back to article Be Broadband doubles down on ADSL to catch cable

In the wake of Virgin Media's 50Mbit/s launch yesterday, O2-owned Be Broadband is pushing copper wires to their limits by trialling technology that will double bandwidth available via ADSL2+. The ISP has been trialling the service with customers connected to the BT Paddington exchange in London since September. Triallists' …


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  1. David Hicks

    I <3 Be

    They just seem decent, they're aimed squarely at people that want a fast connection and no limits and aren't going to be on the phone asking why their google stopped working.

    This is cool. I must try and get on the next round.

  2. John Tuffen

    Channel bonding...

    Ah, well if you're going to have to run multiple 'phone lines to a premises, the same can be done with (Euro)Docsis 3.0 - into the hundreds-of Mbit range if you have the cash...

  3. Danny Thompson

    Up to vs this is what you'll get

    I'm no fan of Virgin by any stretch but this latest by BE is somewhat specious in its description. ADSL2+ with bonding, or without, will at best deliver an "up to" top speed of whatever the ISP decides to try and sell on.

    By direct comparison the cable technology delivered by Virgin delivers what it says on the tin. Cable broadband, as deployed by the former Telewest and parts of NTL that did not resort to ADSL, will deliver the advertised speeds without any notion of "up to". That Virgin then decide to control the available bandwidth is another matter altogether.

  4. max allan
    Thumb Up

    A happy customer

    I'm on Be and can confirm that I get about 12Mbit/s download consistently.

    (And a slightly higher "sync" rate)

    That's compared to virgin who had a consistent sync rate of around 8Mbit and a download speed of around 128Kbit/s or less in the evening. Normally around 3AM (not really peak surfing time) I'd get the full 8M. When I complained to support people I was told to patch windows (even though I had the same issues on Mac and various Unices) , then to install anti spyware/virus software etc. then ignored.

    Be give you a day of discount when it's your birthday and have proactively warned me about planned maintenance that might affect me. The only minor problem I had with Be was dealt with by a person not a robot and a person with a bit of understanding as well.

    And in case you're wondering, I work for a competitor who would give me a free broadband package, but I'd rather pay Be for it.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Central london, short distance from the exchange?

    I assume they have said somewhere how far, on average, the users were from the exchange in these trials?

  6. Steve Mason
    Thumb Up


    Be do seem to be a refreshing change to the norm of ISP's... they acknowledge when they have issues, have support staff that actually seem to know what they're on about *shock* and above all provide a truly uncapped and fast service!

    16meg down 1 meg up for £16 pcm, uncapped, can't complain at that!

    very interested to see if this bondage (is that obscene ?) kicks off, and for how much.

  7. Steve

    And Next Week

    They are going to paint some go faster stripes on your modem....

    They realy should just invest in a decent infrastructre to start off with instead of flogging a dead horse.

  8. Dr. Mouse

    All well and good

    I joined Be* over a year ago. I joined mainly for the download speeds, but also because I had heard they had great customer service, they listened to suggestions, and pretty much treated it like a democratic club, with every member having a say.

    And they were right. I revelled in my new-found ISP, who didnt expect you to recheck all the basic points when you phones for support, who you rarely HAD to phone for support. The usergroup was great, and I was in internet heaven.

    Then along came O2. It did not happen overnight, but now we find that Be* is not as it once was. They must answer to O2 about everything. A good example is the recent IWF-Wikipedia debacle. Rather than the debate and discussion we used to get we Be staff, we got fed marketting PR bull and a complete lack of interest in our opinions. This was at least partially down to O2 insisting they do thin gs a particular way. Wellcome to standard ISP practice.

    IMO the only good reason to be with Be now is the speed, and you can get that cheaper through O2 if you have an O2 mobile. I am extremely disappointed in them, although not surprised. Just bear this in mind if you are considering joining for any reason but the speed.

  9. Tom
    Thumb Up


    I've had nothing but good experiences with Be although I only seem to get 12Mbps (can't complain really!).

    Good to see a high quality company with good customer support, etc, taking on the shitty Virgin Media.

  10. jonathan rowe


    meanwhile, the dire lack of backhaul by almost all ISP's will make 48mbits like pissing through a hypodermic syringe

  11. Anonymous Coward

    I <3 Be 2

    with 24Mbit @300m from the exchange Im another happy being.

