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Thursday, 25 September 2008

My ISP and ADSL2+ (part 2)

People here cannot grasp why their connections are  slow. Sure, there are a few lucky ones with good sync speeds but the vast majority have seen their sync speeds slow down since the move to ADSL2+. In an effort to explain to them why this is I have been collecting data from all over the city. Some 1000 people have since provided me with the data I asked for. While I will not be giving that data out to anyone I would like to try and explain the why.

In this city the telephone wiring from house to exchange has rarely changed since it was first installed. Some has been renewed but not many and not in any great number lengths. Take for example a house on Princes Avenue down Belvoir Street, another off Spring Bank on the small Stanley estate, another off Newland Avenue down Grafton Street and finaly one off Orchard Park down Gosthorpe. Each and every one of those sample houses has had their telephone wiring for differing lengths of time. Take the first one, they got theirs approx when KC  first started offering a telephone service. Take the second one, they got theirs when the estate was first build around 1963/4. The third one around the same time as the first one and the last one arond 1964/5 when Orchard Park was first built. Now, one would think that the newer the telephone wiring is the better is would handle high speed connections. Partly correct but there is another equation to take into consideration and that is where the exchange is located and how far the house is from that exchange.

Contrary to popular opinion just because an exchange is closer to a given house does not mean that they are connected to that exchange. They could be connected via an exchange a mile or so further away. Take Orchard Park as an example. Here depending where one is on the estate depends on whether you will be connected to the West exchange or the Cottingham one. Our own connection while being closer to the Cottingham exchange (1.2km) is instead routed to the West exchange (1.9km). So, trying to establish why sync speeds are low via who is connected to which exchange is a tricky one as the most direct route is not always the one taken.

Most people are using the Karoo provided Netgear modem/router (which incidentally is the only one  supported by the ISP) which rules our modem/router differences.

Added to all this is the fact that just because your house is located less than 1km from your exchange does not mean the telephone wiring is the same length. In some instances we have people 1.3km from their exchange but the telephone twisted pair runs some 3.4km. Due to the massive variations here it cannot be discounted as the cause of slow sync speeds.

Hull itself is not a huge place. But the whole twisted pair cabling is mostly ancient. The limited amount of exchanges sure doesn't help the sync speeds. There are 7 or 8 main exchanges dotted around the city with the rest being boucers or sub exchanges, sometimes called dead exchanges as oppose to a live one which is a main exchange, does not help people with slow/poor sync speeds. None of this does.

Overall, the whole telephone network here is poor. It is poorly designed being tacked togther as it was as the city itself grew and with that the number or people wanting telephones, lacks true expansion capabilities because of the former. This is now starting to show with the advent of ADSL2+ the so called high speed connection which is anything but for most people. Whether or not KC or Karoo  plan on doing anything about this situation remains to be seen.

My own view is they do not care enough to do anything about the telephone  wiring (the so labled 'last mile') as there are no other ISP's here that can or will challenge their monopoly on the city's telephone system. The only real solution is for KC/Karoo to flood the city with fibre. I do know this is being looked at as future plan but if they don't so it soon the whole telephone system will likely collapse under the weight of customer usage patterns. Another thing with fibre is the cost of replacing age old  copper wiring. Fibre, which much cheaper than it was a few years ago, isn't cheap and starting on replacing the copper with fibre won't come cheap for the company either so if they baulk on the figures we could see telephony here fall further and further behind everyone else everywhere.

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