REVIEW Launtel "Half Gigabit Club" Residential NBN on my Home Network

Discussion in 'Networking, Telephony & Internet' started by Zenskas, Aug 19, 2017.

  1. Zenskas

    Zenskas Member

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    I'm currently working on a more encompassing review of the new NBN internet service soon to be offered by Launtel to those of us Tassie locals on FTTH, but I've been asked by a few people some questions on my initial performance experiences and details on my home network so I needed somewhere to easily link them to...why not OCAU!

    So here is a little review of sorts with my very early on initial impressions on this new residential NBN connection, as well as details on my home/home office network for those interested :)

    This trial service was provided by the awesome guys over at Launtel, with more info on their up and coming residential services to be posted on their Facebook page. Recently some of you may have heard some buzz online about their Blue Ocean Gigabit NBN service, the first of it's kind for NBN connected businesses in Tasmania. That service, and as far as I'm aware all of their services up until this point had only been offered as business grade services to those with an ABN. Hopefully for reasons of only the best intentions they've decided to branch out into the often performance lacking residential market, which is a huge thing for the that space in Tasmania.

    Initially I was messaged on Facebook by the Launtel CEO and social media interaction wizard Damian Ivereigh late on a Friday afternoon about three weeks ago, and he offered me the chance to be one of the first to trial their up and coming residential NBN service for free. He asked me if I'd try out an unlimited data, 250/100 service for a month or two if I was willing to give him a review. Of course I jumped at the opportunity as I'd been getting more and more frustrated with peak hour congestion and random ping spikes during gaming on my Internode 100/40 service. At 16:43 I gave him my home address and at 16:57 he told me to switch my router to DHCP mode, plug it into UNI-D port 2 on the NBN NTD and by 17:07 I was online posting this speed over WiFi:

    [​IMG]

    Woah! Yes I did crack a smile and may or may not have let out a little giggle like an excited kid who had just connected to ADSL broadband for the first time all over again.

    For reference here is the best result I posted all year on Internode, and it's honestly about the fastest speed most can get a 100/40 service to crack on Speedtest.

    [​IMG]

    Ignore the difference in host distance - I'm still at the same address in Launceston across all tests but for whatever reason Speedtest on the Launtel service thinks I'm actually located in Hobart.

    Granted Speedtests aren't everything...especially when testing to Hobart as any potential bottleneck or congestion an ISP has in sending data over the Bass Strait is not taken into account. Also certain ISP's have been known for some time to artificially inflate your Speedtest.net scores from state to state by giving them priority compared to "real use" scenarios. None the less I've done several tests Melbourne servers hosted by Telstra, Optus and Internode and have not picked up on any congestion at all, frequently posting speeds like this to Melbourne during the day with no trouble at all.

    Now as I said I can only offer an initial impression right now as I have not been able to do much real testing or comparisons just yet. Less than a week after getting connected to this epic service I was packing up and left home for over two weeks as I cruised the South Pacific with my partner. During that time I was stuck with almost dial up level bad speeds offered to us over the on-board satellite connection for a pricey $80 on top of the cruise fare. Which could only be used in the public areas of the ship. On one device at a time. Unless we wanted to pay another $80 of course.
    Hnnnggg!!! What terrible irony, at home I had just been connected to the fastest connection I have ever had, which was for free, and for the next two weeks I was stuck with one of if not the slowest connection I've ever had, for $80!!

    So my initial impression of the internet service itself will be brief for now: It's fast and it just works. There is no peak hour congestion that I can "feel" like I often can on my Internode 100/40 connection. Web page load times are snappy and never pause. Downloading from Australian and international servers is always at least as quick as my Internode service was, often times getting into the higher numbers of 20MB/s+ depending on the server. For example downloading from Aussie Steam servers is an absolute pleasure, grabbing me those sweet sweet games at 24MB/s and up.

    [​IMG]

    During peak hours streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Twitch.tv, Facebook videos and tunes on Spotify have been so damn fluid it's almost felt like there was something physically faulty with my old Internode connection. Playback starts quickly and initial buffering is nearly non-existent. The number of times in the past I used to hear the sudden burst of "somethings wrong with the Wifi!" from the other half was exactly that, a thing of the past. There was never anything wrong with the Wifi of course, just the service that was feeding it!

