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back to article Tiscali hits 'undo' after bandwidth throttling chokes iTunes

Tiscali has been forced to reverse a software installation on its bandwidth-throttling hardware, after it triggered complaints from customers who saw iTunes blocked during peak hours and other traffic slowed to a crawl. Engineers have now rolled back the installation, so access should be returned to normal during this evening's …

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Flame

ooohh the little tinkers.

My download speeds from Napster using my 'pipex' ADSL line were down to a whopping 3kb/s yesterday afetrnoon, I achieved faster rates via an old 56k dial -up into Freeserve/Ornage. Now I know why :-(

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Flame

... and while I'm at it ....

When I spoke to tech support they denied port blocking, despite the fact that during the late evening I couldn't even log in to my Napster account, let alone download anything. A quick double check with the 56k dial -up allowed immediate log in to my Napster account. Time to move ISP methinks.

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Alert

Not just Tiscali

It hasn't just been Tiscali - it's also affected Pipex users (like me) - owned by Tiscali. It's a shame that, judgeing by some of the Apple and Tiscali forum posts, quite a few users were driven to actions as extreme as re-installing Windows before the relevant helpdesks took a cool look at the pattern of complaints.

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Linux

The crap companies will eat themselves.

.....or throttle each other.

Yep, there's DEFINITELY a trend here.

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Go

cheap == slow

If you have cheap broadband you will have to accept that it will have the highest level of 'traffic management'. Pay a few quid more and go for someone else, until they get bought up by a bigger player and the fun starts again!

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When I Was With Tiscali.....

"Over the last week users have reported newly-blocked ports and sub-dial-up speeds of 10Kbit/s between 5pm and 9pm"

I would have loved to get 10Kbit/s when i was with Tiscali, apparently i was on a "bad line".

Now i'm with Entanet and i get over 850Kbit/s on the "bad line".

Maybe it's just coz tiscali are crap

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Well I told 'em

I was off during the week for a day (Friday, I think) and the connection to tiscali was fine. I was getting DNS lookup timeouts looking for any other servers, mind.

Told 'em if I couldn't use the internet and that now they've stopped the 2meg line and introduced download caps, I'm leaving as soon as possible.

I don't P2P and, since I'm using Linux, can't view most of the "multimedia content" out there. I'm probably a very low user. I will probably never go over the minimum cap. But the key word is "probably". Would they be OK if I were probably to pay them (I asked them)?

I didn't want an 8meg line because I wouldn't be able to USE 8megs. All the faster download speed meant was that it would be earlier in the month before I went over the limit and was either blocked, throttled (so getting less than 8meg) or told to pay premium rates. So at 2megs I'd lose less bandwidth. That it isn't any good for IPTV or Movies On Demand isn't a problem: I'd only be able to view a handful in a month anyway, so I'm missing out on a handful of "content. Meh.

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Tiscali are bandits

Stay well away! Was with them for months. Essentially, visiting a site like YouTube - which has moderately high bandwidth requirements - between 6 and 11pm warranted a warning letter about overusage... on their 'unlimited' packages! Not to mention the ~3 months of tech support pestering to get them to reconnect our service - during which time they were quite happy to charge me the full service cost.

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Uh Oh

As probably the only remaining happy Bulldog user, I guess this Tiscali cheapness will have to rub-off eventually :(

I get 16meg down / 1meg up 24/7, seemingly uncapped. I know I'm very lucky, but with stories like this, It's only a matter of time. I can't get cable where I live, and Be insist they can't provide their service to me- who else is there if you want a decent connection and don't mind paying extra for it?

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Flame

what went wrong?

tiscali is what went wrong they have been crap since the days i first used them, i now on pipex-homecall who rent the service from tiscali and its just as bad if not worse.

i just wish tiscali would disapear or offer some good packages for the heavey user.

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Anonymous Coward

@Craig

ukonline are very good. i get 16meg 20:1 contention, £25 a month, have never had any issues with lots of torrents and now ~10GB a week from the playstation store on top of that ;)

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Alert

@ craig

Be/o2 are increasing their network rapidly this year...

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Go

f2s affected as well

Since Tiscali bought Pipex my freedom 2 surf broadband has been completely useless. Rubbish speeds during the day and in the evening despite paying for a decent package and a 50Gb limit I never reach.

