Broadband Alternative

Larsheen

Registered User
Messages
33
Hi, can I ask the younger and maybe not so younger how you work your TV/ internet options? The reason I ask is that it seems more and more people are dispensing with paid TV subscriptions and in some cases using other- legal- means of getting internet such as phone packages. It seems that a lot of people use a laptop to view versions of TV with what are called dongles or a ‘hotspot’ on phone but I hear this is bad for the battery? I was going to get rid of subscription TV but was waiting to move house but this won’t happen so need to look at this again. Anyway I am getting left behind in technology and haven’t a clue so all advice and suggestions would be appreciated.
 

RedOnion

Frequent Poster
Messages
3,132
Hi Larsheen,

Re broadband, there is excellent content in this previous thread you started.
https://www.askaboutmoney.com/threads/phone-hotspot.205846/

Re TV, you can use a 'sky' satellite dish, together with a Freeview Box to get the basic UK channels.
https://www.askaboutmoney.com/threads/soarview-freeview.206714/

Other legal options include Netflix and NowTV, where you can watch on demand over internet. Both work using a Chromecast dongle connected to your TV, and the app on your phone, so you're not limited to watching on laptop.
 

Larsheen

Registered User
Messages
33
Hi Larsheen,

Re broadband, there is excellent content in this previous thread you started.
https://www.askaboutmoney.com/threads/phone-hotspot.205846/

Re TV, you can use a 'sky' satellite dish, together with a Freeview Box to get the basic UK channels.
https://www.askaboutmoney.com/threads/soarview-freeview.206714/

Other legal options include Netflix and NowTV, where you can watch on demand over internet. Both work using a Chromecast dongle connected to your TV, and the app on your phone, so you're not limited to watching on laptop.
Hi RedOnion,thank you so much.I apologise for rehashing this and feel a bit embarrassed.I've no head for this stuff at all and keep forgetting or getting lost in it.Normally I have no trouble thinking outside the boxes but this is a challenge.I will re- read that old thread and check out the Chromecast and Now TV.It also hasn't helped that we were sure we were moving and let a lot of this slip.The box we have from VM is hardly fit for purpose and the download speed has dropped considerably from what I can tell.Thanks again
 

dub_nerd

Frequent Poster
Messages
1,967
Larsheen, your broadband options are often dictated by where you live. If you have a Virgin Media cable connection you already have among the highest speed broadband available. You say you have a VM box that is not fit for purpose -- why not, what speed are you getting?

Other options depend on availability and are impossible to predict without an actual test. If you have or can get a phone line, broadband availability will depend on distance to the exchange or fibre-connected kerbside box. Speeds range up to 100 Mbps and down to zero, and costs are in the €40-60 range. You will find lots of different providers but they all have to piggyback on the same copper wire to your house, so you will not find much difference in options between them.

Cellular/mobile data depends on your proximity to a cellular mast and the number of other users in the cell. Performance can vary widely depending on chosen provider, location and time of day. It may go from unusable to several tens of Mbps. You don't want to go for this option unless you know someone nearby with the same provider, or you can get a cancellation/refund on whatever you try. In terms of hardware, you can get a cellular router, a mobile dongle, or you can tether to your phone. You asked about battery impact -- all lithium batteries wear out after a certain number of charge/discharge cycles so yes, heavy usage will affect your battery lifetime. Mobile data is often restricted in terms of monthly usage limits. There are not a lot of options that will let you stream video like you can with a decent cable or landline connection, and where they exist they are in the same price range as those other options.

Fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) is only available in extremely limited areas so let's skip that. There's not really much point talking about satellite either. There may be packet radio providers also, but again completely depends on your location. It's hard to be any more specific without knowing where you live (and I'm not asking) but this is something you can find out yourself by Googling. Also, just because something is available does not mean it will be any good -- it's pathetic but no provider will make any kind of performance guarantee or even that their product is fit for service in your particular location. Hence be very careful about getting locked into contracts unless you understand the local conditions.
 

Larsheen

Registered User
Messages
33
Thank you dub_nerd. I live in Dublin. The Horizon box, of which I have had a few, was always unreliable as in would fail to record and/or partially record.I made numerous complaints and each time the box was blamed and replaced to no great effect. This morning whilst exploring VM options, I tested the download on my mobile when I was a couple of feet from the box and i got somewhere between 29 and 39Mbps. Now I can't remember what I should be getting or what I am paying for but I think it is a lot more than that.Even when in the room with the box, the wifi on the phone is very very slow.At times.My contract is well up with VM and I let a lot of this slide because as I said I was planning to move outside of Dublin but now that that has been knocked on the head I need to get a lot of stuff sorted.Because I am on a month to month basis, the VM TV, broadband and landline(which I don't have to keep but helps with free calls because I am PAYG on the phone) I pay more than the current cheapest deal.I suppose I am just trying to limit my exposure to costs as we get older and the pension does less and less.The only thing we stream as such is Youtube.Probably the quickest way to get out from under some shackles is to get rid of the TV subscription and get the dish with Saorview.it seems that broadband might now have become an almost compulsory item and we will just have to keep it.Well we always have a choice but if we want convenience we have to accept that we need to pay.
 

dub_nerd

Frequent Poster
Messages
1,967
I'm not sure I'd trust a WiFi test on a mobile phone, especially if it's older. A wired test to a laptop would be more definitive. Sometimes with VM boxes, a reboot can "unstick" network glitches. It's very unlikely there's anything physically wrong with the cable as your digital TV signal is coming down it too. I have to say I've found VM the most robust and reliable broadband service of at least a dozen I've tried over the years.

If you switch to broadband-only with VM they'll take away the Horizon box and give you a new modem. Unfortunately the price has been creeping up inexorably, and is now nearly €60/mo for their cheapest broadband-only package, plus another €5 for phone*. That said, you'd pay nearly the same to any of the other providers for inferior ADSL over your phone line.

I decoupled the TV a year or two ago and went for Saorview/Freesat combo. It's way clunkier than VM and has serious restrictions, but I don't care much for TV anyway. Since I bought an Amazon Echo Show recently I don't even watch the news on the TV anymore. But I couldn't live without the broadband. As you say, if you want robust broadband you have to pay for it through the nose in Ireland.


(* You can set up VoIP with another provider and get your phone almost free, but you'd lose your landline number so if you want to keep that, VM is as cheap as anything else. Not worth the hassle of changing imho).
 

dub_nerd

Frequent Poster
Messages
1,967
Was just looking at how far broadband has come in twenty years. Improvements always seemed to roll out at a glacial pace in Ireland -- we were waiting years for the first ADSL product to finally land. But in 2002 we went from 56k dial-up to 0.5 Mbps Eircom i-stream, a tenfold improvement. It cost a crazy €107/month on launch, reduced by half less than two years later.

Back in 2012 when I switched to UPC I was still only getting 2.5 Mbps from Eircom ADSL, but I was in a blackspot and others fared somewhat better. Still, it was a fivefold increase in a decade. Then UPC came along which was 50 times faster, and it has quadrupled since. The latest offering is 500 Mbps. Twice that again is available in FTTH locations.

The typical broadband package price hasn't changed a great deal since 2003 or so. But the speed is 10,000 times better than the dial-up days. The improvement averages out to about 70% per year, though in reality it has been much lumpier than that as new technologies rolled out.

Rural Ireland has fared much worse. My own experience in the shticks hasn't been too bad overall, being able to get 10 Mbps on cellular nowadays. But there are many locations with speeds of only a couple of hundred kbps, worse than i-stream days of nearly twenty years ago. The digital divide is getting bigger over time.
 
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