Geeks2U Promise
We guarantee you'll love our fast, friendly service - or we'll refund your money.  
133,572 Happy Customers & Counting
Need tech support?
1300 769 448
Extended hours, 7 days a week

Tag Archives: Broadband

Choosing The Right ISP Plan

Tags : 

Go back in time about a dozen years, and the majority of Australian Internet users were on dialup. Speeds, to put it kindly, weren’t great, but we were at least (largely) removed from the era where ISPs gave you a set number of hours of dialup time. You might be disconnected at “peak times” if you’d been connected for too long — or if a random seagull landed on a line somewhere, or something — but you could, for the most part, download as much as your poky 56kbps connection could handle.

These days, the majority of Internet users in Australia are on a broadband connection of some kind, but (again, with certain exceptions) those plans are limited by the quantity of data you’re permitted to shift around. Downloads isn’t quite the right word there; the vast majority of plans count any data you upload against your quota. This makes picking a plan with enough data a rather vital consideration. Choose too little, and you’ll either pay hefty excess fees (especially for mobile broadband) or get shaped down to speeds last seen in the dialup era. Choose too much, and you’re paying for data you’ll never use.

How much data does the average Australian use, anyway? The latest figures from the Australian Communications And Media Authority (ACMA) paint an interesting picture. Its latest report suggests that in the December 2010 quarter, the average fixed line (that’s ADSL, ADSL2+ and Cable) connection downloaded 18.8GB of data; that’s a little over 6GB per month for the quarter. Switch to a mobile broadband service and the figures tumble down to around half a gigabyte per month. Whether that’s to do with the higher cost of mobile broadband or its sometimes spotty availability is rather hard to say, but I’d bet more on the former case.

That’s a whole lot of streaming video, or if you’re feeling uncharitable, a lot of torrented episodes of Top Gear, and undoubtedly there are edge cases on both sides of the equation; those folks who consistently use their entire massive quota each month, and those who only scrape through on a few megabytes here and there. The latter case customers are the ones that ISPs love, by the way, as they’re both far more profitable and less hassle. If every user tried to access their full data quota each and every month, most ISPs would simply collapse; like mobile telephony it’s built on a slightly oversold premise.

The broadband usage figures are interesting, but what’s their take-home value? Most ISPs will allow you to view a rough breakdown of your ongoing figures, and if you’re paying for a connection you barely touch the edges of, it’s well worth examining if you can switch down a pricing tier. That 6GB per month figure seems like a good base point to grow up from, bearing in mind that vital upgrades such as operating system patches and Antivirus software signature upgrades can rather easily eat up a few GB each month by themselves if things get busy. That’s without ever touching a single Web page, and as I’ve covered before, it’d be a very bad idea to leave your PC unpatched and unprotected.


Could you survive on mobile broadband?

Tags : 

Chatting to a journalist friend of mine the other day, we were comparing broadband speeds and what you could do with them, somewhat in the context of the National Broadband network. He’s on a cable connection — typically 20Mbps — whereas I’m on an ADSL2+ connection that’s theoretically capable of up to 24Mbps… but I only get about 3Mbps on a good day. That’s a function of my distance from the exchange largely, and to a lesser extent the quality of the wiring on the lines between my office and the exchange itself.

I could upgrade to cable, as he’s done, but the costs are somewhat higher for the amount of data I consume, and I just can’t quite justify that. This brought the conversation around to an even costlier form of broadband — mobile.

I’ve just done a big round of mobile broadband testing, an area in which both line speed and the cost of data has, historically speaking, never been that crash hot. You couldn’t even fill the old axiom about having two out of good, fast and cheap with mobile broadband. All too frequently, it was poor, slow and expensive, and you just had to live with that, because it was theoretically mobile.

Things are changing. Speeds are up across the board, with the introduction of faster networks with less (not zero, sadly) congestion. From my home office with a variety of modems I could regularly hit double my home ADSL2+ line speed with Telstra’s Ultimate USB modem, for example.

At the same time, broadband allowances across mobile are upgrading too. I recently tested VividWireless’ ViViFi hotspot over at CNET, and while aspects of the speed were a little on the wanting side, there’s one aspect to the service that is genuinely compelling, and that’s an all-you-can-eat (subject to an acceptable usage policy) $75 per month data plan. I’m not holding my breath that Telstra, Optus and Vodafone will follow suit with similar truly unlimited data plan pricing, but the pressure is there.

Some folks I know have made the switch to a purely mobile broadband world, just as many have already done with mobile phones. It’s not a switch I’m ready to make — yet. Whether the NBN (whenever/if it arrives) will impact on usage and costings remains to be seen, and whether we can continue to see speed and value increases across the board remains a key factor.


What can you do with 1TB of data?

Tags : 

Recent weeks have seen some immense shifts in the home broadband space in Australia. It all kicked off when Telstra announced new and surprisingly competitive plans. I say surprisingly simply because, historically speaking, Telstra’s been amongst the last of the ISPs to shift its data offerings forwards, pursuing more of the premium market (through its Next G wireless) or bundled offerings through mobile phones and landlines.

