Up and down, up and down, up...

Posted on Apr 26, 2005

After moaning about LLU provision and adoption, it seemed only fair that I should try it out myself. So last week I switched from a BT supplied phone line with BT OpenWorld ADSL to a Bulldog phone line with Bulldog ADSL. Arranging the switch was pretty straight-forward and involved filling in a form on the Bulldog website. After some messing about over my BT account number (which I didn’t have initially as the line was paid for by Sun) I was given an installation date.

A couple of days before the named day I dropped in at RL Supplies to buy a NetGear DG834 ADSL router, as the one I had was owned by BT. Twenty minutes spent peering through the web-based configuration screens with my Bulldog details in hand produced what I hoped would be a working configuration, and then I waited.

On the morning of the switchover I was pottering around and checked that the BT stuff was still working at around 8am before wandering out of the house for a while. When I got back just after 9am my connection was down so I removed the BT router, plugged in my new NetGear and waited. About 2 minutes later it burst into life and we were switched.

At the moment BT is selling services up to 2Mbit/sec, with many customers choosing 1Mbit/sec or 512kbit/sec for cost reasons. After starting out at 512kbit/sec I was happy to be upgraded to 1Mbit/sec. Something that had always irritated me about all of the BT based ADSL offerings was the packet latency - usually around 17ms RTT for the first hop in the network (i.e. over the ADSL link). This always seemed unreasonably large. The Bulldog connection is sold as 4Mbit/sec and, if my experience so far is anything to go by, they seem able to deliver that. Downloading a 700MB ISO image in under 30 minutes is great fun. The latency is also much better, hovering around 7ms RTT.

Overall I’m very happy. There have been a few instances where the PPP session has dropped, but it so far has re-connected within a few seconds and I have not rung Bulldog support about it yet. The ADSL modem itself claims to have connected to the network at 8Mbit/sec, so I’m hopefully that higher-speed services will be available at some point.


(Oh, and this story explains why www.dme.org was offline for a few days before I got around to having the relevant DNS records updated.)

Update: It transpired that the ADSL drops were caused by the NetGear DG834 router spontaneously rebooting. Scanning through the NetGear forums led to the suggestion that updating to the (beta) 2.10.17 firmware fixes the problem. I’ve done that and, so far, no drops in the last 48 hours.