Like so many things in life, you tend not to appreciate what youâ€™ve got until itâ€™s gone. For me, as Iâ€™m sure is the case for so many, itâ€™s certainly true of my Internet access. Weâ€™re all so used to being online, jacked in, connected, that any downtime feels virtually paralysing â€“ weâ€™re lost, disconnected individuals unable to get basic information or do anything of use, which I suppose is pretty pathetic really.
This feeling is certainly true in the work place, and itâ€™s equally as true in the home. So it was with little amusement and no patience that I came home the other week to find that my Internet connection had gone down. I had recently chosen to migrate from my long time provider NTL to Sky. I did feel a little guilty as aside from a brief problem with my modem, NTLâ€™s cable connection had been solid and reliable However, NTL was charging me Â£35 a month for a 10Mb connection, while through Sky I could get up to 16Mb for only Â£10 a month â€“ no contest really. The only prerequisite was that you subscribe to Sky TV, which I do already. If you do subscribe, you can alternatively have up to 8Mb for Â£5 a month or a 2Mb connection for free. The reasonable sounding chap in the NTL cancellations department had offered me Â£17.50 â€“ half price, to stay, but it still didnâ€™t compete monetarily.
I thought Iâ€™d be sensible and get the ADSL from Sky up and running before I switched over just to make sure that all was well. Ordering from Sky proved a very simply process â€“ one call and the box, containing the stylish looking Netgear ADSL modem/router and four micro filters duly arrived in the post days later. I hooked up and was online in minutes - a good start. It seemed ok, but I soon noticed that the speeds were not what I would have hoped for. Some quick line speed testing at www.thinkbroadband.com/speedtest.html revealed I was only getting between eight and 10Mb/s â€“ not really better than NTL. I put it down to ADSL2 automatically fluctuating to get the best out of my line so I decided to bear with it. I did call the technical support and once I got past the initial front line monkeys I was told somebody who really knew what they were talking about would call me back within five days. Wow, incredible customer service.
By the time I was called back I had naturally gone over the eight days in which youâ€™re able to cancel your contract according to Sky Broadbandâ€™s own Terms and Conditions. After this youâ€™re locked in for 12 months.
What I was told by the Sky technical team was that line tests had determined that the best my line could handle was 7Mb/s second â€“ anything above that was resulting in errors. As a result they had dropped my connection speed to this. Firstly I was pretty disappointed by this as I was looking forward to getting even greater speeds than I was getting with NTL â€“ not appreciably lower speeds. Secondly, I wondered why they hadnâ€™t conducted these line tests before connecting me up the Sky Max package â€“ if I hadnâ€™t done the line tests myself then I would be paying for a service I wasnâ€™t receiving. I couldnâ€™t help but wonder how many people on Sky Broadband, or indeed other providers offering greater than 8Mbs, are in the same boat, blissfully paying for something theyâ€™re not getting. Rather farcically I thought, I had to phone customer services and tell them to lower me to the Â£5 a month 8Mb package myself.