TelBru Upgrading their Infrastructure

It seems that TelBru will be upgrading their infrastructure from the 7th to 31st of October. There will be possible disruptions of Internet connectivity and lets all hope that this will bring a better Internet experience for all eSpeed and Zoom! users. For further information or queries contact their customer care centre at 111.

Source: TelBru – Upgrading Network and Systems for BruNet New Infastructure Project

A Tale of Telbru

Telbru recently joined the Twitter sphere (@Telbru) and I hope this is part of them getting their act together and telling the customers what’s going on. I believe anybody living in Brunei knows how much people dislike the e-Speed (and now the Zoom!) experience. Complaints of slow speeds and connectivity issues are always heard every few days it seems. Sometimes Telbru will respond and other times not, but honestly they need to be more transparent in what they are doing. The same goes for all their other services; as goes with my Speed on Demand findings, there often is no official word on what is happening.

Maybe it’s just me but having a problem and not being told what is being done really annoys me. If you tell me what is being done or even if you tell me why it can’t be done, I will be more understanding. Just say something and treat your customer right by give them information they deserve. You can tell us that you are doing nothing but only if you have valid reasons (not excuses). Reach out and communicate with your customers. As mentioned before they recently started with Twitter (@Telbru) and slightly with Facebook (Telbru 4 U). I initially thought the eSpeed forum would have been a place for Telbru to communicate with their customers but alas it is not – no updates since June 2008.

Recently people were complaining that the eSpeed Upgrade was a joke because:

  • There was no improvement for them (the typical complaints: eSpeed not working and/or slow)
  • Their line was not yet upgraded even up till now (over 2 weeks since they announced the upgrade)
  • Recently it is supposed that peer-to-peer (P2P) in the form of bittorrent has been blocked

After some probing Telbru told me that they are rolling out the upgrades to different sections at a time and people will get them in due time. This information needs to be stated somewhere online from their official source. Just advertising that they have upgraded when in fact people have still yet to get an upgrade will just lead to further discontentment among those who did not get the upgrade: leading to them complaining about eSpeed being a joke in this case.

The official word is that they are not blocking bittorrent but users are still complaining of it not being to download properly. Initially I torrented an Ubuntu 9.04 ISO a few weeks back and it seemed to have no connections so I left it overnight and in the morning it managed to finish downloading but my total upload was 0. I suspect that somewhere in the early morning they unblock torrents when the traffic is low and continue blocking it in the morning. There has to be a reason for the upload to be 0 because previously it was fine. More recently I torrented Ubuntu 10.04 and it managed to fully download via torrent and it did manage to upload, however it did take 30 minutes to actually connect to peers and start downloading.

On a related note of discontentment with Telbru, their SpeedOnDemand service (logon page available only to newer networks) which has been advertised in October last year and recently in March this year, is still not available for all users, only those on the newer network. There is still no product service page on the eSpeed website and the only information I have on SpeedOnDemand is from what I gathered from asking them questions and I have documented in my posts here and here.

It seems to be that with the upgrade advert and the SpeedOnDemand service it seems that they are trying to grab people’s attention by introducing something new hoping to get the public’s support. Which they will initially get. But once customers try it out and find out that they can’t access it, they will get more frustrated with Telbru.

Honestly Telbru I give you kudos to setting up your twitter account and actively trying to get into contact with people having issues with eSpeed but you need to do more to get the public faith back. I’m sure the public perception of Telbru from the constant eSpeed and Zoom! complaints isn’t that great. I myself didn’t have much faith in Telbru with my on eSpeed issues – traffic bottleneck causing difficulty in surfing at home with lots of timeouts despite constant connectivity and having to renew IP every day after returning from work. I am happy after switching to the new Alcatel modem from the old Huawei modem which resulted in a constant and consistent connection with the combination of the eSpeed upgrade.

