Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Medieval internet infrastructure woes

I’ve been stuck with the same web host for a billion years, and a home internet connection thats probably older than my parents (that last bit is probably true). Its time to upgrade the shit out of this.

Back in the dark days, I registered my awful company name ( and then went on a silly spree where I would register domain names for my games, like kudos, democracy, gratuitous blah blah… Those days are gone. I didn’t bother getting a new domain name for Production Line. Nobody cares these days, and why should they. Plus when you move server hosts, domain names are a PAIN. Even now, after my switch-over, I’m only 95% sure everything will work at the end of the month when the old server gets switched off…

The new server (again, a dedicated one, not a VPS), is very slightly more expensive than the old ones, but it hosts multiple sites, this blog, forums, and some backend stuff for the minor web integration of some of my games (high scores, upgrade checks, challenge-sharing etc). Under $250/month for all that seems a good deal to me. The best bit is that with a dedicated server you aren’t at the whim of anybody else, you can reboot it whenever you like, install whatever you like. its freedom. The host change means better tech support, and less worry, and for under $3k a year. For an established indie selling lots of games, its not a major expense by any stretch.

I wish things were so simple for my own home internet.

Thats on a GOOD day, and thats when its connected. The 7.54 down is not bad actually. I can stream TV (but not in HD I assume, my eyesights crap enough not to be 100% sure), the 0.57Mbps up is depressing. This means that uploading a 300MB game installer (like big pharma) can take ages. Assume 3 builds (3 platforms) and 3 destinations (humble, BMT, GoG), thats 9 x 300MB. It takes me about 2 days (I don’t leave it overnight). What a drag. There are games I don’t download during free weekends because it would actually take the whole free weekend to grab them. And this is with my new, spangly business ISP that has truly unlimited bandwidth. When I was paying £45/month I had a 110GB/Month cap.

I know right… its literally medieval.

Why is my internet so bad? We have FTTC (fiber to the cabinet) but the nearest cabinet is further than the exchange, so ADSL is actually faster (madness). Because I live in a field, BT (the monopoly on internet here) refuses to lay fiber to the village unless we pay (at least) £40,000. That is not going to happen.

Can you see the nearest fiber cabinet?…. me neither.

The only solution is what they call a ‘leased line’. This is effectively a dedicated piece of fiber from my office to wherever the best exchange to connect it to will be. This is expensive. This is very expensive. This is almost ‘send your kids to private school’ expensive. And the net result would be 20Mbps down, 20Mbps up.

If, when they do a survey, they can do it in under 3 months and with no additional install fee above the £600 already quoted, I’ll probably do it (BTW I’d be locked in for 3 years). On the one hand its insanely pricey. On the other, I’ve lived here 7 years and there has been NO change in internet speeds here. Also totally reliable, uncontended and symmetrical upload/download does sound appealing. 24/7/365 support also sounds good. As a business cost, its slightly more affordable due to being an expense against tax, and frankly, being able to stream on twitch, to upload HD 60FPS videos easily, and generally live in the modern age is something thats kind of non-optional for an indie game dev in 2017.

Of course the real story is the ripoff prices of BT openreach, effectively a private monopoly that charges a fortune to rent a piece of plastic cabling after its installed. I’m all for hefty install fees, but surely once the cable is in the ground, its in the fucking ground. What am I paying for here? defense against mole attacks? c’mon. We get water through pipes in the ground too, but I don’t need to sell a vital organ each month to rent the pipe.

Oh well…you have to speculate to accumulate. Now I need to save up for botox and moisteurizer as HD streams of me pimping my games will show off just how old and uncool I really am.



13 thoughts on Medieval internet infrastructure woes

  1. I feel your pain! I too live in a rural area, and the best I can get is microwave access: 1 up / 5 down. Century Link keeps trying to sell me “HIGH SPEED DSL! Up to 3 Mbits down!!!” uh huh.

    Glad that you have an opportunity to upgrade your speeds! I will definitely tune into your dev streams — I’m constantly following updates on Production Line.

  2. Oh come on Cliff! You’re a free market entrepreneur kind of guy. You chose to live in the middle of nowhere, nobody forced you to.

    Due to the lack of people in your village, laying foundations to provide high speed fibre Internet simply isn’t going to be a profitable venture. What you’re asking for then is that the companies get given heavy subsidies to encourage them to offer you a super fast net connection out in the sticks.

    In other words – you want a nice fancy Internet connection subsidised by other taxpayers in the UK who probably don’t live in such a nice green area.

    It’s surprising as I definitely had you down as someone who accepted the realities of capitalism. I understand your annoyance, but really it’s like buying a house next to an airport then complaining that it’s noisy!

    I think you have two choices – stay put and accept that the free market isn’t going to rush to offer to sell you a super fast connection. Or, move to a more urban location, and then enjoy a great 300mb up/down connection for a remarkably low price.

    I’m in an urban area, and have got 300 up/down thanks to the fact 800,000 people live within a 5 mile radius. If I moved to a field in the middle of nowhere, I’m not going to demand tax payers chip in to ensure I keep my fibre connection.

    Police coverage, fire coverage, access to decent running water, are all reasonable ‘human rights’ to demand wherever you live in a country. Adding ‘super fast internet’ to that list seems to be questionable.

    However – I wouldn’t be surprised to see it appear at some point in the next 50 years! (Just not in 2017!)

    1. Yup, don’t get me wrong, i’m not saying anyone should subsidize it, and I accept that things are the way they are for a reason. What strikes me as so insanely old fashioned is the idea of ‘renting’ existing infrastructure. TBH, the actual 8real* cost of laying the cable to me is probably about half what they want to charge me for a year. Beyond that…its just bandwidth.
      The cost of a leased line has nothing to do with the cost of delivery really. its the cost they think business is prepared to pay, knowing we have no alternative. Low-orbit satellite internet will kill off the whole business model the day its available :D

  3. If you have a dedicated server, wouldn’t it be more efficient to upload your 3 builds to there, and only from there upload to the 3 destinations?

    1. Or use a build-server in the first place and distribute all the builds from there. I have stable and fast internet and wouldn’t even consider building locally and pushing the builds from my workstation when I have a server in a datacenter with 100Mb/s upstream or more.

  4. What about not using a wire at all? I’ve seen satellite broadband advertising rates in the 30/6 Mbps neighborhood.

      1. No need for neighbours to know that satellite links are a last resort. THey have been since the beginning.

        Why? Simple physics.
        What is the distance the signal needs to travel in cables? At which speed? Compute how long a roudn-trip takes.
        What is the distance the signal needs to traval towards/from staellites? At which speed? Compute how long a round-trip takes.

        Now, understand why every one prefers cables,

        You could do the same exercise to understand why fiber is ran after, instead of copper.
        The only reason it was not done before was costs.

  5. You could get another and ADSL line and use bonding to double your bandwidth maybe? ( Obviously with a few downsides)

  6. Definitely check out microwave providers in your area.
    I had signed on the dotted line for a 30mb leased line with Virgin (at suitably exorbitant installation cost and monthly cost) to replace 1.5/0.5mb ADSL black spot in an otherwise blanketed fiber and cable area, then found a wireless internet provider were putting a mast up nearby, so I backed out as it was worth a punt for the cost saving.

    I ended up with a 40mb up/down for comparative peanuts.
    Microwave is speed of light, straight line, can be upgraded as needed. It has not affected by weather (snow, rain, storms), unlike Satellite which I also tried, and acts pretty much like FTTP from my perspective, and it’s relatively cheap to pop up a new mast than lay cable. The only down side it you need line of sight, or relays between obscured properties.

Comments are currently closed.