Est. 2007

Posts Tagged ‘internet’

Switching ISPs in Auckland from Orcon to Vodafone

In Tech on August 8, 2011 at 8:35 pm

First post in a long time.

I recently switched ISPs in auckland and I thought I’d share my thought on this and perhaps give a bit of insight.

The nature of the residential connections is that most companies bundle voice services with data services, so the home phone is bundled with the internet. The only ways around this is to go for naked DSL or to go for wireless providers, which are few and far between. So far as wireless goes, there are the 3G connections from mobile phone providers. There is Woosh, NZWireless, Compass and Callplus have a WiMax system for Whangarei and Auckland city. I’m sure there are a few more regional providers, but that covers all the bases. In terms of fixed wired broadband, Telecom is probably the largest in residential services. It is good to note though that for Auckland at least Vodafone and Orcon are the ones with the unbundled networks at the exchanges. Compass has a few too and Telstra focusses on Wellington and Christchurch on its cable service. Pretty much most of the others piggyback on these networks. This is a good summary, but I’m sure I’m missing some other potential networks.

In recent times, telcos have been increasing the data caps for most users trying to hold on to customers. The recent changes have been sparked by Telecoms change to its bundled packages to 40GB and above. Vodafone struck back with 50% more data increasing their plans to 15GB and 45GB and the options of doubling that. Late last year, Vodafone took out competitive Naked DSL plans, which are probably the best in the market currently. The way they have done it is to offer discounts based on having an on account mobile phone plan. Let’s be honest, we all use our mobile phones enough that we already have our phones on a plan or employers put us on one. Plus mobile phone plans give better value because Vodafone is trying to be competitive in the market┬árelative┬áto the competitors; compared to landlines, which are not competitive compared to VOIP lines. Overall, you could save a lot if you go for a Vodafone naked DSL plan, cell phone plan and a VOIP line from 2Talk. Moving your Sky over to them could help as well, saving you on the MY SKY every month. This would be a triple play style service from Vodafone in an untraditional way. This is precisely what I have done. Orcon, on the other hand, have tried to reinvent themselves a bit with their Genius product. Basically, they are trying to lower the prices of the services they provide perceivably by lowering their costs and not using telecoms landlines, instead providing the phone line over the internet they can provide and likely over their own unbundled network most of the time. In the mean time, their service has not been good. They are so bogged down with the implementation of Genius that they have no time to respond to the calls of existing customers, wait times on the lines are pretty long, at times beyond half an hour. They have neglected their existing customers, sometimes by not offering them the same deals they offer new customers. They even removed unmetered TVNZ Ondemand when they moved to akamai servers. These guys were my previous ISP and I liked them for a long time. There was nothing that was particularly wrong with my service, except they were ripping me off for it. Telstra continues to be a good provider for those in their cable network. Telecom has again hot back with another round of plan upgrades and are doubling data or giving 20GB more. This I’m sure will sent another round of increases by the others, I hope at least.

The only way for the future is to hope that the Ultra fast broadband bill will mean that pricing becomes more competitive. The other way around is if the WiMax spectrum holders actually deploy something that can rival the wired networks. The talk of all-you-can-eat plans if for another day.

Overall, my switch from Orcon to Vodafone ran smoothly and only had an outage for a small period. Just one thing to remember is to give notice in advance by 300 days to Orcon if you are leaving them or they will continue to charge you.

I also think the modem that Vodafone give (HG 556a) is quite nice. The real value in it is when you take a look at Geekzone and find out how to unlock the VOIP capabilities and configure it correctly. It means that I no longer have 3 devices, but just 1. A lot of the cable mess goes away.The device is truly an all in one. It is a modem, router, wireless AP, VOIP ata, print and storage server and 3G router. There are some quirks for VOIP and I’ll outline them below:

Firstly, the message waiting indicator address for 2talk is <phonenumber@2talk.co.nz>. To get the indicator to work right, you have to have no messages in your new or old folder. When a new message arrives, the indicator comes on. To get rid of the indicator, you have to delete messages NOT transfer them. If you transfer them the indicator doesn’t turn off.

Secondly, you can reduce the inter-digit interval to lower the post dial delay. I tried to use a dial plan, but it didn’t work as expected.

It seems to support g 722, i don’t know why, but it does. I use G711a, but G726 is also a great codec if you want a good in between from G729 and G711 and it is typically used in DECT cordless phones, so it may not make much difference if using one.

Overall, that is my account of what is happening in the market and a why I switched and how to make best use of the Vodafone modem for VOIP.

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Slow Download of iTunes Movie Rental

In Life, Tech on June 3, 2010 at 10:02 pm

It’s the usual story. I got a little bored and decided that I wanted to watch a movie. Of course I’m not so inclined to rent one from a video library because I then have to go return it the day after. With the added bonus of my larger data cap this month I decided that I would purchase a rental on itunes and then watch it on my T.V using a mini DVI to HDMi cable and adapter.

I managed to download it and watch it in fact on my T.V. Sure, the picture wasn’t very good; even a DVD would quickly outclass it. It was nonetheless an exciting experience; I did manage to use my ipod touch as a remote as well.