In order to improve I suggest that that Telbru give press releases or official information documenting what they are doing and to stop with any of the advertising that gives false hope to or misleads customers. Let us know and be transparent of the repair works or roll out works that are currently underway or are planned and the estimated time of completion. If anybody is like me, knowing what is happening will allow me to be more tolerable of any issues rather than being kept in the dark. I suggest they continue with something like their eSpeed forum giving FAQs, possible solutions as well as updates on their works. Telbru I wish you the best and hope you do this right.

Local Bandwidth Tests

With the recent changes with eSpeed you’d like to know if you’ve been upgraded so here are 2 local bandwidth test sites that should enable you to check your bandwidth with between you and Telbru (and DST possibly)

http://202.160.12.27 (no Flash required)
http://202.160.42.10/index.html (Flash Required)

Note that these will show you local link within Brunei and just because your local link has the full bandwidth doesn’t necessarily mean that all your downloads will get the full speed of connection. To check the speed with the outside world try bandwidth testers like Speedtest.net.

eSpeed Upgrade!

It all started with Tiong Loong’s tweet that stated:

Telbru is upgrading our espeed 512kbps bandwidth >>See my test result http://www.speedtest.net/result/762446092.png #brunei
source

So when I got home from work that day I did some speed tests and was pleasantly surprised that it was true!

Bandwidth Test showing 1Mbps down, 300kbps+ up

1Mbps+ down, 300kbps+ up

And so today 1/April/2010 Telbru confirmed it (but honestly what a bad day to pick to announce it)

Plan Old Bandwidth New Upgraded Bandwidth
e-Speed Value Surf 512kbps 1Mbps
e-Speed Lite Surf 640kbps 1.5Mbps
e-Speed Super Surf 768kbps 2Mbps
e-Speed Premium Surf 1Mbps 2.5Mbps
Corporate Broadband Lite 2Mbps 3.5Mbps
Corporate Broadband Max 3.5Mbps 5Mbps

eSpeed Upgrade poster

Speed on Demand page finally loads!

I checked my router IP today and was pleasantly surprised that it has change to 118.x.x.x as show below and was surprised to see that the Speed on Demand page actually loaded!

New Router IP of 118.x.x.x

New eSpeed Router IP: 118.x.x.x

Speed on Demand login page

It finally loads!

So I can confirm that router IPs of 118.x.x.x can access the login page and I presume can use the service as well. Will try test this out in the coming days

PS. The images have been manipulated to hide my exact IP address but this is no Aprils fools prank =)

More on Telbru’s Speed on Demand service

After reading a friend’s Tweet I ran into Telbru’s promotion on their Speed on Demand service. I decided to give them a ring to find out whether it is available to all eSpeed users as based on previous findings it was only available to some.

Speed on Demand Promo : 15-31 March

Speed on Demand Promo : 15-31 March

So basically I found out that users with a modem/router WAN IP starting with 119 (IP 119.*.*.*) are actually applicable for the Speed on Demand service. They are still undergoing upgrading and maintenance work for other IP ranges and intending to migrate 61.*.*.* users to 119.*.*.*.

So finally some clarification from Telbru on this matter. And the speculation that it was for newer users on a specific network was correct. Sad that there is no official press release and that this information has to be continually dug up rather than presented by the folks over at Telbru. With the redesigned of the eSpeed website, here’s hoping to a new year with a change in how Telbru handles their public relations and information delivery.

PS: On a side note thanks to Bahrin (I hope thats the right spelling) for taking my call at the 121 hotline and giving me this much needed clarification and information. Kudos to you and you made my day by finally speaking to a courteous, competent and well informed person =)

Update (1/April/2010): Seems that IPs of 118.x.x.x also get the Speed on Demand

OMNI upgrade prices for existing E-Speed subscribers

Ever since the OMNI package was introduced I was curious to see what the upgrade pricing would be. I went to find out the cost for an upgrade to OMNI Lite from an existing E-Speed 512kbps connection and was sadly disappointed to hear that to sign up for OMNI, you would have to pay the same price as a new registration. My quest to have cheap mobile broadband was quelled at that point but recently I was asked if there was an upgrade price to OMNI from existing an E-Speed plan so I decided to take another look and was glad to find out that there was an upgrade path.