    Gaming is smooth, ping times are all very much on par with Internode averaging around ~30ms or so to most game servers located in Sydney for the few games I've had a chance to play (Counter-Strike: Source, Overwatch and Dota 2). One major issue I took with my Internode service was that in the evening I would often get random odd ping spikes to 150ms+ and packet loss anywhere from 2-30 seconds which was a major pain in the arse especially for the fast paced FPS gaming. Of course being in the evening that's bang on the best time to play online after the days work is done and servers actually have more players. So far not a ping spike to hear of with Launtel! I will be testing the gaming aspect much further when I get the chance, possibly even trying out some USA West Coast based servers to get international latency data.

    We aren't all just entertainment driven couch potatoes of course, regardless of what Malcolm and his lackeys want you to think, and that upload speed can be used for something useful too. I often work from home, remoting into other computers, uploading files to OneDrive or to emails, uploading to social media and syncing various devices to each other. So far everything has been smooth sailing, no problems at all and it's been noticeably faster which has only aided productivity.
    My partner has also had no complaints uploading high res photos and files to Gmail, her blog or social media, also noticing uploads complete much faster but I am yet to have any proper time measurements to go off on this one. A big one I have lined up is a 40GB or so assortment of photos that will be uploaded to OneDrive, and I am planning on timing that run during the day if possible to really stretch the legs on the upload speeds.

    And just when I thought it couldn't get any better, the day after I got home from the cruise I was messaged by Damian telling me to run a new Speedtest...holy moly he'd bumped me up to 500/200!! All that time on crappy satellite had paid off in some kind of karma, the Internet Gods had heard my plea. Here is the latest Speedtest result ran this morning, again remembering this is over Wifi to my desktop PC:

    [​IMG]

    Do ignore the ping, Chrome seems to take issue with the fact the connection is so fast and sits at "0ms" every test to Hobart, while Edge confirms it's really around 4-5ms. Of course a test to Melbourne was done to see if there was any Bass Strait bottleneck, and I don't see anything major to take issue with there either.

    On a final speed note (for now), I thought heck why not see what my trusty Galaxy S7 can pull on the 5GHz Wifi. Yea not too bad...suck it 4G - your up to gigabit download speeds to stationary devices are probably never attainable in the real world anyway :p

    [​IMG]

    Launtel take note, if you can continue offering this level of service when you go to market then you will have some very happy customers. Residential services are quite a big talking point at the moment, what with the big swing in infrastructure and all. Old time prime players like Internode are a bit of a joke now, offering very little more than a different logo to customers when compared to their parent company TPG.
    Granted most of OCAU won't be able to jump on your service if it's only offered Tasmania wide, but sometimes it's better to offer really good service to just one small area than to be a pile of poop Australia wide.
    There is still hope of course, with recent players such as Aussie Broadband, NuSkope, Telecube and more trying to offer a better quality of service and support at a price premium to the big name budget brands. They can all be commended for that, and I look forward to seeing what they do once they've established themselves even more as people are continually connected to the NBN and various kinks sorted out.

    There is a lot to say about the state of the NBN right now, what with CVC charges, contention ratios, the often technically illiterate and incompetent in charge, it not being done to the proper standard we had hoped for and it basically being turned into a money making business rather than a national infrastructure project equally paid for by the taxpayer. Yes I could rage all day on all of that...
    But when many other lights have nearly gone out, Launtel are kicking it into overdrive and lighting a fire under the NBN that could promise a much stronger start into the digital age for little old Tasmania than it otherwise would have had. I will be providing a more in-depth review in the next few months, and I do look forward to monitoring their progress. Good on them, and good luck!

    Launtel may have won the battle for my internet right now, but the war rages on. In my opinion they will need to provide a high level of service and community engagement to make them stand out compared to the big household brands, which shouldn't be new to them given their stellar reputation in the business space. The question of peak hour congestion is still on the table, my trial service is probably only one of a few dozen, so when more customers connect it will be much more telling. In saying that I do have very high hopes they can stay on top of their bandwidth requirements better than most, again if their business services are anything to go off. There is also the question of the scope and ease of use the customer has in account control and monitoring, as well as billing and prices, all of which only time will tell as I do not have enough information to go off on these areas yet!

    If you've got this far and are still reading then thank you, and sorry for rambling on a bit for what was "initial impressions". Any questions or any specific tests you'd like me to do please do let me know and I'd be happy to!