I've had enough and received my MAC within hours of requesting it last week. They tried offering me £10 off my subscription, 2 months free and a free wireless router to make me stay (with a min 12 months contract) but I told them it wasn't the value that was the problem but the quality of service since the Tiscali switch. They were very understanding and the next email after that contained my migration code.

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IT Angle

dpi

@Anna : technically, this is maybe no "port blocking", but instead "deep packet inspection"...

Such network equipements detect the type of traffic thanx to in depth IP analysis (and whatever the port). Then apply policing/shaping.

The main target is of course P2P, which increases the average bandwith per customer, and consequently backbone and transit costs.

Of course, nobody expects such DPI equipements to make mistakes and consider itunes traffic being P2P (just as your intelligent antispam may incorrectly mark a few mails as spam)...

This could never happen.

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What do you expect?

If you are going to use a "toy" ISP then expect them to treat you like a child.

"You are not grown up enough to decide how much bandwidth to use, so we are going to decide for you"

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Boffin

Unlimited

I am with eclipse and while it is one of the more costly options (£29.99/month), i get unlimited 18 hours a day, and a 50GB limit between 6pm-midnight, and it throttles (only between 6pm-midnight) after that, which isnt too bad since 50GB/month for just the evening period is probably enough for most people.

But i am surpirsed that there arent more premium services, they must recognise that there is a demand for this, people who would be willing to pay more to be able to do more, yet a lot of ISP's seem to have their top of the range product as "unlimited 8MB***, tiny text: 20GB/month cap" and then nothing above that,

perhaps its just that if they did offer a premium product it would be like admitting that their "unlimited" offers are nothing of the sort?

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This post has been deleted by its author

Jon

sue em

They shouldn't sell what they don't own, sonds like frauding customers. If they don't have the bandwidth, they should stop signing up new customers... If you pay for 5mbps down, you should get that speed all the time, regardless of what your neighbors are doing.

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Stop

cheap broadband, no caps?

i'm with sky, and luckily in the past 12 months have had very little problems, great connectivity and speeds, no throttling and i only pay £10 a month (ok, i have a sky subscription too, but the cheapest it works out is £26!)

tiscali have the marketing right to attract the punters who really don't have a clue, they just see a bottom line price, and think it'll give them everything they need. Then this happens, and they can't do anything!

bring back dial up?

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Alert

They were blocking Opera too

I was using Tiscali at a friends house, and during the evening the Opera web browser was being blocked, and MS Outlook behaved strangely as well.

With Opera they must have been relying on the browser ID string, as if I changed Opera to pretend to be IE or Firefox I could suddenly access sites again, change it back and everything stopped. This happened every night between about 6 and 9:30

Most annoying, especially as Opera is my preferred browser on both MS and Linux, and I like to double check any web sites I design in IE, Opera and Firefox before launch.

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Unhappy

@ Luke

Some of us were with Pipex, and weren't aware they were a toy ISP.

Unfortunately, you're right: The only way to get Pipex type quality now is to go somewhere else. Something I wish I'd done when I first read (here) that ticali had bought them, would have saved me being without for four weeks while they found me a MAC code.

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Unhappy

Ah!

I had to do a hefty download from a server last Thursday and was appalled that it took 4.5 hours. I guess that means it will take all day to return it.

Ho hum. Looks like my days at f2s are numbered too. If the standard of service is falling to Tiscali levels, I may as well use Sky and have the TV thrown in.

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Happy

No complaints

I have been with Tiscali for about 2 years and following initial difficulty over connection (resolved within 3 weeks) I have had a near faultless service. I have also recently been upgraded from 2mb to 8mb for nothing (although this actually translates to 0.8mb upgraded to 2.5mb).

I am an occasional YouTuber and torrentee and am very happy with the <£20 price especially as it comes with unlimited phone calls and line rental.

</advert>

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Re: cheap broadband, no caps?

Read your TOS, though.

Pure evil.

Fuck 'em.

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Interesting

I'm with Orange (groan) and towards the end of last week had major issues with speed, including DNS lookups (could only get Google pages). Wonder if it was related....

Would've phone "technical" "Support", but listening to Morresy makes me less depressed.

