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thinkbroadband turns 10 years old!
Wednesday 12 May 2010 01:00:01 by Sebastien Lahtinen

It was ten years ago when I wrote a rather short snippet, but nevertheless the first news article on this site. In early 2000, I was trying everything possible to get a broadband service. I kept calling my cable company NYNEX (predecessor of Virgin Media, NTL and Cable & Wireless) to find out if they were able to provide broadband in my area and time after time I kept receiving the same response, that there were no plans to launch cable broadband in the near future. I found this really frustrating back then, so I can't begin to imagine what it must be like for those who can't get broadband today, when everything is online.

When BT announced trials of its ADSL based broadband services over phone lines, I was obviously quite keen to get connected. John was able to get onto the Demon Internet trial and be one of the first in the country to receive a broadband service at an amazing 2Mbps, equivalent so an E1 leased line. Andrew was also one of the Demon trialists and soon joined the site.  Shortly after, I ordered my first broadband service (albeit only at 500Kbps) with Nildram who along with other ADSL service providers, offered four services; IPStream 500, IPStream S500,IPStream S1000 and IPStream S2000. The setup fee for the home service (IPStream 500) was £150 (excl VAT) and included an Alcatel SpeedTouch 'stingray' USB modem which earned the rather incorrect term 'frog' because of its shape and the office services cost £260 (excl VAT) to install, but came with an Ethernet router. When you ordered a broadband service, a BT engineer would come to your house, fit a new filter faceplate and install your modem/router, although after some time BT introduced the self-install service which brought the setup cost down and encouraged further adoption.

In the early days, ADSL was a new technology and there was not much information out there about how it worked, so we set up this site under the name and started helping users with queries. The explosion in broadband adoption meant we were soon struggling to keep up with demand, especially on our forum. When Pipex had a series of problems in 2002, CEO David Rickards kindly donated us a server to help us increase the processing power to allow us to help more users.

Today, broadband has become a must have commodity and those without broadband are in a minority increasingly being excluded from modern society where more and more services are being delivered exclusively online. You can get the best deals online and those with online access are going to make much more informed decisions on many issues than those who have to rely on traditional sources of information alone. We're trying to identify and help those in these broadband notspots and slow-spots which has helped to inform policy makers, service providers and the public at large about the scale of the problem and how effective policies to ensure universal broadband are going to be.

Over the years, we developed our own speed test, the broadband usage monitor tbbMeter and we're in the process of testing our broadband quality monitoring system. So what's ahead? Well, we're working hard on several new projects which we'll be launching over the next few months which will help you get the most out of your broadband connection.

We would like to express our thanks to all the staff and volunteers who have helped us over the last decade and we look forward to serving our users for the next decade.


Posted by movie over 6 years ago
Happy Birthday ;)
Posted by JohnUK over 6 years ago
All this new technology is crazy, let's go back to 2600baud Dial-Up, simplier times!
Posted by donkey_hellfire over 6 years ago
Happy birthday! I was surprised no mention was made of what a big part the site forums played in aiding the broadband campaigns up and down the UK in the early 00's. This site put in my contact with other like minded individuals and inspired me to campaign to bring broadband to my local village (Brinscall). It was finally enabled in Nov 2003.
Posted by Guest_Again over 6 years ago
Have a very happy birthday.
I still remember What a laugh @ lol.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
Happy Birthday. Still pretty much the best Network information site in the UK. Well done :)
Posted by liondog over 6 years ago
Happy Birthday. If it was'nt for you guys I'd probably be bald by now so thanks for the help and info over the years.
Posted by mike41 over 6 years ago
So much change in a decade, yet the pace of change itself gets ever faster. No commercial company could provide a service such as yours ... so once again, thanks a million!
Posted by devsen over 6 years ago
Happy birthday :-) And many,many happy returns. Now that we have new PM let us keep up the pressure to UK into the 21st century with fast broadband being a norm!

Thanks again for the site and I remember ADSLguide and the sympathetic "ears" I called upon when being messed about by various ISPs - most now gone!
Posted by zyborg47 over 6 years ago
Happy Birthday, the site have been a good source of info, keep up the good work. It don't seem that long since we first had broadband.
Posted by nadger over 6 years ago
Happy Birthday [:¬)To think you weren't even two when we first met.
Posted by EclipseStaff over 6 years ago
Happy Birthday! Here's to 10 more.
Posted by CommanderZendo over 6 years ago
Well done TBB staff on reaching this milestone. Isn't it sad though that we refer to the David Rickards and the Nildrams etc in past tense - Where did all those indpenedent innovative ISP's all go eh? Chnage is inevitable in this industry I know that better than anyone and its good to see TBB where it is today and its longevity, 10 years eh ;-)

I remember Andrew when he was just a boy - lol

long may your site and work continue.

All the best Seb and the TBB Team

Posted by Suzi over 6 years ago
Happy Birthday! Without the website and forums my decision to pick my first broadband provider (and the one I'm still with all these years later) would have been a lot harder. You're simply the best at what you do and long may it continue. :)
Posted by c_j_ over 6 years ago
"Pipex had a series of problems in 2002"

Wasn't this the BTwholesale MTU fiasco? [1]

If yes, it would have been more accurate to say "when pioneering mass market ISP Pipex exposed a flaw in the design of BTwholesale's DSL infrastructure"

Who was Pipex's chief techy who liked rollercoasters, didn't like to say R*dback, and where is he now?

BTw are still largely clueless (just ask RevK).

Keep up the good work TB.

RIP Martin.