    ---


    As to the questions I've had on my home networking hardware, here are the details :thumbup:

    All told it's running off some very affordable consumer grade gear! When I originally purchased it about a year ago I did consider a more prosumer or commercial grade setup, but the cost and number of devices would have been higher, and it made no sense at the time as I figured I'd be stuck with the standard 100/40 for a lot longer than this. I did a full run down for a friend of mine, so will paste it here:

    Router: Asus RT-AC68U
    -Hooked up to the bog standard residential NBN NTD with a 10m Cat6 cable run
    -Running 3rd party Asuswrt-Merlin firmware 380.65 (this firmware is now ~6 months out of date so needs to be upgraded to 380.67 when I get around to it). This firmware retains all official features and simply improves on the reasonably decent stock firmware interface by adding a few new advanced features, performance improvements, stability and security updates as well as many small fixes
    -Hardware Rev C1 (BCM4709 SoC with upgraded CPU and WiFi chips over the older BCM4708 in the original revisions)
    -Running at stock clocks right now as the CPU still has plenty of headroom for just two users on the 500/200 connection, but if I'm ever lucky enough to try 1000/400 I will be bringing the CPU clocks up from 1000MHz to 1200Mhz+ to hopefully bump the max throughput a little (especially over Wifi). The RAM can also be overclocked from the stock 666MHz up to the chips actual rated speed of 800MHz but the difference this would provide is extremely negligible
    -Many unneeded firmware features/Asus bloat disabled or unused, most other usual settings on defaults (firewall on but not customised, QoS off, NAT acceleration on, WAN set to DHCP for the Launtel connection)

    Wifi "Adapter": Asus EA-AC87
    -Set to media bridge mode, connects to the router over the Wifi-AC1300 link and forwards it on to anything hooked into its 5 port gigabit switch
    -The desktop PC used for most testing is running an Intel 82579V NIC hooked into this media bridge with a 2m Cat6 cable
    -Running stock release firmware (don't think this can run anything else and really there is no need to in it's "dumb" media bridge mode)
    -Positioned about 10-15m away from the router and through 2 interior walls (standard 1960's plasterboard/wooden framed walls with no insulation)


    Overall cost of this setup in mid 2016 was about $350! $200 for the router new, and around $150 for the media bridge second hand off the OCAU forums. It would set you back under $450 in total if buying the same stuff all new right now, which for the whole setup is pretty good considering the fairly capable hardware specs, Wifi performance/range, and the fact you have a 4 port gigabit switch on the router and 5 port gigabit switch on the media bridge to plug anything up to. That covers all of the wired devices in the lounge room (location of router), and at least 5 wired devices in my study. Or as many as I want to of course, once either device is further plugged into another gigabit switch with more ports.

    WiFi performance is very strong, covering the whole single story 3 bedroom brick house with ease in very usable speeds for any type of streaming or web browsing on the wireless devices. Surprisingly good coverage outside too, with the major areas such as the driveway, porch, and sides of house all covered. Yet to try the back yard but I am almost expecting to get some good coverage there too, but won't be too fazed if I can't as 4G coverage on Optus is quite good in my area :p

    The versatility is nice, being able to have nearly no bottleneck to internet speeds + local file streaming/sharing on all devices across the house, and on multiple desktop PC's without their own individual wireless adapters is fantastic. As we do not own the house there is only so much one can do as far as temporary cabling goes, running even a temporary cable from room to room is ugly and impractical given to get to the study it would have to cross over at least two frequently used walkways and through two doorways.

    While this can all probably be done using heavier duty commercial gear for not too much more $$$ I'd argue this setup is nearly as good in performance (for my uses), was super easy to setup, still very tweakable via custom firmware, looks good for the home (this Asus gear in all "Dark Knight" black is nice) and as a bonus is especially unobtrusive while watching night time flicks in the lounge room as the router has an LED off feature.

    I don't expect the router to be able to fully utilise the bandwidth offered by a gigabit connection, but I am hoping that if that day comes it will be able to make use of most of it! ( ;) ;) Launtel please)
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2017
  2. ir0nhide

    ir0nhide Member

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    How much would the services that you reviewed cost the consumer? I can't find pricing anywhere.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Zenskas

    Zenskas Member

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    Unfortunately I have not been provided with any accurate pricing or plan information, not because it's top secret but because it's yet to be fully worked out. I do expect it will cost a lot more than my unlimited 100/40 Internode service @ $100/month, but at this stage I can't even estimate it.