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Anonymous Coward

throttling

Perhaps what is needed is a mass protest, where a large number of customers refuse to pay a percentage (say15-20%) of their bills, all the same time. All these customers could then send an identical letter explaining that there was now a new policy of throttling the payment of bills and how they understood that the company may be upset by this sudden reduction of expected returns but hey - you reduce the service - we reduce the payment for the service.

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SNAFU

"Over the last week users have reported newly-blocked ports and sub-dial-up speeds of 10Kbit/s between 5pm and 9pm."

Ahhahahaha, glad to hear nothing's changed. I was with the shower of b******* for 9 months before finally getting out of my 12 month contract and going to ICUK - no throttling, no shaping, a cap, but at least I could possibly reach the cap if I tried hard enough...

In all honesty, no exagerating, I got better speeds in the evenings on 56k dial-up to Demon all those years ago.

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Bad business

There's nothing wrong with traffic shaping *per se*, but like all things, when it's done badly it's a nightmare.

The trouble with Tiscali is they (and many other ISPs) have the same business model as Northern Rock - they offer way more than they have the resources to back up. All they need to do is to be honest with their customers and say "ok, you can have 50GB/month at 16Mb/s but you pay for it. If you just want a web/email type package then it's nice and cheap"

But no, they effectively lie to get subscribers in, then realise they don't have the capacity or funds to actually provide what they offered when you signed the contract. It needs looking at by the regulators. Yeah I know - that's almost as big a joke as the broadband market.

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@anna log:

The fact is, whoever you were talking to would not have had a clue what this 'port blocking' is...

Also, I'll second Entanet; if you can't get Be, get Entanet. No shaping, no blocking, no contract and upfront bandwidth usage figures. Cheap(ish) too.

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Alien

So

So did "god" himself stick the boots in answer to his customer complaints or took one look at the average uploads per ISP and said "You bums suck , now pull the finger out and fix it now or else we will send in the legal cleaning team to assassinate all who stand between us and the suckers !"

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Rob
Unhappy

There are some problems with your comment: A title is required.

I'm with Nildram, who I was recently informed were bought by Tiscali. Nildram have always been excellent (and to credit still are) but I can't help wondering how long it'll last...

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J
Pirate

And...

And to think there are (crazy) people saying that "downloads are it" for high-def content, plastic discs are dead, etc...

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Pirate

get in touch through the usual channels...

...so they will get more money thanks to those 0870 numbers!

In fact breaking things is a good business case for them. The more people call customer support the more money they make.

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Tiscali have always been incompetent.

I had a 12-month contract for Tiscali Broadband. During that 12 months they never *once* got the billing right. I'm not talking about £10 here or there, but additional charges of £150 or more for either services I hadn't received or things that had been advertised (and confirmed) as free. I got away at the earliest possible opportunity.

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Not just UK and US

Traffic shaping has spread like a wildfire. Here in Brazil, there's no more options left for cable or DSL proveiders.

They all implemented traffic shapping (encryption isn't helping) and we are seeing 15kb/s on torrents, even at hours like 4am, on a 4 megs cable subscription.

There's no where to run

And of course, as it is our local custom, customers get it up the rear without lube so fat bastards can get fatter while counting money (that includes the gov.br consumer rights branch officials)

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Alternatives

Cheers for the suggestions! ukonline.net's top package seems ideal... freephone help line as well! One for all of us on ISPs bought up by Tiscali to keep in mind :)

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Experience of leaving Tiscali because of slow speeds.

When I 'phoned to get a migration code Tiscali offered me the moon on a stick to convince me to stay. They offered me an upgrade which would be useless on my ageing and corroded phone line. They offered a reduction in price when really they should be charging more. They offered a router I already had. They offered me bundled weekend calls, and then offered peak time calls. They finally asked what I would like and I said no more packet shaping and carbon neutrality please, they said they couldn't offer me that so finally let me have a MAC. Ha!

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Pipex and Tiscali

For more than 6 years I recommended Pipex to a couple of dozen clients. Apart from the odd glitch they were reliable and their CS was pretty helpful, bordering on excellent on occasion. When I heard Tiscali had bought them out I wondered whether there would be any change of service....

Oh yes.

I now have clients (business users mostly) who are ringing me up and complaining about very slow speeds and time-outs on their Pipex connections. We've rung Pipex customer service who tell the client to re-jig their modems and perform tests using the BT access site and report back to Pipex...

