Slight surprise from our favourite telco yesterday, and worth a mention I feel.
A customer with FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) service.
His line started going wrong at 9am and packed up completely by 10am. He called us up at 2pm, and by just after 4pm an engineer had visited him and replaced his VDSL modem and got him back on line. Even the diagnostics tools were sensible, for a change, and confirmed there was a fault. We did not even have to argue about SFI visits.
I suspect that is a record for an engineer fixed fault. Lets hope we see more of this type of excellent service.
Well done BT!
Why did this happen? The main reason is that for FTTC there is a BT owned and managed VDSL router on the end of the line. It means there is active equipment that BT can communicate with (or not) as part of the service. BT can tell when there is a fault or not right up to the hand over point in the customer premises. They cannot do that with ADSL hence all the SFI arguments.
Now if only BT had done this for ADSL - provided a PPPoE DSL router as part of the broadband service. That way they can tell if the line is OK or not by end to end tests. It would have to be the dumbest simplest router from a user point of view, hence saying PPPoE (with jumbo frames) so that customers have a proper choice of router/firewall. Ideally it would also have Ethernet testing built in and available to the ISP. It would be nice if the VDSL routers did this. It is a standard part of many Ethernet chips sets, and would allow testing beyond the hand-over point (Ethernet port). We'd be able to confirm no Ethernet cable, or things like a broken pair in an Ethernet cable so eliminating most of the testing. Such a system would rule out almost all of the grey areas in faults and remove the need for SFI engineers even. It could even have a pair of Ethernet ports and a loop back test option. It could constantly test the line at an ATM level and identify faults before customers see them.
We have suggested the VDSL routers for FTTC and the active NTE for FTTP should have Ethernet tests, and all tests should be available to the ISP. No idea if they will take this up.
Maybe one day we'll make a DSL modem, and build all this in. Problem is that we can't get the chip sets as cheaply as you can buy DSL routers!
But anyway, yes, on this occasion, well done BT.
And well done Terry, our latest tech support engineer to join the team.