Gold'en Rant : Free and budget ISPs - admit your limitations

I'm getting increasingly fed up with the free or low-cost ISPs and their business models. I'm talking here about the TalkTalk broadband service from Carphone Warehouse and Orange plus Sky broadband.

These services are a great for the masses who want to do simple Internet stuff such as Web surfing, emailing and the occasional FTP download from a company server.

But they are built down to a price. TalkTalk's service, for example, is heavily contended, which means that users' speeds drop to 100 to 200 Kbps at peak times, and customer support is all but impossible to get through to (I speak from experience).

Sky's broadband service, meanwhile, logs users out if they don't transmit or receive any packets in a ten minute period. Logging back in then takes several attempts, presumably because of the many people accessing the service at peak times.

Orange's broadband service goes one stage further, actively blocking out blocks of IP addresses which are used for Internet gaming and (potentially illegal) file-sharing.

All these problems I've experienced directly, after being called in to help friends and colleagues who are tearing their hair out trying to get their service working properly.

This week I was hooked up to the O2 high-speed broadband service at home, which uses ADSL2-Plus technology to achieve downstream speeds of up to 20 Mbps downstream and 1.3 Mpbs upstream.

Great speeds - great prices - but I can't send email via third-party company mail servers, as I've discovered that O2's partner, Be Internet, blocks advanced IP requests of this nature, presumably to cut down on support issues.

So here's this week's rant against the free and budget broadband ISPs - I wish they were more upfront in the limitations of their service, rather than claiming to be right up there amongst the big boys.