Advantages OK speed; can use the web and the phone; Fast connection times
Disadvantages Inflexible; tech service can be poor; terrible movies
I have had Homechoice for a couple of months now, and am content with it.You will have read MisterWolf's opinion, and MisterWolf has had very significant problems, which are explained at length to readers of the Homechoice bulletin boards (Homechoice management included). Unfortunately, you need to have a homechoice address to read the BBS
Nevertheless, I am content with the service I have had from Homechoice.
I do not use it for gaming, so ping times are not critical for me. I use the system for surfing, shopping and e-mail, and it is perfectly adequate for that, at least my connection is adequate.
Now, with Homechoice I am paying £20 per month for unlimited access down a de-rated ADSL system. The main benefit is that the phone line is not tied up when I am on-line, so that my partner can call her friends while I am on the web (what does this say about modern culture?).The second benefit is that the connect time (polling) is much quicker. From the moment I initiate a connection, I can be online within a few seconds, whereas with BT (and Lineone and Freeserve and Demon), the analog modem can take up to a minute to make the connection and log in.
The third benefit is that the connection is a bit quicker than my 56k modem. The techies can argue all they like about precisely how much quicker, but it is noticeable on large downloads (2 mins per MB as opposed to about 5 mins per megabyte, but I have to say that in loading typical web pages, there is no obvious difference in speed.For the technically minded, the machine always tells me that it is connected at 112 kbits/sec, but real data transfer speeds are about 80kbps (up- and down-loading). A 56k modem typically connects at somewhere between 31k and 48 kbps, giving data transfers of about 30 kbps.
The fourth benefit is also a drawback. Homechoice forces you to use a NAT (Network Address Translation) system, which means that you don't get a unique IP address, so your computer cannot be identified from the web. This is really good from a security point of view, but also means that some web services are impossible to reach (see MisterWolf's comments).If you have a personal firewall on your computer, (you need it if you are going to have always-on internet access) you can check how many attacks (potential and real) you get coming in from the web. Under BT Internet, I was getting four or five attacks per day, because I was directly connected to the internet, and my IP address was available for all to see. This is normal. Now, with Homechoice, the NAT addressing hides me from other users, and I don't get any attacks. You pays your money and takes your choice.
A fifth benefit, if you like old movies, is that you can use the full ADSL bandwidth to watch movies on demand (but you have to pay Blockbuster prices for them) This works surprisingly well. You get 24 hours to view the movie as many times as you like, and you can fast forward, rewind, pause it and so on, just like a video recorder. Movie purists argue that the choice is limited and there are no good movies. Well look at the website and judge for yourself.Also, there are news programmes (for free) whenever you want to watch them--just as if you automatically taped the most recent news broadcast, and a few other things on the TV system.
Homechoice has a number of servers. We go into the Croydon server, and to be honest, we have the odd outage, but nothing too serious. I get withdrawal symptoms If I don't have access to the internet for more than a few hours, and only once has it been down for more than 24 hours.I think other servers are less reliable (Not sure where MisterWolf feeds into, but I think it is not Croydon).
And one other thing, there is a strictly-enforced minimum contract period of 12 months, so I'd say yes, I'll recommend it, but I have been lucky. Others are less lucky, and they have found themselves seriously out of pocket, so try to get some kind of free trial, or find a close neighbour who has the system, and ask them if it is OK.You have been warned!
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