Xtra Broadband - it now officially sucks!

, posted: 27-Nov-2006 07:59

I've used Xtra for yearas, their broadband hasn't been too bad for my purposes - sure it hasn't been as fast as Saturn/Telstra's cable connection, but its generally been quite useable.

Until it was unleashed.

The service Xtra broadband has offered since it was unleashed is nothing short of appalling. 

For two days in the week after the "unleashed" it was unusable.  The connection was so slow that it was literally unusable.  Enter a URL wait and it would time out with a DNS error.  On occaission I'd be able to resolve the DNS name but the site would time out having only retrieved the header of the web page.

This was particularly frustrating when you are trying to work from home.  I called the help desk and they told me that the engineers knew about the problem and would contact me via email when it was resolved (yeah right).  A couple of days later and it came back again to a useable state.

I've also been testing a website I've been building lately.  I've had a couple of people testing the work I've done via a DDNS based connection - problem is that the upstream connection speed is at best of variable quality.  Often the page just times out, and on occaision people can actually connect.

Fine - I'm not supposed to be able to run a webserver anyway (although its not like its public).

Yesterday I tried uploading pages for a site up to the production web server (from home to the internet) and the connection again became a problem. One file which was slightly larger (48kb) continually kept timing out.  The other files (varying between 5-7kb) were very slow.

I also want to upload a 10Mb file to the site - but could I do that over Xtra broadband? Not a chance!  Multiple attempts, from a couple of machines failed.  Watching the file upload on the server is like watching grass growing.  After 5 minutes it has uploaded a whopping 32kb to the server!!!

I see that the Consumers institute has some issues with Xtra's traffic management.  I agree completely.  I think that in addition to limiting the upload speed via the router settings, I suspect that they are packet shaping P2P technologies (Foldershare is awful at the moment) and the type of upstream connections (i.e. HTTP GET/Post are fine, but FTP is not).  This quote seems to ring particularly true...
"The Consumers' Institute was also concerned that Xtra's traffic management negated its claims of maximum speeds."

Telecom - I'm over your broad(not) band. 

TELSTRA - I really need a real internet connection - PLEASE PUT COAX TO MY HOUSE!  I'd almost pay for it myself!

If I can't get a decent upstream connection soon, I'll consider switching to a VODEM with HSDPA and ditching my  home phone altogether.

I'm off to find a cafenet connection to upload my files through....

Other related posts:
www.txtsurvey.co.nz - assessing the risks of text messaging
Xtra customers getting Peeved
Internet speeds & now it works!

Comment by sbiddle, on 27-Nov-2006 08:58

Where in Wgtn are you located? Have you considered nzwireless/gasp at all?

Comment by juha, on 27-Nov-2006 09:00

Which plan are you on? Most of the problems seem to be on Go Large whereas the other plans work OK.

Author's note by darrylb, on 27-Nov-2006 10:08

I'm on the go large plan (because I actually use around 8-10Gb per month).

I'm in Upper Hutt - and in an area of Upper Hutt that doesn't even have Telstra cable.  I dont know if NZWireless is available... I'll take a look.

Comment by freitasm, on 27-Nov-2006 11:19

Some people with problems on Go Large reported speed improvements by switching to other plans with no trafic shaping.


Comment by bradstewart, on 27-Nov-2006 12:17

Xtra no longer have their 10Gb plan, but Orcon offers FS/128kbps 15Gb for $59 or FS/FS for $69. Take $10 off that if you have your tolls with them. I recently switched and couldn't be happier with.

Oh and theres no shaping or traffic management.

Comment by sbiddle, on 27-Nov-2006 14:17

The fact that so many people are complaining and simply not moving maybe shows how many people believe that Xtra = The Interweb.

Author's note by darrylb, on 27-Nov-2006 14:35

Why was I on Xtra?
 - One less bill to pay
 - I used to work for them and hadn't changed
 - Service has been good enough
 - Other provides just resell Telecoms network anyway

But, I've sacrificed #1 and just signed up to Orcon.  I'll just say though that I'm skeptical. 

