From the Actrix Online Informer January 2008
by Brian Dennehy
'Moving to Broadband' explained
Most people understand by now that 'broadband' means faster internet, but the regular inquiries to the help desk and to the Actrix Online Informer's Forum section reveal that there is still a bit of confusion out there about how to get it and what's involved in the move.
The main difference between broadband and dialup, of course, is the speed. With a dialup modem your speed is restricted to 56 kilobits per second. There is just no way to make the modem itself work any faster. With broadband, it is possible to have much faster speeds because a different technology is used. You can have your speed increased or decreased by your ISP without having to change equipment. The other difference is that the Internet is always on (as long as your modem is switched on). This means, as soon as you fire up your computer, you're online. You don't have to wait for your modem to connect and make the squawking budgie sounds. The other beauty of broadband is that it uses the top spectrum of your phone line's copper, leaving the bottom spectrum free to make phone calls. With broadband you can use the phone while you're online.
The only piece of extra equipment you need is a broadband modem. You can't use the one that shipped with your computer. Installing the new modem is pretty easy. It just plugs into the back of your computer. You don't need to take the case off or do anything radical.
The only other thing to keep in mind is that broadband is billed in a different way. Rather than being billed according to how long you're online, it's all about traffic with broadband. That means you get allocated a certain amount of traffic for the fee you pay. Traffic is the amount of kilobytes of material you download or visit such as web pages, emails and other downloads. Most ISPs allow you a certain amount per month and then they throttle your speed back for the rest of the month unless you pay more. The Actrix approach is more unique in that we allow you an allocation per day. When you have used up your day's lot, we throttle your speed back until 2 am the following morning. This means you don't have long periods at the end of the month where you're struggling along at dialup speed even though you've paid for broadband.
I asked Brian Dennehy from the Actrix support team to write more about what Actrix offers in terms of broadband plans, and what the processes are for getting it at your place.
The broadband plans Actrix offers start at $27.95 per month (bundled with Tolls) and increase from there depending on your needs. The base plan gives you a speed of 256Kbps, which is roughly five times faster than dial up, and a daily traffic allowance of 70MB. In other words, this plan is ideal for people who are just wanting to use the connection for looking at a few websites, checking on emails, and the like each day.
If you are unsure whether this plan would suit you, then rest assured there is always the option to change to one of our other plans further on down the track if you need to. If you do happen to use more than your 70MB on any given day, your connection is simply slowed down to 64Kbps (slightly faster than dial up) until 2:00am the next day, when the connection resets and you are back on your faster broadband speed again. For more information on our different broadband plans, it would be best to have a look at this link: http://www.actrix.co.nz/page.php?id=144.
For information about how to extend your full speed for a small fee go to: http://www.actrix.co.nz/page.php?id=227.
The tolls bundle
The $27.95 quoted above only applies if you also agree to sign up for Actrix Tolls. All this means is that your toll calling will be charged through Actrix, rather than your current tolls provider, at our special rates. Subscribing to Actrix Tolls entitles you to a $10.00 monthly discount on any Actrix CyberJet broadband plan. In other words, where the base broadband plan would have usually been $37.95 per month, subscribing to Actrix Tolls brings it down to $27.95. More information on Actrix Tolls can be found by visiting http://www.actrixtolls.co.nz/.
This is something that happens automatically as part of our process if you sign up for the broadband/tolls bundle. You don't need to do anything at all, so don't worry about having to change your phone number or anything like that. The crossover is seamless.
With broadband plans there will be a one-time installation fee charged by Telecom. Usually a basic installation will cost $99.00 (inc GST), but if you decide to sign up for a 9-month contract with us then we will pay this for you. A technician won't need to visit your premises for a basic installation, as your broadband service will be activated from your local telephone exchange. However, even with a basic installation you will need to have an ADSL filter put on each phone jack that has a device connected to it. In other words each phone jack that has a phone, fax machine, Sky Digital decoder, or anything else plugged into it will need an ADSL filter. These filters can be purchased from Actrix for $12.50 each. The filters simply plug into your phone jack and have 2 sockets on them; one that says "Phone" and one that says "ADSL". Your telephone, fax machine, Sky Digital decoder, or other device will plug into the "Phone" side of the filter, and your broadband can plug into the "ADSL" side.
However, if you happen to have a monitored burglar alarm or anything else that is hardwired into your telephone circuit, you will need a full installation where a technician will visit your premises and install a dedicated jack point for your broadband connection. A full installation usually costs $249.00, but we'll pay $100 towards that if you take up a 9-month contract, reducing the fee to just $149.00.
For more information on the different installation options and what is required for each, please see this link: http://www.actrix.co.nz/page.php?id=40#1.
The second one-off cost that may apply is the broadband modem you will need for the connection. The modems that we sell start at $84.95 (plus postage and packaging) and will arrive to you fully configured according to your individual settings so that when your connection is ready you can just plug the modem in, tell your computer it is there (which, in most cases, happens automatically), and then give us a call. We'll activate your account from our end, and hey-presto, you're online with broadband.
At this stage we sell 3 different modems; A single-port Dynalink modem for $84.95 (best for people with one computer), a multi-port NetComm modem for $99.95 (best for people with more than one computer), and also a Dynalink wireless modem for $139.95 (best for people with more than one computer who want to have the freedom of connecting wirelessly). For more information on modems, the page to look at is http://www.actrix.co.nz/page.php?id=40#2.
Because getting you ready for ADSL means Telecom making a change at your local exchange, there is often a short waiting period. In most cases, it takes about two or three working days from the time we receive your application until the time that you are online. There are occasional longer delays, such as when there aren't sufficient ports available at your exchange, but these are rare.
What about rural areas?
There can be problems getting ADSL to work in rural areas, mainly due to the quality of the copper network away from more populated areas as well as the distance between you and your local telephone exchange (the general distance threshold is around 4.5KM). If you're unsure, we do have a line checking tool that we can use to get an indication of whether ADSL is possible for you or not (and sometimes a "likely" is the best the tool can give us).
What about if my phone line is with Telstra Clear?
If your line is an actual TelstraClear line on its telephone network, unfortunately you will not be able to sign up for broadband with Actrix. However, if your line is simply a Telecom line resold by TelstraClear, then we should be able to put through an order and get you up and running on broadband. Generally speaking, phone numbers starting with a "9" are TelstraClear lines, but any other number is usually a Telecom line being resold by TelstraClear.
If any of this is confusing or if it just seems like quite a bit of information to absorb, please give the helpdesk a call on 0800 228 749 and choose option 3 for Support. We'll talk it over with you and help you find the plan that suits you best.
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