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Shane O'Sullivan's technical blog… really ties the room together

Archive for the ‘broadband’ Category

Broadband in Dublin: O2 Admits Defeat

Posted by Shane O'Sullivan on January 13, 2009

I’ve been documenting my issues with broadband in Dublin (Ireland for the geographically challenged) on and off for a while – see here for previous rants.  I’ve been using mobile broadband from O2 for almost a year now, and have seen it get slower and slower as the year progressed.

Now they’ve officially told me to piss off and stop complaining about my pathetic speeds, as they have no intention of fixing the problem.

In November it started averaging about 5kB/s between 5pm and 10pm every weekday and Saturday mornings.  Yes, the same speed that I got back in ’94 when I discovered the wonders of IRC channels and bulletin boards.  I reported this pathetic fact to O2, (see here, here, here, and here , ok so I bugged them..) and they replied that a mast in my area (a few minutes walk from the centre of the capital of our wonderful Knowledge Economy) was being upgraded in November and this would solve all my problems.

This being Ireland, it wasn’t upgraded until the end of December.  My speeds did indeed improve: they now average around 7kB/s.

Upon reporting this to O2, I was sent an email with this single line:

You have been taken off contract, and can cancel your subscription at any time

They simply admitted that if you live in the city centre, they either cannot or will not invest in sufficient infrastructure to overcome the contention issues.  So please piss off and annoy someone else with your talk of “getting what you pay for”.

O2 still continue to advertise the product as a 3 Megabit service.  I have never gotten this speed, and have not gotten over 1Mbit for 6 months.  I am sure something in there is illegal…. any ideas?

P.S.  I’ll of course be cancelling my contract with them very soon.

Posted in broadband, Ireland, O2 | Leave a Comment »

O2 Broadband Usage Checker

Posted by Shane O'Sullivan on August 10, 2008

Update: This was written a long time ago, and O2 has not been kept up to date to match O2′s website.  It probably doesn’t work any more

I live in Dublin, Ireland, and due to the pathetic broadband coverage in my area (10 minutes walk from the center), I use a mobile broadband solution from O2.

This modem works most of the time, and I’m relatively happy with it.  However, customers are given a 10Gig transfer limit, which I found out recently (by being cut off with no warning) that O2 stick quite rigidly to.

The problem is that the tool that they provide to keep track of the amount you have downloaded is far from accurate.  For example, it said I had downloaded 9.5Gig when I had downloaded 17Gig!  When I complained, O2 told me I should be regularly logging in to their website to keep an eye on how much I’d downloaded – which is ridiculous of course.

Surely they could provide a tool that would tell me how much I’d actually used, and not some insanely bad approximation?

Well no, they can’t apparently.  So I’ve written one.  You can download it from http://www.chofter.com/apps . It runs a client side application that logs in to your account on the O2 website and reads your current broadband usage.

So enjoy (if you live in Ireland and use O2 broadband only of course ;-) ) . Below are some screen caps of the application.

Posted in broadband, O2 | 11 Comments »

Temporary solution for using Huawei modems in Windows

Posted by Shane O'Sullivan on May 18, 2008

Microsoft, in their infinte wisdom, recently sent out a “security” update that has broken the use of many USB devices. It switches off the power of USB devices it considers to not being used. This may be fine for mice, keyboards and printers, but I use the Huawei broadband modem from O2 (also used by Vodafone an 3 Mobile here in Ireland). See one of many discussion threads about it here.

Update June 16th 2008: O2 have released a fix for this. Go to http://www.o2.ie/firmware and follow their instructions. I installed their update, and so far my connection has not dropped for 5 hours or so.

Update Aug 19th 2008: I have written a simple utility application that checks your broadband usage with O2 in Ireland, rather than taking 5 minutes to find it on their website.  Read about it at http://shaneosullivan.wordpress.com/2008/08/10/o2-broadband-usage-checker .

The modem is powered down every few minutes, disconnecting you from the web, and forcing you re-enter the PIN after 10 or 20 seconds. Extremely annoying. O2 say that they and Microsoft are working on a patch, but it’s been 4 weeks or so now, and my broadband is still more or less unusable.