OMNI FAQ: Upgrade from Existing E-Speed Subscription

The upgrade cost is B$185 /B$235 (depending on IC)
[3G USB Modem ($100)
+ Deposit ($50 for Yellow or Red IC / $100 for Green IC)
+ Annual License Fee ($25)
+ Administration fee ($10)]

A new registration for OMNI Lite is $263 / $313 and OMNI Max is $325 / $375.

I was told that the cost is the same even if I want to upgrade to OMNI Max (1Mbps E-Speed + 7.2Mbps Zoom) from my existing 512kbps eSpeed Value Surf connection which would be a great upgrade path (saving $140)

Zoom! is a mixed bag of goodness and annoyance as mentioned in my previous findings but for $20/month on top of an existing eSpeed Value Surf subscription, I have to say that OMNI is very good value for money subscription.
(OMNI Max subscription is $22/month on top of eSpeed Premium Surf and OMNI Corporate only $12/month on top of Corporate Broadband Max)

Note: the 3G USB modem is locked to b-mobile SIM and thus cannot be used with any other SIM card. Also upon upgrade, the subscription is considered as a single entity so if you want to terminate either service (eSpeed or Zoom!) you will have to terminate both subscription and resubscribe for the service you want to keep.

eSpeed’s Speed on Demand

eSpeed’s Speed on Demand service is similar to the pay-per-view service on cable TV, Speed on Demand provides a pay per usage service for eSpeed users to increase their upload and download speeds for a period of time. The current offering allows users to boost their downstream bandwidth to 1Mbps or 2Mbps for a period of 1 hour. The typical eSpeed user would have eSpeed value surf plan which has 512kbps / 0.512Mbps download and 128 kbps upload speeds.
In order to activate the service, users will have to do the following

  1. Surf to the website http://espeedondemand.com.bn or http://espeed.com.bn/SpeedOnDemand
  2. Sign into their account (username: telephone number, password: bill account number)
  3. Select the appropriate package and confirm
  4. The service should be activated and ready for the user to utilize it

Prices are:

  • B$0.90/hour : 1 Mbps download / 500 kbps upload
  • B$1.50/hour : 2 Mbps download / 600+ kbps upload

This service is great for the times when you need just a quick boost for instance to play online games, download things within a deadline, conference (video) calls and live streaming. I know this would have been great for my friends wedding streaming that I did 2 months ago.

A few things to note is that you can only activate the service in blocks of 1 hour. You will have to reactivate it every hour in order to extend the service. There will be no disconnection of any service when the time period expires, it will just but cut to the normal service. The username and password is far from secure. The username is the telephone number registered for the eSpeed service and the password is the account number that you get on your eSpeed bill. I would like to see something more secure than this as I believe this could be used maliciously to charge another persons eSpeed account. The account number is far from being a secure password as for payment of Telbru bills via online/telephone/ATM banking, the bill account number is used.

Note this service is currently offered to users that are using Alcatel Lucent modems, not the Huawei modems as of yet as mentioned in Starboykb’s post. If you do not use the Alcatel Lucent modem you will see a message saying “speed coming to you soon” and to call 121 for further details (as shown below), but no other added details.
espeed speed on demand website for non alcatel lucent modem users

This has led people, myself included, to believe that this Speed on Demand service is a big failure as in Starboykb’s post he mentions that he delayed his post for over 5 months waiting for Telbru to announce the service, and on announcement of the service it seems as if the website is down. There is no information that this is currently only available for Alcatel Lucent modem users. This in itself is bad on Telbru‘s public image as a majority of eSpeed Brunei users complain or have issues with their eSpeed service. My suggestions to Telbru would be to continually update their eSpeed Forum blog and/or provide means for people to ask questions and have an updated repository of FAQs. Even the advertisement in the papers gave the wrong URL for the website.

