My broadband service provider, Netvigator (by PCCW), throw the switch of my broadband connection this morning to upgrade it from 30 Mbps to 100 Mbps. Although Netvigator has fiber services to homes unfortunately this is not available for my home. Instead what Netvigator offers at my address is DSL at 100 Mbps. Since my DSL modem was recently (3 months) upgraded all that was needed was a setting change at the PCCW exchange.

With this new technology it means most customers who receive broadband services from Netvigator will have or will soon to have 100 Mbps bandwidth if they want to upgrade.

I am now getting an average of 69 Mbps for downlink and 25 Mbps uplink. Previously when I was subscribing to their 30 Mbps service, my downlink was averaging at 28 Mbps and uplink was 8 Mbps.

Before the upgrade I was on the 12th month of a 24-month contract for Netvigator's 30 Mbps service at HKD238/month. Netvigator was able to cancel the remainder of my 30 Mbps contract and upgrade me to the 100 Mbps service with a 18-month contract for an additional HKD18/month, giving me a total of HKD256/month.

Since this is not Netvigator's FiberDirect service it is not a symmetric 100 Mbps (both downlink and uplink), but a bandwidth that offers theoretical 100 Mbps downlink and 30 Mbps uplink.

I use SpeedTest.net to check the speed but since it's scale does not go pass 50 Mbps I am not certain it is truly accurate. Using HK Broadband's test I was able to confirm that I do have a 100 Mbps (downlink) connection.

You may say, why do I need that kind of speed at home? Will I actually be able to utilize it? Keeping in mind there are many factors that reduce the quality of experience when accessing content over the Internet. One of the main bottleneck being the country's (city in the case of Hong Kong) connection to the Internet and the speed of the web service provider to serve the content/service you are seeking.

In my case the decision to upgrade to 100 Mbps was simple; given Netvigator's offer of only an additional HKD18/month and only another 12 months to my previous contract. Plus since the day I subscribed to Netvigator's 8 Mbps service the number of individuals and the type of content/services they access through the Internet had grown in my household, having a bigger pipe just eliminates one of the many bottlenecks that may result in poor quality of experience.

I do suggest people upgrade to 30 Mbps if they can find a good deal, and to 100 Mbps if they are already on the 30 Mbps service and it is available at your location.

[Updated: November 18, 2010, 15:15] After several hours of use the bandwidth had not degraded. I even did speed tests while NOW TV (the Netvigator IP TV service) is running and the bandwidth still averaging at around 65 Mbps downlink and 25 Mbps uplink. That's impressive. Previously even with the 30 Mbps broadband service I was getting bandwidth of 18 Mbps downlink and 3 Mbps uplink if I had NOW TV on.

Since there was no modem or wiring changes, the improvement has to do with the switch and/or circuit at the PCCW exchange, the 100 Mbps allowance and the algorithm to manage the bandwidth allowance.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesopinion

With the pending iPad official release by Apple Hong Kong some time in July, mobile carriers in Hong Kong have begin to release tariff plans designed specifically to target iPad owners. Among them only 3 HK currently has a data plan that comes with either a regular mini-SIM or the new micro-SIM. The rest of the carriers are offering data only 3G tariff plans that includes a free USB 3G modem. All of the plans also come with free WiFi network.

Below I am only focusing on the respective 7.2Mbps unlimited "local data" plans from each carriers. Each of the tariff plans requires commitments between 18 months to 24 months.

Carrier Plan Name Contract Commitment Price (HKD)
Smartone-Vodafone Power 7 Tablet Micro-SIM Data Plan 24 months 18 months $238 $198
PCCW Netvigator Everywhere Netvigator Everywhere for existing Netvigator Broadband Customers 24 months $328
3 HK Easyplus Data Plan x iPad* Unknown Depends on Usage

* I was not able to confirm with 3 HK the downlink/uplink speeds of their HKD188 Easyplus data plan.

I absolutely do not recommend using either of the CSL brands: 1010 or One2Free. Their web sites specify that their 3G networks support only UMTS 900MHz, which is not one of the 3G bands (UMTS/HSDPA: 850, 1900, 2100 MHz) that the iPad supports. Using 3G data plans from either of these two carriers will force the iPad to drop down to GPRS (2G) or EDGE (2.5G).

[Updated: June 23, 2010, 20:00] Thanks to the reader, Peter, for pointing out that CSL had upgraded their 3G network to support 900Mhz, 1800Mhz, 2100Mhz and 2600Mhz. Therefore iPad on the CSL network will not drop down to GPRS (2G) or EDGE (2.5G) network as I had previously said. Instead it will utilize the 2100Mhz frequency.

I tried to confirm this 3G band information on the CSL 3G networks, but there is absolutely no way for me to get any information from either of the CSL Customer Services hotlines: 1010 and One2Free. After connecting to both of them, and placed on hold for extended periods multiple times, the CS representatives hang up on me each time without answering my question. This recent experience further justify why I left One2Free 6 years ago after being on their network for over 6 years, and why I do not recommend them to anyone in HK.

The rest of the carriers: China Mobile and China Unicom, in Hong Kong do not have 3G networks. Therefore, if you must get a data plan for your iPad WiFi+3G your choice is obvious, Smartone-Vodafone is the one to go with, but you will have to cut the mini-SIM down in size to a micro-SIM form factor for it to fit in the iPad SIM slot.

[Updated: May 25, 2010, 15:53] As point out by @ThomasHK, 3 HK has non-contractual prepaid ("pay-as-you-go") SIM cards with 3G data for HKD28/day or HKD338/month also.

[Updated: June 23, 2010, 20:00] From a Twitter friend @jesschg who pointed out that since the writing of my post SMV had released their Tablet Micro-SIM Data Plan. I have since updated the table above to reflect this change.

