In our last article, we talked about the monopolisation of Usenet, which is being achieved in particular through the mass purchase of long-established Usenet providers. You can find a list of pupular german provider over at usenetanbieter.net. In order to bring some more transparency into the confused market, we have tested three large providers for fee-based Usenet access. We briefly introduce these and their price-performance ratio.
Since the big sharks like Giganews and Highwinds, without communicating it to the customers, only replace the technical backend and leave no clear indication on the websites of these resellers, it is relatively difficult for the more farsighted customer (or those looking for a second server to bypass DMCA deletions) to find an independent provider.
But there are still some independent brands that offer a high quality service and are not (yet) „part of the empire“. We have listed them here, together with a short test report.
Astraweb was not only the provider who initiated the „Retention War“ about a decade ago, which led to massively increased hold-off times, but also a well-known player in the scene. Directly at the first look at the site one notices that you seem to have lagged behind a bit in time: cool graphics, elaborately built landing pages and other bells and whistles are less to be found here. There is also no newsreader of its own here, so the user has to find and set up a suitable download software on his own.
But this should be easy for most users to get over. Especially if you consider that the retention time is at absolutely competitive 2976 days, i.e. over 8 years (status: 9.10.2016) and constantly increasing, and at an extremely high maximum download speed (tested: up to 150 Mbits, probably even more is possible).
- Very annoying: Also here DMCA requests are processed relatively fast. Several years ago, Astraweb admitted openly in a forum post, which is now unfortunately offline, that it could process deletion requests within a few minutes or hours. According to rumours, this had such a large loss of customers that the time is now 1-2 days again.
- A special feature: As with some providers of the Highwinds group, the prices on the main page are no longer really up to date. Beside some block packages also Flatrates for $14.99 are to be found, which can be undercut however by nearly 50% by durable special campaigns . These discount links can be found in various places on the Internet (including here). For only 8 dollars there is unlimited Usenet access here. We then find such pricing relatively intransparent.
- Conclusion: Definitely an interesting choice for users who are looking for a provider with independent servers. Astraweb actually operates its servers itself. The only question is for how long.
2) XS News
theloadguruAnother representative of the „Empire“ is XS News, with a relatively high number of resellers (according to this page there are 21). However, this is at least not a member of the Giganews or Highwinds group, so it is quite a good part of a „mix“ of Usenet providers.
In addition to a modern website, there are various packages, from block accounts to real flat rates. 8,20 Euro is a reasonable price for unlimited downloads, and also for smaller money you are well provided, as long as 8, 20 or 50 Mbits speed are fast enough, which is sufficient for most German DSL customers to reach maximum speed. Also a free Testaccount gives it here, which is terminable at any time. Differently than with other offerers like e.g. UseNeXt here also no problems with unauthorized debits are known, which is definitely an advantage.
Unpleasant: The retention time here is only 1100 days, so older content can no longer be found on the servers. Also the limitation to 12 parallel download threads is possibly not really appropriate for extremely fast lines, although a test report on the site claims that even 100 MBit connections can be used. However, this cannot be verified from here.
Not the cheapest, but still a solid provider. Tweaknews also has its own server, which has a free test account and a nice backend. There is no newsreader of its own here, but different packages for everything from very slow to extremely fast broadband connections. Also here are only 1100 days retention time in the offer, which is outbid by other providers by more than the double.
One catch: block accounts are completely missed here.