I’ve found a few misfeatures of M1 Fixed Broadband that are significant enough to be show stoppers for me. Although these are not really secrets or purposely hidden misfeatures, they are not obviously stated up-front. I believe the more “techie” broadband users would not tolerate such misfeatures too, so I thought I will share about them before anyone commits themselves to a subscription contract.
My MaxOnline contract has expired (for some time actually) and I’ve been evaluation re-contract options. One alternative I was exploring was to switch to M1’s new fixed broadband service. It is basically a no-frills package that gets you about the lowest $/MB bandwidth. For users with specific broadband requirements, jumping to a new provider always raises the important questions of whether the new service will work for them?
Since the old days of SingNet ADSL which required users to install a program on their PCs to “dial-up” their broadband connection, I’ve been rather cautious about exactly how a broadband service will work. It will be a show stopper for me if a software needs to be installed to dial-up a broadband connection, and the said software only installs on Windows. What if I use Linux, or Mac OS X? What if I want to plug in a wireless router?
Okay, back to the problem with M1 Fixed Broadband. I’ve asked around, and waited for guinea pigs to sign-up. There are two show stoppers for me.
The first is that your broadband access requires login through a captive web-based login portal before you’re able to get normal Internet access. This is similar to how Wireless@SG works, as do many other wireless and broadband networks intended for mobile ad-hoc internet connections. But hey, this is fixed broadband! There is nothing mobile or ad-hoc about it. Your cable modem is fixed. In fact, M1 still requires you to register the HFC MAC address of your cable modem to activate the broadband service.
If you’re thinking it might not be too bad if all you had to do is to login once and be online forever, you’re mistaken. Login sessions last 24 hours. So you have to re-login every 24 hours.
The web-based logins make it inconvenient to run “servers”. Now, I’m not saying I want to run a public Internet website from my home. But I do want my home PC to be accessible, so that I can grab documents, photos, and various other files from anywhere else. I keep my data at home, and I want my data to be accessible from anywhere I go. There are many other reasons why people would want to do something similar too: Check on webcam at home, stream music from home, etc.
Yes, of course, we could write clumsy scripts to do auto re-login. But I think M1 should wake up and realize the stupidity of what they’re doing.
As a matter of principle, I find this totally unacceptable. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons to modify content. For example, web proxy servers routinely insert a header line in the HTTP response to tell you of their presence. But it is a whole lot different to actively interfere with the actual application data, to transform it, to mutilate it, and to inject data that did not exist in the first place.
This could be a “value added feature” on a very limited bandwidth network for a mobile device with limited processing capability. But excuse me, we are talking about broadband cable service with speeds up to 100Mbps, with computers having plenty of memory and processor power.
Incidentally, I have heard many various complaints about various applications being blocked. For example, MSN Messenger doesn’t seem to work. I’m not sure if these are just temporary glitches or intentional attempts by M1 to disable other application traffic on their network. You can certainly read a lot more complaints about M1 Fixed Broadband by Googling around.
It seems M1 Fixed Broadband is like taking several steps back in the technology evolution.