Tag Archives | arnet

Dealing with Argentine Services

During my original “temporary” Buenos Aires stay, I really didn’t have to deal too much with the Argentine service companies – phone, cable, etc. I just left that up to my landlord. Unfortunately, now that I am here semi-permanently, dealing with them is making me realize why so many others have complained before.

Let’s start with Arnet, the DSL Internet provider.  Since all my work is Internet-based, I have two Internet connections for redundancy – one from Arnet and one from Fibertel.  Unfortunately, the Arnet connection is on the other side of the apartment from my office, so it doesn’t do me much good.  We called Arnet in July and placed an order to move the line to the office. They initially told us that it would be done within 30 days and they would call back.

Now, once they say they will call you back, it’s never a good sign. Plus, 30 days is an awfully long time, but we figured we could wait. So, 30 days comes and goes and we haven’t heard from them, so we call back. They have no record of the order ever being placed! We place another order and they give us a 3 week timeframe.

You can see where this is going… It is now the middle of November and after 10-15 calls, we are still no closer to having our line moved.  Luckily, we spoke to an Arnet representative this week who was actually honest with us and told us that they prioritize installing new customer lines over doing work for existing customers. We were continuously bumped to the bottom!  She suggested that we hire someone to do the work for us. If they would have told us this from the beginning, we would have our line moved and would have saved countless hours of aggravation.  Ughh…

Now, onto Fibertel. They recently started offering a $99 peso 6 Mbps connection, so last month we called to sign up. They told us it would be active as of November 1. And yep, November 1 came and went with no upgrade, so we had to call again.  They actually apologized and told us they would finish the order and it would be upgraded within 2 hours.

Two hours later and my primary Internet connection stops working. They had succeeded in completely knocking it out, so we had to call back.  This time, they scheduled a technician to come out and look at the line – 3 days from now!  So, no Internet because of them and the earliest they can come to fix it is in 3 days?!?!?

Luckily, the connection came back up on its own and they told us the 6 Mbps upgrade was completed. Of course, after testing the speed, it was still at 3 Mbps. So now, we have to call back again.

Unfortunately, this is all too common of a problem here. It actually makes me realize how good the companies in the States actually were. Even though I had problems and complained several times, they fixed the issues and often offered credits or other discounts for the inconvenience.  That has never once happened here.

Ahh, the joys of Agrentina…


Expat Tech: Increasing Slow Network Speed and Performance in Buenos Aires

After recently arriving back to Buenos Aires from a trip to the States, I was immediately struck (again) by just how much slower the Internet connections are in Argentina. My connection in the States is cheaper and blows away the speeds that I can get here.

This lack of speed has been especially apparent when I am on my Vonage phone. People often complain about the call being choppy and I am often forced to stop all my downloading or even turn off my laptop wireless in order to have a clear call. This never happened in the States.

The real problem is that truly high-speed Internet connections are not as cheaply available in Buenos Aires as they are in the States.  Our current package from Fibertel, provides 3 Mbps download and only 512 Kbps upload speed for about $85 pesos per month. As you go above this 3 Mbps consumer limit, prices rise rapidly.  Want 5 Mbps download and 512 Kbps upload? $300 pesos per month.  10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload? $500 pesos per month.  15 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload? $600 pesos per month.  And that is pretty much the limit to the speed.  By comparison, in the States I have 20 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload for U$S 49.95/month ($196 pesos).

Since my work revolves around being online and having high speed access is critical for a lot of things that I do, I finally had enough and decided to take as many steps as possible to increase my network performance while still keeping my costs low. I started researching anything I could do to squeeze as much performance as possible out of the connections here.  Hopefully these tips will help you as well.

1. Check your Internet speed.

The first thing you should do is check your Internet speed using the tests at SpeedTest.net. To get the most accurate results, choose a server near you and make sure you have closed any programs that may be using the Internet.  While you will never get the actual speeds that you are paying for, your results should be pretty close.  Run the test several times, using different servers to be sure.  If the speeds are not close, call your ISP and ask them about the difference.

2. Change the wireless channel that your router broadcasts on.

By default, most routers broadcast on Channel 6 and since you’re in Buenos Aires, you probably have a lot of neighbors whose routers are on the same channel as yours.  As more routers broadcast on the same channel as yours, your router’s performance greatly decreases.

You can use the WiFi Stumbler web tool to determine what wireless networks are around you and what channels they broadcast on. Then, simply login to your router and change the wireless broadcast to one of the less used channels. (Please note that Channels 1, 6 and 11 are the best options as these channels do not overlap with the others.)  You can find some more detailed instructions on this at How-To Geek.