    I will be aiming to complete a more detailed post launch review once all that information is released :thumbup:
     
  4. ktmrida

    ktmrida Member

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    Good Review - Its certainly good to get the Gig! (even half gig :D )

    i have a feeling as more providers release it and more consumers buy it up the pricing will come down

    Whilst i'm not confident, i'm hopeful the pricing of the 1000/400 plan im on stays at the $129.99 i pay now beyond the promotion period of 12 mths

    Speedtest for good measure
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  5. Copie

    Copie Member

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    Hate to be the bearer of bad news but my republic have said their gigatown is only for 12 months and they are loosing significant money on it. The cvc and avc costs are well beyond the 130/PM cost.

    But it's having the desired effect which is advertising since the select few are posting about it on social media/forums.
     
  6. ktmrida

    ktmrida Member

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    Totally aware of that :) but remaining hopeful that things change with cvc/avc in the next 12 months.
     
  7. ir0nhide

    ir0nhide Member

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    They won't. The NBN MUST pay for itself, and the way that happens is via CVC.

    Interesting 'test'. This service in a pre-release form before it is loaded with customers will of course operate faster, much like mobile services on a new technology when only a small number of handsets support the spectrum.

    It will be interesting to see what happens here.
    1: Launtel price the service similar to what is currently there for 100/40 (say $200), lose money hand over fist and cancel the plans after a year or so
    2: The services are allowed to be as contended as all the other ISP NBN plans, and they end up performing just as badly during peak periods
    3: The services are priced at a sustainable rate for sustainable performance (approx $1000/month), and very very few people buy them.

    @OP, please report back in 6 months so we can see how things are going :)
     
  8. damo13579

    damo13579 Member

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    have been keeping a pretty close eye on Launtel, have seen nothing but good reviews so far. would definitely be interested in the sort of speeds they are offering but im expecting the price to be an issue. will certainly be interesting to see where this goes over the next 6-12 months.
     
  9. OP
    OP
    Zenskas

    Zenskas Member

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    Thanks for the feedback guys :) Appreciate it!

    I am hoping more towards this option, but $1000/pm sounds a bit high for even the 500Mbit/s I am on. As far as I can remember they currently offer 1000/400Mbit/s of unlimited data, business grade NBN for that same price per month, and while I can't say for sure if they are or are not loosing money I am *hoping* they can offer even say a 250/100 plan for well under $250/month.

    Ideally they will meet somewhere at a good middle ground, where they can offer a tangible benefit for a reasonable price premium to power users. A single 250/100 plan, assuming it performs well, could net you better speeds than two bonded 100/40 connections. Even just much better contention ratios in general would be a solid start for me!

    For sure, I will let you know how it's going if I end up paying for a connection in the future :thumbup:
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2017
  10. Copie

    Copie Member

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    Remember the avc charge alone for 1000/400 is 150/month, and cvc is 17.50/mbit so to support at least 1x1000/400 connection is 17650 per month, obviously they will run a higher contention ratio which lowers the cost but even still.
     
  11. ipv6ready

    ipv6ready Member

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    Not enough customers are willing to pay even the wholesale minimum cost for small RSP.

    Say the contention 100:1

    $150 for 1000/400
    $175 for 10mb CVC

    $325 if the RSP sold it at cost.

    $399 if RSP marked it up a small 20% for salary, rent, ip transit etc Note at 20% the RSP will go broke with all the other over heads with 100 customers.

    Find 200 customer willing to pay $399 in the particular poi maybe doable for niche player to justify 1000mb cvc

    For bigger RSP well it not worth the marketing dollars.
     
  12. HobartTas

    HobartTas Member

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    There's an article on Whirlpool that states that CVC is now charged on a sliding scale and this is explained in the relatively new NBN Co CVC discount model link on that Itwire page, basically the example given is that 1 Mb CVC for the client costs $15, whereas 3 Mb CVC costs $24.75 per client or $9.75 more. So I'm presuming that 10 Mb CVC is now going to cost only $82.50.
     
  13. ipv6ready

    ipv6ready Member

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    To get the discount you need to have bought cvc.

    Do you think companies like TPG and Telstra announce growth projections that cuts 30 to 50% decrease in their market cap?

