At long last super fast broadband has come to our location, so I bit the bullet and went with BT, following a long relationship with Zen, who did offer the service but were just too damned expensive.
The engineer from Openreach appeared on Friday and within the hour I was connected up. The online calculator offered 36 down and 6 up, but immediate experience showed somewhere between 12 & 22 down and 3up, still a vast improvement on 1 down and 0.25 up 😉 Was able to do in minutes what previously took hours. I hadn’t expected great things in terms of speed. Given I was paying the same price for 1mb any improvement was worth the switch.
First job was to customise the router (Home Hub 3 HH3). easy to do, but a bit more limited than my trusty old Netgear. No remote access, limited range of IP addresses. This latter point was a pain the in backside, as I have been running my LAN on 10.10.10.x, and the HH3 wouldn’t do this. So some major reconfiguration of my LAN was in order, resetting all the PC’s and devices with new static IPs, rewriting my NFS exports, adjusting host files, editing scripts for sshing in and out. I did forget about my hosts and hostname files on my linux server to start with so internet access (both ways) and sshing didn’t work as expected, but resolved that once I had figured out what was wrong. Had most of this done by the evening.
You need to get into the advanced settings of the HH3 to properly sort out your port forwarding. This is less intuitive than other routers I have used, but that knowledge helped me sort out the ports required for the server.
We then had problems with Firefox, on both Linux and Windows machines. It kept freezing for a few seconds and then starting up again. No fun, so we switched to Chrome/Chromium and all these issues went away. What is odd is you find out how slow the web servers are at the other end, you are limited by how quickly they can load pages, so the speed increase is not necessarily noticeable when generally browsing the web, only when you go to grab a file. (Took 15 minutes to download a 2.2gb iso, for example :)) it is also quicker to copy a file/s from the internet than it is to transfer them from one partition to another on my PC!
BT seem to throttle some file sharing sites and bit torrent which is annoying when you want to fetch a linux distro. I tried using rapidleech but my online server didn’t like it much. The HH3 doesn’t give any visual feedback, just three blue icons staring back at you all the time, with an occasional flicker from the Openreach modem. I got a spare CAT5E cable with the modem so rigged that up to my main PC and the HH3 to get gigabit speed between the two (won’t really help as my LAN is mostly 10/100).
The Dynamic DNS function on the HH3 seems to work OK, the acid test will be when I reboot the HH3 and it gets a new address 😉
Kids are happy as youtube and iplayer are superfast, and multiple user bogging down is no longer a problem.
So all in all, very happy with the changeover, Zen are a better, more flexible and open ISP, but for general use BT are doing just fine. I’ll do an update in a couple of weeks.