Tag Archives: slow superfast broadband

I’m not sure people realise how bad it gets, the joys of rubbish rural broadband

It all started innocently enough. Suddenly I could not download my emails.

Now you might wonder why I should want to. Simple, rubbish broadband. If I use client like Outlook I can still read my emails when I have no broadband, (like now, when we have a power cut so of course the router doesn’t work.) Not only that but if somebody has sent me a particularly large email, Outlook goes out and collects my emails at ten minute intervals anyway. With our broadband, downloading an email with a lot of attachments is a bit like watching an python swallowing a goat. You can see the bulge inching its way along the wire down to my computer!

Well with Outlook this can happen in its own time, I’m not kicking my heels waiting for it to happen.

Anyway it stopped happening. I couldn’t download my email. Yes they were all there on the website, but they weren’t coming down the pipe to me. So what was going on? I switched my machine off and back on again. Still didn’t work. So I phoned BT. They diagnosed the problem, I was using Outlook 2013. Microsoft no longer supports it. This means the antivirus stuff is no longer up-to-date which means it doesn’t know the current correct funny handshake it needs to talk to my ISP.I would have to upgrade, download the next version.

Did I mention our rubbish broadband? In simple terms, when your broadband runs at 3 Mbps and drops out occasionally you do not try and download new software. When I got a new printer, I had to download printer drivers. The lass on the HP help didn’t believe her eyes when it said it would take 45 minutes to download. In reality it took longer but we were lucky and it did manage it.

So there was no way I could download a new version of Outlook, it would not only take so long, but if it broke off half way through I might not only have to start again, but sometimes you have to disentangle the now damaged half version that you’ve got.

So I had to take it to a shop where they’d download a version for me. While they got it, they’d clean it etc. (Old farm house, no central heating, open coal fire, not a computer friendly environment.)

But it is the same every time I get a computer. In the good old days I’d ask for it to be loaded with Microsoft office and a pdf reader. That did me, and the computer would arrive with everything installed ready to just switch on and go. Now, it comes with the operating system, useless apps I’ll never use, paint and notepad. (So I’m writing this in notepad on a borrowed laptop.)

So the computer had to go back to the shop whilst they found a way of installing office for me. The rule is simple, no office, no sale. (Yes, I know there are cheaper versions, doubtless equally good, and if you can tell me somewhere handy where I can take them in to get them installed, I’m happy to try, but don’t say, “But you can just download them free of the net.”)

People have suggested that I do it on my phone. The issue here is coverage. My phone is on pay as you go, and so far this year (end of June) has cost me about £2. The landline works fine for phone calls, just rubbish for broadband. When I’m out working I rarely want to phone anybody, anyway. And to be honest when I’m working I’m not all that keen on being disturbed by phone calls. Standing in the middle of a field, in the rain, surrounded by dairy heifers, isn’t a good time to talk on the phone. But I thought I’d try my phone using the house Wi-Fi.

Have you ever used a ‘smart phone’ working with 3 Mbps Wi-Fi? Continents drift gaily past you. Still I persevered. My daughter has given me a couple of those rubber ended pen things you can use to press the screen so I have a sporting chance of getting the letter I want. Armed with that and wearing my reading glasses I set to work. I decided to go to facebook first because a lot of people contact me via messenger. I remembered my password, logged (slowly, oh so slowly) onto facebook only for them to tell me that as I was logging in from a new device, they’d send me a pin to enter. They did, by text to my phone. The same phone that I was using at the time.

By the time I’d got out of the browser, opened the text, noted down the number, and opened the browser (all at 3 Mbps) the facebook page had gone and I had to start again. Which of course meant that the number they sent me was no longer current and I had to ask for a new number. At that point I abandoned the process.

I mentioned that I was on a borrowed laptop. During the day there was a Test Match. My lady wife has the BBC scrolling commentary on as she’s working. When I was using this laptop, our Wi-Fi, with two of us using it, dropped to 0.38 Mbps. At that speed, she could no longer watch the little video clips the BBC include, as they just never stopped buffering.

And now there is a risk that the Inland Revenue want us to submit tax online. Now we have no accounting software. I know, you can get accounting software, “Just download it from the Web,” but she prefers to work on paper and I also hate scrolling endlessly across spreadsheets.

But obviously we’d have to somehow acquire the software, at a cost, and pay for the inevitable updates. I’m looking to start a denomination that finds dealing with government electronically heretical and offensive, and we’ll revert to paying them in cash.

Oh yes, and just to put a tin hat on it all, I left my desktop machine at the shop. They cleaned it and then phoned me to come in to do passwords and stuff as software was upgraded. So they hooked my machine up to their Wi-Fi (I bet that made it dizzy!) and I opened Outlook to start the process.

When you open Outlook the first thing it does is to go can collect my emails. It did, right there in the shop and it downloaded them. I looked at the chap in the shop and he just shrugged. “Nothing wrong with Outlook, it’s just that your broadband is so rubbish there are times when it cannot even download your emails.”
Back in the day we used to get dialup. It was cheaper, slower, but could at least download email.

