Sunday 27 March 2011

Moving away from Easynet

We're in the process of shutting down our Easynet Internet link. It is a pity because their engineering support tends to be good and responsive to any problems. We've had a business LLU ADSL link from them for a few years now. It is rated at 8mbs but has never come close to that rate. It typically hovers around the 4 mbs line speed. That in itself should not be a problem, but we've purchased a similar 8mbs link from Demon Internet and that runs at twice the speed of Easynet for both download and upload running from the same Deptford exchange. The Demon link has also been running for a couple of years with only a couple of noticeable outages.

The Local Link Unbundled (LLU) circuit is a copper pair (telephone wire) leased by Easynet from BT travelling direct from the local exchange to our building. Within the BT Deptford exchange that copper pair connects to equipment owned by Easynet. They have control over everything and should be able to deliver a service equal to the Demon (badged BT) service, but that haven't been able to do that. To be fair to them Easynet have tried to fix the problem:
  • they've swapped out the ADSL modem/router in our building;
  • they've had a new BT line installed;
  • they've rerouted the service to another card within the Deptford exchange.
However despite their engineering efforts over 2 years they have not been able to match the line quality. I suspect there is something in the way their bulk traffic is handled in the exchange or deeper within their network. The service is supposed to be a 5:1 contention, but I have my doubts. It is possible their retail SKY TV service may compete with the business service.

In any event it is most noticeable with VOIP applications, such as Skype. The voice telephony is clear and undistorted over the Demon link, but as soon as we divert the traffic over the Easynet link the quality of the voice service drops off considerably. For resilience purposes we have two ADSL links coming in to a load balancing/failover router so it is possible to redirect the traffic at the click of a mouse.

The reason why we've stuck with Easynet company so long is their technical support team are great. You have a skilled engineer answer the phone within a few seconds. They normally deal with most problems promptly. Their billing department gives few problems.

With Demon Internet their first level support team are noticeably less skilled and the mean time to fix is unpredictable. We absolutely hate Demon's billing and credit control team, they are a constant pain in the ass with little idea of good customer relations. Fortunately the ADSL service they provide, via BT, is good.

Now we need to look at the cost of service. Demon works out at £40 a month ex VAT, though they recently promised to bring that down to £25 (we shall see!) when I complained existing customers were paying the old £40 while new customers were getting a £25 deal.

The Easynet service comes in at £90 a month ex VAT for a business service. Strangely enough we don't begrudge the difference of £90 over £40 because Easynet are so much easier to do business with over Demon Internet. However the unresolved poor Easynet line quality is a kicker. Effectively we can only use it as a backup line, but we are not confident it will always kick in if the Demon line fails; plus there is the poor suitability for VOIP.

So with some reluctance we've purchased a contract with to replace the Easynet service. It will be about the same price as the Demon Service for a similar bandwidth. After a week we have the service working in a testing mode. Their customer support is reactive, but the sign up process is a bit patchy. We find ourslves having to remind them that we actually ordered a static IP address range and a no-NAT router; this bit doesn't quite work yet so we are having to allocate some resources to resolve the issues. Not good for a business client.

We'll keep you posted on here.

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