Sunday, November 18, 2007

MaxOnline Speed Upgrades

Choosing the right broadband deal from those available in the market is difficult for some people. The marketing efforts by the different companies frequently help to add more confusion by focusing attention on irrelevant offerings that undiscerning consumers find out only after having committed to mandatory contractual periods.

Starhub Maxonline recently launched a new promotion advertising enhanced download speeds of up to 8Mbps with MaxOnline Express from 1 January 2008 and touts that the speed upgrade will help suscribers to enjoy richer broadband experience at home at no additional cost.

Getting a 8Mbps connection at a cost of slightly below S$60 appears to be a good deal especially when the comparative alternative in the market is Singnet's 6Mbps at S$50.90. Yet, if it is a good deal, why is it that Starhub's subscribers are frequently complaining about its services on forums? The reviews forummers provided about MaxOnline have frequently been less than flattering.

It becomes important to look further than the promotional material that the telcos have thrown at consumers. A search through information provided at IDA, Singapore's regulatory auhtority for the telecommunications sector, yields the necessary information to explain the unhappiness with Starhub's Maxonline service.

The performance of Starhub's Maxonline, currently at 6Mbps, to international sites is much lower than the 6Mbps advertised. The information provided at IDA showed the throughput for MaxOnline Express at below 1/3 of that advertised. The much higher speeds advertised only apply when subscribers were accessing content within Singapore, content which is sorely lacking and a minor proportion of the average users' surfing habits.

The constant raising of connection speeds by Starhub is, in effect, a marketing strategy that creates the illusion that subscribers are getting a better deal than peers whom are paying lower prices when subscribing with Singnet. In reality, based on the data provided by IDA, Singnet subscribers whom pay the lower prices, are getting throughputs that are totally comparable to MaxOnline subscribers. Even when considering latency of the network, Singnet and Pacific Internet also appear to be ahead of Starhub's MaxOnline!

Discerning consumers should look to taking up Singnet's 3Mbps offerings which go as low as S$40 instead of Maxonline Express. It does not make any sense to pay more and shortchange yourself with connection speeds that are theoretically up to 6Mbps but rarely ever encountered in reality. Do look beyond the simplistic promotional tactics that marketing throws in our face and find out the true underlying performance of what we are paying for from the authoritative sources such as IDA.

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