ADSL Broadband setup guide

Whether you’re getting a broadband connection for the first time, or are moving your service from another provider, there are several things you can do to prepare. Reading through the sections below will help to avoid problems during setup and make sure you get the best possible speeds and most reliable service.

Check your telephone line is working properly

Your broadband uses the same line to the local telephone exchange as your telephone, so any problems with the telephone line are very likely to affect the broadband service.

Using a standard telephone, pick up the handset, and listen to the telephone line. If you hear any crackling, hissing, echoing or other noise when you listen to the dial tone, or when you make or receive a call, then there is a problem with the telephone line. If the phone line is not working at all, your broadband service will also be affected.

BT provides an option to temporarily remove the dial tone, which can make it easier to hear any other noise on the line. To use this service, dial 17070 and select the option for ‘Quiet Line Test’.

If you think your phone line has a problem, you should contact your telephone line provider directly and report the fault. We recommend that you do not mention your broadband service when discussing the problem with your provider, to make sure the focus of the call remains on your voice service.

Remove anything connected to your phone line that you’re not using

The more complicated your home phone network is, the more likely you are to experience problems caused by faulty wiring or equipment. Consider removing anything you’re not using, such as telephones, fax machines, satellite decoders (this may affect interactive services) and dial-up modems.

Modern alarm systems that use your phone line are usually designed to work with broadband, but some older ones can cause issues. If in doubt, contact your alarm supplier to check, but we don’t recommend tampering with the system yourself.

Use the master socket for your broadband service

You may have several telephone sockets in your property but only one will be the master socket. This socket is the handover point between the phone line that your telephone provider is responsible for, and the internal wiring and sockets that you are responsible for.

You can usually plug your router into any socket on your phone line and it will work. However, the quality and setup of internal wiring can vary massively from one property to another, so we strongly recommend connecting your router to the master socket as it will give you the best possible service.

If you do not know which socket is your master socket, look at where the line enters your property from outside, as this is often a clue. Otherwise, your telephone line provider may be able to help.

Master socket types

Your socket is likely to be one of three types:

NTE5

This is a typical modern master socket. There is a horizontal split about halfway down, which allows you to remove the lower part of this faceplate by unscrewing the two screws and sliding the front off. Behind the faceplate is the ‘test socket’ which is the best place to connect your router for testing purposes, as it temporarily eliminates the other internal wiring and sockets from your setup.

Connecting your router

If you need to connect your router to an extension socket, an inexpensive device called an I-Plate (or ‘Broadband Accelerator) is available which may increase your broadband speed.

Once your broadband service has been running for a week or two, we suggest connecting your router to the test socket for around one week. If the speeds you are getting are higher than they were on the extension socket, you may benefit from having an I-Plate.

If your router is connected to the master socket, and you aren’t using your extension sockets for other devices, you can remove the faceplate of your master socket and permanently connect your router to the test socket via a microfilter. Although this can look a little untidy, it’s the best way to get the highest possible speed from your broadband service.

Microfilters

It is essential that you connect a microfilter to every socket on your phone line that you have equipment connected to, whether it’s a telephone, fax machine, satellite decoder or router.  We also recommend that you connect a microfilter to any unused sockets.

If you have a phone splitter on any of the sockets (to allow a phone and fax machine to be used on the same socket, for example), make sure you connect the microfilter to the telephone socket, and then plug the splitter into the phone socket on the microfilter. This ensures that all of the devices are being filtered.

Most routers come with one or two microfilters, and additional ones are inexpensive and easy to obtain if needed.

LJU

This type of socket was generally used on older line installations. It has no horizontal split separating the top and bottom half of the socket, so unlike the NTE5 it’s not possible to use a test socket to temporarily disconnect your extension wiring.

Most extension sockets look similar to this so it can be difficult to identify which socket is the master and which is an extension. The point at which the line enters the property can be a clue.

Microfilters

It is essential that you connect a microfilter to every socket on your phone line that you have equipment connected to, whether it’s a telephone, fax machine, satellite decoder or router.  We also recommend that you connect a microfilter to any unused sockets.

If you have a phone splitter on any of the sockets (to allow a phone and fax machine to be used on the same socket, for example), make sure you connect the microfilter to the telephone socket, and then plug the splitter into the phone socket on the microfilter. This ensures that all of the devices are being filtered.

Most routers come with one or two microfilters, and additional ones are inexpensive and easy to obtain if needed.

SSFP

This type of socket has separate connections for your phone and router. They essentially integrate the function of a microfilter into the master socket, so you must not use a microfilter with your router.

Your router connects directly to the smaller of the two sockets on this faceplate, and you cannot connect your router to any other extension sockets on the line. As with the NTE5 master socket, you can remove the faceplate and connect a microfilter to the ‘test socket’ behind it, which temporarily cuts out any extension wiring in your property.

Microfilters

All other extension sockets on your line are also filtered by this socket, so in theory you don’t need to use microfilters when connecting a fax machine, telephone, or satellite decoder. However, if you have spare microfilters, there’s no harm in using them anyway.

Because this type of faceplate filters all other sockets, your broadband router will not work when connected to any of the extension sockets.