Jul 13 2012

Astana Internet Choices

Category: Internet Connections,KazakhstanChrisM @ 5:31 am

Recently a few people have asked me for advice about living in Astana, either because they are new to the area, or have not yet actually arrived. Some of the older posts (the key ones are linked to on the Kazakhstan 101 page) are still useful, but where prices have risen, or locally available technology has moved on, new advice is sometimes needed. So, without further ado, here are your choices if you want to access the internet in Astana. As ever, I’m happy to receive suggestions/corrections, so do please feel free to leave a comment below.

Megaline – The main ADSL internet company here in Astana. You will sometimes find that VISPs (virtual internet service providers) exist, where they take Megaline’s connection, and feed it out to a few blocks of flats, but I have not yet come across a true competing ISP. Compared to five years ago, the speed, price and reliability has improved greatly.

ID TV – I had originally thought this was a combined internet and TV package that was from a different company than Megaline. However, it turns out that ID TV is from Kazakhtelecom (the main telephone company here in Astana, who also provide Megaline’s ADSL services). The channel selection seems to be slightly wider than that offered by AlmaTV (assuming their website is up to date, as AlmaTV lost quite a few channels I liked recently), however there are some inconveniences, related to the delivery method. IPTV is used, so instead of a special wire (cable TV), normal aerial (standard TV, no DVB-T in Astana yet), or satellite dish (Hotbird, NTV Plus (though we are well out of the range of Astra and therefore UK Sky channels are impossible to receive conventionally here)), ID TV (the company, IPTV is the transmission method) uses your phone line. This means that you will probably see a slight dip in your internet download speeds and that changing channels apparently takes 10 seconds each time! It looks as though you choose from Megaline’s broadband packages if you don’t already have an internet connection set up, then select which TV channel package you want.

Internet TV Packages

There are other choices here in Astana, for example there was a WiMax system being trialled a few years ago, and I know of at least one business that uses this for internet access and voice over IP (telephone calls), as they have no land line. I will try and find out more about this, though it will not be for a couple of months at least.
If your internet access needs are more mobile, then a USB 3G Dongle could be what you need. You plug the device (with a SIM card in it) into your laptop, and use the mobile phone network to access the world wide web. As with Britain though (see this BBC article), coverage in Astana is not 100%, and even when 3G network coverage is displayed as available, the speeds can sometimes be closer to Edge, if not 2G!

Similar to this, but without the requirement for new hardware, is tethering your mobile phone to your laptop (basically using a USB lead, WiFi or bluetooth), and using your existing mobile phone account to access the internet on your computer. However, you do need to make sure your current choice of account does not charge a lot per Mb used, and it is probably worth checking whether your mobile phone company (KCell, Active, Beeline etc.) offers any bundles, where you pay for a fixed amount, that expires after a month.

Finally, should you find yourself without a mobile phone, dongle, or ADSL-enabled phone line, you could always go old school and use a dial up modem. The speed will make you weep, the phoneline will be engaged should anyone try and call you, but if all else fails those screeching tones, that indicate a handshake is taking place, can be a godsend.

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May 27 2009

Made Me Laugh Anyway

Category: Internet Connections,PersonalChrisM @ 1:14 am

A couple of quick links, as I realised it had been a while since I posted any. First we have the most unfortunate t-shirt slogans for police mug shots. I espcially loved the “If we get caught it’s all your fault” and “Every great idea I have, gets me in trouble” shirts. Those peoplr are really going to reconsider their wardrobe selections in the future, I guess. Unless they were aiming to be arrested (demonstrations etc.), and the humour was intentional?

From the same site, we have the 10 most bizarre gaming incidents. I just love #3 – “Boy saves his sister from a moose attack with skills learned from World of Warcraft” !

Stupid bloody Megaline, their internet connection is down again as I write this. Ho hum, will try and publish it later. Then it was up for long enough for me to check out the 20 most bizarre mugshots page. Pretty weak with some of those shots, unless I’m missing something? A lot just look like relatively normal weird people, and four just look plain average. I’d be surprised if there weren’t a lot better weird mug shots around… Internet down again, will try and post this later.


