ISP, telco, VoIP, mobile and mobile broadband packages bleg

I have separate contracts for all of the above.  Sounds daft to me.  I note that TPG now has an ‘all you can eat’ mobile for $59.95 and it’s an ISP and provides me with VoIP.  But I get mobile broadband from Three, mobile phone from Optus and a basic phone connection from Telstra. 

This costs me quite a lot of money – adding up monthly charges goes like this. 

$20-$35  Three mobile broadband (with monthly charges depending on whether I preselect 1 or 3 Gigs)
$70 ~       Optus Mobile – looks like I should go with TPG
$30          Telstra – or whatever the rental on a line is.
$59.95     TPG – ADSL 2 (50 Gig monthly limit) plus VoIP (which costs 10 Cents a call anywhere in Aust.

Any suggestions as to how I can simplify this and make it cheaper at the same time?

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Francis Xavier Holden
13 years ago

I woulda said wot jacques said.

As far as I can see all the rolled up bundled packages are a rip off compared to what you can do individually with each service.

rog
rog
13 years ago

I’m sort of stuck, being a long way out of town we have only Telstra as all the others fade away;

2 x mobiles @ $30/month
1 x landline @ $89.95/month (unlimited untimed STD)
1 x landline @ $16/month (duette)
1 x mobile broadband @ $89.95 (Super G Fast 5GB Liberty)

Big bills but good service

Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
12 years ago

The part that sticks in the craw is in the line rental. The whole point of ULL and ADSL2+, or so I understood, was to not pay that line rental.

Is there any technical reason why we still do (and ‘there is no room in our exchanges’ is a bullshit reason, not a technical one)?

Otherwise, your deal is pretty good, the only change I might make is putting the mobile to 3.

Tel_
Tel_
12 years ago

You can combine line-rental, ADSL-2 and VoIP phone with an iiNet “naked” package, I moved to iiNet (from Virgin who really disappointed me) and I’ve been happy with the ADSL, haven’t tried their VoIP yet (combined phone-line, ADSL-2 and VoIP package, as a “business grade” service is $85 per month). If you want to do anything other than the most basic things, you have to use their “Toolbox” web login which is actually pretty good, when you get the hang of driving it.

I’m still using MyNetFone for VoIP which at $10 per month is cheap enough, probably it would be more cost effective to move that to iiNet as well, MyNetFone has worked well for me, does what I want (even a FAX line too), changing over seems too much effort.

Naked ADSL is only available in some areas… stupidly, they ask you for your phone number which must make you wonder how many times people must explain to them that they don’t actually HAVE a phone number which is why they are subscribing to the “naked” service. I mean, it’s supposed to be their flagship product but they still treat it like something weird. Internode has a similar deal going, can’t say much about them.

Patrick:
You think that line rental is unfair? On a naked service you are forced to leave the bottom 30kHz empty because that is reserved for analog voice. I’ve tried emailing iiNet support to ask why leave it empty when there is no analog voice on my service, and never will be. How can I use that for data? No response so far… From what I’ve seen so far, their email support doesn’t answer anything complex or difficult.

Someone has to maintain the copper connections and keep the pits clean and tidy. It’s a difficult issue with regard to ownership because unless one party owns a given bundle of pairs, who can you trust to get in there and start wiring up connections? As soon as two parties have access to it, they will both blame the other one. I feel that maintenance of lines in the street should have been left to an agency in government hands and line rental be effectively a form of taxation — sure you are going to get ripped off that way, but we get ripped off on it now and at least the copper itself would have been neutral. The Telstra sell-off was messed up, lots of people have said it, now I’m saying it :-)

Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
12 years ago

Tel, even France has managed this. How hard can it be?Isn’t that what you are doing on naked adsl??

I agree that your issue sounds ridiculous – does it affect service quality?

NPOV
NPOV
12 years ago

I tried that whirlpool site, and it says I can have ADSL2+ on our line, but I’ve rung Optus about this and they claimed that we couldn’t. At any rate, the ASDL2+ upload speed is still far too slow for any serious use. Does anyone actually know why this is? Surely, the physical limit on how fast bits can be moved across the wire, but why should it matter which direction they’re going?

Tel_
Tel_
12 years ago

Isnt that what you are doing on naked adsl??

No. Strange as it may seem, even on “naked” lines, the actual copper in the earth belongs to Telstra, only their guys can legally touch it. There is also a line rental component in the “naked” lines but paid by the ISP on a bulk basis, hidden from the consumer (and cheaper than a full line rental because you are not paying for the retail billing infrastructure, nor are you paying for analog ports at the exchange). You get annoying situations where there is a fault and the service guy sends a pulse down the line and tells you it has been cut at 50m, you look up and down the street and there’s a pillar at about the right distance so you both know it’s been cut at the pillar… then the service guy calls Telstra to look in the pillar (and you may have to wait a day). Some other guy comes along to fix the line break.

I agree that your issue sounds ridiculous – does it affect service quality?

If you are referring to the issue of multi-party maintenance on a given copper bundle, then the short answer is yes it effects service quality.

