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No wonder I couldn’t get connection

December 10, 2012

When we moved into our current house nearly three years ago, we had a whole heap of electrical and data cabling work done. And we had Foxtel (cable TV, even though ours is via satellite) installed a few days later.

One of my electrical requests was for a data port near the TV so that I could ‘future-proof’ the area in case we could do internet things on the TV. The data cabling was to run through the conduit inside the wall, across the ceiling, and to a data port in the office where I connected the cable to the network hub. Well, I’ve never used this data port. Until last weekend.

Foxtel now has an option to connect their IQ box to the internet to get new release movies and to watch things we might have missed. As we’re coming into the drought time for TV series in Australia, I thought we should try this ‘On Demand’ service — it costs nothing to get it activated by Foxtel, though you do pay for new release movies on a ‘pay per view’ basis.

So I connected a data cable between the Foxtel IQ box and my handy dandy data port near the TV. Then I called Foxtel to get it activated. That was all easy enough, but even after activating, I couldn’t get the On Demand service to work via my IQ box. Next step was to check the cable, so I removed it from the IQ box and connected it from the data port on the wall to my laptop. Nothing. I tried two other network cables. Still nothing. I went back to the office and followed the data cable from the wall back to the network hub — it was all connected correctly; I even tried a different port on the hub and a different cable. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

After all this testing, I figured there was something wrong with either the wall data ports at one or both ends or with the cable inside the walls and roof space. Or perhaps the electrician had never actually put cabling between the two data ports and all we had we useless wall outlets!

I called another electrical/data cabling company to come and check the cable, as well as do some other small electrical things around the house. They put a tester unit on the data port near the TV — and got nothing. The electrician said that even if the cable was ‘live’ but not connected properly, he’d still get something. He got nothing. So he pulled the wall plate off and this is what he found:

data_cable

He asked if we had Foxtel installed after the data port was in — I told him we had, and that I recalled the Foxtel installers being cowboys who wanted to cut our coax cable to the antenna for our free-to-air services. We wouldn’t let them do that, but it seems that they cut our data cable without our knowledge!

The electrician thinks that what they did was cut the data cable, attach the three Foxtel coax cables to the end and pull it up into the ceiling so they could do their connections back to the satellite dish on the roof. What they didn’t do was pull the cable back down again! And they didn’t tell us they’d cut the data cable. Cowboys. And yes, the electrician found a whole lot of data cable up there in the roof space.

The upshot is that the data port doesn’t work, and it’s now impossible to get the data cable back down the conduit. It’s a single brick wall, so chasing a new conduit into the wall is NOT an option (brick saw, dust, plastering, painting…). We could perhaps go in from the wardrobe in the bedroom behind the wall, but again, lots of mess and we’d end up with a conduit inside a wardrobe, then coming out into the room before heading back into the wall. Also not an option.

The electrician suggested that some cheaper options would be some sort of wireless dongle from the Foxtel box back to my wireless modem/router (no idea of cost), or the ‘data over the power line’ option (about $80-$100 from Foxtel).

Or we could do nothing. That’s always an option.

Meantime, I’m angry again about those cowboy Foxtel installers — I was angry when they did the initial installation as they took little care and almost no notice of the customer, and all that anger has bubbled back to the surface now. Of course, as nearly three years have passed, I have no proof that they did this, but as they were the last tradesmen working with cables in that area, there’s a pretty fair chance that my electrician’s assumptions are correct.

7 comments

  1. Hi Rhonda

    If I were you, I’d still pursue this matter with Foxtel.

    If there is a conduit in the single brick wall (if it was chased into the wall in the first place) there is a reasonable chance you can get the cable back through to the data point. A “GOOD” electrician should be able to do that for you. (Preferably at Foxtel’s expense)

    Failing the above, I have a 1.2 metre long masonry drill that I made to get some electrical cable down inside a single brick wall. You can borrow that if a (data point) location about 1 metre from the ceiling is convenient for you!

    Conduit in the back of a wardrobe is probably the last/best alternative. When it is neatly done it’s almost invisible.

    Good luck with a solution.

    Kind regards

    Peter


  2. If you can’t get the wiring reinstated, I wouldn’t advise using a wireless connection for viewing HD TV. It’s unlikely you will get enough bandwidth over wi-fi for enjoyable watching. We had a similar problem with getting a data connection for our TV. Although our router wasn’t far away physically, it would have been impossible to route the cable tidily. We oped for the power line networking solution and it just works. In fact, we’re so pleased with the speed improvement that we have replaced our laptop wireless connections with power line connections too. :-)

    We’re in the UK, and we just bought an off-the-shelf power line kit, rather than going via our phone provider, although if you do get the Foxtel kit they won’t be able to dodge the issue should you still have problems.


  3. @Peter — putting a data point up near the ceiling isn’t really a viable option either, but thanks for the offer ;-) And I really don’t want to go to the expense of putting conduit through the wardrobe. We live in a regional area and there is only one Foxtel isntaller here, so to go back to Foxtel would mean I’d get the same cowboys who cut the cable in the first place — and I’d probably have to prove to Foxtel that their guys did it.

    @titch990 — thanks for sharing your good results with the power line kit. That was the way I was thinking, and if I go through Foxtel to buy one, as you recommend, then any issues with it come back to them.


  4. I’d complain to them too, because chances are you’re not the only one who has had them take short-cuts that only show up later. The more noise you make, the more likely they will have to up their game eventually. Unless your conduit is really full, couldn’t you request Foxtel to send the same dolts back, chop their own cable, use it to pull the data cable back down together with a dummy line, then use the dummy to pull up their line?


  5. Powerline networking kits can be very unreliable for video transmission, especially in a house where safety switches (residual current devices) have been installed.

    Telstra, in their testing for the Telstra T-Box video on demand service, certified only the Ruckus Wi-Fi Home Network Extender for extending a network connection over WiFi. These little Ruckus units are espcially geared at delivering reliable bandwidth for video streaming, using their proprietary beam-forming antenna arrays. I have a set of these units at home, and they reliably stream full 1080p video (upwards of 75Mbps, which is way more than you need for Foxtel’s On Demand service) through double-brick walls where even my Netgear DGND3700 falls down. You can buy the Ruckus kit from any Telstra Shop (they’re right next to the T-Boxes).

    I see that Telstra is also now selling the Netgear Powerline Home Theatre Kit, which implies that it has also been certified for video on demand. YMMV though.

    See http://www.telstra.com.au/tv/tbox/support/ and http://www.telstra.com.au/tv/download/document/ruckus-wireless-home-networking.pdf


  6. Thanks Trevor. I ended up purchasing the Netgear one from Foxtel, and it seems to work fine. We don’t use On Demand a lot, but it’s worked each time we’ve used it.


  7. The same happened to me but the foxtel contractors told my builder they cut the antenna cables to make it easier for themselves.



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