I changed my router from Channel 6, which had thirteen other routers, to Channel 11, which only had two other routers.  This gave me a slightly better signal and better speeds.

3. Update Your Router to DD-WRT or Tomato.

One of the best performance options you can make is to find out of your wireless router supports running an open-source router firmware like DD-WRT or Tomato.  As Lifehacker points out, this “turns your $60 router into a $600 router.”  If your router supports this (check your router here), install it and you’ll have a lot of new options. Luckily, my router supported it.

4. Increase the signal strength of your wireless signal.

Once I upgraded the router to the DD-WRT firmware, I immediately increased the signal strength of my wireless signal.  This increased the range and connectivity of my wireless network. It now hit all areas of my apartment with no problems.

You could also try creating your own WiFi extender with some tinfoil, but that was a bit overkill for my needs.

5. Set up QoS settings on your router.

Another feature of the DD-WRT software is the ability to set up Quality of Service (QoS). This feature allows you to prioritize traffic going through the router, which means that I can set my Vonage service to high priority and my BitTorrent downloads and other traffic to low priority.

To do this, I simply followed the instructions here and set it for my own Vonage router.  Now, my voice calls have priority over other traffic and they are clear without me having to turn off my laptop wireless.

6. Change your DNS server settings to use Google’s DNS rather than the default Internet provider’s settings.

We had previously covered switching to Google DNS as a way of increasing Internet performance, but wanted to point it out again here.  I’ve been using it for months and it has been great.

7. Add a second Internet connection.

While the options above may help improve performance, none of them actually increase the speed of your Internet connection.  Buying a second Internet connection will do that, as well as give you additional reliability.

While looking at the prices of Internet connections, I realized that I can get two 3 Mbps connections, one from Fibertel and one from Arnet, for less than the cost of the 5 Mbps connection alone from either of them. So, when I was in the States, I picked up a Cisco RV042 dual-wan router.  What this router does is allow you to bond two different Internet connections into one, thus sharing the bandwidth and also making sure that you have Internet access even if one of the connections goes down.

I just ordered the second Internet connection this week, so as soon as I have it all up and running, I’ll be sure to update the blog with my results.

Hope this helps and please let me know if you have any other tips to add.



Yes, it is with a heavy heart that I must announce some really horrible news that befell me recently..

I have not had an Internet connection at my apartment since Thursday! Yes, it is probably one of the worst things that could happen, and I’m starting to wonder if I shouldn’t have been so greedy. You see, I asked my landlady to increase the Internet speed from 1.5 Mbps to 5Mbps. It was working fine, I had Internet, I had wireless, I had my Vonage phone, but it just seemed like it could be faster. So, on Thursday, I was supposed to be switched over. Obviously, that did not go as planned. Something happened that completely knocked my DSL line out!

Now, the landlady is very nice, but she does not speak English, nor has she ever used a computer, but on Friday, she and her friend spent all morning on the phone with Arnet trying to get the service back up.  No luck. She came back with her friend on Saturday. Again, no luck.  Now, I’m very technical, but not speaking Spanish has put me at a severe disadvantage since I could not explain much to her or Arnet. The other problem is that the representatives at Arnet will try a few things and when those do not work, simply say they have to call you back. Of course, they never do. There seems to be no way to get to a higher level of support, or even get a manager on the phone, and they don’t seem to be very concerned that you don’t have any Internet either. Don’t they know that this blog has to be updated?!?!?

This morning, after begging our Spanish teacher to come over, we again called Arnet – translator and me. We tried with the first rep. No luck. She said she would call back at 8pm. Right.  Marco decided to call again. This time we got someone else. Again, no luck. BUT, he did say that the problem was on Arnet’s side and it was related to a problem with the speed upgrade from last week. Aghhh! Well, at least we know knew what the problem was. When would it be fixed? Well, that seems to be another story entirely as he could not give us a date or time that it would be back up and running. We had to hang up and try again tomorrow. Marco explained to me that this is how things work in Buenos Aires. I guess I have no choice but to accept it… So, we’ll try again tomorrow.

I do have to thank my friendly neighbor (whoever they may be), I’ll just call them “Señor Dlink.”  They are the only ones with an open wireless router that has been feeding my addiction… I have my laptop set up as a router, plugged into my Vonage phone and giving my desktop PC Internet access as well. Señor Dlink, I’m trying not to use too much of your bandwidth, I promise. Please don’t decide to password protect your wireless Internet like all the other neighbors.  And, if I ever find out who you are, I owe you dinner…

Oh yeah, and to make matters worse – Gmail is down too! And Craigslist was down yesterday!  What is this world coming to?

UPDATE (8.13.08): My Internet access was finally restored today! All is once again good.