Posted by seb (Favicon staff member) over 6 years ago
@JohnUK: It was 2400baud, not 2600 :)

@donkey_hellfile: We really value the forums and we're glad to have been able to help people get online, but the challenge isn't over yet :)
Posted by seb (Favicon staff member) over 6 years ago
@Guest_Again: It was - the .com site had nothing to do with us.

@mike41: I really value how you don't view us as a traditional "commercial" company as that's what we've always avoided trying to be. We still need to balance revenue/costs though and we have competition from what you (and I :-p) would call the 'commercial' sites.

Thanks to everyone for all the nice comments. It really makes this site so enjoyable to run :)
Posted by seb (Favicon staff member) over 6 years ago
@c_j_: You know I actually don't remember.. I was busy with Jez trying to write load balancing into the forum code. Jake would feel sick if he saw the quality of that code :)
Posted by mhc over 6 years ago

I had my original trial service in very early '99. It really was bad - a bad line, unbalanced pair (capacitive imbalance) and at range limits.

Somedays it would work, some days not and BT had great fun with it as a test bed.

The problems were finally resolved and I had a stable and usable service around the end of 2000 when the exchange was upgraded.

First came across ADSL Guide when trying to get VPN to work across a SpeedTouch 570 in late 2002. The ST is still working as a WAP having been retired as a modem just 2 months ago.

Posted by mhc over 6 years ago


I remember the .com site! A few of the original forum members had a look, did not like it, or the attitude of the owners and "had some fun".

Posted by pje1979 over 6 years ago
Happy Birthday TB
Posted by oomingmak over 6 years ago
Blimey, I didn't realise that I joined up in its first year!

Time has flown by.

Posted by timmay over 6 years ago
All that time and we are still here moaning about the state of broadband in this country. That just goes to show just how little things have improved over all those years. lol.

BT still sucks, probably will still suck in another ten years.

Happy Bday :-)
Posted by tommy45 over 6 years ago
10 years, Hopefully TBB will still be around in another 10 time,A good site,and a some very knowledgeable peeps on here sometimes,& the quality meter was a good idea,and it isn't finished yet,
Posted by EnglishRob over 6 years ago
Happy Birthday TBB.

I remember when I first got broadband back in December 2001. I was a wires only trialist with Eclipse and having 512Kbit was outstandingly fast!

I can't imagine where we'll be in another 10 years (still on up to 20 Meg perhaps? :-D)

Posted by laser over 6 years ago
Happy Birthday TBB
Posted by Michael_Chare over 6 years ago
Happy Birthday. I have always found this site very useful, and it enabled me to request a broadband connection as soon as BT relaxed their 60db line loss restriction.
Posted by MikeT over 6 years ago
How time flies, congratulations.

I think it was late 2001 when I first came to the site, seems so long ago now. Alcatel are French so of course the modem got that name!
Posted by ferretuk over 6 years ago
How it used to look :)
Posted by nadger over 6 years ago
@c_j "Who was Pipex's chief techy who liked rollercoasters, didn't like to say R*dback, and where is he now?" Mark is still alive & well. He left Pipex 4 years ago. Should be having lunch with him in a couple of weeks time so I'll remember you to him.
Posted by cosmicklev over 6 years ago
Well done folks!

Hopefully you'll be around in another ten years allowing us to keep them pesky ISP's on their toes in the forums :)

Nostalgia bit:

I got my first ADSL service from the Leith exchange in Edinburgh around May or June 2001. Came complete with BT engineer to set everything up. It was a Nildram 512Kb service and I think it cost me ~40 quid a month and a whopping ~75 quid setup fee (someone correct me if I got that wrong).

Posted by izools over 6 years ago
I have to say the way ADSL was installed back in the day was simple fantastic. My mother still has, in use, the NTE5 and Filtered Faceplate BT installed back in 2001. Not only did they do this as a matter of course when ADSL was ordered, but much like Cable companies, they would also run a dedicated ADSL extension via Cat 5 cable to where you would have your modem; connected to the unfiltered side of the SSFP.
Posted by CJT-80 over 6 years ago
Happy Birthday TBB! Amazing it's been a Decade!
I remember joining MetroNet (Now part of PN) back in 2003 (I think), when I was living up in Manchester. My partner at the time had ClaraNet, but when we moved to Manchester we wanted to try a new provider! I remember being happy at having a 512Kb service, and maybe 1Mb.. Then I moved back to London and we have Virgin.Net.. great service except the CS was AWFUL! Now we have BT, as it's easier to have ONE bill, and it's shared.. Would love to have O2 LLU though! Keep up the good work, here's to another 10 years!!
Posted by marco6969 over 6 years ago
Happy Birthday !! yes i remember the speed back then was terrible, to download a small photo took for ever,lol And i alway's enjoy reading the articales on here and the response's !!
Posted by richardbees over 6 years ago
Happy Birthday, the only usable forum for my sketchy tech knowledge
Posted by chrysalis over 6 years ago
well done to seb and the rest of the staff, this site is a good resource and has very useful tools especially the new quality graphs which prove very useful for diagnostics.
Posted by chrysalis over 6 years ago
my story of adsl in 2000? I was with freeserve using the usb stingray on a 0.5meg service, there was quite a few occasions where the sync light just flashed and flashed, overnight etc. Apparently the dslam card's kept dying and had to be replaced.
Posted by chrysalis over 6 years ago
also I was outside of the attenuation limit, the engineer made a decision to ignore it as he was excited as me (I was the first person in leicester enabled).
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