May 242010

Here are some questions that have come in via our Ask Us a Question Page. I will try to answer them as best I can.

“I am finding my landline + Vat is costing more than my calls. Am just not able to continue to pay these prices and was wondering if it is possible to establish whether my area would be suited to Fixed wireless and if so what are the pros and cons. I have looked to gain more info from providers of this service but it is very sketchy and does not cover subjects such as; Do walls, trees and adverse weather conditions affect wireless and result in loss of coverage.”

When it comes to choosing whether to get broadband over the phone (ADSL) or Fixed Wireless there are a couple of things to consider. First of all, if you don’t know what the different types of broadband are check out this post, What are the different types of Broadband? The second thing to do is find out what types of broadband are available in your area. The best way to do this is to talk to your neighbours and find out what they are using and how good it is or go to your local computer shop. The local computer shop should know what broadband services are available and how good or bad the service is.

Do you have a phone line and do you intend to keep it regardless of whether you have broadband on the phone line or not? If you have a phone line you are paying line rental, regardless of whether you make phone calls or have broadband on the line. If you have fixed wireless broadband then no phone line is required and therefore there is no line rental to be paid.

Fixed Wireless broadband is generally not affected by weather, however walls and trees do affect the signal. You must have clear line of sight to your Fixed Wireless provider’s transmitted.

“Can for example an emergency service detect one’s exact location when receiving a call from a wireless phone”

What you are talking about is VOIP. This is sending your phone calls over the Internet using your broadband connection. To do this you can use your PC with a headset or you have to buy a VOIP phone. For more info on VOIP check out SKYPE or Blueface, Blueface are a good Irish VOIP Provider.

When it comes to the emergency services they cannot tell your exact location. However most emergency calls are made from mobile phones these days and they can narrow down your location by triangulating the phone signal.

If you have a router already for broadband, then do you need to purchase another along with a new phone if you switch to Wireless house phone?

If you have broadband on the phone line (ADSL) then you will need a new router which may or may not be supplied by your Fixed Wireless Provider. Yes you will need a VOIP compatible phone. Your VOIP provider can supply this. (about €30-€40 once off cost)

“Can a signal be troublesome at times? The companies promoting their products are also promising high speeds and yet this is just not correct for all customers, as they have reported on internet forums.”

The best way to check the quality of the service is to talk to somebody in your area who has the service and see what thay say. Your local computer shop will probably know the quality of the local broadband services.

“I would so appreciate just having advice on which provider is the most efficient, reliable, reasonably priced, gives the best customer care and technical support”

Although I am not in a position to supply you with a service in your area, as a Fixed Wireless provider, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on somebody else’s service.  Have a look at your neighbours houses and if you see a funny looking aerial it’s probably for broadband and ask them who provides it and what the service is like.

“My present provider promised all these at the onset, but now I cannot even contact them for support, as all I get is ten full minutes or more of adds, jingles and requests to join a competition..never a reference to putting me through, asking me to hang on …nothing. I still cannot reach them and have no idea how long the adds go on for as I cannot afford to wait that long. It is a disgraceful and unacceptable service to say the least, but before leaving them I need to be sure that I will not make a further bad choice. There must be independant advice for consumers apart from Com Reg who only give out a list of providers, their prices and so on, but there are no solid recommendations, warnings etc. It still leaves people very uninformed and open to exploitation.  trial and error situation which one must put up with for the length of the contract, or pay more money for transfer. Can you please give me the benefit of your advice?”

As you can see there is a general theme to the responses, DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE YOU SIGN UP FOR ANY BROADBAND CONTRACT. I cannot stress this enough. We all know somebody who has some computer expertise, but the most important people to talk to are people who use the service. If you were asked about your current provider you would be more than willing to tell people about the service, so would most people.

I hope this answers some of your questions or at least points you in the right direction.

Apr 232010

When I get asked to investigate why somebody’s broadband connection (irrespective of the type of broadband) is running slow, I often find that by changing  the way they are using the Internet connection can lead to a dramatic improvement. Firstly you need to understand how different applications use the Internet and secondly, what are the busiest times for the Internet in Ireland.

