Recommendation for broadband access wanted

Discussion in 'Broadband' started by Gundemarie Scholz, Jun 13, 2006.

  1. Hi all,

    having moved to the UK half a year ago from Germany I must say the
    amount of information you have to gather before being able to make a
    sensible choice in the question of finding a new access provider
    confuses me.

    What I see mostly is not recommendations on which provider to choose but
    rather which one to avoid at any cost. And there are at least as many
    opinions around as there are people.

    For a time I thought Tiscali would be interesting, but after having read
    their policy is very restrictive on downloads during peak hours I am
    afraid I would easily be hit by them (the figure I saw yesterday
    mentioned 50 MB as one file during peak hours might get you throttled).

    I have already had a look at http://www.adslguide.org.uk/, most of the
    offers there seem though to be metered or restricted in some form or
    another. So I thought it might be a good idea and say what I have and
    what I want to get some ideas from you in what direction to look. So
    please find my list below and tell me what you think.

    Regards,
    Gunde



    What I have currently:
    - NTL broadband, contract running out in the end of July
    - a D-Link router DI-604 capable of both ADSL and cable
    - a phone line with BT


    Programmes and protocols I am using regularly during internet access:
    - FTP (20/21), HTTP (80), telnet (23), ssh (22), Pop3 (110),
    SMTP (25), NNTP (119)
    - music streams
    - Skype
    - VNC
    - Sipgate
    - Diablo 2 (ports 4000 and 6112)


    What I don't need:
    - newsgroup access (using individual.net)
    - mail account (have my own domains with mail server)
    - webspace (have my own domains with webspace)
    - ludicrous line speed


    What I prefer not to have:
    - static IP (not good when playing Diablo 2)
    - transparent web proxy


    What I want:
    - no outgoing port blocked for well-known services
    - downloading files up to a size of 400 MB at any time
    without being throttled (no filesharing or p2p, but
    sometimes I download or upload large files via FTP or
    HTTP)
    - acceptable consistent line speed, I am used to 1024 kbit/s
    and although it might be nice I am not desparate for more


    Wishful thinking:
    - a hotline that is capable of speaking proper English and is at
    least willing either to put you through to a person with technical
    understanding if they are not capable of that themselves, or at
    least write down your diagnosis as you give it to them without
    mangling it too much
     
    Gundemarie Scholz, Jun 13, 2006
    #1
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  2. plusnet have been mostly excellent since I first started with them 2
    years ago. Static IP is available but optional, I'm not aware of any
    ports being blocked off, and you can get MaxADSL for £22 per month.

    Single files aren't throttled, although if you go past the monthly
    peak-time traffic limits you will be throttled down. If you think you're
    likely to use more than 10GB per month peak time (defined as between
    16:00 and midnight) then pay more (they have increased limits at £30 for
    22.5GB, £40 for 30GB) or use a different provider. I just schedule my
    largest downloads before I go to bed and avoid the whole issue.

    http://www.plus.net/residential/broadband/broadband_premier.shtml

    The (Sheffield-based) support staff are available 24 hours a day and
    have been very helpful the (three) times I've had occasion to call. They
    also have a very nice ticketing system for online support.

    With regards to your comments about negative experience, a lot of people
    seem to think that it's their god-given right to pay £15 per month and
    get a service which costs their supplier £100 per month; it's mostly
    they who are complaining. You also get the occasional customer who got
    unlucky - their order ended up lost in the queue or the ISP's system had
    a paddy on them and cut them off or whatever; I think you're likely to
    get some of this for every ISP.

    You will get people complaining about plusnet, but you also get people
    sticking up for them. You don't see much of that for most of the budget
    mainstream suppliers (anyone want to speak up for BTOpenworld or Talktalk?)

    Put it this way, if you're coming from NTL plusnet will be a breath of
    fresh air.

    Geoff
    (ex NTL customer)
     
    Geoff Winkless, Jun 13, 2006
    #2
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  3. Gundemarie Scholz

    Nick Guest

    Nildram's DSL Surf could suit you --
    http://broadband.nildram.net/products/dslsurf/ -- IIRC, they do block
    SMTP connections *inbound* by default, but can turn it off by request.

    For a little more, you could double your upload speed as well (by being
    on Broadband2), which would make those big uploads go past more easily... :)

    xF,

    ....Nick
     
    Nick, Jun 13, 2006
    #3
  4. Gundemarie Scholz

    reader Guest

    makes life a bit easier... "connection only" :)


    ?? (Sorry, I know nothing about "Diablo 2", but I guess a dynamic
    IP allows you to go back in and start "afresh" without anyone
    being sure it is the same person in the game...)