Oct 16 2008

White Skinny Dipping

Category: In The Media,VideosChrisM @ 4:12 am

Head over here for the BBC report, or if you find their streaming video has problems with your internet connection, see the following three YouTube videos. On what? Well in case you missed out on the news, a British man dove into the Moat surrounding the Emperor’s residence in Tokyo. The undeniable facts are that he was naked, not likely to get cold this winter with his in-built insulation, either a litttle unhinged or drunk, and splashed water and threw bricks when the police attempted to catch him.

Thanks to Japan Probe for the following picture (and preceding videos)…
Mad Naked Brit In Japan

So why my interest?
Well I saw the following image over at Pundit Kitchen, and wanted to find out more about the background to it.
Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
see Sarah Palin pictures

So what happened to the crude and aggressive tourist? Detained under the equivalent of Japan’s Metal Health Act? Received a good public beating after throwing bricks around? No, he had a slap on the wrists and was released! At least according to the Daily Telegraph’s article.

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Oct 08 2008

BBC News Suggestions

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 12:42 am

A couple of quick suggestions I’ve been meaning to mention for a while

1) The links on the right hand side of many articles, linking to similar stories, should include articles written AFTER the original story, not just previous ones.

2) The streaming video does not follow the standards set by many others – if your internet connection is too busy, or just slow, the stream is not buffered. This means that the video stops every nine seconds or so of footage, whilst the next section is loaded. Similarly, once a video has been played once, it does not appear to be reused should the video be rewatched immediately. If either of these situations were altered, videos could be watched smoothly by those of us without fat connections.

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Jul 16 2008

PPP Weren’t Down!

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 2:33 am

I meant to update the situation since my PayPerPost And SocialSpark Down Again? post. It turns out the problem was at my end, as many other sites were also not available. The sites resolved OK, but they just hung with the connection established, not even timing out. After running through the obvious preliminary checks, I asked Ira to contact our pseduo-ISP, and check what the problem was. Nothing at all apparently, the fault must lie with our setup.

I sent this letter, and was happy to receive a reply, quite quickly, on a Saturday afternoon!

(his name removed),

I believe you spoke to my wife, Irina, earlier today. These are the details of the problems we have, I look forward to hearing the solution.

Are our current internet problems because we are on the restricted speed connection right now, as we’ve gone over 10Gb?

This has been happening since Wednesday, possibly one or two days before that.

Problems include…

1) The following sites not working –


None of those sites will load, it just states ‘waiting for (name of site)’ constantly. All sites load if I use a web proxy service to test them.
Other sites load ok, the ones given are just examples I’ve noticed so far.

2) MSN Messenger can not connect, but Skype is OK.

3) BitTorrents cause complete failure with the internet connection – ALL downloads/uploads, not just torrents will stop for 10-20 seconds, start again for 10 seconds, then fail again in a loop. This has always been the case, not just since Wednesday.

Attempts to repair or specifically identify the problem…

Confirmed that no proxy server is set, Automatically Detect Settings unchecked, used both FireFox, Internet Explorer 7, Pocket Internet Explorer and NetFront.
I tried the same things on my wife’s laptop, with both a wired LAN connection and WiFi. Exact same problems occur.
I tried the same things on my PDA, using WiFi. Exact same problems occur.
I obviously tried restarting the PCs & the router (a Netgear DG834PN).
I checked the MTU is not set too high (currently 1492) and therefore causing strange fragmentation problems.
I removed the DNS servers I had assigned (OpenDNS, as the ones in this country are quite bad), and used the default ones supplied by Bazis, as well as defining the router itself as the DNS server (which would only cause the PC to use the default Bazis ones anyway). This was done both on the PC and the router itself.

The problems remain.

These issues occur on three different devices, with different DNS servers set, I believe the fault lies with either your or Kazakh Telecoms network hardware.
I did not think that resetting the TCP/IP protocol stack would be worth doing, as all three devices would be very unlikely to suffer from the same problem at the same time.

