I am lucky to have been selected as one of the first people testing TelstraClear's new 100 Mbps-capable cable network (available in Wellington, Christchurch, Kapiti). The telco has upgraded its cable network to support the DOCSIS 3 standard, giving users access to 100 Mbps download speeds, and 10 Mbps upload speeds.
One of the first things I've done was to start a discussion on Geekzone about it. But I will put a summary in this post - installation, infrastructure, performance, expectations, etc.
Installation in itself is easy, since the entire network is now DOCSIS 3 capable. A simple modem swap and we are ready to go. My first modem was a Motorola, which is being replaced today with a Cisco model. All the screenshots are therefore based on the Motorola modem. Of course (like in any other network situation) you have to put a bit of investment here. My current router is a Cisco Small Business Pro SRP 521W. This router supports two VoIP lines, and WiFi 802.11n. I am noting this because when you get access to a faster network your router will be an important piece of the puzzle. How many packets can it process? How reliable is it?
The 802.11n is important here. If you have a 802.11g router and use wireless as your main connection then you would already be limiting your bandwidth to at least half (nominal) or about one fifth (actual). More considerations on speed later (this is going to be a long post).
Also we have two gigabit switches in our home network, and all our PCs are either ethernet gigabit capable or 802.11n capable.
With no further ado, here are a few Speedtest captured when I got the modem installed:
Interesting, right? A speedtest to Christchurch gives me better results than one to Wellington, where I live. That's because of peering. It's important to note (as in any other broadband service), what you get is a line speed. Final results will depend on how packets are routed, the capacity on the target server providing the content you want, etc. Obviously this is limiting but only uses portion of the bandwidth available.
Let's get another test going on. Let's stress this connection by initiating an large number of downloads. Nothing best to test this than P2P software, so I decided to download lots of documentaries. All those were sourced from Vodo, a legal torrent site, distributing copyright free content. I removed any limits on number of connections, so this obviously tested not only my line speed, but also the Cisco SRP router. Here are some screenshots and comments:
Twenty five downloads, with different number of seeds available, automatic prioritisation by uTorrent. Note the download speeds - the peak was 6,428 KB/s (kilobytes per seconds), equivalent to 51 MB/s (megabits per second). As the software finished downloading the files you can see the ETA for download being drastically reduced as more priority was given to the remaining files:
And the last screenshot:
My next test involved the YouTube MySpeed Test page, and here are my results. You can see the big jump once we had this connection installed here, and below the instant results on a test video, at 26,788 Kb/s:
As part of my testing I agreed to have a TrueNet device installed here. TrueNet tests your broadband connection on random intervals, reporting individual and aggregate information (TueNet is alway looking for volunteers). This is my speeds on the first few days:
Good, but still not great, right? After meeting with TrueNet and discussing the results, they came to the conclusion some work was needed. For example small files didn't have the expected performance because very fast connections don't have time to ramp up to faster speeds. They changed the methodology and last week I received a new chart (below), comparing my 100 Mbps cable service with a 100 Mbps fibre service. Notice how my speed go consistently higher since TrueNet decided on a different approach for testing and statistical analysis:
Right, so what do I use all this speed for? We already used a large plan (25 Mbps, 120 GB) with TelstraClear before. We have two adults working from home. We consume a large amount of online content, including at least two or more video rentals from iTunes. I have an online backup account, using about 130 GB and about 1GB uploads daily, mainly documents updates, Outlook PST files updates, photos and home videos taken with Flip MinoHD. We also have two VoIP lines here (VFX with WorldxChange and an Australian number with Mynetfone).
On average we use about 100 GB a month. Count those 300 MB Apple mac updates, 100 MB Windows updates, MSDN downloads, a few LiveMeeting events every month, a few Skype video calls and you have a good idea of how much we use.
The big question for me now is how TelstraClear can make this a more compelling proposition. Price of course is going to be of impact. In broadband world "you get what you pay for" is very true and while the existing 25 Mbps cable service is not cheap, it's of the highest quality. Other things are value added services. I'd really like the option of moving my online backup (provided by a US vendor) to a local service. Obvious reason would be possible upload speed increase. Even better if TelstraClear provided a bundled service with non-metered traffic for this service. Or perhaps TelstraClear could join forces with Microsoft and offer a hosted communications services (which I am actually going to be testing very soon, with another provider).
I will post about this trial later with an update after changing the modem to the Cisco model.
Full disclosure: I have been a paying TelstraClear customer for about ten years now. We are so happy with the service itself that when we decided to buy a house one of the requisites was to have a cable-modem service available at the new address. As part of this trial my current plan is not being charged, but I pay for any traffic over my original plan. This happened once in the first month because all of the downloading and testing I wanted to do.
Other related posts:
Geekzone data analytics with Power BI
Now with more fibre
Unlimited is not unlimited: Vodafone cable going gigabit
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