What Happened in the ISP World in 2016?
2016 was a year of ups and downs for ISPs both local and abroad, with embarrassing hiccups, new rules and some contentious government involvement. Here are the big ISP news stories from around the world in 2016.
Network outages in Germany
Towards the end of November 2016, almost one million lines under Deutsche Telekom were unable to connect to their ISP’s network. The company provided some vague technical advice in response, suggesting there was ‘nothing wrong’ with the network and customers should try ‘Restarting their routers’.
The possibility of external threats was not out of the question, but the ISP remained vague on the root cause, and didn’t seek to compensate their users. Deutsche Telekom was ranked 8th fastest ISP in Germany in 2015.
British broadband rules get a revamp
In England, the government was forced to step in and alter the regulations when it comes to broadband advertising. Although this was originally due to be implemented in May 2016, providers were given some leeway to change their processes and advertising collateral. It wasn’t until October that we saw the changes come into effect.
The key change meant broadband ISPs have to show upfront and monthly costs without separating line rentals. These changes were made by the Advertising Standards Authority with the hopes of making internet and telco pricing structures easier to understand for the average consumer.
50% spike in iiNet complaints after TPG takeover
According to figures published by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and reported by ITNews.com.au, new complaints about iiNet rose 48.5% in the year since TPG acquired the telco across mobile and fixed line services. TPG saw a 7% rise in complaints.
Overall, there is a trend for more complaints in general, while issues around mobile speeds and access have curbed somewhat. Read the full report here.
Mass Telstra outage nets credit for customers
One of 2016’s biggest stories for ISPs was the mass Telstra outage that affected thousands of the telco’s customers.
Users on ADSL and nbn™networks were slugged with outages that at one stage affected up to 10% of their userbase – roughly 370,000 consumers.
Lasting intermittently for a period of weeks, it wasn’t until the end of May that Telstra execs finally acknowledged the extent of the problem. Users were gifted with a $25 credit to their accounts, regardless of the individual impact.
The outage was preceded by a fault in February that has been called an ’embarrassing human error,’ but Telstra also committed in 2016 to a $50 million investment to strengthen their mobile networks.
Telnet router security flaw exposed
Many routers continue to use Telnet (port 23) for remote administration, despite the much more secure SSH protocol. Call it habit, but in March 2016 PC World reported the KTN-Remastered worm was hijacking routers with an open Telnet port and default password credentials.
While it’s unclear how many routers remain affected, it was a big wake up call for consumers everywhere. If you have access to your router management features and your router supports SHH, it’s recommended that you shut Port 23 immediately. If you don’t, you may wish to contact your ISP for more details on how they can help.
American Consumer Choice winners WOW! competition
American internet provider WOW! Internet returned to the big leagues in the PC Mag Readers Choice Awards. The aggressively expanding ISP that currently covers Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kansas, Maryland and the Southeast USA had previously featured in the top 3 between 2011 and 2014, only dropping out of the group in 2015.
In 2016 it returned to top position, sharing the spot with another cable provider, RCN. Verizon FiOS (FTTH), rounded out the top three. Verizon has been a fixture in the top spots since 2006.