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Broadband doctor: If your FTTC connection is as useful as a dial-up modem, consider switching

5 min read

21 March 2017

Our broadband doctor, Andrew Ferguson, delivers his first piece of advice on FTTC connection issues – a question posed to Real Business from a UK employer.

Question: I’ve realised the problem with having an FTTC connection: It sometimes slows down during peak times. Is there anything that can be done to speed things up or ensure reliable connectivity?

Answer: A lot depends on what you consider peak time. The absolute peak time generally starts at 4pm and continues to increase until around midnight, i.e. the overlap of children getting home from school and then as the evening stretches on, people at home watching TV online.

If your provider is slowing down and your connection becomes as useful as a dial-up modem after 4pm, then switching may be a good idea. While migrations are a lot slicker than they used to be in the past, if a constant broadband connection is important then ordering a connection from another provider on a new telephone line may be better. While this costs a little more, it will decrease the chances of the office being left without broadband for a morning.

Also, when switching look at the contract lengths as a two year contract may be tempting, but if the service is poor then getting out of the contract may be expensive, so look at providers that offer a range of contract lengths.

The slow downs in an office may sometimes be due to employees’ own devices doing software updates while connecting over WiFi, so consider running a second broadband connection for WiFi devices. Running a second broadband connection also helps a little in terms of security. You can keep the core business network as ethernet devices only and tablets and mobiles can use wireless, but on a physically different broadband connection, thus ensuring any unwanted content on an employee’s personal device does not end up on the same network as your account’s PC.

FTTC and old ADSL2+ arrives over normal telephone lines and can occasionally drop the connection due to radio interference. So, to reduce the chance of this happening, make sure the modem is not on a phone extension. Also, in the classic comms cupboard, ensure the wiring is tidy and the telephone line is not running parallel to all the mains wiring. Another issue is that not all FTTC modems are created equal and you may find one model is more stable, or gives better speeds than another – don’t assume that the kit the provider supplies is the best.

A good bit of advice is to use a standalone FTTC modem and have the router that runs the office network as a different device. This splits the work load and if the modem is busy reconnecting, although you will not have Internet access, the local network won’t be affected (some combined modem/routers have been known to drop wireless signals when reconnecting the broadband side).

If you are unlucky and see several total drop-outs in your connection every day then you may need to relocate the modem or seek out the dodgy bit of wiring. If your office has reasonable mobile broadband coverage, then another option would be to have a 3G or 4G dongle connected to your broadband route to give some connectivity during times when the main connection is lost– some business providers do offer backup solutions that incorporate this sort of thing.

This article is part of our Real Business Broadband campaign, which seeks to provide a mouthpiece for business leaders to vocalise the broadband issues preventing their businesses from reaching full potential. We’d love to hear your take on the debate and where you think the UK needs to make drastic changes – and feel to ask us your broadband queries. Get in touch via email (shane.schutte@realbusiness.co.uk) or join in on the action using #rbBroadband.

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