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 Post subject: Re: Broadband Internet
PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 11:33 am 
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We had a TV Internet subscription for quite some time, $100/month for about 400 channels worldwide, streaming over broadband.

Not available anymore, waiting for Netflix and other similar services, even considering NOW TV's (shudder!) about 20 non-sports, English channels they offer on Lamma.

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 Post subject: Re: Broadband Internet
PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 11:36 am 
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Notes from our meeting with PCCW engineering/marketing managers yesterday,
by Islands Broadband Concern Group, October 15th 2015.
Convener and report by Robert Clark:

REPORT ON HKT BRIEFING

Yesterday (October 14th) the Islands Broadband Concern Group attended an informal background briefing from HKT’s Netvigator engineering and marketing teams on the islands broadband services.
During the briefing there was a sense that we are pushing at a slightly open door, and that within HKT there is an awareness of a need to deliver the kind of service customers on the islands today expect.
But bear in mind that their internal process as well as any future network upgrade will take time.
The IBCG's own efforts to get improvements to remote areas broadband will also take time. This is just an early step and there are quite a few more people and organisations we need to talk to.

The good news:

* The HKT team has already started work on draft plans to invest fairly widely in broadband fibre on the Outlying Islands. This enhanced network wouldn't cover all households, but if it comes to to fruition it should be a good result for most Islands residents.
* We received a clear understanding of the network technologies and topology. No great surprises: HKT is providing broadband via ADSL access on the islands, using fibre backhaul (ie, the offshore links) in every case except Lamma, which is served via microwave.
* The HKT team agreed to treat as a priority those customers with persistent broadband service problems, which we agreed to define as no service or unstable service for two weeks or more.
* HKT is keen to receive feedback from our Members and are open to further dialogue.

The less good news:

* As can be inferred from the above, the fibre upgrades for the remote areas of Hong Kong as announced by HKT back in August are just “plans” and require a series of approvals both internal (commercial) and governmental (planning etc) backed by political will. Whatever happens this will take some time.
* At this point Lamma Island's backhaul microwave link is literally the weakest link. There is no HKT high-capacity fibre connection to Hong Kong island.
While Lamma has similar fixed-line ADSL broadband infrastructure as the other islands, its offshore link comprises multiple microwave connections to Hong Kong Island that have only a fraction of the capacity of fibre cable and are subject to rainfade.
For signal interference reasons, the HKT engineers explained that, they could only deploy a limited number of additional microwave links and the number of technically feasible microwave links is almost maxed out. The installation of fibre cable under the Lamma Channel appears to be well down the list of priorities.

WHAT WE CAN DO

Most immediately, both HKT and the Islands Broadband Concern Group need to further demonstrate the high level of demand from the island communities for high-speed fibre standard services and how much people (customers) would be willing to pay for them.

FOR THOSE WITH PERSISTENT BROADBAND FAULTS

The HKT execs attending the briefing (at least those not directly involved in providing end-user customer service) appeared taken aback by some of the customer broadband experiences, especially those complaints from commercially impacted professional “home office” users.
The HKT team committed to addressing the persistent issues that they would be escalated and treated as priority. Let's see if that's the case.
If your service has not been working effectively for two weeks or more, please email (with as much detail as possible) to islandsbroadband@gmail.com and encourage others to do likewise.

We will pass the results to HKT's Customer Experience team and seek a further meeting to review the outcome of this feedback exercise.

Discussion

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 Post subject: Re: Broadband Internet
PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 11:55 am 
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Having attended this meeting yesterday, I agree with Robert's report.
Good and informative meeting, but our search/experiments to get faster Internet connections NOW continue....

Surfing via 4G in my home office right now. Pretty comfortable, compared to 14 years of 3Mbp/s maximum speed on Lamma.
Image

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 Post subject: Re: Broadband Internet
PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:08 pm 
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Plus the recent SCMP report, plus insightful comments by Lantau Confidential:

New SCMP story still pending, even though the reporter gave us a comments deadline of last Saturday. Soon...

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 Post subject: Re: Broadband Internet
PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2015 7:36 am 
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Another Lamma/Lantau broadband story in the SCMP today, Oct 17, 2015.
Paywall for full story, excerpts here:

Island residents getting left behind on internet speeds
by Ben Westcott and Sarah Karacs

Despite hundreds of complaints, city's network providers have been slow to act on the problem.

