back to article BT bumps up broadband speeds

BT customers will begin to enjoy the result of its much delayed 21CN network upgrade as it today begins to convert its retail broadband offering nationwide to ADSL2+, which will offer speeds of "up to" 20Mbit/s. In reality, most homes and businesses are likely to see a small improvement on whatever their current "up to" 8Mbit/ …


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  1. Oli

    behind the times...

    too little too late. and virgin gave their top tier customers a free upgrade when they rolled out one of their speed increases a while back. Cant remember the details but i know i was on 10mbit originally and when i moved address i was on a 20mbit service at 10mbit cost!

    Fibre to my desk or STFU!

  2. Steve

    marketing bullshit

    The speed increase will make no difference if they continue to limit and throttle, if you want this for real you'll have to pay a bit more and get Be or O2.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    BT giveth, BT taketh away...

    Increasing download speeds to 'up to' 20Mbps is very commendable, however the throttling that takes place on BT's own broadband products basically cancels it out. For a long time i was paying £26/mth for BT's 'Total Broadband' product which gave me around 6Mbps, but this speed was only really achieved for file downloads from regular websites. BT throttle the bejesus out of P2P traffic during the day (from casual observation, between 9am and midnight). After midnight, P2P speeds shoot up to full speed.

    I'm with Sky these days and I get my full download speed 24/7 and because I'm on one of their LLU exchanges ADSL2+ is already in use for those that have lines that can benefit from it .

    So basically BT are playing catchup and are offering a worse product in comparison to the likes of Sky and other competitors. Good for them.

  4. citizenx

    Gavin Patterson - FAIL!

    >CEO Gavin Patterson announced the upgrade with a dig at main rival Virgin Media, whose 20Mbit/s and 50Mbit/s services cost significantly more than its slower packages.

    >"Unlike other providers, BT is upgrading customers to 20Mb/s for free," he said.

    Well, well, well Gav.

    Firstly, lets see how many get >10mb/s before you start gloating and before you forget...

    ...xDSL means consumers are obliged to pay line rental on a PSTN service many don't use.

    Add that too your broadband costs you tool.

  5. Mike Dolan


    "Unlike other providers, BT is upgrading customers to 20Mb/s for free,"

    Translation: Just like Virgin Media have done for customers for the last 4+ years, we're going to follow suit and upgrade customer speeds for free.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    It is all good and well

    But BT can't deliver significant speed improvements on 21cn network topology or the products they are selling on the back of it including WBC and WBMC. Why? because the single point of failure is cab to the home. The copper and distance is still the issue and they know fine well that in their so called trials they are nowhere near 20mb and you'll see again customers confused as to why they are nowhere near this theoretical maximum limit of 24mb.

    Companies like Virgin and O2 are trouncing them and will continue to do so and BT are struggling to play catch up let alone be innovative and standard setting.

    The BT PR machine is selling 21cn to the world as being ready - it is far from it and no amount of PR bollocks is going to change the reality.

    Just look at the forums on Think Broadband for people like Enta, AAISP and others (even look at aaisp own web site and news stories) BT are way behind, why do you think many ISP's haven't launched anything yet.

    Don't believe the hype.

  7. Rob Beard

    Shame they can't provide 8 Meg!

    As a customer of both BT Broadband AND Virgin Media (yes, I have two connections at home due to BT's automatic contract renewal) I'd have to say it's all well and good BT offering up to 20 Meg but how many people can realistically get that sort of speed?

    On my BT connection I sync at just over 7 Meg, I know I can get 7 Meg as I used to get this with Enta (until they started to have problems) but I rarely get the full 7 Meg speed, it's often more like 3 or 4 Meg. Doesn't really bother me that much though because I do have BT Vision and get 500 minutes free BT Openzone wifi and unlimited BT Fon wifi (assuming I can find a hotspot).

    With my Virgin connection I get 20 Meg for the majority of the time, sure it slows down sometimes but the minimum I generally get is around 14 Meg and with regards to free upgrades, Virgin (and Telewest/NTL before that) have often given free upgrades to customers and no doubt they will continue to do so in the future as they start to offer even faster speeds.

    Joke icon because BT are becoming one big one...


  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Now I'll be able to be throttled to 500kbps on a 20Mbps line rather than a 8Mbps line!

    Good work BT!

  9. Christoph

    Does this mean...

    ... They'll be able to Phorm out all our personal data much quicker?

  10. IndianaJ


    I'm with Virgin Media and was upgraded from a 4Mb connection to 10Mb for free last year.

  11. Paul H


    Great! I'll be able to hit my 'unlimited' download cap even faster now.

