Monday, 26 October 2009

BITING THE ORANGE HAND THAT FEEDS

I don't intend to bite the hand that feeds me, especially since I'm not actually paying a penny for it, but I've only just realized how rubbish my Orange internet broadband service is. My girlfriend and I have been using our trusty Orange livebox for quite some time now – it was a free gift from Orange for setting up a mobile contract phone while we were both at university in Leicester. When we moved back to Thanet recently, we decided to bring the Livebox with us to our flat, though I'm not quite sure if we realized exactly what we were letting ourselves in for, if I'm honest.

The thing is, despite our broadband being a freebie, it advertises itself as having speeds of up to 2MB. It's a similar package to Orange's Home Starter kit, albeit with a lower download limit of 2GB, but this didn't strike me as being too much of an issue. The problem is our speed doesn't even come close to 2MB, not one single solitary bit. In fact, a quick analysis of our download speeds indictates that, on a good day, we get 416kbps (download speeds) and 39kbps (upload speeds). So, correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks as though our broadband is actually supplying us with ¼ of its advertised speed of 2MB.

If I were paying for this, needless to say, I'd be outraged. Since I'm not, I'm merely a little bit peeved, at the very least. I honestly can't really afford (or be bothered) to change ISPs, and even if I could, I think the fastest broadband speeds you can get in Thanet are approximately 6MB. That being said, there's no guaranteeing that internet speeds will reach that kind of velocity – after all, I'm supposed to be getting 2MB from Orange, but I'm not. If this experience with Orange is anything to go by, I'd wager that if I were to switch ISPs and set up (and pay for) broadband with advertised speeds of 6MB, I'll probably be lucky to get only half of that.

I only really started noticing how useless my internet speeds were when I started playing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare online. The multiplayer game keeps on freezing up, making my character skittish and jittery in the middle of battles, making it virtually impossible to control my actions, often prompting me to quit the game out of sheer frustration and annoyance. Initially, I thought it was other online players (perhaps foreigners) and their crappy internet connections, but then I realized it was actually me who was the culprit.

The argument that ISPs don't always supply its customers with the internet speeds they advertise has begun to surface in the news recently. Ofcom did a research project where they concluded that “on average, the real broadband speed for most consumers is just 45% of that advertised.” Clearly, now I've discovered my own internet speeds mirror Ofcom's findings, I'm mindful that this matter really needs to be resolved. Since I'm not paying for my broadband, I don't hold as much consumer sway as those who pay, but I still think that ISPs should be trying harder to give us speeds which are far closer to (or exactly) the speeds they advertise. In other words, I shouldn't be putting up with 416kbps when Orange have promised me 2MB, even if it is free.

I'm very aware of the fact that broadband speeds also depend on location, so in other words, our local area is seemingly quite crap for decent internet connections at the moment, possibly due to the fact that our phone lines are relatively ancient and in dire need of updating. Or can anybody else recommend an ISP for Thanet locals like myself which is not only cheap, but also accurately delivers the speeds it promises its customers? I suppose my only other option is to pay for a broadband service via cable; say, Virgin Media, for instance, since they appear to have a higher success rate in delivering faster internet speeds. Oh, wait, we can't get cable in this area, can we? Damn and blast. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to put up with it.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Luke

    I've been with a company called the Utility Warehouse for the past few months. It's just under £30 per month, which pays for the line rental and wireless broadband, and I get free weekend calls to landlines (if you switch your electricity and gas supplier to them you get more free calls thrown in).

    It's supposed to be speeds of up to 24mb/s, although Thanet being what it is I average at about 6mb/s (which I'm quite happy with, by the way). I also get unlimited downloads, albeit with a 'fair use' clause - but as long as you don't excessively use p2p sites this isn't a problem.

    Hope that's of some help.

    Regards, Dan

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