Diary of an FTTC Install
The information and pictures on this page are not to be copied or used elsewhere without permission.
This is a work in progress, please keep checking back every few days (if you are interested) for updates!
Here is my attempt at recording the install and delivery of FTTC from inception to end user use.
In March 2010 BT announced a list of exchanges 'to be enabled between Autumn 2010 and Summer 2011.'
The date currently noted by BT in the wholesale checker was December 2010, this quickly slipped along with a lot of other exchanges to March 2011.
This then slipped to July 2011.
As of the end of June, the date then slipped, for most cabinets, to 30th September 2011!
However on the 4th of July the date for my cabinet had jumped forward again to the 6th of July. One cabinet in the village, further down the road (after the blocked ducts) still has an enablement date of 30th September.
At midnight on the 6th of July I placed an order for BT FTTC on a brand new line to be installed (No way am I giving up BE yet, I don't trust BT Wholesale equipment with its BRAS profiles, DLM etc.. nor do I trust BT Internet Retail traffic management to not mess with important things). It will also be very good to have BE as a comparison.
22nd Feb 2011
BT turned up with large vans and large rolls of blown fibre marked "BT" on the fibre tubing. They pulled this through from one end of the village to the other, the guys were not from around here but had also helped in the local Godalming rollout about a year earlier. They were friendly, chatty and were happy for me to take photos. They also tell me that further down the road (away from the exchange and my house! luckily) they have collapsed ducts and more work will be required. Sometime in the coming months large scale dig works happened along the road to repair the ducts.
17th of March 2011
A small green cabinet appears in the middle of a grassy patch at the end of the road, near some older normal "PCP" distribution cabinets. Strange place to put it and I am amazed no local residents complained. This work was done so quickly, probably in less than 3 hours and there was little disturbance to the grass around the new cabinet. It was also the first time I had seen one of the smaller FTTC cabinets!
29th of April 2011
12th May 2011
BT Engineers start appearing. I believe around this stage they were punching the 100-pair lines into the Krohn connectors in the cabinet and installing the fibre. On the same day they also entirely replaced one of the green distribution cabinets, literally lifted off the old one leaving all the phone wiring exposed and plonked the new one over the top!
17th May 2011
BT Contractors (who were _not_ happy about photos being taken) work on the DSLAM / MSAN equipment in the cabinet. I have a quick chat, they did not respond much other than saying they were not BT but BT's chosen contractors for whatever they were doing.
26th May 2011
29th June 2011
BT are back again splicing (the short run from the cabinet to the long run from the exchange?) Shortly after (30th?) the BT Wholesale database updates to show that users can order 7 days after this work occurred (6th July)!
6th July 2011
Shortly after midnight I place an order for BT Infinity and am given an install date of 3 weeks away, the 27th of July. BT E-mail me the password I chose in plain text! (clearly being stored their end in plain text!)
12th July 2011
I am left a phone voicemail message from BT Retail saying that their suppliers (BT Wholesale) have a slight issue with the order, they are unsure if I really have requested a new line or if I want to move an existing line. They (in a shocker of BT giving detailed information!) say that every house in our post code (7 houses) seems to have its phone line registered at our address (?) which has added to the confusion. They give me an 01382 number which doesn't appear in google to call them back on, if I don't then the order will go ahead as planned (a new provide of a line).
22nd July 2011
I just went and looked in the junction box at the side of the house and find a bit of paper with two wires (a pair) wrapped around it with the provisional number written on it and the date of 11th July 2011! Looks like shortly after ordering and before activation a BT engineer has been past to earmark a pair in the junction box! At this time the telephone number written on the paper and given to me as a provisional number by BT does not appear in the BT Wholesale database.
25th July 2011
BT junk was delivered earlier today! The box marked "Engineer Install" to the bottom of the picture said "Keep this safe and give it to the engineer when he comes to install the service". It only contained two ethernet leads! :D
27th July 2011
BT engineer visits at 9am (slot is 8am to 1pm) and installs a brand new phone line and socket. He is friendly and chatty but is confused why he only has a PSTN line install and not a fibre install as well. He checks the booking with someone on the phone and confirms that he is to just do the PSTN. We are both baffled but that is the job order and he cannot deviate from it, I accept this fact.
