Satellite Broadband - a cautionary tale

peterpr

Established member
609 7
I have been using BT satelite broadband for about 2 years now and had had few, if any real problems until about a week ago.

I started using Ionic's Sharescope about 8 weeks ago, then a new L2 trading platform about a month ago, together with my usual real-time price quotes from various providers.

All was going swimmingly until last week when, for no obvious reason all connections seemed to become slow and unreliable. So much so that on Friday last week I was unable to even look at a real-time chart or price quote until mid-morning by which time I had been badly caught out on the wrong side of a move with no stops or limits on the position (I have been caught before by spikes when setting them too tight and had been intending to watch real-time - Oh dear - big mistake this time)

The problem turns out to be something called the BT 'fair-shares' policy whereby they monitor bandwidth useage and begin to throttle it when certain thresholds are exceeded. I've not got to the bottom of the precise technicalities yet but it appears that my useage over the preceding month was such as to cause them to throttle me to one tenth the normal 512K !! - that's less than a standard dial-up connection -with no warnig or notification whatsoever!!. Also, the effect of latency on a satelite system compounds the effect of restricted bandwidth substantially. The net effect is that the system becomes totally unuseable - even for collecting email!

I had to scramble to re-instate a dial-up to do anything at all and, surprise surprise, found that I could run both Sharscope and all my other stuff quite happily over it.

I am now seriously reviewing my options. Why pay all that money for a sytem that can be degraded unpredictably to an extent that renders it totally unuseable for days on end?

Peterpr
 

Trader333

Moderator
8,646 977
BT really are pathetic, what use is broadband if you are forced to have it slower than dialup ? I would make a lot of noise about this to BT as what they dont want is negative publicity on something like this.


Paul
 

DaxTrader

Active member
229 2
That is so out of order.

It's fine by them for you to have it, but you are not allowed to use it much - great.

Very glad you posted that peterpr , we live in an area where the local broadband count is currently up to a massive 18 out of required 400 , and was thinking about satelite BB.

Apparently Wi-Fi with a 30 mile range is about 18 months away - fingers crossed. :)
 

oatman

Senior member
2,879 22
I expect the throttle-off was in the small print. You've got to be so careful nowadays.
They'll screw you, full stop. Don't know if that was BTOpenworld but you can give them a good slagging off here http://www.btopenwoe.org.uk/
Might make you feel better ;)



I just noticed a Sat section talking about this same thing.
 

peterpr

Established member
609 7
Investigations so far reveal that they have already had a lot of stick over this. So much so that they are changing satelite providers. It seems that they have a certain amount of bandwidth available to share between users. When current useage approaches available capacity, they automatically throttle individual users according to an algorithm based on their previous month's useage. Peak useage appears to be @7:30 am - 9:30 then late afternoon. They have obviously signed up too many users. That became apparent when I intimated cancelling the contract - fewer users would clearly ease their current problem!

I am considering making a real stink about it. I know it's easy to make excuses for getting caught on the wrong side of any move. But the fact that I was running around like a headless chicken with no information whatsoever, during the precise period when I would otherwise have been watching everything closely, certainly did not help.

Peterpr
 

Rognvald

Established member
916 15
peterp
Sorry to hear of your difficulties.
You are in effect working a business and must have industrial strength tools for the job. BT are s***s but there are alternatives if you look. Its esential to know enough about the technology you depend on and the basis on which you have it.

dax
unfortunately bt has a great interest in the provision of Wimax - its the only way they'll ever reach their penetration targets
 

TheBramble

Legendary member
8,394 1,170
BT only 'throttle back' their own, direct broadband customers not the wholesale capacity they resell to other ISPs. But it got me checking my small-print as well!

The other thing is if you have a standard 50:1 contention ratio, although statistically unlikely, you could find yourself operating at 10kbs instead of 512kbs. Always have a dial-up or alternative for backup.

As the take-up of broadband increases, these contention based degradations are going to become far more of an issue than buying higher capacity. Theoretical max throughput is just that - theoretical.

As Rognvald says, if you're trading - you're in business. You need the tools for the job.
 

Rognvald

Established member
916 15
Tony
Contention - you are quite right unless a leap in software leads us to demand much more bandwidth all the time.

e.g. I was listening to internet radio yesterday evening - the compaction algorihms are vg now - I started off at 100kb/s use but within 5 min it had adjusted its use to 45kb/s. Perhaps 10/12 doing this simultaneously on my local exchange would start to screw everything up.

When I added my data feed to this we at least doubled the usage and then I did some simultaneous downloading of some files - 7mb - nothing particularly unusual there - and my network usage hit 512kb/s for about 3.5 min. My radio stream was unaffected and so far as i could tell so was my data stream. The file downloads took longer than they wouild have done in isolation though.
 