    I've had some dealings with Eclipse over the past few years (initially
    when helping a friend get set up with Eclipse, and later when I wanted
    to switch). They aren't open 24x7... They are open 0800-2000 Mon-Fri
    and on Saturday for less hours, but they do respond to tickets and the
    few times I have rung them, have had prompt response (not 20 mins wait
    in a queue, and someone so "rushed" they want me to go away quickly as
    they are under pressure to answer the next person). My calls... first
    was about a DACS unit preventing ADSL from working on my friend's line
    while second and third concerned switching from a different ISP and if
    I would be able to use their news service (or external news services),
    because for the account I wanted, it was not an included service... I
    found that external services were not blocked, and anyway Giganews can
    be used... Just happen to have this newsreader set to use an old Tera
    account...

    Good point... There was no mention of either a desired budget or any
    idea of the amount of traffic the OP might transfer... I moved from a
    Plus.Net 10 GB/month account to Eclipse. I've been happy enough over
    2-3 years with PN, but from time to time my traffic would exceed the
    10 GB mark (before that I had one month hitting 75 GB when on BB Plus,
    another account which they offer, but now has a "peak hours" limit of
    around 3 GB. Eclipse evolution range offers different levels of peak
    traffic from 20 to 50 GB and prices from 14.99 to 29.99. Some users
    have described even the top level service as "unusable" but given the
    "peak hours" of 1800-0000 I have to say I've not found speeds for my
    downloading and audio streaming to be affected. I use VNC, ssh, and
    a number of other types of traffic very happily and run the radio for
    hours at a time without problems/breaks. Peter M.
     
    reader, Jun 13, 2006
    #4
  5. Gundemarie Scholz

    Joker7 Guest

    : Hi all,
    :
    : having moved to the UK half a year ago from Germany I must say the
    : amount of information you have to gather before being able to make a
    : sensible choice in the question of finding a new access provider
    : confuses me.
    :
    : What I see mostly is not recommendations on which provider to choose but
    : rather which one to avoid at any cost. And there are at least as many
    : opinions around as there are people.
    :
    : For a time I thought Tiscali would be interesting, but after having read
    : their policy is very restrictive on downloads during peak hours I am
    : afraid I would easily be hit by them (the figure I saw yesterday
    : mentioned 50 MB as one file during peak hours might get you throttled).
    :
    : I have already had a look at http://www.adslguide.org.uk/, most of the
    : offers there seem though to be metered or restricted in some form or
    : another. So I thought it might be a good idea and say what I have and
    : what I want to get some ideas from you in what direction to look. So
    : please find my list below and tell me what you think.
    :
    : Regards,
    : Gunde
    :
    :
    :
    : What I have currently:
    : - NTL broadband, contract running out in the end of July
    : - a D-Link router DI-604 capable of both ADSL and cable
    : - a phone line with BT
    :
    :
    : Programmes and protocols I am using regularly during internet access:
    : - FTP (20/21), HTTP (80), telnet (23), ssh (22), Pop3 (110),
    : SMTP (25), NNTP (119)
    : - music streams
    : - Skype
    : - VNC
    : - Sipgate
    : - Diablo 2 (ports 4000 and 6112)
    :
    :
    : What I don't need:
    : - newsgroup access (using individual.net)
    : - mail account (have my own domains with mail server)
    : - webspace (have my own domains with webspace)
    : - ludicrous line speed
    :
    :
    : What I prefer not to have:
    : - static IP (not good when playing Diablo 2)
    : - transparent web proxy
    :
    :
    : What I want:
    : - no outgoing port blocked for well-known services
    : - downloading files up to a size of 400 MB at any time
    : without being throttled (no filesharing or p2p, but
    : sometimes I download or upload large files via FTP or
    : HTTP)
    : - acceptable consistent line speed, I am used to 1024 kbit/s
    : and although it might be nice I am not desparate for more
    :
    :
    : Wishful thinking:
    : - a hotline that is capable of speaking proper English and is at
    : least willing either to put you through to a person with technical
    : understanding if they are not capable of that themselves, or at
    : least write down your diagnosis as you give it to them without
    : mangling it too much


    I have used Plusnet for over a year now with out any problems - some user
    have had problem with them,but like most thing in life you get what one
    pay's for.If you go with the cheapest deal you will get a cheap service.

    I have never be throttled and as you up/down large files by ftp etc.