So, I’ve come up with a temporary fix that seems to work well. All it does is repeatedly list the contents of the the drive that the modem is mapped to (F: on my laptop) every 5 seconds. This tells Windoze that the device is in use. To use this, paste the code below into a text file whose name ends in .bat, e.g. PollModem.bat. This is an executable script file in Windows.

:loop
dir F:\
PING -n 5 127.0.0.1>nul
goto loop

Alternatively, you could download the file from http://www.skynet.ie/~sos/misc/PollO2.bat

If your modem is listed as a different drive, change the drive letter from F to whatever drive it is on the second line of the script. You can find the letter by double clicking on My Computer and looking for the drive called “O2 Broadband” (this is for O2 obviously, the Vodafone and 3 Mobile modems may be called something different.)

Once you’ve saved the PollModem.bat file, double click on it. You’ll see a window pop up, listing the drive’s contents every 5 seconds. It’s been running for me now for an hour, and the modem hasn’t disconnected yet.

You’ll have to run this once each time you start Windows, but it’s far more convenient that having your broadband disconnect every 3 minutes! Hopefully 02, Huawei and MS will fix this permanently soon, but until then, this should keep you going.

Update: After using this solution for a few weeks, I’ve found that it doesn’t reliably fix the problem. However, it does seem to keep the modem alive for longer, but it will still cut out eventually. Huawei, O2, Vodafone and Microsoft (especially bloody Microsoft) had better get their act together!

Posted in broadband, Microsoft, Technical | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »

Will someone just dismantle Eircom already!

Posted by Shane O'Sullivan on September 4, 2006

I was asked recently to fix up a small website for some friends, which was hosted on eircom, the Irish national telecoms provider. So, I thought, fine, I need to find out if they support PHP, Java, ASP or even Ruby on Rails, get the development tools, and away I go – right?

Um, no.

It turns out that eircom (note the fact I refuse to capitalise – cheap shot I know, but well deserved) doesn’t support any server side scripting. Nor do they support any kind of backend database. As I found out, the largest telecoms provider in this fair country of mine in firmly stuck back in 1993 with Windows 3.1 and New Kids on the Block.

Plucky, optimistic guy that I am, I decide to not get too annoyed with my countrymen, and instead get an account from GoDaddy (tacky site, but cheap and with very good account management tools), opt for the LAMP stack, and lo and behold, a few days later the site was up and running.

Now all that was left to do was change the index.html file in the old account to do a Javascript redirect to the new, shinier site, so that the sites that had bookmarked the old one would be auto-redirected to the new one.

Not so fast, says eircom! In order to upload files to the eircom FTP server (whenever it’s not crashed and out of service) you first have to be connected to the internet using an eircom connection, regardless of the fact that you have the username and password for the account. This seems to exist for the simple purpose of punishing you, the naughty naughty customer, for having the temerity to accept one of the plethora of infinitely better broadband deals from one of Eircom’s competitors. So, now I’m reduced to sending a mass email to my friends to find out if any of them have an eircom account so they can upload the file for me.

This whole episode is a fitting microcosm of the problems Ireland is having with it’s broadband rollout. For a country that prides itself on being a “Knowledge Economy”, it has one of the lowest levels of broadband penetration in Europe, and the blame for this can be laid at eircoms door.

Their resistance to Local Loop Unbundling is frankly criminal, abusing a monopoly that they’ve held for far too long, and is the reason why, until very recently, they were they only broadband provider in my area. And it’s not like I’m living in the wild west of Mayo, I live in Dublin, the capital.

Eircom should be leading the way, pushing themselves to win market share by offering better products, better prices and better services. They don’t, and it’s crippling Ireland’s technological advancement. And until the EU’s legislation results in millions of €uro in fines, the chancers running the company will continue to drag their feet and piss me off.

Phew! Try saying that in one breath!

Posted in broadband, eircom, GoDaddy, Ireland, LAMP, php, Technical | 4 Comments »

 
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