BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Science/Nature  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Saturday, 29 June, 2002, 12:37 GMT 13:37 UK
Broadband boom causes user gloom
Woman at computer
Getting help with broadband services can be frustrating
Getting a broadband connection in the UK is equal parts pleasure and pain.

BBC News Online has received over 1,000 e-mails from readers eager to share their stories about the time they have spent waiting on the phone to sort out their connection problems.

The jump in demand for broadband has created headaches for users and service providers as technical help lines jam.

But once people have got the service working, they are instant converts and none can contemplate going back to slow days of dial-up net access.

Hanging on

The surge of interest in self-install ADSL, which lets people get high-speed net access via the phone line, seems to have caught out a lot of service providers and left customers fuming.

Richard Land had a typical "frustrating" experience with BTopenworld who missed numerous appointments to install the equipment. They even struggled to get his address right.

He complained via phone and e-mail and got three months free line rental in compensation.

Many others reported spending hours on the phone to try and sort out problems or even get a straight answer about when their exchange was about to be DSL enabled.

Sara Atholl spent a total of 13 hours calling the helpline.

"I was told a manager would call me within 24 hours, but this was four days ago," she wrote. "I am running out of energy to keep trying and am close to giving up completely."

Increased demand

According to Andrew Ferguson, a staff writer on ADSLguide, one of the main problems has been the proliferation of modems on the market which has caused confusion for both consumers and technical support operators.


It seems to be taking longer to get through. It is a 24-hour service and the trick is to phone up at a stupid time but that isn't always convenient for people

Andrew Ferguson, ADSL Guide
"Six months ago, there were two official modems and about three others. Now, there are between 30 and 40 on the market," he said.

"Providers such as Pipex have been snowed under as they don't make you take a particular modem and so people get confused about which one to use," he said.

So many Pipex users have complained that the company has agreed to put up its managing director for a grilling by one of the disgruntled customers.

BTopenworld does not have this multiple-modem problem as it specifies the modem that should be used with its service, making support questions easier to cope with.

Good answers

However, Mr Ferguson reported that users are finding it harder to make contact with BTopenworld's technical support lines as demand has increased.


We will continue to review manpower on a regular basis

BTopenworld spokesman
"It seems to be taking longer to get through. It is a 24-hour service and the trick is to phone up at a stupid time but that isn't always convenient for people," he said.

BTopenworld would not say how many technical support lines it has in operation at any one time but apologised for any problems.

"I apologise if people are having delays in getting through. We will continue to review manpower on a regular basis," said a spokesman for BTopenworld.

Other users have reported that even when they get through to a technical support agent, they do not always get appropriate answers to their questions.

Technical know-how

The BTopenworld spokesman admitted that there were "some grey areas", such as software incompatibility which it could not help with, but he said that in general its agents had a good level of technical know-how.

"Obviously we are not recruiting people with degrees in computing but everyone has some degree of computer knowledge. They are professional people and do try to offer the appropriate level of advice," he said.

According to the Broadband Stakeholder Group, a committee set up by government to look at ways of increasing the take-up of high-speed net services, there are now 600,000 broadband subscribers in the UK.

While it admits that the UK still has some way to go to catch up with other European countries, it is hopeful that there will be one million users by the end of the year.

And those that have managed to get it - they love it.

"I wouldn't be without it," said Bill Michell.

See also:

28 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
27 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
25 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
21 Jun 02 | Business
18 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
14 Jun 02 | Business
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Science/Nature stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Science/Nature stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes