Byte Me Article 237 – Good prices but consider speed

Good Prices But Consider Speed

This week I need to postpone another Windows 10 update to talk about my own very recent experience with an attempt to upgrade my home phone plan.  What had driven this change was the carrot of monthly savings and more features.  It all sounded like a great idea and I was promised the earth – so where did it go wrong?

I had been on a standard Telstra home phone connection with a BigPond Internet connection at the same address for the last 13 years.  It is a connection from the Frenchville exchange and I have been getting constant download speeds of 10Mbps to 16Mbps for years now – regardless of the time of the day.  However I was paying $130/month for 300GB of Internet, $42/month for the line rental and also paying for every call I made whether it was local, STD, International or to mobiles.

Optus were advertising great things!  Totally unlimited Internet, totally unmetered local calls, STD calls, International calls (to most countries), unlimited calls to mobiles & line rental – all for $95/month on a ‘Big Business’ plan.  I talked to them at length after being a constant Telstra customer for 30 years.  Optus promised the same connection speeds and no hidden problems.

2015-09-05 Byte Me Artilce 237 - Failed Phone Plan

It took a mere 7 days for all this to happen and a shiny new router to arrive so when my BigPond connection went dead around 10 days ago I went home and started the Optus call around 6pm.  Although the lady was very hard to understand, she proved helpful and after 30mins we had the connection up and running.  While she finalised things I kept her on the phone and did a speed test.

If you are ever wondering how your connection stacks up try and click on the green ‘BEGIN TEST’ button on the simulated picture of a laptop screen.  My result – 2.9Mbps !!!  This can’t be right, so I tested it again another 5 times with the resulting average being even worse at 2.5Mbps.  This is less than a quarter of the speed that I had been getting just a few hours ago & for many years now with BigPond.

I immediately tried to convey my concern to the Optus lady on the phone – however, she then seemed to ‘recite’ almost parrot fashion all of the reasons for the slower speed.  Mostly I was told that the copper line from my house to the exchange was not capable of better speeds.  Keep in mind that Optus even took over my phone number – which means that they were using the exact same copper pair that BigPond were using just a few hours ago.

I asked to talk to her supervisor but was told that it would be no use as this was the best speed that I would get.  After much debate I insisted that I would have to exit the contract and that over 100,000 readers would know her name and get to hear about the experience.  She put me through to their customer retention’s department.

Here I got to speak to a slightly easier to understand lady that gave me the same pre-rehearsed story.  Not a great idea to try baffling a tech with technical rubbish but she tried until I mentioned what a great newspaper article she was helping to manufacture.  The call was placed to another similar person with similar results until finally I got to talk to a guy whose name I probably shouldn’t mention (so let’s call him Harry).

Harry spoke very well and actually listened to my problems to the point that he realised that I knew what I was talking about.  He spoke cautiously and it was obvious that he also knew what was happening.  Harry admitted that the ultra-slow speed that I was experiencing was in fact nothing to do with my individual copper line.  Harry agreed with me that it was in fact due to the limited bandwidth that Optus had on their uplink from the Frenchville exchange!

Harry also told me that at 8pm (yes, this entire call had now taken around 2 hours) they were most congested and that I would find it faster at other times.  Next week I am keen to reveal the fix to this entire debacle. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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