    I hope this helps
    Chris
     
    Joker7, Jun 13, 2006
    #5
  6. Gundemarie Scholz

    jannerboy Guest

    from a quick look around the forums, the ISP's which are perceived t
    be 'premier league' and worth a look are-
    ACE
    ZEN
    AAISP
    NEWNET
    NILDRAM

    none is likely to meet all your criterea, so compromises will need t
    be made.
    hope this provides a more positive steer to your enquir
     
    jannerboy, Jun 14, 2006
    #6
  7. Gundemarie Scholz

    Andy Barron Guest

    Despite the support from two posters for PlusNet I am going to do what
    they said and strongly suggest you avoid them.

    I don't know how much the other posters have used the supposed 24x7
    supports line (which has recently changed the way it operates) or the
    ticket system but you can usually expect to que on the phone for 30 -
    50 minutes to get a reply if you don't get cut off first.

    When you do get a reply the person on the other end is usually not very
    knowledgeable.

    It can take days to get a response to a ticket and again unless you are
    lucky the response will be less than helpful, in fairness they usually
    answer within 12 hours in my experience.

    Generally speaking the connection has been fine but there have been
    problems recently, how wide reaching I don't know but I certainly had
    nearly two days with no connection a couple of months back.

    They were good now they are not so good, I think they have outgrown
    their own abilities.

    Try Zen or Nildram, Newnet may be worth a look but I have heard
    cautionary tails about their support too.
     
    Andy Barron, Jun 14, 2006
    #7
  8. Not true. I have used it before and I have waited that long but that was
    early evening, which (I guess) is peak support time.

    I figured I'd test it: at 16:07 today I called and reached a real person
    in under 4 minutes. Given the current state of things with Max I'd say
    that's not bad.
    I'd disagree with "usually". I suppose it depends on your definition of
    "very" - you're not going to get straight through to the NOC, no.
    Can be true. On the other hand recently every ticket I've posted has had
    a response within a couple of hours.
    Apart from problems where BT were at fault (and therefore I would have
    been affected whatever ISP I was with) I have had 4 hours of downtime in
    the last year, caused by a problem which has been identified and a full
    explanation posted to the site.
    That's fair - when I first joined they were superb. Now they're just OK.
    However I think they still offer a great value-for-money proposition for
    a mid-level user.

    Note: I have no axe to grind. I do get a couple of quid a month for some
    referrals of friends and family but I don't ask people here to use my
    referral ID (simply because I believe it invalidates my advice). For
    what it's worth I did try - a year or so back - to get a job there but
    they turned me down after interview (bah) so if anything I should be
    dissing them :)

    Geoff
     
    Geoff Winkless, Jun 14, 2006
    #8
  9. Indeed. Seems though there is nothing like that over here, neither is
    something like DSL by call where you can easily switch provider just by
    changing the login data (as you can do with dialup).
    No, sometimes the server hiccups, kicks you out and doesn't let you log
    in again from the same IP, time varies between 20 minutes and 48 hours.
    That sounds good already. What kind of number do they give you to call
    their support? I had to find out two days ago that NTL's 0800 (free)
    redirected you to a 0845 (5p/min), and that again asked me to call a
    0871 (10p/min) with quite a queue.
    That is good. Additionally the fair use policy explicitly mentions "p2p,
    ftp and usenet access". Would that mean any large downloads via HTTP are
    not measured? (-:

    Gunde
     
    Gundemarie Scholz, Jul 5, 2006
    #9
  10. Hardware has only a USB port and costs extra anyway. As I want to use a
    router behind the modem with an RJ45 socket, what kind of requirement
    does an ADSL modem here have to fulfill in order to work properly? I
    would then just try and buy a different one than the provider offers.
    Most uploads are from Germany to the UK, and there the upstream is only
    128kbit/s anyway.

    Gunde
     
    Gundemarie Scholz, Jul 5, 2006
    #10
  11. Gundemarie Scholz

    robertharvey Guest

    I have nothing but praise for freedom2surf in that respect. Looking at
    the rest of your points the only one that would worry me is the
    possibility that ftp traffic is throttled. They say nothing about it
    one way or the other, but I always seem to get 64mb/s total for all the
    ftps I do, whether one or multiple.