If you're a city dweller who's not getting the internet speed you signed up for in Hong Kong, spare a thought for outlying island residents - they have to settle for speeds nearly 100 times lower than yours for the same amount of money. And despite hundreds of complaints to government regulators, little action has been taken by the provider which only this week acknowledged a need to upgrade its services on Lamma and south Lantau after the Post highlighted their problems.

Research conducted by the Post found home internet speeds on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon's urban areas averaged 58.11 megabits per second, and could reach up to 103.7Mbps. But on Lantau and Lamma islands and in Sai Kung, speeds regularly dropped into single digits and fell as low as 0.75Mbps - for which residents paid the same price as city customers. The average for non-metropolitan areas, in tests conducted by the Post in residential flats during peak hours of 6pm to 9pm, was just 2.55Mbps. Of the more than 900 complaints since 2011 to the Office of the Communications Authority, only four were substantiated and fines imposed on the service provider.

Hong Kong Telecom (HKT) is the only company that provides internet services to Lantau and Lamma, while a few others operate in Sai Kung. HKT this week revealed plans to upgrade network coverage on the outlying islands and pledged to invest in broadband fibre, subject to commercial and governmental approval. "Hong Kong was really cutting edge in terms of fibre optic cables that circled the island," the Lamma resident said. "It had thousands of miles of cablings, a massive system. But it didn't reach the outlying islands and things haven't progressed as they should have. "Where we are today is embarrassing, abysmal."

Read the full short story...

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 Post subject: Re: Broadband Internet
PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2015 8:45 am 
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Lamma-Gung wrote:
Having attended this meeting yesterday, I agree with Robert's report.
Good and informative meeting, but our search/experiments to get faster Internet connections NOW continue....

Surfing via 4G in my home office right now. Pretty comfortable, compared to 14 years of 3Mbp/s maximum speed on Lamma.
Image


Wow, that's amazing. I had Smartone's 4G service before and while it was faster than Netvigator, the pings were unacceptable for my usage. 30ms however is very acceptable.

What is your service plan like? Any data caps? How much do you pay per month? Can you please share a link or phone number so I can find out more?


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 Post subject: Re: Broadband Internet
PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2015 5:58 pm 
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Here's another more recent result from my home PC on a standard 4G Wifi hotspot on my smartphone:
Image

This is nothing special or additional, just a normal phone 4G plan.
Using 3's mobile phone plan, $254 for 6GB data cap. Other service providers have similar plans, but the quality depends on location, from 0 Mbps to over 50 Mbps I measured on our rooftop.
Test your phone !

There was a mention of a 3G unlimited data Smartone plan for only $88 in the last HK Magazine!
Anyone used that on Lamma? Speeds of 4G might be comparable to 3G on Lamma?

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 Post subject: Re: Broadband Internet
PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:35 pm 
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Lamma-Gung wrote:
There was a mention of a 3G unlimited data Smartone plan for only $88 in the last HK Magazine!


I don't think so.
Can't see anything like that on http://www.smartone.com/en/mobile-servi ... -plans.jsp

Cheapest is "Enjoy FUP Unlimited Data for an additional HK$148 per month for 6GB or 10GB service plans!"
and the 6 GB is HK$298

So at least $446, plus whatever other hidden charges, and you have to commit to 2 years.

Also it says "local data", perhaps you can only use it in HK? They don't say.

And "Service Plan is only applicable to phone usage but not applicable to any connected devices."

I.e., not supposed to use as a hotspot, connect a PC or laptop, though everyone does.


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 Post subject: Re: Broadband Internet
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2015 7:56 am 
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That's all 4G, I think.

Quote from HK Magazine, cover story, page 11, "Shop Around":

"Smartone offers unlimited 3G Internet for $88 per month."

If this is incorrect, HK Magazine will have a LOT of apologising to do in this week's issue!

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 Post subject: Re: Broadband Internet
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2015 8:56 am 
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OK, so HK Mag has:
hk-magazine wrote:
Dump the Data Are you paying $400-plus bucks for 10GB of LTE mobile data? Seriously, you really don’t need that much, that fast, unless you’re streaming HD video to your phone 24/7 (in which case, we need to have a little talk). Consider dropping down to a slower speed bracket: Smartone offers unlimited 3G internet for $88 per month. Sure, it’s not going to be blazing fast—but how fast do you need to Whatsapp, exactly?


If that worked here I could dump my fixed line and DSL broadband that together cost me $380 per month at a shitty level of service.


