Apparently would result in the 20 minutes disconnect although I can't see this has happened in the router's logs at all.
- I have been testing the line speeds at different points in the day and taking screenshots of the results (whether via the modem or router). Results are always the same results as per above. I've yet to forward these on to Zen.

So my issues is that I think I'm being 'throttled' or held back in the maximum speeds I could reach. I have no evidence of this other that the complete lack of fluctuations and my own intuition.

My complete last resort option is to order an FTTC connection from a new provider (maybe one of the few LLU ones) but I'm loathed to do that given I really rate Zen and have been with them since 2007.

Help!! Anyone have any ideas and sorry for the long post.

Thank you in advance.

Edited by Digfox (Sat 08-Feb-14 17:56:21)

Standard User lexden16
(member) Sat 08-Feb-14 16:20:22
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Re: Slow FTTC connection (Zen Fibre Pro)


[re: Digfox] [link to this post]
 
The Zen policy is not to throttle their lines and after 18 months with them that would seem to be the case. I am no expert but there are a number of issues here.

Firstly, due to increased FTTC take-up in any particular cabinet, the max attainable speed will decrease due to what is known as 'crosstalk' between/across lines. In the 2 years that I have had FTTC my max attainable speed has reduced by c.10%.

Secondly, at 1.15mile distance from your cabinet you have quite a lot of old copper line for your connection to deal with. FTTC speeds reduce markedly as the length of copper line increases. The following FTTC speed estimator shows the effect of distance on speeds:

http://www.increasebroadbandspeed.co.uk/2013/chart-b...

Thirdly, you say that you were moved onto 'BT Infinity 2'. I assume that you mean a 80/20 product. If this is the case, then given your length of copper line you are unlikely to see any increase in down speed as your line is not capable of supporting a higher speed; i.e., if you are not hitting 40 on a 40/2 line then you will not get more than 40 on an 80/20 line.

My guess is that your line is as good as it gets. What is the Zen Portal showing for your Line Profile and has this fallen recently? If it has then it might be that the FTTC DLM has introduced interleaving on your line as it has detected errors (probably on the copper bit). The DLM is quick to operate and slow to correct. It is an automatic process and the ISP has no control over it whatsoever.

Finally, it is just worth checking with Zen that your line is not on the slowest of the 3 DLM profiles. What follows is a response to an earlier question on this issue from Zen on this site:

I thought I'd clarify what we discovered after this event. It is covered elsewhere in this forum, as it was the outcome of some comments here which led to us discovering an error in our provisioning on services linked to the POPs we use to provide FTTC via Openreach, without Wholesale.

Essentially during our investigations of cssuk's issue we saw the service was on "standard" which - on Wholesale - was the "best" profile for the situation. Wholesale translate "standard" to Openreach's "speed" (so the profile names match what they use for ADSL Max). When he was moved to one of our POPs the profile we ordered remained "standard" - however without Wholesale in the loop "standard" wasn't translated to "speed" anymore.

It was an oversight in our creation of services for those POPs - which I did uncover but too late to be of benefit here. As all of our systems and training expected "standard" to translate to "speed" there appeared to be no options available to us to resolve the issue without the chargeable visit; and as the line would have remained on Openreach's "standard" profile, not "speed", the outcome would have been as described.

It is something that's been addressed now - so all services are ordered on "Speed" if they're from Openreach and "Standard" from Wholesale.

Edited by lexden16 (Sat 08-Feb-14 16:24:12)

Standard User Digfox
(newbie) Sat 08-Feb-14 18:54:50
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Re: Slow FTTC connection (Zen Fibre Pro)


[re: lexden16] [link to this post]
 
Thank you for the response, in reply:

1. Throttled was a bad choice of words by me. I'm trying to say it feels like I'm being restricted or limited, rather than naturally hitting the limits of my connection. The timing of the speed change is too coincidental for my liking. I found the details on the Zen email from 24/04/12:

Dear Customer

We recently wrote to you to tell you about some improvements we were making to the upstream speeds on your Fibre Pro service. Since that time we are pleased to announce that we are also scheduling some further improvements to your service so that you can also benefit from faster downstream speeds and even faster upstream speeds.

