Monday, November 22, 2010

Drip feed network

Did you ever here the old saying "the cobbler's wife goes barefoot and the doctor's wife dies young"? Well in my house, the person who gives other people advice on keeping their infrastructure up to date has failed to keep her own infrastructure up to date. Specifically, I have failed to maintain our household internet connection in line with our usage. As a consequence, we are on rationed internet usage for the rest of this month.

I blame Steve Jobs for this, because I am pretty certain that it was downloads from iTunes that maxed out our quota, though it is not entirely his fault. Our current (note that word) ISP is Optus, the local minion of the larger Singtel group. Some time in 2002 I had an Optus cable modem installed, and the data plan in place today is what Optus is pleased to call 'Unlimited Pro'. This plan is in no way, shape, or form unlimited: what it actually provides is 20GB per month of peak hours data, and 20GB per month off peak (where peak is noon to midnight). When it first went in, this was fine: the service was fast, and the possibility of an iTunes store in Australia was but a glint in the Jobsian eye - and I didn't even have a Mac in 2002. However, the years have passed, Mac have proliferated all over my house, there is an Apple TV in my family room, my husband (who is still in thrall to Microsoft) has also discovered iTunes, and online gaming and online shopping, and our data usage has gone through the roof. Meanwhile, more people are now using the Optus cable service, and on some days it is so slow that it is next to unusable. What I think happened in this instance is that one of us (probably me) kicked off a download from iTunes in the off peak period, and it took so long to complete that it slid into the peak period. So I checked our usage last week, and discovered that we have less than 1GB of peak data left between now and the end of November. If we use more than that, Optus throttles our link to 64kbps for the rest of the month. We have experienced this before, and it is not fun.

And I can't upgrade the plan - this is the best that Optus can offer - and I can't just give them money to make the problem go away.

So right now, we have Internet access in the mornings - we still have plenty of off peak data available. In addition, I have bought a Pocket Wifi from Vodaphone: it came with 3GB of data, and it works beautifully, so I can get online in the afternoon if I really need to do so, and of course I have my iPad and its 3G connection. And I am taking steps to get rid of Optus, and to replace them with an ISP who offers more flexible data plans. My choice is iiNet, and I'm hoping that they live up to their reputation for competence and good customer service. The first thing I need is a new standard phone line: that is supposed to be installed tomorrow.

I had intended to deal with this earlier. I had actually ordered a new firewall - which is now languishing on the dining room table, because I don't want to waste our limited bandwidth setting it up. I just didn't act quickly enough.

Still, I wasted less time on random browsing this weekend.


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