Monday, 9 February 2009

ISPs suck, mostly.

So it appears I’m being speed limited in the evenings now. I went from fairly fast speeds in the day (although not massively fast for what' we’re paying) to godawful speeds in the evening. Just speedtested, and here are the results:


And we’re paying for “up to 8 meg”. I understand I’ll never get 8 meg due to the limits of our phone line, but we can normally get 5-6 on a good day.

I looked into AOL’s fair usage policy, and it seems to be deliberately vague.

If a Member's usage exceeds what AOL Broadband deems fair and reasonable for a residential broadband service, speed-limiting restrictions may be applied during peak hours (typically evenings) in the first instance.

The rest of it is like that too, if you care to read it. It just seems so unclear. There are no hard limits on how much you can download, and it doesn’t tell you how long you’ll be limited for. I have been downloading a fair bit recently, but a lot of it has been things like Windows 7, and Linux installs to test on my laptop. It’s not like I’ve been downloading 24/7, and I still ran into the limit.

Now this policy wasn’t in effect when we signed up to the contract, so they must have changed it. Maybe this allows us to cancel the contract without a fee, but I don’t know. What annoys me is, they are advertising a service with “unlimited downloads”, yet this seems very much a limit on what you can download. It’s just hidden, as they must have realised how many customers they would push away with a download cap on their product.

This seems to be a problem with a lot of ISPs. They advertise a product, and when they cannot deliver to the demands of the customer, they blame it on the customers themselves. However it is their own fault. They failed to plan ahead for the amount of load they would receive, and refuse to invest in new equipment to help them deal with the traffic. Even worse, some ISPs are spending the money on Phorm. This is a way to deliver targeted advertising to customers, based on their browsing habits. Not only does this infringe on the users’ privacy, it may damage income from sites and online shops. Surely ISPs should be spending money on enhancing their service, not something which I’m sure the majority of users do not want.

I’m planning on switching to O2 Broadband, as they offer a nice discount to users who already have a mobile contract. However, my family do not want to lose their email addresses, which are provided by AOL. Another reason to sort out your email addresses. Use an address not tied to an ISP, or even better, pay for your own domain name, which can be switched between providers easily!

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