Monitor the progress as Andrew and Nick get ADSL installed...

Why do we need ADSL?

Here goes... 

18th August 2000

Grope to the BT site.

http://www.bt.com/ADSL/

this gives a HTTP server 500 error.

Good start!

I try the following link: http://www.adsl.bt.com. This site has a sweet simplistic charm! It is not ready, and really should not be accessible.

We know we need a new phone line. Currently we have a twisted pair with RedCare, and a ISDN Home Highway. These are not compatible with ADSL. 

The approach of BT sales relies on simple formulaic scenarios. We are going to be bloody awkward!  We want a new line, assign our current fax number from the home highway ISDN to the new line, and the new line must run ADSL. If successful, the ISDN gets binned!

Locate the BT sales number. (0800 800800)

The sales individual says we need the BT "Sad Bunny" scheme to get a second line installed at a better price. She seems hurt when I ask "What's the catch?"

"Will this work with ADSL?"

"ADS what?"

Anyway, I order the phone line.

"There's no problem cancelling. An agreement letter will be in the post. This will have a job number associated with it. Phone the engineer with that number, then you can get your funny requests sorted out." 

"We'll book September 2nd in the morning."

ADSL queries

Not being too convinced, I try a different tack. I attempt a torturous "151" voice system to BT sales, who then give me a number for ADSL queries (0800 917 9189). ( Not the sort of query like: "What's the return loss at 3.3kHz from the local exchange to my house on this twisted pair?) 

I test the poor soul. "OK, what does ADSL stand for?"

"Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line"

"Pass. I'm calling from 01908 --1960. Can I use ADSL?"

"Yes". 

"Isn't there a length limit?"

"No - it says yes."

I try Demon for advice - they say get the line installed first. (They're on 0800 027 3737). They email an order form. 

We intend to use the Demon Express Pro service. This is £175 a month. 13 IP addresses, Non NAT. 

22nd August 2000 

Decide to record these exploits on this web page! Stay with us!

23rd August 2000 

Learn that BT's Web World service doesn't support non-NAT. This makes them pretty useless if we're going to do anything interesting!

So we'll stick with Demon.

24th August 2000 

The BT documents have NOT arrived! BT lost the order for the new line.
I have re-ordered. I dialled 0800 800150 and bore a wretched voice routing system with adverts!

The first call this morning ended with a syllogistic error. I needed to give them a number to reserve a place or "pre-register sir" for ADSL on the local telephone exchange. I was not going to give our existing number - knowing that it would fail because of the Redcare. Politely aborted call.

On the second call I made no mention of ADSL. (That's the nice thing dealing with a impersonal megalithic ex-government organisation: you can be confident that you'll never talk to the same person twice.) 

"Please may I have second line."  

"Yes"

The BT "Together" scheme means cheaper calls at more expensive line rental. Forget this - this is not a benefit when we get ADSL going. The new line will have bugger all calls on it! We'll go for the standard tariff with £99 installation.

This time I get a contract number!

Installation is scheduled for Wed 6th Sept 08:00 - 10:30.

I also asked for all numbers to go "X Directory." I'm really pissed off with eager sales gimps with their new kitchens and double glazing, desperately earning their miserly £1 commission for each futile lead.

1st September 2000 

Nick is in the states so Andrew takes over the quest for ADSL. The paperwork has arrived from BT for the new analogue line and has been assigned the number 01908 --8967. We want the new analogue line to have our existing ISDN based fax number 01908 --1961 and for the ISDN line to get the new random number so that if all goes well with ADSL we can ditch our ISDN line but retain our fax number.

I phone BT during lunch hour. Navigate voice routing system to General enquires. Get passed to sales. Get passed to home highway department. The girl in the home highway department is helpful and explains I will need a renumbering of my ISDN line (£35.84 inc VAT) but because the analogue line is new there will be no renumbering charge. I feel the charge is a bit steep for what is basically a software tweak at the exchange but grin and bear it.

6th September 2000 

The paperwork turns up in the post for the ISDN renumbering order. The BT guy turns up at 8:35. I explain where the new line is to go and the renumbering issues. He looks a bit bemused. The analogue line installation is no problem and he gets that up and going on the originally assigned 01908 --8967 number. He then has a conversation with someone at the exchange and sorts out the software changes. He pops to the exchanges and returns about 30 mins later. Everything has been sorted out and appears to work. I am quite impressed. I re-route our PBX lines to use the new analogue line for fax, do a quick test and everything seems fine. I am at work for 10:00!

7th September 2000 

Phase 2. Lunch time. I dig out the half completed application form that Nick worked on before he set off for Charlotte. I fill in the missing bits. I phone Demon's ADSL specific enquires line to check the fax number. The line rings for about 10 mins before I give up. I am not sure about this... I fax the application form to there general fax number.

