What's the best ISP on Holloway Road?
October 20, 2006 5:04 PM   Subscribe

What is the best ISP in the UK?

I'm moving into a new flat in London quite soon. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what they think the best isp you can go with is - considering I want unrestricted downloads...2 meg or better and less than £30 per month?

This is the best I've come up with so far.

The ultimate bit of information is whether anyone on here who actually lives on Holloway Road can tell me what the quality of the lines there are (ie, the chance of actually achieving the speeds they advertise).

nice one hive mind.
posted by 6am to Computers & Internet (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Tiscali do 8 meg unlimited for £17.99 a month with no signup fee. I've only been on it two months, but I've had no problems and they connected it very quickly, and it works as advertised.
posted by cillit bang at 5:14 PM on October 20, 2006

Seconding Tiscali.
posted by fire&wings at 5:35 PM on October 20, 2006

The one you've found looks awesome. It's all presented in the same no BS style as Bulldog, which I use, and might be worth your while looking at.

Just try and avoid NTL, as they are the suxx0r.
posted by chrissyboy at 5:37 PM on October 20, 2006

Best answer: Conversely, I've been with Tiscali for six weeks and had nothing but problems. Support is a joke, and the network is slow and unreliable.

Their customer support (which you reach via both phone and email) is the worst I've ever encountered. It runs from scripts and seems to know nothing about the day-to-day status of the network (neither does their status page, for that matter). Their automated system closes issues after 72 hours of non-contact from the customer, despite the fact that they are the ones looking stuff up/liaising with BT. The only way to get real help or information is to get the attention of one of a few, very over-worked UK based support staff who monitor the forums (the rest of support is based in India).

I have experienced regular (several times an hour), brief (one minute), random disconnections that make getting real work (i.e. stuff tunnelled over SSH) difficult to impossible (after several weeks this was acknowledged in the support forums, and a fix is allegedly in the works). Having been promised 5Mbit, I rarely get more than 1Mbit. P2P traffic is restricted at peak times. "Unlimited" is not unlimited (see the Fair Use Policy).

I implore you not to choose Tiscali. If you find yourself attracted to them, please, think of the children (and have a read of their Broadband Support forum).

I'd previously had good luck with Plusnet.
posted by caek at 5:40 PM on October 20, 2006

Best answer: Be Unlimited are reportedly good, provided the BT exchange for your local area has been enabled for Be.

If you've got your full address and postcode, you can look up the state of your local exchange here.

But whatever you do. AVOID TISCALI. I foolishly signed up with Toucan - a Tiscali re-seller. They trumpet that their service is unlimited. What they actually mean is unlimited off peak. My service is limited to 750mb per WEEK between 6pm-11pm, seven days a week. If you go over, the put you on contention with other "heavy users", which makes browsing near unbearable.

In a previous house, I had UKOnline, which was very fast and always up. No idea about customer service, as we never had need to use them.

Cable internet is another option. People will no doubt provide horror stories regarding their customer service, but I was a satisfied NTL customer back in the early days of broadband.

Someone who is trying something different as an ADSL ISP is UKFSN. They've been getting good reports on the ADSLguide.org forums.

But once again - please don't make my mistake and go with Tiscali. Be is being enabled on my semi-rural exchange in January, and I'm prepared to pay off 6 months of Toucan contract if they'll let me migrate.
posted by coach_mcguirk at 5:59 PM on October 20, 2006

We've had Be 24mg since it was implemented, and we haven't had any downtime yet. (And we download. A LOT. We don't have a TV).

We're in Highbury.
posted by goo at 7:04 PM on October 20, 2006

(Oops pressed post too soon.)

Not sure about speeds, but a 350mg (45min show) takes approx 10 mins to download and unrar (if that helps).
posted by goo at 7:08 PM on October 20, 2006

I'd previously had good luck with Plusnet.

Was that before or after they introduced contention? When we first signed up with them they were advertising an unlimited service, but we quickly found ourselves in the rogue 1% (1% of users using 10% of the bandwidth) and our service was contended. Which sucked.
posted by goo at 7:14 PM on October 20, 2006

Best answer: All the Real Geeks (tm) I know have DSL with either Zen or Nildram. Both offer fixed IPs at no extra charge.

I've used both myself, each was good.

There was, a couple of years ago, rather good free wifi from the front of the Hercules pub on Holloway Road. But I've since emigrated and don't live across the street any more...