Speed on Demand advert with wrong URL

After calling 121 they informed me that if you are currently using a Huawei modem, you will have to switch to an Alcatel Lucent modem. However, in order to do this they need to switch a port on their side and that means that you will have to unsubscribe and resubscribe to the eSpeed service. The technician did mention that they will be conducting maintenance tomorrow night (Sunday 11th October) at 11PM and trying to upgrade the Huawei network to support this Speed on Demand service. So if all goes well Huawei modem users will be able to try this service on Monday. I asked the person for upload speeds of the 1Mbps and 2Mbps packages and I believe he tested it on the spot and reported them as 500kbps and 600+kbps respectively. It seems they don’t advertise the upload speeds for this service nor their current eSpeed service.

So all in all Speed on Demand seems like an interesting service with possibilities in the future for pay-per-view applications. Imagine Telbru having movies for rent that are accessible with this download speed, or something of this nature. This could lead to people trying to create content specifically for Brunei live streaming with pay-per-view licensing from Telbru. I for one will try this service out for any live streaming event that may come in the near future. The service itself opens up possibilities but I wonder if the PR itself will make more of a headline than the actual product.

Note: I would like to thank Hajah Ajijah Shanti (I hope that’s right) for allowing me to interview her at the Mall booth this afternoon

Update 1 (12/Oct/2009 am): From a Twitter conversation with tiongloong it seems that this service may be for subscribers on a different network to the older Huawei modem users. He says that he recently switched to an Alcatel Lucent modem 2 months ago but he can’t access the website. So perhaps Speed on Demand is only applicable for newer subscribers that are placed on a different network and since they are newer subscribers they have Alcatel Lucent modems. And to make things easier for the people at the roadshow the technical team just told them that it is for Alcatel Lucent modem users at the moment, not the Huawei modem users.

Update 2 (17/March/2010): Seems that only users with modem/router WAN IPs starting with 119 have access to the service

Update 3 (1/April/2010): I can confirm that the Speed on Demand page does load for 118.x.x.x, not sure about the 119.x.x.x as mentioned above. Perhaps the Telbru staff meant to say 118 but who knows maybe this is even a newer and different network. Review of Speed on Demand service will hopefully be done in a few days =)

TelBru Telephone Directory pickup: FAIL

2009 Telephone Directory collection banner

When I was reading the papers last week I came across the announcement that the 2009 edition of the telephone directory was out so I went down to TelBru to pick it up only to be told that they were not available yet. So I went back thinking that they shouldn’t announced it in the papers if they weren’t ready to give it out. I don’t remember notice giving any starting date, so I would say it would be safe to assume that it was starting on that day. Oh well, so I thought I’d come back another day.

So today I tried to get the phone directory yet again and was happy to see the following sign on the wall at Telbru telling me to get them at Gate 2 parking lot.

Notice to collect Telephone Directory 2009

Now perhaps it’s just me, but I didn’t know where Gate 2 parking lot is. But since I parked my car in one of the parking lots and didn’t see any sign of the Telephone directories I thought I should head to the other parking lot. I was happy to see a couple of white tents and even happier to see a familiar Daikyo recycling bin (view the entire list of Brunei recycling bins).

White huts with a recyling bin

But did you notice something strange about the photo of the white huts? Nobody’s there! It’s not open. The entire thing is sealed shut! I tried to peer behind the canvas and I did notice a table and stacks of what it seems to be telephone directories in bundles wrapped in brown paper. However I could only get into the tent if I was willing to break and entering so I decided against it.