8th September 2000 

Lunch time again. I phone Demon's general enquiries line to check progress. They route me to business sales. The guy that deals with me can't track down the order. He asks me to fax it again. I try to fax it to the number he gives me. It just rings. I phone general enquiries again but the guy I have been dealing with has gone to lunch. The girl gives me another fax number. The fax sends OK. I go back to work. I arrive back home at 5:45 to a message on my answering machine from another Demon sales person saying I have missed out a field on the application form and need to call him back. I call back but business sales go home at 5:30. A job for Monday...

11th September 2000 

Had a chat with Nick R on Friday which made me think about which service to go for, 2M or 512k. since both services offer only 256k out to the internet there is no difference for serving or outgoing video conferencing. Demon could not tell me if the services were segregated (i.e. only 2M users on 2M service) also they said that you can upgrade from 512k to 2M for a £75 fee. I decided to go for 512k initially and upgrade if incoming bandwidth becomes a problem - I am hoping that not many people on our exchange will be going for ADSL. I amended the application form and faxed it to Demon.

12th September 2000 

Phoned Demon to confirm receipt of the application form. Cary said he had received it ok and was passing it on for a credit check. I asked about time scales. Don't hold your breath, 30 to 40 working days.

17th September 2000 

BT's bill for connection of new line (£84.25) and rental (£22.27) and renumber (£30.50) arrives! Yeah! It's a ploy to increase BT's share value! 

9th October 2000 

Phoned Demon for a status check: "What's going on?" Nobody got back!

Again Andrew tried. And again! 
This time: "The guy you want is out"
"Can't you help?"
"Yes, you're at the top of the list! Well the middle really."

16th October 2000

Phoned Demon again. "Oh yeah, the product was released last week!"
Thanks for NOT telling me that last week.

8th January 2001

We'll track the years: we don't know how long this will take!
Phoned Demon again. "And?..."
"Your order is registered."
"So when do we get it?"
"Can't say, but your order is registered."
"Our friend Bullshit got his ADSL installed last week, and he ordered it the beginning of December. What about us?"
"Can't say."
"Is there a specific reason for the hold up?"
"Can't say."
"Bullshit said that the BT engineers were sitting on their hands in frustration waiting to get on with the installations. Why is there this long wait?"
"Can't say, but your order is registered."

That was fruitful. 
Nick is a little jaded, having experienced 800kbps with a RoadRunner modem in Charlotte. Bullshit gets a mere 200kbps.

6th February 2001

Nick phones Demon at 13:40 (That's twenty to two)

"Good afternoon" I start. "I applied for an ADSL line in August last year. There has been a delay, any ideas when I'll get it?"

"That's not very good is it." replies Chasid, "December applicants have had theirs installed.."

"Why the delay?"

"Your order application is fine: I'll get back to you within 24 hours."

7th February 2001

13:45

Nick phones Demon

Wait, enduring the on-hold music

13:50

Linda answers "Yes the order was taken by Cary Duffy, we must be waiting on BT"

"The order was placed in August. I'm frustrated. Wouldn't you be?"

"Yes"

"I wish to escalate this"

"We're sales only. I cannot help further. Try customer support on 0845 2722333"

14:00

Assorted messages with faltering music:

We thank you for your patience: your call will be answered shortly
Please continue to hold.
Your call is important to us.


14:05

"An ADSL order was placed in August. Nothing has happened. I'm frustrated."

"I'll put you through to the Service Plus Team"

We thank you for your patience: your call will be answered shortly
Please continue to hold


14:10

Paul answers.

"What's the direct number to dial to contact you: I don't wish to be put on
hold for 15 minutes again."

"0845 272 2007"

"The ADSL order was placed in August. I'm frustrated."

"Your account ref is ****002. Your order was transferred to us in November. You should have had it installed by now! I'll get back by 15:00 and tell you what went wrong."

15:10

I dial 0845 272 2007
Number Unobtainable tone

Again

NU tone again, with a Japanese announcement.

I guess that direct line is plumbed into some multi-line numbering thingamajig. 

15:15

Ringing tone, then Answers.

"May I speak with Paul."

"Which one?"

"The one that assumes there's only one Paul working for Demon."

"There's several like that. Can I take your domain name?"

"No, that would be irrelevant: here's my account ref number."

I give the account number. I'm then placed on hold, then cut off.

15:20

"Me again," I started. "May I speak with Paul regarding my account ref number ****002."

"Can I take a domain name?" the minion enquires.
"No" (I did think of a few apt domain names, but remained polite.)

Paul (Thompson) is then back on the line.
"Yes, there was a delay at our end, the order has now been passed to BT.
"Please call in 6-10 days to progress this further."

"Which planet had you in mind? Ours? And would that be solar or sidereal
days? or may be it's calendar or working days?"