[The geek in me especially approves of the way Nildram leaves port 25 to your IP address closed until you ask them to open it].
posted by genghis at 9:31 PM on October 20, 2006

Zen are good, I use them at home and haven't had a single problem with their service since I signed up well over a year ago. They've just improved their online customer service and billing systems too.

Nildram are good, but are displaying some worrying tendencies after being bought by Pipex (data transfer limits, redirecting url typos to their own search page, things like that). We still use them for our small business office connection, though, and to be fair, I've not had any major problems yet.

I'd recommend Zen over Nildram, and both of them over any of the big names. I've heard good stuff about Bulldog too, but have no personal experience of them.
posted by tomsk at 2:16 AM on October 21, 2006

Best answer: Oh, and I know two people who live very near the Holloway Road and neither of them have any problem with DSL line quality. You should be able to get the maximum bandwidth available on pretty much any ISP.
posted by tomsk at 2:20 AM on October 21, 2006

I'm pretty happy with Virgin Net. I wanted to avoid a 12 month contract as we're in a 6 month rolling lease. It's pricey at around 25 quid, but in various places I've been connected to Virgin and never had any connection problems AT ALL.


*note, you have to pay 50 quid 'disconnection charge' if you do leave them before 12 months.
posted by tomw at 2:49 AM on October 21, 2006

Another vote for Be. Best ISP I've ever had. No bandwidth quotas or limits, no traffic shaping, and no downtime yet after a year of service.
posted by influx at 3:03 AM on October 21, 2006

A vote for Zen, they're bitchin'.
posted by dance at 3:21 AM on October 21, 2006

Be's customer service has improved but they can still be a little slow. If you have a problem after checking all your equipment just ring up BT (who are responsible for the actual phone line). They were really helpful and quick to respond. Be have some pretty good forums where the staff post regularly.
posted by jobby at 4:11 AM on October 21, 2006

i used to live on the holloway road (well, just off it), and went with Telewest. That was a couple of years ago, though, and I did that because there was no BT line in the building I lived it. However - it was absolutely foolproof, if slightly too expensive.

Now I live in Highbury.. and I'm with UK Online. I've been with them for 18 months, and it's absolutely fine.. now. It took them a long time to get the connection set up, and even longer to stabalise it.

(Bear in mind that Highbury is on the Canonbury exchange, and Holloway is on.. a different one, so YMMV)
posted by ascullion at 4:32 AM on October 21, 2006

Conversely, I've been with Tiscali for six weeks and had nothing but problems. Support is a joke, and the network is slow and unreliable.

Oh, well I haven't had to call them yet.

I was on UK Online before and was quite impressed by getting a helpful human on the phone at 2am when the network very briefly went down. Also I stopped paying them ages ago and they never said a thing.
posted by cillit bang at 4:53 AM on October 21, 2006

Homechoice is good, if you want Internet and TV chucked in together. No complaints about the Internet access, and you get a few cable channels, plus auto-recorded streaming replays on BBC One and a few other channels.

I would have gone with UKOnline though, if it'd been available in the exchange when I moved here (might be now, not sure). If TV's not important to you and you can get UKOnline in Holloway, I'd go with that, personally. Oh, and I'll second the bad stuff about Tiscali -- friends who've had it have reported all sorts of problems.
posted by reklaw at 6:01 AM on October 21, 2006

Oh, sorry... 'here' for me isn't Holloway, it's Muswell Hill. Should've made that clearer.
posted by reklaw at 6:02 AM on October 21, 2006

nthing Zen, very good indeed.
posted by hardcode at 6:46 AM on October 21, 2006


6 years with Telewest (cable company) and only two losses of connection. No complaints from me. Of course you need to be in a cable area.
posted by snowgoon at 7:47 AM on October 21, 2006

I used to live a few streets away from Holloway Road, and we were with Talktalk, which was fine though we only had 512KB download speeds. Not sure what their prices are like these days. Now in the midlands using NTL, which has also been fine (I was aware of the horror stories). 2MB with NTL with no download limit costs £25/month, though, which I think is a bit high, so will try and change providers when we move soon.
posted by altolinguistic at 9:30 AM on October 21, 2006

Response by poster: Cheers everyone, I'll be checking out Zen, Bulldog and Nildram.
posted by 6am at 9:56 AM on October 22, 2006

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