Engineer fun stuff peering

UK & Ireland Peering Forum Social

Informal social event for Network Engineers and Peering coordinators during London Technology Week – UK & I PF Social

Once again LONAP is joining forces with the other mutual IXPs in the UK and Ireland to promote Peering and facilitate the exchange of ideas in an informal atmosphere. Attending this event will enable you to network and engage in technical discussions with participants of all the major UK and Ireland Internet exchange points.

This event is specifically for Network Engineers, Peering coordinators and anyone who has organisational responsibility for arranging settlement free interconnection across one of the organising IXs.

This informal Social event is being held in London during The London Technology Week on the evening of the 12th June, address and registration link below.

Please do register early as places are limited.

I look forward to seeing you on the 12th June.

PS I’ve had lunch a the the Fellow, the venue for this UK & Ireland Peering Forum Social. It is very convivial and we are guaranteed to have a pleasant and useful networking evening. The pub is on York Road down the side of Kings Cross Station.

Loads of other peering posts on this blog. LONAP btw is  a ‘not for profit’ Layer 2 Internet Exchange Point (IXP) based in London. Our data-centres host a network of interconnected switches providing free-flowing peering to help minimise interconnection costs. We provide exclusive connectivity between members, who are effectively LONAP stakeholders. This ensures that LONAP members enjoy excellent value and maximum benefits.

Traffic exchanged between LONAP members, reduces volumes sent through upstream providers, reduces IP transit cost and bandwidth usage. Our membership includes ISPs, network operators and content providers with their own data networks. We provide regular opportunities for members to network and meet new suppliers, and support operators in growing their portfolio and reselling LONAP connectivity to networks outside of London.

Engineer internet ipv6

Transfers of IPv4 Addresses from /8s Held by One Organization

Guest post on IPv4 Address market by Sandra Brown

sandra brownSome interesting insights into the IPv4 address market by Sandra Brown who has been working this space for a number of years now. Read on.

In 2011, as Nortel’s Director of Engineering I started the orchestration of the sale of Nortel’s  Over time this undertaking has resulted in the sale of approximately 85% of the /8.  Something that has been discussed in the ensuing six years, is how many other “organization” or “company” owned /8s might ultimately be sold.  IPv4 Market Group has examined the before and after records in the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) databases, in addition to the RIR transfer logs, to see how many of these /8s have moved.  All data being analyzed is publicly available.

As shown in Figure 1 below, there are 26 /8s that fall into the category of “organization” held.  In this inventory, we ignore /8 blocks held by the US Defense Organizations, because there is no indication that the US Government has any intention of moving them in the future.  We do include the UK Government’s two /8s, as we have seen past movement by the Department of Work and Pensions.   We also include the US Post Office, as it seems likely this organization might desire a few million extra dollars at some point.

ipv4 address market

Figure 1: List of 26 /8s – organization or company owned

We are seeing that 10 out of 26 entities have “sold” a portion of their company held /8.  These entities are shown in Figure 2 below.  As of May 9 2017, 1076 /16s have been sold from the aforementioned /8s.  This implies that approximately 16.2% of the 26 entity held /8s have been transferred.

ipv4 address market

Figure 2

Some of the transfers from these ranges, including other large transfers not from a /8, are shown in Figure 3 below.

ipv4 address market

Figure 3

There are notable points to be made:

  1. We know that approximately 16.2% of the 26 /8s have been transferred. This means that organizations are interested in monetization and that the trend should continue as prices rise. 
  2. Most of the transfers from the /8s have been large transfers of /13 to /10. Big block holders are not selling their /8s one /16 at a time! (this is leading to a shortage in the /16 market) 
  3. Can we predict how many of these /8s might still transfer? Those entities that have already sold some of their /8 range will probably continue to sell more over time.  While 42% of the 10 /8s have already been sold, perhaps another 40% will move in the next five years, totaling 1024 /16s moved from these entities. 
  4. What about the 16 /8 blocks from entities that have not yet sold a /16? We can speculate that some companies will never sell because they don’t need the money, and having the IPs is more of a strategic advantage than selling them.  Or, they might not sell because even though the IPs may be sparsely used, it would take more work than they are prepared to undertake to free the blocks for sale. These could be the reasons why Apple, HP, and IBM never sell. However, other /8s may be available.  We can scan the list and predict that at least six of these /8s will be partially sold in the near future.  If they sell half of their holdings, it would total another 768 /16s in the IPv4 transfer market. 
  5. Who is buying the large blocks? There are 14 different buyers shown in Figure 3  Two entities in particular, Microsoft and Amazon, have received large portions of the transferred IPs.  Microsoft has bought from 4 of the 10 sellers (CSC, DuPont, Xerox, DWP) and Amazon from 5 of the 10 (Merit, MIT, Xerox, DuPont, Merck). 
  6. Is there a market for the large blocks of the future? IPv6 is still years away from a critical mass and we continue to hear about the costs and headaches of its implementation.  As long as IPv4 is the “best” and cheapest solution, we will continue to see a market.  The question then becomes, “what is the expected price for these large blocks?”  We are already seeing $13 to $15 per IP for large holdings, most likely because they are so rare.  Is there a price point where buyers walk away?  Yes, of course, as we are seeing some companies refuse to pay the market price already.  Microsoft and Amazon have deep pockets, so it would be speculation to put a number on their maximum.