I to have some concerns with SMV's marketing for this new tariff plan.

Enhances Facebook apps to enable them to display videos on Facebook

This is already a built-in function of the Facebook app 3.1.3 and later. Redirecting Flash video to SMV servers so they can transcode it to show on the iPhone is nothing new for SMV. This feature had been with their IOM ("Internet on Mobile") service for years.

  • Auto-detects & alerts you to RSS/Podcast content, for instant enjoyment
  • Helps you share webpages with others on Facebook or via email
  • Stores your bookmarks & 30-day browsing history online, for quick search & retrieval anytime, even if you lose or change device

Any users of "Tablets" with true browsers will not need help with any of the above 4 points, particularly iPad users.

What they did not specify prominently is the theoretical maximum speeds of this service, which they only sate in the small prints under Remarks

2-6Mbps download/500kbps-3.5Mbps upload

Although this is not the fastest speed available from SMV, iPad users will not care as the iPad will not be capable of taking advantage of speeds greater than 7Mbps downlink.

I expects other carriers will have updates to their tariff plans as we get closer to the official release of the iPad in Hong Kong.

Netvigator LogoStarted about 14:00 yesterday (August 17, 2009) Hong Kong time access to majority of the Internet web services hosted outside of Asia was unreachable. This first happened at my home with Netvigator Home Broadband service. I Tweeted about this hoping to get confirmation from others in Hong Kong. I also left to tried to see if the problem is localized to my building or district (Wanchai). I visited a Starbucks in Causeway Bay. After logging into PCCW WiFi connection at Starbucks I confirmed that most Internet web services were unreachable.

A friend then came and logged into the PCCW WiFi University service and was able to connect to each of the web services I was not able to. So I proceeded to try using Smartone-Vodafone to reach these Internet web services. I was too successful in accessing these Internet web services via Smartone-Vodafone's HSDPA network.

This morning China Unicom released an explanation, as reported by Shanghai Daily, the reasons for yesterday's Internet interruptions for its customers. PCCW's Netvigator service released a short news item in their Customer Service section of their web site, placing blame on "severe weather conditions" that caused "multiple submarine cable faults" claiming that "Some customers may experience traffic congestions" with"international traffic". I have encountered Error 500 for services I tried to access, but in Netvigator's "news item", it claims that their "systems are in normal operation and are working closely with partners to divert traffic".

I cannot see how they can claim their "systems are in normal operation", when I had paid for and expects the delivery of broadband Internet service at 8Mbps. So I called Netvigator's Technical Support line, 1000, and filed a complaint and asked for details of compensation to customer for the interruption.

According to Netvigator service policy, if any interruptions is longer than 24 hours their customer is justified for compensation. The Technical Support representative tells me that I should call back after the service is back to "normal", since they have no idea how long the interruptions will last.

I asked the Technical Support representative if all Netvigator customers will be compensated after the service returns to normal, and he gave me a convoluted answer that basically say that not all Netvigator customers will experience the problem. So I ask for my official complaint to be logged.

I suggest everyone who are effected by the PCCW's Netvigator Broadband Home service interruption to call Netvigator and demand compensation and to ask for your complaint to be logged.

Posted
AuthorVinko

Netvigator Logo pccw This evening (20:52) my girlfriend received a call on her mobile from PCCW Netvigator telephone salesperson. Like in most cases when one receive this sort of unsolicited telephone call, she simply told the salesperson on the phone that she does not have time to talk, which was the case this evening, as she was at a friend's house.

Instead of giving up and move on to the next "victim" on their call list, the salesperson calls her back and said, "... I was not calling to give you an offer, but if I was I would not offer it to you.", then hung up.

First of all these sorts of calls are unsolicited and I would consider them to be SPAM calls. I will be writing to OFTA to file a formal complaint of PCCW Netvigator salesperson's attitudes. Of course, PCCW's salespersons are already famous in Hong Kong for having one of the worst customer facing attitudes so that is not too surprising.

I wish OFTA would have an ordinance like the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Ordinance for regular telephone calls.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesopinion

Repost from: Vinko's Satellite Blog

Netvigator

For those who do not know, "Netvigator" is the ISP (Internet Service Provider) owned and operated by PCCW of Hong Kong. Like many ISP now a days, Netvigator offers a series of different broadband packages.

I subscribe to their "8M Single User" plan, which means a "8Mbps service". Like all ISP, that 8Mbps (8 Mega bits per second) throughput is a theoretical maxium download speed, which no one would ever achieve due to the various variables that would effect the actual throughput.

According to the technician at Netvigator Technical Support and the one that came to check my setup. With a 8M service plan the realistic throughput is about 80% - 90% of what's listed. This equates to about 6554Kbps down stream(download speed) and approximately 819Kbps up stream (upload speed).

For the past 4 years of subscribing to this service (8M plan) I had never enjoyed a speed of more than 2000Kbps down stream. Plus, I had reported this and they had checked my set up numerous times through out the past 4 years.

Recently I joined Netvigator's NetOne loyalty service, which finally able me to contact their Technical Service hotline 24 hours a day when I encountered connection slow downs. As a result they monitored my Internet connection for a week, and then today came to replace my modem.

As soon as the technician replaced the modem my connection speed improved 3 times. Reaching a down stream speed of 6438Kbps and a up stream speed of 628Kbps.

So the lesson from this is to never believe the ISP when you feel your Internet connection is not up to par. Use analytical results to confirm your suspicions. If possible use the ISP's own test page; in the case of Netvigator you should use their "Network Test" page, to test your connection speed. Failing that use a site like SpeedTest.Net to test your connection.

So go confirm you are receiving the service level you paid for and stop getting ripped off.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesadvice