Tag Archives: internet

Review: South West Broadband – VPS Hosting

If you’ve been following my tweets lately, you’ll know that I recently moved GEEK! to a brand new VPS server. I did this for many reasons – but primarily because I felt that I was ready to move on from shared hosting and onto something where I’ll learn a little more about how webservers work. GEEK!’s been running well over three years now – and I’ve been through many web hosting providers during that time. I was beginning to get tired of hoping other people on shared servers wouldn’t jeopardize your uptime stats – there always seemed to be some kind of resource hog!

Nonetheless, I went on the hunt for a cheap-ish yet good quality VPS provider (I might have stayed with my old provider HostParcel as, in fairness, they were pretty good – but sadly they don’t offer VPS services) and was pointed to South West Broadband. They seem to be pretty new in VPS services, but I was interested in their good value and seemingly honest services.

So I signed up to their lowest price package to see what was what. For £8 a month, I was given a VPS with 256MB RAM (although I’m told this will soon become 512MB), 10GB storage, 300GB bandwidth and a Linux flavour of my choice (I was recommended to Debian). Pretty neat, I thought – and very good value nonetheless! They also offer a 12 month prepayment discount – giving you 12 months for the price of 10, if you’re happy to commit.

And to be totally honest, so far I’m really impressed. The customer support is superb – better than I’ve ever seen in a hosting provider. You get access to online support via Skype or a ticketing system – as well as an emergency telephone number which isn’t premium rate (this is something I really like to see).

The server they assigned me seems to work very well. You get full SSH access (which you’d expect) and you are allowed access to all the controls and commands that you’ll ever need. Response times from the server are incredible – from my college in Oxford I can get a response from the server just outside London in just 4ms – pretty darn good!

As for value for money – I’ve never seen such value. I’d always considered VPS services very expensive – but £8 a month is hardly expensive for the system you get.

So really I haven’t got many (if any) complaints. For decent value, high performance VPS servers with decent customer support, I couldn’t think of anywhere else to recommend you!

Oh, by the way – SWB aren’t actually offering their VPS packages on their website yet. However, if you contact them via twitter they seem to be happy to sort you out with a package. They also offer a decent range of shared and reseller packages, so if a VPS isn’t your thing, they’re bound to have something that is.

giffgaff to launch new data-only goodybags on October 17th

giffgaff has recently announced that it will, on October 10th 17th, be launching it’s latest service – data only goodybags.

These goodybags will be destined for iPad, tablet and mi-fi users who like to use their mobile connection to provide internet to other devices. Tethering will be permitted with these special goodybags.

Users may be required to order a seperate SIM for their tablet or mi-fi. Once activated, three packages will be available.

  • 500MB for 30 days: £5
  • 1GB for 30 days: £7.50
  • 3GB for 30 days: £12.50

These seem to be very competitive pay-as-you-go prices. The nearest competitor is 3, however they have a reputation of much better coverage and data speed than other networks.

giffgaff insist that the goodybags are sold at “cost price” – meaning giffgaff makes a loss if you use all of the data in your goodybag. A bold move – and one which could be extremely risky. giffgaff are betting on some people not using all of the data in their allowance, but I’m not confident this will be the case.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how popular the goodybags become.

To order a free SIM with giffgaff and get £5 free credit on activation, click here.

BT further increases landline charges – reminds us that we’re not in control

BT has recently announced that as of December 2011, a number of charges (including line rental) will be increased. This is the second price increase from BT this year.

So, as of 3rd December, line rental will increase from £13.90 per month to £14.60 per month. On top of that, their unlimited anytime call plan is increasing by 20p per month to £4.90 per month – and considering this is BT’s most popular calling plan, this is bound to hit home. If you’re not on the unlimited call plan (or making a chargeable call), your call connection fee is going up to 13.1p per call. And to finish you off, your daytime and evening call rates are going up too. “Terrific!”, I hear you say.

Somewhat strange to remember, though, that BT announced in July that their quaterly profits were up 20% due to increased demand. Does that sound strange to you?

We have to bear in mind that a large majority of people living in out-of-city areas are on market one telephone exchanges. This basically means that you’re stuck with BT wholesale for your telephone and broadband services whether you like it or not, as no other operator can provide a service. What this really means is that there’s no competition – and so BT can charge whatever they like for your telephony services.

If you’re lucky enough to have the availability of cable in your area, perhaps you might want to consider the option of moving to cable broadband and scrapping your landline altogether. We all seem to be on these huge mobile contracts which offer endless minutes – so why do we need a landline? It’s worth a thought – as cable broadband will give you a much faster speed and generally a better service.

It is annoying though – BT are just taking advantage of the fact that they can do whatever they like to charges at the moment – they have control over most of the phone exchanges in the UK and no other operator can do much about it. The only group that can make a difference is Ofcom – but they often seem to cause more trouble than good. And to the average household suffering from money shortages (having already had the warning of increased energy charges), this can only be bad news.

Oh, and if you’ve just joined their supposedly amazing “summer deal” of free service for 4 months, then £16 a month – remember, it’s an 18 month contract.

Are you ready for IPv6?

Well, now it’s official that the final few IPv4 blocks have been allocated, it poses the question are you ready for IPv6?

In a very short time, the world will be forced to move onto the new standard for IP address allocation – called IPv6. If you aren’t familiar with the IP versions, bear the following in mind.

IPv4 has the capability of issuing 4,294,967,296 addresses – which (believe it or not) has almost been exhausted. We can calculate this because IPv4 is 32-bit, meaning that we can calculate the number of IP addresses available by doing 232. The new standard, IPv6, is 128-bit. This means that IPv6 can issue approximately 3.4×1038 addresses – a very large amount of addresses.

I recently came across a very handy website that will test your connection (and your web browser) to check if you’re ready for IPv6. Some ISPs are already issuing IPv6 addresses (most aren’t, however). If you aren’t already on an IPv6 address, you probably won’t be able to connect to one as (theoretically) you can’t connect an IPv4 address to an IPv6 address.

If you want to check whether your connection is ready, try this website. It will run several tests and conclude whether you can communicate with IPv6 yet or not.

On June 8th 2011, an IPv6 world trial will run. This will mean that large websites (such as Facebook) will trial running on an IPv6 platform for 24 hours. The idea is that the world will get a general idea as to how easy the switchover will be as it becomes closer and closer.

O2 cuts unlimited internet on it’s mobile tariffs – is that such a bad thing?

It has recently been announced that as of June 24th, O2 will no longer be offering unlimited internet to it’s new and upgrading customers. The move has shocked many, but O2 has said that too many people use the network abusively and as a result they have been forced to take action.

O2 has mentioned in it’s press release that the changes will only affect about 3% of it’s customers who use the network excessively. The remaining 97% will not be affected as O2 claims that even the lowest internet package, providing 500MB per month, is more than 2.5 times the average monthly user usage.

Customers currently on contracts with O2 will continue to receive unlimited data until 1st October, but will have to watch for changes to their contract over the next few months to make sure they don’t receive horrendous charges.

The question is whether other networks will follow suit. Orange currently offers “unlimited” internet packages, but hidden in the FUP are limits restricting customers. As usual, Orange has forgotten the meaning of unlimited. Vodafone is slightly clearer, offering fixed plans with fixed usage limits.

It is also worth thinking about whether O2’s increasingly popular MVNO, giffgaff, will follow suit. The network announced today that they have no plans to change their unlimited internet offers with their goodybags, but stated that they couldn’t guarantee this wouldn’t change in the future.

Personally, I don’t think the news is all that bad – as customers will finally get a clear idea of what they can use each month in terms of data, but time will tell as to whether customers agree to the changes.