Home > Computers and Internet > Broadband in the Backwoods!!

Broadband in the Backwoods!!

January 30, 2007
Well it finally looks like I may be getting proper broadband in the local area. As anyone who visits my web site knows, I am currently using a very acceptable satellite connection to the Internet from the company Educom for a number of years. Before that I was using an ISDN line. As it goes Satellite is a big improvement over PSTN or ISDN but it suffers from high latency meaning that it is unsuitable for certain protocols which require fast responses. Examples of these type of protocols would include VoIP and Gaming. Plus because Satellite connectivity is such a precious resource, there are download caps and Fair Access/Usage Policies which apply, which can feel really restrictive when compared to DSL or Wifi connections. It’s also mega expensive when compared to DSL or Wifi. Up until recently I was paying more than 240 euro per month for Satellite broadband with Educom.

I have been trying to get a number of Wifi Service Providers to set-up in the local area, but so far none have been able to provide connectivity for my local area. Companies I know of, which provide Wifi connections in the North Wexford area where I live include:

I’m still talking with Alpha Broadband with a view to setting up an access point at the local Ballywater wind farm near where I live. Hopefully something will come of this.

Anyway, it turns out that Eircom, which is the main telecom company here in Ireland have been doing upgrade work over the last few months, to the phone lines between my house and the local exchange which is 5.1 KM away as the phone lines run. Last year, I got my phone line testing for broadband and it failed. I assumed it was the distance which was causing the failure (as DSL starts to run out of steam at around the 5KM mark) and left it at that. But just recently a next door neighbor was able to get DSL following an engineers site visit. It turns out that a lot of phone lines which were installed a long time ago in the local area were so called "Multichannel Carrier Lines". These are where a single line from the exchange is split into 4 separate lines on a telephone pole close to your house. These 4 lines then serve separate households. These type of lines are completely unsuitable for broadband and even affect the rates you get when on ordinary dial-up to the Internet. One neighbor I know is lucky if he gets 33.6K when he connects via dial-up!.

If you can get a new standard ordinary cable installation phone line or get your existing line converted to this, then even at over 5 KM from the local exchange you stand a good chance of getting DSL. Just last night I was helping out a neighbor with their broadband connection and they would be just 400 meters or so closer to the exchange than myself. I was surprised to see that the DSL router was reporting that it was connecting at 2MB downstream.

After dealing with Eircom support before Christmas, they advised that I get a new standard phone line and hopefully I should then be able to get broadband on it. At a later date, I could then transfer my existing phone number to the new line and decommission the existing one. An Eircom engineer duly arrived last week and installed the new line. I had a good chat with the engineer and he was able to give me a lot of good information on how the physical phone line systems are constructed. Once the line was commissioned by the engineer, I went back to the Eircom web site and checked the line for comparability with broadband. Initially it said it was unable to determine the capability and the engineer said it was best to give it a day or two before you try to apply again. Later in the week, I tested the line again and this time it failed. Now I had two phone lines and neither were compatible with broadband. To say I was feeling let down was an understatement of the month.

After giving out about about the state of broadband in the local Strand Bar pub one night to some fellow pub-quizzers, one person suggested that I talk to one of my neighbors who happened to be a senior engineer with Eircom. I do not know what magic or pixie dust he used, but just today, the online test says that my phone line is now suitable for broadband subject to confirmation. The highest spec package it said my line was suitable for was 2 MB downstream and 256K upstream, which I’ll take any day of the week.

Hopefully I should be getting my self-install pack from Eircom in the next few days which includes a standard Netopia 3300 DSL Wireless Router. I will keep you informed of my luck with finally getting properly on the Information Superhighway.

  1. June 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep it up!
    I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back down the road.
    All the best

  2. June 10, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    It’s been seven years since I wrote this which is one of my first blog entries. Anyway, things have changed quite a bit since then. A couple of months ago, I got a 4G MiFi Dongle from Vodafone and now I have a 30 – 40 MBit connection to the internet. That’s a ten fold increase in my speed from my Internet DSL connection of 2 MBits and my Internet Wireless connection of 3 Mbits. I now even have a Netflix account!.

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