Reliability of internet connections

Just had chance to catch up on the “Web client or desktop client? thread. A very important side-issue arose, namely “Reliability of internet connections”. @MRKDavies asked if AWeb could do a survey as to how this issue has affected people.

Whilst I consider how a survey could be worded, it’s worth mentioning my experience over the last few days.

On Friday morning the BT line went down, across which my firm’s broadband is hosted That was a total loss of voice and data. This has happened before and can come back. But when it didn’t I rang BT. The line test was OK, but we had no dial tone, the phone wouldn’t ring and of course thre was no internet access. BT diverted incoming calls to my mobile, which was OK short-term.

@anthionymellor mentioned his firm uses a Zyxel 2WG router, with sim card. At around £150, this is one of a number of devices that can automatically route the internet onto 3G if the landline fails, I believe.

Alternatively, in our office we have a 5-user MiFi, through which connection can be made manually. These units are small enough to be pocketed on the move, and are available from Three and Vodafone for around £50 plus SIM contract. You can put in an existing 3G dongle SIM if you have one. Not a perfect connection, but at least some degree of internet access can be restored for a homeworker, small business or small workgroup. (It’s also a way to avoid having to take out a new micro-SIM contract for an iPad, if you already have a data SIM contract).

The line was restored mid-morning Monday. Malfunctioning equipment at the exchange apparently. Only one business day lost, but three full days over the weekend.

In terms of reasons to lose a line, on Saturday someone told me their phone line had gone down when a neighbour’s line had been added, and the engineer had fouled the wiring in the local cabinet. A couple of years ago all the locality lost their lines when the main wiring was vandalized in an attempted theft one Wednesday morning. So there can be all sorts of reasons to lose the line and any internet connection.

Subscribing to a different broadband provider does not help if they also share the BT lines. But Virgin cable is an alternative, which as far as I know is a network totally independent from BT, at least until it connects into the internet.

Intermittent outage can be because of contention, sharing the internet access with other users. As @daveforbes mentions, this is worse on a residential line than a business line. So when BT Resiodential rang up this morning offering BT Infinity’s 20MBit connection to potentially replace the 2MBit business connection, it is tempting. However, probably better to pay a bit extra to upgrade our business line.

It certainly pays to have at least two ways of connecting to the internet. What other alternatives?

And what other experience do you have of good or bad internet connectivity?

Comments
dahowlett's picture

Survey already out there

dahowlett | | Permalink

Check this from Expert Reviews. It's not the availability that seems to be the issue but service. Ever it was so for any provider. 

Hugh Scantlebury's picture

Everything is fine till it goes wrong (sic)

Hugh Scantlebury | | Permalink

Having any dependancy on any piece of technology from the internet to electricity to a clean water supply always becomes a nightmare when it stops working, mainly because we then have to engage with customer service departments and we all know the misery that can entail ("Press 3 for ....").

Having a reserve internet connection is very useful and recommended. I always carry a 3G USB dongle which like my iPad is through 3 (1G of high speed access a month for £7.50 has proved great value plenty for when I am out of the office and not in range of a free wireless service).

In fact at times this has even delivered better performance than customer's own in-house internet connections.  If you are planning to use web based business systems it is well worth checking out the 'internal' office network too. All those little wireless routers dotted about the office can add massive inefficiencies compared to the use of dedicated switches and a well planned network. 

Externally, Virgin Media's cable internet service DOES live up to the billing. If you have cable you should use it. Solid, fast performance. Saying that TalkTalk's incredibly good value ADSL products also are great (when they work). I am also looking forward to the availability of BT Infinity becoming more widespread. 

Adrian Pearson's picture

Things are only going to get better

Adrian Pearson | | Permalink

Technology is continuing to advance.  We could soon be seeing DSL speeds 10 or 100 times faster than we are currently experiencing.  This will make concerns about how "slow" SaaS applications are versus their desktop counterparts disappear.

Adrian Pearson

South Korea

Accountsportal | | Permalink

Slightly off topic, but yes, I agree - there will be little/no distinction between LAN vs internet connection speeds in the future.

South Korea (the country with the highest average connection speed) aims to have gigabit internet within the next two years - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/click_online/9093991.stm. Their average speed is already at 12mb, with many urban homes enjoying 100mb connections (for £12/month).

Back on topic, we too use 3G dongles if our land lines go down. Thankfully that hasnt happened more than once.

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