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Telewest’s cable Internet service, blueyonder is available now to four million UK households from the company and its subsidiaries – including Cable London.
It offers download speeds of 512K, or up to ten times faster than a dial-up modem, and upload speeds reach 128K. And, because it’s an always-on Internet connection, the service also dispenses with the time-consuming dial-up, log-on and authentication processes that plague dial-up users.
Installation was a dream. I ordered the service on Wednesday, and it was installed just three days later – though Telewest warn that there can be up to a two-week delay before installation. As I’m an existing Cable London customer, all it required was the installation of a digital receiver where the Cable London line came into the house.
Telewest also installs a signal splitting device in the room where the modem will be placed, but attached to the existing cable TV circuit. The modem was then plugged in to my ethernet port and the Mac’s TCP/IP and AppleTalk Control Panels were set. The entire process took one hour.
Blueyonder offers unmetered and unlimited Internet access at high bandwidths, 24 hours per day for £33 per month. The modem can also connect via USB, though Telewest engineers said the drivers for this service had not yet been delivered. Anyway, all Macs manufactured in recent years have built-in ethernet that offers faster transfer speeds than USB. For this, you get free use of blueyonder as an ISP, support for up to five email addresses and 30MB of Web space.
Once installed, you can enjoy the Internet the way it should be. Online gaming ceases to be an expensive luxury, MP3 downloads speed along, and streaming movies and news content is accessible without the data packet loss that affects dial-up connections.
I tested this by hosting a series of Myth II multiplayer games on Bungie.net. The feedback from my guests for my connection speeds was positive.
I downloaded a number of MP3s – purely for bandwidth-testing processes – and software try-outs and plug-ins. An 8.5MB download took just three minutes according to Internet Explorers’ Download Manager. Mail downloads are extremely fast even with large attachments, and sending email is swift too. Web sites download faster than my 300MHz iBook can render them.
If you pay about £10 for an ISP, and over £20 per month for dial-up telephone charges you should consider blueyonder – which offers subscribers a free ISP. It’s eminently suitable for heavy Internet users, and competes favourably with BT’s ADSL service for business users. The blueyonder-provided Motorola SURFboard modem (pictured) will connect to an ethernet router and support multiple Macs in small offices – though blueyonder doesn’t officially support this. If you’re lucky enough to be in an area supported by Telewest and are looking for high-bandwidth Internet access, this is it. It’s cheaper to run, easy to install and offers a better user/modem (contention) ratio than BT’s ADSL 500 service.