For the last few months I have been using the PDQ service from TelstraClear, first as a triallist (before it was launched) then after as a paying customer. I have only recently moved into my house in Wellington, and wanted to use ADSL to gain experience in the NZ broadband product. I was on the 3.5/128 service, and last Tuesday was moved to the Full Speed/128 product.
I've worked in the telecoms industry since 1993, and have taken a balanced view on market observations vs reality. I've been on the receiving end in Telecom as a Product Manager, and as a customer of Telecom when using their 'mobile' services. So I wasn't expecting a great deal of PDQ, given it's all resold Telecom anyway (except for the internet gateway), but the addition of a Clear email address to my vintage Xtra one (anyway remember the original XTR alias's?) was a goodie.
Telecom wasn't that bad (or that good!), and rhetoric was more prevalent than hard fact.
My speed on the 3.5mbps service was 2.2mbps on a good day - after the Full Speed migration, my average real service declined to about 1.1mbps - the best 'peak' speed I got was 2.2, ping times of 140ms, but overall it just felt lumpy and slow. It wasn't my internal wiring - that's all brand new - but the service. And all but unusable in the evening.
Today the Cable Guy came in and changed me over, after a long 3 hours, to TelstraClear.
I was shocked at the speed of Internet - on a 2/2mbps plan, my ping time is 25ms, and it's plainly obvious the speedtester would go faster if my profile was throttled. Not only that, but the responsiveness of my machine has improved - anyway who has used a mobile datacard (EVDO or GPRS or UMTS) will know how sludgy Windows becomes because of the slow network connection.
SO this really got me thinking about our situation here, and the lack of apparent progress in Internet access development. The industry parked it's a** waiting for unbundling - even my employer, who paused investment while they took stock of the regulatory development, however glacial (Now was definetly not good). So here we are, with an unbundled network. Everyone has access to full speed ADSL, on a network built for the days when Xtra was 33kbps dialup. The cost to Telecom to upgrade backhaul, upgrade exchanges, cabinets, kit.... it's a big bill. Lots of capital investment, real pressure on the dividend, list goes on.
So what to do in the meantime? Customer inertia being what it is, most people won't consider going through a change of provider. My experience was pretty painless, if a little disruptive. No more than a SKY dish being installed, but a lot less uglier to look at
So I'm pleased I moved. I'm pleased I took the opportunity to not wait for DSL to change, and for the industry to spend lots of $$ and 3 years to get to faster internet access. Most of NZ has no choice - but for those that do, it really is worth thinking about it. Not all solutions have to come from the government or Telecom.
This isnt a plug for my employer (sorry if it does sound like it). It's a plug for anyone who is working on providing alternatives to Telecom for Internet access. Size them up and consider giving it a go (Slingshot, Vodafone, The Loop and so on....). And give Telecom an opportunity to invest and surprise us all
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