back to article BT claims UK broadband boost breakthrough

BT has blamed Brits' poor broadband speeds on tellies, lights and electrical wiring and the interference they all cause. All this noise gets in the way of broadband signals pinging around homes' phone extension wiring, the telco claimed. The interference is picked up by the bell wire, a third cable which runs alongside the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Why BT what clean lines you have...

    ...All the better to monitor your activity my dear.

    Yep, now BT's ad-whisperers Phorm can monitor you in pristine clarity and unparalleled speed.

    I-Plate probably has built in mic's to monitor conversations in the same room about potential products you may be susceptable to.

    ...the one with the tin-foil hood please.

  2. Soruk

    BT-branded NTE5 only

    These I-plates only work on BT-branded NTE5 sockets only, apparently they are not compatible with the Openreach ones. (Whether the Openreach ones do this bell wire isolation by themselves is anybody's guess.)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I was under the impression the socket was BT's property? Now they are encouraging us to tamper with it?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    So they blame everyone but themselves? How very British.

  5. john loader

    But what if the speed is just lousy

    BT claim I should get 0.5Mb/s being around 6km from the exchange. Router sees betwwen 900k and 1.6M and I average around 959k. No amount of fiddling with the wiring will boost my speed. BT needs to address the issues of basic line speed .

  6. Kevin Brown

    Or you could just...

    Cut/remove the bell wire from the master socket. Unless you are still using trimphones or other phones from the pre light emitting diode era the only effect will be a clearer ADSL line. Google: adsl remove bell wire for plenty of DIY help.

  7. James


    you can do this yourself for free? some googling for the 'iplate' gave me this link

  8. K
    Thumb Down

    BT are slow .. and this really is a rip off

    1) I disconnected my ringer wire over 2 years ago - and yes it does give a massive speed boost, my ADSL2 went from 11Mb sync to 13.5Mb sync (and getting a tweakable router router its now gone upto 16.5Mb).

    2) Also, as long as you phone is plugged into a microfilter, it will still ring - hence you don't need this stupid thing, just cut the wire... hmm now which one was it.

  9. TimM
    Dead Vulture

    Welcome to 6 months ago

    And should be noted that these are just bell wire filters, you still need ADSL filters, and might not be required or even make things worse if you already have dedicated faceplate filter (e.g. adslnation, clarity, etc). Likewise you can probably also save yourself £10 and snip the bell wire yourself.

  10. Nic

    You lot really are whiners some times.

    So a relatively positive item about a company offering something to potentially improve BB speeds is responded to with usual El Reg commentards bitching about conspiracy theories and blame.

    Seems to me this solution (yes I already knew about the bell wire cut option) is a nice clean way of doing something to a phone socket non-techies would have previously been scared of.

    Stop whining and go back to watching Stargate re-runs or whatever it is you do.

    /and yes I am in a bad mood today.

  11. Duncan Robertson
    Thumb Up

    Replace the wiring as well!

    Disconnecting the bell wire is the first step. You really want to replace the shitty extension wire with some nice shielded CAT5.

    As for the NTE5 being BT's property, yes but as explains, it's only the bit behind the pull-out bit you're not allowed to tamper with.

    Removing the bell wire is the fix for less disconnects, more speed and less noise on the line. It's obsolete, it should be removed - probably from the whole BT network!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Majority of household phone cables are crap

    As a self employed IT Engineer I see a lot of home installations of ADSL. And I have to agree with BT here. Most home cabling is crap. Often installed in the 50's with weedy old cable. Nailed under floorboards. Running parallel with mains cables. Then add a few DIY store cables lashed into the system. These all have a horrendous effect on the line speed.

    Wost place I have seen so far... a speed of 300Kbps was boosted to 4Mbps just by disconnecting the household sockets and running from the BT master socket. That has happened a dozen times now.

    But BT don't help themselves either... there was a client last month who had had a BT Engineer "reinstall" an extension socket by jamming the cables in with a screwdriver instead of the proper tool. This also messed up the speeds and kept disconnecting. All I did was to cleanly reinsert the cables with the proper tool, and again broadband speeds leaped up.

  13. King TuT

    RE: wtf? By Anonymous Coward

    The wiring up to the test socket is BT's responsibility - you aren't meant to mess with. You are allowed to replace the front panel - the part the connects into the test socket and allows you to add your own extension wiring.

