Skip Navigation

Ordering & Installation FAQ

I don't want to use microfilters...

If you do not use microfilters, and still want to use a phone then a replacement Master socket cover that filters the ADSL signal from the extensions is needed.

Several companies currently produce faceplates, the same as or similar to the ones BT use on the engineer assisted installs.

These companies also offer a variety of extension sockets with built-in microfilters, thus avoiding the need for an unsightly cable tangle.

The online checkers say I may need an engineer visit, why?

The online availability checkers changed the text they display on 6th September 2004, to reflect new working procedures by BT Wholesale.

Users applying for a 0.5Mbps or 1Mbps service on a very long line may see a note about a possible engineer visit. This visit will only occur after the line has been activated and if you are having problems with the service. For example if your ADSL modem will not connect (sync) with the exchange hardware.

This visit is FREE but must be booked via your ISP. The engineer will endeavour to get ADSL working for you. This now extends to even installing a new master socket faceplate to isolate the ADSL from your houses internal telephone extensions. They may also do some remedial work on the phone lines outside your house. If the problem proves to be your extensions, and you want the engineer to re-wire these for you, that will be chargeable, and the engineer will clear this with you before proceeding.

If a new master socket faceplate is fitted, the engineer will leave you a 30m extension kit, so that you can site your ADSL modem at a location of your choosing.

NOTE: This engineering visit is not intended to act as a way of getting the ADSL drivers installed on your computer. The engineer will not touch your computer hardware.

I need an RJ-11 extension lead, where from?

Extension leads with RJ-11 plugs are available from a variety of sources, e.g. Comet, B&Q, Argos, Dixons etc as well the more normal online sources Maplin Electronics and Solwise.

Generally online sources are the cheapest. Some of the best cables will be made using CAT5e cable, but this is only necessary if you are having problems with existing wiring.

I've heard I don't need a splitter for the ADSL modem?

You only need a microfilter for your analogue telephones. If you do not have any telephones on your line, there is no need for a micro-filter. What you will need is an adaptor for the normal ADSL modem lead to convert the RJ11 plug to a standard BT plug - in the majority of cases your old 56K modem lead will suffice.

How long an extension can I add?

It will vary from location to location. Generally upto 30m of CAT5 cable is fine, longer is possible.

Normal phone extension cabling is fine for the vast majority of ADSL users, but for those with a low signal to noise ratio they may find using CAT5 twisted pair cabling improves the stability of the line. If installing extensions remember to avoid running them parallel to mains cable and other interference sources.

If you have your line activated and are having problems it is suggested that you unplug all extensions and try the ADSL modem at the main BT socket. More specific help can be read in this post on our forums.

Can I use a normal phone extension?

If you are going to put in a new extension, then a normal phone extension kit will be sufficient. There is no need to buy expensive extra high speed type cabling.

Where do I need a micro-filter?

See our wiring diagrams.

What is a micro-filter?

A micro-filter is a special adapter that you need to use on your phone line, so that your telephones do not interfere with your ADSL connection. Some people call them a 'splitter', the naming is interchangeable.

What is an Engineer Assisted Install?

Engineer Assisted installations are optional (in most cases) and more expensive. An engineer will visit your premises to connect and configure a supplied modem or router, and answer any questions you may have. Businesses often prefer engineer assisted installations because internal extension cabling is frequently needed.

What is a Self-Install?

Self Install is sometimes described as 'wires-only'. During the activation phase, you'll never see an engineer (unless there is a specific problem with your telephone line). Shortly after placing an order with your chosen ISP, you'll be assigned an activation date, assuming your line passes the required tests (see our Technical FAQ). In the meanwhile, you'll need to purchase an ADSL modem or router (often available from your ISP). If purchasing a router, ensure that it also includes an "ADSL modem" in it, and isn't just a broadband router (see our reviews for some examples). After activation, you should be able to connect with the details supplied by your service provider.

The checker says I am very unlikely to get ADSL, should I bother ordering?

The wording 'very unlikely' is used to denote those lines that BT Wholesale think are very long, and therefore the chance of it not working is much higher than on average.

