Part 2

computerTo get the most out of your broadband service, it helps to know how to troubleshoot problems and get repairs completed quickly. Set out below are two areas where a little knowledge can make a big difference to your enjoyment of your broadband service.

Connecting more than one PC to your broadband

80% of UK Telecom’s telephone services customers also take broadband from us and this proportion increases every year. Amongst them are many who wish to connect more than one PC to the service. Most modems will allow three PCs to be connected by ethernet cables (the cable that goes from the back of the modem into the PC). In addition, nearly all modems have a WIFI option where you can link an almost unlimited number of PCs to the service remotely.

If you want to use the WIFI option, here are two important points:

1. Remember to activate the security code. (Many suppliers dispatch equipment with this active by default.) This prevents unauthorised access to your service. Without it, someone could use it to download films and music illegally with you being responsible for the unknown person’s wrongdoing.

2. The amount of usage you can make as a domestic customer with normal needs is in effect unlimited. However, all companies operate a fair usage policy, so make sure that only those you want to have access to your service have it, otherwise there is a risk that you will lose it for this reason.

Your broadband provider will almost certainly have information on their website on how to set up the security protection or will have sent it to you. They will also offer support over the phone.

If you use a laptop or more than one PC you may want to access your broadband from different rooms. This is where the WIFI option comes into its own. The construction of modern homes will usually allow access in any room. However, many expats live in older houses built using traditional methods that include thick stone walls and multiple floors.

If you live in one of these lovely old properties, you can still benefit from the wireless facility but will have to buy a small additional piece of equipment. In our view, the Devolo wireless extender is the industry leader. This can give you WIFI in every room. It would be best to buy this from a French supplier to have the correct plugs. Amazon (France) is a good place to start and has several makes for you to consider. (Your PC will need a wireless card to work with this, so check to see if one is installed. If not, you will need to purchase and fit one.)

If you have additional buildings that are on the same electrical supply, you may find that this device allows access in them, a nice benefit for gite owners.

If your broadband stops working:

• Keeping your broadband service going

Your internet service uses the same telephone line as your phone. It does however use a different bandwidth. Filters are used on sockets other than the router or modem to keep these two types of ‘traffic’ separate. You can experience problems with your internet service whilst your phone service remains satisfactory.

• Preliminary checks

Routers and modems tend to remain permanently switched on. If you lose connectivity, the first thing you should do is switch off the power supply for 30 seconds to a minute and then power up again. This will clear the majority of faults. Check that all the usual lights have come back on. If they do not your equipment may have been damaged by a power surge – see below.

• If your WIFI stops working

Your WIFI connection may fail and the first thing you must check is if the broadband still works when the router or modem is directly connected to your PC using your ethernet cable. If the service works, then the problem will be with your wireless settings, so check these – technical support can be given by your service provider if you need it.

• Power surges

Every home can have power surges every day. Simply switching fluorescent lights on or off and household appliances such as washing machines and tumble dryers can cause them. However, in France you are much more likely to suffer from a larger power surge through your electricity supply and these are much more likely to damage your router or modem and your computer.

These result most frequently from an electrical storm. Replacement of equipment is often required, usually at your expense, though you may be covered by your household insurance. You can protect yourself from surges by installing a power surge protector between your electrical socket and the router or modem and PC. However, this may not protect you from a major surge.

Not all power surge protectors offer the same peace of mind. There is not enough space here to go into all the considerations, but the most important features you should look for are those that offer three channel protection and an indicator that will tell you if whilst it has protected your equipment it has been damaged – or else you may continue to believe that you are protected when you are not!

• Is it a fault on your telephone Line? (This does not apply to the Total Degroupage offers.)

If your router or modem appears to be working, the next step is to check your telephone line. Try making a call from a telephone connected directly to your telephone socket. If you cannot make a call, the problem will be with your telephone line and not your broadband, so you will need to report it to whoever you pay for your line rental.

• Is there a fault with your PC?

If you are connecting to a broadband service for the first time and you are using a PC with old operating software, this can cause a problem. Check that you are using a compatible software and that you have all the latest updates. Next, check that your virus and spyware software is up to date. The latest software such as Vista has a lot of protection already built in, but it is still advisable to get virus protection. There are some free software packages available, but most people choose one of the well known paid for products. Remember, this type of protection is against future attacks and will not undo some pre-existing problems.

• Check all devices connected to the phone line

If the above checks have not resolved the problem, you should check any other devices connected to your telephone line. Each device will need to have a filter between it and your telephone socket. Don’t forget that the base station for a cordless phone will need a filter! Alarm services connected to your line can also interfere with your broadband service. Make sure you tell your supplier if this is the case.

Once you have completed these simple tests, any call to your provider for assistance will result in a much quicker repair and save you down time as well.

Bob Elliott, Commercial Director, UK Telecom Ltd

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