  14. Richard Porter

    The i-plate isolates the bell wire...

    So just pulling the bell wire out of the idc would do the job, but what makes the bell ring on my extension phones?

    I still have a classic LD Ferranti Flip-phone in the kitchen.

    Surely the best solution is to filter out the ADSL at the master socket, install the router nearby and just take the ethernet cable around the house or use wi-fi?

  15. King TuT


    It's only really old phones and the odd made for UK use only phone that still require the bell wire, virtually all phones of the last several years have their own ringing circuit.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You should not have extended the socket if you use DSL anyway

    Extending the phone to your modem is daft anyway. It makes more sense to run Cat5 to the place where the socket is and hang the modem (or router) on the wall on a cable that is as short as possible. Unless it is something shiny that does not have wall hanging holes like the .... BT Home Hub or other recent Thomson varieties. Oops...

  17. Vincent
    Thumb Down

    Stop faffing around...

    Just lay the damn Fibre already.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    These have been around for a while

    I bought one about a year ago from here:

    But there are plenty of others if you Google around. It worked for me, I got almost another megabit out of my line.

    Regarding the "WTF, messing with the NTE5" comment above - it is legal to play with the front part of the NTE5, what you can't do is alter the incoming wiring or the back part of the NTE5. The front plate is actually detachable for diagnostic purposes - this is the bit you replace when you buy a filtered version like the one in the article.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Master box filters...

    This is a solution to a problem that should never have existed.

    By far the best option is to replace the front of the master box with an integrated filter that splits the voice/ADSL, leaving all your phone extensions for voice and giving a socket to plug a router into. Anyone running their ADSL up a phone extension needs a frontal lobotomy.

    To the earlier AC who said, "I was under the impression the socket was BT's property": the master socket is BT's property, but that's not what you plug your phone into. If you remove the bottom part of the main box, you'll find the master socket behind it. BT's bodge adaptor fits between the 2 parts, whereas a proper integrated filter replaces the removable bit with a plate containing 2 independent sockets and contact points for pre-wired extensions.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    8 meg increase

    Ive recently managed to get my Be Pro line up from 9meg to almost 17meg.

    Disconnected the 3rd wire, installed one of these which does the filtering for the whole house at the master socket, and I also (which is illegal I believe) rewired and moved the master socket a lot nearer the incoming main BT Cable from outside.

    Result was an increase of almost 8 meg :)

  21. thefutureboy

    Silly Question...

    Am I correct in assuming that disconnecting the bell wire will not have any effect if one's router is plugged directly into the master socket?

    (Boffin icon as I need a boffin to answer)

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    I think the real problem with my ADSL line is that the last few hundred feet come through the air from a pole at the bottom of someone else's garden. Wind and rain really do affect the noise on the line and it has been replaced by BT once so I'm stuck on a fixed 2MB line (Max ADSL shows a SNR of 0!)

  23. Iain

    Waste of my time

    When my provider of so called "unlimited" broadband whines and moans when I make use of it, a faster connection will just mean I am drawing more bandwidth, so more whining and moaning from the provider.

    I doubt they will even send me or anyone else an iplate for this reason.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    BT openreach filters,

    the iPlate will not work on the BT openreach branded filtered faceplate for one good reason.. the filters in the iPlate are already integrated into this filter.

    and for all the retards that say "just cut the bell wire" you need to do a little research! the iPlate does a little more than isolate the bell wire.. scattered around the net are some circuit diagrams which if you have a clue about filter circuits will fathom out exactly what it does....

    mines the one with the dolby logo on the back !!!

  25. Chris

    re: Silly Question

    Not quite - it would have no effect if you are plugged into the Test socket on the master socket (see here: ), but if you are just plugged into the master socket then the bell wire can still have an effect - it acts a bit like an antenna to pick up electrical noise.


  26. David Morris

    Don't overlook other gear in the house

    I had horrendous problems with my broadband due to poor signal to noise ratios. After much experimenting and general buggering around, I traced the problem to an old Sony surround sound system. Despite it being nowhere near the incoming DSL cabling and having no phones plugged in to the line supplying the DSL, turning the surround system off increased the SNR to such an extent that my stable rate went from 2Mb to 4Mb. I'm now the owner of a very nice Yamaha AV receiver.