It is still worth ordering as until the line is activated you cannot tell for certain whether the service will work. If the line fails to work BT Wholesale will not charge the ISP anything, and any contract is considered void by BT Wholesale. This means your ISP should refund you any money taken in advance if the line does not work at all.

If you know neighbours have had problems getting ADSL, then you would be advised to order a slower speed service initially, for example Home 250 as this will work on all but a very small number of lines. With the launch of the Max products (31st March 2006), which uses rate adaption you may want to consider ordering this, as then you will truly get the best speed possible out of your line.

What speed should I order my ADSL line?

Most service providers offer an up to 2Mbps or up to 8Mbps (Mbps = Mega bits per second), when you buy one of these services you will receive the connection speed that your specific line is able to support. Some providers do allow you to choose specific speeds at order time, e.g. 250Kbps (Kilo bits per second), 500Kbps, 1Mbps and 2Mbps, in this cases what service to order will vary according to your needs. For people just upgrading from dial-up the 250 and 500Kbps services will seem impressive to many, if you are planning on sharing the connection with several computers at home then the 1Mbps and faster options are worth considering.

Many businesses of up to 10 employees operate quite happily on 512Kbps products with an Ethernet router (either self-install or engineer assisted). Depending upon the number of users and the nature of business, faster services may be required. If you're unsure, obtain some 3rd party professional advice.

How do I know which ISP to choose?

Choosing the right service provider can be tricky, and often boils down to word of mouth, or 'gut instinct'. There are many service providers competing for your business so we recommend you use our search to filter the list based upon your requirements.

Remember that if you're looking for a good personal service, the cheapest products and the largest ISPs are not usually the best choice. Try asking on our Message Boards in the "Which ISP" forum (residential / business) and comparing providers with our ISP Comparator.

I am trying to order ADSL, but my provider says I have it already, but I've only just moved into property?

This is probably because a previous resident of the property had ADSL but did not cancel the service, or a broadband provider has not fully removed itself from the telephone line. The problem is often referred to as 'having a tag/marker on your line'.

BT Wholesale for a time ran a public helpdesk, but in May 2008 this closed to the public and additionally functionality was given to broadband providers. Therefore you need to contact the broadband provider you are ordering a service from and explain there is a TAG/Marker on the line. Front line support will not be able to help, but should pass you further up the support chain so that it can be resolved.

I cancelled my previous broadband service, but cannot order a new service due to an incompatible product, what do I do?

Ideally if wanting to change service providers you should use the existing migration procedures. Where this is not possible you can cancel a service, and get your new provider to connect you again - this is referred to as a cease and provide.

Sometimes when ceasing (stopping) a broadband service a provider cancels your login but fails to tell the wholesale provider to remove the tag from the line that says you have ADSL already. It is possible for a broadband provider to issue all the correct paperwork, but for the wholesale provider to make a mistake too.

To get the Tag/Marker removed you should chase up with your new broadband provider, whose backroom support staff should be able to help.

There used to be a BT Wholesale based Tag helpdesk the public could telephone, but in May 2008 this was made available only to broadband providers.

How do I fit an ADSL faceplate to my BT master socket?

Click image for larger version
First step is to locate your BT Master Socket which should look like this.

The two short screws when undone will allow you to lift off the bottom half of the socket. Be careful as your telephone extensions are connected to this piece you are removing.

Click image for larger version
This is a master socket with its faceplate lifted off.

ON NO ACCOUNT DISMANTLE THE WALL SOCKET ANY FURTHER. Consumers can change the faceplate but the part screwed to the wall must be maintained by BT.

When wiring up telephone wiring also use the proper IDC insertion tool, for home use a plastic one costs around £1.

You may have more wires connected, if so this suggests you have more than one telephone extension wired in.

Click image for larger version
This is the back of the ADSL faceplate, and shows the extension wiring connected again. The spare right hand connectors on the blue block are for connecting a dedicated ADSL extension.

The BT supplied ADSL faceplate which engineers sometimes fit when investigating a faulty line do not have this option for an ADSL extension.

