Upgrading my broadband part 2

In my last post I was weighing up options for a new ISP (Internet Service Provider).  I have since made my decision and am now signed up with Sky for satellite television, broadband and telephone.

I’ve gambled on BSkyB and gone all-in.  The upshot is that I’m saving a good amount of money each month compared to BT, Plusnet and Sky separately.  The potential downside is that I’ve bunged all my eggs in one basket.

My change-over date was Friday 3rd February and I’m currently in the 10 day learning period for the broadband.  The telephone line switch-over was straight forward with the only issues being Caller ID not being enabled by default (I have to phone customer services), and and alarming increase in pre-recorded cold calling.  Because I haven’t got Caller ID activated yet I find myself picking up every call, most of which are very important calls about payment protection insurance.

I plugged my funky Sky router in at ten to six on Friday night and connected initially at a worryingly low 4095Kbps.  I’m not sure when the learning period kicked in but I’ve been logging the ADSL statistics fairly regularly since then.

Friday 3rd February

Slightly worried at the low sync speeds, the upstream figure is a lot better but the initial downstream sync is half what I was getting before.

ADSL statistics for Friday 03/02/2012 @ 17:50
ADSL link Downstream Upstream
Speed test 3.5 Mbps 0.5 Mbps
Connection speed 4095 Kbps 606 Kbps
Line attenuation 23.0 dB 10.7 dB
Noise margin 15.5 dB 17.6 dB

Sunday 5th February

Didn’t have a chance to check on Saturday but the sync speeds have bumped up a little.  Sync speed still not what I was getting previously however.  Stories of dodgy Sky hardware in exchanges are starting to bug me…

ADSL statistics for Sunday 05/02/2012 @ 07:48
ADSL link Downstream Upstream
Speed test 5.1 Mbps 0.6 Mbps
Connection speed 6142 Kbps 797 Kbps
Line attenuation 23.5 dB 14.2 dB
Noise margin 15.6 dB 17.3 dB

Tuesday 7th February

Left things alone for a bit, probably should have checked on Monday because things are looking much rosier now.  Only worry now is that the noise margins have halved, Sky apparently won’t drop lower than 6dB for downstream connections.

ADSL statistics for Tuesday 07/02/2012 @ 09:12
ADSL link Downstream Upstream
Speed test 10.8 Mbps 0.9 Mbps
Connection speed 12284 Kbps 1116 Kbps
Line attenuation 23.0 dB 14.1 dB
Noise margin 8.4 dB 9.0 dB

Wednesday 8th February

Things are moving along nicely.  The noise margins still look pretty healthy but the upstream sync hasn’t changed at all.

ADSL statistics for Wednesday 08/02/2012 @ 18:30
ADSL link Downstream Upstream
Speed test 12.8 Mbps 0.9 Mbps
Connection speed 15385 Kbps 1116 Kbps
Line attenuation 23.0 dB 14.1 dB
Noise margin 8.6 dB 8.9 dB

Thursday 9th February

The downstream sync speed is increasing although my noise margin has dropped a fair bit.  Upstream sync still isn’t going anywhere.

ADSL statistics for Thursday 09/02/2012 @ 18:37
ADSL link Downstream Upstream
Speed test 13.9 Mbps 0.9 Mbps
Connection speed 16382 Kbps 1116 Kbps
Line attenuation 23.0 dB 14.1 dB
Noise margin 6.6 dB 9.4 dB

Friday 10th February

I can’t be any more than eight days into the ten day learning period but things appear to have stalled with what appears to be an artificial cap on the upstream sync speed.  I may have to call Sky to confirm, but a review of local speed tests (uswitch.com street stats) shows it may apply to everyone on the exchange.

