Life in Wales

It is a long time since we moved house!

One of the reasons we chose this house is that it has been refurbished to a high standard in the last year or so. It is over 120 years old but all modern inside.

The owners did some things very well - power sockets - loads of them - every bedroom has five double sockets so every corner is well covered. This is, in my opinion, quite unusual. So well done.

But these were not terribly technical people, so even in the 2020's they had UHF cabling and something called "telephone" cabling to some rooms. I believe it is the old way people used to talk to each other - and being phased out in a few years anyway :-)

One saving grace is that the telephone wiring was actually done using cat5e cable, so we have traced which wire goes to which room (with one mystery 5.7m cable run we cannot find) and we are repurposing for networking.

Sadly the satellite cabling is also slightly lacking - when I did our old house, decades ago, I ran 2 coax to each room and 4 to the main living room. That has been used for Sky, Sky+, SkyQ, and old UHF in various ways since, and not needed upgrading. In the new house - one coax to living room, and one coax to one of the bedrooms. Thankfully the SkyQ works off one cable giving us around ¼ of the channels. I don't watch Sky, but my wife (and the grand kids when they stay) do. So the challenge is neatly getting a second coax from the dish one end of the house to the living room the other end without looking untidy. Part of the challenge of any work is the metre thick stone walls in places.

We have WiFi sorted now, well, sort of - I need to print a mounting bracket once I unpack the 3D printer. But it is working with a North and South side AP, one each side of the stone wall in the middle of the house.

Of course we have no Internet as such - the WiFi is connected to a 4G dongle, which just about works. This is because PSTN and Fibre services ordered early November are not in. How the hell a simple PSTN line for broadband can take BT plc t/a Openreach this long is beyond me. They have cancelled loads of appointments (system problems). At one point last week the engineer did turn up - and was in the loft ready to connect two spare pairs (just had to fit sockets!) - and refused to. Apparently because COVID! Yes BT have some new rules on not doing new line appointments - but that is not to impact orders in flight like this, and the guy was in the house, with the previous owners, and actually got to the loft before deciding not to install. It is mental! Since then loads more appointments cancelled.

If only I worked for an ISP! Well, the team I have are some of the best in the business, but even they are pulling their hair out over this. BT keep agreeing an appointment and then not turning up or cancelling for no reason. It has been escalated and escalated many times. It is now a house with "no existing service" and I think telecoms even makes me a "key worker" but no, BT are just failing. It is not even that BT are refusing to install, they are agreeing the "system errors" are wrong, and agreeing a new appointment, but then failing. We are not asking for special treatment at all - just a simple PSTN line install for broadband - bog standard - not even running new cable as there are spare pairs to the premises.

The PSTN lines are the quick and easy install to be there until the much longer lead time fibre Ethernet install is done. We know they take time. The irony here is that BT claim to be coming to do the fibre today! I'm not holding my breath, but that would be truly crazy if a full Etherway install can be done before simply connecting a new PSTN line. I was, however, sent a box of "Fibre Aid" via Amazon from someone (I have since found out who, guessed right first time), to give to the engineer if he has any problems. I hope he has a sense of humour.

There is still a lot of unpacking to do - the biggest issue for me is that I am moving to a room that is maybe ½ the size of my former "man cave". I agreed to the move for my wife's sake, as she loves the new house. I love it too, except for the room I have been allocated. It was to be a room ⅓ of the size, but we could not even stack all the boxes from my man cave in there which proved my point slightly :-)

There are loads of other challenges, including the tumble dryer and washing machine not fitting in the space in the utility room, but thankfully we have a son-in-law that is a sparky and handyman living a few miles away (almost all of the close family now live in Ebbw Vale, hence moving here).


  1. A good friend is having similar issues with BT. He was with them then moved to VM for a couple of years now moving back.
    They keep cancelling appointments saying that no line to premises and can't install etc due to covid.
    However he is underground fed and the one engineer who did turn up connected his tester and found the line is still connected it just needs work in the exchange. But install still keeps getting cancelled.
    I don't blame the engineers, its the system and those in control.

  2. We had a FTTP line booked for a farm last week and there BT engineer said he could do the pole work but no the internal work.

    When he arrived he got his van stuck in the snow so I offered to tow him out if he completed the install in a shed so we at least got some service.

    Hurrah for Landrovers :-)

  3. We are moving in 4 weeks and will be without broadband for 3 weeks after moving in because we can't get an appointment for installation until then. Sadly I'm not with A&A any more (I personally would be but it's not entirely up to me). It seems to be down to BT needing to do some work rather than the ISP.

    Two of us working from home full time now so we are going to need mobile internet. All the cheap mobile internet things only seem to do WiFi. Does anyone know of any devices that will do ethernet too/instead that don't cost too much as we'll only need it for 3 weeks or so.

    1. Vodafone's 4G/5G "Gigacube" product has Ethernet ports. But beware CGNAT on this. No publicly routable IP.

    2. Try Huawei B593 or B315 it has 4 lan ports and Wi-Fi

    3. I have a Netgear LB2120 for DSL backup as A+A FTTC goes down so rarely the mediocre Vermin Meeja service was a complete waste of money. It's a consumer product but does at least have a modem-only mode so it can feed my main MikroTik router. The internal aerial is rubbish though so cost in a pair of something half decent and remember modern double glazing usually has a coating that kills signals.

      For a serious installation and not costing much more as it has an integral directional antenna, the MikroTik SXT LTE is the business.

  4. Hi - if you replace your LNB with a dSCR one, the Sky Q boxes will then be able to access all the channels even with a single cable.

    1. There's plenty of different methods these days for satellite distribution - dSCR, Fibre LNB, SAT>IP, and I'm sure there's others I'm missing

    2. Yes, really! But I read your tweet earlier - looks like you already had two cables but just presented weirdly so you're sorted now?

  5. I had a prime multi tenant central London site, that despite all the efforts of my CP could not get a PSTN line installed from the BT frame room to our 3rd floor demise. Four years after the order had been placed !

  6. If you have a quad LNB (rather than a quattro LNB) on your dish then you should be able to get all four bands (one at a time) down the same cable.
    Your tuner needs to support this tho' and there might be a setting for it.

    It's also possible to put a quad/quattro on the dish and buy a switching amplifier that can connect any of its outputs to the requested band. So you can have one dish with 4 coax and then one coax to each room that wants to view and two coax to rooms that want to view and record.

    1. More info here: https://www.satmarin.com/quad-quattro-lnb/

  7. I know you run an ISP :)

    I might have been tempted to pop a Mk4 NTE5 on the end of a spare pair. And then say `pass me your toner` when the person turns up :)

    Because openreach people aren't taught to look what colour the wires are, just put the toner on and see what beeps up the pole.

    My openreach person this week did come in, and was good. I did offer to do all the inside work for him. He came in once to remove the faceplate and connected his toner. And he came back in again and put the faceplate back (and it worked).

  8. Well as no one else has said it - Croeso i Cymru!


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