Hard News by Russell Brown

Just not good enough

Some more on broadband provisioning and contention rates - because I know y'all like that stuff. A couple of reader reports on DSL entrench the impression that broadband users on regional exchanges currently get a much better deal than those in high-uptake inner Auckland suburbs.

Nigel Caughey reckons he gets 2Mbit/s "90% of the time" in Paihia, while Stephen Moore says the best he can get on his new 3.5Mbit/s Xtra "Broadband Explorer" connection between 8pm and midnight in Morningside is an unacceptable 275Kbit/s.

Another reader, who left a bogus return address, suggests that "your nOOb friend is probably testing Orcons congestion not Telecoms... Telecom provide the UBS circuit and Orcon the international connectivity which they run rather shall we say ...congested."

I think not. Zach Bagnall (NB: not a n00b) was testing speed to his own web server, which is connected via Orcon; so, as he points out, "the traffic never leaves the Auckland Orcon network, let alone the country."

Zach also notes very similar experiences in Mt Eden reported here and here.

I am further led to believe, on a wholly unattributable basis, that two exchanges serve the Mt Eden area, one has only half the backhaul capacity of the other - and it's that one which is flatlining most of the time. Telecom could help by publishing information about the way its exchanges are provisioned, but, um, it doesn't.

If you're curious about the state of your connection, you can try the NZDSL Speedmeter hosted at Orcon. My Wired Country connection is currently showing up at 1.75Mbit/s, which is acceptable to me.

A friend of mine has been trying to get a new DSL connection on. He went to an independent ISP which explained that it wouldn't be able to get Telecom to action the connection inside two weeks. Frustrated, he went to Xtra: two days, sir. Can you say outrageous competitive advantage?

In one last bout of unflattering Telecom news, Juha at Geekzone and Bernard at Sir Humphreys both make note of Barbara Dreaver's excellent scoop about Telecom's behaviour in the Cook Islands, where it owns 60% of the monopoly local telco. Telecom offered a $4m cash bung to the Cooks government (in the form of a dividend; the government owns the other 40% of the company) in an effort to preserve its monopoly hold on the tiny Cooks market. That might seem a lot of money to wave around, but Telecom Cook Islands makes $8 million annual profit from its 12,000 Cooks customers (and, to be fair, however many tourists pay for connectivity during visits).

Oh, and the Cooks get DSL, in the form of 128k and 256k "broadband" services.

Lyndon Hood's in good form, and noticing something that has escaped comment elsewhere: Tariana Turia's major hang-up with psychologists, and, specifically, psychologists in prison rehabilitation. He notes her going off once, and then twice, and not making a whole lot of sense either time. Presumably, it's something personal. Also: is Heather plagiarising Rodney, or is Rodney plagiarising Heather?

Tim Selwyn has a rather good visual funny on the new governor-general.

Rugby nerds may enjoy Tracey Nelson laying down the law on the rather silly McCaw controversy.

American politics can be hard to follow, but a rough rule of thumb tends to be that Democrats are either fools or foolhardy loners, and Republicans are crooks and liars. Having apparently seen the hammer coming down, the most corrupt American politician of his generation - and one of the most powerful - Tom DeLay has announced that he won't be standing for re-election. Sidney Blumenthal and John Nicols consider the legacy.

Meanwhile, if you thought Fox News's coverage of war and politics was screwy, take a look at how they cover serious crime. Unbelievable.