  12. DT
    Dead Vulture

    Quotation mark "abuse"

    Why the quotation marks around "up to"? If you were quoting directly you'd say "up to 20Mbit/s"

    The "up to" part isn't in doubt by anyone, is it? Everyone whose ever had broadband knows what "up to" means. Heck, anyone who's a basic graps of English should know.

    It's just lazy journalism; BBC feeds are the worst for it. I had a look just then and found

    Al-Qaeda 'kills British hostage', last week it was "man dies in balloon crash"

    Where's the contention? Heck, either they did or they didn't. BBC can't be too confident in their own journalism if they're putting quotation marks around the entire crux of the story. What, is Al-Q going to sue for defamation or something? It's the written word equivalent of insituation by putting on a whiney voice and parroting what's been said; instead of questioning it directly in a sceptical adult fashion.

  13. Brian Whittle

    local exchange

    All the telephone exchanges in my area have been pumping out adsl 2 capped to 8 meg for over a year this makes me think bt have been at it for a while

  14. Anonymous Coward

    BT have been doing this on the sly...

    ...for a while already - they 'upgraded' my line a couple of weeks back without telling us. We only found out when our connection went down and we had to find the new specialist ADSL2.0 helpdesk to tell us how to get back up.

    The free speed upgrade is nice, but it seems that means they can't afford to tell us they're going to do it, and that they'll be taking our line down (again) in the process.

    Oh, and it's capped at the exchange at the moment at 8Mbps, so though we're on ADSL2.0, we can't get any benefits from it, just a helpdesk which doesn't run in the evenings (they can't afford to run 24hrs, either, apparently) and a connection as flaky as ever.

  15. Neil Alexander


    About fucking time.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What is "BT Broadband Accelerator"?

    What is "BT Broadband Accelerator"?

    It used to be a £90 service where a BT bod (Openreach bod?) would come out and maybe fit a filtered faceplate and do a quick network and PC health check (and guarantee a 0.5Mbit/s speed increase or your money back?)

    Giving that away for free seems very unlike BT, therefore some clarification seems to be needed.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Completely worthless

    ... as they will be expecting <i>existing</i> customers to take on another 12-month minimum contract, just as they do when they offer to reduce a customer's price.

    And nobody, if they have any sense, is going to do that whilever BT refuses to end its involvement with PHORM.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    When did whitchurch move to wales?

    See that dotty line? everything Left of that is in wales...

  19. Tony Hoyle

    Oh god

    BT Broadband handling the ADSL2 clusterfuck? I fear for their customers...

    Even with a decent ISP it takes a lot of messing about to get right.. the DLM is clinically insane, and seems to think that forcing people onto an SNR of 15db and dropping their speed way below ADSL1 speed is the correct way to handle line noise... it takes a persistent and clueful ISP to get that reset... both things that BT broadband aren't.

    If anyone is expecting Be speeds on ADSL2 forget it.. BT kit is too cheap&nasty to handle that. On exactly the same line Be give 18Mbps, BT give 9Mbps (and their BRAS then cuts that down to 8Mbps) - and that's on a relatively short line.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "In reality, most homes and businesses are likely to see a small improvement on whatever their current "up to" 8Mbit/s service offers."

    So that means out in the sticks here in Essex (10 mins from the M25 and 20 mins from central London by train) I'll be lucky to see much more than 2meg... Which I sometimes get at the moment when the bits of knackered old aluminium pair I pay for each month happen to move into just the right position.

  21. Kevin Johnston

    Free upgrade?

    Wonder what Phorm of upgrade most people will see?

  22. Camilla Smythe

    Perhaps I missed the...

    Lack of point but according to this...

    My TalkTalk modem/router is way ahead of the game because it can do ADSL2+.

    I will kid you not if I say it has decided, in the past, to connect as such. Then, for whatever reason, the service got stuffed and repaired and, as things work out, GDMT is more stable and still does enough.

    Yes yes.. I know. You are out in the sticks and get 1 bit per month but I iz lucky coz I am close to the exchange.

    Now Mr BT is going to offer me ADSL2+ and another 'Up To'.

    Well.... unless I am wrong all those websites that tell me my max is something else and the fact I don't get it anyway.... plus an attempt from TalkTalk to upsell me when I seem to know something different.

    That's a nice one.

    'Hai Can I speak to Account Holder?'

    'Not here at the moment, can I take a message.'

    'Oh Hai, I am have calling from Indian Call Centre based in other place. We can am have upgrade you to lots of bits per second.'

    'Yes but no but.. K but I live etc so I don't think you can give me faster stuff and the other bits don't interest me.'

    'Oh KtnxBai'

    I don't get ADSL2+ because I am too far away from the exchange. Are BT doing something about the wires OpenReach has to deal with or are they installing shit to bypass it or have they redifined ADSL2+ or are they just jumping on the 'Up to' bandwagon?

