Broadband News

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.

Comments

Interesting change. Checked mine which shows figures for clean and impacted of 35 and 16.5 respectively. Currently get 45Mbps so which figure would they use - if they use impacted then the line has to have major problems to get to that figure. Also, just allowing people to leave doesn't fix the problem as many of us have no real alternative other than living with a significantly slower line.

  • ian72
  • 7 months ago

@ian72
It isn't a matter of whether your line is actually fine or fault. It is about whether BT trust it.

The clean/impacted statement should perhaps be thought of as "proven clean" vs "suspected impacted".

If you buy a self-install service, then BT are only willing to support your service at the "suspect impacted" level, because they do not know if your line is faulty or not.
...

  • WWWombat
  • 7 months ago

If you buy an engineer-install, that engineer will perform the tests (and any fixes) so that BT are happy that your line has a clean bill of health and been "proven clean". They will then assure speeds from the higher range.

So the speed used in the estimate will depend on the installation option you choose.

Unfortunately, I've not seen evidence that expectations are lifted from B to A after an engineer has been called out to fix a line with problems.

No idea what happens when you migrate from an engineer-led install to a self-install replacement.

  • WWWombat
  • 7 months ago

So, how does anyone know whether their line is considered clean or impacted? Does it just become a judgement? And if so I'm assuming it would be BT that make that judgement and I suspect a customer will have no say in it.

  • ian72
  • 7 months ago

You don't know whether your line is faulty or fault-free.

You know whether BT will treat your line as clean or impacted by the installation method you book ... which obviously depends on what installation methods an ISP chooses to offer to you.

I used Plusnet's booking system for some properties, and they seem to offer the A-range only (top and bottom values).

I tried TalkTalk, and they use the B-range only (top, bottom and handback values). They explicitly say "no visit".

AAISP gives a range from the bottom of B to top of A. Unclear.

It seems to be my choice, not BT's...

  • WWWombat
  • 7 months ago

Hi Broadband Watchers.
Check your own line and see if your existing contract covers the above with your chosen ISP plus check what if it covers your own router.

  • Blackmamba
  • 7 months ago

Exactly how do you check your line please?

  • ThorpeCottage
  • 7 months ago

Hi Broadband Watchers.
After checking OFComs site I could only find 7 ISP who have registered out of approx (500). ThorpeCottage just use the BT checker using your number and you will see the Handback results if under check your contract.

  • Blackmamba
  • 7 months ago

Hi Broadband Watchers.
If you check on your number on certain post codes you will find they are providing 18\2 service thus trying to incurage customers to switch to it on FTTC thus offloading adSL from the Exchange. This should increase the speed on that location ( Post Code) I feel this is involved with the 6DB--3DB in advance were possible.

  • Blackmamba
  • 7 months ago

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