Finally I have a fast and stable broadband connection thanks to NTL. It was installed last Friday and since then I have not had one disconnect. Contrast with Freedom2Surf’s LLU service which was flaky and prone to disconnects. I also seemed to suffer some accusations of lag while gaming online although I was never entirely convinced it was me. Saying that, there has been no lag at all since NTL was installed.
Secondly the speed is impressive – most impressive. About 30 minutes after the line was installed I took an ADSLGuide speedtest which you can see here. Almost a full fat 10Meg connection. Real world speeds i.e. downloading, streaming and general web surfing have also been very impressive. Web pages were a lot snappier than previous suggesting that NTL’s DNS servers are working really well compared to my last two providers.
Contention however can definitely be seen with NTL but not to the same extent as the ADSL network in my area. Yes I’m in a Glasgow on a big exchange (western) but to slow down at night to less than 50k/sec is pretty unacceptable. I should have been seeing 6Meg. I find NTL is dropping to 4-6Meg in the evening but at other times maintains the 9-10Meg speeds. SO after one week I can only recommend NTL’s cable service. I’ll update later in the year once I’ve had more experience of their long term performance.
Finally – Freedom2Surf have lost the plot. I cancelled with them last week but they had the cheek to phone this week and offer 2 free months connection and a promise to fix all my issues. I wasn’t impressed with this at all – why not fix the problem while I’m a paying customer and not when I leave. Sounded like they have had quite a few users leave recently. They also admitted today that they have been traffic shaping over the last weeks. I wish they had been up front so that people knew this was happening – it would have saved a lot of wasted time and money in contacting their support desks. Their reputed honesty and good support seems to have gone out of the window. In case you haven’t figured it out I didn’t take them up on their free months offer. Good riddance.
3 months. That’s how long I lasted with Freedom2Surf. I’m so glad I took a monthly contract as it means I can get out easily. I should have known I would have problems when Pipex bought Freedom2Surf and Sky bought Easynet (who provide the LLU line) within a week of me moving.
Firstly – LLU. It’s just not stable at the moment. I can live with a drop in speed at night due to contention (which will affect more and more people as the speeds increase throughout this year) but I cannot live with a flaky connection that has a tendency to drop. Easynet’s solution was to drop me to 6Meg from 8Meg. This meant the SNR level was mostly respectable but even when high the connection would pop at odd times.
I mentioned drop in speed – at night it was dropping to less than 1Meg and a 150k upload. That’s the worse I’ve seen in a long time. Although I criticised Plusnet at least they kept the speeds at an acceptable level although they did it by shaping the connection and not telling anyone about it.
Support at F2S is also poor. They don’t respond to e-mails or any of the tickets raised on their website. You can only contact them through a support line that costs a fair whack…typically you will wait around 20-50 minutes in a queue although I found phoning at around 11-11:30AM got me through quite quickly. The support guys sound knowledgeable but out of the four promised phone calls I would get next day over the last 3 months I got one about 10 days after I logged a call. Just not good enough.
So – time to go. I want a fast but most importantly stable connection so who to turn to? My line looks to support 6 Meg max via ADSL so as the speeds go up over the next few years I’ll be stuck at that speed. Left me with one option – NTL. So this Friday NTL will be installing a 10Meg line. I’ve no doubt it will suffer contention in the same way that ADSL does but hopefully it will be more stable and also the 10Meg speed is very appealing even if it maxes out at 8-9Meg. I also feel NTL has a far better infrastructure in the long term than BT has – I blame Thatcher for that one.
So – out of the frying pan, into the fire?
It’s been three days since my 8Meg line was switched on. So far the speed performance has been very impressive – I still can’t get over just how fast my downloads are. Files really are just taking seconds to grab. Mail speed is also excellent and the DNS issues have settled down.
Not so good is that on Thursday and Saturday between 6 & 8pm I got disconnected a couple of times. After some investigating I’m putting it down to the condition of my line and not F2S or the LLU provider Easynet. The key factor is that as the speeds of broadband increase the quality of your line becomes all the more important.
After a week without broadband F2S and Easynet finally got their act together today and I’m now back getting my bb rush. My connection speed seems a bit ‘floaty’ at the moment but a download speeds between 6 & 7Meg is not to be sniffed at – ADSLGuide test results. Upload speed is nice at over 600k – be interesting to see how that affects my Xbox hosting abilities.
F2S DNS servers seem less than rock solid so I’ve moved to a different providers but apart from that there is nothing bad to report. Downloads from newsgroups were topping out at around 650k/sec. The LLU line seems more susceptible to MTU & RWIN tweaking. I managed to get close to 7Meg but then got greedy and saw the connection drop to around 3.5Meg.
However it’s great to have broadband back. Dial-up was amazingly slow – so many sites are now set-up for fast users it made most unusable. Even e-mails took a long time to download. Maybe I’m just looking back through rose tinted specs, maybe I’m to used to the fast speeds but I’m sure when I used dial-up all the time it was slow but not that slow. When iTunes 6 came out last night I chuckled at the thought of downloading 30Meg – it would have taken forever. Today it took less than a minute.
Plusnet’s announcement was a damp squib. They brought in a sustainable usage policy. If this had meant maximum usage from your account until a certain limit was met then fine, especially as I was no where near there cap limits. However the caps and punishments were on top of the shaping applied to my account. All week Usenet has been dog slow.
So I voted with my feet, grabbed my MAC code this afternoon and filled in the form at F2S. Hopefully be on at least the same speeds but uncapped in a couple of weeks. With some luck I may even be migrated to 8Meg as my exchange is one of the lucky few. Fingers crossed. I’ve also made sure I’m on a monthly account just in case there are more issues with F2S than I can currently see. At least they seem to communicate more efficiently than Plusnet. Even today when I phoned to get my MAC key they said there were no issues with shaping at their end and what I was seeing was limited to me – the forums are awash with Usenet issues at the moment. Head in the sand I fear which is a shame as the support from Plusnet was generally excellent.