Click image for larger version
The ADSL faceplate is then pushed onto master socket. It will stand proud of the original socket by around 2cm due to the filter electronics the faceplate holds.

There is no need for a micro-filter to be used in the phone socket.

The ADSL socket is the one on the left and will accept an RJ11 plug (the one normally on an ADSL modem lead).

What is the I-Plate?

Some places may call it an iPlate, but it stands for Interstitial Plate, which means the plate that fits in between.

The I-Plate, click picture for larger version

The basic function of the I-Plate is to reduce the interference that the ring wire can introduce into the telephone wiring and slow down your ADSL and ADSL2+. The ring wire is the third wire in telephone extensions (connected to pin 3 at the BT master socket). For a telephone and ADSL to work only the wires connected to pins 2 and 5 are needed.

Can I fit an I-Plate?

Fitting an I-Plate is designed to be simple and does not require any changes to the telephone wiring in the home. Most people who can change a fuse will be able to fit an I-Plate. The sequence is laid out below:

  1. Identify your telephone master socket. This is normally the first socket on the telephone line entering the property, and will look like this.
  2. Check what type of master socket you have. If your master socket has Openreach branding in the top right corner the socket already features the I-Plate functionality.

    Image showing Openreach logo from a master socket
    If you have a ADSL faceplate which offers a telephone and ADSL socket (for example the two faceplates in the middle of the picture below), then there is no need for an I-Plate as these faceplates do the same job and incorporate an ADSL filter:
    Picture showing common master socket faceplates
    Click picture for larger version
  3. The I-Plate is designed to work with master sockets that have a BT or 'piper' logo on it, or if the socket was not fitted by BT there may be no branding on it.
  4. Check the type of screws used, and find the appropriate screwdriver.
  5. Undo the two faceplate retaining screws.
  6. Lift off the faceplate, being careful to not detach your extension wiring that is attached to this.
  7. Slide the extension wiring through the slot in the I-Plate and plug the I-Plate into the master socket.
  8. Plug the faceplate now into the I-Plate, and use the two screws supplied with the I-Plate to secure the faceplate.
  9. Remember the I-Plate does not remove the need for ADSL micro filters when plugging your ADSL modem and telephones back in.

How do I get an I-Plate?

Some broadband providers will order one for you upon request, or supply of part of their fault finding processes. There may be a charge for the I-Plate and/or delivery so check before asking for one.

A number of commercial outlets will sell you an I-Plate, which retails for around £10 to £20. If going to buy one, then for the small amount of extra hassle and cost you may find fitting an ADSL faceplate to be neater, this reduces the impact of the ring wire, and also removes the need for micro filters on your telephones.

How much difference will the I-Plate make to my broadband speeds?

The I-Plate can improve some lines significantly, giving improvements of 4Mbps (4 Mega bits per second), the general rule is that the more telephone extensions you have and the closer to the exchange the larger the improvement is likely to be.

You can determine what effect the I-Plate is likely to have by testing your broadband at the test socket that is revealed by removing the bottom half of your BT master socket, see picture below for where the test socket is located.

Click picture for larger version

NOTE: The results from speedtest websites will not improve immediately if your broadband is based on a BT Wholesale solution. Therefore when performing tests like this, always look at the actual connection speed as reported by your ADSL/ADSL2+ hardware. BT based connections take between an hour and five days for actual speedtest results to mirror the connection (sync) speed.

What is inside the I-Plate?

The I-Plate is actually a surprisingly simple device, we have dismantled one so you do not have to break your own.

The back of the I-Plate, click picture for larger version

The innards of an I-Plate, click picture for larger version

I don't want to spend any money, but want to improve my broadband connection?

The I-Plate while a nice and simple device, will cost many people money, and the simpler option of removing the ring wire from the master socket faceplate is a free option that is described in another of our FAQ items.

I don't have a master telephone socket, can I fit an I-Plate?

The short answer is no. The longer answer is that if you do not have one of the suitable master sockets, you can call your telephone line rental provider and request the fitting of a BT master socket (known as an NTE5). This carries a charge which starts at £25, but may vary from provider to provider.

