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code_glitch

Why ISPs are evil...

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So this is a bit of rant about some damn ISPs we have in the UK that seem to embrace malpractice and lack any common sense...

In the UK, there's this new fad that has been going for some time and no one seems to be able to kill: ISPs advertising the hell out of literally everything they offer. I can't remember the last time I sat down in front of a screen and wasn't played a BT infinity, virgin media, sky everywhere type advert offering some comparatively crappy deal. I mean 40GB of bandwidth a month on a 75mbit line? Are you people high? And they'll still charge you that £15 or so for POTS COPPER line rental because lets face it - fibre to kerb near your street still needs it. SO lets all *upgrade* from an unlimited, relatively uncensored (at least on orange AKA EE) 18MBit line to a blazing 45-75mbit line that has download limits, more censoring, a 'safety net for all connection' <- This is actually deep packet inspection in some instances as a friend found out (you know like in CHINA) which by default flat out refuses to let you downlaod any binary files that aren't flash and other common things (yes seriously - you cant get a .jar for minecraft. Even if you zip it up, rar it or rename it). Oh - and theres traffic shaping. Except its a feature you pay to get rid off, and even if you do screw you if you wanted to torrent your isos or anything of the sort. Its a bargain - only double the money of ADSL for the first 6 months, then its triple.

But oddly, thats not my main gripe with them. Its an issue I think everyone is aware of if they've ever tried to move files over wifi: neighbours. Well okay, not the neighbours themselves but rather the ISPs that use them as free towers. That skybox under the TV (sky = like tivo for non brits) its an access point. Or two in somce cases. OH? You've got 2 skyboxes? Thats 4 APs. You have a home hub? 3 APs on 2 more channels. And that talktalk box? Yep thats another. Virgin media? Another. Oh, and dont forget the router you had to buy because you needed more range as a result of all the above interference. That's one neighbouring household. We have neighbours on all sides and unfortunately between them is admittedly an okay sized garden. Unfortunately, it turns out 2.4GHz goes everywhere. The result is that in a block of fully detached houses I can see 5 households of access points. At an average 4 SSIDs per household thats... 20SSIDs (okay, I can only see about 16 indoors in different rooms) but still... HAS NO ONE FROM THE IEEE TOLD THEM THE ONLY NON-OVERLAPPING CHANNELS ARE 1, 6, 11 (and 13 here in the EU)?

The result is actually not so bad - most APs talk over each other and you prop up your own boxes in the space thats left right? WRONG.
New boxes I have observed have 'intelligent' signal boosting features. What that means is that when they think they're being interfered with they up the transmit power to the legal maximum and if that fails it moves channel and repeats the procedure. Thats great. Except what you end up with is this:
Neighbour changes ISP from X to Y. Y sends neighbour a new box for bundle features (this happens every few months because of the stupid 3-6 month promotions and they're perception of having crappy internet). They install box from Y but the box from X is still being used for god knows what. Box Y thinks box X is causing interference so now both are at full power on 2 non-overlapping channels. This is basically a chain reaction so every single frequency is saturated by wifi boxes doing.... SOD ALL.

You see, when you buy a BT Home hub, or a skybox or some other piece of junk from such companies theres more than 1 access point. Lets pick on BT's offering for instance. You get:
-Your actual wifi access point on channel 1, 6 or 11.
-A BTWifi access point for BT customers who want wifi access away from home on whichever channel of 1, 6 and 11 are not used by your own AP.
-Another BtWifi with access point named BTWifi-FON which I presume serves the same purpose as the one directly above it. Thus each box uses THE ENTIRE SPECTRUM.

Thus, if you live between two household of morons you get showered with interference as a result of those boxes being unable to coexist. Today, it looks like one of our neighbours decided to get another talktalk box. This unfortunately caused something wicked to happen and every single box had maxed out its transmit power and hopped channels, effectively crippling the network here. And so began a day of trying to fit in between the unholy mess from all these flaming boxes.

