Author Topic: Opinions on Broadband providers  (Read 4865 times)

Redlight

  • Enjoying life in the slow lane
Opinions on Broadband providers
« on: 10 September, 2020, 09:05:30 pm »
I have a horrible feeling I may regret this, but here goes:

I'm wondering whether I should change my broadband provider.

I'm wth Virgin Media. Apparently, it has the best speeds on the market, but my own experience is that my BB connection drops several times a day and I have to reboot.  And the TV etc package that comes with it is crap.  I have both Netflix and Amazon Prime so Virgin's TV offer is negligible and the landline hasn't been used in years.

So, should I switch? Here's the issue - my teenage son likes playing Fortnite online and, at the moment, my wife spends a large part of the day on video conference calls.

Am I best sticking with Virgin, despite its hopeless customer service, or is the BT broadband fast enough to keep both son and wife happy when they are online at the same time?
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ian

  • not a woman, not an american, not a vampire
Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #1 on: 10 September, 2020, 09:16:37 pm »
I'm sure there are lots of stories of BT awfulness, but I've been using whatever their FTTC service is called for the last seven years and it's been rock solid and full speed as advertised. The BT home hub is shit though (well, as a modem it's fine, but the wifi is puny). I've never needed to throw myself upon the tender mercies of their support.

This currently supports two people working from home, internet radio all the time, all TV through Netflix/Amazon. I've never noted any slowness. Plus it's my only option, I figure all the alternatives will be someone reselling the BT offering anyway. Virgin dare not tread nearby.

Caveat: the cabinet is at the bottom of the road, so there's probably about 50 meters of copper between me and it (maybe a bit more, the telegraph pole is further up the hill).
Authoritarian Thought Leader, the Pol Pot of Powerpoint, the Stalin of Spreadsheets

fuaran

  • rothair gasta
Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #2 on: 10 September, 2020, 09:47:47 pm »
Depends on where you are.
Openreach do have FTTP in some areas, which should be faster than Virgin. Or their are a few other companies building their own fibre networks, eg Cityfibre. Though maybe not much cheaper.

Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #3 on: 10 September, 2020, 10:01:04 pm »
FTTC should be fine for your use case.

I’ve had close to zero downtime in several years with Sky/NowTV, and their modem has never needed rebooting. I do use my own (Apple) Wi-Fi though.

Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #4 on: 10 September, 2020, 10:24:52 pm »
Was happy with Virgin for years, but since the US takeover became absolute crap.

Now happy with Zen, based on the Openreach (BT) network. Just broadband and land line, no TV.

Pingu

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Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #5 on: 10 September, 2020, 10:30:34 pm »

Bluebottle

  • Everybody's gotta be somewhere
Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #6 on: 10 September, 2020, 10:32:49 pm »
Make of this anecdote what you will.

We binned virgin a couple of years ago. Sounds like similar problems to yourself. Horrible connection issues, repeated reboots of router. Horrible, patronising cusotmer service and could not get anywhere. The fault was blatantly an old router on its last legs. Went to disconnect and it was one of the first things the retention team said to us. "I can see what you have and even I can see what the problem is."

Anyway, switched to EE, never had an issue since. 70 MBps consistently, only dropped service once or twice (always at night) so only notice when we get logs.

Bit of a palaver when we went to switch, but that was the fault of the OpenReach tech, who came with an attitude and lack of will. EE gave us a chunk of data to compensate.
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Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #7 on: 10 September, 2020, 10:39:38 pm »
If you're switching from Virgin the first question is what technology is Openreach able to provide to your location, and how well is likely to perform.  If the line's crap, or FTTP involves impractical installation costs, there's only so much that even the AAISPs of this world can do with it.

Then it's a case of choosing an ISP to provide you a service using that technology.  This is about the performance of their own backhaul network, any associated services such as email hosting, customer service, any equipment you obtain through them, and indeed price.  In the words of my CO505 Computer Networks lecturer, the rule here is "Use as little BT as possible.".

