Back in the days of old Uborka, our ISP was Pipex. This was a satisfactory relationship for 2 or 3 years – our connection speed was initially 512Kbps, then 1Mb. Things started to turn sour when we moved house, and the experience was anything but seamless. At the time, we had plenty of other issues on our plate, so I reluctantly ended up in another 12 month contract with them.
After a year, we then moved to ADSL24. Things weren’t always perfect, but we stayed with them for a while. ADSL24 were a reseller for other companies’ services – for the first couple of years we were on an Entanet connection, which was good for a while, then Entanet lost the plot a bit, and we transferred to a Cable & Wireless LLU connection. This process was handled extremely well and served to reinforce my faith in ADSL24. We stuck with this for four more years. It wasn’t perfect by any means – the connection did drop occasionally, which could get annoying, and the speed (8Mb/s down, 1Mb/s up) was starting to look a bit unimpressive by modern standards. However, it was as close to “unlimited” as you can get – no bandwidth usage limits, no fair usage policy, no port blocking or traffic management or anything like that. There was also no minimum contract term – I was never tied in for more than a month, which is definitely my favourite way of doing things. All for £20 per month.
This happy stable state came to an end about a year ago. It was announced that ADSL24 would be sold to COMS. I had concerns, but I figured that it was worth giving it a try. In December last year, the administrative side of things was transferred from ADSL24 to COMS, and that didn’t go too badly. Then, in February this year, the actual physical connection was rerouted to go through COMS equipment, and that’s when things started going wrong. We had numerous outages for the first couple of weeks. It got to the point where I nearly requested my MAC code, I had lost all confidence that they knew what they were doing, but an email from someone at their service desk said “look, it’s all fixed now, we promise, have a month free to make up for this nonsense.”
Which was a brilliant move, and that free month would have been enough to keep me with COMS. But something else went wrong.
Without any warning, one weekend they introduced traffic management. Traffic management basically means reducing or choking off certain types of traffic to ease congestion on the network for other types. I see the sense behind it, and it generally results in slightly improved speeds – if done discreetly, it can provide a better experience all round, but COMS weren’t doing it discreetly, and it was most certainly noticeable when my traffic got throttled down to 30KB/s.
I was a bit miffed by this. Not only had I been promised that COMS would provide the same quality of service as ADSL24 had, but the traffic management had been introduced without any notice. The only reason that I knew it was happening was by the symptoms (and the complaints of other ADSL24 customers on web forums who had noticed the same thing). There was a general mood of resignation to the fact that ADSL24 had been irretrievably destroyed by COMS, and things would never be the same again.
One MAC code later and we’re now with Andrews & Arnold. There are three small (and perfectly justifiable) downsides, which I shall enumerate first, because I’m predictable like that – I always lead with the stuff that I want to get out of the way, and then finish with the things that I want to accentuate. The first downside is that it’s pricier – we’re now paying £35 per month instead of £20. The second is that we now have a monthly downstream bandwidth limit of 100GB. And the third is that I’m tied in for the first 6 months (after which it goes to being a monthly rolling contract). I hasten to add, while I list these as downsides, there are good reasons for all of them, so don’t mistake this for complaining.
To the positives though – it’s FTTC (fibre to the cabinet)! This means that our downstream is now nearly 40Mb/s. I’ve calculated that at this speed, we could chomp through our 100GB monthly quota in less than 6 hours. The upstream is now a scorching 8Mb/s, which is nearly as fast as the downstream that we got before! The improvement is greatly appreciated – I’m uploading a lot more recently since I started doing the gaming videos, and so that’s not such a big time-consuming job any more. As you probably could predict, A&A also have no fair usage policy or traffic management or anything like that. They’re also targeted more at the technically minded customer who wants to be able to scrutinise their line stats in obscene detail, than the mainstream customer who isn’t interested in knowing how the sausages are made.
Who knows what the future brings, but I’m really glad that I took the plunge, and I’m hoping for many years of happy relationships with A&A!