Really.

I'm now in the process of helping them get MAC codes and move them all to an ISP more reliable and helpful.

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IT Angle

bandwidth

@ross : to precise a few things :

ISPs pay for peak usage: this determines the size of the core network and the bill for transit carriers.

Unfortunately, everyone wants to use it's internet access at the same time (roughly between 6pm and 10pm).

And that's why ISPs tend to block P2P during peak hours to minimize this network peak. So max download/upload is not really relevant since it's not really how much but when.

@jon : how funny, if everybody starts downloading 5Mbit/s at the same time, there will be no ISPs and no internet any more. Unless you are willing to pay a few thousand pounds a month. Anyway, i'm not sure such a network is just technically feasable with today's equipments.

Btw, ISPs size their infrastructures for let's say a 50kbyte/s (400kbit/s) average usage per user.

With new usages coming (more youtube, more google tv, etc.), ISPs'future and business model is going to be quite interesting....

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N

Pipex and Tiscali

Both my office and home accounts will shortly be migrating to Zen.

Tiscali can disappear up their own blocked ports AFAIAC.

The only regret I have is that I didn't switch ISP beforehand, when I first heard of Tiscali taking over. Shame. Pipex used to be good.

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Stop

Spawn of the Devil

I'm glad I just switched from Pipex. When I rang them to tell them I'm off they asked why. When I told them it was because they were about to be taken over by Tiscali who are evil, they didn't even bother to argue...

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Unhappy

Didnt last long!

I was able to connect to play Call of Duty 4 on the Playstation 3 online for the first time today at around 5pm. Being a Tiscali customer I haven't ever been able to do that before (i can usually only connect between 12 midnight and 12 midday - the makers of COD are well aware of Tiscali and Pipex and there is a forum thread about it here - http://www.infinityward.com/community/forum/index.php?topic=9245.0

Anyway its now 7pm and i cant connect anymore so i guess Tiscali are up to their old tricks again.

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Whataloadofoldshit

Tiscali have been crap since I was still using dialup. I remember I was part of a relatively small ISP (in the large scale of things) called Lineone, which had a busy and interesting community of people. They had good site content and were generally quite useful. Then Tiscali took over, the community was all but shattered by changes they brought in to the forums, the service became worse and impersonal, and generally it just went to the dogs.

Then more recently I used Nildram, who at the time were an independent company with excellent service. Granted they weren't the cheapest, but they were excellent to deal with and consistently considered the best on adslguide.org. They, fairly recently, have been bought by Tiscali and since the reports on their service level have got worse and worse.

I've pretty much given up trying by now as I'm sure that eventually whoever I go with will be bought by some large company and ruined.

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"web ok, anything else = fail"

Hah - someone read my complaint post! Well, that's something.

It's definetly better since Saturday...I seem to have FTP etc back. Web has been slow a little, but it's all useable.

We've been with Tiscali for..3 years I think. First at my mothers on 512k, now here on 2mb. In all that time, as I'm sure I said in the post - we've had maybe 3 "tedious enough to be annoying issues". It's just annoying that it takes so long to get anything actioned.

The MK forum team do a good job..I'd much rather deal with them than pay to talk to someone I can't understand, who has no real knowledge of their system/windows/computers (or so it feels last time I spoke to India about a problem).

It's just a shame they're not given more powers to act as "full blown" helpdesk staff. They've always been able to assist in the issues and raise them to a level where the ineffective Tiscali management sit up and do something.

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Stop

Another blocking attempt then

Try playing an online game with tiscali at peak time it's just not going to happen, Apparently online games move huge wads of graphical data up and down the connection when your playing, That was what i was told when I made a help desk call for a friend.

Needless to say ive been using a diffrent supplier and have allways warned friends who not to use.

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Still not fixed

Still not fixed, their forums are inundated with slow speed complaints, tonight on my 2MB/s line I get 600KBs - steer well clear of Tiscali

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Does anyone remember when bandwidth was priced based on its cost to telcos?

I agree with all of the arguments against throttling, shaping, unlimited with the small print, etc. False advertising and should be prosecuted. ISPs have f'ed things up by giving away everything for next to free and are now trying to stuff a genie back in a bottle.

