Now that JohnR is out of the firing line, I really need to post a rant about VF. I wish to be absolutely clear that this is a rant. I am really frustrated and fed up but I don’t know if what I believe to be true actually is true. This is just my opinion but it is opinion fed by real irritation. If I am wrong about anything I would be glad to be corrected.
I am on 4G RBI. My ISP is Netspeed, a small operator, but as I understand it, my Internet connection and everything related to it actually comes from Vodafone.
For about the first half-year that we had RBI, we were delighted with it. Coming from dial-up, it was like coming from the Dark Ages. It worked well and reliably and our Internet speed was blazingly fast compared to anything we had experienced before, especially after we upgraded to 4G. We had regular, reliable download test speeds of about 30 mbps. This never varied by much. I installed a second antenna and our speeds went up to around 50 mbps. For several months this stayed the same. Streaming was smooth and we had the keys to the kingdom.
Then it all went to hell. Since December our speeds have plummeted and our connection has become completely unreliable. For two months we couldn’t stream at all. Our connection started jumping around between different distant masts instead of the one we were supposed to be getting our signal from. The signal was usually very weak, but occasionally it would jump up for brief periods. Sometimes the connection would disappear altogether. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Occasionally I received updates on this from my ISP. VF was having a problem with this. VF had stuffed up that. VF was doing maintenance. Etcetera, etcetera. The connection didn’t go down every day, but the average was probably about once a week. The thing is, it seemed to go down every time I needed to use it. I am only a private consumer, but if I had a business that was dependent on this service, I would be out of business by now.
For the last month or so it has been better again, almost back to how it used to be. I started to think that maybe the worst was over. Then today (Saturday, of course, that also seems to be part of the pattern) I noticed that pages were taking an awful long time to load. I checked the router. It had fallen back to 3G! Download speeds were around 2-3 mbps. This is a first. With everything else that has gone wrong, I haven’t encountered this one before.
I have been in frequent contact with my ISP about the ongoing problems. They seem willing to try to help, but they say their hands are tied. The issues all have to do with the ‘service’ being provided by Vodafone. They can relay my complaints but they can’t really do much else. I don’t get the feeling they are trying to pass the buck. I think they really can’t do much.
Yet here’s the thing: I am paying quite a lot of money (I think around $120/month or so) for a service that I am not getting. It is unreliable and I cannot depend on it. Much of the time it is too slow for anything other than email. Even when it works, there is no certainty that it will keep working long enough to watch an entire film or an episode from TV. It goes down for maintenance or whatever more often than it should. Even when it is running at normal speed, I get pixilation and freezing frames if too many people want to go on-line at the same time. It is like having a 1950s phone with a party line. It is unreliable, inconsistent, and poor quality.
Maybe this is the fault of my ISP, but I’m inclined to blame Vodafone, especially after all the other horror stories I have heard here. This seems to be a company in collapse. Their technology is falling apart and their customer service is even worse, if some of the tales here are to be believed.
And this is what really incenses me: Thanks to the idiot policy of our government, which as I understand it (maybe incorrectly) has compounded their stupidity by making exactly the same dumb mistake that was made in the past with Telecom by creating protected monopolies and allocating bits of territory exclusively to those monopolies, I no longer have any effing choice to go anywhere else. Yes, I can change ISPs, but I will still be getting my RBI from bloody useless Vodafone because they have the only masts that serve my area because they have been given exclusive rights to that coverage. So how does it come about, that a company that systematically craps on its customers is permitted to be the only provider of RBI services to big chunks of the country? Or do I have this wrong?
Anyway, that is my rant. If I am being unfair to VF, I will be happy to apologise. But I am still paying way too much money for way too little service. RBI in our area, which used to be good, has now become crap. Why should this be? I haven’t used up our 80 gig data cap in months. I couldn’t even if I wanted to. But we are still being charged for it. Why can’t Spark, or 2 degrees, or anyone else put up an RBI mast for our area so there is a little competition and maybe even a little free choice? I realise New Zealand is a small market, but there does seem to be an unnatural obsession with monopoly providers here.
There. I am done. Everybody jump on me with both feet.