For some reason, ever since the MTN takeover of Afrihost back in June 2014, it seems to have become kind of been cool to moan about Afrihost’s services and customer service – none of which makes sense to me because I’ve been using them for a good five years now and I have absolutely nothing to complain about at all! In fact, I’ve pretty much thrown all my Internet eggs in their basket because of their fantastic systems, support tools and customer service – ADSL, web hosting, mobile data… they all just work!
Anyway, if you have a mobile data contract with them then you would have been pleasantly surprised to recently receive an e-mail from them during March 2015, announcing that their Double Data promotion was in essence back – but this time for their mobile data offering (it is already in place on their standard capped ADSL packages).
All existing clients get 100% more data than what they currently receive for their spend, so for example, a client with a 250MB package for R29 per month will now receive 500MB per month for the same amount (which affects me, seeing as I hang on to the 250MB mobile data as a backup to switch over to when my ADSL line falls over – relatively often thanks to all the loadshedding). Clients on higher packages will also receive more data, for example, clients receiving 2GB per month will now receive a total of 3GB per month.
So in other words, pretty handy, quite appreciated, and definitely a move to try and win back some customer sentiment and perhaps drive more people to take up their Afrihost Plus+ membership (which I don’t really see the point of just by the way).
Thanks Afrihost. I continue to be coloured impressed with your service and products!
This week has been a little frustrating in terms of working from home (and putting up blog posts on time) – thanks to a fault on Telkom’s side, my home ADSL suddenly wasn’t working any more (my modem was reporting a DSL connection failure, or rather, no DSL connection at all), starting Monday evening and finally being resolved late morning Thursday!
This isn’t a particularly great thing if you have fashioned a little work office in your braai room like I have, and because I haven’t really planned for this contingency, other than my Vodacom mobile data on my phone contract, I didn’t exactly have a backup Internet connection to fall back on.
(Luckily Wednesday I needed to be in office for my weekly meeting – hello Frogfoot fibre network in the Westlake Business Park. So, so fast…)
Of course, being a software developer means that I can do the majority of my development work offline anyway, so it’s not like my work world paused or anything like that for the duration of this week – though I have to say it was rather nice to not be able to respond for a bit to all the support queries and calls for changes that come into my inbox on a daily basis. (I’m currently the only development resource in the company. In other words, I have to do pretty much everything.)
Calls to Telkom’s call centre for support didn’t get me anywhere (due to the loadshedding there are a lot of confused old people and broken modems flooding into the support system at the moment), so in the end I grabbed the Telkom Android app off the Google Play platform and used that to log a fault.
A day and a half later, I got a phone call to get more details about the issue, and the next day I got a phone call from a technician asking me if everything was working now. I glanced over at the modem, and true as Bob, both the DSL and Internet lights on my old Mega 105WR router were now happily flashing along.
(Though if this was a simple line re-synch or whatever they did remotely, it bothers me a little that they haven’t automated this process yet. Surely it can’t be hard to get people to log a fault in a particular way, those instances then being picked up by a monitoring system and automatically sorted out? Or at least, if it is already an automated system, then why does it take so long? Or am I just being silly at this point?)
Anyway, although not fast, the service was good, so I have to commend Telkom on that.
Thanks to the whole RICA process, it should finally be arriving on Tuesday. A little too late to be of actual use, but at least now I’ll be ready for next time! :)
I sat with an interesting problem the other day. Essentially all of a sudden I couldn’t access this site (craiglotter.co.za) from my home connection, which of course meant that I immediately hopped on to Afrihost’s support page to log an issue (they currently host this site for me). They quickly responded saying that the site was loading just fine for them, and indeed, when accessing the site through an anonymous proxy like Anonymouse.org, I too could see that the site was up and running. So the next problem had to be my home Internet connection itself, and after running a couple of tracert requests to craiglotter.co.za, I could see that for some or other reason, one of the servers in the chain hop was simply refusing to respond to my machine’s requests.
Based on the support guy from Afrihost’s screenshot, I could see that the US-based address that was denying my traffic was allowing through his, so next on my steps to resolve was mucking about with different DNS services. Needless to say, this didn’t solve the issue either.
I rebooted the router once or twice, but that didn’t solve anything either, and then I twigged that perhaps I’m being rejected based on IP address – which in that case could be resolved by forcing a change of my Telkom line’s external IP address.