I used to work for an ISP in Britain, as a Senior Technical Support Agent, so I hope I have told you all the information you need to fix this problem. If there are other tests you want me to carry out, please tell me.

If you have a modem that you want to test in this flat to confirm the fault is not here, I would be happy to help.

Chris Merriman

Once I actually read their reply, I wasn’t exactly over the moon…


Reinstall operating system Windows
or restore her(it) with help of the load disk. Probably after attacks virus she conked…
Earlier beside me was such problem, was not opened mail on www.yahoo.com
If you want that I came to you home and has tested on my notebook, I with joy to you will come…

About 10 GB… There is quota In Kazakhtelekom to speed on loading more 10Gb.
You it is necessary to call me 688-907

Krasnikov (name removed)!

I should point out straight away that they said they didn’t speak English (not a problem, it is to be assumed in this country), but I really hoped the letter I’d sent would give them enough information to not get a ‘reinstall Windows’ reply. Anyway, at some point last Saturday something happened that caused the sites to work again. Whether it was something corrected at Bazis, or further on up the line with Megaline (the real ISP) noticing that some of their hardware wasn’t working, I’m not sure. Anyway, sent this reply…

Thanks for your advice.

Reinstalling Windows really is a last ditch ‘fix’ for any computer problem. The fact that these sites did not work on THREE different devices (XP desktop, Vista laptop, Windows Mobile 6 PDA) indicates this would not have done anything to remedy situation. All three devices are confirmed as virus, trojan, spyware, adware and, in general, malware free. I’ve not encountered any viruses in the last 15 years that prevented that sort of range of sites from loading.

Luckily, at some point during Saturday afternoon, something was fixed somewhere, and the sites worked again. Perhaps Megaline had a routing problem or flakey hardware that is now fixed?
Anyway, I’ll wait until the end of the month, when I get my ‘normal’ speeds again (I understand the 10Gb limit, it is laughably small, but I understand it), before retesting to see if BitTorrents still cause catastrophic failures for all internet based traffic.

Thank you for replying,

Chris Merriman

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Jul 09 2008

Breached The 10 Gb Limit Already

Category: Internet Connections,PersonalChrisM @ 7:58 pm

A couple of days ago I noticed that our internet connection was seriously slow once more. Convinced our pseudo-ISP (that all data goes via, before hitting Megaline) had goofed again, I checked what I’d been downloading so far this month. Unfortunately, it turns out I had indeed transferred more than my monthly limit within the first week of July from a friend’s FTP server. (Obviously copyright-free material such as linux distros only 😉 ). Now that our speed has doubled to 256kbit (actually it comes in at more like 384kbit normally, but I’m not about to volunteer that info to our ISP), download limits are probably going to be hit in half the time… At least the throttled speed on our ‘unlimited’ account has now also doubled to approx 64kbit, so I’m still better off than on dial up.

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Mar 26 2008

Broad(ish)band Got Narrower

Category: Internet ConnectionsChrisM @ 3:53 am

My current internet connection is normally rated at 128kbit/sec. They have the cheek to advertise this as unlimited broadband. For starters, an internet connection that is no fast than dual channel ISDN, and isn’t capable of playing many online radios does not seem so broad to me. Secondly, their definition of unlimited somehow equates to 10Gb of down or uploads in one month. Once you pass that gargantuan (LMAO) amount, the internet connection is further throttled down to 32 kbit/sec. That is worse than most old 56k dial up connections! All this makes getting the good jobs quite difficult online, as those with faster connections are able to reserve jobs before this PC’s browser has even opened up the initial page.
All said though, we do at least have ADSL here now, I remember when we first arrived it was strictly dial up only, and the large phone bills that would follow a few late nights online. The WiMax trial that was mentioned some 18 months ago was never completed in this area of town, so the only hope really is that the ISP will get a little more realistic in both terms of speed, and also monthly bandwidth caps.