    I dont like the Idea of Paying BT more Line rental though... cant they use a spare pair in my existing line?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What are the costs?

    Who pays for the two phone lines? Does it mean you end up paying two BT line rentals ontop of what is probably going to be an expensive ISP charge?

    And by 'new', does this mean proper new copper wires from the exchange to your house, because BT usualy just use existing cables. If they're using existing cables then surely you only need to have one new phone line fitted?

    But, if you only get 7mbps with Be due to the quality of BT's line, then isn't it likely that a second line will also get about 7mbps, and so you're going to end up paying a fortune for a connection that isn't even close to 24mbps, let alone 50.

  13. Dale Richards
    Thumb Up

    Love it...

    This gets the thumbs-up from me.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Can only say "well done BE"

    I've been a BE* customer for quite a while, and while thrashing the nuts off their service 24/7 I've hardly had any issues at all (those which have occurred, few and far between, have been service upgrades...)

    Given Virgin's position on things like DPI and throttling, I don't see any reason to move off BE.

    A happy customer.

  15. Jamie Kitson

    2 Lines?

    Sounds like cheating to me. And very expensive. Especially if you still have to pay the BT tax on each line.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    <3 Bee

    H8 Thompson Routers...

    a typo? Is there? where?

  17. Anonymous Coward

    its all a matter of cost....

    i get the full hit from BE, a good solid 24Mbit, and I can download a movie in less than 10 min. If they were to double capacity, the same movie will download in less than 5 min...

    i really don't see the need myself... the money is better spent on expanding the networks and adding capacity to the backbone...\

    mines the one with the pirates type motif...

  18. FathomsDown


    It will be interesting to see how much they charge for the service and how long it will be before all the other broadband providers pile on to the scene and undercut Be!

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Surely no title is required

    "Triallists' homes were fitted with two new phone lines and the broadband signals from both combined and split by a special router."

    Technically, the triallists were existing customers and so only needed ONE new phone line (in addition to their existing connection) :-)

    Oh and David Hicks, not to put down my much-loved ISP, but the forums in there are a-blaze with DNS problems, the recent IWF hoo-haa and over-congestions on a few exchanges. A few blips I'm hopinh and not the beginning of the end...

  20. Ross Fleming

    Ave. distance

    If it's 30-45MB bonded, we can assume the individual lines were averaging 15-22.5MB. There's a few graphs out there that correlate distance with speed (assuming line is decent) which would place it 1km - 2.5km line length.

  21. Thomas

    O2 are pretty great too!

    Relevantly because I think O2 broadband is really Be - I signed up earlier in the year for 'up to 16 mbit/sec ADSL2' from my London flat. Was connected, etc, but was only getting a 4 mbit/sec connection. So with no prompting whatsoever, O2 emailed to say that since the connection speed wasn't what they'd hoped, I should give them a ring. I did that (they answered after maybe four rings, despite me calling immediately after returning from work somewhere just before 7) and they said that the problem is probably somewhere after the line enters my building, there's nothing they can do about it so would switch me to a cheaper package.

    I can't rate them highly enough.

  22. Tim

    I don't want to burst your bubble but. . .

    Here in the sticks, a massive 3.1 cable KMs from the exchange, I bareley ever get 2MBps on my up to 8MBps line so assuming a linnear relationship I should only get 1/4 of the suggested "30 and 45Mbit/s" in other words between 7.5 and 11.25 MBps. Barely more than I am supposed to get on my 'Up to 8MBps' line anyway.

    Sorry but the technology is not up to the job of delivering the fastes possible connection rate unless you live next door to an exchange IMHO.

    Fully end-end digital connection is what you really need at these speeds, let there be cable, fibred to the door! (Even in the non-suburban towns)

  23. Rob Beard

    Bonding lines

    Technically you can bond two lines with Enta but then you'd probably be limited to up to 16Mbit/sec, not to mention it'll start to get stupidly expensive.

    Still it would be nice to have.

    I think for now though I'll stick to my 8 Meg connection, that is until Be enable my local exchange (they've done a few exchanges in my area, but not the one I'm connected to). When my exchange is enabled I'd certainly consider moving over.