Your current downstream speed: "up to 40Mbps"
Your current upstream speed: "up to 10Mbps"

Your new downstream speed: "up to 76Mbps"
Your new upstream speed: "up to 19Mbps"

Please note that actual broadband speeds are affected by line length, quality and peak Internet usage periods. Please use our availability checker* to see an estimate on the speed your line can support. Further details on factors affecting broadband speeds are available in our understanding broadband speeds guide**.

When will the improvement take place?
You donít need to do anything to benefit from these faster speeds. The increase will automatically take place from Wednesday, 09 May 2012 and will be completed by Thursday, 10 May 2012.

2. My Street Cabinet is about... EDIT: scratch that it's one of a number but not 100% sure which one it is. Either way it's the distance to the exchange that I listed earlier.

3. The line is very stable and the last line rate data in the portal is from Sept 2013 (I had a fault on the line which resulted in loss of voice and data). BT Engineer came out and fixed a few days later. Last data is: Upsteam: 6678, Downstream, 31360, Sync Rate: 32399, Interleave: Auto, Sync Date: 19-Sep-2013 03:42. Previous to that not many entries in the portal the oldest entry being July 2012. Prior to the September incident all sync rates were 38,XXX to 39,XXX. Appreciate more people are on FTTC but this is more like a 15-20% drop.

In my ignorance I assumed that if I was nearly maxing a 40Mbps FTTC connection then the minute that I was moved to an 80Mbps connection my speed should have jumped upwards, not dropped? It feels like I never moved off the 40Mbps service.

I'll raise the question about my DLM profile with Zen support when I speak with them again on the ticket. Annoyingly I in the office (i.e. long days) for 4 out of 5 days over the next two weeks. The other question was what is this 'Redial' process is and why my connection never did cutoff for 20-30 minutes.

Edited by Digfox (Sat 08-Feb-14 20:30:54)


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Standard User Geordish
(newbie) Sun 09-Feb-14 11:39:38
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Re: Slow FTTC connection (Zen Fibre Pro)


[re: Digfox] [link to this post]
 
To try and answer your question about this 'RADIUS process' you have been informed of.

RADIUS is an authentication,authorization and accounting protocol that is used for network authentication (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RADIUS)

When your router sends its credentials to your ISP for authentication, the gateway you connect to sends a RADIUS authentication request to a RADIUS server. If your credentials are correct, the RADIUS server will reply with details about your connection, such as your IP address and a rate limit to apply to your connection.

The rate limits that get applied are not a bad thing. They are applied to your connection in line with the product you are on. For instance if you are on an 'up to 76 meg' product, you will get an 80 meg profile applied - the theoretical maximum for the product. The reason for this is to stop some evil person flooding your line with more data than what it could ever be capable of receiving. ISP's don't want to send over a gig of traffic towards a subscriber, as not only could you not receive it, it would affect other subscribers too.

Now its important to understand that this RADIUS profile is in no way associated with the actual sync speed you obtain. Indeed your line actually sync's before any kind of authentication takes place, and therefore before any kind of profile is associated with your connection. Your sync is between the DSLAM in the exchange or street, and the rate limit applied by RADIUS is at the gateway.

It is possible if your line had a regrade from 40 to 80 meg, then if something with the business systems went wrong, you could be left with the old 40 meg rate limit, and have your speeds artificially limited to your old speed. This would present itself as having an 80 Meg sync, but only being able to achieve 40 Meg throughput. What I would imagine this 'RADIUS process' is, would be for a tech support agent to delete your profile. and recreate it, thus resolving this fault.

Now if my assumptions are correct about what this process actually is, there are various reasons why what you have been told is incorrect, and why this will not actually resolve your problem.

1) Deleting your RADIUS account off of the server would not cause your connection to drop. Once you are authenticated and connected, the RADIUS server has no involvement in your connection. The entire server can vanish, and you will remain connected. You certainly would not experience a 20 minute disconnection.