Sealed shut!:

No way in. White huts completely sealed up - front view 

No way in. White huts completely sealed up - rear view

So dejected and foiled yet again to get my telephone directories, I left the place. Leaving through a gate labeled as “Gate 3” and swinging around the front I passed the white tents yet again, and was waiting to see the sign “Gate 2”. But there was no sign to be seen except for the big “TelBru” sign…

Is this Gate 2?:

Gate 2.. I think

Lessons to be learnt

  • If reference to the announcement in the newspaper: If you advertise, please state the availability date, don’t make your customers waste their time going there only to find out that they can’t get it
  • If reference to the notice to collect at Gate 2: customers may not be familiar with your premises, so a map or directions to get to the location would be highly beneficial
  • In reference to the gate with no number: if you give a location make sure it’s labeled clearly! The worse part is being the the right place and not knowing it
  • In reference to nobody being at the tents: If you’re closed for business please state it, same reasoning as the first point.
  • TelBru cares about recycling!

    Notice of a special

    I’m happy that TelBru is taking the initiative and giving people incentives to recycle. Good on them for helping us Bruneians play our part in helping to preserve this Earth. I’m glad to report that the recycling bin was practically full.

I know it may seem trivial to point out these things as in total it probably took up about an hour of my time, but I was pretty frustrated as it was my second time going there only to be disappointed both times and which no real explanation why I couldn’t get what I came for. But at least I hope this provides some constructive criticism to all and anybody who may face a similar situation.

Update: 3rd time’s a charm! And on the booth they had the operating hours as shown below. For accessibility reasons the operating hours are:

    Monday-Thursday: 0830-1200, 1315-1700
    Friday:0830-1145, 1400-1700

Operating Hours

Why was the operating hours only on the booth that was enclosed in the tent? It serves almost no purpose because if you can see it, the booth is open and you can pick up the telephone directories. But if you get there and the tent is all closed up you’re left with absolutely no information… Guys next time do put the operating hours on the tent itself! Saves confusion and annoyance of coming only to find it closed again…

TelBru / E-Speed Customer Service

My delayed Telbru / E-Speed story as promised here.

So I’ve had quite a bit of E-Speed issues since the Olympics and most of the time I just suffered with it but a few weeks ago I decided to file a complaint. I have to say I’ve had a pleasant experience with the technical support when they’ve come down to my place. Take it the first 2 times they came I wasn’t in, so I wasn’t sure what exactly they did if they did much at all. However from the past 3 visits when they came, I explained the exact problem to them face to face and they informed me of the possible issues and went about fixing it.

Apparently when the E-Speed was installed (a few years back) they didn’t do the job properly. My telephone line has phones upstairs and downstairs each with different connection points, and the upstairs connection was used for E-Speed via a DSL filter connected to the modem while the downstairs phone was left as is. This is NOT how it is supposed to be done because the connection downstairs is connected straight to the mains bypassing the DSL filter. The correct way is for the main connection from the telephone pole outside to be connected to a DSL filter and the telephone line output from the filter is supposed to be used for any telephone connections (both upstairs and downstairs).

The E-Speed people told me the wiring is a contractor issue which I should handle which is understandable since they did the telephone wiring in the house, which is fair enough. They did notice some noise in the telephone cable so they called up TelBru technicians who proceeded to change the cable from the telephone post to my house. E-Speed worked however only that night did I realize that the phone couldn’t make outgoing calls. So the next day I called them again and the TelBru technicians came over. I have to say the person who filed my complaint didn’t understand me too well as her description of my complaint was wrong (I’ve had other issues pertaining web hosting questions that the person on the help line really did not understand me and said that they’d get a technical officer to get back to me, but they never did, but alas that is another issue), but anyway I explained the issue of the wrongly wired connections to the Telbru technicians and they started fixing it without charge! After that I’ve been having a pretty good and steady Internet connection. So a big shout-out and kudos to the E-Speed and TelBru, let’s just get some better / more informed people on the telephone lines so as not to make mistakes. Imagine if I wasn’t home and they tried to fix the problem described which was wrong and thus wasting the time of everybody. So let’s just hope Brunei strives for better customer service in all departments and places because I’m pretty sure that we all know we need it

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