Diary of an FTTC Install

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This is a work in progress, please keep checking back every few days (if you are interested) for updates!

(Image thanks to Brumski of the BE forum)

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 - Channels are dug between the PCPs, the manhole cover and the FTTC cabinet

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 - Trenches are dug to connect the FTTC cabinets to the power network.
2nd June 2011 - The power work is completed and the cabinets are connected to the mains.

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.
DSCF0169 edited.jpg

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!
DSCF0222-1-.JPGDSCF0224-1-.JPG 1406003439.png
speedtest.net's ping test is pretty bad.. here are some real results:

Ping statistics for
    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.

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?

Traffic Managed or Slow

  • Torrents
  • MAC OSX OS Updates
  • File sharing sites such as FileSonic.
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