ChartMan

Legendary member
5,580 46
3 G broadband has just started in my area ( Aldershot ) and a few others..... http://www.netvigator.co.uk/main.html

Initially the service will be available only in the Thames Valley region. Today, the service is available in Aldershot, Maidenhead, Reading, Slough, Windsor, Woking and Wokingham. The coverage area will increase over the next few weeks to cover more of the Thames Valley area. Expansion of the service into other areas is likely to commence later in 2004.
 

peterpr

Established member
609 7
Thanks to all for observations/comments.

I've checked through T&C's carefully and the 'fairshares' policy. It's non-technical but basically states that they will throttle high-useage users at peak times as they see fit. (I'll post it if anyone's interested) No pre-warning and it's not possible to get any committment to a minimum standard sufficient to ensure basic useability. I have now had several instances (mainly early morning) when it has not been possible even to browse the simplest sites, let alone do anything serious

Having said all that, and having been told that my useage has been among their highest for the past month. the system has been pretty stable again since about 10:00 am.

It's the unpredictability that I cannot accept though. I have now got a dependable basic dial-up backup but would certainly pay some more for a satelite/wireless etc service that provided some form of service guarantee. As you say Rognvald - industrial strength tools needed but where the hell can I find them living out in the sticks as I do?

Peterpr
 

JonnyT

Senior member
2,560 22
peterpr said:
Thanks to all for observations/comments.

I've checked through T&C's carefully and the 'fairshares' policy. It's non-technical but basically states that they will throttle high-useage users at peak times as they see fit. (I'll post it if anyone's interested) No pre-warning and it's not possible to get any committment to a minimum standard sufficient to ensure basic useability. I have now had several instances (mainly early morning) when it has not been possible even to browse the simplest sites, let alone do anything serious

Having said all that, and having been told that my useage has been among their highest for the past month. the system has been pretty stable again since about 10:00 am.

It's the unpredictability that I cannot accept though. I have now got a dependable basic dial-up backup but would certainly pay some more for a satelite/wireless etc service that provided some form of service guarantee. As you say Rognvald - industrial strength tools needed but where the hell can I find them living out in the sticks as I do?

Peterpr

If you are based in Derbyshire you might be able to get Wireless Broadband. You can around Nottinghamshire and its excellent.

JonnyT
 

Rognvald

Established member
916 15
peterpr said:
Thanks to all for observations/comments.
As you say Rognvald - industrial strength tools needed but where the hell can I find them living out in the sticks as I do?

Peterpr
IO'm almost positive There are some other satellite isp's who take their (unthrottled) bandwidth wholesale and should not have this problem.

Offhand I can't remember but I researched this some time ago when I was considering moving back to the sticks. If you give me a bit of time I'll try took look it out. for u
 

SallyT

Member
57 1
Anyone else suffering the latest satellite debacle?

I spent most of yesterday trying to complain to BT about the lousy service their broadband satellite is giving. How about this for C*** service - three bandwidth speed tests - 12.8kbps, 26.4kbps & finally the best yesterday 61.2kbps. I would have posted yesterday but just could not raise the t2w site.

To save any suffers the time trying to find someone who cares enough at BT to listen, and to make sure everyone complains, here is the address and fax number I was finally given as national office for satellite broadband. Incidentally, BT don't have a telephone number to call if you have a problem, the only thing they provide is a technical help desk (I tried most of last week and many times this week to get through, it's always engaged, another useless service they don't provide).

Fax number is 0870 706 3064 their address is: BT Customer service (lol) 53 - 55 Queen Charlotte Street, Bristol. BS1 4BT.

The only thing I've succeeding to do is refuse to pay the bill (£60 pm + VAT) telephone 0845 607 1942 and got them to delay payment for 1 month, if they can't solve the problem by then, apparently I get another month free, gee that's great BT but what do I do in the mean time to do my job? AOL are the only company I know who let you stay connected 24/7, just so long as you are using the connection. That's another £16pm.

Most users by now should have had their satellite upgrade to another satellite that hangs over the USA, I have to say that initially this was much better, (for about 1 week) but now I think they have throttled me down to a snails pace cos I'm using it 15 hours a day, funny thing is, I rarely down load large files, so why the throttling, anyone any ideas? It'll take about 3 minutes to get this message on the boards!

Finally, if anyone has found something better and more reliable, please post here and please do complain if you're having problems, don't ket them get away with it!

If there are any legal eagles out there who think us users have a case for misrepresentation of providing a services that falls way short of what they claim for this service (bearing in mind they claim that BB is 10X quicker than a dial up ISP) perhaps you'd let me know - is it worth the cost of trying to claim compensation - big brother and all that - David & Goliath comes to mind. BT do need a very big kick up the A*** don't they. Small businesses such as mine don't get very far I suspect.

I wrote to complain to the BT Chief Executive, Luke Van der - whatever his name is last week, but he hasn't got back to me yet (lol). I'm not holding my breath you understand!

Sally
 

JonnyT

Senior member
2,560 22
There is a UK based Wireless broadband operator. They used to be called tele2 but they changed the name.

I have used there services for three UK businesses and its fantastic compared to satellite.

JonnyT
 
 
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