New tool could boost internet speeds

IF YOU'RE struggling with poor download speeds and dropouts when using your home broadband, it could be the fault of old copper wiring which runs to and from telephone sockets inside your home, the NBN says.

The government-backed company tasked with rolling out the National Broadband Network is set to trial a new diagnostic tool which is designed to remotely find out whether a premises has copper wiring faults which are causing poor download speeds and drop outs.

The copper cabling running to and from telephone sockets inside homes will be tested as this part of the connection can have a "very real impact" on broadband service quality, NBN said.

"In coming weeks, we will begin a trial of a new diagnostic tool that we hope will quickly and accurately detect premises that may be suffering from speed issues related to in-home wiring faults," NBN acting CTO Carolyn Phiddian said in a blog post this morning.

The testing of the remote diagnostic tool comes after the company conducted a preliminary study earlier this year involving nearly 800 homes. According to the NBN, the study found that one in two premises which were suffering from speed performance issues were due to in-home wiring faults.

"In many of these cases poor wiring caused download speeds to degrade by more than 50 per cent," Ms Phiddian wrote.

"With good in-home wiring, there should be little to no impact on your NBN VDSL service. But in cases where wiring is old, poorly put together or where unused telephone outlets are still wired to the main system, this can lead to speed degradation and cause dropouts."

If it turns out your in-home wiring is the source of your broadband headaches, the good news is there are a few easy fixes. They include things like moving your modem to the first socket, closing off unused phone outlets, installing a central splitter, or otherwise re-cabling poor wiring.

During the preliminary study these solutions resulted in an average download speed increase of 55 per cent, from 30Mbps to 46Mbps, the NBN said.

In-home wiring is not the domain of the NBN but the company is at pains to address growing consumer dissatisfaction from those migrating onto the national network and point out the various factors which could be contributing to poor broadband performance. Old in-home wiring is also unlikely to be the reason behind people experiencing issues after moving onto the NBN, but nonetheless it would be a positive step for consumers to be able to more easily scrutinise that part of their broadband connection.

To do so, the NBN has partnered with ISPs which will invite some of its FTTN customers to participate in the trial.

"At these premises we will undertake testing and a limited range of remediation activities - including isolating wiring from the first phone socket and simple repair and alteration of premises wiring - at no charge to the end user," Ms Phiddian said.

If the five week trial proves a success the NBN plans to make the tool available as a diagnostic resource for retail service providers like Telstra, TPG and Aussie Broadband to help address common speed issues experienced by end users.

"We hope we will be able to share the results of this trial with our retail service providers soon and look forward to providing this new tool to lift end user experience and improve the level of service being delivered over the NBN," Ms Phiddian said.

The trial is being conducted on premises within the NBN's fibre-to-the-node footprint in which connections are made by running fibre cable to boxes (nodes) positioned on street corners before using the pre-existing copper network to make the final connection to the home. Those with homes further from the node frequently report sluggish speeds.

Earlier in the year NBN said some planned FTTN connections will be upgraded to run fibre optic cable to the driveway, known as fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC). This pushes the superior technology deeper into the network and closer to the final connection, minimising the use of copper.

News Corp Australia

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