  24. Tom Smith Silver badge

    yet another happy Being

    We only get 15-16Mb (2.5 up) at our distance from the exchange, and I've got nothing but good things to say about Be*s staff and customer service (had to ring up yesterday after I borked our modem, but rather than the usual "you're not using our firmware, we're not talking to you" I got a sensible and useful advice, pitched right at my level of expertise). But even if I didn't like Be*, anything sounds better than virgin from what I hear from my freinds. 50Mbps? Yeah, but not at a useful time of day, or for bittorrents or anything else you might actually *want* to use the bandwidth for.

    Be* might not be that fast, but they've never given me any crap, even when I got a filesharing complaint.

    Don't think I can afford the two line premium, but I know my flatmate will be excited...

  25. Craig Vaughton
    Thumb Up

    Be Good, but

    I joined Be after Pipex were taken over by Tiscali and went downhill rapidly after that. They still owe me money, 8 months later!

    To date Be have been great, rock solid service, no hassles, etc.

    The biggest problem is the BT lines from the exchange. A friend also has Be and lives a 2 minute walk away; same exchange virtually same distance. He gets 10Mb +, I've never had more than 7Mb, both with the stock router.

    I've since tried dedicated master sockets, different router, etc, nada.

    Personally, I'd be happy to get something close to the current 24Mb max on one line, let alone payout to BT for 2.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    re: I <3 Be 2

    "I dont like the Idea of Paying BT more Line rental though... cant they use a spare pair in my existing line?"

    How many pairs do you think are in your existing line? You know it's only one right?

  27. David Hicks

    @Anonymous Coward

    To have anything close to the max possible speed. I get between 10 and 14 myself (and live pretty centrally in London).

    However, I'm impressed by them so far, they seem to steer clear of the general FUP and cap stuff.

    The IWF thing? Yes, that annoyed me. You can find my posts all over that thread in their forums.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    As one of the Triallists:

    Before this trial I hadn't found Be to be the best ISP- lots of downtime.

    HOWEVER, this trial is rather nice: They installed 2 new lines (so that my old 24Mb line is still active as a backup). My speed tests generally give me about 25Mb down, and 2Mb up. That's at 1800 ie peak demand. So I'm quite happy with that as a service.

    I don't know how they will price it. Double line rental would be annoying.

    In theory you also get a more reliable service since if one line goes down, I've been told that it should still work on the other (I haven't tested this). That might turn out to be a nice bonus from this scheme.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    BE .. ST ISP

    I have been with Be for a little over a year - absolutely great - consistent 14Mb connection - when i did encounter some difficulties - the root of the problem was with BT and BE's customer service was the best i have experienced, kept me fully informed.. Possibly not the isp for people with zero technical knowledge but if you know the basics, they are in my opinion the best choice...

  30. Chris Hill

    Bonding is old technology

    I've been doing this with my current ISP for over 4 years. Admittedly I'm too far from the exchange to get a rocket speed aggregated channel but it just works for me and gives me twice the speed of what I had before, in both directions. The other bonus is that should one line fall over the hardware at my end punts to using the remaining line as does the kit at the ISP end when it spots the line going down.

    Nothing new here (other than the blistering speed, for those with a good enough connection). Move along now.

  31. Philip Harvey

    Really what is the point?

    I don't see any reason to pay BT more money for this.

    I have a 24MB down, 4MB up connection and I can't imagine why the difference between waiting about 8 minutes per GB download or waiting 4 minutes per GB downloaded. 24MB is also plenty for streaming full HD... and still room to spare for the kids or wife to facebook....

  32. Zmodem


    and 1day i will be able to get another copper based landline and use another telecom. other then twatty monopoly BT. who still send me junk mail and wont even give me a phoneline,. :)

  33. Anonymous Coward

    re: I <3 Be 2

    How many pairs do you think are in your existing line? You know it's only one right?

    Nope. didn't know that. I'd heard rumors that BT used blue orange green brown pairs.... whilst this is probably true I dont know how many constitute a 'Line'... seems to be blue and orange behind my faceplate.

    still adverse to paying BT more....

  34. Anonymous Coward

    @AC 16:00

    re: DNS problems

    easy fix: and

  35. Anonymous Coward

    @ jonathan rowe

    Dont Be operate thier own fibre backhaul? unlike other ISPs who pay BT on a per MB and are now screaming...

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Ofcom...or whoever it is this week...

    Really need to pull thier finger out...