2) You seem to imply that your sync speed is the issue. You have not mentioned that the speeds you are receiving in relation to your sync speed are at fault. This means you are not having an issue with the RADIUS rate limit. Your problem lies between the DSLAM and your modem.


lexden16 has mentioned the issue that was experienced when Zen started to move customers from BTWS to a connection via BT Openreach. I also don't think this is the problem you are experiencing because:

1) This issue was with latency only. This would not affect your throughput.

2) Zen have only gone to 200 exchanges so far. I can't imagine Billericay to have enough customers for it to make it worth their while.


You have mentioned that since you were achieving close to 40Meg sync that when your product was regraded you would expect to see over 40Meg. Unfortunately I think this is incorrect. The only people who would see a speed increase would be people who are seeing a constant solid 40Meg. Your line was close, but not quite able to reach it.

Now my knowledge of how the last mile technology actually works is pretty thin these days, so I'm unable to give you too many pointers about what the problem actually is. My guess (but I am probably completely wrong here) is that when the DSLAM profile was changed from 40 to 80 meg, it is now trying to get you to sync at something your modem is not capable of. This is similar to experiences of some people on ADSL Max having a better sync speed than when they change to ADSL 2+.

You might try getting Zen to put you back on the old 40/20 profile which may put you back where you were. This may put you into another 12 month contract however.

To be perfectly honest, what has probably happened is your line has just physically degraded. Because your sync speed is still actually pretty good its going to be hard to get BT to accept there is any kind of fault there and look into it.
Standard User Digfox
(newbie) Sun 09-Feb-14 13:25:15
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Re: Slow FTTC connection (Zen Fibre Pro)


[re: Geordish] [link to this post]
 
It's good to know I caught the word RADIUS correctly! Had to ask a couple of times as to what this was. Also interesting that it might have been the wrong thing to be looking at as you've mentioned.

So far I've not been able to track down the cabinet yet but there are a couple about 300-400 metres (going by street distance, not straight line) but they only look like PCP cabinets from this link; http://www.robertos.me.uk/html/street_cabinets_etc.html, although my search is I presume hampered because Google Maps street view data is from February 2010 in this area (i.e. pre-FTTC roll-out by BT). So all I know at the moment with any degree of accuracy is the distance to the exchange. I've also found this site to try and pinpoint the specific cabinet http://fttc-check.alc.im/.

In addition in the meantime I've also found this site: https://www.btwholesale.com/includes/adsl/main.html, which while I appreciate might not be the correct BT checker to use, lists the following estimates for my phone which are different results from the Zen (35Mbps) and BT Wholesale (31Mbps) estimates:

FTTC Range A (Clean) - Downstream Line Rate: High 50.3 - Low 35.8 | Upstream Line Rate: High 10.4 - Low 7
FTTC Range B (Impacted) - Downstream Line Rate: High 43.6 - Low 21.8 | Upstream Line Rate: High 10.4 - Low 6

More interesting though is this site above confirms my cabinet number.

So immediate thoughts to rule out whether I am truly getting the maximum speed this line offers are:

1. DLM profile is slower than it should be, as mentioned.
2. The modem - I'm never thought this might be the case but for information it's a Huawei EchoLife HG612 (http://i43.tinypic.com/2qdv2wx.jpg). There is no '3B' or large numbering in the top right hard side of the sticker like this example picture. Suggest to me it's one of the first revisions? Ignorant question time - but is it worth trying to get hold of a new modem to rule this out?

One thing I have noticed is Google images of the modem is that a lot of people have the modem next to the master socket and then wired in Ethernet cable to the router. Let me try this to rule out some newbie mistake on wiring.

With regards to the final suggestions I'm certainly not entering any contract just for this issue, becuase I want to have the 'nuclear' option of switching ISP if this cannot be resolved.

The other side of the coin is that if this is truly the maximum speed I am going to get then I may look to reduce costs but I am far from convinced this is the maximum speed on this line or product. The interesting point is that it was so long ago I have no evidence but can remember Steam downloads hitting 4,400Kbps downloads but that equally speed tests would fluctuate mildly giving 36 -38Mbps depending on the time of the day - so I was maxing the line at some points on the 40/10 (again at the time it was 2Mbps upload from Zen) product.

Thank you again for the help so far on this, much appreciated.