This analysis of the 26 single-owner /8s has shown that these large blocks are being transferred in large sub-allocations, and the /8s are not filling the /16 market.  Ten of the 26 have already done some selling, and we expect this trend to continue, to more than double the large block sales made so far.  The IPv4 Market has some legs still!

Sandra Brown, IPv4 Market Group

Engineer peering

RIPE74 is in Budapest

RIPE74 report from Budapest

Sat in the RIPE74 meeting having arrived at tea time last night. Every time I come to these meetings I am reminded at how good these events are. It’s not just the content. It’s the opportunity to meet folk relevant to your business that you wouldn’t normally see on a day to day basis. Here they are all in one spot and you spend your time catching up with them and their business.

These meetings – RIPE and their ilk – are how LONAP do our marketing. We are a bunch of engineers rather than sales types. We chat with engineers about engineering at engineering events. LONAP is an Internet Exchange Point for engineers.

RIPE74 happens to be in Budapest. I’m a Budapest virgin. It looks an impressive place.  At first glance. The featured image is the view from my room. I’ve not really had a chance to get out of the hotel yet although Richard Irving and I did get out for a quick bite around the corner last night. The opportunity will come. RIPE74 finishes Friday and I don’t fly home until Saturday lunchtime.

I’ll be sticking more pics from Budapest up on Facebook as and when I get the chance to take some. Budapest, I found out from the taxi driver en route from the airport is divided into two halves separated by the river Danube, Buda is the historic area seen in the pic and pest is the newer less interesting bit. Apparently. Famous for it’s outdoor spas. Will have to see if we get a chance to go to one. The days are pretty busy.

If you want to chat about peering at LONAP just tap one of us on the shoulder. We are proudly wearing our black LONAP polo shirts. Loads more peering posts on this blog by the way. Check ’em out.

Engineer engineering voip

Self Learning Control Layer in VoIP Networks

Taking Control of Your Network – The Self Learning Control Layer

The development and implementation of telecommunications networks and services has traditionally been a long drawn out affair. Even the smallest project might have an 18 month gestation period. Major network roll outs much longer. The advent of API driven environments provides us with the opportunity to change all this and here I discuss the concept of the Self Learning Control Layer (SLCL). The SLCL is an intelligent overlays  to VoIP networks driving efficiency, reducing costs and making it easier to add new products and services.

Self Learning Control Layer Building Blocks

An SLCL has three building blocks:

  • Data Mining,
  • Call Control &
  • Orchestration.

Data mining is used to monitor activity and health in a network. Call Control is used to effect change to traffic routing based on information provided by the Data Mining and Orchestration. Orchestration makes provisioning decisions based on predefined policy, inputs from both the network and from end users.

The types of learning the network might make include:

  • addition of capacity to or traffic rerouting away from congested areas – eg based on MOS scores
  • automatic shut off of calls considered to be fraudulent traffic
  • Routing policies altered by a change in an user’s status (eg from “business” mode to “personal”) or the provisioning of additional capacity based on the addition of new users to a network.

The SLCL is designed to make your network easier and cheaper to operate to make your customers happier. Being API based it also makes it easy to integrate with your existing network infrastructure. The SLCL is a concept developed by Netaxis who provide all the building blocks you need to implement it.

I’ve already discussed elements of the SLCL in my posts and workshops on VoIP Network Monitoring, fraud detection and call simulation.

Session Routing Engines

My next focus is going  to be on Session Routing Engines. The SRE is a key component of the SLCL and is the heart of the Call Control function.

