Posted: Monday, March 4th, 2013
Within the telecommunication industry we are aware of some of the external problems that can affect our last mile access networks. During my 16 years working in these circles, I’ve witnessed everything from DSL slowing down due to frost, to a wireless networks poor performance being blamed on the heat.
Interestingly, it looks like researchers in the Netherlands have figured out a way to use weather associated network problems to monitor the weather itself! In this instance; using mobile phone signal power loss to map rainfall patterns. To me personally, I already monitor the rain in real time by stepping outside. However if it means the weather forecasters can watch a rain front travel across the country, and then give me a warning about it, all the better.
The system uses the attenuation (power) differences through the mobile networks. They cross referenced their information with weather stations across the country and realised there was a correlation. Off the back of that they can see the fronts; as they aim for the most inappropriate place on land to dump their contents.
We will see if O2, EE or Vodafone develop into weather forecasting companies in the near future. Further reading can be found here: http://environmentalresearchweb.org/cws/article/news/52322
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Posted: Thursday, November 29th, 2012
Digital Region have announced that it is carrying out a phased network upgrade in which they are upgrading the cards in certain exchanges. This will enable customers to potentially receive higher than the 70 Mb/s download that is currently achievable using FTTC technology.
This will differ per customer/copper connection as the usual copper caveats apply and it will all depend on what the individual line is capable of achieving at a stable sync rate. It will also only be achievable if the customer is served by an exchange that is part of the network upgrade.
This network upgrade will only impact existing/new connections at the higher end allowing the line to achieve higher speeds if capable. Digital Region is planning phase 1 of the network upgrade next month.
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Posted: Monday, April 23rd, 2012
Olympic Countdown 95 days to go
Resilience and capacity planning are at the heart of our core network design. Preparing for the 2012 Olympics has been a relatively straightforward process for us because the network has been inherently built to cope with huge volumes of traffic and failure scenarios. In many ways 2012 is a simple extension of the good practises we already employ to serve our customers in a resilient and uncontended fashion.
All DSL services are always mapped from suppliers into at least two independent nodes on our core network. Key anciliary services, RADIUS, DNS and SMTP, are similarly spread across separate geographical locations, and all datacentres connect back to two others via diverse dark fibres.
In the event of a black-out at one of our datacentres all DSL based services would automatically fail-over to one of several other sites and carry on working.
Our customers typically also have demand for high bandwidth as well as uptime, so capacity is carefully engineered with low thresholds set to trigger upgrades. On our DSL platforms routers are kept at no more than 30% usage during peak hours, with average across the network typically 15-20%. This ensures that traffic re-routed during a failure can be absorbed at other sites with ease.
Ethernet, colocation and leased line customers connect and route directly via our MPLS core network backbone, and typically place a higher demand on the network. This core is also the fabric which connects together our datacentres, so we use multiple 10 Gb/s wavelengths on our own WDM equipment to provide extremely scalable bandwidth. In preparation for the Olympics we are operating with peak backbone usage typically between 5 & 10% and have plumbed in an additional 40 Gb/s of Internet transit routing capacity – enough to comfortably serve huge customer demands whilst being able to also cushion large DoS attacks.
And because demand for network bandwidth is increasing at an exponential rate, no sooner than the Olympics are over work will begin on a £2.4M upgrade of our network, designed to deliver a fabric for the most demanding applications for several years to come.
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Posted: Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012
IPTV first trailed in 1994, but despite the proliferation of broadband across the UK in the ensuing years, its market penetration has been minimal up till now.
That’s not to say that home users aren’t using the internet for TV, on-demand streaming services such as iPlayer and SkyGo are testament to the fact they are. However, these services are what you might describe as hybrid IPTV, given they combine IP with traditional broadcast services. ‘True’ IPTV offers far greater benefits than what most of us experience currently; users have more choice of channels, significantly higher capacity for TV and video sources, as well as increased scope for customised features and levels of interaction (eg. Smart TV) . IPTV can also equate to a more efficient use of resources, through what we might term ‘network convergence’ i.e where business and consumers are able to use one unified connection for data, voice, tv etc.
