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Telewest Broadband. Internet Connections: Dial-up: 56kb (£13/mth + £10/mth phone line) Cable: 512kb (£29.99/mth); 1MB (£39.99/mth); 2MB (£54.99/mth). You get £5 off if you get a phone line Phone Line: £10/mth Digital TV: Starter Package, 30 channels (free); Essential Package, 60 channels (£18.50/mth, incl. phone line); Supreme Package, 100 channels (£25.50/mth, incl. phone line). You can also purchase other packages such as Sky Sports, Sky Movies, Disney... for fixed monthly rates.
As an avid user of the internet, it is important for me to have an internet service provider, that gives me speedy connections, fast downloads, and a reliable service. My previous experiences with the wonderful (not) world of 56k modems and dial-ups when I first started using the web, left me with the impression that the internet was a patience game, to see who could stand to wait the longest for a page to download (I once waited 49mins for a skysports page). Not only that, but you'd either have to pay a certain amount a minute (so you'd have astronomical bills), or pay a small amount but have a limited time fro access. Then the happy cable people decided to provide our area with cable internet, which at that time was at a meagre 128k. But what the hey, your always connected, no worries about the phone, great! Only problems were that it would stop working for no apparent reason for days on end.
As yet I haven't overly abused customer services. I've only called them a couple of times, and usually have been put through within 2 minutes. I have witnessed longer waits, but only during short periods of time. The staff are generally good mannered and helpful, the identification system is a bit of a nuisance to start with, but once you've got everything set up, it's quite efficient.
Telewest broadband has, as of yet, failed to give me any such concerns. When you look at broadband providers over the UK, you've got BT, NTL and Blueyonder (Telewest) as your big three. BT connect using DSL, which still runs through the phoneline, and has certain limitations to download speeds. NTL and Blueyonder share the cable internet side of things, but unfortunately, you rarely get the choice between the two, because depending on where you live, you're either in an NTL zone, or a Telewest one. Telewest were the first internet providers I had eved used in the UK. They offer both a dial-up or cable connection, with connection speeds for cable being 512k, 1MB or even the zippy 2MB. Usually if you call them up, tell them what service you want, they'll give you the quote, send out the contract to you and set-up a installation date for you over the phone. The installation happens usually within 10-20 days, depending on the time of year and the area. I wasn't actually witness to the installation of the internet in my first flat, however I was in my second. They gave me a 14:00 to 18:00 time slot (I believe the earlier one is 10:00 to 14:00), and so I sat and waited, from 14:00 until 18:00. Now luckily the cricket was on, otherwise I would have been mightily bored, as they were an hour late in arriving at 19:00. If you call them after 18:00 as I did, they are able to tell you how long the technician will be, but for some strange reason, they wouldn't tell me before. Anyway, the guys duly showed up, did their thing which took about an hour (I had internet, TV and phone installed), left a slight sandy mess under the hole they'd made in the wall, but otherwise, I was fully kitted up by 8pm. For the cable internet they provide the modem (it is part of their installation fee), and they also provide the digibox for the TV (both of which have to be handed in when you cancel the service, although do bear in mind you're locked in for 12 months). However they do not provide a phone to go with the phone line.
THe internet service has not caused me any problems whatsoever, I have never had it cut off in my new flat (that's about 2 months), and it was only cut off in the old one after my flatmates forgot to pay, but even then they still give you a month to pay up. (you can pay over the phone or by direct debit). The internet package also gives you an email address with blueyonder, usually with 10MB storage capacity (which is handy, considering hotmail cut down to 2!), as well as other features on their website, which I haven't really felt the need to explore. The phone line is pretty much your average phone line, you just can't use all the nifty BT quick-dial numbers. The only part of the service that I'm not fully satisfied with, is the TV. Now don't get me wrong, you get quite a lot for the cheap and cheerful price that it is, the channel content is good, you've still got your interactive shopping and box office film and all, with full digital quality and the works, it's just the annoying little things that get to me. Like for example, if your scrolling through channels, there is a delay between the time you press the button, and the digibox reacts, so if you see something you like, it can take ages for you to get back to that channel if you've scrolled past it. Sometimes the service blocks for no reason and you're stuck with a blank screen for 10mins. On other occasions, the clock and programme guide has freezed up, so if you had reminders set for a certain program, well that gets all messed up. When you press the teletext button, it usually comes up with a message telling you that teletext for this channel will be coming soon (I've been seeing that message for over a year now), and some of the interactive features that work on sky, don't on telewest, which is extremely frustrating. The result of this is I hardly watch TV anymore, and I'm stuck with it until next August, as the problems don't happen often enough for me to get out of the contract. The only way to get out of a contract, is to move house.
But, TV set aside, I am very satisfied with this package, and I believe that a lot of people would be satisfied with the TV one too, it is good value for money, if you can struggle through! I would recommend the internet service to anybody who doesn't already have cable, as they are very reliable, and overall, Telewest are not a bad investment at all.