Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Plus.net Internet not good for us

I mentioned in a previous post I’d be relating my experiences with the Plus.net Internet broadband service to my business. I’m sad to say on their current performance I would not recommend them for use within a business environment. I’m awaiting a call from their business manager so I’ll maybe change my mind, but they are going to have to work hard. Their initial response was not "we'll fix this", but "the manager will listen to the voice recording of what was said at the time of order!"

Hello! I'm the customer. I'm not thick. I can actually remember that far back! (a few days). C.Y.A. is not a solution to the business problem.

Here’s the nub of the problem. When I raised the order for the service I specifically requested a No-NAT router (I’ll explain later) and that was agreed on the phone at the time of the order. In fact the sales clerk specifically contacted technical people during the call to confirm this feature.
It turns out, after another call (part of the conversation 853K wav) by me to their support team, that in fact Plus.net “have never” supplied No-NAT routers for their service. The Router they supplied the Thompson 585 is in fact capable of providing No-NAT, but it would involve us having to perform Command Line Instruction (CLI) programming on their equipment and we’d end up with a non-standard configuration. Others have experience of this.

With my other two broadband suppliers we use Easynet and Demon Internet they supplied No-NAT ADSL routers without a quibble. Their equipment worked first time configured as requested without a problem on the day it was delivered. To put it mildly, I am surprised Plus.net does not provide this basic business network facility for their service advertised as “Business”.

With NAT routers the external IP addresses are translated to internal network addresses (Network Address Translation, geddit?) with a No-NAT configuration it is possible for external IP addressing to pass through the router direct to Servers and the like behind the router. We use that feature to create a DMZ for public facing servers while our business PCs are protected behind a firewall.
So what else don’t I like about the Plus.net service.
  • They throttle traffic even on their unlimited business service.
  • If you send an email addressed to their support team it will be bounced unread. You are forced to use their browser based ticket form. In short it is organised for their convenience and not the business customer.
  • I was unable to use their browser support page to close tickets that had been left open.
  • I could have no more than three support tickets open at any time. At that limit you are forced to contact them by phone because you cannot close other tickets and emails are rejected. Again their convenience and not the customer’s. I did not have this limitation with my existing suppliers.
  • They use 0845 numbers for support calls, though there is a geographic number for business support.
My advice to Plus.net? Save your money on Yorkshire accent TV adverts and provide some focus on your business broadband order supply process. It will reduce the number of calls to your support team. Without No-NAT your service is about as useful as a chocolate teapot to us.

N.B. There have been developments since this blog entry.

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