As usual, you tend to get what you pay for.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

fuaran

  • rothair gasta
Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #8 on: 10 September, 2020, 10:40:11 pm »
Seems the Virgin router is often a bit crap. You can set it to modem mode, and connect it to a separate wifi router. It would probably be a lot more reliable.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #9 on: 10 September, 2020, 10:41:24 pm »
I have a technically competent friend whose Virgin router seems to need an awful lot of reboots.  Mostly it's just the WiFi part that stops working.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Mr Larrington

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Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #10 on: 11 September, 2020, 02:53:37 am »
Lt. Col. Larrington (retd.)'s Virgin router (a rebadged Netgear) requires frequent reboots to restore speed to anything close to advertised levels.
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Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #11 on: 11 September, 2020, 06:26:47 am »
I’ve been with VM for years and suffered most of the issues reported upthread. Eventually we took two steps. First a new router (does a router really wear out? The old one was 7 years old). Second, I reduced the broadband speed from 200 to 100. WiFi now much more reliable, 2 of us working from home and no obvious loss in performance. Also, load time of stuff like iPlayer much quicker too

A

Jaded

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Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #12 on: 11 September, 2020, 08:54:27 am »
Yes, routers wear out. Or rather components and joints in them start to fail. I reckon five years is a reasonable time for a router, the cheaper, the shorter.
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

ian

  • not a woman, not an american, not a vampire
Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #13 on: 11 September, 2020, 09:26:05 am »
I've never had to restart a BT home hub. I presume it does itself occasionally when it hits a blip (it says connection time 21 days at the mo). It's seven years old now.

My parents have Virgin because they watch crap telly all day. It doesn't seem very reliable (though I suppose they offer the speed, despite being 50 metres for the cabinet, no one seems interested in offering FTTP here).
Authoritarian Thought Leader, the Pol Pot of Powerpoint, the Stalin of Spreadsheets

PaulF

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Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #14 on: 11 September, 2020, 10:02:27 am »
We had Sky and their broadband was fine; only moved away because they made a monumental cockup of our satellite installation when we moved house. It was so bad that they tore up our contract. Now with BT who are also fine; supported 3 of us working/online schooling, Netflix, streaming radio plus whatever teenagers do.

When/if you switch be prepared for at least a portion of changeover day to be without service as the old provider turns off at midnight  and the new one activates you sometime the next day. If your Virgin connection is by cable (as opposed to phone) you may be able to make the Virgin termination data the day after the new provider start date if continuity of service is important to you.

Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #15 on: 11 September, 2020, 10:10:06 am »
Virgin's routers are indeed crap. For some reason they don't like apple devices. Multiple people couldn't connect to our router at all. We ended up adding another cheap wifi router for apple devices.

Paid for 128Mb down. Frequently this dropped to under 20Mb. That's a big problem when you have people twitch streaming.

That household is now being switched to ultrafast fibre. Should give them 910Mb down.

Bt?  they are darn difficult to pin down on speeds.

BT signed up to provide the government's pledge about "min 10Mb for all".

Where I live now, BT will only 3-4Mb
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #16 on: 11 September, 2020, 10:12:36 am »
I'm with Virgin and have never experienced the problems others (upthread) have had. All depends
on where you're located I suppose.

ian

  • not a woman, not an american, not a vampire
Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #17 on: 11 September, 2020, 10:17:27 am »
As with all these things, there will be hundreds of negative experiences for any major provider (because people only complain when they're unhappy, they're unlikely to publicly announce that something is OK, that being the expectation, after all). It's hit and miss, unfortunately.

We've been with BT for years, it's mostly been fine, they generally screw up anything you ask them do (they did something wrong when they installed their stuff here, I can't remember the details something to do with their being two lines, but it took a second engineer to undo what the first had done). I doubt that experience is unique to BT.

I assume with all utilities these days that customer and technical service will be poor. It's expensive and the main place they can save money and pad out their margins (the cost of the technology, or paying Openreach, is mostly inelastic). They also bargain that a majority of their customers won't need it and if they do, it's a simple turn-it-off-and-back-on. Once a issue goes beyond that, they're usually not set up to deal with it. Decent service comes with 'boutique' suppliers, but you're paying the real cost for knowledgable humans.
Authoritarian Thought Leader, the Pol Pot of Powerpoint, the Stalin of Spreadsheets

Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #18 on: 11 September, 2020, 10:42:41 am »
We have Vodafone FTTC, with a 200yd copper string (those at the end of the village have another 600yd to go).  Changed from the once excellent Plusnet, who's service had dropped off after the BT takeover, and because we have Vodafone mobiles, so get a bit of a discount.

