Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Why Switch to Call Flow?

Until last month Temple had some of the slowest broadband speeds in the country.  The best speeds were around three mbps and the worst around one mbps.  They now range from 70 mbps to 110 mbps for those residents that have chosen to subscribe to the Call Flow service.

What does this mean in terms of what a Call Flow customer can do?

  • Use the Sky Catchup feature to almost instantly watch a program in HD.  It used to take hours, if not days for an HD program, but now it will be ready to view in under a minute.
  • Rent a movie and have it be available to watch immediately (even in HD) from Sky, Netflix, Amazon or any of the other online services.
  • Listen to radio stations from London and around the world by streaming them across the Internet without them pausing and/or breaking up.
  • Have reliable and high quality Skype or Facetime conversations with your relatives and friends without constantly worrying about the quality of the connection making for an unpleasant experience.
  • Send and receive emails with large attachments, such as pictures or videos, in seconds where it used to take forever.
  • Update a SatNav with all the latest maps and software (or do anything that requires a large download).  It used to take nine hours and now it takes minutes.
  • Work at home using your company's VPN (Virtual Private Network) as if you were at the office.
What's can do all of the above with your spouse and/or children doing the same kinds of things without anyone noticing or caring about the extra traffic.  Prior to Call Flow you were lucky if one person could do any of the above and now your whole household can at the same time.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sales Literature on Call Flow FTTC Broadband

How is the service supplied? 

The broadband service is supplied by our newly built green street cabinet which is connected by fibre back to the exchange. From our cabinet to your house the connection is made by the copper phone line. This is the only point where the broadband speed will start to reduce in strength. So far everyone who has gone live on the cabinet is able to get download speeds of at least 70 mbps! People closest to the cabinet are getting over 100 mbps.

How long does the process take? 

This is all dependent on the status of your phone line and who your phone services are currently provided with. In order to give you a proper lead me you would need to call us up and we would check for you. Generally it is a 10 working day lead me for the broadband to change over to us.

What Equipment do you provide us with? 

All of our work is carried out external to the property when we take over the phone line and broadband services. What we do provide you with however is a new router to use with our service. This will be shipped out once we have received a date for your rst service to swap over to us. Delivery normally takes 2-3 working days.

Do I need to cancel my existing services? 

No, as we are taking over services already on the phone line we notify your existing suppliers for you when we take over each service. Your current provider will then in turn contact you to tell you that you will be losing that service on a certain date. This date will normally always be a/er our service has gone live.

If I transfer my line rental and calls to Call Flow, do I still need to pay anything to my current provider? 

The only thing you would need to pay is any cancellation fees you may have in your contract with your current provider. We would transfer your line for your current provider and they would be noed of this, therefore you will not need to cancel your contract as they will do this when we notify them of the line change.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Wifi Issues?

I continue to be blown away by the things that I can now do with a super fast Internet connection.

Last night it was catchup TV where I was able to download and start watching a show in HD within seconds of making the request.  Two months ago I would have had to plan days in advance to watch catch up in HD!

I know that my experience is being shared by other residents but there are some people that have had, or are having, issues with wifi coverage and/or signal strength since upgrading.  The following is a summary of advice that might help if you are experiencing issues.

  1. Make sure that the Technicolor router is located in the best possible position per this topic on the Call Flow website.  Ideally this would be connected to your master socket and the positioned somewhere higher rather than lower. Mounting the router on a wall can be a good option but you may need to experiment with different locations to find the best one for your property.   If you have a phone socket that is more centrally located within your property then try that socket and see if it provides better wifi coverage while still having a good connection for the router.   You may need to compromise between the best possible speed from the router to the internet versus the speed within your house via the wifi network.
  2. It might also be helpful for you to follow this advice on how to "tune" your router to a better channel.
  3. There is a wide range of relatively inexpensive options that help you extend your wireless network.  These include products called range extenders that rebroadcast the wireless signal as well as products that use your ring main (power lines everywhere else in the world) as a hardwired connection between the Technicolor router and a remote access point (or wireless antenna).  In the former case we have seen at least one user that lost overall performance implementing such a strategy due to interference with the wifi signal.  In the latter case the performance of a powerline adapter solution will depend on the condition of your wiring.  I have not yet seen a case where I was impressed by the performance of a powerline solution.  If someone does get either of the two options above working well I would love to be able to update this entry!
  4. Lastly are the not-so-inexpensive solutions.  There is technology called a "whole home wifi network" or sometimes a "mesh network".  This type of network is implemented by using two or more devices that work closely with each other to create a network that can cover an entire house regardless of its size (only limited by your budget for each device that you need to place throughout your home).  One resident, that would be me, purchased BT's solution (around 200 quid) and is only needing two of the three devices that came with the starter kit.  One is in the guest bedroom at the front of the house where the master socket is located.  The second is under the bed in the master bedroom.  We get 115mbps at the router and no less than 100mbps everywhere else in the house including my office which is an addition off the lounge.

One thing that bears remembering if you have an issue now and wonder why you did not with your old service.  Remember how fast that old service was?  It is really easy to move 1-3mbps of data around a network!  It is a lot harder to pump nearly 100mbps around!

Examples on
Wireless range extender
Powerline adapter range extender
Whole home network

Monday, June 26, 2017

My Personal Post Mortem Evaluation

If this project had been delivered under my auspices as a Technology Executive I would ask for a post mortem.  Projects that come in a year after their promise dates deserve some reflection on what went wrong even when the end result is a great one.  This was not my project and I know woefully little about the most significant cause of the delay which I understand was the time it took to come to agreement with Openreach on the deployment strategy for our solution.

