Author Topic: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations  (Read 15263 times)

Charlotte

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Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« on: March 01, 2011, 09:22:04 am »
Julian and I have just moved house and we're currently looking for a new ISP.  We're going to ditch the landline phone as well as the telly and go with a kick-ass internet connection instead.  There's currently a BT line installed but inactive.

Looking back at past threads on the subject, we're fairly sure that the usual home broadband suppliers (Virgin, BT, Talktalk, Sky, etc.) are not for us.

We want to download whatever we choose whenever we choose, without interference from the ISP.  I like P2P filesharing and I don't want this throttled.  We want to use VOIP and all the usual TV on-demand services like iPlayer.

Phil's going to build us a NAS and a media centre PC.  We want to have it all online so that we can do SSH tunneling and host our own files on the interwebs. 

What we're after:

  • Blistering speed
  • No bandwidth shaping or packet inspection
  • Static IP
  • Realistic data allowance (doesn't have to be unlimited - I'd rather it was reasonable)
  • Geek-friendly tools and toys
  • Excellent customer service

For this, we're happy to pay.  Specifically, if we're saving the cost of a telly licence, I think £35-40 a month is quite reasonable.  More if it's worth it.

We appreciate that we will probably need a phone line, but we don't want to make voice calls on it as we both have all you can eat mobile coverage.

The obvious choice is Andrews and Arnold, of which I've yet to hear a bad word.  But the array of choice that they offer is bewildering.  Does anyone use them?  What services do you buy?  I expect that I need to call them and talk through what we need.

Are there any other options that we might want to consider?
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robgul

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Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2011, 09:28:51 am »
... haven't a clue on what you need - BUT are you sure about the TV licence saving, or the legality of not having one but actually watching the content - regardless of delivery method?

Perhaps the legal eagle might double-check that one .... one of our neighbours (an IT geek ... has a motorbike parked in his kitchen, lives alone ... get the picture?) has just had his collar felt for no TV licence but watching via a BB line.

Rob

Andrij

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Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2011, 09:30:48 am »
Been discussed a few times on yacf.  You need a licence if you're watching 'live'.  If you only ever watch programmes after they've been broadcast, then you're OK.
 
;D  Andrij.  I pronounce you Complete and Utter GIT   :thumbsup:

Julian

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Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2011, 09:33:05 am »
We're going to glue up the TV connection, I think.  As long as we only watch iPlayer, we're fine. 

Besides which, I think my cohab might be hoping for some TV licensing bloodsports.  ::-) ;)

Tim Hall

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Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2011, 09:40:09 am »
|eggs>grandmother


Only if you watch iPlayer in catch up mode. If it's "at the same time (or virtually the same time) as it is being broadcast or otherwise distributed to the public. " you'll need a licence.

More here http://iplayerhelp.external.bbc.co.uk/help/playing_tv_progs/tvlicence(
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tiermat

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Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2011, 09:44:14 am »
Ignoring the TV license aspect (as it has been done to death here and elsewhere) I don't have recommendation who to go with, but a definate recommendation who not to go with....

Do not go with Opal (or TalkTalk business as the are now known) their aftersales is shit and support none-existent.

The only reason I am with them is that I used to be with F2S who were part of the mighty Tiscali estate, and TT took them over when Tiscali went bust (seems to be the way with my ADSL connections, I choose a good supplier only to end up with TT after a couple of years when they are bought out....)
I feel like Captain Kirk, on a brand new planet every day, a little like King Kong on top of the Empire State

Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2011, 09:45:13 am »
I've always got on well with Plusnet.
However, I'm not sure what their throttling for P2P is like, and they were roasted recently for giving in to that lawyer type who demanded lsits of P2P users, unlike some other ISPs who told him to get stuffed.

Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2011, 09:49:48 am »
I use Demon Business 2+ Pro, fixed IP, has an allowance of 200Gb monthly on a rolling basis before you are throttled, it costs £23 month + VAT. I get 10Mbps for real on a 20Mbps service at a mile from the local exchange.
Demon Premier Broadband has no limits and costs £30 month + VAT.
Not sure if these meet all your needs, but it does me with a houseful of student sons.
Might be worth checking out...

Charlotte

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Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2011, 09:50:59 am »
Definitely worth checking out as well, julk, thank you  :)
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Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2011, 09:51:08 am »
It may not be illegal but surely it's unethical to want to watch the BBC without paying for it ? They have to finance it somehow and currently that's the license fee.. If you only watch DVDs or non BBC streaming then fine.