Grabbing my current external IP address via http://www.whatismyip.com/, I switched off my router for 25 minutes. No such luck. Neither did a sleep of 30 minutes do it either. Too late to call up Telkom support to request a line port reset, I located a note on the Internet that in order to manually reset your Telkom IP address in the manner least likely to raise flags (like cloning or changing your MAC address for example), you need to turn off your router for an extended time period – around 8 hours is a safe bet.
So I duly turned off the router (or rather, instructed Chantelle to turn it off before she came to bed in the evening), and the next morning as I settled in to start work, I flicked it on and checked my external IP address – success! To force a reset of your Telkom IP address, just turn off your modem for a super long period of time (+- 8 hours)!
Of course, if you are trying to do this during the day, you could just phone up Telkom and ask them to do a port reset which might solve the issue, or if you can access your router, switch the WAN connection to say the Telkom Guest Account and then back again, as this should also force an IP reassign according to Afrihost support guy (I received this last tip after having solved the issue, but it is worth mentioning here).
Anyway, problem solved!
Related Link: http://www.whatismyip.com/
Having recently won the newly released Afrihost-branded Huawei Mobile Access Point (MiFi) device bundled with a nice fat wad of data, I’ve taken to the realm of mobile internet access like a fish to water, given that the average speed achieved on this channel is between 5 and 10 mbps, far better than the 1 mbps I sit with on my uncapped Telkom/Afrihost line.
However, I now sit with a new problem – how do I get my Samsung GT-S5830 Galaxy Ace Android phone and my Proline Rockchip QPAD9700 Android tablet to choose the Afrihost MiFi access point ahead of the usual home WiFi connection if both are available?
I obviously don’t want to “forget” the home network, as the MiFi device isn’t always turned on, meaning that I had to turn to Google to try and find the answer. As it turns out, there doesn’t appear to currently be a native Android way of ordering access points in terms of priority – meaning a trip to Google Play to find a 3rd party app that can do this for us was in order.
A quick search yielded WiFi Connection Manager, a not particularly pretty but serviceable app that does exactly what it’s name says – it allows you to manage your WiFi connections.
Most important of all, it has a item buried in the context menu entitled “Arrange Network Priority”, exactly what I was looking for. A simple matter of enabling the WiFi, dragging and dropping the networks in the required priority, and problem solved.
As easy as that! :)
So I was a pretty lucky boy recently – entered a Twitter competition and won a prize: A free Afrihost-branded Huawei MiFi device with a 5 GB of mobile data thrown in for a couple of months as well!
If you’re an Afrihost fan like I am, then undoubtedly you will by now know all about their leap into the world of mobile data – basically they’ve extended their already significant use of MTN infrastructure by now offering Afrihost-branded SIM cards for mobile data use, jumping into the mobile connectivity pie with some very attractively priced packages and devices – for those of us looking for decent Internet connectivity anytime and anywhere.
Anyway, after a short wait after first hearing the news, I received a call from one of the Milkrun courier drivers informing that they were on their way – so I got together the requisite RICA documents (basically a copy of your ID book and latest proof of address) and awaited their arrival.
After handing over my documents for verification and receiving in return my cardboard clad package, I walked back inside, plonked down on the couch and unboxed my very welcome prize, yielding the following contents:
I have to say, getting it up and running is ridiculously simple. Snap the provided SIM card and the battery into the device, close it up and hit the power button – that’s it, nothing else to do. Enable WiFi on your phone or tablet and connect to the Afrihost access point (the password is printed on the inside of the device casing) – right, and that’s it.
The device is a Huawei E5331 MiFi, basically a 3G Wi-Fi device that sports a five hour battery life (if you don’t want to connect to a power source), capable of supporting 8 device WiFi connections and with a maximum supported download speed of 21 mbps. It’s sleek, it’s pretty, and it works like a charm.
And the network connection is pretty usable as well I might add. I’m getting between 5 and 10 mbps download here in Gordon’s Bay, much faster than the 1 mbps uncapped Afrihost/Telkom line I currently have installed here at home.
So overall I have to say I’m impressed. Afrihost’s Clientzone makes managing your package a breeze and the device plus network really deliver in terms of connectivity, just as they are advertised to.
