ISP shopping

I’m ISP shopping.

I’d been considering it anyway, as I’m still using ye olde ADSL1, and in the past couple of years, ADSL2+ has become available in my neck of the woods.

I’ve been using my current ISP, Netspace, for about 7 years, I think. Over that time they’ve been pretty reliable, but not without fault.

My two major beefs with them have been:

  • Every so often they’ll revise their plans, and a new plan which is cheaper and better will start up. But they don’t upgrade their customers; they don’t even mention it. Unless you go looking to see what the latest offer is, you wouldn’t see that you could change and get more bandwidth and a lower monthly fee.
  • In an outage, the authoritative place to check the network status is their Newsdesk page. But that’s not accessible from mobile phones; at least not my mobile phone — in part because it’s behind a logon screen which doesn’t seem to work in some phone browsers. So you have to be at a computer, connected to the net to find out why you can’t access the net. (Or of course you could waste time ringing them up to check.)

Reliability on Netspace took a battering this week, when the service went down on Tuesday morning and stayed down all morning, coming back up after lunch. There was another, shorter outage in the evening, and again on Wednesday afternoon. This wouldn’t bug me normally very much, but I was working from home on Tuesday, and had a bunch of stuff to get done.

I ended up getting a “tethered” connection via my mobile phone. Surprisingly easy with the N95, using Nokia PC Suite, though it drained the battery pretty fast. I don’t have any kind of data plan on the phone, so it could get quite expensive if done on a regular basis, but the connection was rock solid, and fast.

So anyway I’m ISP shopping.

The two that were recommended by the most people: iiNet and Internode.

Internode get a good rap from a lot of people, though it looks like they can’t give me ADSL2+, only ADSL1 or “Fast ADSL”. A speed upgrade would end up costing me a fair bit more than I’m paying now.

In contrast, with iiNet I may end up paying just marginally more, but for more bandwidth and a much faster connection:

ISP Current: Netspace
ADSL1: 1500k/256kbps
ADSL2+: Up to 24000kbps
Cost 30 Gb (15 peak+15 off-peak)
Shaped. Off-peak is midnight-7am
60 Gb (30 peak+30 off-peak) $49.95
Shaped. Off-peak is 2am-8am
Pros Pretty reliable in the past Network status publicly available
Cool advertising
Free content including ABC iView
They’re fighting the good fight
Cons Not reliable this week
Status page hidden behind logon
Dunno. Anyone know?
Phone Telstra Homeline Budget Phone 1
Cost $21.95/month
Unlisted number $2.93/month
Caller ID $6/month
Unlisted number $2.93/month
Caller ID $6/month
Call cost Local 30 cents Local 20 cents
inc 30 local calls/month
$91.83 $94.83

I haven’t looked at setup costs (including a new modem), cancellation fees, or costs of non-local calls, since I hardly ever make any on my home phone.

What’s been stopping me? Inertia, until this week. And perhaps fear of losing my connection for a few days.

I know this is like asking everybody what car is best, but has anybody got any comments? Any drawbacks to this plan?

Any other contenders who have fast ADSL/2+ in Bentleigh?

(Whirlpool says other companies with ADSL2+ DSLAMs installed at the Bentleigh exchange are Primus, TPG and Telstra. I notice Highway1 uses iiNet’s DSLAM; once upon a time circa 1996, they kindly hosted Toxic Custard.)

Update: Clarification thanks to Twitter people: Internode’s “Fast ADSL” is in fact up to ADSL2+ speeds, re-selling access from Telstra. So it would be just as fast as iiNet’s ADSL2+, but is more expensive, about double the price.

Update Mon 8/2/2010: I certainly can’t complain that Netspace ignore their customers’ concerns — they’ve been in touch to discuss things. Will post an update when the dust settles.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

24 replies on “ISP shopping”

Crikey! We’re paying $49.95 a month for 5GB. Time to mooove.
PS Did you know you’re named in State Govt Hansard (p. 44 of Council, proofs for 3 Feb)?

Much as i complain about Telstra, it is quite reliable for cable at least, but it wasn’t always the case. A friend uses Primus ADSL2 at the same exchange as you are connected to and she is happy with it. Her home business is totally internet dependent. Another very tech savvy friend in Sydney uses TPG, and he is happy with that.

I can certainly recommend iiNet, I’ve got Naked DSL and while I don’t get tremendously fast speeds as I’m a while from the exchange (2.5 Mb/s), reliability has been good and the plans have only been getting better in terms of value. Also their Freezone has some useful content such as iView and many radio streams from around the world.

I’ve been on iiNet Naked DSL for most of the last year, at 2 residences, plus iiNet ADSL2+ prior to that for most of the previous decade.

iiNet are reasonably good on all fronts. They often have 20 minute waits on their tech support line but they have a system that guarantees a callback if the wait is more than a few minutes, on any phone number of your choice (eg: on a mobile). The service is pretty solid. The pricing is good.

If you are going to move from Telstra Wholesale ADSL to ab ADSL2+ service, you will have downtime of 1-2 weeks. You may as well go for the 3ish weeks of downtime and move to Naked DSL. It costs roughly the same, means you don’t have to pay line rental charges at all, and iiNet will then give you free calls to any landline in Australia for no extra charge, so long as you use VoIP (so you plug your phone into an ATA or a specially enabled VoIP ADSL router instead of into the wall jack). They even let you keep your phone number to receive calls via the VoIP service.

Jen, unless I’m reading it wrong, Exetel have dropped your plan down to $40! Do they offer shaping, or is it all per/Gb charging? Can’t see any mention of shaping on their web site.