Orcon AFAIK is using the same network, so I dont expect it to improve much, but I'm prepared to believe the hype for the moment.

Comment by JAMMAN2110, on 27-Nov-2006 18:50

Apparently TCL are expanding there network in UH? So I was told at least I hope they do, may be moving there soon.

Comment by Neil, on 5-Dec-2006 21:11

I live in Lower Hutt Wellington and was on the Go Large plan but have switched to the express 2gb plan that has none of their 'fair use' policy, still no better. I'm lucky to get above 22KB/sec since switching. Before they 'unleashed' whatever it was, I was getting just over 200KB/sec on the Go 1gb plan for both international and national traffic. First I thought it was my Mac, so I grabbed a PC and Mac from work and the speed was the same on all 3 systems. I even got up at 2am one morning and tried it - still no better.

What I don't understand is when you test their speed test link http://jetstream.xtra.co.nz/chm/0,8763,205368-204265,00.html to see just how fast you can go, the 9mb file (both FTP and HTML) comes in at just over 500KB/sec. Have they got something on this link that opens up your connection? Is this so you cannot whinge to Telecom/Xtra about your speed?

Telecom, my phone line can take much greater speed, it did on the Go 1gb plan, give it back, I don't want the hassle of switching to another ISP.

Comment by Mine Ja, on 9-Dec-2006 20:03

Xtra's Test: Dl time: 2.437 secs, Size: 520 Kb, Est line spd: 1741.2 (kb/sec), Est line spd: 213.4 (kb/sec).

TestMyNet Test: Yr conn: 71 Kbps or 0.1 Mbps, You downloaded at: 9 kB/s, You are running: 1 times faster than 56K and can download 1 mb in 113.78second(s)

OpenOffice d/l with Opera 9.02: 7.4 kb/sec.

Screen shots & pdfs of web pages available to support the above. All run in a 2 minute period begining 17:30, 09/12/2006.

Many ph calls to Xtra support over a 2 week period - different story, questions etc each time. No nearer to fix. It all turned to sh*t the night I switched from that provider that sounds like a big porpise where speeds were excellent but the 25gb a month I needed was too expensive.

Go Large - large amount of bs.

Comment by Leanne Martin, on 14-Dec-2006 11:34

I joined up a few weeks ago with the Go plan. I am located within Christchurch, at Linwood.

The Go plan was SUPER FAST ($39 per month, and a delight to use after dial-up). Downloads were at 250+KB per second. The slowest was a little under 200KB/per second at busy times. I was sitting pretty.

Well that was the honeymoon period.

My son likes to surf heavy pages and I like to talk to my sister in California using Skype video around 8-10 am every day.

So I quickly went over my 1GB limit. That's fine. I got bumped back to dial up. Okay, it was slow, but I could still surf (it was still faster that my previous dial-up isp).

I thought, what the heck!, so I upgraded to the Go LARGE plan ($49 per month unlimited). Well that's when the trouble started.

We are getting timed out pages and I have to refresh several times to get the darn pages to load. The connection is erradic to say the least. Sometimes it's okay, but most times it's not.

My son says we are only getting downloads of 10KB per second. This is in all times (and no he is not surfing the sites on the restricted list). I understand that peak time is after 4pm, and I even understand that there are times when the lines are busier. But this is ALL THE TIME - DAY AND NIGHT.

I contacted technical support the other day and they had my brother crawling around the d-link 502T modem with a paperclip to stick in the back (sounds quite dangerous to me). He also said to "make sure you do that three times and that shoudl fix it". That did nothing.

Today I downloaded their "Xtra Help Assistant" program, and it gave me a code to quote. The tech guy said okay thanks. I'll put you through to plans, and then he put me through to Telecom accounts, who had to re-transfer me back to technical. There I spoke to a more helpful man in technical, but even then he didn't know what to do. He told me to turn my modem off at night (I didn't realize that, and I was just turning off my computers).

