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Published by Simon Schoeters

Moving my ISP: from Telenet to Dommel

Belgium has two major internet providers: Belgacom and Telenet (my current provider). As their mid-range internet packages are quite expensive I went looking for something else.

Price

Dommel has been a hosting provider for a long time and now they offer internet as well. They were disruptive as they were the first (as far as I know) to offer unlimited data traffic in Belgium for reasonable prices. Let's compare the “Cityconnect Lite” package from Dommel with the “Internet Go” from Belgacom and “ExpressNet” from Telenet. These packages are chosen for their data limit: somewhere between 20 and 30 GB will do for me. You may want to compare different packages.

Belgacom Telenet Dommel
Type ADSL Cable ADSL
Downstream 12 Mbps 15 Mbps 24 Mbps
Upstream 1 Mbps ? 3 Mbps
Data limit 25 GB 25 GB 30 GB
Price / month € 41,75 € 42,91 € 14,99 + € 9,95

Dommel needs a fixed line which you'll have to rent from Belgacom if you don't have one. The cheapest line Belgacom offers is the Discovery line for € 9,95 a month.

After one year (promotions and installation costs not included) Belgacom would cost me € 501, Telenet € 514,92 and Dommel € 299,28. Moving to Dommel would save me € 215 / year.

Dommel support

So where is the catch? The catch is the support desk. Dommel is infamous for its lack of support: e-mails stay unanswered, the helpdesk is understaffed, administration is a disaster, etc. In short: if you don't know how to configure a modem and have no idea what an IP address is, stay away from Dommel and go to one of the big players. There is no one to install your modem and you can only call the helpdesk during office hours (= when you connection goes down on Friday evening you'll have to wait till Monday to call someone).

Moving

Not scared yet? Here is what you need to do to move to Dommel.

  1. If you don't have a fixed line at home get a Discovery line from Belgacom. You can ask Dommel to do this for you as well but they'll charge € 13,31 per month whereas Belgacom ‘only’ charges € 9,95 per month. I went to my local Belgacom store and they activated the line 2 days later.
  2. Once your line is activated go to the Dommel website and order your connection. The order script will check your line to see what's available. The script will ask the “do you have a Belgacom line” over and over again when the line isn't activated yet, don't worry, try again later.
  3. You'll get two mails once you complete the registration. A confirmation mail with a contract you'll have to sign and send back. The other one with a request of domiciliation (because I asked for it).
  4. Next you should get a pro forma invoice you'll have to pay. I paid it a soon as possible (the same day). My payment was accepted the next day.
  5. Once Dommel receives your payment they'll activate the connection, configure your ADSL modem with the settings they sent you.
  6. Their last e-mail also mentioned the activation date, 4 days after they accepted my payment.
  7. You'll need an ADSL modem. The Telenet modem is a cable modem so this one won't work. Get one while you are waiting for Dommel to activate your line. Be careful, you'll need a ADSL2+ annex A/M compatible modem for Dommel, make sure it's the right one. Dommel sells one as well but it's a little expensive. You can find one for ±€45.
  8. Exactly 4 days later my line was activated, as promised. Some fiddling with the modem and... online!

It will take a month or so to cancel your Telenet subscription so you could do that in advance but make sure to have a short overlap if you don't want to loose your internet connection before the Dommel one is activated.

Troubleshooting

Some things to try when it isn't working as it should.

  • Is your modem compatible? Check if it's annex A/M compatible, for a CityConnect subscription that is. I bought a Hercules modem which seemed compatible if you look at the specs but it is not. I wasted 4 days with this one and now I'm using my dad's old ADSL modem which is not ADSL2+ compliant. It works, but only at 6 Mbps.
  • Does you line synchronizes? There should be a LED on the modem to show the status. The line should sync before you try anything else. If not: do you have splitters if needed? Is the modem as close to the first telephone plug as possible? Aren't you too far away from the telephone exchange?
  • Can you connect to Dommel? Do you get a WAN IP (is not the same as an internal IP)?
  • Reset your modem after Dommel activates your line, it really does help.

Extra resources

This article was based on an article (in Dutch) by Karl Leenknegt. Check out the comments to get some reactions of happy and angry customers with their stories (also in Dutch).