  • Surfing the Internet using a browser or sending/receiving emails does not use very much bandwidth and in general you can have a lot of people sharing a connection if this is all they are doing.
  • Internet gaming again does not use very much bandwidth, but is very dependent on getting small amounts of data through very quickly. This means that Internet games can be very sensitive to other heavy users that share the same connection. This also applies to Online Poker.
  • Audio applications can use significant amounts of bandwidth. The problem is that applications like streaming radio/music will try to grab as much bandwidth as possible and many routers prioritise this traffic, as it is much more sensitive to delay than data. This can have a detrimental affect on the online gaming.
  • YouTube/Streaming Video can use huge amounts of bandwidth (two or three times the amount that audio uses, depending on quality). If you have three or four people watching videos at the same time, then all other applications will suffer.
  • The applications that have the biggest affect on bandwidth are downloads. Whether you are using a Peer to Peer File-sharing app (torrents etc.) or a File Sharing service (UseNeXT or Rapidshare, etc.) for LEGAL downloads, these applications are optimised to download as fast as possible and will go after every bit of bandwidth available. These applications can also run background processes which are not obvious. So while you don’t think you are uploading or downloading, these applications are running in the background.

The second thing is the traffic patterns on the Internet. If you are planning a journey from Wexford to Dublin Airport, the time you allow for the journey could double depending on whether you hit rush hour or not. Well it’s exactly the same for the Internet. The speed will vary grately depending on what time of the day it is. The busiest time for the Internet in Ireland is between 6:00pm and midnight, although there is a significant rise in traffic from 4:00pm onwards (the kids get off school). There is also a significant increase in traffic over lunch also. By far the quietest time is between midnight and 8:00am.

So if you are a home user, then schedule any large downloads for after midnight and they’ll be waiting for you in the morning. If you are a business user then do any software updates first thing in the morning and they will be twice as quick as later in the afternoon.

The final point is that Yes, we know that broadband speeds in Ireland should be much faster and we constantly fight for better broadband infrastructure so that we can pass on faster speeds to our customers. Hope this helps.

Apr 122010

This is a question I get asked all the time, so here is a description of the mail types available in Ireland.

  • Fiber Broadband – This is the fastest type of broadband available. It is the same technology that is used by the Internet Backbone and uses Fiber Optic Cables, so is generally only available in cities and larger towns that have their own Metropolitan Area Network (MAN). Fiber Broadband is the fastest available and is generally only used by businesses or high powered users.
  • Cable Broadband – In areas where Cable TV is available the same cables can also be used to deliver broadband. Typically Cable Broadband provides higher speeds (8-10Mbits)
  • DSL or ADSL Broadband – Digital Subscriber Line Broadband is the most common type of broadband and is delivered over the main telephone network. To receive DSL Broadband you need to be within approximately 3-4KM of a broadband enabled exchange. The speed of DSL Broadband can vary greatly depending on how close to the exchange you are and what technology your exchange uses. Download speeds range from 1Mbit to 24Mbits.
  • Fixed Wireless Broadband – This type of broadband does not use telephone lines to deliver broadband. The Fixed Wireless Broadband Provider will have a network of transmitters covering a set area and to connect to the network you have to have an antenna on your building, that is within range and can see one of the transmitters. Fixed Wireless Broadband tends to be available in rural areas that are not covered by DSL Broadband and usually can provide similar speeds to DSL. Alpha Broadband is a Fixed Wireless Provider.
  • Mobile Broadband – The other type of broadband available to those who cannot get broadband over the fixed telephone lines is Mobile Broadband (3G or 2.5G). Mobile broadband is delivered over the same network as mobile phones and like mobile phones speeds can vary greatly depending on how close you are to the transmitter and how busy the network is.

This is only a general overview of broadband. If you have more detailed questions Ask us a question here.

Apr 082010

The number one reason why you get a email delivery error is because there is a typo in the email address or the email address does not exist. The amount of time I have ripped the mail system apart trying to find the problem only to have somebody walk up behind me and point out that the email address is spelt wrong. It’s very easy to see what you want to see, so double check those email addresses.

The second reason is that you have been Blacklisted. Particularly over the last year there has been a massive increase in email related viruses. These viruses take control of your PC (In the background, unknown to you) and send out thousands of spam emails. When the mail servers on the Internet see all this spam coming from your PC they Blacklist you. Unfortunately it is not necessarily that easy to get yourself removed from the blacklist and you will probably need the help of a computer professional. The best way to prevent your email being blacklisted is to keep your anti virus software up to date.

If you are having email problems contact us using our Ask Us a Question page.