Our business has had a stable (not BT Retail) ADSL connection since April 2006 using a Netgear DG834G V2 router connecting at the maximum ADSLMAX speed of 448/8128. Our ISP gave us a static IP address included in the price, ideal for remote managment of the router and the machines, and a small monthly allowance quite sufficient for the email, software updates and occassional file transfer that we carry out and all at a cost that would please the low volume user anywhere. We have had just one noticeable period of service outage in six and a half years, so why move?
Time came to renew our telephone contract with BT. BT offered us reduced telephone charges (two business lines) provided we took Broadband also. The bundle included monthly telephone minutes and would save a couple of hundred pounds a year, even allowing for the additional charges for a static IP address. It seemed a "no-brainer".
All the first hurdles were completed easily. The MAC code came by email within a few hours. A transfer date was arranged for Monday 1st October. The old line dropped out just after midnight and when I reconfigured the router it came back in on the new BT service with over 1Mbps upstream and over 9Mbps downstream, a significant speed improvement. The SNR was about 4dB, a little low for stability I thought, but it was stable, for just four days.
The daily router log showed a stable connection with only a couple of reconnects up to end of business on Thursday. The daily router report email on Friday morning showed that from 17:04 Thursday, the line had been reconnecting three to nine times an hour. One's immediate reaction is "That's part of the training process and it wil sort itself out in a few hours, but why can't they leave well enough alone!"
On Friday, staff found the internet unusable. I attempted to connect remotely to manage the router. Nothing. The ordered "static" IP address had changed.
I used the online chat Fault Reporting System and was told that the address was dynamic and that I needed to go into the control panel and order a static address (where I was told it was £5 a month extra). I pointed out I had ordered a Static address and did not expect to configure it myself. I was also told that the 10 day training period was unavoidable and that "slow and high speeds" were part of the process. [Strange, our previous supplier never had trouble adjusting Exchange parameters to keep a marginal line stable].
With the now static IP, when I did connect remotely to the router it showed that the upstream speed had dropped to around 828kbps and the downstream had increased to 11725kbps. The connection was unstable and unusable. The SNR had dropped to 1.4dB.
I had hoped the BT Algorithm would sort itself out within the 72 hours available to opening of business on Monday. It hadn't; the router continued to drop the connection and re login several times an hour and was still doing so Tuesday morning.
So this morning, I drove the 19 miles to the business with a newer ADSL2+ V4 DG834G Netgear with V5 software. The same device runs successfully at over 15Mbps on another customer's premises.
I substitued the new for the old router. The new one connected successfully at a speed of 804kbps upstream and at over 12Mbps downstream, even faster!. I thought we were there. We are not. From within the business, no web site is usable and the packet loss rate is ridiculous. (About one in four 32byte pings to the bbc website gets a response. Nameserver responses are so unreliable you are likely to get "hostname not found" errors). I now can't get any successful remote connection to the management port of the router.
With 12 years of ADSL experience under their belts I had not expected the business to be destroyed by BT. No email for three business days so far and no-one within BT who is able to do anything about it apparently.
At this rate we will quickly absorb any potential saving from the move. Sometimes you wish you had left well enough alone for relatively marginal savings of a couple of hundred quid.