Stack of sockets (two bonding, the lower two, and one new line at the top):
He has since left and I have called BT to confirm that two different engineers are due to visit and the guy on the end of the phone confirms that two engineers will visit. The first engineer to install the line (which shows as complete on their system) and another to do the broadband. Weird. I await second engineer.
1:09pm - Who would have thought, no engineer turned up. I am on my second phone call to BT now and the excuse is "the two engineers were booked at the same time and they cannot be". Which is funny as their website was the thing that did and and didn't give me the choice of two different engineer dates.
1.25pm - The lady on the end of the phone says that the problem is indeed down to their website automatically selecting the same date and time for the PSTN and Fibre install and there is nothing they can do at the moment. I am advised that they will re-book the Fibre engineer appointment within 24 hours and to call back if I have not heard from them.
28th July 2011
Woken up at around 5 minutes past 8 in the morning by a BT engineer calling saying that he will be here in 45 minutes. I say I wasn't aware of an appointment but I the sooner the better!
They rang me on the number of the newly provisioned line and not the contact number for the order, it is lucky I had a phone plugged in to receive the call! At this stage my number still doesn't appear in the BT Wholesale database.
8.44am - The engineer calls again at the cabinet and is unable to find my pair, he informs me he will visit in the next 5 minutes to put his isolator on the line. By now my number appears in the BT Wholesale database.
8.49am - Great start, the guy comes into the house with dog mess on his shoe :( Nice trail from door to master socket.
9.42am - The engineer has been away to the cabinet and come back but is failing to obtain sync on the line but is getting dialtone (he wonders if he mixed up Exchange side and Distribution side). He has gone off to the cabinet again leaving flashy looking stuff on the table by the socket in our house.
10.30am - All done, the E and D side were mixed up and not labelled in the distribution cabinet, he has corrected it!
speedtest.net's ping test is pretty bad.. here are some real results:
Ping statistics for 184.108.40.206: Packets: Sent = 1912, Received = 1912, Lost = 0 (0% loss), Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds: Minimum = 9ms, Maximum = 36ms, Average = 9ms
28th July 2011
4pm: Shame about the torrent speeds. Here is a competition / test between the home connection and my server both with the same uTorrent settings.
Both the screenshots show two uTorrents. The top one is my server (to show the torrent is healthy) and the bottom one is my local machine or virtual machine on my BT Infinity service).
Hide the torrent in a VPN and then download, a world of difference:
You can see where my line changed to FTTC shortly after mid day:
29th July 2011
BT text message me and then e-mail (again!) my password in plaintext. "Nice" touch, shows they are storing the password unencrypted their end.
30th July 2011
Thoughts so far: Pretty good really, as far as I can tell the connection and sync have been rock solid since installation. For the record I immediately replaced the BT Home Hub with a DD-WRT based Buffalo ethernet router! I have yet to come across anything "important" that is traffic managed or slow. The two items noted in the below slow section don't really get used by me so won't bother me.
Amazingly newsgroups are not throttled (SSL and non SSL):
6th August 2011
I have lost connection twice since installation now but speeds remain the same once it reconnects (doesn't take long). I have also not managed to see if sync was being lost or if it was just the PPP session. Reliability so far is about on-par with my BE bonded service.
15th August 2011
So far so good still. I am on track to do about 177GB of usage this month. (88gb used up to today) and no slow down during peak times other than what is noted at the bottom of this article.
26th October 2011
Still going well! 157gb used in download so far this month. 99gb used last month. 167gb used total in August. No sign of slow down other than the noted traffic managed items in the list below. A few friends and customers have also changed to FTTC with little fuss. One friend had initial "first week" issues of line drops and PPP drops which solved itself without interaction with BT. A customer had ongoing issues with PPP drops (but seemingly the routers lights didn't indicate sync drops) and constantly increasing ping (DLM?) after about 2 weeks Plusnet (the ISP) sent a BT engineer who replaced the BT Openreach FTTC modem. Since then the connection has been solid and the ping has slowly reduced (DLM noticed the line got better?). All signs point to the BT FTTC modem being the problem?
