Tobold's Blog
Thursday, July 01, 2010
Internet upgrade

I've had a lot of contact with my internet / telephone provider over the last weeks. It started with them calling me once a week with telemarketing calls, where they were trying to persuade me to switch from my internet / telephone subscription to a "triple play" internet / telephone / TV subscription for the same monthly fee. Free router and decoder provided, and just a 50 Euro activation fee. At first I was reluctant, because the earlier "TV via ADSL" solutions on offer did not allow you to watch one channel and record another channel simultaneously. But after some reassurance that this was now possible, I finally agreed to switch to the triple play subscription.

Of course then a lot of things went wrong, which seems to be a universal rule for telephone / internet providers. They sent me a box for self-installation, and while I could watch TV, recording of TV programs on the hard disk didn't work. I went to the shop with the box, and they said the box they gave me had the wrong router, and exchanged it. Reinstalled, and nothing worked. I called customer support, and they said my line was faulty, so they'd send a technician. Technicians arrived, improved the quality of the line, but that didn't help at all with the recording. Thus they finally listened to my argument that if the hard disk recording didn't work, it might be the hard disk that was at fault, and gave me a new decoder. Isn't it wonderful if you get a box delivered with a router and a decoder and then have to exchange both of them against new pieces that actually work within a week?

Now the TV worked, but not in high definition. And the technician said something to the effect of "why are you still on ADSL, when you could have VDSL for the same price?". Well, nobody told me. My ADSL line had an effectively measured speed of 6 MBit/s, which is more than enough for World of Warcraft, but HD TV needs 8 MBit/s. So I had my internet connection switched over to VDSL. That of course resulted in me coming home one day and not having either internet nor TV, but the technician had warned me about that, and the solution was simply to unplug all machines and thus reboot the router and decoder. Half an hour later everything worked fine.

So now I have a measured 18 to 20 MBit/s internet speed, and the digital TV works also on HD. So instead of 35 channels via analog cable, I now have 180 channels of digital TV. Sweet! Only that I'll have less channels in a month, because you get unlimited access only for one month, and then part of the channels become subscription only. Fortunately the expensive subscription channels are football and porn, and I don't need those anyway (Not saying whether I do or don't watch porn, but paying 15 Euro per month for porn channels on digital TV delivered via internet cable means being too stupid to find porn on the internet). As I have the most expensive internet plan, I do get 10 Euro worth of monthly subscription for free, and the "Nature & Discovery Bundle" with several Discovery Channel channels, National Geographic, and History Channel in normal and HD is just 5 Euro. I'll let the wife choose another 5 Euro bundle with some special movie or TV series channels, and we're good. Mythbusters are great!
In about two weeks we will be moving into a new house. That means I have to find a way to cancel my current internet service and start up a new one.

I would like to think that it would be a simple thing like asking someone to just transfer my billing and service to a new address, but I've already read a few horror stories about that.

So, the best thing I think that I can do is simply cancel the current service outright then pay the extra "hook-up" fee or whatever at the new location.

Regardless what I decide to do, I am expecting to be offline for up to two weeks. Because that is just the way things work with these companies.
The only question that remains is why the comapny wants to offer services to you that cost them more, but don't cost you more...

About mythbusters: Yep, they are great ;)
I think there's a hidden bonus included with all communications companies: they all give us these great stories full of frustration, treachery, sadness and joy to relate to each other, all bundled into the already low price! :)

In Sweden, I think they call everything that comes through your phone line "ADSL" – I've never heard about VDSL, but I've had a "24 mbit ADSL" line for years. At least I used to. It delivered a solid 19-20 mbit for a long time. About half a year ago, it started lagging weirdly. My kind ISP solved that problem by throttling my line at 10 mbit. Not that they told me about that, they just reported that the lag problem was now gone. When I complained about the throttling, they gave me the modern classic "well, we're selling a service that is *up to* 24 mbit, Sir". I've had bad experiences with all providers, so for a while I just gave up.

Then my cable company called and wanted to give me free stuff (yeah right), including some much-improved HDTV box. Also, they told me they had just upgraded their hardware around where I live, and would I want to move my internet and phone connection to them? Fully expecting a story such as yours, Tobold, I accepted.

Weird thing though: even though installation and setup took a while, and even though the router/modem they gave me was crappy (not broken, just not good hardware), the whole thing worked with just a single support call. I didn't even have to leave my home. And even weirder: my speeds were 115mbit down and 13 mbit up, significantly *higher* than advertised. Odd. Hooking up some hardware to it did slow it a bit, and the tv eats a couple of mbit when on, but it's still really quite fast.

I still don't trust them though.

And my old provider? Three months cancellation period, "and you have to send back the ADSL modem we let you borrow for five years". Nice.

But really Tobold... "Nature & Discovery", isn't that just fancy words for porn? :P
Cable vs adsl...

The contest has been pretty much decided here in Belgium. Cable (Telenet) has millions of viewers, adsl (Belgacom) about 150.000. And those few who choose for Belgacom take because they have the exclusive soccer rights.

Cable just offered the superior solution. I can surf the net at full speed while recording two TV shows and watch analog TV.
If I may ask, what IS the cost of Triple Play? Here in the US, my cable company offers Digital Cable TV (HD and what not), Telephone, and Internet (the middle range one) for about $120.

If I wanted the better internet (getting to the speeds you just mentioned) or if I wanted more channels, I'd pay closer to $200-$250 a month.

As it is, I pay just for the internet which is $46 a month, and allows me to watch Hulu, Netflix, with no lag, and have two computers playing WoW and streaming to the Wii console at the same time without lag (and that's with the 7.5mbps that they say I'm paying for).

