A Tale of Two ISPs
The past couple of weeks have been very busy for the Girtby household, mainly due to the household moving into a new house. A not-rented house at that. Yaay.
There was the usual chaos with boxes, paint rollers, and furniture rearrangement. In addition to this there was internet withdrawal. We finally got the internet installed a couple of days ago after much turmoil.
Read on for the tale of one very crap ISP and one very good one.
The Crap One
We had Optus-brand cable internet at the old place, which I was very happy with, apart from a meagre upload speed, and so I naturally approached them first for Internet service at the new place. Unfortunately it took over six weeks for the following (approximage) dialogue to take place:
Me (to Optus): Can I please transfer my cable internet service to (new address)?
Optus: Certainly, we'll just need to check some things.
Optus: Sorry, we need to do a "non-standard" (ie costly) installation.
[I think about it, and decide on a Telstra phone with ADSL service from Internode.]
Me (to Telstra): Can I order a phone service please?
Telstra: Sorry, that address is serviced by another carrier, it will cost $$$ to install there.
[I contact the previous tenants, discover where they get their internet service from]
Me (to Optus): Hey, remember that cable internet install that you said was "non-standard"? Well turns out you guys provide internet at that address, so what gives?
Optus: Oh yes, now that you mention it, that address has OptusDirect [a ULL service], we'll get you migrated to that. It's ADSL 1 now, but sometime in the next few weeks/months it will be upgraded to ADSL 2+. We Promise.
[more time passes]
Optus: Well, when we said "migrated" we really mean that you'll have to order a new service, and cancel your existing one. But we'll refund you some of the costs of doing that (ie a new modem). Me: OK then, order me a new service.
Optus: Certainly, it will be ready in 10 business days, your modem will be in the mail.
[10 business days elapse]
Me (to Optus): Where's my service? Where's my modem?
Optus: Sorry sir, it will be another week
Me: No it won't. You people have screwed me around enough. Goodbye forever.
I can't help wondering whether any of the companies mentioned in this article will respond. I have had a pretty good track record of eliciting a response from companies when posting on this blog. Especially after calling them wankers. But now I no longer care, so I won't bother calling Optus a bunch of wankers. Aren't I nice?
The Good One
After that I reinstated the previously aborted order of a phone service from Telstra, and an ADSL 2+ connection from Internode. It was all up and running in under a week, less than the last estimate that Optus gave me.
I'm happy to report that the new service through Internode has been a vast improvement. Download speeds are less than I had hoped for (~4Mbit/s instead of the potential 24Mbit/s) but other than that I'm very happy. Internode are a very clueful ISP. Here are some of the things that I've noticed in my short exposure to them:
- Extensive online documentation. This includes both "setup instructions for newbies with Model XYZ equipment" and "just the facts for people who know what they're doing" styles of documentation. It's even got the very rare "we'll teach you about networking" style of doco. Brilliant.
- Tons of mirrored and other "cool" content
- SSL- and IMAP-capable mail servers.
- Opt-out Port Blocking I really hate it when ISPs decide that I don't know enough about my computers to keep them safe from others. And many times they don't even tell you they're blocking certain ports. Not Internode.
- 10 hours per month of dialup access included. This was particularly handy while waiting for the service to come online.
- Premium Usenet feed. OMG, I can feel another copyright violation habit coming on...
- A cheap VoIP service. I'll report more about this once I get my ATA box up and running.
- Updated: Excellent support. Not only are the staff helpful and responsive over email, but they maintain an extensive online presence on Whirlpool and elsewhere. As evidence of this, check out the comment below from Simon Hackett from Internode. This is exactly how to do business online. Bravo.
This stuff is all prettymuch unique to Internode from what I can tell, and in combination it is easily worth a price premium over the other ISPs. But they don't charge it, and so the rates are mystifyingly competitive.
I was going to finish this post with an illuminating discussion of how I configured my ADSL router and my OpenWRT box to talk together with the former in bridged mode for maximum throughput and minimum latency. Although I did get it working on the first night, something wierd happened and I reverted to using two routers in sequence. Or as I like to call it, the double-NAT palace. By the way, this configuration is not the cause of my limited bandwidth, I speed tested with just the one router in place.
Spot the Buffy reference in the previous paragraph for ... umm ... fun!