Thursday, April 17, 2008

Satellite Internet Service

Our internet is back working again. It is my life line to my kids, my friends, to Canada. It is also my newspaper and my encyclopedia. I am lost without it. I had $8 left on my account when we put on another $50; however “putting $50 on the account” is not so simple an operation. Like everything else in Ukraine, internet service is more than a little confusing at times. First we go to the bank and transfer the money, getting a “cretention” or receipt with a number on it. Second we go home and go to the ISP site, fill out the details of our account and enter the amount of money transferred. We get another receipt on-line which we print off. Third, we then email the ISP giving them the number of the bank transfer receipt and the ISP site receipt. The ISP then activates that amount on our account. All of this takes two or three days.

All transactions are in Russian and Tanya looks after them. I could set up some of it in English so I could understand it but then Sergei, our long-suffering IT guy couldn’t fix it when it all goes wrong. The first clue we had that all was not well was when the site quit working on Tuesday. Call Sergei Wednesday. No money in our account. Go to bank. Bank says money transferred, go to internet cafĂ©. Tanya has an email from ISP saying the ISP site receipt is wrong. Tanya had forgotten Step 2 and used the number from a previous payment. Get the right number. Email ISP. Wait. Nothing happens. Tanya checks her email again. She sent the receipt numbers to our friend Galina in Moscow by mistake. Sends numbers to ISP email address. Internet now works.

Because we don’t have a land telephone line or TV cable to our home, high speed internet was not an option. Tanya said there was an Ukrtelecom land line a couple of blocks from us but it would cost a fortune and take forever to get installed to our place.

JSC Ukrtelecom is a government monopoly but is short of operating cash like everything else the government is responsible for and needs to replace its entire ancient infrastructure. The government is listing 68% of its shares at $2.4 billion dollars but will still hold the management firmly in its grasp. There are monopolies and monopolies. SaskTel is also a government monopoly but they know they face privatization if they lose the goodwill of the Saskatchewan people so they perform and perform well. Ukrtelecom is a carryover from Soviet times when government service was an even greater contradiction in terms.

KyivStar, one of the big mobile telephone companies in Ukraine, offers a dial-up internet service with a twist. First we dial KyivStar ISP, and then we dial SpaceGate, a satellite internet service, using ABS 1 satellite which we pick up with a pizza dish outside the window. Maximum download speed is 1000 Kbps, compared to dial-up at 54 Kbps or High-Speed at 100,000 Kbps. Maximum upload speed is 460 Kbps. Sounds not bad but actual speed is nowhere near the maximum. During the afternoon when usage is at its peak, speeds range from 10 to 30 Kbps and anything over 250 is a miracle. At 6:00 am Sunday morning, speeds approach maximum because no one in their right mind is up that early on a computer.

I can live with the service as it is but it sure would be nice if Skype would work. $0.20 per minute on my mobile. $0.02 per minute on Skype to a land line. Someday.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see you're back online for a bit. Sorry I missed your call the other day. I was sleeping in prep for nights. Talk to you soon.


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