At Bigpipe, we’re all about putting the power in your hands. We know you’d rather not have to ring a call centre, wait on hold, waste your time. You’d much rather fix the problem yourself if you can, or fire off a quick email and go do something else while you wait for us to get back to you.
We’ve designed the Bigpipe App to help you help yourself, when it comes to your Bigpipe connection. It makes the things you need to do with Bigpipe easier, and helps you better understand, optimise, and make use of your own connection – without needing to call anyone.
A bigger pipe
The internet is a complex beast. Sometimes it runs slower than you expect and you just don’t know why. As an Internet Service Provider, we find that speed issues are actually caused by people having other things running in the background. For example, if there’s someone downloading something whilst you’re trying to watch your favourite Lightbox show, it can make your stream a lot slower.
While faster connections like fibre are getting more common, a lot of people – well over 50 percent of New Zealand internet users – still have ADSL connections that don’t always give them the speed they need, especially when they live with multiple other internet users who all like doing stuff at the same time.
If that’s you, then you’ll love this.
About the Bigpipe app
1. The Bigpipe Mode Selector
The Bigpipe Mode Selector allows you to prioritise the traffic on your connection to make sure the important stuff gets through first during times of congestion. We’ve made it as simple as the touch of the button.
- Want to get your game on? Activate Gaming mode!
- Love Lightbox? Trigger Streaming mode!
- Love downloading masses of Ubuntu iSOs? Initiate Downloading mode!
We’ve made it so you prioritise whatever kind of traffic you want. It’s your choice.
If you’d like to know a few more of the technical details around the Mode Selector, read our Mode Selector FAQ. We’ve also got a thread on Geekzone where our team will be available to answer other questions.
2. Push Notifications
Sometimes stuff happens to your internet connection.
Sometimes it’s good stuff (like UFB becoming available in your area), sometimes it’s bad stuff (like workmen cutting through the fibre feeding your house with internet, cutting you off). We try and be as proactive as possible and let our customers know whenever stuff happens – but it’s not always easy. Sometimes customers miss emails, or they don’t see an outage notification on our website.
So we’re introducing push notifications as part of the app. For now, it will only be used for outage notifications. You can see on the left what the notifications will look like on your iPhone or Android device.
We also plan to implement features like:
- Billing notifications
- Outage notifications
- Upgrade opportunities
3. Refer Your Friends
We’ve already put a neat way to refer your friends in the Bigpipe website, but we wanted to make it even easier, so we’ve built it into the app.
Just like on the website, you get a unique link which, when used, will give you and the person you referred $20 credit. You can post your link to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites, as well as text or email your contacts, in just a couple of taps. Some people have legitimately made hundreds of dollars in credit already doing this. You should too.
4. Pay Your Bill
Bigpipe billing is automatic. Most of the time you don’t need to worry about paying your bill.
Sometimes, however, you might be a little short on funds and need to make a manual payment a bit later. Our app enables you to do this really easily. You can even change your credit card details right in the app!
5. Line Testing
The Bigpipe app has a great new feature: Line Testing. Use it to test your Bigpipe connection for faults – and if something’s wrong, it’ll help you get even faster, more efficient service from the Bigpipe support team. All you have to do is head to the “Help” tab in the Bigpipe App, and tap “Start Diagnosis” to test your line.
Line testing makes everything a lot easier and faster, for you and for us. It allows you to know really quickly if a problem is on Bigpipe’s end, or something else. And it lets us know as well, because when you do a line test you can send us information on the state of your connection. If you use the Line Testing tool to get in contact with us, we’ll know a bunch of stuff about the nature of the fault up-front, and being better informed will help us fix it faster.
All app screenshots refer to work in development and may not be the same as the final product. All app features subject to change.
How It Works
So how does the Bigpipe Mode Selector work?
Every type of internet connection has an inbuilt technological “speed limit.” ADSL speeds vary between 0-24 Mbps. VDSL provides up to 70Mbps, and UFB goes all the way up to 1Gbps in some cases. Think of each of these speed limits as a digital pipe, through which a finite amount of data can fit. If you try and fill that pipe with more stuff than it can handle, it will slow down. The bigger your pipe, the more data it can handle without slowing down or losing bits of it. There are different kinds of data, too, which have their own digital signature. There’s streaming data, gaming data, browsing data, and more.
Most consumer internet connections are “dumb” pipes, meaning they don’t distinguish between different types of data, and they treat it all equally. This is, broadly, a good thing. But because your pipe isn’t smart, it’s easy for it to get clogged with stuff when you’d rather it was doing one thing well.
The Bigpipe Mode Selector turns your dumb pipe into a smart pipe. You can select a particular type of data – or mode – to prioritise on your connection. Our system then detects if you are using that type of traffic, and reserves 90% of your bandwidth for that traffic type. The remaining 10% is kept aside for everything else. So if you have a 10 Mbps line and you prioritise “Streaming”, then 9 Mbps is reserved for video streaming, and the remaining 1 Mbps for anything else (like web browsing). The result? Better streaming. Or choose Gaming mode for better gaming, Downloading for better downloading, and so on.
