Monday, January 18, 2010

ISDSL "broadband" IS Darn SLow

It's high time that Internet Solutions put the "S" back into ISP. I can understand Telkom being completely useless, since they are a bumbling state monopoly, but Internet Solutions is part of a commercial organisation listed on the London and Johannesburg Stock Exchanges. So what's their excuse, apart from greed?
Take a look at the traffic graph above. I have a 384kbps ADSL line. In SA that's regarded as "broadband". It's Monday and I'm running 3 simultaneous downloads, two from and a podcast from It's 4am in the morning in the USA, so these web sites are hardly likely to be overloaded. Yesterday I downloaded a similar audiobook from Audible, and the download went as fast as my line would allow, i.e the yellow line maxed out just above the green graph line.
Today, if I stop the podcast download, the graph pattern gets even slower, and the line runs at about 50% capacity.
I have queried worse performance than this once before, and ISDSL have been unable to explain why this is happening. They also can't or won't provide me with a proxy server that I can use. When I used the Telkom/SAIX ADSL offering, I could connect to and podcast downloads would often go much faster, because the podcast was already cached locally. ISDSL have a bunch of "invisible" proxies, but they can't tell me which one I am connected to. This has caused other problems, for which they have been unable to provide a "solution".
Everyone said that when the Seacom cable was connected in SA that we would have more bandwidth and lower bandwidth costs. Clearly this is not happening, or the Seacom cable is already oversubscribed. My guess is that Internet Solutions wants to pay for as little international pipe as possible, and just screw their customers like Telkom does. In the past they blamed Telkom. Who are they blaming now? Their shareholders?

Update: I called the Telkom ADSL fault logging service, and they "recreated the port" and then during the next few minutes we logged 5 ping timeouts between the modem and its own gateway, I stopped the pinging and ran the and tests, results shown here. 384kbps works out at 0.375Mb/s, and I'm measuring 0.32Mb/s locally. The technician reckons if I upgrade to a 512kbps the problem will get worse.
Update 24 Jan: Downloading books from definitely works better on a Sunday
Update 26 Jan: Windows update at 10pm on a Tuesday evening is back to its usual nonsense.
Of course it's Microsoft's fault, and not the local caching server. That's why there is no "S" in ISP.
Update Wednesday 27: Still slow downloading 2 books simultaneously from Audible at 10pm:
I did notice that when I used Firefox to go to a page with plenty of pictures on it, then the download speed maxed out while the pictures were loading. So are they just sluggish with single or double download threads, but fine with, say, 4 or 8 download threads? The mind boggles.


Anonymous said...

IS have plenty of Seacom bandwidth. Did you ever stop to think that just maybe they sell this to clients who actually pay them decent money for it, and not to DSL bottom-feeders?

As for the technician saying that your connection would be worse if you had a 512Kb/s line, that indicates that it's your line at fault and not the IS connection. Pity, as my IS connection is lightning fast:

goof:~ cl$ ping
PING ( 56 data bytes
64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=46 time=232.072 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=46 time=230.903 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=46 time=231.191 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=3 ttl=46 time=229.522 ms

Donn Edwards said...

@Anonymous: Please define "DSL bottom-feeders?" since I pay IS for the bandwidth that I use, as well as the speed. I pay Telkom for the 384kbps connection to the exchange, and when I connect with an M-Web/SAIX account I get 384kbps download speeds.
With ISDSL I only get the 384kbps speed on a Sunday.

As for bandwidth, I am paying ISDSL for 20GB per month (not local, but international). Does that make me a "DSL bottom-feeder"? Please advise.

Anonymous said...

"clients who actually pay them decent money" ???

If you PAY what they ASK, it must be decent money. If they want more, why don't they ask? It's more HONEST than taking your money and not giving service.

Ironic said...

I can just imagine this call centre conversation:

"I'm sorry, sir, but we can't fix your problem because you are just a lowly DSL bottom feeder and we have customers who are far more important who pay us a lot more money."

This would be a more honest approach, but hardly good for business.

Donn Edwards said...

Pinging with 32 bytes of data:
Reply from bytes=32 time=229ms TTL=45
Reply from bytes=32 time=228ms TTL=45
Reply from bytes=32 time=228ms TTL=45
Reply from bytes=32 time=234ms TTL=45

Ping statistics for
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 228ms, Maximum = 234ms, Average = 229ms

Donn Edwards said...

It is a pity, as my IS connection is just as lightning fast as yours, according to your meaningless ping data.