Sunday, 25 March 2012


A few weeks back I got BT infinity.

That makes it sound like I decided to get it, but actually it was more like they told me I was getting it.  It was weird, actually, as the sales call was pretty aggressive but the trouble was it's a faster service and it's cheaper so it's hard to decline.

But why would I want to decline?

Well it wasn't so much that I wanted to decline it was more that I knew that getting it would be more than a little inconvenient and I couldn't really be sure if it would genuinely have any huge benefit.  See the thing is they have to come and do stuff at your property.

What they mainly do is replace your prime phone socket with a different thing that has a splitter actually built in to it.  It's a slightly different spec and function as well, I believe, because they also give you a modem.

The window they gave for putting this thing in was between 1 & 6, which is a huge chunk of time.  And of course they can only do it Monday to Friday.  Luckily with the flexi I was able to work bonkers hours and not have to take any time off.  Well, I say lucky - I was absolutely shattered by the time Friday came.

Anyway, the other issue is that I rent, so I needed my landlord's permission to put it in.  He was okay with it, but there was a side issue that the way the phone is installed it actually goes into my landlord's place and then he's put a huge extension round to my place.

I believe that extension he's put in is a big part of why I've always gotten a crappy speed here.  Best I've ever had was about 1.5meg, I think, but normally it's more like 1mb on a good day.

So all those factors made it horribly complicated and meant I wasn't at all sure I'd get a huge boost.  Especially when, as previously mentioned, I have access to my landlords cable, which is 10mb.

Anyway, the bloke installed it and did some line testing and said he was getting 25mb, which seemed quite poor to him.  I explained about the line quality and he said that made sense then - apparently he normally expects about 50mb.

Still, 25mb seemed like it might have all been worthwhile.  In reality it's actually been all over the shop.  Part of the idea of super fast broadband like this is it lets you watch streamed HD stuff without caching.  The only times I've tried that it's not gone 100% well.  Generally it'll work for a bit, then flake out and I have to watch the rest in SD.

And we're only talking 1hr programs - not loads of films in a row or anything.  However, torrenting works a dream.  Indeed it works so well that generally on Monday morning when I used to set my machine going all day to dl my torrents and then some files would need to be carried over to the next day, with infinity all the files dl while I get ready for work (so across half an hour) and then the rest of the day I'm basically just seeding them.

We're talking dl'ing up to about 5gb of stuff in half an hour, so a staggering improvement.  My guess is the difference with the torrenting is because it's designed to squeeze out as much bandwidth as possible and I'm doing it super early in the morning where the streaming TV is more at the whim of any "fair usage" policy and I'm tending to do it in the early evening.

Still, overall I think it's a success - at worst it seems to go down to about 2.5mb and while that's rubbish by most people's standards for my line it's a healthy improvement.

Still, one thing I would day is it would be nice not to have so many bits of kit.  I'm not sure if I was doing something dumb but I don't seem to be able to plug in to the modem directly.  You have to plug the BT hub thing in to it and then plug in to there.

I wouldn't mind so much if you could switch the modem off - you have to keep it on all the time so that it's able to talk to the exchange or otherwise after a couple of days the line speed starts to dwindle away and eventually it would basically cut you off.

This is particularly problematic for me as the modem has loads of really bright LEDs on it and of course bright lights are terrible for me to get to sleep.  I have to tuck it away under my bed and even then if I don't angle it just right the light bounces around and bits of the room glow intensely.

In theory next week is my last week for the contracting.  I've actually no real idea if I'll be there all week or not.  I would anticipate a couple of days at the least.  It kinda depends on if they like the report I've done or not - if they want lots of changes I'll be there a while, otherwise it may just be a couple of days.