One of the reasons why IPTV hasn’t fulfilled its potential is bandwidth, or rather – lack of it. However between Q3 in 2010 and Q3 2011 Europe witnessed a growth of approximately 68% in VDSL and FFTH services – opening doors for IPTV to make its way into our living rooms.
Another significant development has been IPV6 and its capacity to support multicasting more effectively. Multicast will allow network providers to disseminate information for IPTV more efficiently and at a cheaper cost – which should translate to a better customer experience and increased adoption.
What is important to consider from a technical and industry perspective, is the support and maintenance requirements, which will need to be of a high standard in order for the service to run smoothly. While TV might not be a business critical application, broadband bug bears like contention, outages could have grave dilemma’s, say if your service was to freeze during a dramatic scene in a East Enders Christmas special, or a tie breaker during a Wimbledon final.
So will the next few years see IPTV takeover traditional broadcast formats? As long as service providers can offer more robust, consistent broadband connections I can’t see why not – multicast should help ISP’s minimise long term costs, and there is already strong consumer demand for unified services in the home. Personally a ‘Smart’ IP controlled TV – with access to all channels from multiple devices, and the capacity to record and store as I like , anywhere , anytime – would be a welcome addition to my household.
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Posted: Wednesday, September 14th, 2011
The internet is harnessed for variety of purposes these days from surfing the web to CCTV and voice and video conferencing. News this week is that it’s now being used to monitor a remote controlled heart! Fire fighter Michael DiBernado suffers from an irregular heart beat and has recently been fitted with a device which monitors it’s pulse and sends results to his consultant over the internet. Any irregularities can then be picked up and acted upon quickly.
It’s great to see the internet used for such positive reasons, personally I’m quite keen to have a chat with him and see if our conveniently titled PULSE product might be a fit, with backup of course, that’s a rather mission critical application he’s got there…
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Posted: Friday, July 1st, 2011
I remember when a 2Mb/s ADSL connection was called future proofing, but you need to remember a lot of businesses at that time were still using 64Kb/s ISDN lines.
In the technical world there are so many aspects that change constantly and put more pressure on IT Directors and Managers. From the speed of a computer (Moore’s Law), to internet bandwidth and even protocols (IPv6) – change is the only constant.
So what do we advise our customers? Well in part it depends on the size and the need of the company, but one thing that we do preach consistently, across big and small, is keep your contracts flexible. For a smaller SME company we would suggest something as simple as a short (3-month) contract for our ADSL products. For larger PWAN and CORE customers we would advise taking a year contract – although it means that we can’t spread the capex cost quite as long , it allows the IT Directors and Managers who work with us keep flexible and upgrade or downgrade their solutions. Large companies also have the added problem of cost against flexibility, do they go for the (on the face of it) cheaper-per-year 3 or 5 year deals or the flexible shorter contracts? Our experience suggests the later always pays off when it comes to renegotiating in years 2 and 3- as a rule technology normally goes down not up in price.
There also has the added advantage that both the account manager, and our service, has to be excellent - first time and every time.
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Posted: Friday, June 10th, 2011
In the business world, network redundancy has been high on the agenda post 9/11. We’re in an age where businesses are increasingly reliant upon technology to underpin their day to day operation; prolonged network failures are more costly than ever before.
One common indicator of a connection’s reliability and resilience is the SLA, and in particular – the uptime guarantee. SLA’s are a useful guide to how robust a service is, they provide a reflection of a company’s confidence in the service they deliver and should provide assurance that the connection supplied is of a certain grade, and augmented by fixed response and fix times and round the clock support.