  27. Yorkshirepudding

    utter rollocks

    complete bullpies BT once again you are talking out of your poo chute, and as for the iPlate pffft they are ten a penny on the interwebs

    thats assuming your neighbours tv isnt interrupting it

  28. Ross Ryles

    Re: Silly question

    Your assumption is correct, if and only if you have no other wiring connected to your master socket (either plugged in to the front or cabled out the back). If you have an extension socket (even unused) on the same line then its bell wire will pick up noise. That noise is then coupled through the ring generating circuit inside your master box to one side of the signal pair.

    There are plenty of online guides to improving your wiring for ADSL.

  29. Ishkandar
    Thumb Up

    Why bother ??

    I have a NTL/Virgin Media line that supplies Phone, TV and broadband and I do not have to faff around with all this nonsense. Perhaps when it snows in hell, we may see BT coming up with something reasonable !!

  30. Anonymous Coward


    I've been using filters directly at the master sock running into a router and running cat5 from there for years for some of my friends adsl lines (use cable myself, basically coz I hate adsl) but it really doesnt sort out the issue of the line quailty from the master socket back to the exchange where imo most of these problems lay.

    Then they send an engineer out to make it 'just good enough' to pass for the speed you paid for, without solving the real issue of the network needs replacing thing.

    *\. Moving my jacket because if the arms move in the wind by themselfs my next door neighbour may loose his adsl connection.

  31. Jimmy

    BT = Bygone Technology. Needs rephorming.

    Most urban dwellers can seriously improve the quality and integrity of their broadband experience by the simple expedient of using their BT line to make one last call - to the local cable provider.

    BT are still using the same wired infrastructure that Alexander Graham Bell used in the 19th century to provide domestic phone connections. Now the giant telcom is stepping up to the challenges of 21st century broadband by providing a DIY kit that customers are expected to retrofit at the network entry point. FFS, talk about a dead man walking.

    BT shareholders will be gratified to know that despite lack of investment in their core business, the company is happy to announce that it has entered into a contractual arrangement with a well known malware distributor whose technology will enable us to steal our customers data with complete immunity thanks to an endorsement from the UK government.

    Recommendation: sell BT, buy fibre.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Oi Ross NO!

    Its not correct! the test socket is isolated (ie line only it disconnects the extensions) the Master socket, (connects to the test socket) and is with the extensions connected! this includes the bell wire to other extensions! and hence can feed interfertance back to the master socket! #

    If you dont use extensions disconnect them at the master socket! if you do need an extension consider a cordless Dect Phone extension that talks to the master socket only! (£30 for the pair from arg*s)

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real reasons

    Oh FF Sake! BT blaming interference and their solution is "filter it out". NO! Stop the interference from getting in in the first place. What a bunch of muppets they are.

    1)Start using shielded, screened cable for data transmission. Fundamentally, the cabling we all use for connecting slave/extension telephone sockets was never designed for high speed data transmission, come to that, it was never designed for data transmission period! It was designed for low bandwidth (up to 4KHz) analogue voice transmission.

    2) BT, the reason we have poor internet connection speeds it because you t**ssers insist on using the local loop made of poor quality unshielded twisted pair, that again, wasn't ever intended to transmit high speed data.

    Stop blaming anything, everything else for the low data rates and take a look at your own s**t infrastructure.

    Many things radiate radiowaves and that's permitted by law. Susceptibility to that RF interference is governed by laws. It's a fact of life that the air is full of RF crap, BT should stop blaming poor ADSL performance on RF interference and they should be proactive and take measures to ensure their infrastructure isn't susceptible to it: ie. it's their f***ng problem.

    How about some decent f**ng cable designed for data transmission?

    Makes me wonder if BT know anything about data transmission at all. Funny, their Martlesham Heath research establishment is full of graduate Electronic Engineers.

  34. James
    Thumb Up


    I have been using one of these for over a year:

    It makes a big difference to my BB speeds (about 7Mbit compared to about 4Mbit without).

    What it does is split the ADSL and telephone signal at the point that it enters your property. Your router/modem goes in the ADSL connector, and as long as all your telephone extensions are on the other side they will not require individual ADSL filters. This and the higher than normal quality ADSL filter (apparently better than the BT supplied version) built into it means that you get as good an ADSL signal as possible.

    You can also wire connection into the back of the faceplate to keep it tidy if you need to run the ADSL side of it to another room.

