Preparation for the Upgrade

As you will know we have planned for residents to upgrade their fibre services in phases. Once Openreach have completed all their cabinet installations and connections we will give the green light for the selected Pioneer residents to test the network by signing up for an upgrade with their respective ISPs.  Once we are happy that the network is reliable we can encourage everyone else to sign up.

So how can residents prepare in advance?

It will be beneficial to you if you have already made your home telephone and broadband set up as efficient as possible.  Testing in advance will make your life much easier as it is better to troubleshoot before upgrade than after.  So now’s a good time and here is my simple guide to making your home broadband as reliable as possible.

Keep it simple.  A simple set up will be less likely to give you problems, and easier to diagnose if there are tech issues.   Bigger homes with more complex needs might need specialist help.   Start your optimisation at the master socket – where the telephone line comes into your home.  This socket belongs to BT and they are responsible for it and everything between it and the exchange. Everything else inside your home is your responsibility to get right.

  1. So start by checking if the master socket is upto date.  Ideally it should have a horizontal split (as in the photo below) and built for VDSL.  If you can get the master socket upgraded to a newer NTE5 (twin socket with built in micro-filter) then that may be an improvement. (see below where you can get this checked )
  2. Plan to remove everything you don’t need.  If you have wired telephone extensions then they may reduce your speeds. I would advise that if they can be replaced by cordless phones then you can safely disconnect extension wiring from the master socket.
  3. Keep your cordless phone base station connected at the master socket.
  4. Disconnect Sky Television set-top boxes. Sky used to insist your SkyTV box has a cable connected to your telephone line. That is no longer the case.
  5. Ensure Alarm systems are not on your broadband line.
  6. Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 22.18.20

    Master socket with faceplate unscrewed and engineers socket exposed – see the white extension cable and the black BT line.

    Prior to doing any tests unscrew the faceplate of your master socket and test via the Engineers Socket behind –  This socket should isolate any extensions from the test and get you as clean a route to the exchange as possible.

Once you have a simplified socket try a Quiet Line Test – plug in a phone (you’ll need a dangly micro filter whilst using the engineers socket), then dial 17070 option 2.   You should hear silence (although cordless phones will generate a little hiss).  If it isn’t quiet then you have a legitimate reason to call your ISP to sort it out, as line noise is an easy to diagnose issue that BT are obligated to respond to – and importantly, line noise degrades your broadband performance.

Then plug in your Router/modem into the engineers socket directly (you’ll need a dangly micro filter whilst using the engineers socket) – again if the router is on a long extension then that will reduce the speeds.  You can now test your line, by connecting the router to a PC/Mac using an Ethernet cable (best not to use wireless connection here – in fact if you can make sure the wireless is switched off then you can be confident that no other wireless devices are interfering with the test.)  Go to and note the download speed. You can compare your speed with your neighbour to gauge how you are doing, or I can do a comparison for you based on my spreadsheet of data for most homes in the area.  Your result will be something between 0.5- 2.5Mbps.

Now switch on your wireless system again, disconnect that ethernet cable,  and do a second test but this time in a distant part of the house. You will almost certainly see a significant drop in speed over wireless and over distance.  This shows the importance of not relying on speedtests over wireless.     If your second test is really low compared to the first test then it sounds like you need to look at improving the wireless system – a different challenge.

What if my wireless performance is poor?

  • you may have interference from neighbour’s wireless (ie using the same channel),
  • interference from domestic electrical devices,
  • or you can look to extend the range of your wireless network – this can be done with a better router, wireless repeaters, or homeplugs (that use the mains electrical circuit), or plumbed in wired networks.

More guidance here >

What about more help?

You may have seen Adrian Ball at our Christmas get-together – he is an ex-BT engineer who operates a local business of installations and trouble-shooting for internet, telephone and network systems. His website is .  He is there to help.

The GU8 Superfast Team have negotiated a deal with Adrian  to offer a discounted cost Master Socket Health Check for a price of £49.95.  Adrian will visit, inspect your master socket where the telephone line enters the house and check for any potential issues with poor cabling in the socket, or with existing extensions.  If needed he will install a new Openreach NTE5 master socket and ensure it is functioning correctly. The hardware cost is included in the price, and there is no VAT.  (if a new NTE5 is not needed then the fee is only £29.95)    I think it offers good value.  Obviously this deal is restricted to checking/replacing the master socket – and doesn’t extend to troubleshooting the other network issues within the home – however Adrian will be able to advise on the next course of action should a wider health check be needed and remedial work required. Again we have negotiated a 20% discount on Adrian’s hourly rate should subsequent work be requested.


If you have a question or would like to leave a comment, then click the “leave a comment” link below this post.

Paul Osborne, GU8 Superfast Team


About Paul Osborne

Hydestile resident GU8 Superfast Community Broadband Project Team
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