Essential features include:

  • APIs to standard network elements such as softswitches, Session Border Controllers, VoLTE and IMS and indeed other existing Core Routing Engines
  • SIP & ENUM
  • Be flexible and easy to implement

The SRE is the subject matter of my next working lunch which is in London on Wednesday 3rd May. At this event we have a special guest, Laurent Debacker of Belgian telco Voo who is going to talk us through their own implementation of the SRE and act as a catalyst for a general discussion around this subject.

You can check out details of the event here. It’s free to come to but you have to be a VOIP network geek for it to be worthwhile for all attendees – we want an active discussion on this subject and places are limited.

Business Mobile Net UC

Announcing Netaxis Solutions UK

Netaxis Solutions UK

Thought I’d share some news with y’all. Last week we set up Netaxis Solutions UK, This is a joint venture between me and Netaxis in Belgium, a business I worked with last year on a consultative basis.

Quite exciting really. Netaxis are an engineering based company that partners with telecoms network operators.They are very successful in their space For me it’s a step back into the core of technology rather than the retail world of Timico, which is what took up the best part of the last decade or so.

I say telecoms operators but the game has changed massively since the word telecoms was first coined. It’s almost a redundant term but there isn’t one that has come along to replace it. At least not one that people readily identify with. The word communications provider is a little wishy washy and Internet Telephony Service Provider doesn’t tell the whole story.

The reality is that in providing services to end users (business or consumer) a network operator has to be able to grasp a huge range of technological capabilities. Some choose to specialise in Over The Top fields such as video conferencing or VoIP services. These might be quite big markets in their own right but such companies rely on partners to provide the network.

Operators of networks themselves can’t do everything. They too have to partner. Netaxis is such a partner. We began life as a systems integrator but gradually began to add our own technological capabilities and IP based on requests of the customers of our SI services. This has resulted in the development of a broad and still evolving set of capabilities that includes network monitoring, call simulation and VoIP network stress testing, anti-fraud software and services, routing engines, Fixed Mobile Convergence servers,provisioning servers, video capability and WebRTC function integration.

Add to this IMS core network design and development skills and you have a pretty powerful mix of capabilities that makes us well placed to help network operators in the UK move ahead in what can be bewildering waters.

Netaxis still offer a range of services and solutions from industry players such as Oracle, Genband, Broadsoft, Audiocodes et al but our pitch is that we are vendor independent and can work with anyone.

I’m not really a sales person but I plan to market Netaxis in the UK through some tried and tested methods. Customers need to see the value of working with technology partners. We aim to do this be expanding on the number of workshops and seminars during the course of 2017 to include subjects that might not be particularly sexy but should be of interest to service providers and network operators in our game. Whilst at Timico I kept independent – the same is going to apply here.

In the second half of 2016 I held a successful fraud workshop and a working lunch (finished at 6.15pm!) where we discussed VoIP call simulation techniques and uses. Look out for event announcements in the near future. Note that these are going to be events. They may even have Netaxis competitors in attendance. I’m not in the game of trying to sell people things they don’t need or want. I want an easy life:). I am betting though that you will want something we have.  I want people to come and say to me “Iike the look of that left handed server Tref” or “hmm wouldn’t mind trying out Netaxis’ call simulator” etc etc.

What I also want is to make it easy to do business with Netaxis. Push that door and I hope you will find it swings open. Time will tell but in the meantime wish me luck and feel free to ask me questions on life the universe and Netaxis Solutions UK. I trust 2017 is going to be a great year for us all.

PS I decided I was too young to stop working 🙂 What did it for me was two weeks I had set aside for jury service that was cancelled at the last minute. I had nothing in the diary and there is a limit to how many holidays you can go on. I needed motivation and with Netaxis Solutions UK I now have the motivation.

broadband Business

Interview with Matthew Hare of Gigaclear

The business of rural fibre

Gigaclear CEO Matthew Hare is a pal of mine. In this little chat Matthew gives his opinion on the future of fibre broadband in the UK.

Tell us about Gigaclear, how and why you started the company.

I started the company in December 2010 aiming to deliver brilliant broadband to rural areas that were crying out for something better. The business model was and is to build and operate new ultrafast, pure Fibre-To- The-Premises (FTTP) broadband networks in rural communities where the existing fixed network infrastructure underperforms.

The aim was to give these communities faster and more reliable broadband than is available anywhere else in the UK. Using FTTP technology, properties served by Gigaclear in rural parts of the UK can experience speeds of up to 1Gbps, up to 33 times faster than the UK average. Once built, the futureproof network can keep up with the increasing demand for better, faster broadband to meet the connection needs of a modern, digital society.

