Xtra again fares poorly in Usenet test

Promised improvements in Xtra's Usenet newsfeed weren't enough to avoid the country's largest ISP turning in another poor result in an informal comparison of Usenet performance among local Internet providers. One source says Xtra's problem is simple: When its newsgroup service was revamped with an account with the US Usenet specialist Supernews, Xtra management refused to pay for the recommended amount of disk space.

Promised improvements in Xtra's Usenet newsfeed weren't enough to avoid the country's largest ISP turning in another poor result in an informal comparison of Usenet performance among local Internet providers.

One source has contacted Computerworld to claim that Xtra's problem is simple: When its newsgroup service was revamped last year with an account with the US Usenet specialist Supernews, Xtra management refused to pay for the recommended amount of disk space.

The source says that while Supernews recommended Xtra provide 48Gb of disk space, management settled for 20Gb, meaning customers got a "highly filtered" version of the Supernews feed.

The source says direct access to a Supernews account is available to Xtra staff over the company LAN -"and people there love the service. The point is, Xtra has access to a plethora of news but will just not allow it in due to a lack of space."

David Farrar, who co-ordinated an initial test among four ISPs, and then a wider re-run last week, involving more groups and more ISPs, said afterwards that "the majority of New Zealand Internet users seem to have a good reliable feed. The exception quite obviously is Xtra, and this is a concern as they have the largest number of users in New Zealand, yet a very small presence in Usenet, no doubt partly due to their substandard service."

Farrar said Xtra also seemed to have problems creating new newsgroups - as evidenced in complaints received by Compterworld when Xtra took weeks to add the nz.reg hierarchy of regional newsgroups to its service.

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