G.fast – yeah yeah faster downloads… We want upstream!

50Mbps upstream on the top end package of G.Fast is where my interest is for this service as it rolls out. Its going to shake things up for the likes of Virgin Media also who should have plenty of time to respond with a DOCSIS 3.0 /3.1 upstream changes to complete. I would hope they would go one better and outdo OpenReach here as DOCSIS 3.0 can go way way beyond!

BT Confirm Tech Details for Summer UK Pilot of 300Mbps G.fast Broadband

image from ISPreview article above:

 

If you want to see the green extention boxes being added to your nearby cabinets, see this article:

BT Openreach Reveals G.fast Broadband Cabinet Extension Pod

Mega.co.nz – 50GB free

Totally forgot about the Mega service but recently needed some space to backup videos as my One Drive and Google Drive are mostly full. Amazon Prime Cloud Drive also gives 5GB for non-videos (Unlimited photos!) but I needed more and then I remembered this service and wondered if it was still going! To my surprise it was and found some old music I had stored away as a bonus! Give the service ago here: 

So Apple released some stuff yesterday…

Most of the attention seems to be on the iPhone X (you have to say it as 10, which is great but a) what happens to 9 and b) what happens to 10 in two years! ). THis post isn’t really about the iPhone X or 8 as in my opinion, they were run of the mill updates, some stuff is nice, like the dual camera orientation and buffs but meh to the rest..

The interesting stuff:

Apple TV 4K

Weirdly the Apple TV hasn’t gotten much limelight from what I’m seeing from general browsing. Apart from the appalling lack of storage (max 64GB), it looks good! Maybe not good enough to have Roku quaking in their boots but it looks decent with everything you would want:

Specs:

Video Output

2160p

Dolby Vision and HDR10

Processor

A10X Fusion chip with 64-bit architecture

 

Networking

Gigabit Ethernet

802.11ac Wi‑Fi with MIMO; simultaneous dual band (2.4GHz and 5GHz)

Bluetooth 5.0

 

Ports

HDMI 2.0a

Gigabit Ethernet

IR receiver

 

Audio Output

Up to Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound

Apple Watch Series 3

Anyway, moving on, the other interesting product is the Apple watch which adds LTE support. So now its a truly standalone device and with some Airpods sounds pretty cool depending on how long the battery is going to last in actual use. Plus it actually beats a lot of Android competitors as it’s claimed you can actually go swimming with it! The thing I like most, however, is that Apple has taken an old school technology such as having the same mobile number on multiple SIMs and are pushing it to be mainstream. Operators usually try and stick you on a business account if you want this type of functionality and even then its a fight.

EE refers to the SIM as an eSIM and there doesn’t appear to be a slot on the marketing pictures of the device so I suspect it’s a virtual SIM that’ll link to the Apple watch based on the IMEI  that links back to a SIM identifier that also goes out to your phone’s SIM / IMEI.

Hopefully, network support will be fast and furious! I’m with Three in the UK and it looks like only EE will be offering it from the start. Not a major issue, I like EE but usually put off by their pricing/caps. I might still be tempted however once some real world reviews are out!

Apple Watch 3
Apple Watch 3

UK centric broadband information and diagnostic help.

Have you turned it off and on again?

Only kidding… but seriously.. ISP telephone support will likely have you do that.. 

One of the major gripes users have is the “speed” of their broadband. In the UK there are three main ways of getting broadband. The OpenReach maintained network, the Virgin Media (Liberty Global) network and also via Mobile operators who offer a 4G based solution. There are other various providers outside of these but they are usually more limited in availability, a good example being: https://www.hyperoptic.com/

My main focus here will relate to the OpenReach based networks but I’ve had Virgin Media cable in recent years also, so will allude to any interesting differences. 

Generally speaking, when your looking at a speed issue, like most problems, it’s a process of elimination and understanding of the problem. 

Firstly there is a difference between the connection physically and logically to your ISP. 

Sync(hronisation):

This is the speed at which your modem (which might be built into your router) can connect to the equipment in the telephone exchange (Central Office for our American friends) or green box in the street (aka PCP). The determined synchronisation speed on the connection will be the maximum at which data can pass down the line and shouldn’t vary too much on each reboot of your modem / router. If it does then there is likely a problem or the ISPs dynamic line management (DLM) is trying to deal with the said problem or repeat reconnections. 

Things that can effect the sync connection rate are:

  • Attenuation – how far from the other end. 
  •  REIN – Repetitive Electrical Impulse Noise.
  • SHINE, – Single High-level Impulse Noise Event.
  • Extension wiring – further attenuation and susceptibility to further electric noise. 
  • Equipment issues – faults happen. 
  • Bridge taps – legacy telephone wiring. 
  • Poor cable shielding – causing some of the above. 
  • Engineer mistakes – Sky TV splitters in before the microfilters is a common one.
  • Capped profile settings by the ISPs DLM (whether intentional or not).
  • So all of the above might be good to the modem, now check to the device!

To check your sync rate as a customer, this will involve logging onto your home router (Seek ISP support or router support for instructions). Generally there is a status page on the interface that will give you the connection details such as sync rate downstream and upstream, uptime, and maybe more.  If this looks like to what was estimated when you had the service provisioned then all is good. 

Throughput:

The next “speed” we’re interested in is the throughput. A good metaphor for this would be a water pipe. If the sync mentioned above is the pipe its self, throughput is the water going through it. For the sake of the metaphor, the pressure is a constant in the water pipe! 

This is tricky to diagnose as as the issue can lie on the customers side as much as is can with the ISP or beyond depending on the endpoints of the testing and everything inbetween.

Various things that can effect this:

  • Fault with the sync speed – knock on effect.
  • The server being tested to not providing you with data fast enough.
  • Congestion on a network – not necessarily the ISP’s, could be beyond them.
  • Downloading on your connection while running speedtests – congesting your part of the network to give you slower, skewed results.
  • Connection to the router such as via wireless 

Generally an ISP, whether is OpenReach based or Virgin Media is eventually going to have you down to the bare minimum; a single PC, via a ethernet cable directly into the router, potentially with the WiFi disabled on the router (or they’ll be checking for other devices connected at the time of testing). Even then there are various checks as mentioned above; sync rate, ethernet rate, errors in the passing traffic, test locations for speed testers and so on.

By now though, the ISP should be close to narrowing down if the problem is on their side or on yours. It could be that your wireless was being strangled by too many other devices or that there were so many other noisy networks in close proximity. Then again it could be that your ISP has overwhelming demand in a particular exchange/area and can’t meet the bandwidth demands at peak times.. These things happen but it’s important to come to logical conclusions so they can be tackled. I..e ISPs have capacity planning teams and although they do their best to stay ahead of demand, it can sometimes outstrip supply. 

Continue reading “UK centric broadband information and diagnostic help.”