Unfiltered


According to BT its parental controls are ‘completely customisable’ and apparently it is possible to add specific sites to allow or block which, unless you’re Claire Perry, is obviously essential. Even so I’ve experienced just how pointless internet filters are before, so I’m keen to avoid ‘porn’ filters on my home broadband connection for as long as possible.

CoffeeGeek-filter

I don’t know how filtering works on other ISPs but these are just a few of the problems with BT’s implementation which contributed to an upcoming switch to a completely unfiltered broadband provider:

  • Applies same filtering to every device… hopefully there aren’t actually any homes without adults around. Apparently they do allow you to schedule when the filter is active but that seems like a solution from the last century.
  • There’s no way for me to find out if a site would be blocked by the filter. There are sites I might want to make certain are blocked but I obviously wouldn’t want to have to visit them to find out!
  • There’s no way for site owners to find out if their own site would be blocked by the filter.
  • The standard filtering has a couple of glaring omissions which I would be interested in: I want to block adverts targeted at children, and I want to block any form of tracking.

There are more details of BT’s filtering in the Open Rights Group blog post, BT answers our questions about parental controls.

Photo © Mark (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Connecting…


It’s been a bit quiet here the last few months as we finally got to the end of the grand moving plan! We actually moved a couple of weeks ago but the new house came without telephone or broadband… or mobile signal or TV aerial!! Today our new found productivity looks set to come to an abrupt end with the installation of a shiny new internet connection. And this is not just broadband, this is fibre-to-a-green-box-just-400-meters-away-and-same-old-copper-wires-the-rest-of-the-way broadband.

That isn’t the internet I was looking for either: I had pretty much decided to go for fibre-optic-cable-provider broadband. That wasn’t the only last minute change of plan, so to ease back in to blogging, this is the first in a series about the companies supplying our new house. In most cases I’m reluctant to go as far as recommending companies because, as is often the case, your mileage may vary. It may help someone though, so it’s no coincidence that communication provider is first up…

By appointment to Jo and JT. Purveyors of telephone and broadband, BT.

BT did well to snatch this one from Virgin Media. I’ve been looking forward to a new phone company for longer than a new house, and judging by the increasing flood of post from Virgin Media, they’re pretty keen to get new customers. Adding to the temptation, the new house was already with Virgin. I phoned them to sign up. In contrast to their cheerful letters requesting the pleasure of my custom, I got through to someone who must have previously been a doctor surgery receptionist. Partly because of the price and partly because the overwhelming impression things would not go smoothly, I changed my mind.

Eventually, after trying several other companies, I ended up picking  BT Infinity. Only time will tell if that was a good idea or not, but they’ve been ok so far. It did take them a long time to actually connect us, and it would have been nice if they could prioritise customers with no service at all over upgrades, but what I liked is that they did what they said, when they said they would. @BTCare were also very responsive and helpful, and were able to provide BTOpenzone access to keep us ticking over, which was great.

I’m much more optimistic than I was with our previous supplier- TalkTalk even seem to be messing up closing our account, so they’ve managed to keep up their terrible customer service to the very end!

…and BT Openreach.

Take one router to connect to the internet? Now I just have two boxes to power! One quirk of BT Infinity is the separation of VDSL modem (owned by BT Openreach) and Homehub (provided by BT), which even means that the engineer brings one and the other gets posted separately. I can’t imagine there’s a technical reason not to have everything in one box, but Power over Ethernet might be nice to keep the tangle of power cords under control. I was wondering how they would cope with a master socket behind the front door with no power, but luckily the new (huge) master socket is behind the TV. (Must find the Current Cost IAM to see how much power the two boxes are using.)

More broadband procrastination


Still undecided about a new phone company!

One of the early front runners, Orange, has done even worse than TalkTalk in a recent survey! BT seem to do well in various reviews, including a BBC survey, but the high connection charge still puts me off, and a colleague was recently cut off, along with numerous neighbors. for over a week! If I have to pay a high connection charge, I think I’m more likely to give Greenbee a go at £115. Sky keep putting leaflets through the door as well, and the deals do seem to be getting better- I may crack yet!

I’m still tempted to give Virgin a try though, to see if cable is any better… it’s been a while since they were NTL now!

Decisions decisions!

Looking for a new phone company


18 months of TalkTalk hell is almost over, so I’m looking for a new phone company. I have also been completely underwhelmed by Vodafone recently, so a package that includes, home phone, broadband and mobile phone could be the answer.

Of course, I don’t doubt that most companies are just as useless, so who to choose…

Not Pipex it would seem!

And, even if I did think about going back to BT, they don’t seem to want me back, with a comedy, “Installation fee just £124.99” (this is obviously a new use of the word ‘just’ indicating a complete rip off). Unfortunately that kind of limits the choice somewhat, as many other providers require a BT line. One option I’m beginning to give serious thought to is Virgin Media (they must have improved since the NTL days by now surely?!) but I have reservations: their pricing seems a tad chaotic (their junk mail seems to include a reasonable offer, but it doesn’t appear on the web site it tells you to go to!) and if I pay for 4Mb broadband from them I would be extremely upset not to get the whole 4Mb, all the time. None of this ADSL/’up to’ nonsense. Sure, it might not be possible to supply higher speeds, so charge me less (not difficult really)!!!

Maybe Orange could be the answer– that would take care of the mobile part of the equation without going near O2 or Vodafone, which is a plus. At first glance they don’t seem to require a BT line either…

You also need:
a home phone line (excluding Kingston Communications and cable)

I suspect that’s just the tip of the iceberg, so I’m still looking. Any suggestions for who to try, and who to avoid, would be very very handy!!