Suddenly, for less than $100, you could get 200GB of data per month, from Telstra. Competing ISPs weren’t happy, not the least because some of these prices were cheaper than they were selling wholesale to other ISPs. Many of them rely on using Telstra’s wholesale services in bulk to make their money, and if consumer rates are cheaper than wholesale rates they can’t do that.

While that plays out in the legal sphere, the other ISPs haven’t been sitting still. A week after Telstra dropped its pricing bombshell, Internode answered with plans offering 240GB.  A week later iiNet announced plans with a total of 1TB (1,000GB) per month download plans. Within hours, Primus was offering 1.1TB plans, and TPG now offers a 1TB plan as well.

Storage is cheaper than it’s ever been, but it’s a fair guess that many readers won’t have that much storage space in their entire PC. So, if relatively few users have 1Tb per month to spare, is there actually value in these plans?

To an extent – and it’s even a legal extent —  yes, there can be. The ISPs in question aren’t banking on every user on a 1TB plan using the whole 1TB per month. Like many services, they figure most users won’t go through that much, but they’ll get the money either way.

What 1TB does buy you is a fair amount of security in terms of getting shaped. You could download a month’s worth of legal download movies (from, say, iTunes) and still be within your cap. Stream an awful lot of video from those services that the given ISPs don’t already allow under the cap, catching up on as much free-to-air TV as you like.  Obviously there’s a market of people who will never need 1TB, but if you’re sitting on a plan where you consistently get shaped for the last couple of months of your plan, and it’s close to the typical $99 price point that many of these plans go for, there’s a strong argument to say that you could be doing better.


Can Networking be made easy?

Tags : 

Most — not quite all, but almost all — of the home broadband connections sold in Australia come with a network attached. I’m not talking here of the internet that you pay money for and connect to, but the wired/wireless network delivered by a router of some sort. It’s certainly possible to set up a broadband connection using only a modem, but they’re becoming increasingly rare in the marketplace. Most ISPs push the router option over a simple modem if you’re buying from them, and even store shelves are stacked high with combination modem-routers, with a tiny section at the bottom for the basic modem models.

From one perspective, this makes a lot of sense. A router acts like a digital post office, sending your internet connection to any computer (or other device) you’d care to share your internet connection and files with. There are some pretty well known problems with security — especially wireless security — with routers, but there’s a bigger and more fundamental problem. Most routers can be utter torture just to get up and running.

I was recently at the launch of a new range of Belkin routers where the company revealed some of its support statistics. Belkin, like most vendors, offers two different ways to set up one of its routers. Those with plenty of networking knowledge can dive right into the web-based interface, tweaking MTU, VPI and PPPoE settings to their heart’s content. That’s not most folks, however. Most people will opt for the installation CD provided with the router, hoping that the automated setup wizard will step them easily through getting the router working.

Quite how many fail is rather eye opening. Only 10% of those who buy a router, according to Belkin, will get it working without having to call tech support, and even those folks have to interact with the router some 45 times — presumably that’s a lot of button clicking and password entry — before things are up and running. That’s a lot of stress in an area that few people are all that au fait with, really. I’m in a position where I do know my way around a router, but to put it in a context for myself, if I had to interact with my car 45 times before I could get it started, I’d give up and take the bus every time. And I really don’t like the bus much.

There’s a certain undeniable extent to which networking can’t be made easy when and if things go wrong, as there’s a lot of failure points to deal with. One solution would be to go for a product that’s either pre-configured by your ISP, which often comes with the extra dangling carrot of being “free”, or at least rather cheap. You can’t get something for nothing, however, as most of the models sold this way are locked to a single ISP, and they’re not always optimally configured in terms of wireless security in any case. Change ISPs, and you’d have to wastefully get an entirely new router, or pay a penalty fee for “unlocking” your own property. This isn’t always the case, so be sure to check carefully upfront.


Recent News

When you’re browsing the web, the one thing that you don’t want is slow. Nobody likes to be left waiting, but all too often we’re stuck staring at a half-loaded page or a spinning animation letting us know that something is happening – but rarely what it might be. Google’s Chrome browser currently has the

It’s been a massive couple of weeks for Apple, one of the world’s biggest computer hardware companies, with numerous new iPhone models and a slew of new “Apple Silicon” MacBooks hitting store shelves. Apple announced its first “Apple Silicon” Macs at its WWDC event mid-year, promising that it would release at least one Mac running

Getting online via Wi-Fi networks is easier than ever before, but it’s important to understand the risks of what happens when you press ‘connect’. Whether you’re setting up your network at home or in the office, it’s crucial you take the right steps to set up a secure network for you and anyone else who

Smart TVs – flat panels that include some level of integrated internet-based streaming functionality – have been a reality for years now, with a wide array of approaches and compatible apps built right into your living room TV. In terms of an all-in-one solution it seems like a no-brainer, because if your TV can easily

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Learn about the precautions we are taking and our new contactless pick-up and remote service options. Read More
Get help setting up your home office or homework area today. Learn More