Gigaclear was established to serve a gap in the market. Many of the areas that you operate in are regarded as not being commercially viable by other Internet Service Providers. How can Gigaclear reach rural areas, where other ISPs have failed?

We are not like most other ISPs where most of the business is focussed on city networks. Gigaclear specialises in building new networks to connect rural areas. Our whole business is designed to deliver an ultrafast, FTTP Internet service to these rural areas. As a result, the techniques and tools that we use to build our networks are all optimised for rural environments. If you asked me if BT could do what we do, I would say ‘of course’. There’s nothing secret about it. The question isn’t ‘can BT do what we do?’, but where investing in upgrading rural broadband networks sits in the company’s long list of priorities.

What level of commercial risk is Gigaclear taking to do this?

There are two risks that we consider. The first is whether we can build the network for the cost that we assume we can build it for. The second is assessing the interest – the demand – for better broadband from customers.

When you move in and do up your new home you may find some hidden surprises when you take off the wallpaper and start work. The same goes for building a new fibre network. While we try to minimise risk, there is always a possibility of bumps along the way. For example, a section of highway verge is private land, rather than owned by the local highway authority, or plastic water mains are not where they should be on the left of the road, but oar on the right, which causes problems for our contractors when digging. Resolving these and many other issues can all hold up a project and add cost.

We also need to accurately judge potential customer demand. It can be problematic when other service providers choose to overbuild us. This isn’t just frustrating for us – if another ISP builds over our network, it’s also often a waste of taxpayers’ money.

In your opinion, what can the Government do to support the rollout of better broadband in rural areas today?

The Government needs to look at how it can lighten the regulatory overhead, without compromising safety, to accelerate work to build new networks. The elimination of the permit scheme for managing construction on rural roads would significantly cut costs. Currently, the permit scheme can significantly restrict the hours that our contractors can work, with automatic fines being incurred if they continue operations outside the permit times. When you factor in the set-up time each day before you start construction and the break-down time at the end, a contractor may choose to incur the fine rather than waste time and money shutting down operations early. But this charge doesn’t help get better broadband to anyone.

Where do you see the company in 10 years’ time?

The Digital Minister, Matt Hancock, announced last week that the Government’s vision is to deliver national communications infrastructure based on the two “F”s: Fibre and Five G. . As a business that is driven by building new pure fibre networks in rural areas, we are completely aligned with this vision. We want to see every property with at least one fibre connection and many will have two in cities. Our mission as a business is to focus on the rural areas where we specialise, connecting as many people, homes and businesses, as we can to pure fibre over the next 10 years. There are 1.5 million rural properties currently underserved and we want to reach as many as possible in that time.

In her speech, Theresa May said that it was not right that half of people living in rural areas can’t get decent broadband. What do you feel is the solution to this?

A Copper Switch Off

The country needs to have a complete copper switch off. We need to move to an environment where this is no alternative to fibre. This has two massive benefits. Firstly, operating fibre networks is significantly less expensive than copper. There is less that can go wrong from a maintenance perspective and a single fibre infrastructure can serve every type of fixed network application.

Secondly, it moves the UK to a position where information is always available to everyone. The flow of information and the ability it gives people to work, play, communicate and entertain themselves, whenever and wherever they want, will have a hugely beneficial impact on society and the economy in the future.

Commercial Investment

A complete copper switch off can be done with commercial investment from ISPs and with the support of Ofcom. There’s no doubt that it will be expensive to provide universal fibre access to certain parts of the country. As with any utility, the Government will need to decide how best to make sure there is ubiquitous access in these areas.

There must also be an appreciation that fibre broadband will not be available in extremely secluded areas. If you decide to build a new house at the top of a mountain, miles and miles away from the nearest other habitation, you will need to accept that there will be no utility access.

A Public Policy Solution

A public policy solution can be achieved in several ways. The Government could offer companies the monopoly on a certain region on the condition that it gives every property in that region a fibre connection. That company must then cross subsidise the properties at the edge of the network, further away and with a higher cost to serve with those closer to the heart of the network.

The second option is to ask the taxpayer to subsidise the properties that are not commercially viable to connect with network access; the third solution is to ask people who live off the edge of the network to pay more to have Internet access.

More Gigaclear related posts

Engineer peering

LONAP traffic continues to grow with new peak

LONAP traffic up and to the right

LONAP traffic continues to grow with a new peak this month of over 240Gbps. I’d just been thinking of rattling off a quick post telling you we have broken through the 200Gigs mark at 206Gbps when lo and  behold that post became instantly obsolete.