It must refer to this: Goodcare smartphone plans

Quote:
Monthly Fee HK$88
Local Data Unlimited*
Voice Mins 2,000
Contract Term 12 months

* Local data only covers mobile phone usage, excluding tethering and peer-to-peer applications.


GoodCare Smartphone Plans are only applicable to phone usage, but not applicable to any connected devices (including but not limited to iPad / tablets / BlackBerry smartphones with BlackBerry 7 OS and earlier versions). Actual data transmission speed may vary due to Internet traffic conditions, local conditions, hardware, software and other conditions which may arise.
Customers are required to pay an admin fee of HK$18/month.


So it's really $106/month and "excluding tethering and peer-to-peer" so you can't (officially) use it with your home network, or bittorrent.


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 Post subject: Re: Broadband Internet
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2015 9:31 am 
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$380, wow!

You must be one of the last holdouts not dumping their fixed tel. line yet.
We pay a still much too high $218 for broadband, max. 3Mbps up, 0.5 download speed, the best that monopoly PCCW is offering anywhere on Lamma.
This is after a massive cost increase just a few years back, followed by slower and much less reliable speeds and service.

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 Post subject: Re: Broadband Internet
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2015 9:42 am 
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Lamma-Gung wrote:
$380, wow!

You must be one of the last holdouts not dumping their fixed tel. line yet.



I have to keep fixed line, mobile doesn't work here, and you need fixed line for DSL. Some say you can do without fixed line service and still use DSL, but as above, it's the only phone that works here so I haven't looked into it.


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 Post subject: Re: Broadband Internet
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2015 9:45 am 
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There are massive discounts with all service providers if you use their old, last generation 3G networks.
They invested billions into them but everybody wants to use the latest, supposedly faster 4G these days, that's a reason for the very low 3G prices, I think.

But with our low 4G speeds on Lamma 3G, even 2G might offer similar speeds to 4G on Lamma, according to tests I've seen.
It all depends on location and how high above the ground you are. Lousy connection in our house G/F, great on the rooftop.

Got to grab a senior Smartone sales guy in person and find out more and experiment.

My interest is to find a "reasonable" service at the lowest cost, as opposed to some people willing to pay huge monthly sums for highest speed and data volume. $2,000+/month telecom costs, a friend told me...

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 Post subject: Re: Broadband Internet
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2015 9:52 am 
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Alan wrote:
Some say you can do without fixed line service and still use DSL

Most of us, with at least basic mobile phone service inside their flats or at least on their balconies have ditched our fixed phone lines.

Years ago, PCCW would tell you that you need to subscribe their fixed lines for broadband. Not anymore, even though broadband still uses the fixed line copper wires from your home.

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 Post subject: Re: Broadband Internet
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:12 am 
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Interesting quote from a story an Australian telco website:

"Flagship Hong Kong telco deploys super-fast VDSL to non-urban subs

Published on Monday 22 December 2014

World-leading broadband operator HKT is using the same hybrid-technology model as NBN Co, using Fiber + Copper to deliver improved broadband services.

HKT has decided to keep existing copper networks in place for non-urban subscribers in order to deliver upgraded services sooner and at a substantially lower cost via VDSL Vectoring.

HKT management indicated that they will very likely deploy G.Fast next-generation copper acceleration technology – only recently standardised by the ITU – to deliver ultra-fast broadband services to MDUs where they cannot install new fibre networks.

The move by HKT to use VDSL Vectoring is another demonstration of how even the world’s leading operators are taking the ‘hybrid broadband’ approach to network deployment. By using a range of deployment technologies to deliver improved speeds, HKT is able to provide high speed services in areas where an FTTP rollout would be far too expensive and time consuming."



This seems to be correct, according to my various insider sources and our recent meeting with PCCW techies. Happening pretty soon on Lamma, maybe next year; at least for the people willing to shell out several thousands for the new VDSL Vectoring routers/modems and connection.
Speeds will vary widely, but some of us *MIGHT* jump from single to double digit internet speeds.

This might be the very best we'll be getting from PCCW for many years to come. Fibre to your home is just a distant dream for Lamma.

In the meantime, our quests of using 3/4G at reasonable cost right now for more than a few GBs/month continues...
If we'll ever find any reliable-enough, stable solution (many ever-changing options from various telcos), it'll be bye-bye to PCCW broadband for many of us.