The long answer is that there are lots of subtle but important reasons. One example is that many of the pits in the street are below ground level and have no effective drainage, when a storm comes they fill up with water. There’s a kind of plastic bottle thing in the pit containing all the wiring, which should be sealed but if water leaks into that then you get high frequency attenuation, and corrosion. With proper maintenance they never leak, but that means replacing seals sometimes and always being a bit careful. Similarly, in the pillars, many copper pairs come together into a big stack of tag strips — it’s complex and if everyone does a neat job, follows the numbering (most of which is by colour code) and documents exactly what work they did, then the system functions smoothly. You get a few people being sloppy or lazy and no one knows exactly where things are anymore. Then with any major cable, it will bundle together a bunch of copper pairs, but over time corrosion and the force of nature slowly wins so in that bundle some pairs will be better than others (with no particular pattern to it) and the guy in the street can swap pairs between two subscribers. When a given leg is running out of spares then the shitty pair gets passed around as each customer complains and they swap it over to someone else. Then there’s cross talk, the original cable design was never intended for running the high frequencies that ADSL depends on, and the geometry of the joins in the junctions is a bit arbitrary depending on the guy doing the wiring and where you end up on the tag strip. You may or may not be talking to your neighbour’s ADSL which means that both modems have to recognise where the cross talk zones exist and share the space.

At any rate, the ASDL2+ upload speed is still far too slow for any serious use.

This bothers me too. A typical ADSL-2 chipset with Annex-M enabled can slide the “guard tone” frequency up and down the frequency band. In English that means allocating more or less bandwidth to inroute as against outroute (inroute is always on the lower frequencies, outroute is always on the higher frequencies). In theory this should mean that you have something between 10M and 20M bits/second (depending on your copper length and quality) to divide up as you see fit. In practice, the maximum Annex-M will allow is 2M inroute (and most ISPs don’t actually allow that much). It’s enough to run a small server, but not enough to compete with the data centres.

I often wonder if there is some design behind this to keep the price of data centres high.

Once you do decide to make the jump into a data centre, Australia is too expensive and hosting in the USA suddenly looks like good value (although with another interest rate drop, our dollar will be so low that the US will be expensive too).

Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
12 years ago

Nick, you should enter your phone number into iiNet or internode and see whether you are eligible for their naked ADSL2+.

Should be faster and you can probably get a slight cost saving.

There is also exetel but they seem to think that people would want a carbon neutral ISP, which I find ufathomable. I would prefer they had the standard ‘enter your telephone number and find out if it is worth even applying for our service’ feature instead.

Our new place can’t get naked ADSL because, mainly, of Telstra obstructionism. *%@#!

NPOV
NPOV
12 years ago

But the same argument could applied to cable – Optus and Telstra don’t limit upload speeds on cable, despite the fact they both offer hosting.

Patrick
Patrick(@patrick)
12 years ago

Because their cable service is to friggin slow to host anything, that’s why!

NPOV
NPOV
12 years ago

Sure are you suggesting that if they didn’t articially restrict ASDL upload speeds, then ADSL upload would be faster than cable upload?

NPOV
NPOV
12 years ago

Oh and FWIW, the previous company I worked at did host a website on a domestic cable service. Obviously not a site that needed to support a lot of traffic, but it was still quite practical except for the (very) occasional ip address changes.

Tel_
Tel_
12 years ago

In the USA, the cable rollout was older and, designed for cable-TV, which is a broadcast medium. All subscribers hang off the same copper wire. When they adapted it for Internet use, upload speeds were never considered all that important in the design, so the modems are pretty stupid about sharing the common medium and a few pushy modems can bring everything to a grinding halt (you get the problem that Comcast ended up with, as P2P filesharing clobbered their cable links, they tried firing dodgy RESET packets at the P2P programs to shut them up, it all ended up in court). Yucky.

Australian “cable” is actually implemented as a fiber optic backbone, plus lots of small, smart boxes around the place breaking it down for household use (sometimes called HFC). What actually runs into the house is still a coaxial cable (like in the USA) and the modems still run to DOCSIS standard but the shared medium is a chopped into much smaller segments. The initial Australian cable rollout had upload speeds at 128k or 256k but when ADSL2 started delivering 1M upload speeds, the cable networks figured they had no choice but to also offer 1M upload speeds.

In theory at least, Australia’s hybrid “cable” system could handle much higher speeds. In practice it is limited not by the links, but by the little boxes dotted everywhere that pull data off the fiber onto the individual households. Upgrade a box here and there and the same fibers deliver more bandwidth. They COULD offer 100M full duplex if there was a business case (so I believe, the exact upper bounds no doubt depend on a host of fine details, disclaimer here — I’ve not actually worked with this network).

Now the pricing… a “business grade” ADSL2+ service comes in at (round figures) $100 to $300 per month, with an upload speed of usually 1M but never more than 2M. In comparison, a Telstra “business grade” BDSL service gives 4M symmetric speed (over identical copper twisted pair) will cost (round figures) between $1500 and $4000 per month (and yeah, Telstra offer better support, a few bonus features and so on). It is actually cheaper to just keep buying more ADSL2 plans and run parallel cables than it is to buy a symmetric plan. There are other SHDSL providers cheaper than Telstra but not many that offer 4M symmetric links.

Yet (as I mention above), your typical ADSL2+ with Annex-M could in theory achieve 6M symmetric on a typical copper pair (or arbitrary other up/down splits). It might need $5 worth of beefier line drivers and/or equally trivial adjustments. All part of the nonlinear world of economic strategy.

For some reason, the cable providers don’t seem to be chasing the business Internet market. They seem exclusively focused on the entertainment market, and there might be a good reason for this or it might equally be that the sales guys got one idea in their heads.