Handback a new term to add to your broadband dictionary
The problem of you getting slower than expected speeds, along with all the other attendant variables that VDSL2 introduces has been an issue since the first customer went live with an Openreach VDSL2 service many years ago. With the increasing use of the Ofcom Voluntary Code of Practice on broadband speeds things should have improved in terms of consumer rights and expectations.
Jump forward to 2017 and a mystery field appeared in the BT Wholesale availability checker called 'Downstream Handback Threshold', and we asked BT Wholesale about this on the 15th and got the following statement on the 18th (lots of things going on hence a delay in committing this into a news item).
This process falls under the scope of Ofcom's voluntary broadband code of conduct and relates to the value known as the 10th percentile speed for a given line. If the performance of an individual line falls below this speed, the CP is responsible for investigating whether there is a fault which needs to be resolved or whether the line simply cannot support greater speeds using the current technology. The CP should first investigate whether internal network issues are causing the slow performance on the line. Should they find that a fault relates to the external network they should raise this with their wholesale provider. If after further investigation and remedial action the line is not able to support speeds higher than the 10th percentile speed, the end customer is given the opportunity to leave their contract free of charge.BT Wholesale on Downstream Handback Threshold
The publication of this publically will make it easier for people to check if a provider who is signed up to the Ofcom Code of Practice is giving them the brush off. Though there is a note of caution to be sounded (and one we have mentioned before), if getting slow speeds and after all the checks and remedial action the line cannot be brought up to speed then switching provider is unlikely to help. In a few cases switching provider can mean a different VDSL2 modem which may perform better, and this is something worth exploring, e.g. someone using an ECI VDSL2 modem on a Huawei based cabinet should switch to a VDSL2 modem that is based around a Broadcom chipset (for those with ISP supplied hardware the quick fix is to obtain a Huawei HG612 and run the ISP router in Ethernet WAN mode). One reason for switching provider may be to move to one that charges less, to help square the internal battle about only wanting to pay for the speeds you receive.
Looking at the authors own line, the handback threshold is 15 Mbps, with VDSL2 speed ranges quoted of 7.9 to 24.4 Mbps, and the line is delivering at 25 Mbps down and 4.6 Mbps up, so well above the threshold, but a year ago was much slower at 14 Mbps down and 4.5 Mbps up. Two main things have changed since then the ECI modem has been binned and replaced with a TP-Link W9970 and harsh banding via the DLM system then relented and a few weeks ago while clearing a neighbours fault the wiring atop the final telephone pole was tidied up allowing the line to gain another couple of meg.