My local exchange has been upgraded for BT Infinity but the BT line tester says I can’t sign-up. Why is this?
Gerald, via email
Our expert Dominic says...
BT says: "Even though you may be within an enabled exchange area, it's possible that your particular line may not be able to have BT Infinity yet."
There are a number of reasons this might happen, says BT:
- If your phone line is connected directly to the telephone exchange and not to a local street cabinet
- If your line is too far from the local street cabinet to support a stable BT Infinity service
- If your local street cabinet is unsuitable for fibre optic cables
- If BT hasn't yet got the local council's planning permission to do the work at your street cabinet needed to upgrade you to BT Infinity.
The BT Infinity network uses a technology called fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), which runs fibre optic cables to the street cabinet and uses traditional copper wires from there to your home. This means that as with any broadband connection, you still won't get your full advertised speed.
Although your distance from the exchange won't affect your BT Infinity connection, the length of the copper wires from the street cabinet to your home could slow you down.
BT says that customers should receive speeds of around 30Mb, and a minimum of 12Mb. Research by telecoms regulator Ofcom, published in March 2011, found that BT's 40Mb broadband service averaged between 30-36Mb.
Will I be able to get BT Infinity in the future
This problem affects around 15% of customers in enabled areas, according to BT Openreach, which is rolling out the new network. Although a spokesperson said that BT would be working on ways to connect these customers, the provider noted that in some cases connection costs might be too high, and alternative funding might be needed.
"Openreach is aiming to revisit enabled areas throughout the life of the roll-out programme and reviewing those lines that are currently unable to support a service," said the BT spokesperson.
"However, in some areas the costs of delivering a fibre broadband service is likely to be prohibitive. The best course of action is for local councils to engage with Openreach to explore alternative sources of funding/demand stimulation to help Openreach bridge the funding gap."
Why should I get BT Infinity
Upgrading your broadband service to BT Infinity will give you faster download and upload speeds. The Ofcom research found that BT Infinity delivered the speediest actual uploads in the country - with customers enjoying speeds of around 8Mb.
Superfast broadband is most suited to customers that share their connection with a large household, or spend a lot of time online themselves.
BT says: "With a superfast internet connection that delivers eye-watering download speeds of up to 40Mb and upload speeds of up to 10Mb, you'll be able to do so much more at the same time - download films, watch the BBC iPlayer on your laptop and surf the web while the kids play games online."
According to the UK's biggest broadband provider, "most customers saw their speed increase by at least three times when they upgraded to BT Infinity".
Alternatives to BT Infinity
New providers are entering the superfast broadband market all the time. Plusnet broadband (www.Plus.net) launched the UK's "best value" fibre package in March and TalkTalk broadband (www.Talktalk.co.uk) will launch a new Fibre Optic Boost for its customers in May.
While this means that there is more competition in the market and prices have fallen to as little as £16.49 a month for a 40Mb connection, it might not increase your chance of accessing a fibre optic service in the first place.
Both TalkTalk and Plusnet use the BT network to deliver their own fibre optic deals, so if BT Infinity isn't available where you live yet, you won't be able to sign-up to Plusnet or TalkTalk fibre, for instance.
However, the Virgin Media (www.Virginmedia.com) cable network is completely separate to BT. It covers around half of the UK and already offers a Virgin 50Mb broadband package to nearly 13 million homes as well as rolling out an even speedier new 100Mb broadband service.
The Virgin Media cable network far outperformed BT's 40Mb fibre packages when Ofcom tested download speeds. It managed to deliver between 90-96% of its advertised speed, and even customers on its slowest 10Mb service received more than 9Mb.
Virgin Media says that customers signed up to its 50Mb package typically enjoy an impressive 49.5Mb.
To find out if BT Infinity or Virgin Media's superfast cable services are available in your area, simply compare broadband packages using your postcode.