The customer hardened Paul suggested "Call me next Wednesday."

"The one that's due to occur in the middle of next week on the 14th?"

"Yes."

7th February 2001

16:10

Nick gets a call back from Demon. (Place heading in Red for emphasis. This is the first time we get a call back!)

Nada called me. "BT have received the order, and will be contacting you regarding an appointment for installation."

"Not that I'm after anyone's blood, but why the delay? And an apology would be nice." Nick enquires.

"There was an admin problem. I'm very sorr..."

"No, not from you - it's not your fault. Find out why, and call me back."

I do find it disappointing that a service company provides such abysmal service to their customers. I mean this is what they do - provide a service to customers... Are we missing something here?
Andrew suggests that we should have recorded the conversations and embedded them as .wav files on this web page. An extra delight for our growing audience!

13th February 2001

Two communications from Demon today:

Welcome to Demon Internet

Here's a précis of the letter: 

That last one leaves me slightly confused. OK, I don't want any free web space so it's irrelevant, but if I did, what IP would it end up on?

Phone Call 

BT will be here tomorrow between 13:00 and 15:30. Put the kettle on.

I think a bit of reading up on DNS is required...

14th February 2001

** Speed 354(down)/225(up) kbps **

A contingent from BT turned up in force: engineer, trainee, and manager. 

Some technical info gleaned: 

The BT "Whoosh" test measured our line at -41dB. -45dB is the worst acceptable, any higher the installation is aborted. 

An alternate test is line capacitance: 200nF. Any more than that is a failure. The automated capacitance test equipment was off line, but accessing the log file for a neighbour's phone line revealed 185nF - well within limits.

(The engineer then said he had seen line capacitance measured in Farads. Hmmm... doubtful I think.)

A high pass / low pass splitter filter is fitted to the master socket, and the modem connected.

The engineer organised a demo of streaming video on his laptop. Yes, it worked. The modem was then configured for Demon, and the BT contingent left.

The beast...

The ADSL modem/router measures 210mm by 180mm. 

I normally call it a bloody modem because I hate modems. I'll write a web page on my experience with modems - one day! 

<Marvin voice>"I designed one you know: wretched aren't they."</Marvin voice>

Server Configuration

Andrew configures the Windows 2000 server. This is a dual homed box. One NIC connects to the new modem, the other to the house LAN. DNS is configured and the server configured as a router. Seems to hang together.

A speed test with http://www.dslreports.com reveals: ** Speed 354(down)/225(up) kbps **

Let's see if FrontPage uploads this web page!

28th February 2001

Our connection to Demon has been pretty good, but connection from Demon to the world is patchy!

Here I am surfing the net:

rC:\>tracert -d www.south.is

Tracing route to www.south.is [212.30.219.149] over a maximum of 30 hops:

 1 <10 ms <10 ms  10 ms 192.168.254.4    
 2 <10 ms  10 ms <10 ms 62.49.176.1     
 3  20 ms  30 ms  30 ms 212.240.162.126
 4  20 ms  30 ms  30 ms 158.152.0.50
 5  20 ms  30 ms  30 ms 158.152.0.181
 6 150 ms 110 ms 120 ms 195.173.173.9
 7 110 ms 110 ms 150 ms 195.173.173.210
 8 * * * Request timed out.
 9 * * * Request timed out.
10 * * ^C

C:\>nslookup 195.173.173.210
*** Can't find server name for address 192.168.255.4: Non-existent domain
*** Default servers are not available
Server: Unknown
Address: 192.168.255.4
Name: ny1-border-1-210.router.demon.net
Address: 195.173.173.210

5th March 2001

Well today our connection to Demon goes down. They blame BT, the ex-nationalised, faceless telecommunications provider. Bring back the GPO, I say. May have been Strowger or TXE4 but you knew where you were. All this suppressed carrier quadrature modulation cac - where does that get you?

One good thing about having ADSL - I can now connect to the anotherurl.com server from home even when the ISP is off the air! :-)

Mailgate

I've been reading up on MX records and we now have email. Andrew obtained a copy of Intermail's Post.Office. It appears to work. (I really couldn't stomach installing MS Exchange, even though I have a legitimate MSDN copy.)

Demon have 2 mail relay servers that receive/ store emails should our email server be off-line. They poll the "real" mail server every eight hours to deliver the cached emails. 

This was not happening...why?

The dears at Demon entered in the wrong mailgate IP. Luckily there was nothing on the other mistyped IP's port 25....

Links

http://www.adsl.com/ This site has a couple of good FAQ's.

BT Search

http://www.dslreports.com

http://www.adslguide.org.uk/

http://www.bt.com/broadband/

ADSL in the UK

Demon Network Status

Nildram (Gavin recommends!)

Current status

The thing is now installed! Is this the conclusion?