    I was so pleased with it at the time I even wrote a 5/5 review on their website after I bought it.

    To those that say BT don't allow you to tamper with the incoming telephone line, and that BT don't allow this - The rule is that everything out the back of this primary phone connector box is BTs responsibility, and everything in front of the box (including the faceplate) is yours.

    Seriously, I recommend everyone has one of these. Best £12 I spent in a long time.

  35. Richard

    "BT has blamed Brits' poor broadband speeds on tellies, lights and electrical wiring and the interference they all cause"

    What a load of complete and utter bollocks!

    It's BT's own Power Line Adaptors that are the worst source of domestic interference. These things are pretty much wiping out spectrum between about 2MHz and 28MHz, obliterating Radio Amateur and Short Wave broadcasts and are being investigated by Ofcom for spectrum abuse.

    Just to get an idea of the amount of crap that these horrors are pumping out, have a look at

  36. This post has been deleted by its author

  37. Ross Ryles

    Re: Oi Ross NO!

    That's what I said, only with far fewer grammatical errors.

  38. This post has been deleted by its author

  39. Samuel Walker

    The odd thing is...

    That in our house we can't actually find a master socket.

    We've looked (ok, I was curious)

    It's not anywhere to be found.

    So on that basis, I assume that it won't work in our house.

    Hmmm... I wonder what a BT engineer would say if they had to come and fix our telephone line?

    "Where's your master socket?"

    "We don't have one."

    "Can't do anything then, that's 50 quid call-out charge thanks"

    "But, but"

    You get the idea.

    Any suggestions on this missing master socket?

  40. Anonymous Coward

    @Samuel Walker

    Having no master socket it not uncommon... I think they started using them in the 70s or 80s, so any house with wiring from before that stands a good chane of not having one.

    Normally, those houses will have a brown junction box (domed rectangle with a single screw) just inside the property where the (overhead) line enters. Sometimes this has been painted over so is some shade of off-white instead! Even older properties have a bigger black junction box (there's some good pictures on - the sad thing is that I've worked on most of them, inluding ones 50years older than me!!!)

    If you had reason for a BT engineer to visit, chances are pretty good that they'd replace that junction box with an NTE5 - if you were lucky enough to get a good engineer (ha!) they might even fit an NTE2000 (aka ADSL master socket).

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re:Any suggestions on this missing master socket?

    Actually it's £100 per hour or part thereof

  42. Zmodem

    BT sucks

    cant stand anything about BT. but they should make filters with boosters and put on all theyre pilons. and the dsl. above 512 connection. might be able to go further still

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    We had very poor broadband bandwidth, i.e less than 1.5Mb on a supposedly 4Mb service. they shipped us an I-Plate and wow 3Mb ever since.

    We have purchased two more filters for other premises and they have improved the service in all cases.

    Thumbs up from me !

  44. Anonymous Coward

    Hah !

    Ringer wire or blinger wire or whatever we are limited to 512 as we are on a very long line from the exchange and the cabling from the "green" cab is rubbish. Only hope we have is fibre to the "green"cabinet .......................................... NOT holding my breath !

  45. Adrian Coward

    Re: The real reasons

    And who is going to *PAY* for replacing the hundreds of thousands of miles of wiring? Are you offering to foot the bill?

  46. N

    British Telecon

    But to be fair, you have to consider the last mile or two of verdigris coated copper stuff laid in the 18th century that goes to your house, most of which is going to remain in place for some time yet.

    Having made it that far, theres a snakes wedding of 'dury rigged' extensions made from anything but the correct cable to join up your average households collection of telephones with ren numbers seldom considered.

    Im sure this dosnt describe your average El Regizeer readers set-up, but poor speeds come as no surprise & fairly easy to resolve with a bit of applied common dog...

    The engineers in the field are mostly OK & pretty good at their jobs, but from there on BT are a complete pain in the arse of biblical proportions.

    So I can only hope that BT & their nasty partner in crime Phorm roll in the current economic climate because BT in my opinion is not fit for purpose in this century or the last.

  47. N

    That is correct, AC

    @ AC - Yes, thats right, if you disconnect the bell connections from the master socket it will help cut interference & thus boost speed.