    Why am I required to have an analogue Phone Line and phone Number from BT when all I want is a Digital Data Line to my ISP. I dont want to pay BT, I dont want to be a BT customer. I want to pay my ISP, for the Line Only Not the phone number and not the phone service.

    Unbundle the last mile! Force BT to unbundle Digital only lines direct to ISP's. Then I might get a second one.

  37. Daniel Voyce

    Bonded ADSL

    We use Bonded ADSL at work, we are literally a couple of hundred meters from the Exhange and have 3 ADSL2+ Max Lines bonded , we roughly get about 18MB/s.

    I cant see the speeds reaching 45Mb/s - but if the price is right and there is no throttling then its a good move IMO

  38. AndyC

    I really wish they could Be up here...

    After just reporting VM to ISPA last night and preparing for an angry call with them later, I just hope for any decent ISP near the Lancaster area. Be are one of my prefered to move to but still dependant on them enabling the exchange...

  39. Ceilidhman


    They're not kidding when they say teh speed drops off dramatically with distance from the exchange, I pay for 24Mb and barely get 3Mb. On a good day. Their customer service is good though and they seem reliable enough.

  40. bert Plucker

    Be ok

    I see the world is still full of people that think someone should plow fibre into the ground up to their front door at the cost of many millions then charge them £15 quid a month. (No doubt for the next 1000years to pay for it)

    Well done to BE for at least trying to find cost effective solutions.

  41. Dapprman

    Be Good Customer Support .......

    Not sure what ISP you guys really are with. Phoning up their support is patchy and feels script driven, web ticket based they make NTL (whom I moved to them from) seem quick. I know I'm not alone with this - check out Be's own forums, the complaints about poor customer support are many.

    Still when it works it works well (which my old NTL line did not), though being far from the exchange I only get ~7 Mb post splitting my ADSL off at the master socket. Still, before doing that I was getting far better performance than I ever did from NTL, even under the 10, 12 and 20 Mb deals I had from them.

  42. Simon B
    Thumb Down

    how many lines will it stop at?!!

    2 lines = 2 line rentals! When they want it even fast will BE increase it to 3, 4, 5 lines?!!! Is there not a better method of getting more data down the same line?!!

  43. Rob

    Be were in my good books...

    ...until I moved to a different flat in the same street, connected to the same exchange. I duly called up o2 and was shocked to find that I could only be put on BT's IPStream service (having previously enjoyed full unbundled Be service) because "the exchange is full and we've no timescale on when more capacity will be added"! So now my old *empty* flat is sitting taking up one of the connections and they say there is nothing they can do about it. Great. Just what I needed to know especially after a 2 week saga of BT managing to cancel my line rather than move it then losing all record of any orders. Other than that, o2/Be have been providing a flawless service - whether they can on IPStream only time will tell.

  44. Steve King

    Be service

    Loved Be for the first 2 years, even though 1.2 miles from the exchange means 10-12mb not 24mb.

    But.... in the last 3 months the speed has dropped to 4mb.

    I'd been thinking about upgrading to the enhanced upload package (for online backups), but I don't want to risk it in case the download speed gets still worse.

  45. Adam

    Charge for what they actually CAN deliver!

    "with the speed dropping off dramatically the further a subscriber lives from their local telephone exchange"

    In my experience, ADSL of any flavour should not be sold on what it could theoretically do if your house was nearer the exchange with a new piece of shielded cable with... etc.

    1mbps seems to be about de rigeur round these parts on ADSL. Any ISP that advertises a speed of "Up to" should only be allowed to charge customers "Up to" their standard rate. I.e. if it's £20 a month for 20mbits, if you only get 10mbits you should only pay £10. That'll sort them out.

    @Bert Plucker

    Seeing as this was done in the UK less than 2 decades ago with coax for cable TV, what makes you think it would be so hard to deploy fibre, at least in the purely physical sense of digging up the road and running it up to people's gardens? What about in areas with overhead phone lines? What about in areas where the VM fibre runs up the street cabinet? Sure it's not cheap to look at it as a total cost, but per address it isn't as expensive as many would have you believe.

  46. Gareth Perch

    How about getting the rest of the country up to speed before increasing the speed of the lucky few?

