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Wednesday 26 November 2003

Lurks sheepishly returns to Blueyonder [lurks]

Christ, I've now had 4 DSL providers and one cable provider. I like my broadband. So when Telewest fucked me around back in blog 419, I didn't see going back to DSL as much of a hardship. Especially since I signed up with the excellent Nildram being as the costs had dropped to the point that I could get myself a nice 1MB business line for the sort of money that broadband is personally worth to me (around £60 a month, so I saved some cash too).
Unfortunately over time, I just came to realise that actually, DSL is quite noticably slower than cable. Slower particularly the way I tend to use broadband, which is having a fair bit of upstream shit going on. There's a simple reason for that. ADSL is basically a modem whereby the actual datarate of the modem itself and hence how much frequency spectrum it uses, is dependant on the base rate of modulation. When you've got 1MB ADSL downstream and 256K up, that's how much bandy is there and that's that. Self explanitory perhaps?
Cable, on the other hand, is basically a very very fast modem indeed. Around 10-20Mb. It uses ridiculous spectrum because it's sat on a dedicated bit of coax rather than a bit of twisted pair wiring. The key difference is that cable modems are throttled on throughput and not throttled on the base bandwidth. The throttling mechanism is also a little lazy, it's not too worried if you burst a bit faster for a fraction of a second, it'll let things by. This makes them absolutely superb for browsing web pages, for a start. But beyond that, there's ramifications for ADSL and cable when you start to suck a bit of bandy...
See TCP/IP itself relies on being able to send little acknowledge packets back to keep the flow of data happening. The issue with DSL is that when your upstream starts getting busy, it delays your packets to fit into the alloted bandy because there just is no more bandy going. Where as cable modems will quite happily let shit through right away and then just choke stuff back if you're getting out of control. The difference might sound subtle but in my tests, the latency of a simple ping through DSL vs cable when running the pipe to half saturation is very telling. DSL latency triples. Cable latency hardly shifts. When you're running your pipe at 90% saturation - then ADSL seriously starts to suffer, as anyone trying Bittorrent will find out quick enough.
So, anyway, what I'm not trying to say here is that DSL is pants because it's not. It bloody rocks. It's the first broadband I had, I've had 4 providers of it. It's how 90% of us will get broadband and it sure beats the crap out of dial-up. We're splitting hairs. I'm just feebly justifying why I went back and in no way am I deriding the the DSL service the rest of you guys have or anything. That would be lame.
No, it's just that ultimately I realised that I was paying a fair whack more for broadband via Nildram DSL than cable via Telewest and that for my pattern of usage, even with lines the same speed, cable is faster. To say nothing that for around the same money I can just press a button on my 'Self Care' page and upgrade my line to 2Mb...
Of course they may still magically fuck me around like last time but now I have the contact details for the PA of the executive in charge of onsumer operations... I'm confident I know how to get some action should come to that again. :)
No problem with Nildram, awesome provider. Not a spot of bother. Love the static IP, reverse DNS and the way they personally tested my mail server before unblocking port 25. Quality operation. I'll certainly miss them but the fact of the matter is, I don't notice what Nildy are good at where as I notice what's good about Blueyonder broadband. Speed and price. Speed and price which has ultimately had me going back to the service and hoping I get another few trouble-free years out of them before they decide I'm running an open relay or something retarded like that.


  1. So with this in mind, is there any way DSL users can throttle back particular PCs hanging off the router so the problem isn't as bad? Wouldn't want to be headshotted because Mrs Spiny was browsing :)

  2. Reading the press you'd think that broadband=ADSL, and Mat's estimation that it's the way 90% of us will get broadband seems to confirm that perception.
    It's surprising then that at the moment it's neck and neck, there are nearly 4 million bb users, and 2 million are via cable (Telewest and NTL).
    Is this because NTL cheat and count their 150kbs users as broadband? The majority of NTL users are on the broadband-lite (lardy narrowband), and I think it's great for your average pod. Compare 150kbs (always on, no disconnects) for £17.99 to BT Anytime (dialup, 2 hour disconnects, monthly hour cap) for £15.99
    Hey, this rocks... it's a spell checker addon for IE for checking blog entries like this bag-o-shite

  3. The reason I say 90% is because a great deal of our lot have broadband via ADSL and those that don't can only ever look forward to ADSL. ADSL has national coverage that is increasingly all the time with a projected roll-out. Cable isn't because both firms are in massive debt.At any rate, 90% is an exaggeration. We have a few cable connected folks; Dave, Muz, Shinji and myself. However the vast bulk of EED are DSL connected and those which have been signed up recently to broadband and who will be signed up soon, are all DSL. You just don't get DSL outside of major urban areas.Oh, that spell checker thing for ie sounds good.Ahh, this is why I like cable.

  4. Good name for a directory there :)
    Hey, anyone been served a cease and desist order from their ISP yet? A couple of my mates have. Neither of them had heard about the new copy protection laws that came into force last month neither. Silly boys

  5. Heh, that's my generic name for download directories even though they mostly tend to be full of legit downloads and demos - and my actual warez dir gets called BT or something. :)
    Got to pull you up on the copy protection laws though. I'm quite familiar with these because I've been writing about them. I don't see anything there which makes net piracy any different. The only thing which has changed is that some of the movie giants have awoken from their slumber, bought lists of infringers off various firms like NetPD. Then sent a list of those to ISPs to complain.
    Some ISPs, desperately trying to stay out of the scene, have sent out T&C violation letters to their customers. No new laws happened to make that so. ISPs here are unable to hand over customer details to the movie studios or the representative body (BPI, UK equiv of RIAA for example) etc. It needs to be ordered so by law enforcement.
    Simple fact is, the BPI isn't going after consumers. The movie studios, at the moment, are. They've got a plan/scheme which involves them saying to each ISP 'We wont consider you a target for litigation if you crack down on your users.'
    Many ISPs ignore it. Some don't. I would be quite interested in hearing about/front your friends who have, what ISP etc. Mail me about that please.