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Manny Obi-Wan Meyer
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Midnight in the garden of Telkom & ISPs

28 February 2014, 10:42

I write this to serve as documentation of a struggle I have been having with broadband lately and to serve as a critique of the current status of broadband in this country.

Before I begin, let me give you some background into my current situation.

My first forays into home ADSL was with Telkom as my ISP. Here, I was on the ‘do broadband 4mb uncapped’ package. My router synched at 10mb and I enjoyed download speeds at around a 450KB/s on average. All was well with the world.

Three months into our partnership, it seemed the honeymoon was over, however. My p2p downloads had started to top out at 35 – 40KB/ps. I gave them the benefit of the doubt, thinking that they were struggling with network congestion.

This continued for another 2 months, albeit with small intermittent periods of glorious 500KB/ps. I knew that they were throttling me because my router was always synching at 10mb, regardless of the p2p speeds I was getting. A funny incident came when I had one of the Telkom call centre wizards online, who proceeded to insure me that my p2p was not being throttled. I explained to him that if that was not the case, how was it possible for me to stream video at HD from youtube… yet not get more than 40KB/s on any p2p/torrent download? You would need at least a 4mb line to stream HD fluently. Needless to say, stuttering and excuses followed.

I continued this struggle until a friend suggested I move both ISP and ADSL line control to Afrihost, the much touted and no 1 rated ISP in the country. They had a 4mb business package which was apparently unshaped, uncapped and unthrottled. Here again, the first 2 months was a fairy tale of digital bliss. Good speed, great service from their side and all queries I had were speedily tended to by a friendly agent.

And then the wheels came off.

For about the last month, I have been struggling to get an internet connection. The first week, my router inexplicably started to synch at only 1mb, but at least I had an internet connection. I was online with them querying this speed drop, but the usual speedy and friendly service disappeared and was replaced by the more common ‘information blackout’. Then it got even worse. For the last 3 weeks I have been unable to even connect to the internet, even though my router shows it is synching at 1mb and the ADSL and internet lights are on.

When they finally did get back to me, they told me it was a router problem and that I should test this with another working router on the same line. Fair enough, I did this and the result was the same. I took some pics of both routers synching and the line stats and sent them the results, thinking that they would get a tech out or at least try to assist a ‘premium’ business account user. Nothing.

After more than 3 weeks of no or intermittent internet, and having proven that the problem is not on my side, they still have not contacted me with any update or any kind of plan or info.

Afterwards, when a buddy of mine complained about the same thing (only getting 1mb) I gave it a bit of thought. Why would they want to control your ADSL line? Maybe they are collectively screwing us over. How often do you check your line synch rate on router? How many people actually know where to check this? Having someone pay for a 4mb line and then synching their router at 1mb to save on data costs would work nicely for them.

On the odd occasion where they get caught out doing this, they can just shrug their shoulders and say ‘oops’.

Who is checking that the consumer, once again, isn’t being ripped a new one? There needs to be some transparency to this.

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