  23. Jim Howes

    Up to what now?

    ADSL2+ in theory provides 'up to' 24Mbps downstream. Not 'up to 20', of course in the real world the speed you get is dependent on many factors.

    Portsmouth North exchange, to which I'm wired, has had active 21CN WBC for a while now, and the experience has not been good. The dynamic line management BT have put in place thinks that 1.25Mbps is a good speed for a line that previously sat at 6Mbps for three years on the older platform, so 21CN is not yet the surfers paradise it promises to be. Following a little persuasion by Glenn & the team at Andrews & Arnold ISP, the exchange equipment is now syncing at 13Mbps, providing something like 11Mbit throughput.

    "Unlike other providers, BT is upgrading customers to 20Mb/s for free," - Charge for my non BT Internet retail upgrade, nothing. In fact, the 21CN platform will, in the long term, be cheaper for ISP's, and as such, I've seen a reduction in my monthly bill from AAISP. Not a lot, but it all adds up.

    No doubt the major providers will see the higher speeds at lower unit cost as an excuse to bump up prices for their cash cows of customers.

  24. Arnold Lieberman


    When I got the leaflet about getting a free upgrade from 2Mb to 10Mb on Virgin the other day, I filled out the online form and the very next day it was activated (still haven't received the confirmation email yet). Unlike BT, I really do get 10Mbps.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Not much to write home about

    We have been on the ADSL2+ trial via a BT reseller - normal 2.8Mbs sync speed went up to 3.5 ish (and then down again to 1.7, but that's trialling for you).

    OTOH our other line is with Be and get sync speeds in the 3.5-4Mbps range - and since Be don't apply profiling we get actual throughput that is close to the sync speed - with the BT line we are profile limited to about 10% less than our worst-case sync speed (good thinking there, fellas).

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Faster is not always better

    For those who are at the edge of broadband reception areas, this unilateral "upgrade" trades occasionally faster download rates for vastly higher rates of synchronisation failure and loss of connection. ADSL2+ has increased our typical downstream speed from about 3 Mb/S to nearly 5 Mb/S. But the connection is thoroughly unreliable. Over the long distance, the attentuation is considerable, and the noise spectrum varies considerably throughout the day. We can connect with 9 dB SNR then after a few hours the SNR falls towards zero. We then have to unplug the ADSL modem connection to force the modem to re-train, after which, lo and behold, we get a good SNR again - but only for a few hours. Faster is not always better.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I knew this would work.

    Once we moved to the metro node model, it was always going to improve.

    I think their design is pretty brilliant really, there's been no management anywhere near it.

  28. w smith

    BT super fast or super crap

    Strange how the other BT story today is about BT throttling p2p and video traffic, and having unfeasibly low download caps. Its making me confused.

  29. Paul

    check samknows

    check for details of your exchange and what it offers

  30. ad47uk
    Thumb Down

    as long as you sign up for another 12 months

    Yep, Bt will boost your speed or try anyway, but you have to sign up for another 12 months. I think I will leave well alone.

    Only 7 months left until the end of my contract, I am not willing to sacrifice my freedom for something that may or may not give me faster speeds./

  31. Martin Ouseley
    Thumb Down

    Don't care how fast it is

    Won't touch it with a barge pole until they renounce PHORM.

  32. Chris King

    @AC 17:54

    The Whitchurch BT are referring to is to the left of that dotty line, and not the one you're looking at:

    Samknows says there are five exchanges called Whitchurch, the other three are in Bucks, Hampshire and somewhere south of Bristol.

    Cardiff has been used as for ADSL testing in the past, but usually they pick on the "central" exchanges like Roath/Cardiff Empire or "suburban" ones like Llanishen/Llanedeyrn.

  33. neil
    Thumb Down

    Useless service.

    I am supposedly on 24mb ADSL2+ got changed over from max, line went from a solid 6500 profile to an artificially limited 3mb. Apparently they have placed artificial limits on a very large proportion of entanet customers, with no explanation. Go faster, but get limited to under half what you had before!!!

  34. Blitz

    I live about 1km outside the main city limits and...

    As a result I got this from (thanks Paul)

    "BT have set a target date of Q3 2011 for the switch to 21CN for the Loanhead exchange"

    As usual if you live outside of the Bypass in Edinburgh you get to contend with Stone Age internet speeds.

  35. Barry Lane
    IT Angle


    Used to be with BT, who managed to get 1.7 meg to me along their ancient copper wire, at phenomenal cost to me. Damned thing used to drop out a couple of times a day, and if I wanted to watch iPlayer clips or anything else even slightly demanding, it would throw a sulk and I'd have to restart the modem.