Edited by Digfox (Sun 09-Feb-14 13:52:55)

ISP Representative SkyFire
(isp) Mon 10-Feb-14 10:29:27
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Re: Slow FTTC connection (Zen Fibre Pro)


[re: Digfox] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by Digfox:
In addition in the meantime I've also found this site: https://www.btwholesale.com/includes/adsl/main.html, which while I appreciate might not be the correct BT checker to use, lists the following estimates for my phone which are different results from the Zen (35Mbps) and BT Wholesale (31Mbps) estimates:

FTTC Range A (Clean) - Downstream Line Rate: High 50.3 - Low 35.8 | Upstream Line Rate: High 10.4 - Low 7
FTTC Range B (Impacted) - Downstream Line Rate: High 43.6 - Low 21.8 | Upstream Line Rate: High 10.4 - Low 6


Both estimates are within/close to the ranges above. Our and BT's estimates come from the same source - but give information more specific to the line. The checker you've used is giving broad ranges for lines - it isn't saying you'll get the "High" result. It is almost inevitable that over time - as crosstalk becomes an issue - people will see some drop from the speeds they received initially. Given the small drop we're discussing here that seems a feasible explanation. That said, you mention a long data cable - it's definitely worth reducing that length to see if you get a small improvement - it may take a while for that to translate in to a change in performance though, so monitor for a couple of weeks after making the change.

Can you PM me your Zen username so I can look at your account?

In reply to a post by Digfox:
So immediate thoughts to rule out whether I am truly getting the maximum speed this line offers are:

1. DLM profile is slower than it should be, as mentioned.
2. The modem - I'm never thought this might be the case but for information it's a Huawei EchoLife HG612 (http://i43.tinypic.com/2qdv2wx.jpg). There is no '3B' or large numbering in the top right hard side of the sticker like this example picture. Suggest to me it's one of the first revisions? Ignorant question time - but is it worth trying to get hold of a new modem to rule this out?


For the line rate estimates of 35 or 31 Meg it sounds like 30 Meg is about right for an observed download speed (download should be around 88% of the line rate achieved).

In reply to a post by Digfox:
The other side of the coin is that if this is truly the maximum speed I am going to get then I may look to reduce costs but I am far from convinced this is the maximum speed on this line or product. The interesting point is that it was so long ago I have no evidence but can remember Steam downloads hitting 4,400Kbps downloads but that equally speed tests would fluctuate mildly giving 36 -38Mbps depending on the time of the day - so I was maxing the line at some points on the 40/10 (again at the time it was 2Mbps upload from Zen) product.


If you're outside your original 12 month contract then a switch to Zen Unlimited 1 might suit you - as that has a 40 down / 10 up maximum and is less than the Fibre Pro service.

regards,
Phil.

--
Phil Long
ZeN Performance and Process Improvement Manager
The above post has been made by an ISP REPRESENTATIVE (although not necessarily the ISP being discussed in the post).
Standard User Digfox
(newbie) Mon 10-Feb-14 23:20:41
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Re: Slow FTTC connection (Zen Fibre Pro)


[re: SkyFire] [link to this post]
 
Hi Phil

Thank you for the reply, will PM the reference number very shortly and my details. Some further information and responses:

1. I've confirmed the street cabinet and can confirm it is within less than 100 meters (as the crow flies) of the house, and Google Maps states the distance to be 0.2 miles or 312 metres if you follow the street around from the house to the cabinet. There are two cabinets together (one a newer FTTC 'OpenReach' branded green box, and the other an older PCP box). One includes the number my cabinet is said to be on the second BT link and fttc-check link above. Based on the responses so far this suggests I should be seeing dramatically faster speeds than I am getting now?

2. The BT and Zen speed estimates are showing with 4Mbps of each other as noted although the BT wholesale estimate for my upload states 20Mbps, not 6Mbps as per the Zen site. I've seen dodgy speed estimates before and so I know these 'could' be conservative, incorrect and I assume influenced by the current line data (warts and all).

3. I still have some unanswered questions about this; 'why' am I on the lower end of the BT FTTC Range B scales and NOT the high end even if this is accurate?

4. Has my DLM been set to some slow rate here? Mindful of this comment - is this something ZEN are powerless to look at?

The DLM is quick to operate and slow to correct. It is an automatic process and the ISP has no control over it whatsoever.