ADSL statistics for Friday 10/02/2012 @ 17:50
ADSL link Downstream Upstream
Speed test 15.8 Mbps 0.9 Mbps
Connection speed 16382 Kbps 1116 Kbps
Line attenuation 23.0 dB 14.1 dB
Noise margin 7.0 dB 9.5 dB


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Upgrading my broadband

I’ve been patiently waiting for our local exchange to be upgraded to 20Mbps, not super fast by any means but still quicker than our current 8Mbps service.  So it came as some surprise to find that I’d completely missed the upgrade by almost two months, and if I hadn’t been messing about with my router firmware I may not have noticed for some time to come…

So, I found myself deal hunting.  USwitch have a nice StreetStats tool that shows you what speeds people around you are getting, the big players are all there but only BT and TalkTalk are showing for speeds over 8Mbps.  USwitch handily shows that a few other providers also have equipment at my exchange, this is lung at BT are expensive and, having had much experience with TalkTalk (both 1st and 2nd hand), I would not go near them if they paid me.

I checked out the remaining ISPs and it came down to either PlusNet or Sky.  I’m an existing customer with both for broadband and satellite TV respectively, and to be honest I am perfectly happy with the service I’ve received from both.  This is broadband however and the service I’ve received from PlusNet over the past six years has been exemplary. Comparing both services however shows that on a like for like basis Sky’s package for existing customers is less than half the price of PlusNet.

However, researching the Sky broadband offering makes me apprehensive.  It seems its a bit hit or miss depending on their equipment at the exchange and the router the send out.  It also seems that you have to jump through hoops to get the ADSL username and password, and even then you can’t use your own router because Sky uses the Router MAC code as part of the authentication process.

So, it seems I have a choice. Stick with what I know works, or save a fair amount of money each month and take a plunge into the unknown?

To be continued… (read part two here)

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Custom firmware for my DG834Gv2

While bouncing about the internet I came across the DGTeam site which offered a custom firmware for my (pretty ancient) Netgear DG834Gv2 wireless ADSL router which provides an expanded feature set.  I already knew that projects like DD-WRT and Tomato existed, but they’re for routers with different chipsets.

I was slightly apprehensive looking at the DGTeam website as, with no updates in almost two years, the project appears to have been abandoned.

I decided to do a little research. Most of it admittedly was done on overclockers.co.uk (Big long DGTeam thread) where the DGTeam firmwares are quite popular. There was lots of talk about increased download speeds from the optimized firmwares and also some worrying talk of bricking.

Oh well, if I brick the router I’d just need to get a new one (wireless N, mmm). So off I went to find a mirror with the most up to date version for my router.

Before starting I downloaded my current firmware version, latest verson and a windows recovery tool from netgear. Next I did a speed test and got 5.9Mbps, average for me but the recent history showed 6.2Mbps to be my best result.

I flashed the new firmware as I would a regular update and in little over a minute my router was back up and running. Another speed test gave 6.8Mbps, not as pronounced a result as some posters on overclockers were claiming, but definately a difference.

So far I’m quite happy, I didnt get my wireless N router, but I also didn’t have to fork out any cash… I’ll update this post with some results after it has bedded in. Continue reading

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Getting a menu name in WordPress

Seems like it would be a simple thing to achieve, but surprisingly… no.  I was expecting to find a built-in function like wp_get_nav_menu_name but after a fair amount of codex hunting and some (admittedly brief) Googling I came up short. Continue reading

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Snowy Mazda3

My Mazda3 draped in snow.

A candid shot of my Mazda taken afer a particularly heavy nights snow.
Continue reading

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WordPress autosave and custom fields

If you find that the information stored in your custom fields is randomly disappearing on you then it is most likely the autosave feature thats at fault. Continue reading

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Dans Lupo GTI

Dans Lupo GTI

Dans Lupo GTI

One shot of Dans LupoGTI from a mini shoot by Adrian Gail. Continue reading

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Opera Mini for iPhone

Apple have surprised a lot of people by approving the Opera Mini browser. I have just installed it on my iPhone 3G and must admit that while it loads pages pretty fast, it isn’t quite there yet. There are a few things that bug me straight away. Continue reading

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Microsoft Kin One and Two

Microsoft have finally revealed details on their rumored feature phones; Kin One and Kin Two. Continue reading

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Kruger Rand Macro

Kruger Rand Macro

A macro shot of a Krugerrand taken by Adrian Gail. Continue reading

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