Faster than…

Just for perspective, the upload and download speeds here are twice those we were getting with satellite broadband; the ping is almost 20 times faster!!

It doesn’t seem so long that we used to get excited at home when the dial-up download speed got anything over a mighty 6kbps…it’s been our curse to never live (for any period of time anyway) anywhere with fixed line broadband…then, one day early in 2010, the nice folk at Telecom rang up and said we were just inside the coverage for the XT network (after they got ALL the bugs out of it, of course).

Contrary to all the bad press that Telecom gets, they were very nice about it and offered to send out an XT modem for a month’s free trial. Couldn’t say no to that and all of a sudden we were in the world of broadband…not without its issues though: we only had 2Gb a month to play with and the only reception was in one room of the house (fortunately the study: working from home could have become interesting if it had been the bogger!!). XT worked really well for us for almost two years but as I reverted to working more and more from home (the great thing about policy analysis and doctrine review is that you can pretty much do it anywhere), we more and more started to exceed our 2G monthly allowance and the cost started to spiral upwards…

We had been aware of Farmside and its satellite broadband options for a while but hadn’t considered them as cost-effective as the XT option – plus they had (and still do) this annoying habit of answering emails with phone calls which is nice if one is at home but of limited use if one is spending a lot of time away from home and thus not able to answer the phone when it rings…By the end of 2011, though, their satellite and home line bundles were starting to look pretty attractive – the all-up costs were about the same as what we were already paying but the big bonus was a much larger monthly cap albeit with 25 of the 30Gb only being available offpeak between midnight and 2PM – that actually wasn’t too bad as I normally start work at 6AM to catch the back end of the US working day.

Once we established comms – after more email/phone tag – the Farmside sign-up process was swift and efficient and the installer turned up the day after Boxing Day. We would have preferred to have the dish placed further up the wall of the house so that the modem and cables would be out of sight/mind in the loft but still able to wifi through the house…but the installer didn’t come with a long enough ladder (even though we had advised that the wall was pretty high) and we think he may have been a little scared of heights…but the job was soon done and, apart from more lights than the flight deck of Concorde where the modem and router had been placed in the spare room, we achieved another plateau in the quest for decent broadband. The only downer with satellite broadband is that it is high latency – about 800 milliseconds, or the better part of a second – which only meant that pages took a little longer to access and load unless one uses a VPN for work as I do in which case it can be quite frustrating and tiring using a real time mouse and keyboard on pages lagging about a second behind.

Just before I went overseas in September, our phone went off for the day – late in the afternoon, someone claiming to be from Telecom rang and apologised for the disruption of service, attributing it to some errors when our local cabinet was cut into the new fibre network. Fibre? Did someone say fibre? You would think that finding out if we could now access fixed line broadband would be a simple thing mais non…both Farmside and Telecom fobbed us off with “We will tell you when these services are available” responses. To their credit, when we nudged Farmside again after a month or so, they came to the party and advised (after more email/phone tag) that it looked like we could now access proper broadband.

Those living in urban areas will be all “hohum” but these are the things that are important in rural areas where connectivity = communication and the ability to do business from home…the ADSL modem arrived this morning – and didn’t work. Five calls with the really helpful customer service staff (thanks, Chris and Jess) later, we had narrowed the problem down to a modem that had not been configured before it had left the store. All that was easily fixed and by lunch time, it was all up and running, and we were able to kill the Concorde lights in the spare room for the last time. By close of play today, I had been enjoying the rapid response of web pages and had indulged in a long ‘test’ Skype with Rowland from Hawkeye UAV. Now that we have decent 24/7 broadband, we plan on using Skype a lot more and possibly reducing our homeline calling plans – more

So all that thinking and fault locating made me a might peckish….I didn’t quite get the angle right in this picture – I should have reduced the angle so that the whole is silhouetted against the white of the plate – so it doesn’t look as nice as it actually did and certainly not as well as it tasted. All it is is some  kumara hash brown mix left over from my kumara and salmon stack the other night, and a chunk of fresh-fried lamb I found in the fridge with a squirt of Carmen’s homemade chili sauce…the curry in the hash brown and the chili sauce blended deliciously…so I made another and it was just as good…

Sitting back now, watching Lost in Space (the original, not the sad-as movie with Joey from Friends) after a great dinner of pork sausages with a cheese omelette….

1 thought on “Faster than…

  1. OK…a postscript to this…everything worked OK through the new ADSL modem EXCEPT the one key capability we got broadband for which is the ability form me to dial into work using a VPN connection. Didn’t work, dead as a the proverbial door nail. This was surprising as everyone thought that all the VPN issues would occur using the satellite connection due to the high latency of that service…so…since Saturday morning, the tech staffs from work and Farmside have been scratching their heads and trying to narrow down the issue.

    Last night we narrowed it down to the modem router and after work I drilled into the Net for any issues relating to VPN connections with a NetComm NB604N modem router. After following a bunch of forum- and blog-based red herrings, I finally found the Grail, in all places on the manufacturer’s site ( I reconfigured the settings myself (I am soooo good as I have not been in this techo world since 2007) and after figuring out that I needed to reboot the modem for the changes to take effect (something not detailed in the instructions, i was away laughing.

    I suspect that the core issue may be that the modem has been shipped to us direct from the supplier and not configured for Farmside – certainly none of the other settings seemed to have been – and this is something that I believe Farmside are taking up with their suppliers. The chnages to the port trigger settings on the modem to enable the use of a VPN probably do not affect the normal use of the modem and thus could/should be set before delivery. That would have saved us all (me, Farmside and my work tech staff) four days of narrowing this down….

    All is happy now as the techies have a solution and I have a VPN connection that is not running with a lag of almost a second – you try synching your hand movement with a mouse that is a second behind!


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