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Dec 19 2007

Internet Reports

Category: In The Media,Internet Connections,Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 4:25 am

The ISP we now have our internet connection with is called Megaline. Unfortunately, since swapping to their service, everyday sees some downtime for connectivity. Even when all is apparently working, packets are often lost, and I can no longer as open as many simultaneous pages, without time outs occurring. That said, it is a lot cheaper, and although only 1/2 the speed, I do get an allowance of 10Gb/month before they throttle me down to 32Kbit/sec, from 128Kbit/sec.
Anyway, we first have a report on the UK’s lagginess (puns will stop now, sorry), when it comes to very fast internet connection availability. This is no great surprise really, given our history with BT’s (formerly part of the GPO) previous monopoly at nearly all stages of communications. Great investment will be needed to push beyond the current 24Mbps ceiling, and even that sort of connection is only really possibly if you live on top of your local exchange. Until we drop twisted pair copper lines as acceptable, the days of fibre optics into every home are a long way off, unless someone like Richard Branson decides that it is economically viable in areas when other Cable TV operators have avoided.
Globally Maximum Advertised Speeds For The Internet

On a more positive note, here we have an article detailing how broadband internet connectivity (even if it isn’t globally breath-takingly fast) has rapidly become the preferred speed, compared to just four years ago, when most people considered dial up speeds acceptable. No pretty table to illustrate the point this time, sorry.

Finally, on a semi-related matter, the BBC News site had details on how some European nation’s citizens are rejecting land lines altogether, in favour of mobile phones. Although this may sound surprising at first, if you take into account that some of the nations, that were unable to develop as quickly under USSR rule, never had high rates for phone lines into every house, and how competitive some mobile phone network companies are in these markets, to try and get, then keep loyal customers, you can begin to see why having no land line number is becoming more common in some areas. Whether these figures include those that only use phone lines for internet usage, and use mobiles for cheaper evening calls etc, I couldn’t ascertain.

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Dec 05 2007

Megaline Is In The House…

Category: Internet Connections,Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 2:01 am

Rather than a crappy MC name, Megaline is the name of the company that now has the responsibility of providing our internet connection. Anyway, 20-something hours after being told that our new connection was live, and the new connection details, we eventually had an IP address once more. Changing from an internet network arrangement that utilized some servers before getting to the real ISP in use, to a simpler PPPoE connection had given me some hope in that there would be less packet loss, as less hardware in the chain generally means less to go wrong. Sadly, this has not been the case, with complete loss of data throughput occurring a couple of times today already. Although this only occurred when opening around 30 pages in FireFox at the same time as a torrent downloading, to see a decrease in network stability was not what I hoped for. I will be monitoring the connection over the next few days, to see if problems only occur under such ‘heavy’ usage, or if this is a regular occurrence. If this does happen often, there is probably not much I can do about it – even less that back in Britain in fact, as I can’t see much action being taken once any fault is reported.
Anyway, I now get an extra 3Gb per month before being throttled, the price is around four times cheaper, so I can’t really complain. But watch this space for further efforts of me trying my best anyway 😉

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Dec 03 2007

The Internet Is Dead, Long Live The Internet…

Category: Internet Connections,Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 4:53 pm

OK, melodramatic post title, but in case it flew right over your head, I’m referring to The King Is Dead, Long Live The King! (or Le Roi est mort. Vive le Roi! (yes, I wikied before posting to make sure I had the correct words 🙂 ))

Anyway, our current internet connection is over priced, under powered, and has a relatively low data allowance per month. This is on an ‘unlimited’ connection. It is currently 256Kbps, which drops to 64Kbps after 7Gb has been downloaded. The new connection will be through Megaline, almost 80% cheaper, and have a monthly allowance of 10Gb. Unfortunately, they only offer 128Kbps on their unlimited packages, and after those 10Gb, the connection is throttled to just 32Kbps – worse than dial up! However, with the money saved, and the extra 3Gb per month, I think we made the right choice.

I’m posting this now in case there is a problem, and we do not get the new connection working once the old one has been terminated – if I don’t post for a while, you know why.

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