To be fair, I've had downloads come through at speeds up to over 100mbps from sites set up to deliver the download at those speeds.
Why should we care?
Well, Mr Tobold, count yourself lucky you had a cable that was even 6mBits/second. Oh how I would love tripling my internet speed. But no! No! In order to get faster, unlimited broadband it's 25 of my English pounds. Because, of course, you can't have unlimited broadband on the slower options of 20mbits/second. Oh no. It's got to be 50. At least.

I'm moving to the continent. :P
Oh how I dream of connection speeds like that.

I'm on the standard UK "Up to 8mbit" adsl, which in practice for me, rarely exceeds 1.5mbit, switching ISP's reduced the cost, but same service.

I will be ensuring that my next house has better access, as it seems there is nothing I can do with this one.
If I may ask, what IS the cost of Triple Play? Here in the US, my cable company offers Digital Cable TV (HD and what not), Telephone, and Internet (the middle range one) for about $120.

If I wanted the better internet (getting to the speeds you just mentioned) or if I wanted more channels, I'd pay closer to $200-$250 a month.

Ouch! Taking the most expensive option of triple play my provider offers, with the 20 MBit/s VDSL and unlimited downloads, plus telephone, plus HD digital TV with 100-something channels costs me €69.10 per month. That is about $85.

And despite what Carra said, I took the ADSL solution, not the cable one. The difference is that the speed of your ADSL line is fixed, and it is *you* who decides what you do with it. Of course if you watch one HD channel and record a second HD channel, that eats up two thirds of your speed and your internet downloads would be slower during that time. But at least you set your priorities yourself.

Cable on the other hand only has a fixed speed up to the hub to which your neighborhood is connected. Thus if all your neighbors still watch analog TV and don't have internet, it is lightning fast. But if all of your neighbors watch the world cup soccer match in HD while simultaneously downloading porn from the internet, your internet speed slows down to a trickle, and there is nothing you can do about it.

Nevertheless I'm quite happy the competition exists in Belgium, because that is the reason why the ADSL service improved a lot over the last years, while the prices staid affordable.
Why should we care?

Why should I care whether you care?
>competition exists in Belgium

This would be why internet is so expensive everywhere I've lived in the U.S.... competition isn't allowed to exist do to over-regulation.
Thank you for sharing, Tobold. This was a very interesting post. Get bored more times, will you?
"Fortunately the expensive subscription channels are football and porn, and I don't need those anyway (Not saying whether I do or don't watch porn (...) "

Not a word about football, hehe. I guess you do search for porn on the Internet but no football at all. Can we wish for a porn post, Tobold? :D
/sigh...All I got from this post is
"Tobold has a 20 mbps connection and I bet he only pays about $100 for it and because I live in a retarded state with an ISP that doesn't want to advance their tech I have 2 mbps line and probably pay more then he does for it..." /cry
Not a word about football, hehe. I guess you do search for porn on the Internet but no football at all. Can we wish for a porn post, Tobold? :D

Well, do you know a site where you can watch the World Cup football matches live on the internet? I'd say that TV is far ahead of the internet in live coverage of sports events.

I wouldn't have a problem posting about porn, but most of my readers are American, and the USA is extremely prudish about that sort of stuff. (In spite of being both the world's biggest producer and consumer of pornography)
It's based on your area and the competition. Where I live in the US, we have three options, so a rather loaded packed here (200-ish channels, including 6 HBOs, HD, multi-room DVR, On-Demand, all that + fast internet) costs me $70 a month, locked in for two years.

The key of course is calling up and saying you are switching to the other guy, and only at that point do they offer you the good deals. I know people who pay $120+ for exactly what I get right now, and prior to demanding a long-term contract, we had to call ever 3 months because that was how long each 'special' lasted.
"Well, do you know a site where you can watch the World Cup football matches live on the internet?"

Are you serious? There are lots of sites that transmit live games. But not live porn.
I pay £46 per month, which gives me free geographical landline calls (ie not including any 07 (mobiles) 08 or 09 numbers), cable TV with I forget how many channels - more than are in our TV guide anyway with a V+ box, plus 10mb cable internet.

I even checked the speeds on a couple of occasions, and it is very close to the 10mb speed.

I love Virgin Media :)
There are lots of sites that transmit live games.

In the US? I can't even access Hulu, nor the BBC iPlayer, with a Belgian IP address. The best I can get to follow the World Cup is a Live-Ticker with results and comments updated every minute or two.
Just to name a few:
here in southern germany we have Kabel BW.

they offer:

-Cable-TV (with one PayTV package of choice for free)
-telephone flatrate to landlines (mobile calls cost extra)
-internet flatrate with 50mbit down and 2,5mbit up speed

all for 40 EURO a month

for watching live worldcup games, try zdf or ard mediathek
Bigeyez -

That's what I got too. I pay about $150(with movie channels), and SUPPOSEDLY get 6MB down, but that is a load of horse shit, even at 4 a.m. on a Tuesday night in my neighborhood full of extremely elderly people.

But then again, the US only recently changed the laws to force ISPs and cable TV delivery to allow competition, so I'm just praying the next 5 years forces the companies like Comcast to be competitive, as their city contracts dry up.
It really does seem that Europeans have a better setup for internet access than Americans do. In Kansas, I pay $120 per month for cable tv with a DVR and 8Mbit/sec down cable internet. The only competition is satellite TV and 1.5Mbit/sec DSL, for roughly the same cost.
"Competition". One of the biggest complaints is that there is no competition on our communication providers. We've only got two: telenet & belgacom. The rest has to rent the lines of Belgacom.

As such our neighbour countries have far cheaper and faster internet.

Still, it looks like we can't complain with the package deals. I pay €55 a month for 20 mbit internet (which is 20 mbit although capped at 30gb), telephone and digital television. Not bad compared to the US it seems;
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