    The bell wires are on terminals 3 & 4

    The speech wires are on 2 & 5

    The wires connected to 3 & 4 act like a f**king great aerial for interference from your microwave, fluorescent lamps, arc welder (nothing like a spot of welding now & again) unsuppressed antique lawn mower etc & anything else that transmits electrical noise so if you remove 'em at the master socket it will help.

  48. Jimmy

    @ Andrew Crystall

    Sorry to hear that you are having localised problems with your cable provider and, yes, I am aware of the particular issues you mention. The point I was making is that for the majority of users the transition from copper to fibre will be beneficial, both financially and technically.

    In the case of pissed off people like yourself, the options are limited. Get organized and start kicking VM ass or revert to 19th century technology.

    Rock and a hard place, Andrew.

  49. Sam

    Cable is only for Cherry picked areas......

    I am sick to death of people who keep banging on about how great cable is, and how it is fibre optic. No it is not! It is coaxial cable from the street cabinet to the house FFS! Not all of us live in cabled streets anyhow.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    'Cut the Bell Wire' gave me 2Meg better.

    I read the comments here and found the 'Cut the bell wire' tip on the web following one of the links posted. I had been having probs with Orange 8Mb broadband since sign up 8 months ago. Previously was on Virgin on a 1 meg connection with no probs at all. My prob was that the Orange Livebox router would not synchronise for several hours if it was turned off or disconnected. Having read about 'cut the bell wire' I tried it and was astonished to see the router synchronise in just over a minute, plus I got a 2 meg increase in download speed. Thanks for the info guys!

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Erm, so how much do you think 25 million miles of screened cable is going to cost? Is there a slight chance BT would have to put up their costs if they followed your suggestion? Screened cable is a bit bigger than twisted pair too, isn't it, so they might need one or two bigger ducts to fit it all in.

    Most RF that affects DSL comes from the customer end. It's where the DSL signal is lowest and thus S/NR is poorest. You don't find many washing machines or central heating pumps installed next to green cabinets or over manholes.

    And to the chap who suggests putting boosters on "pilons" - er, you know those big metal things are for electricity right?

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Samuel Walker

    In addition to what the other AC posted, only BT openreach engineers can change the point of entry(NTP) so if you for whatever reason get an IT call out (hitv, vision or whatever) the BT operate engineer cant touch the NTP without risking dismissal.

    cool huh...

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speed will soon drop back again

    It is true that after filtering noise from the bell wire, an ADSL modem will synchronise at a higher speed. The benefit can indeed be significant, claims of 1-2 Mbps are quite credible.

    But here's the catch...

    When a new customer in the UK gets connected to BT's adaptive 'up to 8 Mbps' service for the very first time, the line is subjected to a 10 day stabilisation period. During that period, a gadget at the BT exchange monitors the line rate, and establishes a so-called "Fault Threshold Rate" (FTR), which is the rate that your connection appears to be capable of sustaining. Thereafter, the FTR never changes unless BT decide there's a need for it, for example if they replace or update the exchange or it's wiring. Once the FTR has been set for your line, BT are meant to try their hardest to ensure you always achieve your FTR, or better.

    Following the 10 day period, BT tweak a parameter known as 'target noise margin' in order to control the speed at which you connect. If the target margin's too low you'll connect at a higher speed but will experience lot's of errors. If the margin's high, you'll connect at a lower speed but your connection there will be fewer errors. Bt like to err on the side of stability, since it reduces retransmissions which could congest their network.

    Day in and day out, BT's equipment constantly monitors your line to tweak the target margin, using an algorithm called 'dynamic line management' (DLM), which is based on the FTR that was established during the ten-day stabilisation period. DLM aims to make your line as stable as possible, consistent with allowing you to connect at something close to your assigned FTR.

    The net effect is that if you install one of these devices your speed will increase temporarily until, some time later, DLM spots a few transient errors on the line (e.g. because of a nearby thunderstorm) and because your line is faster than the FTR, it will raise your target margin to reduce the speed back towards the FTR. This may happen within days or it may take a few months, but it is almost certain to happen. Once the target margin's increased it is very unlikely to ever drop back again, it's effectively a permanent change.

    So try this by all means, but don't expect the speed benefit to last. In fairness, your line will be more stable than it was, but that's another matter. Alternatively, if you have the energy, petition BT to restart the 10 day period when one of these is fitted so you get a higher FTR. Except you can't talk to BT, you have to talk to your ISP, who won't want to know...

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