Internet connection for translators: do as I say, not as I do!

I made a big mistake a year ago. I left my beloved ISP, Zen Internet, to sign up with another provider, Daisy, used by the company that I share my office with. Daisy came highly recommended and offered a phone + broadband bundle. My mistake was to sign for more than one year.

At first, the service was ok. Not great, but good. On the phone side, it was excellent not to be with BT. Much cheaper, and I don’t use the phone that much, so I saved money. On the broadband side, there were some restrictions that could have been a problem, and that’s why you need to check your contract very carefully. But after the first year, the service deteriorated significantly, and despite several phone calls, the provider was not helpful, and I decided to ask for a MAC code and go back to Zen Internet who now also offer a fantastic phone + broadband package. I’m a happy bunny again!

But that story made me think: as translators, what do we need from our ISP, and why is our Internet connection so important?

cropped-network1.jpg1 – Server-based translation memories
If you work for translation agencies, you will notice that more often than not, we are asked to work directly on our client’s server. That can range from total on-line work to working locally, but using a translation memory located on a distant server. Some clients ask you to connect to their server and do all your work there. You cannot even download anything, and if you lose your connection, you cannot work. Simple as. Other clients ask you the same, but you can download all the material on your hard drive, and if you lose your connection, it’s not the end of the world. You just work locally.
However, no connection means you could lose business, because you cannot confidently say to your client that you can work remotely.

Do you translate for the game industry and do you need to test games on-line? Be very careful, because business contracts impose restrictions that prevent you from playing on-line. That’s considered a personal hobby. Some providers do not understand and do not accept that as translators we sometimes need to test our work on-line. That has been a major problem for me, and I’ve had to use someone else’s Internet connection to test games on-line!

3 – The four o’clock droop
Can your provider ensure that your connection will still hold when all the kids in your neighbourhood switch on their Xbox? That is a major problem. I am now back with Zen Internet, and my connection is still fast despite the time of writing, 16:49 on a Wednesday afternoon. With Daisy, things were not too bad, but problems started around 7pm. I called them and explained that I do work late sometimes, and the connection needs to be reliable 24/7. Alas.

4 – Problems? Who pays? And where is the call centre?
a) You call your provider and report a problem with your Internet connection. They test your telephone line, and if they find no fault, they ask you to do all sorts of things your end: change the filter, change the cables, move the router, plug the router in the main connection point if you have an extension, change router, etc. But fair enough, maybe the problem is on your side of things.
b) However, if after all that you still have a dodgy connection, what happens? I my case, I was told that Daisy could send an engineer (BT by the way), but that if the engineer did not find anything wrong with the line, I would have to pay. And they don’t tell you how much you will have to pay. You could end up losing hundreds of pounds in call-outs. So, again, read your contract really carefully, and before you sign, ask what will happen when you report a fault.
Moreover, ask your provider were their call centre is located. You might be very good with accents, I’m not. Zen Internet has its call centre in Britain. I’m a foreigner, and I always understand them perfectly, which I love.

5 – Tied up in long contracts
Finally, I have noticed something about contract length. Zen Internet have a minimum contract period of… 1 month! And that’s how confident they are about their service. Read and re-read your contract, and make sure you are not tied up for long periods of time. If you’re not happy, you want to leave your ISP quickly.

Final thoughts:

  • Your livelihood could depend on your broadband connection! 
  • It might not be the case right now, but perhaps, one day, you will want to take your business further and work increasingly on-line. You will need a very reliable connection then.
  • Our Internet connection should never be a problem.
  •  I am lucky that I have my own engineer, and he’s very good at what he does. It can be a good idea to find a good telco/IT engineer near you and work out a maintenance contract.
  • If you want to compare providers, check if they’re listed on thinkbroadband. Thinkbroadband is an independent comparison website that allows you to give a score to your provider. I find it extremely useful.

Good luck!


About marielucchetta

I lead a multiple life! I'm a professional translator with 40 years of experience, and I'm a licensed lay minister in the Church of England.
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