There are a total of 5 households in wifi range here (including ours). IS IT REALLY SO ABSURD TO EXPECT THERE TO BE 5 NETWORKS ON REASONABLY FREE CHANNELS? BT, TalkTalk, SKY, Virgin, EE - ALL OF YOU: STOP MAKING THESE GOD FORSAKEN BOXES THAT TURNS WIFI INTO A SHOUT-FEST TO SEE WHO HAS THE BIGGER ANTENNA

On another note: Unless any of you ISPs plan to offer a decent option, I'm not moving from my 18mbit line that costs £12 a month including line rental. I really hate it when I need to get a 1GB ISO and have to wait 5-8 minutes.... NOT.

I'd actually be interested to hear how this is elsewhere on the planet, having heard plenty of stories of crappy internet from people I know that turned out to be bad wifi instead of the former I'd be interested to know if other people have this problem so please leave a comment and if thatís the case - how you get around it (besides installing OpenWRT and ramping up the output power, which I'm pretty sure no one would ever do because its illegal... )

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  1. SilverWarior's Avatar
    As far as WiFi goes I must say that I don't have any problems with it myself. There are thre reasons for this:
    1. I'm lucky to live in rural place where houses are not to close to each other so I don't get any interference.
    2. Also here in Slovenia most houses are made from bricks with metal reinforments (metal grid nets in flors, metal rods in house corners and sometimes even in the middle of inside walls). This kinda makes a faraday cage which actually blocks singlan from geting through This can be quite anoying when your stereo recieves radio just perfectly when in room on one side of the house but picks up mostly noise when in the room on the other side of the house.
    3. I actually avoid using WiFI as much as posible. Even thou I have a laptop I usually kep it conected to thernet network. I only use WiFi if I need laptop in one of the rooms where I don't have ethernet cable connection (yes I have ethernet in three roms in my house).

    As for bandwich limiting so far this is only being limited on mobile broadband. All landline internet connections (ADSL, optics) have no bandwich limit.

    As for monitoring network trafic we don't have major problems yet but it is only a matter of time I guess.

    But here in Slovenia we have some other problems:
    1. Optics are mostly only available larger cities and even there not whole cities are being covered. So you can be prety luck if you have acces to optip conection in the first place.
    2. Most broadband conections are avaliable with ADSL/ADSL2 conections through copper wires. So if you are luck and live near area node you could get upto 20 Mbit conection but mostly you are limited to less than 8 Mbit connections (just enough to support IP-TV, which can be sometimes pretty crapy when watching HD channels). I must admit that I'm lucky enough to live in a decent vicinity of one of these area nodes so I have 15 Mbps ADSL2 line (15 Mbps download and 740 Kbps upload).
    3. There are lots of pepole who doesent even have acces to ADSL broadband connection but instead they can only have access to some crossbreed btween ADSL and ISDN conection where ADSL signal goes over copper wires from local area node to some subnode which is placed near pepole houses and there it splits into several different lines. So pepole using this type connection end up with less than 1 Mbps connection and what is worse they have to pay more than I have to pay for my 15 Mbps line which is completly CRAZY!
    4. Most ISP providers here in Slovenia still doesen't provide true IPV6 protocol. Even worse my ISP provider is screwing up with ports that are being used for IPV6 terredo so I had to turn of IPV6 support on my computer completly othervise I keep expiriencing dowload interuptions (can't even download 20 MB file without any interuptions, that is unles I use some P2P software like uTorrent which is capable of properly handling such interuptions). Yes these interuptions are so common that I usually even end up with half loaded web pages.
    And when I reported this problems to my ISP it took me more than three hours before they actually conected me to a real techincian and not just some student who is doing over the phone support by reading pre written most common answers from paper. Gues what! It didn't help much either. In the end I found a posible workaround myself.
    5. Mobile brodband connections are pretty shitty becouse most mobile towers aren't capable to handle to much trafic (mostly becouse they are connected to poor land lines). So if you live in an area with dense population mobile signal interuptions, disconectiong calls, unable to make call, etc. are quite posible during certain hours when most pepole surf on the web.
  2. code_glitch's Avatar
    On the ipv6 front, most ISPs seem to be vastly under-prepared for it. The last I heard from any ISP was "we're working on it" and many seem to be under the impression they can get away with just a firmware upgrade for their networks - something that doesn't seem to be materializing. I really wish we'd get on the ball here in the UK and fix these issues - instead of hyping 4G and fibre which frankly only benefit a very small percentage of people...