Tasmanian Internet (or lack of)

This started back on December 21st 2015 when it was reported there was a failure in the Basslink HVDC cable.  This links between Loy Yang Victoria to Georgetown Tasmania.  At first Hydro Tasmania believed the issue would be resolved within 60 days.  So all should be good… not to be, after delays in locating the cable, then not being able to ascertain where the fault was, the initial cutting was delayed until a better idea of where the fault was.  When the Basslink HVDC cable was laid down, this also included a Dark Fibre cable that would be run by Basslink Telecoms. This was to be a crucial new link for Tasmania as a way of not being held to ransom by Telstra, who have a monopoly on the wholesale of data passing to & from the state at the time. Basslink announced on February 22nd that the revised timeline for the cable repair was unknown.

basslink_1 basslink_2 Examples of Basslink Cable

So we jump forward to March 11th, this is where things get interesting! Basslink Telecom switched off the fibre at 08:15 and services that had made prior arrangements with Telstra were transferred. This is the moment when Tasmania’s internet slowed to a crawl, with customers on iinet, Internode, Westnet affected the worst. This naturally sparked an immediate social network backlash on Twitter and Facebook with customers venting their complaints.

2016-03-14 10-04-25 2016-03-13 18-54-46 Speed Tests

So how did it come to this? How could a situation that’s been known about be left like a last minute suck it a see approach? The fibre line had to be cut so repairs could take place on the HVDC line. It’s not like it was going to be left in situ while the other was repaired, after all the HVDC cable is 60kg/meter so it’s heavy and requires special teams to do the work  Well this is where things get a little messy, there’s been claims that helpdesk staff have been saying that the problem has nothing to do with Basslink, or that the helpdesk staff had no idea about Basslink and it’s effect it was to have.  Now I can’t vouch for such, I mean after all you can’t believe everything you read on the internet right? 😉

Will Hodgman announcement

IPv4 vs IPv6 Data Usage (unmetered content)

It’s a known fact that if you use IPv6 on Internode then your unmetered content actually becomes metered due to a limit in their billing system (my assumption) Here’s an example of the last few days where I disabled IPv6 and then later re enabled it…


The bulk of the unmetered content whilst only using IPv4 was from Netflix! I’m not worried about this really as I have more than enough of a quota 🙂

Phone Line Shenanigans

All the trouble started around 10:45 on the 18th when a contractor working for the NBNCo managed to dig trough the phone cable about 200m down the road. So the obvious was immediate loss of DSL connection which also left me without a telephone. A quick call to my ISP (Internode) revealed that they had lost the signal to the line I’m on at about 200m short of my house! So I went for a stroll down the road to see if there was any obvious signs as to what had happened. When I rounded the corner there was an excavator on the back of a truck leaving the scene and a guy standing in the trench that had just been opened not looking too pleased. Here’s a picture of the damaged phone cable…


Later in the day the site looked like this…


Then the following day all was fixed and covered up…


So did I have a connection once the cable was rejoined? I did for about half an hour then all was lost 🙁 So I rang my ISP to see if they were aware of the cable being fixed and to try and get them to do another line test but the guy who took my call clearly wasn’t Mr Helpful as he just kept telling me that my service won’t be looked at until the 28th (February) At this point I was getting rather frustrated with him and when I asked what my options are for getting either an alternate access or a credit for downtime he stated that I didn’t qualify for either and reminded me about the 28th (I was going in circles) so the conversation ended.

Skip forward to the 28th… I was of the opinion that this was to be the day that I’d get my phone/internet restored. Well no it wasn’t! I contacted my ISP around 1:30pm to get an update on how things were going to get a rather rude shock to be told that there wasn’t a job in the system for the checking/repair of my line. Now this is when I did my best not to become abusive! But I certainly got the point across of dissatisfaction because of being disconnected for a week and a half and the guy on the support line was doing all he could to see why the appointment was either cancelled or never booked (my speculation) then checked to see if they had any loan equipment (3G modem) available but due to the recent bush fires in the south (Forcett, Dunalley & Tasman Peninsula) all there gear was out on loan. So this is where the job was booked in for the 7th of March!

