Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Natalie Natalie Natalie

It's so declasse to buy a new computer in a shop. If you had bought a Michael Jennings bespoke computer, you would have had none of these problems.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Broadband dilemmas

About 18 months ago I upgraded from dialup to DSL at home. The principal motivation for doing this was that my landlady was complaining that I was tying up the phone line too much, but I wasn't too hostile to the idea anyway, because dialup had become a chore. At that time, most broadband packages offered in the UK were unlimited 512Mbps, and this normally cost about £30 a month. Some providers had slower services for a bit less, and some had faster services for quite a bit more, but most ISPs were providing pretty similar services at pretty similar prices. I signed up for Richard Branson's for £25 a month, partly because it was on the low end of prices offered, but mainly because unlike most other providers they didn't require me to sign a 12 month contract, as I wasn't sure if I was staying in Britain at that point. I have been using Virgin since, and the service has been good from a technical point of view. (I have heard bad things about their support and customer service from other people, but I tend to avoid using support and customer service as much as possible, so I wouldn't know). Upgrading to broadband was one of the best things I have ever done, particularly after I added a wireless router as well, and I am never going to be able to live without it ever again (although I um unlikely to have to)

And my landlady has got a bonus out of this, because she has a wireless card in her computer, and she gets to share my broadband without paying for it. (I built her computer and put the card in it for her, so she is welcome).

However, broadband pricing has come down since then. £25 became not cheap but standard for 512Mbps service, and a few months back undercut the competition by offering 512Mbps unlimited for £20 a month. The Carphone Warehouse has been offering 1Gbps for £25 and 512Mbps for £20, with some fixed line telephone calls included as well. (Given that their plan without any telephone calls is more expensive, I think their plan is that they get customers connected to get their phone service, and the customers then use more calls than those included in the price and At that point, £25 is looking expensive. Over the last few weeks, a number of providers have doubled the speeds for their various plans without increasing the price. This means that AOL is offering 512Mb for £17.99, 1Gbps for £24.99 and 2Gbps for £29.99.

So I think the going rate is about 20 quid for 512k, 25 quid for 1M and 30 quid for 2M. So I am paying too much. When I move (which I am planning on doing shortly) I don't think I shall pay less, but I shall move to an ISP that offers faster speeds for the same or a little more money.

But I do wonder how much I will notice the extra speed. It won't be of the same order as I noticed the jump from dialup to broadband, but how much faster will it be? Will the bottleneck turn out to be the upstream infrastructure. I'm not sure, but I have a certain eagerness to find out.

And these guys seem to be offering 4Mb per second for £30 a month. If I would upgrade to this, my speed would be increasing by a factor of 8, compared to the factor of 9 it increased by when I went to ADSL in the first place. Perhaps I would notice another change of the same order. I must do this.

Update: What a foolish thing it was to praise's service from a technical point of view. Their mail server went down almost instantly after I said that, and it has now been down for more than 24 hours.

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