    Moved to O2 several months ago and I now get 4 - 5 meg - a little less speedy at weekends when the locals start their big pron-viewing marathons, or whatever it is they get up to - and it costs me around seven quid a month.

    BT is a marketing company of dubious merit that just happens to have a small interest in telephony and something they call the Internets. The sooner these jokers are put out of business, the sooner we can join the rest of the world in having half-decent web access.

    The IT? icon cos there isn't one that says 'BT?'

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



    O2 provide ADSL over BT Wholesale IPStream don't they? And from the O2 customers I know it seems the contention for their links to BT Central is appalling. The end result being that everything grinds to a halt in the evening.

  37. citizenx

    Re: DT

    >Heck, anyone who's a basic graps of English should know


  38. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Credit where credit due?

    Well, I managed to view a full one of these without it pausing (easy-peasy when I subscribed to Sky and I think it is fair to observe that there have been more slowdowns in one month of BT BB than in 12 months of Sky BB).

    Since it is the same wire that Sky and BT use I guess it must be something not so much related to speed (although Sky was far swifter in that department too) and more related to managing the transfer.

    At the moment with a 2.01 GB download on the go activity monitor tells me received data is wobbling about between 750 - 805 KB/s and that (800 KB/s) might be about the maximum the wire can handle?

    Interim conclusion:

    they (BT that is) probably has not increased data transfer rates

    they (BT that is) probably have revised upwards filtered us to cater for less slowdowns

    Less interruptions to data transfer from a user perspective might look like an increase in speed, but it ain't?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "...xDSL means consumers are obliged to pay line rental on a PSTN service many don't use."

    What so the line you get your broadband on is made of thin air and snake oil? Nice, i wish they provided the old 'broadband over something that costs nothing' plan where i live!

  40. citizenx


    Its not difficult, they could provide a wires only service which is paid to your ISP so no relationship with Bloody Terrible.

    Or you could just get cable.

    The point isn't the delivery method but the point that it adds about a tenner a month to the cost if you aren't using a PSTN service. Handily overlooked by the BT spin machine.

  41. Skyraker

    Broadband Accelerator

    Easy to do yourself.

    Just cut the bell wire on the master socket. I went from 5.5 meg up to 7 and a bit using this little hack.

  42. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Been there, done that

    I live out in the middle of nowhere, but close to the local exchange. Despite being one of the last to get ADSL, and despite there being no planned adsl2 upgrade date, I've been on adsl2 (15Mbs) for a month, due to talk talk LLU

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC 10:34

    It's not that there's line rental that's the problem as such, but that there's no option for line rental only, without bundled PSTN aspects. Add to that the ever increasing price that they justify by pointing to the increased PSTN features they've added to the bundle, but that we neither want nor need. It's like being told the price has gone up 50%, but it's better value because you can now claim 500 anal bleaching treatments every year.

  44. Anonymous Coward

    If they could supply the 2Mb they were promising 5 years ago I'd be pleased

    I get a consistent 300-400Kb from my BT 'broadband'. I'd like to move but I can't afford the hassle and disruption. I'm not in Cumbria either. If the BT tower fell over in the right direction bits of migrowave dish might hit me.

  45. g e

    BT has been trialling ADSL2+ with about 60,00 customers

    Presumably they told them about THAT trial...

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So does this mean when you'll reach the arbitrary and ridiculously low download limit even faster than before and wahoo.. they can start charging you extortionate amounts of money per gigabyte downloaded at an even faster rate than previously imagined?

    I'm sure that at 40mbits you can make a phone bill look a lot more profitable than you can with someone who only downloads their over-limit data at 4mbits. What as 100 quid today will be 1000 quid tomorrow.. that's totally awesome... for BT.

    Question: When will internet service providers catch up with the year we actually live in and realise that 2 or 3 gigabytes per month is a pathetically stupid amount of data to tie a download cap to?

    Ans: When they start investing some of that profit we're giving them into infrastructure that can actually support the customer base they send bills to every month.

    One day internet service providers will wake up to the fact that some people who buy fast internet connections do so in order to do some of the things they tell us we can do in their commercials if we buy a broadband connection. And that desiring to do the things they tell us we can do in their commercials more than once a month is not abuse of the service we're paying for.

  47. biznuge


    20Mb upgrade for free. well how nice of you. The very fact that your customers on the whole will in reality only be able to access this service at around 50% of your stated value means nothing here really though does it.

    Oh, and...

    When I used to live in a Virgin area, they initially upgraded me from their 4mb to 10mb for free, and then they up-graded me to their 25 mb line for only another fiver. beat that American Telecom...


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