Today, we rely completely on our internet connections. Whether for social media use to keep in touch with friends and family or business or for on-line shopping, business websites, and mobile apps etc. the fact is broadband comes in many differing and bewildering formats. all of these different broadband services, be it super-fast fibre optic broadband (FTTC), standard copper ADSL broadband, 3G and 4G and soon……..5G! mobile Broadband, Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) or expensive Leased Lines, one thing is certain…….they all fail at some point and more often than most people expect or will accept in some cases!
Broadband faults are something we deal with every day. Our job is to manage the services we provide to our customers and that’s not as easy a task as some may think. Firstly the broadband most of us use is either made up of a fibre optic connection and copper pair connections or a mixture of both to a local Openreach Street cabinet with supplier equipment connected to it via equipment in the exchange or via a mobile broadband service provider such as EE or O2 or Vodafone etc.. In all of these cases sometimes the service fails and the fault can be simply an Openreach PSTN line fault (a landline to those who don’t know what a PSTN Line is!) that needs to be reported and fixed or it can be a fault with the broadband service provided over the top of this PSTN Line and will need further investigation to resolve any issues.
Faults are many and varied and Openreach and most ISP think its the job of the customer using the equipment to diagnose and fix the fault rather than leave it to them to work out and fix. Bizarre in my view to say the very least! It’s not the job of the user (at least I don’t think it is personally) to pull equipment apart and test various scenario’s to identify and fix faults with these services.
It is to follow what experienced engineers tell you to do to the letter initially to run all the back to basic tests have been performed correctly to try and isolate what is likely to be causing the fault and then to ask Openreach to investigate the fault further safe in the knowledge it is not CPE (Customer Premises Equipment) causing the fault. Openreach and most suppliers of Broadband services will charge an abortive visit charge of hundreds of pounds if they attend site and find the fault lies with customer equipment. It is not the responsibility of the ISP or the supplier to check your IT equipment is working correctly and in my own view the first people to call should be your IT Support company to ask them to identify if their equipment is at fault. Depending on the relationship and the type of contract you have with them will define the type of response you will get.
SO its important to remember that the broadband supplier is the person you call when you or your IT company has checked the equipment and proved the fault back to the point of entry. In other words speed tests, simple router sync checks and connection checks are all run prior to contact your broadband supplier. Its not their job unless your paying them extra for that kind of support!
So its possible to check and resolve some of these faults yourself. Some of these checks are obvious and sometimes not as obvious as to why you’re being asked to perform them 🙂
All of them are designed to save you from abortive call out charges by Openreach engineers tasked with finding what is wrong with the PSTN line or the broadband. unfortunately in my experience if you do get an Openreach Engineer onsite to investigate the fault, if he is just trained to investigate line faults it is quite likely unless the fault is obvious to them, then the service will remain offline as they won’t find a fault until an specialist broadband engineer (Specialist Fault Investigation Engineer – SFI) has taken a second look. Usually it has taken 4 or 5 days to get the first engineer to site and once that visit is cleared we have to reject it to stand any chance of getting a second SFI engineer onsite and another three or fours days will have passed by then. Usually this is enough to clear the fault but quite often if he finds internal wiring faults or CPE (Customer Premises Equipment) faults this will incur charges passed on to you by us in excess of £280.00 usually for abortive visits.
So how do you avoid all this?
Well put simply you use Express Telephony Limited for your broadband services and we manage these issues for you giving you one point of contact who is experienced in conducting the fault logging process expected to be followed by Openreach and BT leaving you to try and get on with other business. The one thing all business owners need to seriously consider when they have one broadband service is what happens to my service and more importantly my business when the broadband fails? And it will fail! It’s not designed to run 100% of the time and in fact a figure of 96% uptime for all broadband throughout the UK seems to be about as good as we should all expect. Is that figure accurate? I have no idea but it sounds pretty fair if I go by our own fault repair statistics for our own Broadband customer’s outages etc.
If your business relies on remote workers accessing the Internet at all times of the day and night and its mission critical applications that keep your business running, why on earth would you only have one broadband connection? I find it absolute madness that some business owners run their business on one broadband connection to save money! Ask yourself this question:
If my business broadband fails how much money per hour/per day in lost sales will I lose as a result? If the answer is more than say £50.00 per month then I really don’t see the argument for not having a resilient back up broadband service in place just in case one service fails. I am banking on the fact that you will need two good quality services to run your VoIP phone system and your Internet and email system etc. but the commercial case for saving £50.00 per month plus the cost of a router and some labour to set it up is probably far outweighed by the loss of business turnover and profit while you wait for it to be fixed:-)
A frightening fact is it can take over two weeks to get a tricky broadband fault fixed! Clearly if your business relies on speaking to people to make money – email, social media, phone calls is all speaking in my book then a week plus without any Internet could cripple most businesses I reckon. The stressed phone calls I get from customers in this position tells me it happens all too often as well! You put extreme pressure on your supplier of your Internet Services whoever they are if you don’t have a second resilient backup broadband service in place to enable you to keep operating while we follow a process defined by OFCOM and BT and Openreach to enable faults to be repaired in a timely manner. However, its not there fault if you lose business, there are no service level agreements for basic broadband that will protect you from your business being stopped in its tracks by losing your broadband connection. Business owners need to fix this issue themselves and accept that a minimum of two broadband services may be essential to the smooth running of your businesses. We can help you define if the need for a second broadband or a leased line or Mobile Data Solution is essential or just good business sense or not required so please feel free to contact us for advice.
