Clair Woffenden of WebUser magazine revealed the basic details of a new trial by the BT Home IT service last week.
BT Home IT support is a service aimed at BT Total broadband customers and can offer support over the telephone, or arrange home visits for various computing tasks. The service is now to offer a Broadand Accelerator service after carrying out research that revealed some 60% of its customers could get a 0.5Mbps broadband speed improvement from some simple changes, a trial has been started that buys one hour of engineer time in your home for £90, every additional 30 minutes is £30. The visit will look at both the telephone wiring, ADSL modem location and computer. One feature beyond just fixing things there and then will to educate the customer in how to carry out regular housekeeping on their computer.
This Broadband Accelerator service is currently only available in the South East of England, and if they cannot improve your speeds by 0.5Mbps or more then you don't have to pay. To find out more on the service visit www.bt.com/homeitsupport. While the Accelerator service is mainly all about raw line connection speed, some of what they do will also improve the stability, so even if you don't get any extra speed your ADSL line may run more reliably afterwards.
The half meg speed guarantee is based on the engineer looking at the access line speed (sync/connection speed) as reported by the ADSL modem on arrival, and again at the end of the visit with a further review after three days. We should point out that due to the way BT Total broadband works and other BT Wholesale IPStream services work, it will take up to 5 days for actual throughput speeds to improve. Thus even if the engineer improves things speed test results and file downloads will not improve immediately. The setting that people will be waiting to update is the IP Profile (FAQ explaining what this is here). Additionally the degree of speed improvement will vary from around 100Kbps to 500Kbps, due to the stepped nature of the IP Profile (the steps are detailed in one of our FAQ items).
The engineer who visits as part of the scheme will only be able to work on phone wiring up to the demarcation point, i.e. the back section of the master socket. Improvements to the wiring on the Openreach side of the master socket e.g. external wiring on the property will require the provider to book an Openreach engineer visit with its attendant charges.
One hour to get an extra 0.5Mbps from an ADSL line is probably plenty of time, as fairly simple tasks such as fitting a ADSL faceplate to your master socket, or removing the ring wire from the extension wiring can see your speed boost by 0.5 to 1.5Mbps, with a small number seeing even higher speed jumps. Other improvements such as replacing extension wiring that is not twisted pair for decent cables can also have an effect, some people may benefit from replacing the free RJ11 modem lead that came with their ADSL modem with a twisted pair one. Twisted pair cables can help to reduce the effects of interference that all our electrical gadgets in the home can produce. These speed improvements can then be further enhanced by optimising the computer for broadband speeds via sites like www.broadbandreports.com/tweaks.
BT Openreach installed wiring should use twisted pair, but many extension kits in the high street while not cheap can use thin wires without any twists meaning that their use can reduce your broadband speeds. Sites like www.adslnation.com and www.solwise.co.uk are good places to visit for the kit to carry out DIY improvements to your broadband/telephone wiring and may also offer advice on the best product for your needs. To refit the telephone wiring in the average home you are looking at a spend of around £10 to £25 on parts depending on the amount of cable needed.
We have not forgotten to mention the BT Wholesale iPlate, but until it is available there seems little point in covering it in any further depth.
Spending a little time on our own forums may be the cheapest way to find out what sort of speed improvements are possible and get actual feedback from people who've either done the various changes themselves or helped others to do them.