My minimal understanding is that in order for Temple to have the optimal solution, which is to have our own phone cabinet and accompanying DSLAM cabinet, Openreach needed to open their network to Call Flow.  Apparently this is not something that Openreach wanted to do.  Hence the escalation to Ofcom.

This lack of information, however, is my primary complaint about the project.  Roger and I were extremely interested in all aspects of the project, we were willing to get our hands dirty, and we were at least reasonably knowledgeable on aspects of a technology rollout.  Unfortunately, even when Ofcom was involved on behalf of our village, we were not informed.

I wonder if we could have helped?  I think we could have.  Unfortunately through this entire project we, or myself at least, felt a little like a mushroom.  We did get regular status updates...but generally only when we asked.  So we asked often.  This was a government funded project and I think we had the right to know what was being done on our behalf.  It was also a technology project yet other than a very static website there was no proactive use of any of the myriad of web based communication products and techniques that could have been used to keep us informed.  In my experience, proactive communications reduces the need to answer calls that might not have been made in the first place if information was made available more freely.

So that is my post mortem evaluation.  Involve the end user to the greatest extent possible and communicate openly and frequently.  The project was a success.  The result is truly game changing for Temple.  We are glad to have it in place.  Can't help but wonder if Roger and I could not have helped to get it here a little sooner though!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

It is Here and it Rocks

As of Tuesday, the 13th of June, Temple is well and truly on Superfast Broadband!  The homes closes to the cabinet are getting over 100mbps.  Homes on the Island are getting over 50 and at least one nearly 100mbps.  The home furthest away from the new cabinet is getting 40mbps (though this may have improved since this was written given some profile changes made by Call Flow).

Given that download speeds before the upgrade were in the range of 1 to 3mbps ... this is truly transformational:

  • My wife works from home occasionally across a typical Virtual Private Network and has struggled in the past with speed.  Access to corporate systems based in the US is now faster at home than when she is in the office.  
  • A neighbor was still not completely convinced about the upgrade until they missed a show and the was able to stream the catch up version  without waiting for hours.  They are now convinced.
  • I did a stress test where I ran three video streams, an audio stream, and did a 100gb download, all with no discernible impact on each other.  
  • The Waitrose ordering website is running faster than ever as well! Which is good since whoever programmed it obviously did not care about those of us with crappy Internet connections.  It took me a good 15 minutes less to do this weeks order than it did for last weeks.  
  • Over the weekend my wife and I watched a movie on our Apple TV device.  Normally we would have had to start the download days in advance.  This weekend we streamed HD in real time.

Superfast Broadband rocks.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Switching from BT to Call Flow

Below are some points of interest for folks switching to Call Flow from BT.  Roger from the Island got this info from conversations with BT and with Call Flow.  This is the text of his message to the Island Residents:

You only need to read this if you are taking up or thinking of taking up the Call Flow Superfast Fibre Broadband service.

Residents are signing up for Superfast Fibre Broadband with Call Flow
 because e
nquiries about staying with existing supplier like BT, Sky, TalkTalk are getting the same response ... they are
​ not currently offering​

So if you want to upgrade you need to use this link to register: erage-and-speed/ 

Put in your postcode and select your address from the dropdown
​        There is a Special Offer on​
 the top package and you may wish to add one of the Phone Call Packages.

Existing supplier BT has been acknowledging requests through Call Flow with standard letters saying they're sorry to see you go but mentioning a couple of important points. 

They say that you're leaving the
 Broadband and that your Phone Landline will continue on new terms. 
​Ignore t​
his is
​ as it is​
 a very short interim position. 
nce Broadband is swapped to Call Flow, they will automatically then switch the Phone Landline to Call Flow. If you are switching
 the Landline and Fibre Broadband can only be Call Flow, 
​that's ​
​ -​
 not one or the other.
​ The whole procedure should take less than two weeks once Call Flow have processed your order.​

Secondly, and an important consideration
​. O
nce you've switched
 there is a period of just 30 days to make arrangements for your BT email address. If your email ends with then it will disintegrate along with all historical records
 after 30 days with no way of recovery. And if someone writes to you at your old email it will not be delivered. 
​Same probably applies to you with TalkTalk and Sky.
You have two alternatives. You can change your email to one of the independent emails like Gmail or Hotmail and advise every one of your contacts to use your new email. Or you can pay BT £5 a month for their Premium Mail Service to 
​effectively ​
​back ​
your old email on a 30-day rolling notice contract. 

My advice would be to bite the bullet and change to Gmail
​ or Hotmail​
, advise everyone but then 
​if you're worried about missing emails, ​
​consider ​
 the £5 a month to BT for a few months to see what continues to come through on your old 
​ ​
email address, mopping up stragglers by reminding them you've changed to Gmail
​ ​
Once emails stop coming through to your old 
​ ​
email address you could cancel the 
​£5 ​
​monthly Premium Mail Service​.

Any questions please post below.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Initial Installation has Been Scheduled

There is a scheduled date of June 13th now for the migration of people that have already signed up.  I am not sure what the cut off is, or will be, for this date.  I am hoping that due to the year long delay in us getting service that we might see this date pulled forward but I guess I should just be patient.

When you get the note from Call Flow letting you know that your order is in to Openreach you should notice that your phone service will take a couple of weeks to follow.  I am not sure what you will get in terms of communications from other vendors but if you are currently with BT you will get a note from them saying they are sorry to see you go but noting that your phone service will be staying with them.  When you see this remember the note from Call Flow!