My main concern is not how cumbersome it is to watch a rented movie unless you opt for the Apple TV option with HD video from Itunes or how poor the quality of the video is. I wouldn’t even complain about the fact that it still counts towards the data cap. I will complain about the fact that it took me a god awful long time to download it. I calculated at the time based on estimated time of completion and the file size that I was being restricted to downloading the movie to a meager 512kbps. This is pretty shocking because I believe it took well over 7 hours to download it. what I want to know is why? I know for certain that this is not the first time it has happened. I know that the last time it happened, I was on a different ISP altogether. I know it was a similar time to download, so the 512kbps restriction was the same. I know that on both occasions my international bandwidth was capable of a lot more than 512kbps.

It only leads me to the conclusion that somewhere and somehow there is an artificial restriction on the download speed for movies on itunes in New Zealand unless already on the local cache.

The Spray Can

Telecom ditches “Big Time”: Orcon bumps up data caps

In Tech on May 20, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Ok, so Telecom has ditched its Big time broadband plan. The plan that gave users an all you can eat plan, but with the caveat that their traffic would be shaped.

It is obvious that this was going to be a failure right from the start. This is one of the largest ISPs in New Zealand and it would attract a great number of users to the service. Some more enthusiastic large downloaders included. At some point in time the number of users sharing the bandwidth would just be ridiculous and some even found workarounds to the shaping and this put more strain on the system.

There is of course a better way to this all. In my opinion, there is a better approach to this all. Firstly, instead of offering maximum speeds to users all the time and then capping their data, they could turn the whole thing around. Instead offer a fixed speed and then no data cap. Possibly having say a 512kbs plan for most and this way everyone would be happy because your bill would be fixed and you still got a decent speed. There would then be speed packages higher than that.

The alternative solution is to have every single user on one plan i.e everyone is on the big time plan and all data is always shaped. This idea may work in theory because a lot of users are always going to be light users and only a minority are excessive users and this basically has the effect of balancing things out. The other obvious reason to do this is because access to the internet infrastructure inherently doesn’t have data caps and instead is always based on speed, hence with this system, that pipeline is always in full use.

I also have an opinion against building this new local broadband networks; it is a real waste of money. The international network, specifically, the Southern cross network isn’t up to it. The local speed already exceeds international bandwidth and thus making a network with 100mbps won’t make anything faster or better for us. It would be best to put that money into improving that infrastructure instead.

In an unrelated story, orcon has also today bumped up my data cap by 10gb for free. Hopefully, they will show up on the website soon enough. I was pondering a switch to slingshot, but I no longer have a reason to anymore. Personally, although I like slingshot, they had refused to give me a new line and had asked me to set one up via telecom. Orcon, on the other had signed me up with their new network. Obviously, I have some loyalty to them in this respect, but only as long as they take good care of me.

The Spray Can

Tomizone

In Tech on September 23, 2009 at 6:49 pm

So, you want to make money from selling your wifi? Not to worry, now you can. Before, setting up a hotspot where users would pay was very difficult and something that only those who had the time and money would do. Today, it isn’t so had to do at all. In fact, there are a few ways that you can.

Firstly, if you are still a little bit more tech savvy, you could set up a linux server and a capture web portal so that you can bring your clients to a splash page for them to pay you. Most probably and the easiest way would be to get them to buy vouchers from you or alternatively by using paypal. This is the hardest of all the solutions

Secondly, you could tone it down and buy a linux based router, some of the linksys ones come to mind, and install DD-wrt or openWRT and then chillispot. Basically, this solution is no different from the last apart from the fact that you don’t have to have a full computer running all the time.

The third method would be to use something like FON or Tomizone. Tomizone allows paid users while FON doesn’t. Tomizone is also available preinstalled on some routers in NZ and Orcon has some sort of partnership with them too. The D-link 300 router is probably the most popular router that comes with Tomizone. Tomizone is also based on Chillispot and the associated customized firmware; however, you don’t have to worry about the billing, marketing or the pricing. It is all done for you. You get put on a map of all the hotspots Tomizone has and mind you they also do the hotspots in all the Esquires and Starbucks coffee shops in NZ. The price is set to $3 an hour or 60mb, $6.5o a day or 160mb or $30 a week for 1.2GB. It’s either data or time whichever comes first. The hotspot provider gets 50% of that amount and tomizone keeps 50% for itself, but at least they save you all the trouble of setting up and managing your own and not to mention handling the billing. You are allowed to give guest access to people you know. The D-Link 300 also has dual SSID, so you can use one of them while the other is for the hotspot.

I have an unlimited data plan, so I have no data cap. My traffic is shaped and prioritized, so VOIP then HTTP and the like then other things and then P2P. So any thing I sell won’t affect won’t really affect me. Plus, you can set a maximum bandwidth for the hotspot side. So far in the last 1.5 weeks I have made $45. This is not bad considering that the connection only costs me $50 a month. I think the reason for my success is that an AUT building is right behind my apartment and someone buys a pass every now and then.

Overall, very good. At least I got some income going. I wish I thought of this earlier. The money from the first two weeks will practically pay for the router.

