Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A review of the year

Well, just about Evonne does a review of the year, although this year most of the TV programmes are a review of the decade.

This time last year I sat down and wondered what on earth was going to happen through 2009, we had already been hit by a couple of Bad debts, and we needed to alter the way we work. The good thing for us was at the end of 2007, and moving in to 2008 we had sorted out our marketing, refreshed our log and branding. So the answer was all we could do was try our hardest, support our customers, try and reduce costs where possible, and offer to be flexible on payments should the need arise.

And so the year started, we were hit with another couple of customers going bust, but in the main our customers were surviving reasonably well. So we started looking for more customers, we have increased our Business to Business Support customer base by 25%, this has resulted in us keeping our income slightly above the previous year, as we had lost some customers and the others were not spending as much.

We saw rapid growth in our Home User market, particularly in our laptop repairs. Replacement Screens, and replacement power jacks accounting for most of the laptop repairs.

The biggest issue we have seen a rise in, for move businesses and consumers are issues with broadband. In the main and issue arising either with the router, or mainly issues with the actual connection and the ensuring battle with the ISP, but mainly due to BT.

We had a BT Install that had the filter int he wrong place, but the main issues have been with line issues, or other BT issues, I have to add most of these occurred after most of the exchanges in Plymouth were upgraded to BT's 21CN platform. We ourselves have had an ongoing fight for 10 months, other have faired better. But int he main if I had to award a technology villain of the year it would have to go to BT. Please BT in the new year will you take note that customers do have issues and mainly these issues are with your network and not their router or extension cable. And when you run one of your tests and it doesn't run due to a complete lack of bandwidth their is an issue, and the issue is with you.

Enough of that rant, the I-phone has grown in stature and with the host of apps is probably my recommendation for a smart phone for businesses.

Microsoft released Windows 7, and should have a raft of releases in 2010 scheduled. It was a pretty flat year for releases with manufacturers perhaps holding back until people have money to spend, but this has to change next year! (look for announcements by Google and Apple in January)

Looking forward, Plymouth has some major plans ahead this summer will see FIFA visit the city to select the venues for the 2018 World cup bid, I'm sure we will all blow them away. then we just have to wait til December for the announcement of who will get the World Cup. One unusual hero in technology in the city has been the chamber of commerce. Hopefully we will start to see the plans they have produced start to come true. We may well See H2O move into the city to provide fast (and i do mean fast, faster than we currently have) Broadband to the city, by laying fibre to premises using existing conduit (Mainly the sewer system). This will help move Plymouth ahead, and may help force BT to improve the plans for Fibre to the Cabinet in the City!

Well this is my last blog post of the year. Hopefully I will post even more next year, but you can follow the day to day ramblings on twitter - www.twitter.com/limbtec

Thursday, December 03, 2009

BT Update

Well, my customer is off line again, despite the promise this morning of someone calling before an engineer would turn up. The engineer turned up, and a massive surprise he can't get sync. Good job I diagnosed this on Monday.

Now he believes they have misconfigured the line.

So many issues, and yet they can't seem to just sort it our

BT & the Internet

Just to follow on from the previous post.

So yesterday out of the blue the customers Broadband started working! Yes after 2 days BT had indeed found a fault, and had carried out a tie pair modification to get things working again.

Today we visited the site to change the router back over to their router, from our spare one we carry just in case.

Nothing, no sync, no connection nothing, we tried the spare nothing, and just to make sure we tried a brand new router. Nothing, then we changed the filter and tried again, nothing.

The customer phoned BT Broadband, and as soon as they gave their details the broadband suddenly connected (now I'm sure this is a coincidence?), The customer was told yet again, nothing is wrong with the line it mus be your equipment, at which point I managed to get in on the act. When pointing out that there is nothing else connected to the=is master socket other than an ADSL Filter, and connected to that is a broadband router, of which we have tried 6 combinations and not 1 of them was a winner. They finally conceded we need to run more tests, at which point the broadband died and didn't return.

Now if you can take off the faceplate of the master socket and plug it into the test socket we can run more tests. To be fair this did spark a connection, and Internet connectivity was re-established. Then I got the story if we send an engineer out and they find a fault with your equipment we will charge you- er hello nothing wrong with the equipment, but there is with yours.

BT you need to start some good engineering in fault rectification, honestly, work done at the exchange fixed the issue, for some 20 hours, so it is logical that the fault is with the customer.
This is like have your exhaust replaced, and when you get in start the car up it rattles. It is so obviously the fault of the driver for starting the car. The BT question in this case would be 'have you tried a different key, or a different driver'

Then we got on to question of Broadband faults and engineers just turning up un announced. This DOES NOT HAPPEN' Really I know of 2 cases in the past week alone, you even get a call when you have your shopping delivered by some supermarkets?

BT Broadband, and BT Broadband WholeSale, and of course BT Openreach. You need to raise your game in customer service. If the customer is seeing a fault, and it was working fine, and they have tried a filter change and a different router YOU have an issue. You need to get it resolved, if that customer is a business, specially a micro or small business this is likely to critical to that customer. They are likely to be losing money.

Customer stay calm, and keep contacting them. It may take months, but they will eventually find the faults and fix them.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

All things Internet

It's been a shambles in Plymouth recently.

Yesterday there were massive issues for Virgin Telecom customers in the city. Apparently the power was being taken off of exchange, and was going to be supplied by a diesel generator. However when the power was taken off the generator packed in. I have to ask would you rely on 1 generator to provide the power. I wonder if that generator is their backup generator, just in case they have a power failure! If it is then I would worry about being a Virgin telecom customer!

BT and Broadband, now this is the BT Broadband Wholesale and BT Openreach people. In February this year my Broadband was moved from the old 20CN system to the new 21CN system. With a pile of issues, I have Broadband since 2000, was 1 of the first to connect to it on my Exchange, and have a rock solid connection at ever increasing speeds. Finaaly reaching between 6 - 7.5Mbs. Then it was all moved, and ever since I have endless outages, and speed issues, resulting in my best speed last week of about 2 Mbs.

BT Broadband Wholesale couldn't find a problem on my line, it was working and because it had been connected for over 7 days there couldn't possibly be anything wrong with it? However as i pointed out, it is pointless being connected if you have no throughput, which actually happened more times than I could handle. Eventually, they ran some test and found I had an high voltage on my line, and a cross connection with someone else.

I have spent 10 months trying to get this resolved, I am now up to a blistering fast 5 Mbs still slower than I had, but at least for the last 3 days I have had a useable connection.

Yesterday I had a call from a customer who had lost there broadband, they described the lights on the router, and it obvious they didn't have an ADSL Sync light. It transpired they were moving their telephone lines back to BT, and as a thank you BT have cut their Broadband off! That was 20 hours ago, they still have no broadband this is going to cost the customer thousands of pounds their whole business is based on the internet. This sort of issue is just NOT acceptable.

A couple of weeks ago, I went ot a presentation given by the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, about connectivity. They have come up with a wonderful plan, and I personall hope the H20 (A company who run fast internet connectivity through the sewer system) do actually invest in Plymouth.

It would give another option to businesses in the city, and would enable customers to have a fail over system.

What we will be recommending to all customers, whose business is reliant on the internet is to have multiple providers and to utalise that, with a router, able to both bond the connections to give faster speed, and also able to failover to a single broadband connection.