However an SLA’s uptime promises can sometimes blind organisations into assuming that they’ve mitigated against all points of failure and failing to look into their network topology. Consider this; if businesses were to quantify the cost of having business critical systems suffer an outage, are these costs compensated by the SLA on offer?
Five years ago, Fluidata brought an innovative aggregation platform to market called PureFluid. This bonds multiple circuits and/or technologies (ADSL/ADSL2+/SDSL/ 3G) from multiple providers, all lines deliver over the same IP subnets allowing for seamless failover in the event of a fault on one of the circuits or networks.
For this solution Fluidata provide an SLA of 99.99% in terms of service uptime and network availability. We believe, that perhaps with the exception of diverse fibre digs, we’d be hard pushed to provide a more resilient service and as such a higher SLA. After all no connectivity service is infallible.
Yet 100% SLA’s do exist in the industry, providing promises that are hard to keep. Typically when you investigate the design of these solutions, the points of failure and Terms and Conditions’ that back them up are not sufficient. All I am saying is beware the semantics and drill down to what’s actually deliverable and why.
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Posted: Wednesday, June 1st, 2011
Fluidata provide for a wide range of clients – from small tech start up’s to large enterprise organisations. Over the last 5 years we’ve helped hundreds of these organisations achieve fast, reliable, low contended internet utilising lower cost DSL based technologies.
New developments in the connectivity market – most notably the advent of EFM and FTTC products, are now providing Fluidata the opportunity to assist even more companies of this size.
Although FFTC is grabbing many headlines at the moment, it’s actually EFM which is more business focused as a closer alternative to leased line technologies. In fact, it shares many characteristics with Fluidata’s proprietary bonding platform – PureFluid; both involve bonding copper pairs over one IP subnet and also offer similar metrics on contention, latency and packet loss. Speed’s range from 2 Mb/s symmetric through to 10 Mb/s (dependent on location).
With the bonding on EFM taking place at the telephone exchange and via one carrier, its resiliency is restricted to the copper pairs – however Fluidata are already looking into ways of bolstering resiliency via 3G or other backup services.
EFM is extending Fluidata’s reach across the UK, allowing for us to provide high upload, low contention services at more UK exchanges. Please get in touch with your Fluidata Account Manager to find out more.
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Posted: Thursday, April 21st, 2011
Nearly exactly a year after we signed the lease for our new office, our new demo suite is now ready. I have spoken before about our old playroom in our previous office on Tooley Street and we wanted to replicate it when we moved office. We did nearly straight away but with the worst copper known to man coming into the building (the site flooded twice in two years…) speeds were not that impressive. Also because of the layout of the office we couldn’t just replicate the playroom like for like and needed to find a new way to demo our products and services.
While it might not look very technical or advance it was very tricky to get all the technology to be displayed in an easily digestible format so that new customers could see what we have to offer. As we are demonstrating connectivity it was important to display everything backwards so that we show off the cabling and routers, whereas in most active environments it is the piece of your network you hide away.
We have now completed a number of demonstrations and I believe it is proving to be a successful sales tool. I haven’t had too many technical issues so far, but as the client appreciates a live demonstration is much more powerful than a whitepaper or a case study. With lots of talk about network operators not delivering on promises we feel it is important, especially with business customers, to put our money where our mouth is and demonstrate it firsthand.
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Posted: Monday, March 28th, 2011
Based on VDSL 2+ technology it is the big brother to BT’s Infinity product providing contention guarantees and a business grade delivery. As with all Fluidata’s services we do not enforce a fair usage policy and do not throttle our users.
Our PULSE product physically locates the DSLAM within the street cabinet allowing for a significantly reduced copper line distance. This, coupled with the Very High Bit Rate technology, means that we are able to deliver up to 40 Mb/s download and 10 Mb/s upload with a 5:1 contention guarantee.
Due to the staggered rollout of enabled cabinets, FD PULSE is not yet available nationwide although an intensive network expansion programme is now scheduled. If you want to see what technology is available to you then please contact your Account Manager.
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