O2 Broadband Review: Part 2

Written: 11th January 2009
Section: Internet

This is the second of a three part review covering O2 Broadband. You can find the first part here.

It's six months into my experience and things are finally settling down. Things haven't been great, which is a shame as I was expecting so much. We'll start with the router.

The router, as I mentioned last time, wasn't great. In fact it was much worse. Every 24 hours or so it would drop the connection and this became extremely annoying when it was being used at seven in the evening. I called O2 and they recommended the line speed be dropped to increase stability. Connection rates at this time were barely pushing 10Mbit of a supposed 16Mbit. This didn't do anything though and the breaks in service continued. Shortly after I finally acquired a new router and amazingly the disconnects stopped. It was clear from the start that it was a bad piece of kit but O2 remain adamant that it's fine. We'll touch on another router related flaw later.

About three months in I was still only getting around 10Mbit max, usually lower. Seeing as this was a waste I decided downgrade my service wtih 16Mbit to 8Mbit. The upside is download rates peak at around 950KB/s and it knocked 10 off my bill to 15. Speeds are mostly consistant however there are odd periods were it lowers to around 250KB/s. It's not ideal but I'm at the point now where I wouldn't expect anything else. Response times remain slow, around 40 - 50ms for a server in london and 70+ for europe. To put this in perspective, london pings should be around 16ms while european times start from 30ms. Fortunately I'm not as big of an online gamer as I was in the summer so it slides a little.

Shortly after downgrading my service another problem arose. The connection was remaining active but some applications were timing out. By this I mean that some things such as Bit Torrent remain ok while others such as browsing the web would fail to connect. It ocurred to me that there was a DNS problem. In short, the DNS server was having problems and dropping connections annoyingly often. A call to O2 confirmed this except it seems I was late to the party. The DNS servers went through a switchover two months back and I was still using the old system. My router was supposed to change the details for me but I had my own router now so it never happened. When I asked why an e-mail or letter wasn't sent out detailing the changes the customer support guy had no answer other than 'The router does it'. This made me really angry as no other serious ISP would do such a thing.

In retrospect, it was naive to think that a newcomer such as O2 who have interests elsewhere would provide a solid service. I don't expect much over the next few months but I'm at least hoping for a steady service. The best things about the service at the moment are the customer service and unlimited bandwidth. I suppose that's better than nothing.

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