Even more technical details:
We make this work by creating a ‘virtual pipe’ within your current connection. This virtual pipe needs to be slightly smaller than your actual pipe to allow our system to tell when you are congested. This virtual pipe is ONLY activated when you have a particular mode selected. If you don’t have a mode selected, then your ‘real’ pipe is opened up. So this means if you don’t want to prioritise anything, then you will get slightly better overall speeds by not selecting a particular mode.
To create the Bigpipe Mode Selector, we’ve used a traffic monitoring system – a lot like most other ISP use – that helps us understand what kinds of traffic our customers are using, and allows us to optimise our network accordingly. For example, when Netflix launched in NZ we saw a huge upswing in video streaming traffic, and based on that we implemented a cache to ensure your experience is better.
Other ISPs might also use this sort of system as a way to shape, manage, and throttle traffic – often reducing speed on things like P2P so they can avoid buying more bandwidth. Don’t worry: we don’t do this, and we have no plans to do this.
At Bigpipe, we buy enough bandwidth for our customers, so we have no need to shape traffic on our network. The Bigpipe Mode Selector is essentially a way for you to shape your own traffic, however it suits you to do so. We just sit back and let you get on with it.
Mode Selector FAQs
What improvement should I expect to see when using the mode selector?
We’ve extensively tested our mode selector on various different connections, using various different types of traffic.
Results will vary a lot depending on your exact usage, but, generally, the smaller your pipe, the bigger the observed effect will be. On slow ADSL connections, the effect will be very noticeable, whereas it may be difficult to see on fast VDSL or UFB connections that are not in heavy use.
How up to date is my usage data?
We only display data from the last five minutes of your connection. After that, the data is discarded.
I’m concerned about privacy. Can Bigpipe use traffic monitoring to tell what websites I’m using?
Our traffic monitor only shows us traffic across very broad categories, like “video streaming” vs “downloading.” In the case of video streaming, you could be watching Breaking Bad, Suits, or anime – we don’t know, and we don’t care).
Can people at Bigpipe see my traffic?
Our system collects the data automatically and displays it to you through the app – but no-one at Bigpipe sees this. We have strict policies about accessing it for anything other than troubleshooting your connection. Our customer care team cannot see your traffic patterns. They can only see what mode you have selected (since this helps with troubleshooting).
A good way to think about it is how your banking app shows your balance and transaction list, but people at your bank can’t just log in and see what’s been happening with your account whenever they like.
What things does the mode selector NOT help with?
If our part of the pipe doesn’t look full, our system will not prioritise anything. There are a few reasons for getting slow speeds when your actual Bigpipe connection is not full:
Wifi congestion – the problem’s with your WiFi network.
If the reason for slow speed is wifi congestion, then that means your traffic is getting congested before it actually hits the Bigpipe network. Your WiFi might be full, but your Bigpipe connection isn’t. If you’re having trouble with your WiFi, check out some tips to sort it out.
Server congestion – the problem is with the remote server.
If the server you are trying to download from limits your speeds below the size of your Bigpipe connection, then it doesn’t matter how much we open up our part of the pipe – you won’t get a better experience.
General App FAQs
How do I get the App?
Would you consider adding [insert feature]?
Absolutely! There are hundreds of things we’d love to do with the app, but of course we have limited time, money and resources. We also need feedback from you, our customers, to help determine what are the most useful features, and we’ll be developing these first.
Can I give you feedback?
Absolutely! Just tap the “Profile” icon, scroll down, and tap “Feedback.”
Do I have to pay?
No. Access to the Bigpipe app and all its features is free to all Bigpipe customers. (If you’re not a Bigpipe customer, you won’t be able to do anything on the app). Data charges may be incurred through your use of the app, including global data roaming charges when you access the app overseas.
Will you support other devices (Windows Mobile, Blackberry, Symbian)
At this stage, we’ve built it for Android and iPhone. We haven’t yet decided what other operating systems to support in future. You’ll need to ensure you have a compatible device that works with the App.
I keep seeing this screen when I try to log in to the Bigpipe App, but I’m already a Bigpipe customer – how do I fix this?
This is a known issue with the app for some Bigpipe customers. It happens because the app hasn’t properly connected to your Bigpipe account. We can fix it at our end. All you have to do is tap on the Profile icon, and scroll down to “Feedback.”
Say something along the lines of “The app can’t tell I’m a Bigpipe customer”, add the email address you use for Bigpipe, and tap Send. We’ll fix it up at our end as soon as we can.
Traffic for (insert game / activity here) is showing up as Other – why is this?
It takes a while for us to incorporate some new traffic types into our system. Existing traffic types are pretty well catered for, but when – for instance – a new game comes out, it’ll take a while for us to cater for the new traffic type introduced. We do keep an eye on major releases and work to introduce these new traffic types to our system as soon as possible.