I’ve been using GigaNews for a while now, mostly because they have a server in Hong Kong which is much, much faster than using US based servers from Taiwan. The downside is that GigaNews is the most expensive service out there with the basic unlimited account going for US$25/month and the top account weighing in at US$35/month. In comparison, most of the other services have unlimited accounts going for US$10-15/month, though sometimes you have to hunt down a coupon to get the best deal. They don’t have all the bells and whistles that GigaNews has, but I don’t use those extra services.
I recently cancelled my GigaNews account to try to find a cheaper service that worked reasonably well. After trying a few different ones, only AstraWeb came anywhere close to reasonable speeds, and even that only used a small fraction of my Internet connection’s max speed.
While exploring the world of Usenet, one thing I found out is that there are really only four usenet services out there currently, and everyone else just resells service from one of them, or is an alternate brand for one of the major providers. So that led me to look at what other names GigaNews is being sold as, and the answer turns out to be PowerUsenet, and usenet.net, both of which have a basic unlimited account for US$15/month and a high end account for US$20/month. UPDATE: Rhino Newsgroups is another, but their retention is fairly limited at 200 days.
I signed up for the basic unlimited account at PowerUsenet and configured my usenet program with the server details… and was immediately disappointed to find that it was connecting to a slow US based server. No problem! GigaNews had a similar issue. They let the DNS server figure out the best IP to use, but it seems to give out the US address sometimes instead of the closer Hong Kong IP address. After some poking around with DNS tools, I was able to figure out the Hong Kong IP address. Once I plugged that in, my usenet client was downloading full speed!
Here for your reference are the Hong Kong usenet server IP addresses:
Rhino Newsgroups 126.96.36.199
usenet.net 188.8.131.52 (UPDATE: Not working as of 2012-09-14.)