I have signed up with O2 Home Broadband. It was very cheap as I am an existing O2 customer. Like most broadband companies they offer an “up to” speed of a certain amount and a free router.
The order was done online and didn’t have much to say about filling in the forms. However after completing the sign up I did not get any confirmation email till the day after. Although I was not worried it was odd as it’s usually an automated process and confirm that they have received the order request. It wasn’t till mid day the day after ordering it through their website did O2 send a text message to my phone. It’s a great idea considering I was at work don’t check my personal email on the company computers often. The SMS confirmed that I had placed an order for O2 Home Broadband and not very long after another SMS arrived on my iPhone to say they were setting up the direct debit. Whilst this is good to know it’s not necessary for them to text me this information. Then the third text message came with details of my activation date. The SMS text alerts are good idea but I think they did go overboard with the direct debit information. The forth and final message from O2 came at the end of the same day I received the previous three text messages to say look out for my “Home Broadband pack”. Again this information did not need to be text to me. I also got one or two email during this time which contained my activation date (nice to have an email copy of this information) and to tell me when to expect the router in the post. I thought the delivery date of the router should have been sent as a text as well.
O2’s router came two days after I made the initial order. This is pretty quick as my activation wasn’t due for a week from the date of order. The box came in a discreet brown box. Inside was the proper retail looking box with all the graphics. I thought the packaging was good as it would not clue your neighbor who may sign for your package what it is but it also means more waste. The box contains everything needed to get online. It comes with two telephone filters and one ethernet cable. The filters are very cheap and badly designed. The telephone cable doesn’t even clip in securely into the filter and can be pulled out without holding the clip on the side of the cable. The RJ11 which is used to connect the router to the filter fitted better.
The router looks O.K. The only feature on the front panel is a wireless button which is disabled / does not work when I have tried. The instructions says it can be used to allow a wireless device to connect to the network if it was selected in the option to do so.
A flaw (I think) with the design is the vents at the bottom of the router. This can’t be good if it’s sitting on thick carpet.
The status LEDs are located at the top and back on the router. The wired ethernet lights for each individual socket is on the back which is stupid. The idea of status lights are to be visible not hidden behind the something. There is a single ethernet light on the front but does not show the status for the four ports individually. The antenna is similar to a D-Link DSL-604T router I had and is more than adequate for my flat. The furthest room away (the lounge) I get full signal on my MacBook Pro.
The router software is very slow and the navigation is not the most user friendly as I’d like it to be. It uses a navigation bar on the left which is fine but then there are additional settings and information from links in the top right. The look of the web page looks some what dated. The settings are locked down by O2 and there is a “super user” which can enable some of the settings. The username is “SuperUser” and password “O2Br0ad64nd”. You can change user by clicking on the Administrator link in the top left of the web page.
The O2 website stated I could get up to 5MB speeds based on my postcode and telephone number. They was right on the money. I was receiving upwards of 500kbps and at times got over 700kbps. This was impressive and was a real eye opener when I went back to Eastbourne where the Internet speeds were around 200-300kbps. I am loving it. O2 does have a fair usage policy as most reasonably priced ISP do (annoying but no cheap way of getting out of it).
I did hit a real problem when I was trying to send an email through the defacto port 25. I thought it was my email provider but alas my GMail was having the same problem. I later found out it was because O2 blocks port 25 and the only way to use 25 to send mail was to use O2’s own SMTP server. I thought this was stupid because it does not require authentication (hello SPAMMERS) and it causes other problems like potential for O2 to look at all your out going mail or append any adverts to your outgoing mail (this has not happened as far as I know). Whilst I (kind of) understand why they would try and stop home users setting up their own mail servers (as well as blocking zombie computers) I do think it should be subject to “fair usage policy” as well. I did complain about it in an earlier blog post.