UPDATE Mar 2020 – Still current.
ADSL connections can be troublesome but when everything is setup properly you should enjoy a reasonably trouble free Internet connection. In principle, telephone lines were “designed” to carry voice which is an analogue service but ADSL is a digital service and this requires better quality telephone lines.e.g. old equipment removed. BT have vastly improved the telephone lines and all are digital capable see ADSL to use ADSL, you need to fit filters – to filter voice from data, it works by data voice use different frequencies. Thats magic 🙂
If you have telephone lines that have been installed since the year dot, it is quite possible that the cables are not good enough for a digital signal and these may need renewing. BT have a replacement program to renew old cables but it is quite a big job and needs a lot of money spending. If you have old cables, BT engineers can boost the signal and work all sorts of magic but they need to know that you are wanting to use the telephone line for digital connections. It has been known for a BT engineer to call out and do a line test and he’s confirmed all is ok but he’s only used tests for analogue. Had he tested for digital requirements the line test would have failed. I think it is fair to say that BT have now got this sorted and do appear to be more appreciative of the needs of data.
Another common problem is that customers think that the Internet connection works by “magic” and don’t always follow the instructions needed to ensure they get a trouble free connection, e.g, use the filters on all ‘phone points.
Perhaps the biggest problem is that the phone point coming into the house is placed (presented) where it is convenient to have a phone (and why not, it’s a phone line) Unfortunately, this is often not where a computer is likely to be used so the use of extension cables is often the case. Phone extension cables are not usually a good idea unless they are used only for voice. The best thing is to have the main telephone point installed close to where the computer is going to be used. Where the main phone point is situated in say the hall at the bottom of the stairs and the computer is located in the study on the ground floor or the bedroom on the first floor, the best solution is to have a “proper” telephone extension point installed close to where the computer is to be used and then make sure you use filters on any other phone point in the house. If the main phone point is in a location that is not where you want to use the computer, consider these options:-
1. If possible get a “proper” phone extension point fitted near where you will use the computer.
2. Consider using WiFi but often this means that you will still be limited by the WiFi signal and may not get a good enough signal where you want to use your computer. You are back to the positioning of the phone point again as the WiFi router will need to be plugged into the phone point.
3. Consider using homeplug (Ethernet over mains). This might be more costly than having a phone extension but it means you can have an Internet connection in any room you want and you don’t need to mess about with WiFi. The biggest benefit here is that your ADSL modem/router can be anywhere in the house and you can put the “roving” part of the homeplug system in any room at anytime without having to configure anything. You can connect several computers to the system and create a home network – computer in every room type situation. Check out Solwise and find out more.
If you are getting intermittent connection problems :-
1. Power off the router for 5mins, power off your computer. Power up the router and wait for all the lights to stabilise (maybe 2 mins) Then power up the Computer, hopefully you have fixed the problem.
2. Check you are using filters on all sockets that have a phone. If so, try to connect the router to the master (test) socket and disconnect all phones. If that cures the problem, you may have a loose connection or a faulty filter.
3. Check with your ISP to see if there any problems in the area.
If you are having problems when using WiFi, check out the WiFi trouble shooting page.