Feeds

PlusNet blames BT for poor Net service

And we finally find out what 'unlimited' really means

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The next step in data security

An intriguing letter by the managing director of ISP PlusNet puts the blame for its poor Internet service squarely at BT's feet.

The letter, written in the first person (complete with typos), and posted into a discussion forum on PlusNet's Web site on Thursday, apologised for the poor service it has offered recently, but said a restriction on the number of ports available of Net access, imposed by BT, was to blame. It also explained away the largest cull of Internet users seen in the UK - 1,100 - as necessary if it was to maintain a decent service for other customers - again thanks to BT restrictions.

"The current situation regarding Surftime capacity is indeed not a good one and we are sorry for the impact this is having on our surftime customer base," Lee Strafford began. PlusNet uses BT's popular Surftime model as a foundation for its own services.

Lee then points out that when the service was initially started, it has unlimited ports to access and so the company had a 1:1 contention ratio - i.e. there was a port available for every user. This meant that everyone got a connection first time, every time. PlusNet customers are now looking at 25:1 ratios.

"At the point of the above announcements being made we were utilising over 3000 ports at peak. Following this announcement the usage dropped to around 2250-2500. By the last week of January our usage was at around 2000-2200 at peak. We then kicked less than 50 customers for outright breaking our Ts & Cs etc and told a further 1050 approx that they were not using the service on a reasonable basis," Lee continues.

Up until this point, you would presume that PlusNet was cutting customers off because it couldn't afford the number of ports they were using - something that it is entirely to blame for, no matter how much BT charges (£40 + VAT a port). However, Mr Strafford then goes on to say: "Moving into Feb - BT implemented the 1000 port limit but unfortunately broke the Static IP part of the service."

So it's BT's fault? "Due to the service issues of last year we chose not to impose our Ts & Cs or contention ratios relating to connectivity. This was done through and until the end of Jan this year. During the early part of January, we confirmed to BT that we were not happy that the service was operating as designed. We followed this up by announcing this to all customers and also confirming that we would now be enforcing our Ts & Cs etc."

PlusNet has put itself in an impossible situation here. Clearly, BT is up to its old tricks - keeping people dependent on it and playing good cop/bad cop to keep them on their toes. PlusNet has had to sacrifice 10 per cent of its customers thanks to BT's actions, but then without BT it wouldn't have any customers. This is a ridiculous position for both ISPs and customers. It has also caused Lee to have to make such ridiculous statements as "we do have enough capacity if customers behave reasonably and use the service as designed." Such rhetoric is likely to fall on deaf ears - largely because PlusNet customers would have left primary school at least 20 years ago.

You don't have to go very far either to see what current customers think of Mr Strafford's explanation. The posting is replied to by many of them. One starts: "Dear Trading Standards, When you have finished kicking RedHotAnt's @!#$, please take a visit to PlusNet. They truly are a bunch of incompetent, technophobic old fools!"

Customers that still wish to "abuse" the service are advised to sign up for the ADSL service. But considering the threat of legal action against BT from Freeserve and AOL, it would seem that the Great Satan of Phonelines is never far away, trying to ruin the online party.

Why is the industry for Internet access still in such a mess after all this time?

One reason of course is that peculiar word "unlimited" (a close relation to the equally aloof "unmetered") that has forever changed in meaning. We were delighted however to finally find out what unlimited means. Lee writes: "We have never at any stage offer an 'unlimited' Internet access service. The only aspect of Surftime connectivity which we have advertised as 'unlimited' was the BT part of the service (unlimited calls)." So basically you can call up to get an engaged line as many times as you want - absolutely free! Ain't that great? ®

Related Link

MD's posting with customer comments

Related Stories

PlusNet boots 1100 users from its service
Britain's broadband crisis - The War of Words
BT 'institutionally restricting market share'
BT broadband a 'national disgrace'

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.