We all know what it’s like when the lights go out. Infuriating isn’t it? Fortunately, it doesn’t happen often. We are used to our services just working 99% of the time.
- Flick the switch and the lights come on.
- Turn on the tap and the water flows.
- Flick the heating and the house gets warm.
Unfortunately there is one utility that we rely on more and more in our modern world that, at least in Kintore, seems to be getting less reliable as the months go by – at least that’s how it seems from our recent broadband survey
and the flurry of comments on recent broadband issues on the Kintore.org.uk Facebook page
On Saturday, our broadband stopped at around 4.40pm. We were still connected but websites were not loading, mail was not sending and social media was not sending. BTW Wholesale Broadband Performance Test
failed several times because it could not establish a connection. When it did, it revealed that we were getting a few kilobytes of download data intermittently, but upload was zero and latency was very high.
The effective outage continued for six hours until 45 minutes past midnight when throughput returned at low speed.
My wife pointed out that this was a wet Saturday evening near the end of February, but about a week before most people get paid (having worked in retail she knows how pay day affects people’s buying patterns). It was very likely, therefore, that many people had opted not to go out in the rain and were downloading films, playing online games or just chatting with friends on social media.
In these circumstances it is easy to imagine that the broadband network serving Kintore was under some strain. Could it be that it could not cope with the demand?
Fast forward to today. First thing this morning as I sat down at my desk I found that my BT Broadband was not responding. I checked again with BTW Wholesale Broadband Performance Test
. Download speed was 20k and upload was zero.
What does this morning’s problem potentially have in common with the weekend?
Around 9 am businesses are cranking up online and, just like a wet Saturday evening in, that would seem like a time when the network would be under stress.
One person on the Kintore Facebook page suggested that I should simply avoid using the internet in peak times. But the reason they are peak times is that they are the times when we all want/need to be online. We pay our internet providers for a reliable service at all times – I’m not aware of any off-peak internet plans like off-peak electricity.
Ofcom is the independent regulator for the UK communications industries, including Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like BT. it makes it quite clear that:
“Every ISP must have trustworthy systems to find the cause of a speed problem; and take steps to fix any issue that is down to them.” It doesn’t say what the time limit is for fixing those issues, but I am willing to bet it should be less than eight months.
Although we have to accept that there can be the occasional technical problem, we otherwise have the right to expect our broadband services to work reliably. That is clearly not our experience nor the experience of a significant number of other wired and fibre broadband subscribers in Kintore.