Friday, 4 April 2014

Am I allowed a bit of a rant?

I hope so as I'm going to have one anyway! On the plus side I'm adding some eye-candy to look at when you're getting bored with it all. I am myself. Sick of both the event and all the accompanying complaints I have been forced to make over and over again.

Here are the facts. We lived in a rural environment (although only 12 miles from the Edinburgh City By-Pass so hardly the back of beyond). Our telephone line travels about 10 kilometers from the nearest telephone exchange in West Linton. That's not the shortest route to our house. We are only 4 miles from West Linton coming the other way. But that in their wisdom is the route British Telecom (BT) chose for our telephone line back in the old days.

I used a dial-up connection in our house till May 2012. This had a speed of 40Kb at best but was reliable. However I simply couldn't work with it any longer. So I started to inquire about broadband. BT refused to give it to us, but our nearest neighbours (who are even further from the exchange) found Utility Warehouse (UW) were prepared to install it. And it seemed to work well. So we took the same route. Shortly afterwards we received a letter from BT to say that we should have been given the broadband by them and in fact when I checked on their website yesterday it shows that our line is eligible (with their speed checker telling me we should be able to achieve 1Mb) . However we had committed to UW by then and the broadband was installed. Our speed was approx. 1/2 Mb up and down. However our download speed started to gradually creep up reaching the dizzying heights of 780Kb during the summer of 2013.

Then, around August, we started to notice that every time the answer phone clicked in the broadband clicked out (and it takes about an hour minimum to get it back!). Okay, no worries, switch off the answer phone. Then it started to happen with incoming local calls so we asked our neighbours to use our mobile nos. And then it happened every time the phone rang, even if the phone itself was unplugged. Yes, those were the lengths we were forced to go to, because Utility Warehouse kept testing the line and every time it passed it's test, so they wouldn't order an engineer from BT. Then, one day, when a member of staff from UW returned my call, she saw our line go down from her end. Glory be, an engineer was ordered and he arrived on the 11th March (so that was 8 months after the trouble first started). He arrived, worked away renewing our old copper wiring on the outside of the house and renewing lots of other things. That didn't do it. BT discovered this intermittent fault was in between two of their green control boxes some 3.5 miles apart. They were not prepared to start digging up the road to find it so transferred us to a different cable, and cards in the exchange were also mentioned. By this time almost 3 weeks had passed. Finally last Monday (31th March) UW declared our line repaired as BT told them it had been.

Alas, the download speed had dropped to 413Kb  (despite BT's online broadband meter giving a reading of 1MB for our location) so I asked them why they accepted it back from BT in that state. After a lot of ohing and ahing, they ordered another engineer who visited on the 2nd April (almost, but not quite a joke). He told me that if the line tested okay that was it (the end of the line, so to speak!) because it probably meant the new cable we were on wasn't as good as the cable we had been on before. I was also told that if there are endless problems with such rural lines BT has the solution. They simply discontinue offering broadband on such lines. As I am not their customer (UW is) they can't do that but of course they could tell UW and they would have no other choice but to discontinue it to us as phone lines in this country are a monopoly and are owned by BT.

All this on a day where on the TV news there was an enthusiastic item about the UK government intending to bring broadband to remote rural locations. Excuse me!!!  Did they consult BT about this. If so, the message is being lost in translation.

So Alex Salmond (our Scottish First Minister): if you are reading this (I doubt it, but you never know, my stats are ever rising), if you want my vote, you need to not just have a plan but get going and force BT to put in new lines, renew the old ones and guarantee broadband of a reasonable quality, let's say 1Mb to start with, to everyone  wherever they are in Scotland, through their phone line. If that is unachievable do the same as the Welsh government,  and provide free satellite broadband to everyone who can't get it through their line.

We pay the same for the phone line and internet, as anyone else in the UK  but can't use most of the broadband pleasures available. No streaming of tv programs, no downloading of films or videos, no online gaming (not that I want that, but still it would be nice to have the option), well, the list goes on. More and more people like us are being left behind while the world of technology marches relentlessly on so that even if we eventually catch up (using our own money to install a satellite) we are way behind everyone else.  On top of that most of us are also in a location that doesn't support mobile broadband or even mobile phones.

Our own fault for living in such a remote (within easy reach of Edinburgh as well as Glasgow) spot, you may think, but we bought our house long before broadband was in use so had no idea of all the problems awaiting us as was the case for many people up and down the country. Would we buy this house now? No! Not because we don't love where we live (I do with all my heart) but because the stress and tension around this entire affair is literally making me sick (not to mention all the time I'm losing in which I could have been making art). I have contemplated many times simply throwing in the towel and giving up on my daily blip photo, this blog and all my other online activities but the truth is that even if I did that there would still be many other things for which an internet connection is required. And anyway, those who know me well, are aware of the fact that giving up is not in my vocabulary or how I operate. I will hang on in there, come what may, and do whatever it takes, as some employees of UW and BT have already discovered to their cost.

After the last engineer left saying that with the line testing okay there was nothing he could do.  However  what he did do, had the result that my download has risen to 516Kb so I have gained an additional 100 somehow. All we can now do is hope it might rise even further,  and pray this cable doesn't develop a fault of it's own. Last night we lost the wifi again for about an hour and again this morning, for approx. the same time. On the plus side (yes there is one, or so I keep on telling myself) our speed has risen to 708Kb. How can this be?

If you're still reading this you deserve a virtual medal!

I'm writing this mainly to get it off my chest and  out of my head where it is creating considerable problems, specially as I had the drive back from hell  the day before yesterday coming home from Edinburgh late at night in thick fog. The absence of white lines in this rural area didn't help. Another matter for Alex perhaps.
Should he win the Scottish Independence vote, he'll be a very busy bunny trying to give us all what we really, really want!


Lenna Young Andrews said...

Frieda, you are in a difficult position, but like you I would not give up the fight. I am so spoiled with the internet speeds we are afforded here closer to the city and not so remote. I wish you the best of luck and perseverance to figure out the best situation for you, one that I hope does not include giving up your blog or blip. yikes!

Of course you are allowed a rant!!! sending love, lenna

Linda said...

Oh Frieda- I certainly do not deserve a medal for reading this-YOU do for getting through all this nonsense without pulling out all your hair -or worse! I hope with all my heart it all works out and you don't have to give up your blip or blogging-I'd miss you too much. XO, Linda

Terri said...

Whew! Frieda, what a long drawn out repair, with no real repair! No wonder you need a rant!
It all sounds so weird, and why now over 700???
I hope you still have your hair : )
Gosh, wish I knew how to help....

p.s. I will await my medal in the mail ; )

Jewels said...

Let it all out girlfriend! Geesh that would just make my blood boil i tell ya. No jokes about it being character building....keeping my fingers crossed it finally gets resolved...

theresa martin said...

I get it! I would be as frustrated and angry with this situation. Try and get some media attention, and try to contact Alex Salmond directly. Media attention can work wonders.


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