Tuesday, 5 August 2014



Good evening, Synapse Circuit Readers. How are you today? I hope that all is well with you and yours! Today is thankfully cooler and it looks as though a spot of rain – possibly heavy rain – is in order! Here in the UK we just can seem to strike a balance... Either we’re stewing in our own juices or hiding under our umbrellas... ‘ellas... ‘ellas... ‘ellas... Eh?

There are other aspects of the UK that I am not happy about...

#HomeBroadband #Broadband #4GBroadband #Three4G #EE4G #MiFi #MobileWiFi

Ripped off by your broadband package? Whilst I was out shopping over the weekend I was stopped by TalkTalk specializing in an “alternative” to the broadband packages offered by the likes of Sky and Virgin. Me being me I decided to check it out. I was with Virgin and I thought I’d see what TalkTalk had to offer as the words, “Save money...” is always intriguing. Here I was being offered a fast, unlimited broadband connection, phone line and a selection of TV channels for around £20! The sales representative was affable and complimentary as you’d expect but he wasn’t expecting me to ask engaging questions:-

“How much would it cost if we left the phone line out?”

When I first got with Virgin I thought it would be handy to have a phone line and to have a variety of TV channels! Yay! Well, the phone line never really worked; it would work for months at a time. When I visited my folks they’d ask, “You never pick up your phone...” Then I would go home to find out that there was no dial tone. Wonderful! A Virgin engineer would come out and resolve the problem within an hour or less. But that wasn’t the end of it. Uh-uh! The phone line never worked as it should and there was no way I wanted to go through that nonsense again.

“The phone line is part of the package...”

Hmmmm... Okay... Let’s talk about the TV side of the package...

“Hmmmm... Er... Hmmmm...”

Yes, what about the TV channels? The young sales rep appeared to be avoiding the question of the TV channels and upon persistence the reason why the whole package is so inexpensive is because I was being offered what can be had via a free-view box! Great!

“These channels will cost you £10 more...”

Oh, really? And the more we continued our conversation the more this “saving” evaporated! But at least the exercise wasn’t as futile as you’d imagine. No! The exercise made me look at Virgin and how I felt frustrated with that company, Virgin Media.

Virgin Media, in my experience, was dissatisfactory. As you know the phone line never worked as it should and it got to a point whereby I would mostly call the engineer out to reconnect the line. What confounded matters even more was that Virgin Media had stopped logging my call-outs for the phone line to – I imagine – prevent me from getting money back for non-service delivery. So, I told them to remove the phone line altogether.

The TV channels were pretty much deceptive as many of the channels kept showing repeats around the clock. I think I know the Big Bang Theory series off by heart! Oh, the TV box would reset in the middle of a film / show! Okay, because of the constant repeats I could sometimes see the program again.

As for the Internet connection... ...it wasn’t too bad but it was not as the adverts promised with its non-buffering super-speed as represented by Olympian Usain Bolt! I experienced buffering and sometimes the connection was broken. Most annoying!

All the above begs the question...

Yes, why can’t we opt for just the Internet? After a while all those TV channels become a bore and it would, perhaps, be cheaper to purchase boxsets of your favourite TV shows. At the very least you can watch your programs without adverts and other interruptions. Sometimes TV shows are censored or that the networks decide what to show and not to show. For example, the last ever cartoon series Futurama was shown without the real last ever episode and that episode was such a great one!

Who wants a telephone in the age of smart and super-phones? These days the mobile networks have worked out that through “unlimited” data packages we do not ever need to use the network to make calls but use apps such as LINE, Viber, etc. So, now the networks are offering “unlimited” talk time! You have to pay more for unlimited data! But still, you can see that the need for a landline has diminished somewhat.

There is a UK company that is at last offering an Internet only service in the form of 4G! However, as this is a new company the service is not available in many suburban London areas! How annoying! I was and still am looking forward to trying out Relish’s 4G broadband service.

However, there are alternatives such as EE (Everything Everywhere) offing just a broadband and landline for £18.25. That’s not too bad. EE will give you £100 if you are still in contract with another provider apparently! I may possibly try try EE out! We’ll see...

Then there are other alternatives such as a 3G or 4G box from a number of mobile network providers. As 4G is quite fast it is a very good alternative to broadband providers such as Virgin. These 4G boxes can cost from £15 a month on a 24 month contract for 3GB! Hmmmm... The advantage is that you can take your 4G with you wherever you go! The disadvantage is that 3GB isn’t much if you regularly watch YouTube videos, etc. I would urge you to check out each and every network offering mobile broadband as the prices will vary! For example, Three are offering 15GB for £20.10 each month on a 24 month contract with an upfront cost of £49.99 for the device. That’s not too bad!

There again you could consider sharing the data of your handset by using it as a WiFi spot! This is called “tethering” and some networks do not allow you to do that unless you are paying over £35 a month for your handset! Again, network Three does some good deals. However, if you are using an Android phone you can download a few apps that will allow you to share the data connection without having a tethering plan.

I do think that it is about time that networks allow the consumer to tether on a contract handset with a large data plan without additional costs! 

Today there are so many TV boxes and streaming dongles such as Roku Streaming Stick and Google Chromecast – only the Streaming Stick does offer you 500 channels!

In the long run whilst on a broadband package you are paying around £30 upwards a month and it all adds up. £360 per year and that’s just an average cost! If you are the type to pay for movies and sports extra to your TV package... ...my goodness!  It’s really too much! And if your phone service works... ...the costs just keeps going up! What’s more is that there are supposed to be consumer watchdogs in the UK looking out for our best interests! I feel that we are just open to being constantly ripped off!

We have to look after the pennies these days and I think the best way to go is to use one of the latest premium smartphones from Samsung, LG, HTC, etc and a good data plan – unlimited if possible! Then a decent tethering app (if tethering isn’t included in the deal). And one of those freeview boxes / dongles for your TV and you are laughing!

I hope that I’ve saved you a bit of money! And if your broadband provider is giving you problems for coming out of the contract you can always negotiate a way out of it. In my case I NEVER got the service as promised so I got out of it! You can too! And don’t forget there is the Citizens Advice Bureau if you get in a jam!

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