PC, one comment on Twitter was that a switch from ADSL1 to iiNet 2+ should involve minimal downtime, using Single Service Transfer (SST). Will look further into that.

OzSoapbox, I’ve had another vote for TPG, but one against as well, and I have vague feelings of having heard negative feedback about their tech support in the past.

I had TPG dial-up for years (I’ve still got it for contingencies, but haven’t actually used it in a long time). I’ve never had problems with their support. I’ve heard that their ADSL has good bandwidth but poor latency from several friends, though.

Even though I’ve already voted via Twitter have to say that tech support from TPG has always been good for me when required. Had huge problems with speed in the evenings for a couple of weeks when I moved from ADSL to ADSL2+ but that was a statewide issue that has long since been resolved and they’ve been rock solid ever since. Another good thing about them is that if you somehow manage to use up your allowance your shaping drops to 512/512.

I had ADSL (1) with internode and had to change to someone else because telstra was not letting them have space for ADSL2 in our exchange… so we went naked with iinet from last march. We pay $69.95 per month, local and national calls are free and other numbers like 13 are minimal cost (mobiles are a little more, but not heaps). Average bill overall has been about $73/month. I’ve not had to call help, the service has not gone down and their account administration is easy to deal with via the website.

RE: OUTAGE: The other thing is that because we were going from adsl1 to adsl2, our outage was something like 20 minutes (though total changeover took about 2 weeks most of that was waiting for the exchange, but we could keep using adsl1 right up to when it dropped out). They quoted a day, but it was nothing like that.

I had no complaints about internode at all, it was simply an access issue.

Oh, other things I forgot: the plan is the 60GB one (30+30), we kept our old phone number, used our current modem and I got an ultra-cheap router (wired, a superseded model) that worked as a translator or whatever you call it so we could even keep using our old handsets. I think it cost about $12. So if you don’t have to upgrade your adsl modem and you can get a cheap converter or voip phone, seriously consider getting nekkid.

And yeah, the price of internode’s sold-on adsl2 was the main reason we didn’t go that way (it was internode’s own adsl2 that was being blocked).

We are very happy with iinet. And if we are about to be shaped we just call up and for a couple of bucks they increase our plan for that month only.

I used to be with Internode, they were good but expensive and yes, they did have outages too. One memorable one lasted ALL freakin day. I’m with Netspace now and was trying to get a job application done on the day of the morning outage. I figure that we rely far too much on technology, moreso now that I lost my main external HDD yesterday with 10 years worth of photos on it!

If you’re in Bentleigh then I’d definitely look at going with iinet.

And if you don’t have any special attachment to your line rental payments, you might as well go for Naked DSL and save some extra money each month.

You can get 30GB + 30GB Naked DSL from iinet for $69.95 – save yourself $25 per month compared to going ADSL2+ with Phone 1. Your download speed will be the same on ADSL2+ or Naked DSL.

It’s a pity Vas had a negative experience getting Naked DSL – sounds like some poor techs and some poor advice. But I’d say that is by far more the exception than the rule. Internode are a great ISP and it’s a pity they don’t have their equipment in Bentleigh.

Flerdle has some good advice about the modem and is also exactly right that you only experience very minimal downtime (20 mins in their case) from moving from ADSL1 to Naked DSL.

You’ll be happy with it once you’ve made the move :)

I’d stick with Netspace. Overall I reckon they’re better. Their support (OK, you might have to wait for it) is pretty good. Their staff seem to knowledgeable I recently did the ADSL 1->2+ upgrade. I ordered it about 10.30 one night and got the SMS indicating completion at 7.30 next morning.

We had a very bad experience when iinet took over our previous ISP. Our emails were out for lengthy periods, mine was out for 2 weeks and they lost every email sent to me during that time. I was trying to run a business on eBay in those days and it was rather challenging. After that we changed to Netspace and have had little trouble since then, Tuesday was the exception rather than the rule.

Hi Daniel

It’s awkward (due to my day job) for me to say anything here on the web for all to see, but we can chat on the phone or in person if you want some of my thoughts :)


I’ve been with iiNet for over 2 years now and don’t have much bad to say about them.

The only ‘problem’ is that you can’t purchase data-blocks like with Netspace and other ISPs. So, even if you’ve been budgeting your allowance, but for some reason need to splurge at the end of the month, you can’t just pull out the card to get an extra few GB of data.

I’ve been with Netspace for a while now and will make two comments. Firstly you’ve compared your current plan with what’s on offer from iiNet however Netspace has some newer ADSL2+ plans that are better value on their web site now. You can switch to one of these instantly without any further hassle. Secondly as Netspace have access to iiNet DSLAM’s through a wholesale arrangement you’ll probably find that your service already uses them and hence changing to iiNet will not alter your performance at all.

I have been with internode for about 3 years. Not one outage in that time (apart from rain getting into my phoneline which I can’t blame them for- and even then they helped fix the problem. When node changes plans, you get told about it. And when they say they will do something you can bet it will get done. No overseas call centre either.

I was previously with iinet but talk about a moving feast. It seemed every few weeks they changed plans. And it was just too hard to change your plan. Plus their reliabilty and service standards plummeted for me at least – to the point where they tried to transfer my connection to the house I had just moved out of – and told me for 4 WEEKS that I was in the wrong. And don’t get me started on their upselling. Will never consider them again.

Looks like the decision has been made for you. iiNet have just bought Netspace. In a few months, they will migrate you onto their billing platform, the look and feel of the invoices that you get E-mailed will change, and you can then move onto whatever iiNet plan you want to seamlessly.

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