    "The Virgin Media cable network covers about 12.6 million premises and no expansion is planned. Be Broadband's coverage is limited only by which BT exchanges it installs equipment inside. According to Samknows it currently covers about 17.6m premises. ®"

    ... and you can bet that 12.6 million of Be's premises are the ones already covered by Virgin. It's frustrating to see more numerous, better and faster services introduced in the next town (a mile away), leaving my locality increasingly in the technological dark ages. How about ADDING 17.6 million Be exchanges to the 12.6 million Virgin Media ones, thus giving 30.2 million premises access to faster internet, rather than doubling up? Competition should be welcomed, but not until national coverage is sorted.

  47. Steve

    I <3 Be Too and so should you!

    I've been with Be* for over a year, and love it, my connection is consistantly fast, it never drops and they aren't about to ban any protocols/websites. Plus they are lovely, they text me when my bill is due and always answer the phone, oh, and their telephone staff are technical.

    First in Holloway I got 14Mb/s now in Hackney I get 19Mb/s with real world transfer of about 17Mb/s Down and 1.2 Mb/s Up, I was with Virgin before that and spent out on a BT line to get rid of their excuse for Internet access.

    Oi Virgin! What's the point of 50Mb/s if you cut the bandwidth down to a trickle if we dare use it in the peak hours!!!

  48. Anonymous Coward

    re: I <3 Be 2

    "I'd heard rumors that BT used blue orange green brown pairs.... whilst this is probably true I dont know how many constitute a 'Line'... seems to be blue and orange behind my faceplate."

    1 twisted pair per line. 6 can be wired internally, but realistically only 3 are needed historically, the third known as the bell wire which is generated out of the feeding two to generate the ringing signal. Not required these days though and usually disconnected to improve line quality.

    Two wires - tip and ring - are all that BT use. You generally don't see properly behind the faceplate, it's further underneath (and apparently illegal to expose it?)

  49. Anonymous Coward

    Bee in Bondage shocker?

    'Two wires - tip and ring - are all that BT use. You generally don't see properly behind the faceplate, it's further underneath (and apparently illegal to expose it?)'

    Yes its illegal to tamper (behind the master socket) good thing they invented x-ray specs...

    tip & ring. Named presumable from the old GPO Jacks.. which look justy like 1/4" jacks but are actually tapered to prevent shorting... (Perhaps we need to taper our stock markets...)

    So the standard telephone socket has more connectors? anyone know what they are for? is it capacity for multi line devices? does the bonded modem run from one socket?

  50. Matt Ruggles
    Thumb Up

    I'll buy it

    Was previously a vm customer, but dropped them due to lack of hd content, lack of sky channels (although now back I believe) never took broadband with them due to horrible traffic shaping (on an unlimited service).

    I currently have two adsl links, one with BE and I cant fault them at all. They sent me texts on the day it was activated, connects at 20mbit / 1.3up its never gone down since i turned it on and theres no shaping / capping and its cheap too :D

    Would have been tempted to get virgin for 50mbit but if BE offer me bonded DSL I'll buy it.

    Fight the bearded one.

  51. Lee
    Thumb Up

    TalkTalk Also

    This is something TalkTalk have also been trialling over the past few months. But as a nationwide trial rather than a single exchange :) I have it installed and it's doubled my speed

  52. Robert Flatters
    IT Angle

    BT need to play future boy

    BT need to take a small leaf out of Virgin book, they need to seriously look in to changing their copper lines for fiber optic cable, rather than limiting themselves. I know there is a down side to this argument like replacing every single connection in the UK, but if they start off in small phases i am sure they would reap the benefits in the long run.

  53. Anonymous Coward

    @ Bert Plucker

    Fibre to the home for the majority of the UK (isolated farms excepted) would cost a similar amount to the new cross London train.

    Benefit everyone, or benefit a few fat-cat commuters, hum... now which did the government put their weight behind.

    I'm sitting at the end of 2.7Km of very wet, paper insulated underground cables getting 200Kbps. Oh, the great digital divide!

  54. Jon


    The sooner the scots bugger off and become independant the sooner we can get broadband to every home in the UNITED kingdom as we don't have to worry about those 100miles up the glen.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: The new cross London train.

    >Fibre to the home for the majority of the UK (isolated farms excepted) would

    >cost a similar amount to the new cross London train.

    Or the recent VAT cut, I know which one would have more impact on the economy.

    >I'm sitting at the end of 2.7Km of very wet, paper insulated underground cables

    You could move house.

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