Well after sending an email to a friend to advise that my APRS iGate & T2 server will be still out of action until then (7th March) I get a phone call from his son (just happens to be a Telstra Tech) asking me if my line was still down and said that it will be fixed tomorrow morning! I got a call around 10:30am the following day and it was the Telstra guy who repaired the cable asking me a few questions about the whole situation and then rang back about 20 minutes later with the answer to the problem and said it would be fixed within the hour! 🙂

So it turns out that on the day that the cable was repaired some other technicians were doing line tests and had picked my line to test as it was not a phone line with a dial tone (DSL only) and they didn’t reconnect the line back. So this was the reason why I lost my internet/phone about half hour after the street cable was repaired (over a week earlier) So my line was restored to its original setup and I was reconnected to my ISP’s DSLAM and hey presto… Internet access restored 🙂

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SpeedTest Update…

A while back I installed a dedicated line splitter/filter for the home phone line so that I have a dedicated extension for ADSL & one for voice, this has given me the benefit of getting a more steady ADSL signal and so I can take advantage of the profiles provided by my ISP. A test done using SpeedTest has my current download/upload speeds as follows…

My router has the following figures (theoretical)

So as compared to the last time I was testing out the different profile settings (prior to the installation of this line splitter/filter) it has made a significant different as I could not use the fastest setting because it would randomly drop out several times a day (not good when you are hosting your own Email/Web Server!)

You can see the comparisons from the previous test results here and here

Internode have blown the competition away!

Now seriously, does your ISP give you this much ???

Now that Internode have just released their new plans now is the time to question your ISP if are not getting a fair deal.

See the full list of Internode T-shirt plans here

Internode T-shirt plans

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Tweaking ADSL profiles on Internode

Most ADSL customers may not have the ability to change the ADSL profile that their ISP allows but hey Internode do! they have a selection of profiles that are targeted for different situations. So I thought I’d have a play to see if there was any gain in this. Well I can say yes there is! my speed once I was migrated onto ADSL2+ was around 8Mb down and 1Mb up. I’m now on a higher theoretical speed and on a few tests so far it looks like I’m now on around 14Mb down and 1Mb up.

So speedtest.net gives a rough guide to what you can expect to get out of your connection speeds.

The DSL speed reported by my ADSL router (modem)

As you can see the router hasn’t been up long enough to make a true statement of better efficiency!  but its certainly a faster connection that my previous post on my ADSL2+ speed So does your ISP provide such an option? if so experiment to see how fast you can get.   😉

What makes a good ISP ?

Ok another subjective topic I know! but that question comes up regularly, and for you what does make a good ISP (Internet Service Provider) OK let me start with a little history from my experience with ISP’s …

The early days …

I first got myself connected to the Internet back in 1997, yes this was certainly the “Dial-up Days” and as two friends of mine where using a local Tasmanian company call Southern Internet Services (aka southcom) now I can’t recall the plans that were available at that time, but I used to use their pre-paid service where you purchased time by the hour. The rate was $2.50 ($AUD) per hour block and this suited me quite nicely in the early days as I could keep my usage in check and never had to worry about a large bill or worrying about going over any quotas! Around 2003/04 southcom were eventually bought out by a company called KeyPoint, for users of southcom, it was still business as usual just under a different name. The KeyPoint were bought out by yet another company called Eftel, it was at this stage the old southcom accounts were being phased out and the push was on to convert existing customers to plans instead of a pre-paid arrangement, also the company’s offices are based in Perth Western Australia and it was around this time I started looking into other ISP’s.

True discovery of Internet usage

So I started to ask myself  the question “What makes a good ISP?” and although I was certainly happy being a southcom customer, the service being provided was only simple (email & web access) after looking around at some of the competition, I soon realised that most ISP were offering some sort of “free to download” content, Now this is where things can get rather interesting! so of what benefit is free to download to the end user? well again depending on what you do this can vary greatly from person to person. My Internet usage was increasing and I was finding I was spending more time online so the pre-paid situation was now starting to cost more than a basic dial-up monthly plan so I decided to switch to Telstra BigPond as I could bundle and get my home phone & Internet access at a slightly cheaper rate (Dial-up access $24.95 per month $AUD) Now Bigpond do offer certain content from their website as free to download to their customers, they also have a download mirror where you can get software that counts toward “free to download” this was of use to me as around this time I was starting to get a little more experimental with both Internet applications and operating systems (namely Linux) In early 2007 Telstra had a big push to move people from dial-up accounts to Broadband, I was sweet talked to switch over and I was connected at 256/64Kb at a cost of $29.95 ($AUD) but this was discounted for the first 12 months because of taking up a new 2 year contract by bundling the home & mobile (cell) phones and Inter into one package, the discounted access for Internet was $14.95 ($AUD) with a 12GiB download quota and if you exceeded this your service was throttled to 64/64Kb but you were not penalised for excessive data as this was an “unlimited” plan.

