It’s only once in a blue moon that I write an article in Click in order to make negative comments about a product or service but my recent experiences with BT leave me with doubt over how capable they are of delivering the vision of a ‘Broadband Britain’ that many IT professionals have.

Having recently started running my business on a full time rather than part time basis, I decided that it was time to replace my flagging 56k modem for a nice ADSL line as I needed to be able to be on the Internet and use the phone at the same time; something I couldn’t do after recently moving into a new house which has just one telephone line. ADSL promised to be able to offer me speeds of up to 512k/s, approximately 10 times the speed of a standard modem and the ability to surf the Internet and use the phone at the same time so I quickly went on to the website of my current ISP of choice, Freeserve and checked the availability of ADSL in my area.

Rather surprisingly the report came back as saying that I didn’t have a BT phone when I typed in my home number (01803 555981) and this is news to me since I’ve been with BT for the last couple of months and since this number has always been a BT line. I contacted Freeserve directly and they said that the database that BT provided them was showing me as not being one of their customers and so the next obvious step was to try on the BT website to see if they could offer me ADSL.
Again, the check came back saying that I didn’t have a BT phone line; this I thought was quite incredible for them to stand and say to my face that I wasn’t one of their customers. The alternative route was to do a simple check on my postcode (TQ4 7QH) to see if there was any chance of getting ADSL in my area whatsoever and the website came back saying that BT had no plans of providing this service due to low levels of customer demand.

I finally admitted defeat and called BT to get ISDN installed because even though slow and relatively expensive it would still give me a second number and slightly faster Internet access than I’m currently experiencing. Upon calling the guy at the ISDN help line, he checked my number and then got quite excited and basically told me I’d be stupid to buy ISDN now as I’d be able to get the far faster ADSL in my area within the next couple of days, possibly a few weeks at max and advised me to call back every day to check their progress. Suitably happy but also fairly confused at this response I concluded the conversation and got back to work.
Four days past but shockingly the next guy I spoke to said that I would probably have to wait until mid 2003 before my exchange would be likely to be enabled for ADSL access. I explained my previous conversation with his colleague and so he ran a couple more in-depth checks just to be sure and confirmed that I definitely could NOT get ADSL at this time.
Unsatisfied with this answer I finished the conversation, hung up the phone and called straight back in order to speak to a different employee on exactly the same helpdesk. Once again, he checked availability and confirmed that I had my credit card details to hand as I was indeed in an ADSL enabled area – The difference in opinions between two people on exactly the same helpdesk shocked me.

Anyway, to cut a long story short I have gone ahead and placed the order with BT for ADSL to be installed and they have given me a confirmed activation date of the 9th September although if I check my postcode on their website it still says that they have no plans of being able to provide ADSL in my area. This doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence that come the 9th of September I’ll have a fully working high speed Internet line but if you could all keep your fingers crossed for me until next week and I’ll let you know how I’ve got along with BT and also talk about the advantages ADSL has to offer those who can actually receive the service.

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