Getting a real uncapped ADSL without any shaping at all is quite difficult these days. Take a look at UK Free Software Network they do an unlimited service (it depends on if your exchange has LLU though) but they do shape. They are quite explicit about what they shape though and when (peak times etc). They are an Entanet reseller (residentially you cant buy direct from Entanet).
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

tiermat

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Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2011, 09:52:32 am »
Just one more observation, to assist with keeping on the right side of the Lizard overlords ISP ambulance chasers, instead of using Limewire, Bittorrent etc, try using NZBs over SSL.

Works for me, and is more reliable than BT etc....
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Valiant

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Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2011, 12:14:52 pm »
BE are meant to be quite good.

You might be interested in the Cisco router I has for sale ;) Sounds like you're going for the setup I had. I reckon it's worth paying extra line rental and having two lines incoming and having another connection. 2 decent packages instead of one super package? Something like the RV082 will load balance between the connections :)
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Simonb

Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2011, 12:19:47 pm »
Andrews & Arnold. Cannot praise this tiny ISP enough. Been brilliant in all respects for many years.

Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2011, 12:23:43 pm »
Load balancing doesn't work very well for home use. It either round robins over the two connections by IP address or session not by packet as that wouldn't work (you would get different real IP addresses due to NAT and your session would break). If you are doing several bandwidth hungry things at once it may help but it doesn't help at all with streaming video for example as it all comes over a single connection. You can bond two connections into one with the assistance of your ISP if they support it (multilink PPP) but again it doesn't do much good without there being several users. Multiple connections however you do it buy you more bandwidth which isn't the same thing as more speed.
Think of multiple connections as making a single lane road into a motorway. If you only have one lorry that you can fill with data send to its destination and then have to wait for it to return (TCP ack) before you can send more then the motorway is no help at all your better with a faster lorry. If you have lots of lorries (lots of users or lots of simultaneously running apps using the net) then the motorway is good as it allows you three lorries at the same time one in each lane.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2011, 01:11:50 pm »
^^^ +1

what you appear to be after is a business quality line at domestic rates, good luck finding the compromise

Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2011, 01:15:45 pm »
BE are meant to be quite good.


My employers use BE. I use O2 - which is BE.

We have had wierd complications when trying to get VPN working from home to work. Also noticed a terrific impact in speeds at certain time periods.

If you are after a very stable high speed connection I don't think I could recommend either 02 or BE.
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Charlotte

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Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2011, 01:29:33 pm »
Andrews & Arnold. Cannot praise this tiny ISP enough. Been brilliant in all respects for many years.

What service level do you buy from them?  Knowing what data and services other people get through and how much they pay would be very useful in deciding what to go for!
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Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2011, 01:30:16 pm »
BE

Great customer service (proved recently), fast, cheap, unlimited.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2011, 01:33:09 pm »
We use AAISP here, on a fairly decent (will sync at 17M)  BT 21CN ADSL2+ line (we're not big downloaders, so can't really justify the extra cost of a Be line).  We pay for three of their confusing pre-pay units per month (£23 month all in, which I consider to be cheap as chips), which easily covers the 3-5gig of peak-hours usage from general web, mail, interactive shell and so on.  (Bear in mind I'm at home most days and barakta only works 4 days a week, so we're around more between 9am and 6pm than you're likely to be.)  I have a some traffic shaping at our end that restricts download to just-less-than-you-need-to-comfortably-stream-video during peak hours, but in practical terms that's more about preventing errant Windows boxes downloading hundreds of meg of updates on the sly than keeping us from getting sucked into youtube.

After 6pm, it's effectively all you-can-eat downloads: bit of scheduling in your bittorrent and iplayer clients and you're sorted.

Being AAISP, the only restrictions on throughput are those caused by BT (usually line problems and congested exchanges, which A&A will not hesitate to report to BT as faults, with the expectation they should be resolved).  There's deliberately no contention at their end.  The only traffic shaping they do is prioritisation of small packets and throttling to 95% of the BRAS limit (which you can enable from the control panel) in order to keep VOIP-like streaming protocols performing well even when the line is saturated by downloads.  Their killer feature - the continuous quality monitoring graphs - means you can actually prove that your line's performing as it should using SCIENCE, rather than having to infer things from your router's sync stats and speed test sites.