My main socket has two telephone sockets on it, will an I-Plate fit?

If you have a telephone socket that looks like this:

Dual telephone socket, click image for larger version

Then these are normally used in properties which have two telephone numbers. You cannot fit an I-Plate, or any of the other ADSL faceplates to this type of socket.

What is the difference with an Openreach branded master socket?

The master socket which has the Openreach branding looks identical to older versions of the master socket. The difference is actually in the removeable faceplate.

An Openreach master socket faceplate, click image for a larger version

The difference is small round lump in the bottom right corner of the device which holds the component to reduce the effect of the ring wire (which would connect on pin 3).

My master socket does not have a split front to it, can I fit an I-Plate?

Older installations will have a master socket that was not designed to be accessed by the consumer, and thus does not have a removable faceplate. An example of this older style socket is shown below:

Old style master socket, click image for a larger version

The options if you want to fit an ADSL faceplate or an I-Plate are to run a short wire from this socket to your own Master Socket that you have installed, or ask your telephone line rental provider what the cost would be for Openreach to attend and fit a new NTE5 master socket. This is known as a "Conversion of hard-wired master socket to Linebox and Regularisation of illicit master socket" in the BT Price List, or colloquially 'master socket normalisation', and costs around £25.

I have moved home and the telephone is all in my name, but the online checkers say I cannot have broadband?

If the previous resident had broadband then do not panic, upon taking over a telephone line it can take the online checkers a few days to update.

Broadband providers should still be able to place an order if you explain the situation.

The online checkers say a very slow speed is available, but the previous resident got a lot faster?

The online checkers take time to update, sometimes a week or more when the person whose name the telephone line is in has changed. This can result in slow speeds being estimated on the online checkers.

If you can find out from the previous resident what their actual broadband speed was, you should be able to achieve the same.

The online speed estimators where you put in your telephone number or postcode do nothing to actually limit your broadband speeds. If the checker is wrong your broadband modem will still negotiate the best speed possible for the parameters that have been set.

Ofcom released a wealth of speed data at the postcode level in the Autumn of 2012, and you can look up a postcode using this data. The data is not perfect, but can give a better idea of what speeds to expect in a particular area.

My broadband provider is saying I need to pay them money before I can migrate, can they do this?

A short answer NO. A provider must allow you to migration even if you owe them money, of course ignoring any debt may serious implications in the future as providers may use a debt agency to recover monies owed.

If leaving a provider while within their minimum contract term you are liable for any charges as set out in the products terms and conditions and the notification letter when you initiate a migration should set these costs out. If the cost is too high you can cancel the migration.

If you have left a provider and dispute the charges they say you owe them, follow our resolving a problem guide.

I have moved, but my provider is telling me that someone is camped on my line, what do I do?

The phrase 'camped on the line' is used to describe a situation, where you have moved into a property and took over the telephone line, but the old broadband is still active.

Your broadband provider should wait three days for the tag to clear and place a broadband order after this. If the tag fails to clear then given proof that you have taken over the telephone line they will arrange for the old broadband to be removed.

How do I find out which broadband provider the previous resident was with?

Prior to 2008 you would have to chase the old broadband provider yourself, or contac the TAGS helpline directly. In 2008 the systems have altered to make things simpler, and now it is the job of your new broadband provider to chase this situation up, and remove the old broadband service.

I want to change my telephone line rental provider, will this affect my broadband?

Switching the company who you pay your telephone line rental to will not affect the broadband, provided that the broadband and telephone are not a fully unbundled service (e.g. TalkTalk).

To move line rental provider, simply contact the new provider. One note of caution, if this new provide has telephone and broadband bundles make it clear that you DO NOT want their broadband. They should not be able to remove your broadband, unless it is a fully unbundled product, and even then they should have your permission.

I am moving into a home with no telephone line, and TalkTalk say I have to call BT to get a line installed, won't this be expensive?

This is likely to expensive on two counts, to get BT Retail to install a telephone line will cost around £125 and carry a 12 or 18 month contract, and to move to TalkTalk inside this contract period will cost an extra £70.

