Zach Beauvais

Open Letter to my ISP

by | Feb 12, 2009 | Digital, Topical

This evening I sent this letter to my ISP in response to their support followup (I’ve removed the company name):

Please, please don’t give me a list of troubleshooting tips again…

The broadband router is attached directly to the test socket, therefore guaranteed by BT.

My microfilter is fine, and I’ve had different units at various times (of different makes and even colours); and, before you ask, I’ve got one on every phone line in the house.

I’ve reset the router in the past (though I’ve been informed that this can actually cause up to 5-days delay, it’s been more than a fortnight since the last reset).

My speeds are the same.

Nothing changes them.

I have nothing else running when I run speedtests, and have used multiple sites.

I’ve double and more checked all settings on the router itself, and have even switched SSID channels just for grins (no change).

I receive the same speedtest results on different more or less identical systems (OS X 10.5.6 each) though not at the same time, and receive the same result.

My iPhone also grows excessively sluggish between 5pm and bedtime.

My last ISP supplied me with a list of 13 troubleshooting tasks, and I completed them duly before each escalation… none of them resulted in any increase in speed whatsoever. The only thing I could think to do further is to construct a DIY parabola booster to increase the signal from the router to my Mac, though, since I write this from less than 3 meters from the router, I doubt that would help much either.

The speeds drop at peak times. That means there’s too much traffic for the infrastructure you supply. I’ve had no problem with (name of ISP) so far, and am fully aware that the West Midlands is low on its priority list (or, at least, BT’s list), and have come to terms with the low bandwidth that entails. However, you advertise speeds in my area (and have said in correspondence that you expect speeds in my area) to be at around 3MB/s. This is not true, daily.

Not only have my speeds routinely dipped below 1.5MB, but have even dipped below 500k on several occasions. I’ve not experienced “broadband” of that quality in years.

I appreciate your prompt replies, and hope you find whatever it is that’s causing this slow-down, though I can save you some trouble. It’s my neighbours, and their neighbours—all using limited bandwidth which you and other ISP’s continue to degrade by accepting more customers than you can supply.


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  1. Wil

    I was with BT at home and whilst I was running my old business. Even though they were entirely different contracts and departments they still managed to simultaneously knock out both services (some happy ‘coincidence’. Imagine a professional web developer, running a web design firm with no Internet at home or at work: they crippled us for about 2 weeks.

    Part of this palaver was when an engineer, sent to install our service damaged the local exchange and knocked out a few postcodes in the process, when they restored the service it was at a severley diminished speed.

    After meticulously logging every conversation and call I made to BT, I finally threatened them with legal action and only then did they offer to transfer me to an English complaints resolution team. Bear in mind that this is about 4 months down the line with no Internet at home, the resolution team got an engineer out to the exchange who resolved the problem in within 2 days. Apparently there was some switches and gizmos that weren’t quite right and some dongle needed upgrading in there too.

    I then got a credit note for a years free line rental and broadband both at home and at work.

    Log your calls, and try and get your case escalated at every opportunity and eventually you’ll probably meet someone with the authority to do more than just read a script. Also don’t use any BT equipment, it’s absolute garbage don’t even try and sell it: you’ll get nothing for it and it’s morally wrong.

    Now with Sky, and I get about 75% of the “up to” speed which I think is well above average and we’ve never had a single problem with the service or the equipment. Still considering Virgin though….

  2. Zach

    I’ll have to remember that, though so far it’s all been emails, which are easier to collate. I’m sure it’s more to do with the shite coverage our area gets from BT than it is to do with the ISP itself (they’re just re-sellers anyway, I assume). We’re not covered by cable, unbundled ADSL, or fibre-optic, so all we can hope for is the normal broadband, degrading every time someone else watches iPlayer after work.

    At 10 this morning my speeds were nice and zippy Last evening they were barely 1MB. (NB, that shows a different ISP to the one I signed up for… maybe they’re in it together?)

  3. mauvedeity

    Well, I’m quite happy with Virgin cable. I’ve just done a speed test, and I get 2056 kb/s down, and 237 kb/s up. I’ve never noticed any kind of slowdown, and we regularly use it quite a lot. I’ve got to say that it’s died altogether a few times, but when it works, it works, whether my neighbours are downloading from iPlayer or not.

    Oh, and the different ISP thing? That’s from it checking who owns the netblock your IP address comes from. Mine says ‘Telewest Broadband’, which doesn’t even exist any more!

    Good luck with it all.


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