UK ISP advice

Posted on 2013-10-05
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-10-09
I don't know if anyone out there is familiar with the broadband network in the UK but I'm moving to the west country where broadband (which does exist) is a lot slower than in London.
My questions are:
If I put a second line and broadband contract in, (its a remote farmhouse) will that just mean the same amount of bandwidth split between the two lines?
If I go with another provider other than BT as a fail-safe (there's an existing contract with BT), will that be going thru BT anyway? (so it won't be much of a failsafe)
Question by:Silas2
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Assisted Solution

Frosty555 earned 240 total points
ID: 39549400
During my short stay in the UK I used the ISP "BE" or "BeThere". They worked phenomenally well, getting around 14MBPS down and 2MBPS up consistently over ADSL. Some of the clients I worked with were in rural areas and subscribed to BeThere.

But, like you said, it goes through BT telephone lines - BT owns the copper. So if something were to happen which caused your phone lines to go out, it is very likely that both phone lines would go out simultaneously.

It's hard to say if you got two different ISPs, if they would reliably provide you with failover. I don't know how much infrastructure they share, besides the physical BT lines.

If your concern is temporary failover in the event of loss of Internet in a rural area... I think a 3G stick from T-Mobile or O2 might be a better. Router manufacturers like Draytek make some very decent routers with the ADSL and a USB port for 3G failover built in.

Expert Comment

ID: 39549402
all phone lines belong to BT, they rent the line to other providers, you will struggle to get more than 2mb-4mb speed in your location, depending if you have an exchange within 3 miles, if you do you may get up to 8mb.

the second line will get its own bandwidth, though it will be sharing the common bandwidth that the exchange has allocated to your area, but that bandwidth will be more than you can use so you wont see much difference if any, usually the allocation is 50/1, 50 users can be on the alloacation at any one time

if you opt for a business broadband, it will have less users using the allocation usually 25/1 but this will on average cost you around £10 a month more

the more users on at the same time the slower the line will get, usually peoples habits mean this only happens at peak periods, early evening and weekends.

Author Comment

ID: 39549453
Thanks for your input guys. Re:  Frosty555, BeThere says not available in my area, + the mobile is dodgy where I'll be as well(its in a valley).

QuinnDex: Do you know if I use two different providers, whilst they will use the same copper wire, is there more ISP-type infrastructure there which they don't share...I'm thinking about the time when an ISP goes down for other reasons, to have two different providers...?
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Accepted Solution

kode99 earned 280 total points
ID: 39549605
You might be able to get a 'bonded' service,  this is where they combine the bandwidth of multiple lines into a single connection.  In areas where you only have basic DSL speeds its usually the only way to get a higher capacity connection.  

All the lines in the bonded connection have to be from the same provider.  But to your network it will appear as a single network connection.

Probably the only way to get any kind of truly redundant connection would be to get a 2nd service using a different technology wireless, cable or satellite.  

It's very likely that almost all the infrastructure you run on is the same.  So copper to the central office where all the copper connects to the DSLAM which is connected to a fibre network which the various providers are connected to.

I run multiple providers (and service types as well) and the thing I have found is that even though a big part of the infrastructure is shared,  usually the problems are not in the infrastructure but in the providers gateway to the infrastructure.  Almost all problems/failures we have see are with one of the DSL provider's not accepting the DSL login but the DSL modem sync's up just fine,  just no IP gets assigned.  I can only remember one instance where a failure caused both of the DSL services to go down at once.

We are not in the UK but its a very similar setup with Bell running almost all the infrastructure.

Assisted Solution

TazDevil1674 earned 240 total points
ID: 39549985
You should check your local exchange to see which ISPs utilise LLU (local loop unbundled) - essentially this means they have their own equipment in the exchange and don't fully rely on BT (save the copper from exchange to premises)

http://www.samknows.com/broadband/exchange_search should give you an idea of what's available - I will say it's not always 100% correct...

Hope this helps

Assisted Solution

QuinnDex earned 240 total points
ID: 39550270
if you use 2 ISP's they will use seperate copper wire until they hit the local sub exchange box, then they are likely to use the same copper to the exchange itself where it then gets routed accordingly

Author Comment

ID: 39556380
Thks for all your help, sorry bit disengaged, I'm actually doing the move.

 kode99 It sounds to me you're saying it's worth getting two separate providers even if the infrastructure is shared as its things like ISP authentication errors (etc) which are the most common, is that right?
TazDevil1674: I checked the sameknows site,  only TalkTalk is listed in LLU list, is BT a default?
Then at the bottom it says :
Market 1 This exchange has BT Wholesale as the sole provider of broadband services.
, i guess that's pretty standard is it?
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Expert Comment

ID: 39557819
That has been my experience.

We have a lot of equipment in the field that operates 24 hours a day in constant communication so we know when there's a problem with our internet pretty fast.  We see all the small blips in our service.

We had one case several years back where both providers dropped at exactly the same time,  so was likely a infrastructure failure.  Only case I can think of in 10 years or more.  Pretty much everything else was either failed DSL logins or modem problems.

Between the two DSL providers we use I do have to say that the Bell service does have fewer down periods than the regional provider.  Though the regional provider does provide email in advance for scheduled maintenance down times which is nice.

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