TalkTalk should actually be able to arrange a new line install via Openreach who actually look after the telephone lines.

I want to switch broadband providers how do I do it?

Switching providers is commonly known as a migration, and for the vast majority of broadband providers (namely those using ADSL, ADSL2+ or FTTC) it is very simple.

New rules that come into effect on 20th June 2015 mean that you should just need to order the service from your chosen new provider and they will contact your old provider.

Your old provider will send you a letter to confirm that you are happy to migrate and this gives you 10 days to reply and cancel the migration, i.e. to avoid a rogue sales person slamming your connection.

How quickly should I get my Migration Authorisation Code (MAC)?

After 20th June 2015 anyone trying to issue or obtain a Migration Authorisation Code is out of luck. A new migration system has made the old MAC obsolete.

Our Migration Guide is worth a quick read and outlines the new process which is generally much simpler than the old system.

What are the rules governing migrations?

In February 2007 Ofcom announced General Condition 22, which provides rules for how migrations should take place. A summary of the rules can be read here.

How do I know if I need a MAC to migrate?

Easy question, no needs a MAC to migrate after June 2015, the MAC system has been abolished.

The new migration system is controlled by the provider you are trying to switch to, and they or their wholesaler will inform your old provider, making migrations much simpler if you are leaving your old provider because you are not happy with the service.

I think I am on an unbundled connection, can I get a MAC?

Now that a unified migration system is in place no broadband service needs a MAC to migrate, just contact the new provider you want to join.

My broadband provider is asking whether I'd like to cease my broadband connection when I ask about migrating, what do I do?

The broadband provider should avoid ceasing a broadband line at all costs, and suggesting this method rather than a migration is not the best practice.

A cease order will result in broadband being removed from your telephone line, and may lead to a delay of a week or more in getting broadband back again.

Ceases used to be free, but to encourage broadband providers to use migrations they are now charged £18.50 for every cease, and some providers pass this cost onto you.

I have a fully unbundled service, but want to switch broadband providers, what do I do?

The key thing to remember is that with a fully unbundled service both the broadband and telephone products are unbundled. This has often made switching provider difficult.

The best method is to decide who you want your broadband and telephone service with (they could be the same provider) and assuming the broadband is not another fully unbundled service the following applies.

If you are moving to another fully unbundled product, then simply talk to the new provider who will arrange everything.

I am moving out of my home and want broadband as soon as possible in my new home, what do I do?

The first thing to decide is whether you want to use your existing broadband provider at your new home. If you do not then what you should do is tell your old provider to cease your broadband by the date you are due to move out, and then order broadband from new at the new property. If you do the alternative of moving your old provider to the new home and them migrating you may find yourself stuck in a lengthy contract, and the probability of it going wrong are much greater.

The process for ordering broadband and a telephone line at a new home (this process applies even if the new home does not have an active telephone line) is outlined below:

  1. Liase with existing occupier and make sure they have arranged to move their own broadband or will be ceasing it. This avoids what are known as TAG issues.
  2. Contact your new provider(s) and link the telephone and broadband orders by using the Simultaneous Provide process.
  3. When using a Simultaneous Provide you will be given a Linked Order Reference Number (LORN) and you should give this to the other new provider, i.e. if your telephone provide gives you the LORN give it to your broadband provider when placing the order.
  4. VERY IMPORTANT: It is important that when you first place the order with each provider that you ask for the Linked Order Reference Number, once an order has been placed you cannot link the two orders together.
  5. When you move in the telephone line will usually be up and running first, but there is a risk the broadband order will fail and this is likely if the previous resident did not move or clear their broadband from the line.
  6. If the broadband order fails, the broadband provider should wait three days and check whether the old TAG has cleared from the line and if it has not the broadband provider is responsible for liasing with the TAGS helpdesk to resolve the tag.

I have been given my new telephone number, but the availability checkers say my broadband will be very slow?

Until a telephone number is actively in your name at an address it will not provide accurate estimated broadband speeds.

If possible obtain the telephone number of the line that is in use at the property currently, or ask them what speeds their broadband connects at.