5. Am I definately on a 80/20 product and not still on a 40/10 product? When the regrade was carried out from May 2012 was it done so correctly? Can this process have had an adverse effect somewhere?

6. Anything I can do to investigate the quality of the copper part of the phone line? Is ordering a new phone line an option?

One thing I haven't done is move the modem to the socket and will do that following this reply. Will leave the box next to the master socket for a while and report back.

LATE EDIT: 12.04am Just switched off the modem and then relocated directly to the Master Socket on a shorter cable. No difference so far, but will leave for a few days in this state.

Edited by Digfox (Tue 11-Feb-14 00:05:19)

Standard User lexden16
(member) Tue 11-Feb-14 10:29:48
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Re: Slow FTTC connection (Zen Fibre Pro)


[re: Digfox] [link to this post]
 
Re your para 4. Don't confuse the profile that your line is on with the automatic systems in the cabinet. My earlier point is that Zen can ask for one of three speed profiles for your line. The default position is Speed over Stability. Dynamic Line Management (DLM) is an automatic system which put simply constantly monitors line conditions. If it detects line instability caused possibly by interference or customer re-booting the modem too often, it will automatically move the line onto a more stable profile by increasing SNR and/or imposing interleaving. The ISP has no buttons to push or levers to pull to control this.

Last year, I was away from home when a thunderstorm struck. I came home to find from my router log that the DLM had placed Impulse Noise Protection on my line/interleaving and my speed had fallen by 10Mbps. Fastpath was restored a couple of weeks later.

You can ask the ISP to arrange for an engineer to check and re-set the DLM to Fastpath. My understanding is that this will be at cost to you and it is possible that if the source of interference is still present that the DLM will just do its thing the moment the engineer walks away from the cabinet.

Edited by lexden16 (Tue 11-Feb-14 12:08:17)

Standard User Digfox
(newbie) Wed 12-Feb-14 00:06:19
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Re: Slow FTTC connection (Zen Fibre Pro)


[re: lexden16] [link to this post]
 
Understood. When I rang on Monday, 3rd the call handler/support chap confirmed that the Modem had not been reset since Xmas day (which is true). I generally don't touch the router or have a need to reboot ever, so it's always on.

The line itself is super stable so I wouldn't be surprised if I'm on the slowest DLM or as you say something else is causing this. As mentioned no matter what time or the day or how I run the speedtext the line result are always identical. This includes the modem being sat next to the master socket - so far 24hrs on it's not affected anything (which is good because it rules out anything wrong with my home wiring).

I'll call Zen on Friday to push the ticket along and make sure they're aware of some of the info in this thread, as well as the updates and pushing to get confirmation of the product I'm on, more information about this regrade, and see if there's anything else causing this (errors on the line etc.).

Also I don't mind paying for a engineer visit if I know we begin to get to the bottom of this. However if he'll just come out and then refuse to deal with the FTTC connection because I'm not with BT, well that's pointless.
Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Wed 12-Feb-14 10:03:54
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Re: Slow FTTC connection (Zen Fibre Pro)


[re: Digfox] [link to this post]
 
Lots of words but believe no-one has covered this:

The upgrade from 40/10 to 80/20 would not double speeds. The only people it might of done this for would some of those getting 40/10 at the time of the upgrade.

That upgrade was the removal of an artificial speed cap, and anyone getting a connection speed under 40/10 should have seen no change.

There was a hint you are using the modem at the end of an extension, going back to the master socket is a good test, but the DLM may have capped you already (DLM controlled by Openreach).

The Openreach engineer will not care which provider you are with, they deal with them all equally. They are more used to the BT Home Hub simply because they've seen millions of them.

My advice get an unlocked HG612 and investigate the line stats and then we can figure out if the line is slower that expected, or just going the wrong LONG way to the cabinet (which does happen).

Andrew Ferguson, andrew@thinkbroadband.com
www.thinkbroadband.com - formerly known as ADSLguide.org.uk
The author of the above post is a thinkbroadband staff member. It may not constitute an official statement on behalf of thinkbroadband.
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