    RSP is gearing up for 50~100% increase in cost.

    Furthermore you can't launch a 1000mb product without at least having 1000mb cvc
    So how many poi will a RSP need to offer 1000mb service nationally 121 of them.

    Though for tas, only needing two to cover the state is a bonus for RSP but tas has other bottlenecks.

    In Sydney there are 27 where in total NSW have 44 poi.

    Not a single RSP has 1000mb cvc in all the pois
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2017
  14. OP
    OP
    Zenskas

    Zenskas Member

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    I do believe the whole CVC discounting thing is going to be helping out Launtel's plans. As you say they only have to provide for two POI's, and they would be grabbing lots of bandwidth on both to get them the maximum discounts.

    @ipv6ready Aside from the links over the Bass Strait, are you able to comment on any other bottlenecks in Tas? There is always a limit to every part of a network and I am interested in finding out the ones that could affect Launtel.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2017
  15. ipv6ready

    ipv6ready Member

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    A major cost to Australian isp is ip transit that as a proportion of cost makes it much more expensive for Australian isp than other countries.

    Korea, Japan, Russia, Germany or ANY NON English speaking country can use local peering as most data is located in country. In fact what you notice is that downloading local content is much faster becuase local peering is much much cheaper, a 10g peering is possible for most of the content for few hundred dollars. Ie very few Korean companies host in USA nor do locals look at LA times etc.

    However download English content and download crawls.

    This is a major issue as more that 60 percent of data require ip transit in Australia rather than less tha 10% in Korea.

    Getting back to you Specifically in Tas, Launceston you also need to buy transit from Telstra or aurora to to get to to Hobart which isn't cheap eithrr

    Finally even if cost can be calculated biggest unknown is with a much smaller population how many end users can a local rsp get.

    Bearing in mind most major isp would barely break even in TAS
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2017
  16. OP
    OP
    Zenskas

    Zenskas Member

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    Thanks for your input :)

    Makes a lot of sense too. As an English speaking country that is so far from most other English speaking countries, and without a great deal of locally hosted content, it does put us in a poor position as far as the need for lots of international transit.

    Add to that our land being so vast and population spread across all corners, the local infrastructure costs per household/connection would have to be a lot higher than in many countries. Not ideal for anyone!
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2017
  17. ir0nhide

    ir0nhide Member

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    Tasmania is the most expensive backhaul route in Australia due to distance and the duopoly between Telstra and Basslink. That, coupled with CVC charges, make me a little sceptical that a gigabit Internet NBN service (or any gigabit Internet service for that matter) can be offered at an affordable consumer price level.
     
  18. OP
    OP
    Zenskas

    Zenskas Member

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    I too am sceptical, it still remains to be seen exactly how they do it. Hopefully I can squeeze a little bit more info out of Launtel as there might be some magic happening somewhere for this to even be on the table this early in Tasmania.
     
  19. ipv6ready

    ipv6ready Member

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    Sceptical, hmm it is almost a given.

    Telstra down 20%, TPG 50% down and Vocus 70% haves all taken a flogging in ASX due to margin squeeze compared to the cost of reselling nbn service. (Of course Vocus have other special issues).

    So when adsl is no longer available, NBN wholesale prices will head upwards to near doubling and retail price will triple.

    NBN will double to break even and to repay the government - with all market projection based on sexy 100/40mb
    RSP will triple to get back to the margins they had during adsl era
    End users will buyer lower speed

    Why because, end users won't pay $250 for 100/40mb, most will rationalise down to more affordable 25/5 -> NBN in their monopolistic ways will increase price again restarting the cycle by increasing CVC to make enough margin with the new 50/20mb paradigm.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2017
  20. Treestump

    Treestump Member

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    I had really good experiences with Launtel so far. Customer service has been excellent and they're able to get connections up and running in minutes.

    I was skeptical at first as to what their service/consistency would be, no major issues thus far. Have moved two of our offices to Launtel, one FTTP and the other FTTN, rock solid.

    Have done a couple of trials with some larger clients and Gigabit, think private schools. Good feedback from the clients.

    I do wonder what the take up of the Gigabit service will be, many customers of mine will not see benefit from a faster speed. Larger organisation and content creators for sure, though we don't tend to have much enterprise in Tassie.

    PS - They're using Telstra backhaul off Island.
     

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