In other words, a damn nice prize to have won! :)
Related Link: http://www.afrihost.com/landing/mobile_data/
Right. So it’s probably been a month and a bit now, but so far so good. My craiglotter.co.za blog has been running nice and smoothly, powered by its new hosting company, namely the almost always awesome Afrihost.
Back in 2008 Ryan and I picked up on AmpleHosting to provide the hosting for our online venture, and while Ryan has long since left the picture, I had continued up until recently using them for their well-priced and quite flexible hosting packages. They played host the the multitude of sites I built on their service, sites including the likes of codeunit.co.za, houseofc.co.za, cookiesandcakes.co.za, and funakoshikarate.co.za, to name but a few.
Of course, having tired of spending unnecessary time online, I pulled back my online footprint over the last couple of years, in the end leaving only my personal craiglotter.co.za blog and Chantelle’s cookiesandcakes.co.za sites running on the old Amplehosting package.
Not that they were perfect during all those years mind you. They switched servers a number of times without informing us, leaving us to find out about the downtime on our own accord, and more than once they would suspend the account and again wait for us to discover the downtime and contact them instead of the other way around.
As craiglotter.co.za traffic numbers grew (and we’re not talking big – only between 2,000 and 3,000 visits a day), Amplehosting eventually persuaded me to upgrade to a better package, which I did, absorbing the higher monthly cost as part of my hobby. However, it wasn’t long before the trouble began. Time and again I would find my account disabled, and time and again they couldn’t provide me with any information other than saying that my site was overloading the server. This was particularly annoying because the site is nothing more than a WordPress installation, with no other services or crons or anything like that running in the background.
Most annoying of all though was the fact that they continued to disable my account without contacting me about it, and with my advertising links starting to bug me about server uptime, Amplehosting’s lack of immediate support, or more importantly, friendly, helpful and knowledgeable support, eventually drove me to cut ties with them and move craiglotter.co.za over to Afrihost, the ISP which has now been serving me well for the last couple of years, and most importantly, a company who in particular continues to impress me everyday with their always over the top customer service.
So yeah, no more money for Amplehosting then.
Sure, they have well priced packages, a good billing system and a generally friendly 1st level of support – but if you’re running something with a little more traffic than your aunt’s local baking site, I wouldn’t bother.
Customer service. It’s really important to get it right.
If you are in the position of having switched to Afrihost thanks to their particularly cheap ADSL prices or any of the other smaller ISPs that offer some quite attractive rates, you’ll no doubt be quite frustrated over these last couple of days I’m sure.
International connectivity has pretty much been non-existent or moving at a completely unusable crawl since Monday, all thanks to a disruption in the all important Seacom undersea fiber cable that connects Africa to the rest of the world and acts as the cheap carrier line that allows all these small ISPs to offer the deals that they do.
After noticing a fault in the line, Seacom originally pencilled in the maintenance period to commence on Saturday 24th April, but unfortunately rough seas and stormy conditions prevented the repair ship from launching the submarine operation in order to bring up the affected faulty segment and run repairs on it. As it is, it would now seem that the problem is much larger than initially thought and there are currently reports from Seacom that the cable may very well be down all the way through until Friday the 30th of April!
Some of the other ISPs like MWEB purchased redundancy on the SAT3 cable that Telkom uses and that certainly helped their customers a bit, but as of the 28th that access has since been withdrawn by Telkom, meaning that if you opted to go with any other ISP outside of Telkom and the few others that make use of the SAT3 or 3G system, you’re pretty much screwed at the moment.
A good example of single point of failure then I’m afraid.
That said, Afrihost is at least offering some sort of limited, extremely shaped and throttled Internet access through a special proxy server it has since set up (http://www.afrihost.com/proxy.pac), but as you can well imagine, the amount of traffic trying to get through there is already clogging that alternative route up.
So in other words, unless your needs are entirely local, you’re pretty much dead in the water at this point in time.
Else, if you have a setup like me back home where I make use of both an Afrihost and Telkom ADSL account, you can sit back, give a wry smile and continue to work, thanks to the surprisingly reliable (for a change) Telkom alternative!
Now who would ever have thought the use of the words “Telkom” and “alternative” in a single, positive sentence? ;)