Monday, February 04, 2008

When Eight Bells Toll

Being stock market traders, it's quite important that my wife and I have two Internet connections, so there's a backup in case of a problem with the first. In our old apartment, we'd started out with a 10 megabit cable connection from LG Powercom, but persistent problems had led to us installing 8 megabit KT MegaPass via ADSL. Later, KT offered us a great deal on their Video-on-Demand (VoD) Mega TV service, so we may have only had a one-room apartment, but in technology terms, we were living in some luxury.

There was a problem though. The ADSL modem started dropping connections regularly after Mega TV was installed. It seems the set-top box didn't have its own modem, so the wire had to be routed to it via the modem sitting on top of my computer. I don't know whether 'noise' from the VoD traffic was interfering with traffic heading for the computer, but either way, it resulted in my losing streaming connections, and while one of my trading platforms simply waited for data to resume, another, which you can tell from the interface design was probably written by a bunch stoned university drop-outs who'd never placed a trade in their life, tended to log out or crash horribly. We talked to KT and their engineers did admit they'd had other Mega TV customers with drop-out problems - but none as much as us. Then again, probably none of them are running streaming services ten hours a day to notice, although I suspect you'd soon see the problems if you were playing Kartrider. Anyway, the upshot of all this is we are a bit dubious about Mega TV now.

Because the new apartment was only built four or five years ago, LG told us we were able to upgrade to a 100 megabit connection, and in a twist of Korean Consumer Economics which would probably strike any foreigner as bizarre but now no longer quite surprises me, it would be cheaper than our 10 megabit connection. In fact, we couldn't have 10. It was 100, or nothing. KT told us the same thing, and it was cheaper with them too, so the upshot of this was by the end of the day we expected to be sitting on two 100 megabit connections. There may be things about Korea I don't like, but any country that can give me 200 megabits worth of Internet capacity for around £30 ($55/60,000 won) a month can be forgiven for so many other things.

To give a perspective on speed, a 10 megabit connection allows you to download a 5Mb (megabyte) music file such as an MP3 in about four seconds. A 100 megabit connection means the same file in 0.4 seconds with a theoretical maximum speed of 12.5Mb per second.

That said, we have a Linksys WRT54GC router, and our LG engineer told us it only seemed to be able to handle speeds up to 30 megabits. As far as I knew, it was rated up to 100 megabits, but I guess that's something to look into and figure out later. It's a shame to lose 70 megabits of capability just because of that.

And we discovered another problem. The LG Engineer told us our apartment has '8 lines' coming into it, and the 100 megabit connection uses up four of these 'lines'. But, the same would be true of KT, so while two 100 megabit connections would give us more bandwidth in our home than some small British data centres run their businesses with, we wouldn't be able to connect up a phone. So the LG engineer went ahead with his installation, and when the KT engineer turned up, she had to be told just to connect up our KT phone - we'd have to work out what to do about their Internet service, and Mega TV which relies on it, later.

But with some further investigation it transpired that we could have an Internet phone, which to all intents and purposes is like a normal phone, though it requires a special handset which presumably can talk to the network using Internet communication protocols. Initially we were told that we'd have to have a special number, but then that we could bring our old number with us after all. So, it seems our problems are solved. The Internet phone handset is going to cost us about £48, but cancelling MegaPass and Mega TV is going to cost £72 because we can't fully cancel the contract early. When we originally agreed to the two year contract - part of the Mega TV launch deal - we didn't know whether we'd be staying in Korea or not, but if we were allowed to return to the UK, we'd planned to move the service to Korean Mother's apartment. Now she's moved in with us, that cunning plan has come somewhat unstuck.

Hopefully, we'll sort out our problems with KT, get Mega TV installed again, and have a backup Internet connection for our work once more. And, as my old cable company back in the UK impresses people with its plans to upgrade its top service from 20 megabits to 50, I can return home and tell of far away lands where 100 megabit connections are... ubiquitous.


Anonymous said...

It's a 10/100 switch so any wired connections should be 100 Mbps.

Anonymous said...

I recently got Mega TV and I also noticed that I my internet connection is slow and sometimes drops. I had a router that was connected directly to the modem before Mega TV was installed. When the guy came out he split the wire from the modem, so there was one connection to the router and one to Mega TV. Since he split the wire, at best I can now only get 10Mbps to the router and 10Mbps to the box. What a waste. What I don’t understand is why didn’t he connect the Mega TV box directly into the router instead of splitting the wire? If I get the chance I will try to connect the Mega TV box to my router. As far as I know the modem is not designed to manage network traffic, but I know my router is. I seriously doubt that KT assigned another IP to the modem, I don’t see how that it possible. The only issue I can see so far it that the box cannot connect through routed traffic. Has anyone tried to connect the box to the router?

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