They'll give you all the static IPv4 and IPv6 addresses you need for no extra charge.  They've also finally managed to obtain some native-IPv6-capable consumer-grade routers, so you can use the current version of the internet without having to be a Linux geek.

I don't think their reputation for customer service needs elaborating, but not only are they happy to deal with deaf people (or the landline-impaired) by SMS, but it's entirely normal for the director to randomly appear on IRC on a Sunday morning at mention of a line fault, and take a break from watching the F1 to do the relevant BT-kicking, even though their support is officially business hours only.  What's not to like?

If you're not going to be leeching during business hours, the only sensible reason to go with anyone else would be because you've got a choice between 10km of crackly aluminium wiring from hell or a perfectly good Virgin cable line.

If you're feeling cheap and leechy, the good ISPs seem to be: Be retail, Zen, Eclipse, Plusnet
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

tiermat

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Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2011, 01:36:43 pm »
Having had a think about this I could recommend Zen, they have a good rep and have several options, the highest download limit of which is 100M/mnt for ~£30.

Real people, UK call centres (don't get me started on trying to talk to BT support OOH), based in Lancashire (but I will try not to hold that against them.

FWIW thinkbroadband.com do a helpful comparison chart, and it is usually upto date.
I feel like Captain Kirk, on a brand new planet every day, a little like King Kong on top of the Empire State

Charlotte

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Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #20 on: March 01, 2011, 01:41:29 pm »
Thanks for that, Kim - I had a sneaking suspicion that you and Barakta would be using them.

If you're not going to be leeching during business hours, the only sensible reason to go with anyone else would be because you've got a choice between 10km of crackly aluminium wiring from hell or a perfectly good Virgin cable line.

If you're feeling cheap and leechy, the good ISPs seem to be: Be retail, Zen, Eclipse, Plusnet

Well that's the other thing - how safe is it to be a seeder these days?  And would this significantly effect our monthly bill if we maintained a constant P2P connection and uploaded as much as we downloaded?
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Biggsy

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Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #21 on: March 01, 2011, 02:00:15 pm »
I'm looking to change providers.  AAISP say:

"For our ADSL services using BT back-haul there is no minimum term, just 30 days notice, and the normal install price is £50. If you are migrating from an existing provider (non LLU) to one of our BT back-haul ADSL services then the price is only £1."

What does "back-haul" and "non LLU" mean?
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Kim

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Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #22 on: March 01, 2011, 02:00:31 pm »
AAISP never charge for upload - ADSL's asymmetric, so your upload never costs them anything, and following their policy of charging realistic prices, they pass on that non-cost.

They're also resolutely against the recent outbreak of Bad Law, and won't hesitate to be obstructive and sarcastic in the unlikely event that some evil media corporation decides to get you to self-incriminate on the basis that they think they saw your IP address in a torrent tracker, or whatever.  They're also happy to transfer your account into your cat's name if they do try to cut you off.

RIPA prevents them from confirming the existence of government black boxes on their network, but RevK hasn't failed to deny them on IRC recently, so it should be safe :)

I leave rtorrent running in screen 24x7, with scheduling to stop downloads during peak hours.  It's currently seeding some Debian ISOs, and failing to download (or at least, it'll resume failing at 6pm, IYSWIM) the German remake of the IT Crowd[1].



[1] "Das iTeam - die Jungs mit der Maus" - it's reputed to be terrible, but with a title like that I can't not want to watch it.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #23 on: March 01, 2011, 02:06:33 pm »
I'm looking to change providers.  AAISP say:

"For our ADSL services using BT back-haul there is no minimum term, just 30 days notice, and the normal install price is £50. If you are migrating from an existing provider (non LLU) to one of our BT back-haul ADSL services then the price is only £1."

What does "back-haul" and "non LLU" mean?

LLU is local loop unbundling. This means the ISP gets to put equipment in the exchange and connect your telephone line directly to their equipment. Not all exchanges (and in fact most outside big towns) are LLU.

Back haul is the bit between the exchange and the ISPs POP or "point of presence".
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

inc

Re: Starting from scratch - ISP recommendations
« Reply #24 on: March 01, 2011, 02:07:29 pm »
The first thing you will want to know is can you get broadband and at what speed and which provider. If you put you details in here you will get this information.
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