Friday 1 August 2014

ADSL maintenance

I have three ADSL lines, used mostly for doing backups. Yesterday, one of them died, so I called TalkTalk on 0800 298 6725 -2 -2 and spoke to Ryan. He did some tests, agreed that the line was faulty, gave me a fault report nuber, and I left it with him.

Today, 20 hours later, the fault was still there, so I called TalkTalk again and spoke to Tommy. Tommy told me that nothing had been done in the last 20 hours. "Nothing?" I asked. So I explained to him that, as I was paying business rates for this line, I expected rather better service than "cross your fingers and hope that it fixes itself."

Tommy was suitably apologetic, but even better, he seemed to know a bit about supporting ADSL. First he suggested that maybe my router was the problem, and he'd send me a new one. I doubt that this is the problem, but I'm willing to try it. Then he told me that this would most likely fix the problem of not being able to sync.

"Sync" means that the router contacts the exchange and is able to handshake, authenticate and log on. And a little light comes on at  the router to tell you that this has happened. I also have remote diagnostics for this router. So I knew that I was, in fact, getting sync. So I told Tommy this.

Ryan had written on the fault report that it wasn't syncing, even though I told him that it was. And Tommy just accepted this. So then Tommy looked at his remote diagnostics, and saw that it was, indeed, syncing. And that completely changed things.

On that line, it was set up for 6db of signal-to-noise ratio, which is the default. But on a noisy line, that's assuming too much, and so Tommy set it to 9db. That immediately fixed the problem! He told me that I'd get about 1 mbit less bandwidth (which would reduce me to 6mbit, and I guess I have to live with that).

Then I told him that I have two other lines. He looked at one that has been giving me problems,  and that was also on 6db; he set that to 9db. The third one, which hasn't been giving me problems, was already on 9db.

So I learned something new about ADSL today.


  1. When I was with Be Internet, they allowed you to change your own SNR, between 3db/6db/9db (they called it your "speed profile"). It was fun to play with the setting, balancing download speed against the odds of the line dropping out and having to reconnect, or indeed failing to reconnect (when the system automagically raised your SNR again so it could re-connect). They're part of O2 now, I don't know whether they still give their customers that level of control.
    I have BT Infinity now so I don't worry about such matters.

  2. Lucky you. I can't get fibre where I am, and there's no timeline for when it might happen.