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There again, what do I know, talk to the expert !

As a reviewer commented, “

This is a delightful collection of gentle rants and witty reminiscences about life in a quiet corner of South Cumbria. Lots of sheep, cattle and collie dogs, but also wisdom, poetic insight, and humour. It was James Herriot who told us that ‘It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet’ but Jim Webster beautifully demonstrates that it usually happened to the farmer too, but far less money changed hands.

I, for one, am hoping that this short collection of blogs finds a wide and generous audience – not least because I’m sure there’s more where this came from. And at 99p you can’t go wrong!”

I’ve never watched Netflix

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This isn’t a statement that I’ve taken a moral stance on the topic. It’s merely that being rural our broadband speed sometimes hits a truly amazing 4 meg but it’s never faster. That’s with us being on BTinfinity superfast broadband with fibre to our nearest cabinet. Given the nearest cabinet is at least two miles away, it isn’t going to get any better.

Actually, if you’re rural, (and that can merely mean you live a couple of miles outside town) you don’t expect fripperies like good broadband or good mobile reception in your home. I have upgraded to a smart phone, but it’s still on pay as you go and still lives switched off for weeks at a time. I did try downloading data on it when we were on holiday and I got free wifi. I gave up in disgust. Using google or the web on your phone struck me as like using one of those kiddy pianos, when you’ve got a concert grand in the other room.

peanuts

It doesn’t matter too much because you don’t use data on a phone with pay as you go, the price is ridiculous, and as my phone costs me about £3 a year, I cannot imagine any company coming up with a contract that tempts me.

But it’s interesting to look at other issues there are for people living in rural areas.

Now you’d have thought that if you’re subsidising bus services, rural buses, with a more scattered population, would need more subsidies. But actually the opposite is true. In a paper by the Rural Services Network we read, “Local authorities in rural areas have far less funding available to support bus services. In 2017/18 such expenditure in predominantly rural areas was £6.72 per resident, compared with £31.93 in predominantly urban areas. Expenditure to cover concessionary bus fares was £13.48 (rural) and £25.54 (urban).

Now you have to ask why government thinks that the urban population needs nearly five times as much money per head spending on them as the rural population?
It’s much the same with social care. “Rural residents face an additional cost burden for adult social care provision. In 2017/18 they funded 76% of the cost of this through Council Tax. The urban comparator figure was 53%.”

It’s not as if rural residents earned more, “Average annual earnings in rural areas are £21,400, 10% lower than the England average of £23,700.”

Housing on the other hand is more expensive. “Average house prices are £44,000 higher in rural areas than urban areas.”
Don’t go hoping for a council house though. “Options for those on low-incomes seeking social rented housing are typically limited in small rural settlements. Only 8% of households in villages live in social housing compared to 19% in urban areas.”

Now I’m not going to say that it’s great in urban areas. I live near one. This country has an awful lot of towns that are run down and fighting to survive. Money has been bled out of them. Decent jobs have gone and have been replaced by poorly paid call centre work or other jobs where sixteen hours a week contracts seem to be regarded as almost acceptable.

I was thinking about this stuff when somebody directed me to the website

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Results_of_the_2016_United_Kingdom_European_Union_membership_referendum

When you look at the voting districts who voted to remain, in the areas I know best, those who wanted to remain were the major cities, and the more prosperous districts. Those who wanted to leave are the rural districts and those towns which feel abandoned. It strikes me that the country is indeed split. But it’s not North-South or anything crude like that.
It’s the major metropolitan areas versus the rest.
” In those 30 cities, votes to Remain outnumbered those to Leave by over 900,000 (4,872,810 to 3,955,595 or 55.2% to 44.8%), while in the other voting areas, the votes to Leave outnumbered those to Remain by nearly 2.2 million (13,455,147 to 11,268,431, or 54.4% to 45.6%).”

Ignoring whether you believe in ‘leave’ or ‘remain’ something has to be done to deal with the basic level of inequality in this country. Major conurbations cannot continue to grab all the money. Instead of ‘trickle down’ economics we’ve had ‘trickle out’ economics. Where money has been poured into cities (Manchester and Liverpool have both benefited from serious spending and redevelopment, and they’re the two areas that seemed keen on remaining in the EU.) it’s been great for the people in those areas but the population in surrounding areas don’t seem to have seen the benefits. When we rebuild this country, we’ll probably have to rebuild our political class as well. No more party protégés parachuted in to seats they have no connection with whatsoever. Let local parties find local candidates who’ll stand up for local people and bring local problems to the table.

Actually https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Results_of_the_2016_United_Kingdom_European_Union_membership_referendum_by_constituency

is interesting as well, looking at MPs, the way they voted, and the way their constituencies voted. I guess some are going to have to do some rapid talking to keep their seats.

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But then, what to I know? Ask the dog.

As a reviewer said, “Like the other two books in this series, Jim Webster gives us a perspective of farm life we may not have appreciated. Some of the facts given will come as a shock to non-farming readers, but they do need to be read. Having said that, there are plenty of humorous anecdotes to make the book an enjoyable read.”