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 Post subject: Re: Broadband Internet
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:40 am 
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Lamma-Gung wrote:
HKT has decided to keep existing copper networks in place for non-urban subscribers in order to deliver upgraded services sooner and at a substantially lower cost via VDSL Vectoring.
......

This seems to be correct, according to my various insider sources and our recent meeting with PCCW techies. Happening pretty soon on Lamma, maybe next year; at least for the people willing to shell out several thousands for the new VDSL Vectoring routers/modems and connection.


At a "substantially lower cost" to PCCW but costing us "several thousands" for the connection.
Soon after this is deployed the plain DSL option will probably be removed completely.
They know how to play Monopoly.

And we'll still have the same old copper wires dangling from the buildings that conduct lighting bolts into our home and destroy dozens of computers here every year.



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 Post subject: Re: Broadband Internet
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:57 am 
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With bad phone/wireless connectivity inside your building, try putting a 3/4G router/modem (or an old, cheapo mobile phone with standard Wifi Hotspot function) into the hut on top your building, if you have access, close to the window with the best reception.

Connect via Wifi high-speed from the various devices and phones in your flat, except for streaming media (radio OK) and up/downloading huge files, like TV or movies.

For phone services, use WhatsApp or another free messaging service that allows free phone calls, or the old phone on the rooftop.
Bye-bye, PCCW and their fixed line services!?

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 Post subject: Re: Broadband Internet
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2015 11:10 am 
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Something like: http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/20 ... estow.html

Really we should find someone sympathetic in Aberdeen and build our own directional link to Pak Kok ;)

Also see: http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2015/10/ ... ernet.html


Last edited by jamie on Tue Oct 27, 2015 5:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Broadband Internet
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2015 11:44 am 
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Meeting someone in Cyberport this week, close to Aberdeen, who might have some ideas about this...

Getting 50Mbps via 4G on my Pak Kok rooftop quite frequently, like just now, posting this msg via 4G, so that might be another option...


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 Post subject: Re: Broadband Internet
PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2015 12:03 pm 
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Update on what's happened during and after our meeting with PCCW:

‎Robert Clark‎ to Islands Broadband Concern Group 離島寬頻關注小組

Hi people,
A quick update to let you know what we’ve been up to. Mostly it’s been meeting people and building support. But I think it’s clear we’ve struck a nerve. We have already won support from a substantial range of individuals and organizations.

PCCW/HKT
We’ve had further contact with PCCW. They are not wildly keen about the idea of a USO (ie, funding the broadband services through a levy on the whole industry). Which they may come to regret because it would help them. They also complain that the Marine Dept rules make it very difficult to build a cable across East Lamma Channel.

ISLANDS DISTRICT COUNCIL
I had a positive meeting with Randy Yu, an IDC member and also candidate for S. Lantau in next month’s District Council elections. I think it’s fair to say that most IDC members regard the internet as something their grandchildren use. Randy is not one of those. He understands and is very supportive of what we are doing. He’s been on the campaign trail for the past week and says the broadband issue is one of the top issues that people raise. After the election we hope we can have the IDC pass a resolution calling on the government to draw up a plan to ensure all of Hong Kong has access to high-speed broadband.

LEGCO
I will meet with the IT legislator Charles Mok next week. He is an advocate of reforming telecom policy, including improving broadband speeds. He sees it as essential input for Hong Kong government’s goal to become an innovation hub. He has a strong technology background and has good contacts in the government so it will be worthwhile to discuss ways of working with him.

BROADBAND QUALITY ISSUES
At our meeting with PCCW on Oct 14 they committed to providing priority treatment for broadband customers experiencing persistent outages. Yesterday I filed the first complaint, on behalf of a customer who is unable to get stable access to email and web applications. This is still at the trial stage - let’s see how PCCW deals with it.

FILING A COMPLAINT
We are considering filing a complaint to Ofca about the gap between the service we pay for and the broadband service actually delivered. We will take legal advice on how to proceed.

OTHER BROADBAND OPTIONS
Some people have contacted me suggesting WiFi can be a good option for broadband. That's true, though it really highlights the biggest single problem we have, which is the backhaul, ie, the subsea cable link. If we can have big fat pipes built to all of the islands, then we could use WiFi and LTE from multiple service providers and not have to wait years for PCCW's fibre. Right now those subsea links are too slender to support large number of high-speed broadband users, but fixing them seems to be the fastest solution.

What do others think?

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