But you can't have everything for nothing. Does anyone remember when bandwidth allotted was based a little bit more in line with the actual cost to the carriers? Before the giant race for who could provide fastest service for the least amount of money......

Now that they've opened up this can of worms with $30 a month unlimited 15/mbps down 1/mbps up (over here in the states anyway), Telcos can't go back to a reasonable pricing model. They expect each user to download one song a day via iTunes, and never download videos or watch youtube.

All this was a brilliant idea when the largest files people were downloading were animated GIFs or flash files. Now that content is so bandwidth intensive even my grandmother would hit some of these limits. Throw in Windows patch Tuesday and several computers per houshold and again, we're using more bandwidth than our $30 is covering in cost.

For less than $400 a year an ISP is supposed to deploy the network, maintain it, perform upgrades, employ a call center for the boobs who download trojans/spyware and blame it on the ISP as well as tech support any network aware application you have that doesn't work, provide you with endpoint hardware to integrate your house with their network, record everything so that when you download kiddie porn/read militant websites it can be provided to the government on a whim, run and secure email (and in some cases web servers) for you, and do everything else under the sun.

Even if you said take the total revenue and divide it by total costs I'd tell you forget it. I wouldn't want to run an ISP. It reminds me of the insurance companies here in the states that insure for natural disasters and than cry for a government bail out when a natural disaster actually occurs.

Not saying that everyone should pay $1500 a month for internet service, but the price point needs to be higher if people are going to expect a minimal amount of performance.

Oddly enough my cable company seems to have been able to keep up a minimal set of network performance - subsidizing its internet access by doubling it's television cost over a five year period.

Thumbs down because there is no good solution where everyone wins.

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Alert

Now listen up you clueless ****wits !

Once again, there are the usual "should get <whatever the speed is> all day every day with no limits" posts.

GET REAL !

If you want that, then you CAN have it. I'm switching over tomorrow evening to a service with uncontended 6m symmetric unlimited connectivity (at work I'll hasten to add). Yes, 6mbps both ways, not shared with anyone else, and with absolutely no caps.

So, if that's what you want, you CAN have it. The only problem is that none of you whining b***ards will want to pay for it as it costs "quite a lot more" than your shared, capped, ADSL. Something in the order of 20x to 40x (or more) depending on what you compare it with.

So really it's a matter of "speed costs, how fast can you afford ?" - if you want more, then go to an ISP that offers it and pay for it. If you don't want to pay for it, then shut the f*** up moaning about what you won't pay for !

Now, what is REALLY needed is for the ISPs to be honest and admit what they are selling, then people could make their own minds up where they want to sit on the cost vs capacity tradeoff. In that respect the old style ADSL where you were sold a speed and contention ratio was somewhat better - you would know (for example) that on a 512k 50:1 service you were only buying a guaranteed 10kbps service. I'd rather see services sold on a "comitted rate" basis (ie the rate you are guaranteed, 10kbps in the above example) but it's fairly obvious why the ISPs won't want to publish just how overcontended their service is.

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Unhappy

Blaim it all on incompetent OFCOM and the ASA

If either of them had any teeth, then broadband suppliers would never have been allowed to state an "up to" maximum and no guaranteed minimum, but would instead have been required to state a GUARANTEED minimum and prohibited from publishing any statement about what they could expect above the guaranteed minimum.

Consequently, a reduction below the guaranteed minimum would constitute a service failure (and, sensibly, trigger a meaningful refund each time it happens).

Sadly, we're not going to get accountable ISPs until either somebody senior at OFCOM and ASA both resign, and/or their organisations be replaced by something more competent.

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newnet

I am with Newnet and they suit my needs perfectly

from their pages

"Uncapped service - No traffic shaping or port blocking

NewNet does not operate a policy of managing traffic and traffic types on our broadband network. Many other ISPs introduce packet shaping and other measures to limit the available bandwidth so you do not experience your full broadband potential."

packages are from a tenner and if you are in the portsmouth area they do 'up to 24meg' but are 8meg everywhere else plus they are so confident that you will be happy that they have a tie in of only 1 month so you can try them without fear of being stuck with them and if you do go with them and they do something crap then you can bail out pretty quickly.

I have been with them for about a year and have had zero problems with them so have no hesitation in recommending them.

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