Sky box is slowing down my broadband!

Behind the friendly facade lurks a hidden menace

Yesterday the friendly sky installer turned up to install a Sky HD box which has a lot of benefits such as HD (obviously!) and being able to record one channel whilst watching another one.

What he did not mention however was the effect that it would have on my broadband connection (ADSL).

When the box was ordered I found out from other websites that people had been having some problems with Sky boxes interfering with ADSL so I told the order clerk that I did not have a land line so they would not be able to connect the box in this way.

The result of this was that the charge was inflated by £25 to a whopping £105!

They are already charging £30 for installation plus £50 for the box itself, so there was no way I was going to pay another £25 on top of this so I said that I did have a landline, but that it was only being used for ADSL and “not as a BT line”.    There is an element of truth in this as the line is supplied by my ISP specifically for ADSL and not for voice calls, although it will allow outgoing 0800 & emergency calls as well as inbound calls.

I said that it could be used by the engineer to set up the box, but that I would not be leaving it connected as it inteferes with my ADSL.   The order clerk did not seem to want to argue over this point and even said that I did not have to leave the box connected.    The “smallprint” on the sky website however said that the line needs to be left connected for 12 months.

Anyway, once the engineer had finished installing the box I thought I’d check out my connection speed and sure enough it had dropped from 7616 to 7104.    Not much you might think, but more sinister was the fact that the signal to noise ratio had dropped from a healthy 10db to just 4db!

Up until now I have had a 6500 “bras rate” on my ADSL line which means that although I have a “line speed” on 7616, the actual maximum data download rate is 6.5 MB/s.

As soon as the engineer left at about 6pm I had already been robbed of half a meg per second, a speed reduction of almost 10%:

Note BRAS rate 6000000/-000, Auto, 2009-03-14 18:00:24

Unfortunately this was not the end of the matter, as later in the evening I noticed that my ADSL lost connectivity for a couple of minutes and the reason for this was that the BRAS rate had again been cut but a further half meg to just 5.5mb/s

Note BRAS rate 5500000/-000, Auto, 2009-03-14 22:47:33

I suspect the reason for this further cut was that the DSLAM equipment at the exchange had deemed my line “unstable” due to the very low s/n ratio of just 4db.

The end result is that having the Sky box connected to my phone line has cost me a speed reduction of over 15%.

I think that Sky should have a duty to make customers aware of this fact.    I’m sure that if a car accessory were to reduce the performance of a car by over 15% then the manufacturers of the device would be in hot water if they did not advise potential customers of this fact, so how do Sky get away with this so easily?

I suspect that the problem is sometimes “masked” by the fact that a lot of the mass market consumer ISPs like BT, Orange, Tiscali etc often overload and throttle connections anyway so a 15% speed drop might go unnoticed.

Anyway, the Sky box has now been disconnected from the phone line and my line speed has returned to 7616  (at a healthy 10db s/n ratio), but the BRAS rate is “stuck” at 5.5MB/s as BT are very quick to drop the BRAS rate, but take much longer to restore the BRAS rate again.