6th November 2011
180gb down, 22gb upload last month.. Still no sign of slow down on anything other than noted below and no "stop using so much" letters from BT (yet). Some exciting new information is that the smaller FTTC cabinets have fans inside somewhere ;)
18th Jan 2012
So, all going well still however.. I went to a neighbours this evening to order FTTC and it seems that _no new provides_ are possible on our road! Any current ADSL number or no-broadband number plugged into Plusnet, BT or the BT Wholesale checker come out as ADSL can be provided only and NO FTTC result, nor a "you can order FTTC on this date"!. Any number plugged in which already has FTTC comes back as "You can have FTTC".
Has the cabinet already hit capacity?
20th Feb 2012
Still "nothing to report" other than what I have already said. Still going strong on my usage 118gb download, 32gb upload so far this month. 135gb download, 15gb upload last month. The cabinet is still not open for orders to new customers, additionally the next cabinet along also has closed to orders with no explanation. Both have re-enablement ("your cabinet is planned to be activated") dates of around 1 to 2 months away.
4th March 2012
5th March 2012
The last two tests I have done with torrents have resulted in about half my line speed, 2.4MB/sec! So either uTorrent is getting better at hiding its traffic or BT have relaxed their traffic management on torrents during peak hours?
12th April 2012
Lightning storm has caused problems with the Infinity line but not my BE lines. Infinity line lost sync and dialtone during a very close strike. Reporting fault to BT now but the BT site is seriously slow. I also ordered the upgrade to 80/20mbps.
23rd April 2012
BT visited and replaced the master socket entirely (everything except the back box) and restored dialtone and internet on the line. However it did take around a week to restore full working (and upgraded) speeds on my line.
Path: 0, Upstream rate = 9997 Kbps, Downstream rate = 39998 Kbps
Path: 0, Upstream rate = 16999 Kbps, Downstream rate = 48998 Kbps
Path: 0, Upstream rate = 17000 Kbps, Downstream rate = 48999 Kbps
Path: 0, Upstream rate = 20000 Kbps, Downstream rate = 66997 Kbps
Path: 0, Upstream rate = 20000 Kbps, Downstream rate = 79999 Kbps
A friend who ordered the upgrade on the same day that I did (and didn't get hit by lightning) saw the full 80/20mbps speeds the next morning without the "slow DLM increase" that I did [presumably due to the fault].
17th May 2012
Advertising / decals have appeared on almost all local cabinets in the past few weeks:
3rd August 2012
Our local cabinet has closed to orders again! For the second time since the service has been in the village.
Our cabinet has an estimated "will be enabled by" (i.e. capacity upgrade?) date of 30th September 2012.
The cabinet at the far end of the village has an "will be enabled by" date of 31st August 2012.
25th August 2012
Local cabinets are still closed for orders.
Information appears on our local county council website, today, claiming that between 30th of August and 12th of September "British Telecommunications plc" will be carrying out "NGA RELATED WORKS" consisting of:
"Install 13m of 1 way poly duct in Verge,Provide 1 Cabinet and base (NGA cabinets)" - for my cabinet.
"Install 14m of 1 way poly duct in Footway,Install 3m of 1 way poly duct in Verge,Provide 1 Cabinet and base (NGA cabinets)" - for the cabinet at the other end of the village.
So... BT run out of capacity and have to install a second cabinet to cater for more customers? We will find out... I hope it leads to some more photo oportunities.
30th August 2012
It looks like they really do install extra cabinets to cope with demand. A new plinth has appeared near the connection point and the existing FTTC cabinet. The same has happened at the other end of the village. Do they keep doing this until the demand of all houses is met, could some roads end up with little communities of FTTC cabinets on public land?
3rd September 2012
Our road now has two FTTC cabinets to cope with the demand! (And the same with the road at the other end of the village). A total of 4 boxes now sit on the little grass verge, two FTTC, two PCP. A total of three now sit at the other end of the village. Two FTTC, one PCP
A truck loaded with both ECI and Huawei FTTC cabinets turned up with a crane and maneuvered a second FTTC cabinet onto the plinth.
The same guy (the guy in the yellow jacket) also installed the first cabinet back in May 2011! He was much more open to photographs being taken this time around.
So... here is the inside of a Huawei cabinet:
11th September 2012
A BT Openreach van is at our local cabinet fiddling with fibre in tubes and some kit on a bench outside his van. Possibly splicing the new cabinet in? There was also some other guy wearing a bright pink shirt with no company logo and walking around with a measuring wheel and taking photographs.