So what can you do to help us fix those slow speed faults you get now and then?
1) Switch off the router and leave it off for 20 mins. This will reset the Exchange Radius connection and force the equipment in the exchange and the router to correctly reset itself and reboot completely. Sounds pretty basic but it really does work! Please don’t complain that you can’t switch it off because it will affect your business as it already is causing you a problem. We can’t continue to test anything until this simple check has been done. Please remember we can see if it has NOT been switched off!
2) Run a speed test using www.speedtest.net or http://speedtest.btwholesale.com/ if it’s one of our circuits if not consult your supplier to find out what they want you to use. Why use this and not any old speed tester? Well to start with if you use ours it posts the results on our back of house system and if it’s a BT Wholesale supplied broadband circuit we will ask you to use that instead of ours. This will also post the results on the BT Wholesale fault repair service for your account. So it is quite important. For good measure we ask you to take a screen capture and sent it to us so we can make sure we see it as well as the engineers in various support centres. (use CTRL + Print Screen to capture the image and paste it to word or emails etc. using CTRL P)
3) Unplug any PCs not in use if you can. Well this is not easy so sometimes just turning them off (power down the main processor) and leave on one to test with. This just makes fault finding a little easier. If all of a sudden everything starts running fast again it is probably just as important to reboot servers, LAN switches in fact your whole network and ask your IT Support company to check the rest of your PC Network before going any further with the Broadband tests. You may also prefer at this point to ask your IT Support company to investigate the outage further to save you getting this wrong! Again it will depend on your support contract type of course.
O.k. so if you still have a fault after all this we will have already reported this to our supplier and asked for further investigation to take place. With any luck they will find the fault and fix it. If not an engineer from Openreach will be called upon to attend site and fix the fault. Hopefully that will do the job! If not we will keep on until they do sort it
So What if your circuit drops connection completely either permanently or periodically drops connection?
3a) Switch off the router and leave it off for 20 mins as before
3b) Check and change the router and filter and leads if at all possible to eliminate them. We will usually tell you this needs doing and help you organise it but it is chargeable. Its a good idea to keep a spare router and filter of the same type programmed ready and waiting for test use that just needs plugging in when needed to prove the router or filter is not at fault. This is a great way of telling if it is something on your site causing the issues as it will usually fix the fault!
3c) Check the lights on your router, you should have a DSL light permanently on and an internet light flashing. Typically, If you come into work and your broadband is down, but it was working before you went home the night before; it has probably failed around midnight when firmware updates where scheduled or other works knocked the service off. Often they will come back up if the router is rebooted (20 mins powered off and then power it up again will do it) but if they don’t then it could be a line fault or a service outage or some other bigger event on the Openreach public network local to you. We will pursue this fault and make further enquiries and again arrange an engineer SFI visit if necessary to correct the fault.
3d) Sometimes the service appears to be live but does not retain the Authentication and your connection fails then comes straight back up again. These authentication issues can be problems with the way the profile of our broadband service is matched against your PSTN Line settings and just needs a tweak by us to stabilise it or it can be the router or filter so change it out to prove its not. The usual reboot for 20 mins will help define this fault as it can fix the issue for short periods before it reverts to dropping connection again. Usually we will discuss the current settings you have with our provider and make appropriate alterations to the profile settings. Any changes will take affect within 24 hours and the service will become stable again most times.
So to recap on what to do with all faults
- reboot router for 20 mins
- Unplug or turn off equipment that is not essential prior to running speed tests and if possible plug a laptop into the LAN port to test for broadband connections and speeds.
- Check and if necessary change routers and filters and line cords and patch leads to prove these are not faulty.
- Reboot all servers and PC’s Lan Switches etc. just to ensure these are not affecting your service.
- Run Speed tests as requested by us using the prescribed speed tester we need you to use for best results.
These are just some of the ways Express Telephony Limited can help you manage your Internet Connection and keep you connected helping to stay connected to the Digital World!
For more information or just to discuss your current broadband issues here are my contact details. We are also on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin and Pinterest so we are easy to find!
Express Telephony Limited
DDI Number: 01920876220