View Full Version : Recommend a UK ISP for a geek

2009-06-15, 06:16
Hi all,

Having just been thrown out of my parents attic, I have just moved into my new flat in Glasgow, and have to choose an ISP.

The flat is wired for both cable and copper, so I have a free choice.

I guess I'm looking for >10 Mb/s, but I'd probably choose more if I could. As a heavy geek user of the net, I'm looking for decent upload bandwidth and reasonable latency, as well as good reliability.

I think BT can be ruled out on net neutrality grounds, but I'm interested to know who here uses what, and why.

Many thanks,

2009-06-15, 07:05
I get Virgin Broadband through cable. I get consistent 10Mb/s. They also offer 20Mb and are advertising 50Mb in some regions.

2009-06-15, 08:10
I use Be* (http://www.bethere.co.uk). If your exchange is unbundled then you can get upto 24Meg - But they also offer some options for us geeks.

Supposedly, their fast-path setting will reduce latency for games, and you can also request your account be switched to the annex M setting, which can give upto 2Mbps upstream (at the expense of some downstream bandwidth).



I would take those figures only as a broad estimate. I don't think half the speedtest.net servers are capable of maxing out 10Mbps+ connections.

I did find http://www.thinkbroadband.com/download/ as an alternative. And I tested it with wget...

From the office

Unknown-00-23-12-54-5f-fa:~ paul$ wget http://download.thinkbroadband.com/10MB.zip
--2009-06-15 14:03:04-- http://download.thinkbroadband.com/10MB.zip
Resolving download.thinkbroadband.com...
Connecting to download.thinkbroadband.com||:80... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
Length: 10485760 (10M) [application/zip]
Saving to: `10MB.zip'

100%[================================================== ==================>] 10,485,760 1.05M/s in 9.8s

2009-06-15 14:03:14 (1.02 MB/s) - `10MB.zip' saved [10485760/10485760]

And from my hosted server (Which shows that the thinkbroadband server can appear to handle upto 22MBYTES

pmcnetworks@uc01:~$ wget http://download.thinkbroadband.com/10MB.zip
--13:58:21-- http://download.thinkbroadband.com/10MB.zip
=> `10MB.zip'
Resolving download.thinkbroadband.com...
Connecting to download.thinkbroadband.com||:80... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
Length: 10,485,760 (10M) [application/zip]

100%[================================================== ================>] 10,485,760 22.65M/s

13:58:21 (22.63 MB/s) - `10MB.zip' saved [10485760/10485760]

2009-06-15, 08:18
BT is known to throttle certain protocols (p2p) and websites (YouTube, iPlayer) until after midnight. They don't publicize it, but some testing (reported on BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8077839.stm)) seems to confirm it independently.

Wish I had more options, but I'm stuck with BT where I am out in the sticks. Paying for 6.5MB, only getting that speed on all protocols after midnight. I'd call that fraud or misleading advertising, but OFCOM doesn't agree.

Virgin does some throttling too, but on the higher-end packages (according to friends), it's apparently not as bad.

Some ISPs who resell unbundled BT bandwidth (TalkTalk, Be, etc) apparently don't. YMMV.

Lord Carter's Digital Britain report is due out this week, and the scuttlebutt is he'll lay out some new targets and rules... but they may get ignored until the mobile carriers and industry groups pressure the government for bailouts in order to upgrade networks they should have been upgrading all along (rather than paying obscene bonuses to CEOs). :grumble:

2009-06-15, 09:37
If net neutrality is a concern of yours then Virgin may not be the way to go, their CEO has a pretty dim view of it.

virgin-media-ceo-attacks-net-neutrality (http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/digitaltv/a93556/virgin-media-ceo-attacks-net-neutrality.html)

I am a Virgin customer and have broadband through copper wire, I was told that I won't get more that 4Mb/s using that system.
I haven't noticed any throttling of torrents however their fair usage policy was a little odd; if you were in the top percentage of downloaders your service would be throttled to 75Kb/s for a week but with no way of telling how much would put you in the 'top percentage' it was impossible tell how much to cut down. It only caught me once, but I was so furious I left my bittorrent running 24 hours a day for the whole week as they hadn't throttled the upload speed, I think they've changed this policy now.

In general I haven't had any problems with them, I've never lost service and I get consistent download speeds, but their policies are a little worrying.

2009-06-16, 06:01
Thanks guys, this is exactly what I was looking for.

I was leaning towards Virgin until the BBC news last night.

I'll certainly be looking into Be.

Thanks to all.