Be Broadband

I’ve been using Be Broadband for a few months now. They caught my eye as one of only two ISPs offering ‘unbundled’ ADSL 2+ broadband in my home area and I was keen to see how much difference ADSL2+ makes. ADSL 2+ is marketed as an ‘up to 24MB’ broadband service but as with all these ‘up to’ services very, very few people get anywhere near the theoretical maximum.

I have an ADSL Max (‘up to 8MB’) service on another phone line here and get about 5-6 MB download speed. The Be service gives me 8-10 MB depending on time of day. If I connect my PC directly to the router I can push that up to 12 MB at certain times of the day – using WiFi does have an impact on speed, even when I’m close to the router. At the top end this is not far off the estimated speed for the line and is no doubt influenced by other factors.
A frustrating issue with ADSL broadband is the number of factors that can impact on performance – distance from the telephone exchange, quality of the copper wire between your house and the exchange, internal wiring, other phones and devices plugged into the line, ISP contention ratios, router, ISP line settings. The list sometimes feels like it’s endless!
A key quality check with an ISP is their technical support and Be has been very good here. I’ve discussed a number of points with technical support agents and they have a good understanding of broadband issues and resolutions. Call hold time is negligible; another plus point and the number is freephone.
The broadband provisioning process was excellent, considering it operates within an overall industry framework. The router arrived next day and the service was up and running on the due date a few days later. Order progress is trackable via the customer portal and via SMS.
The router is fairly typical of routers included by ISPs in their broadband packages. It does the job although not surprisingly doesn’t give the impression of being in the same league as the sort of router I’ve bought myself in the past.
Overall I’m a big fan of Be. ADSL2+ does make a difference (for me) and the overall quality of service is excellent (which is not the case for some ISPs). Based on my experiences I would definitely recommend them if you’re in the market for broadband.
For anyone who wonders who Be is; they’re owned by O2 and also run the O2 fixed line broadband service.

Great value broadband

PlusNet broadband starts at £9.99 per month with a minimum contract length of only 1 month. There are advantages in staying with PlusNet for 12 months, like a free router and no set up fee, but the 1 month contract allows you to test the service before making a longer commitment. If you leave early you then pay for services that are free if you stay for 12 months. PlusNet offers a range of broadband options for light and heavy users, including Broadband Your Way that allows you to customise the package you receive so it exactly meets your requirements. There’s also a helpful explanation as to what 1Gb of usage could mean in real terms so you can judge if that’s likely to be sufficient for you.

More about Truphone

The Truphone user night was a great opportunity to meet the Truphone team. Another example of how open and honest the company is and I hope the first of many such occasions. There’s some good stuff to come from Truphone and they’re certainly a company to watch. Keep an eye on the Truphone blog for new developments.

Truphone’s ability to seamlessly roam onto The Cloud’s wireless hotspots is very impressive. I’ve used it on The Cloud’s City of London mesh network recently with good results. What really makes it work for me is the way (after initially running the Truphone wizard) my Nokia handset will automatically register with the network with no requirement to enter login credentials. Another example of how Truphone seamlessly integrates with the handset. People just want a simple. straightforward calling experience – no separate application to launch, no codes to remember – and Truphone does this.

Interesting article in today’s Sunday Times about the threat that VoIP poses to the mobile operators.

Managing your email

Buying your own domain name is a great way to take control of your email. It allows you to personalise your email address (and website if you have one), change broadband provider without changing your email address and manage your emails to minimise the problems of spam.

Whenever I sign up for, or purchase, something online, I set up an email address for that particular merchant or organisation. This way I can track what happens to my email address; find out if the company has passed it on, for example. If it gets abused I can block that email address simply and quickly.

And the cost? Depends who you buy from but £2.59 + VAT per year from 123-reg. Their combination of functionality for managing email addresses for all the family plus competitive prices is excellent.

Paying for your phones and broadband

  • How would you choose to pay for your fixed phone, your mobile and your broadband in the future?
  • Would you prefer to pay a fixed rate per month or pay for your actual per minute usage?
  • Would you prefer separate subscriptions for each service or a single monthly charge covering two or more services?
  • Do you find direct debit the most convenient way to pay?
  • If you know what you are paying, do you even want a bill?

Any comments here would be appreciated or drop me an email to

Online backup

I’ve been using the excellent Carbonite online backup service for the last few weeks. For $49.95 (about £25) you get unlimited online storage for a year. You can never have too many backups (as you find out if your PC hard disk fails)! Carbonite is a great addition to the usual physical backup media like CDs & DVDs. If your hard disk fails you can restore your data to the new one. Carbonite runs in the background and automatically saves copies of your files online. There’s even a free trial to get you started.

In summary:

  • Unlimited storage capacity for your PC backups
  • Automatically finds all your data files — photos, documents, music, emails, everything
  • Always on – just connect to the Internet
  • Set and forget – just start Carbonite and relax
  • Instantly detects and backs up changed files
  • Never slows down your computer or Internet
  • Exclude files you don’t want to back up
  • Strong encryption for super security
  • Backs up approximately 2GB per day over broadband

Carbonite is a great way to protect valuable data like photos.