Some technical teething troubles notwithstanding, the first batch of customers of the Internet Group’s (Ihug) StarNet service seem delighted with its performance.
“They’ve got a hot product here — this is the best thing I’ve ever seen,” says David Slack, who signed up shortly after the announcement of the service, which uses a microwave satellite relay from the Auckland Sky Tower.
Slack, a professional speechwriter who uses the Internet to do business in a number of countries, says the downstream speeds from Star Net have been excellent. He was able to download the latest version of Netscape Communicator at 80Kbit/s whilst playing a T1-strength RealAudio stream.
Ihug director Nick Wood says performance has “actually been a lot better than we expected” and that some customers have achieved transfer speeds of 1Mbit/s internationally and 2Mbit/s locally. As the number of subscribers grows, the ISP will allocate bandwidth so that ISDN-type speeds can be achieved even at peak time, he says.
The main problem for the StarNet rollout so far has been a sporadic incidence of connection resets, “which I suppose is the kind of thing you have to expect with such a new thing”, says Wood. “We think packets are being corrupted somewhere in the transmission path. It doesn’t happen all the time, but we’re working hard to sort it out.”
Slack and 100-odd other installed customers have paid about $1000 for the requisite StarNet satellite dish and PC expansion card, which Slack describes as “a lot better value than the $500 I paid for a 28.8Kbit/s modem back when they were new”.
Wood says part of the challenge for Ihug will be to find long-term products to go with the high-speed service.