24th September 2012
BT were at the site again, this time with a tent (it was chucking it down with rain) over the FTTC cabinet and two black thick cables coming out of the man hole cover in between the PCP and the FTTC cabinet. I presume they were wiring up the pairs from the PCP to the new FTTC cabinet.
30th September 2012
The BT Wholesale checker now allows orders again.
5th October 2012
It looks like the orders are not going onto the new cabinet yet and capacity has freed up on the old? The power isn't yet connected to the new cabinet according to roadwork requests filed today. "NEW INDIVIDUAL SUPPLY Excavate joint bay and trench 17m in grass verge for new service to BT cabinet."
11th October 2012
Our local cabinet is, once again, closed to orders.
7th December 2012
I emailed, via the Openreach website, the NGA team. "Tony Franklin" gave a speedy and useful reply saying that they expect our brand new second cabinet to be open for orders towards the end of next week.
13th December 2012
Both new cabinets (the one in our road and the one covering the other end of the village) are open for orders again.
19th April 2013
At about 12:30 this afternoon my BT Stock (not unlocked or modified) Huawei modem power supply exploded creating mild smoke in the room, an awful smell and black marks on the carpet underneath the plug socket. It tripped the breaker for the power sockets sockets in the house.
The left side casing on the power supply is slightly bulged and looks melted, the power supply now rattles. The small thermal paper sticker I had on the power supply so I knew it was the VDSL one is now discoloured black on the left half.
It is the original stock BT Openreach installed HG612 and power supply.
The black "wall wart" PSU that blew up is labeled:
Switching Mode Power Adaptor
INPUT: 100-240V 50/60Hz 0.6A
OUTPUT: 12V - 0.7A
Shenzhen Frecom Electronics CO.,LTD.
Made in China HW-8K-201105 C173EP
After a few false starts with a BT chat agent I managed to raise this as a fault
Rashmi : Tom, you can get online on shop.bt.com Tom: I doubt I can, can you link me to the exact product? Also when Openreach own this equipment why should I have to buy a replacement!? Rashmi : I am raising the case to the second level of support who are going to deal the case Tom: ok, thank you. Rashmi : they will send you the adopter for you
28th April 2013
I've checked the fault online and, amazingly, BT claim to have resolve the fault without even calling, visiting or posting me a replacement power supply..
Date reported:19 April 2013
Date closed:25 April 2013
It goes without saying that my VDSL modem has not magically started working ;) time to contact them again.
30th April 2013
2nd May 2013
A nice Openreach engineer, Steve, visited today within the booked time slot to replace the modem. A replacement Huawei 3B was installed. The modem I was given has a white power supply this time rather than the black PSU on the previous modem.
They took away the old modem and I was given the impression that they were going to investigate the psu failure.
Diary of a Failed FTTC Install
A friend of mine decided to migrate from BE to BT Infinity. Here is what happened....
Infinity order placed via BT website.
BT Home Hub delivered along with "Infinity Welcome Pack".
Infinity install scheduled (am); Infinity engineer rings me and tells me there is battery contact and he won't do the install. Informs me that I need to ring BT and report the fault, I report the fault, PSTN engineer scheduled for 2012-05-25.
Infinity install rescheduled TWELVE working days away (2012-06-08) moan at them for the absurd lead time, offered £10 credit.
PSTN engineer turns up (pm and I wasn't at home) apparently pokes about in the "bt66" and goes away supposedly clearing the fault.
Infinity engineer rings me and tells me there is battery contact and he won't do the install again. I ring bt, complain about the incompetence of the pstn engineer and ask how he managed to close the fault (the person I spoke to actually seems to care about my problem).
I am told an SFI will fix my fault over the weekend and will be updated on Monday. I am credited 1 month of free infinity. I complain that the automated system has scheduled my next install for the 22nd - am assured that this date will be brought forward once the fault is cleared.
BT call me and I am told my fault will be fixed by Wednesday.
SMS from BT to tell me a copper faultsman will fix my fault by Friday.
Rung by BT to tell me a multi-skilled engineer will visit on Monday, fix my fault AND do my infinity install (pm).
Engineer turns up on time, however although he could do my fibre install its not part of this allocated job and he sadly doesn't have the required service information.
He lets me look over his shoulder while he's working and shows me results from his mole etc, isolates me a spare pair (with bad a-b but no battery), goes through several access points back to the cab at the end of the street, swaps my pair in the middle (resulting in me having a pair with no battery contact fault and good a-b).