Enter the breath of fresh air! …

Once the contract period expired with Telstra BigPond, again I was starting to notice that one company was offering a good deal that had me wanting to swap to them as soon as I could! this company name is Internode, Now what makes Internode stand out from the others? well for starters they offer better price point for end-users/businesses with a wide range of plans to suite your needs. their free to download content has to be one of the best on offer within the country! (no I’m not getting paid to say all this!) And recently Internode has been rolling out more ADSL2+ enabled exchanges making them also one of the largest to offer such speed. Even more recently with their announcement on entry pricing for the FTTH (Fibre To The Home) as part of the NBN (National Broadband Network) has many competitors lagging behind.

So have I answered my question?

Well I believe so…   😀

SpeedTest your ISP

Ok this is a little subjective, but hey here goes!  What speed do you get from your ISP (Internet Service Provider) well if you don’t know, then there is a small utility that can assist you in finding out… its called SpeedTest

Here is an example of what my current speed is…

The current speed being reported by my Modem is…

So what speed can you get out of your ISP ?

Australia-first native ADSL IPv6 access trial

sourced from http://www.internode.on.net/news/2009/11/157.php

IPv6 is the next generation Internet Protocol that offers a vast number of new, longer IP addresses to overcome the upcoming exhaustion of new IP version 4 addresses, expected within the next two years.

Internode has operated a native IPv6 backbone since the middle of 2008, with routers running in ‘dual stack’ mode, allowing it to provide concurrent IPv4 and IPv6 services. However, to date, the only customers who could use IPv6 were those with a direct Ethernet connection to Internode’s network or those able to undertake the complex configuration required to “tunnel” IPv6 through an IPv4 connection.

Today’s announcement marks the first time an Australian broadband provider has offered IPv6 services running in native mode on its national ADSL network: This means that IPv6 can work directly with any Internode ADSL service, offering concurrent IPv6 and IPv4 PPP access with any router or computer that supports it.

The trial is intended for technically experienced customers who are familiar with IPv6; Internode expects any customers participating in the trial to be comfortable with IPv6 configuration and to provide feedback on the operation of the service, in order to assist Internode to deliver its full production-grade IPv6 service offering by mid 2010.

Internode managing director Simon Hackett said Internode appreciated the assistance of any technically experienced customers who wanted to participate in the trial. “This is the first public Australian national trial of native IPv6 for ADSL customers,” he said.

Our objective is to ensure that Internode has the most experience of any Australian broadband provider with the operation and support of native IPv6. By the time IPv6 becomes a necessary part of connecting new users to the Internet, Internode will offer the very best ‘production’ IPv6 service available in Australia. At that point, for all customers, IPv6 will ‘just work’.

Only a small number of consumer ADSL routers available in Australia currently support IPv6. Internode currently recommends using a Cisco device such as the Cisco 877 ADSL router running IOS 12.4 or above, or using an ADSL router placed into ‘bridge’ mode with a PPPoE based IPv6 connection directly from a personal computer. IPv6 support is built into current versions of Macintosh OS X, Microsoft Windows and Linux.

Internode is working with various manufacturers of ADSL2+ routers to encourage their support of native IPv6 access. Internode expects to announce the availability of IPv6 firmware support for a variety of ADSL2+ routers during the course of the trial.

Mr. Hackett continued: “There has historically been a ‘chicken and egg’ problem with IPv6, where ADSL router vendors have not supported IPv6 because no network was ready to run IPv6, and vice versa. We have broken that impasse – and we invite any further ADSL2+ router vendors with IPv6 capability to test those routers on our network and prove their own IPv6 readiness.

  • IPv6 access details are available on the Internode IPv6 site.