He got me to reset the D-link modem, but that did nothing. It still takes me 5 seconds or more to load Google and up to 20 seconds to load http://xtramsn.co.nz/home/

I perfer Firefox, but I also tried using IE6, and it's the same.

The thing is, why did the connection work fine on the Go plan and then not work when I paid them more money on the Go LARGE plan?

That's really the trick!

Comment by s.stone, on 14-Dec-2006 15:16

I was with Telecom for years and had no problems until about two weeks before they brought in plan changes. Getting sick of waiting to download a page or use You Tube which was impossible I changed to Telstraclear. Living in Christchurch I had that option. I had a telephone line and cable internet installed. I couldn't believe the speed. Telecom couldn't even come close even when they were at their best.

Comment by Annoying Customer, on 16-Dec-2006 08:21

I noticed they have taken all speed claims off the "go large" window on this page http://jetstream.xtra.co.nz/chm/0,,202853-1000,00.html

it seems as though "go large" is now officially "go leashed" there is no "as fast as your phoneline allows" notice anymore.

I wonder if the ihug buyout will change anything or if it will simply add another layer of insulation between the consumer and telecom?

Comment by Angry Customer, on 16-Dec-2006 11:20

I live in Dannemora Howick and I have been experiencing the same problem as you guys for over a month.

I am using the Xtra Go Large Plan and my top downloade speed never went more than 20kB/s !!!!!

Until last month I got at least 100... regardless of time!!!


Comment by treadstone, on 17-Dec-2006 23:37

I signed up with Xtra the day they started.

What a disaster this GO LARGE has turned out to be.  I also unfortunately made the change from the 10GB plan which worked well.

I'm in Miramar, Wellington. 

What other options are there?

Comment by nicholas, on 18-Dec-2006 13:21

I think Telecom are manifesting a serious DNS fault by the sounds of these comments. They are the only DNS provider that I have encountered that is an OFFLINE only service and that only configures the www.domainname.co.nz subdomain (so domainanme.co.nz without the www does not work - that is a sure sign its XTRA DNS!)

Why do Telecom still maintain a market monopoly. Because we are stupid and have been convinced that change is painful.

I use Orcon MAX/MAX and absolutely no problem. But there are times when some website somewhere is slow, but that is the nature of the internet.

Comment by Chris Rust, on 15-Jan-2007 13:33

And here we are 6 weeks later and DNS issues are still not resolved. Xtra should be offering refunds. I am so sick of this, I am considering changing to another provider and requesting a full refund from Xtra for the last 3 months.

I changed my DNS settings to use Orcon:



At least my page not found errors have gone away now

The trouble with this industry is that that no one offers any guarantees when it comes to bandwidth and availability. Telecom have covered themselves well on this one see:


All I know performance is well below what anyone would call acceptable and I for one feel ripped off.

Comment by Chris Rust, on 15-Jan-2007 20:26

I rang XTRA help desk today and found out something interesting. A major international cable (USA) has been damaged and this is affecting customers on the Go Large Plan. Why only these customers I hear you ask. This is my read:

I reckon XTRA has cramped us into a small international pipe so that higher paying customers are not affected. Go large customers have fewer channels where as they have left everyone else (including other ISPs) alone.

I confirmed my suspicions by VPNing to Work where we use and different ISP. A speed test I did using this site: http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/ went from 100kbs to over 2000kbs

So we have a reduced service but we are all still paying full price. I guess this does not bode well for the future either as whenever there is an issue XTRA are going to screw us GO Large customers first.

Author's note by darrylb, on 15-Jan-2007 20:38

So why pay more for less.  Move to a different provider.

My move was seamless.  It just switched over.  I changed the username and password and it all worked. Simple.

Comment by Chris Rust, on 17-Jan-2007 13:25

Don't want to lose my xtra email addresses plus the hassle of changing all (my wifes) subscriptions.

However I can't take this for much longer and I'm likely to start gnawing off my own limbs if I stay with XTRA.

Which ISP are you currently with, what do you get for your money?

Author's note by darrylb, on 17-Jan-2007 21:53

I switched to Orcon - you can roll your own plan...

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