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Current issues - Broadband

Broadband Speed in Lamberhurst

Some results from our survey

Over the last couple of months, we have carried out a survey to try and find out the general level of broadband speed available in the village.

This was restricted to broadband provided over the normal telephone network via subscribers’ landlines. The alternative, using mobile phone networks (via a 'dongle') was not investigated since this will be highly dependent on mobile phone signal which varies considerably according to the service provider and the user’s precise location in the village.

No cable or fibre optic services are available in the village.

Whoever is providing your internet service, if it is coming via your telephone line then it is coming through BT’s hardware and lines and so the performance of these will ultimately play a large part in determining possible speeds.

Generally BT estimates that a speed of up to 7.5-8 Mbps (megabits per second) should be obtainable in the village itself, dropping to 3-4 Mbps in outlying areas. If speeds at these levels can be achieved they will provide a reasonable service for most users. They permit a good level of general internet use and even large downloads of 500 Mb or so are achieved in a reasonable time (500 Mb represents something like a one hour television programme downloaded from the BBC site). They will also allow continuous streaming from something like the BBC iPlayer or the BT Vision on-demand system without freezing or stuttering and services like Skype videophone can be used satisfactorily.

Complex online gaming services may not be as effective as they would be with high speed broadband such as is increasingly available in towns and cities.

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The survey showed that speeds approaching BT’s estimates are being realised at particular addresses in the village so by and large it seems that they are fair in determining what may be possible.

It was found however that some villagers are getting service speeds considerably lower than estimated and in some cases lower even than neighbours close by. If this is the case it may be an issue with the subscriber’s own computer hardware (modem, router, internal extension cabling etc.) or it may be as a result of problems with the BT lines and/or the master socket in the house.

In recent weeks the latter has certainly been the case in Hook Green where a number of users were suffering significant reductions in service speeds. Complaints were addressed directly to BT by the subscribers - in each case resulting in visits by engineers and replacement of such things as aging cables and master sockets. This has resulted in very significant improvements in service and in parts of Hook Green speeds of up to 6 Mbps have been recorded! This represented a fourfold increase in speed compared to what was being achieved before the work was carried out.

However cases have to be addressed individually and complaints raised by individual subscribers, relating to their own service. BT will not, as a rule, treat complaints on a ‘group basis’ since the causes of poor service can be quite diverse.

If you believe that your broadband service is significantly slower than it should be – and particularly if it has been deteriorating in recent weeks/months – then as a first step, start monitoring it using a reliable speed testing service. BT’s own tester (www.speedtester.bt.com) provides a lot of information in addition to just straight speed. You should then approach your internet provider’s technical support service for assistance. Often this will mean going through a call centre who will ask a lot of questions regarding your home set up in order to try and establish if it is something ‘in-house’ causing the problem. Follow their advice and if the problem is not resolved then persist with the complaint. Evidence exists that good broadband speeds are possible in the village and if you are paying for a service, do everything you can to make sure they provide it.

To assist the Parish Council to continually monitor performance of broadband across the village it would be helpful if you could forward your test results from www.speedtester.bt.com to David Hurst-Brown at dhurst@globalnet.co.uk