The Spray Can

2Talk Max

In Life on April 15, 2009 at 3:49 pm

Well, there are a few things that nobody can live without. One of them is obviously the internet. Ever wondered what you would do with out it, or what you do when there is an outage.

Anyway, I have chosen 2Talk max to be my ISP and VOIP provider. Beamed wirelessly from the sky tower not too far from my apartment, it gives a similar experience to that of Kidanet in Fiji. The fact that it is Wimax by Alvarion is understood but the Consumer premises equipment is more like that of Unwired- self install, indoor variety. I personally have the $65 a month plan which gives me unlimited traffic on the internet; something that nobody else will rival. They also give a phone line with two local numbers and 500 minutes of calling to landlines in most popular destinations, though this does not include Fiji. Other providers give a 5GB capped connection and landline with local calling only for $80 a month.

The service is excellent for the most part with close to 6 mbit downstream and around 3 mbit upstream speed. Something hard to find in most DSL services. On the other hand, I have had a few outages in the past few days for which I’m not all too pleased about. On the whole though, the service is quite good and cost effective.

The Spray Can

Temporary Email Service

In Tech on December 14, 2007 at 9:09 am

It’s been a while since I posted anything.

You know something; there are times when you go to some random site and they tell you to sign up for something. You give your email address to them oh so relunctantly and regret it later for they send you nothing but spam.

Your mail box fills with this stuff and you know what you got to get rid of the account. Get a new one and start life as you knew it all over again. Not good!

So what is the answer to the problem you ask. The answer is to use a temporary email address from one of the many providers out there. They all have their own system of dealing with mail.

Example is pookmail.com which lets you have an address for a day. Well not really. Anyone can see the mail, not just you but just pick a real random name and you should be fine, I suppose anyway.

some of the providers give you around five minutes to receive mail and then poof, its all gone, no worries, no spam, no restarting life. Great isn’t it.

The Spray Can

So many internet cafes are not up to scratch

In Life, Tech on September 20, 2007 at 7:10 pm

If you walk past web cafes in most third world and developing countries it is hard to miss the fact that they would usually lack management software. They would normally manage the time manually, filtering sites is a long way away and their would be no VIP treatment for anyone let alone blocking access to other programs and services on the PCs themselves. To most, a few computers hooked up to a basic router is the equivalent of a good cafe.

Most of them can’t stop users from accessing unwanted material or manage their security in terms of virus infections an hacking. Sometimes users are getting more than what they paid for or just not the real deal at all. Many leave the PC in an extremely dilapidated state, riddled with adult content and viruses galore.

It would be nice to go into a cafe that is well managed. Using some management software I suppose you can really improve profits as well, less wastage, better customer experience, easy maintenance and less headaches.

It so hard to find good net cafes these days, people opt to use wifi hotspots a lot more. I suppose that is a lot better in all respects. Maybe the humble net cafe will slowly phase out as more and more people attain notebooks and mobile devices.

What is Broadband Internet?

In Life, Tech on September 20, 2007 at 6:27 pm

hmmm. Difficult question it is really. what really is broadband, an always on unlimited type connection. Maybe its anything 256k and above and up to 56k is narrowband. So where does that leave 128k, 144k etc. Is it mid-band?

If we take the first definition, always on, does that mean 128k Adsl or wireless is broadband and dual ISDN is not because you need to dial.FCC states somewhere that a connection over 1Mbps is broadband, less than that and above 56k is midband.

OK, another situation, we mostly consider downstream speeds, what about upstream speeds, is say 256/256 broadband or is 1024/128 broadband. Most Adsl providers give less than 256 upload speed so does that count as broadband?

My situation, 128/128k always on Wimax connection with unlimited downloads and no shaping or throttling. Is that broadband or mid-band? Although download limits don’t count but what about symmetrical speeds?

Wikepedia talks about multiple streams or pieces of info travelling at the same time. Ok, say the line is full duplex (Adsl) but say 64k or 32k speeds is that broadband?

Conclusion: I think some people need to get together and sought out this definition dilemma. So many things specify a need for broadband connections to the internet but they fail to standardise the meaning of the word, in essence people are twisting it to suit themselves which is not right. ISP might say that it is broadband but you can’t play a game on it which requires broadband: disappointed non-geeks are not a good sign of progress.

The Spray Can

OpenDNS

In Tech on September 17, 2007 at 8:29 pm

I recently tried the free domain name service OpenDNS after my ISP’s DNS servers suffered some problems. Although the ISP DNS servers were O.K at first, they began to show problems like blank pages and occasional service shut-downs. Although at the time I had not read any reviews of the service at the time. Most of the time people don’t have issues with their DNS service but chose to use OpenDNS because of the features that they offer like spell correction, faster load times and anti-phishing filters. In my case I was really looking for a solution to a problem, however, my experience was rather short lived. Since I do not reside in the US which is where most of their servers are located, I ended up getting certain sites in the US edition rather than the localised editions of the sites. Having also read of some reviews and a few comments about the service, I have since then decided to use the openDNS server only as my secondary DNS. The primary remains to be my ISP’s DNS server.

Has anyone else had the same problem? What are your views, post your comments.

later