Initial battery on my line was +~15v, by the time we get to the cab it has reduced to +~3v his attitude is that his job is to fix my fault in the best way possible, not to meet his timeslot (he tidies away spare pairs etc. as he goes which will help other BT engineers in the future).
He shows me the original fast test result (fail - battery contact) he shows me the current fast test result (ok) he does an exfo pair quality test - everything passes (ok / good) job done. Extremely happy with his work!
Just at the end (whilst the engineer was running the exfo test ) I am rung by BT - they tell me that my fibre install is confirmed for the 22nd. I ask if there is an earlier install date available and remind them I was promised one (cease date for my current adsl is also the 22nd), they say there is nothing they can do - can't be bothered to argue.
Infinity engineer actually turns up - pair quality test passes, equipment installed in under 20mins.
78.7mbps downstream sync.
Successful install 6 weeks and 5 engineers later. Utterly pathetic customer service throughout (except for the highly commendable work by Bill Buckley, the engineer who visited on 2012-06-18, and he had to come all the way from Devon!)
Traffic Managed or Slow
- Torrents (- No longer limited in April 2012 but could change.)
- MAC OSX OS Updates (- No longer affected April 2012 but could change.)
- File sharing sites such as FileSonic.
After BT first introduced ECI cabinets the home install engineers were told to make sure that the VDSL modem given to the customer matched the make of the cabinet. This advice was withdrawn in early 2012 and engineers often missmatch the modem and cabinet makes. In most situations there is no real impact for the end user, experiences may vary too but our experience below is worth sharing.
When a Huawei modem is used with an ECI FTTC cabinet the 80mbps services seem to suffer from problems with large packet sizes which is only solved by rebooting the modem. After a while DLM appears to turn on Interleaving. This leaves random bouts of Corrected Errors which come and go for long periods of time.
The customer changed to an ECI modem (matching their ECI cabinet). The bouts of errors went away and within 36 hours the line was moved back to Fastpath. The sync speed was also slightly faster.
Be aware of potential minor compatibility issues and performance losses when using a Huawei VDSL modem with an ECI Cabinet FTTC area.
The ECI to Huawei Cabinet test produced no undesirable side effects.
When using an ECI modem on a Huawei FTTC cabinet the pings appeared to be 1ms lower:
Thu, 11 Oct 2012 19:46:59 GMT , 9ms
Thu, 11 Oct 2012 19:47:00 GMT , 9ms
Thu, 11 Oct 2012 19:47:01 GMT , 9ms
Thu, 11 Oct 2012 19:47:02 GMT , 9ms
Thu, 11 Oct 2012 19:47:03 GMT , 9ms
Thu, 11 Oct 2012 19:47:04 GMT , 9ms
on the Huawei
Thu, 11 Oct 2012 20:59:38 GMT , 8ms
Thu, 11 Oct 2012 20:59:41 GMT , 8ms
Thu, 11 Oct 2012 20:59:42 GMT , 8ms
Thu, 11 Oct 2012 20:59:43 GMT , 8ms
Thu, 11 Oct 2012 20:59:44 GMT , 8ms
Thu, 11 Oct 2012 20:59:49 GMT , 8ms
On the ECI
The ping increase was seen once again when switching back to the Huawei modem a few weeks later.
The reported "maximum attanable" rate is also lower then reported by the Huawei modem. The line still syncs at the full 80/20 product as the cabinet is within a few hundred meters of the property.
vs. the Huawei which quoted attanable 37,439 Kbps Upstream and 105,396 Kbps Downstream.
A 8,854 Kbps difference in the potential upload and 9,901 Kbps difference in download.
DLM / Dynamic Line Management
See Diary_of_an_FTTC_Install#23rd_April_2012 for one experience.
boxst on the BE forum also comments:
"From someone who rebooted the modem a few times (not my fault), don't do it! Look at my profile, from 80->63 and then I didn't touch anything for a week and then back up to 80."
Up Down Sync Bras 20000 77436 80000 27-Dec-2012 02:04 19000 61302 63332 19-Dec-2012 08:23 20000 68755 71032 18-Dec-2012 23:31 20000 74099 76552 18-Dec-2012 08:24 20000 77436 80000 14-Dec-2012 11:07