    I have an uncapped account, which has a static address. they do a wide
    range of accounts.
     
    robertharvey, Jul 5, 2006
    #11
  12. Gundemarie Scholz

    reader Guest

    No, not really. A while back, BT Broadband was "bare bones" (expecting a user
    to get mail, newsgroups and web hosting separately) but it was still at quite
    a silly price, unfortunately.
    It's not impossible, but the option is disabled for most end users, and there
    are monthly contracts. Plus, with ADSL at least, the "customer" is the ISP,
    so an end user such as myself cannot cancel service from BT Wholesale, only
    my ISP can do that. Means that the "ADSL in use" status cannot be changed
    until my ISP "releases" the line, so I couldn't get service from any other
    ISP anyway, without sorting out any disagreement with my current ISP (not
    that I have any!)
    Ah. Eclipse allows user to switch from dynamic to 1, 2 or more static IP
    so I am currently on a fixed IP, but I could use their website to request
    a dynamic IP and have a new one, or switch to ask for static again (and a
    different static would be allocated until I switched again). Not sure if
    many other ISPs give that level of control to the user. Some would ask a
    user for a fee to allocate a static IP, some have *monthly* fees for more
    than one static IP (!!rip-off alert!!)
    0845 from a BT line is generally 3p peak and lower off-peak (1p I think)
    based on 99.5% of residential lines being on BT Together Option 1, which
    gets a small discount on 0870 and pushes down the fee for 0845 from 3.95p
    to 3p/min during the day. Eclipse has an 0845 number on their site but I
    feel sure their customer services are on 01392 333301 and tech support on
    01392 333300 (staff located in Exeter).
    That sounds like the terms for Plusnet's "Broadband Plus" account - the way
    I read the terms for Eclipse on the account I use (Evolution) there's quite
    a generous limit on "peak hour" traffic - from 20 to 50 GB a month depending
    on what you pay (14.99/20 GB lev 1, 18.99/30 GB lev 2 upto 29.99/50 GB) and
    the different levels get priority over the lower levels (so in theory I am
    "at risk" of getting no traffic from 1800 to 0000 but I play audio and do
    downloads and have not changed anything I do), while the "fair use" policy
    covers the rest of the time. If someone goes over about 250 GB a month,
    *every* month, then most ISPs will consider whether they want that
    customer any more. I don't know what Eclipse considers "fair use" but
    there might be comments on www.ADSLguide.org or www.DSLzoneUK.net where
    existing "heavy" users say what they have downloaded.

    My use was under 50 GB a month, most months, before I moved to Eclipse but I
    don't know with Eclipse how much I download in their "peak hours" (as they
    don't show that information - they'd e-mail if I was going over the limit
    in peak hours, and ask me to move up to the next level).

    Interest declared: If you click my link <http://tinyurl.com/frgue> to join
    Eclipse they could give me some cash. That could make you think nothing I
    have written above is worth reading. If that is the case, my apologies!

    You have read my comments anyway, they are truthful and hopefully better than
    someone just saying "It's great" or "It's rubbish" (since I try to explain
    my reasons for giving a positive or negative opinion as well!).
     
    reader, Jul 5, 2006
    #12
  13. reader wrote:
    [lots of things about Eclipse snipped]
    I actually asked Eclipse if I risk getting no bandwidth at all in peak
    hours if I am on Option 1, and this is their reply:
    "I'm afraid there is no guaranteed level of service as this will vary on
    each line. It is highly unlikely that you would ever receive no service
    at all even if you are on the lowest priority, it would simply mean that
    your speed would fluctuate at peak times rather than being a solid speed
    which you would have on the Option 4."

    From what you write above I gather you are on Option 1. Have you ever
    noticed any bandwidth problems that might be caused by this?
    I do not plan to download that much stuff, probably even 20 GB should be
    fine.
    I have scanned through their terms and conditions, and I couldn't see
    any hints on how upgrading would work if you are in a fixed length contract.

    What happens btw if you cancel a 12 month contract beforehand? You have
    to return the equipment you got as part of the deal, and you have to pay
    £47, but what about the monthly payments? And after the 12 months, is
    the contract renewed automatically or cancelled or changed to one with
    monthly cancellation? I am not good at British legalese yet.
    I haven't decided this matter yet, but if I had, I would have asked you
    for your referrer, so don't worry.

    Reading on in their terms and conditions it is mentioned that the line
    has to stabilise first, and that the data transfer rate can change
    several times a day resulting in disconnection from the DSLAM. Is this
    the ADSL Max I have found mentioned all over the place, with some people
    complaining their bandwidth is generally lower than when they had a
    let's say, 2M line?

    Gunde
     
    Gundemarie Scholz, Jul 11, 2006
    #13
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