Broadband upgrades

Not long ago a telegraph pole appeared on the street outside our house to take wires between two existing poles. I think it was placed so that those wires didn’t come across our land as they seem to droop quite a lot. Associated with said pole, and others in the area are pole mounted fittings to do with BT’s full fibre offering. Today, a flyer came in the mail offering full fibre service at various speeds. That will make a change to our current 15Mbps ADSL. But there may be issues.

Do we need the speed? Well, currently we can watch fairly good res YouTube on one TV, a BBC program on another, and all the less bandwidth hogging tasks that happen all the time such as Pi-Star, various Internet links to various bits and bobs, email, general web browsing etc. We only notice issues where video games peg out and Windows OneDrive sets off synchronising at full whack. Currently I have OneDrive (not mine, I don’t even use it!) configured to play nicely (honestly, if you’ve ever let it fully loose it’s a real bandwidth hog, quite unlike iCloud which never seems to get in anyone’s way and still does everything it needs to), and the switch port that the gaming PC is on is throttled so it cannot take the full 15Mbps.

So yes, more speed would be useful. We also found that a YouTube rented 4k video will buffer constantly.

But… and this is a big but, will our chosen ISP deploy cg-nat? This is something many of us will face and the issue is that cg-nat makes it very difficult, if even possible to have incoming connections. Some things will (or should!) just work, like SIP phones as the sessions are initiated by the phone constantly polling the server(s) rather than calls actually coming in. But others – things like Echolink, Allstar, 44net and the AXIP connections used on GB7RVB all need connections coming in as well as out, and cg-nat will break those. Some Pi-star configurations will rely on incoming connections too.Some PC games will not play nicely with cg-nat either.

So that is a concern and it is difficult to get an answer from many ISPs as you never talk to a techie. Some do say so, some offer static IP addresses which, provided they mean public IP addresses exclude the use of cg-nat. With BT I can get that but only if I buy their business offering which is more expensive.

Yes, I could set up a VPN to my VPS and do it that way, assuming the VPN will play with cg-nat. But that adds even more complexity.

There is also the issue of the telephone. We still have a landline although these days it sees very little use and only for inbound calls. Do we ditch the number and rely on mobiles, will SIP phones really work, can I move our number to a SIP service or just get a new number?

And let’s not forget the issue regarding the inability to dial 999 (the emergency number, the UK’s version of 911) in a power cut. With the current switched copper telephone network the phones are powered all the way from the exchange. Not so with fibre as if your in-house fibre modem has no power you have no phone. But for us that is less of an issue really, we have at least one mobile phone in the house at all times, and, hey, I have at least one 2m/70cm FM HT charged at all times. We – collectively, radio amateurs – are generally better off that way.

Anyway, as it stands the flyer only just arrived and I will probably wait for one of the neighbours to take the plunge first! I can’t even remember if I am still on contract with our current ISP as they never called to confirm and it is not possible to find out online (which I find rather stupid for an ISP but there you are).



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