As to speed - well it's sold on the sync speed to the modem being 70Mbps. It may well be, but actual real world download speed varies enormously, and is never at 70Mbps. Upload is pretty constant at 14Mbps. Given the physical limitations of our location, I doubt anyone else would be better.

It's reliable, and the (Cairo based) support were very good in sorting out a known issue where the network doesn't recognise the modem at first.

I think BB is becoming a bit like petrol, in that in a given location, most BB providers will be broadly similar, as they work with the same infrastructure, so you pay the least you can, or consciously go for something from A&A as a premium solution. Having said that A&A forecast speeds for my property are in line with the sync speeds quoted by Vodafone.  I could possibly improve performance by buying a dedicated copper pair. But I'd pay for data (probably) as Vodafone in unlimited. It works out at £55/month for 2TB/month FTTC and a dedicated copper pair plus the line rental. My broadband at the moment is £26/month including line rental. I cant see that, for my case, an extra £40 a month makes sense. YMMV.

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Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #19 on: 11 September, 2020, 10:52:58 am »


BT signed up to provide the government's pledge about "min 10Mb for all".

Where I live now, BT will only 3-4Mb

I imagine there is a small print. Like "We deliver next day to the UK Mainland" except the Highlands
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

DaveJ

  • Happy days
Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #20 on: 11 September, 2020, 12:46:38 pm »
As said upthread, the WiFi on the Virgin routers is flakey.  With the hub in modem mode, and a separate router and wireless access point, our connection has been fast and stable.

The Facebook group for our road had a number of people complaining about the Virgin connection.  Then there was a long discussion and some of the people went off and bought the TP-Link Deco M5, and since then the Facebook group has been silent on the subject.

Its pretty rubbish that the only way to get the Virgin connection to run reliably is to buy some extra kit, but the connection speeds from Virgin are several times what they are from BT for about the same money.

ian

  • not a woman, not an american, not a vampire
Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #21 on: 11 September, 2020, 02:07:06 pm »
Crappy wifi hubs seem to be standard. I just use a Deco system (I think M5) which has delivered perfect wifi throughout.
Authoritarian Thought Leader, the Pol Pot of Powerpoint, the Stalin of Spreadsheets

Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #22 on: 11 September, 2020, 04:05:39 pm »
I'm sure there are lots of stories of BT awfulness, but I've been using whatever their FTTC service is called for the last seven years and it's been rock solid and full speed as advertised.

In a similar position (even as far as Virgin not an option and the box being not far away), and we've been on BT Fibre 2 since moving in four and a bit years ago - have had the option to move as contracts have expired, but chose to stay.

Had no real issues with two of us working from home on video calls in and out of the day with the Sonos-es running in the background (TV also through a mix of NetPrimeFlix) with no slowness for the last six months - we did have a bizarre spell of a fortnight where both of our work VPNs automatically disconnecting and reconnecting at 9.30am and we never got to the bottom of why it did it...it's fine now!
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Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #23 on: 11 September, 2020, 05:22:51 pm »
As said upthread, I think the WiFi on the Virgin routers is flakey.
FTFY.

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Opinions on Broadband providers
« Reply #24 on: 11 September, 2020, 09:38:44 pm »
If you're switching from Virgin the first question is what technology is Openreach able to provide to your location, and how well is likely to perform.  If the line's crap, or FTTP involves impractical installation costs, there's only so much that even the AAISPs of this world can do with it.

Agreed. My flat in the UK, there was a 50m or so length of aluminium, about 300m from the flat, that makes it a right pain to get anything quick.

Quote
Then it's a case of choosing an ISP to provide you a service using that technology.  This is about the performance of their own backhaul network, any associated services such as email hosting, customer service, any equipment you obtain through them, and indeed price.  In the words of my CO505 Computer Networks lecturer, the rule here is "Use as little BT as possible.".

Funny, my CO505 Computer Networks Lecturer said the same thing...

When I said this rule to some colleagues here in Dutchland, they looked at me weird. So the international variant is: "use as little of the PTT as possible"

Quote
As usual, you tend to get what you pay for.

Agreed.

J
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