There have been 3 or 4 record levels of traffic in the last month and it can only go in one direction.

Traffic growth is being helped by some of our large eyeball and content provider members who have been provisioning 100Gbps ports this year on our new Arista based core network.

It’s such a pleasure to be involved with LONAP. A pleasure and a privilege. The team is great and the members are all great. Andy Will and I are going to be at RIPE73 in Madrid next week catching up with existing members and prospects. Look out for a little competition we are going to be running on Facebook.

Don’t forget to sign up for our  Workshop and Christmas Party on 8th December. Password is lonap.

For those unfamiliar with the Internet Exchange Point world The London Access Point [LONAP] was first established in 1997 as a ‘not for profit’ Internet Exchange Point for London. Today, our list of active members includes global brands, London businesses and FTSE100 companies, all of which are joint stakeholders in the organisation. As members, they all have exclusive interconnectivity and direct input into the configuration of the network and enjoy the commercial, operational and social benefits of working with a vibrant and dynamic exchange.

Our growing membership includes ISPs, network operators and content providers with their own data networks. LONAP members exchange traffic using a network of interconnected switches hosted in our data centres across the City of London and Docklands.

Ciao amigos. See you in Madrid?

other peering posts on

Engineer peering

@LONAP sponsors NLNOG meeting in Amsterdam

At NLNOG points mean prizes

LONAP were pleased to be one of the sponsors at NLNOG 2016 last Friday. This is the Amsterdam gathering of Dutch based Network Operators. NLNOG has around 400 subscribers to its mailing list. There were 180+ attendees which puts it on a par with the UKNOF meetings – if I recall right UKNOF 35 in Manchester had around 170 in attendance.

We donated a prize to the very hard network engineering related quiz – a wireless hotspot:

UBIQUITI NETWORKS UBI-UAP-AC-PRO 24/5Ghz 450/1300Mbps 122m

It was won by SinnerG BV sys admin Mark Scholten – – for coming fourth in the quiz

We had two guys there and the third prize was won by our very own Richard Irving. As a sponsor he graciously declined the prize but was very pleased to have come third:)

You may wonder what LONAP, a London based Internet Exchange Point, were doing sponsoring a network engineering event in Amsterdam. Well a great many of LONAP’s recent new members are overseas organisations wanting access to UK content and eyeball networks. Even as I write we have just announced @AIS_Thailand (Advanced Wireless Network) – the first network to connect to @LONAP from Thailand.

Things have moved on from the early days where LONAP was a small UK centric IXP serving UK customers. We still are UK centric actually but as internet traffic grows the rest of the world wants in on the act.

There are great benefits from including Peering in your internet access strategy. Performance is one and cost is another although it is fair to say that a network has to include their own cost of managing peering on top of the relatively low IXP port prices.

If anyone is interested in chatting about joining LONAP, a not for profit members organisation of which I am honoured to be chair, please do get in touch.

A ton of internet peering related posts on this blog.

broadband End User

Smaller ISPs are key to the UK’s superfast broadband rollout

The small and humorously named hamlet of Crazies Hill in Berkshire may have a population of only 313, yet it could nonetheless prove to be the key to Government plans to equip 95% of the UK with super-fast broadband by December 2017. Earlier this month, its residents agreed a deal to have fibre-optic broadband cables installed under its roads and homes. However, rather than signing with such big internet service providers (ISPs) as BT or Virgin, they signed with the considerably smaller Gigaclear.

This news may have come as surprise to some observers, if only because BT and Virgin had both previously been tipped to connect the long-suffering Crazies Hill to the world of super-fast broadband. Last November, BT employees attended meetings in the hamlet after local residents had complained of sub-2Mbs internet speeds. Meanwhile, in July of this year, Virgin had committed to bringing fibre-optic broadband to the nearby village of Wargrave, raising hopes that they could easily connect its smaller neighbour.

Yet things, as they say, didn’t turn out as planned. It soon emerged that, if residents wanted either BT or Virgin to supply them with super-fast broadband, they’d have to raise a lump sum of anything from £100,000 to £200,000. This would’ve meant that each household would be liable for a payment of between £660 and £1,320. Added to the fact that these households were told by both providers that the rollout wouldn’t be completed in the hamlet until 2018, this steep cost forced them to look elsewhere.

This was how they came across Gigaclear, who in contrast to their bigger rivals didn’t want a large upfront payment in order to install fibre-optic cables in the area. Instead, they affirmed in July that they could perform the necessary work simply on the condition that at least 40% of local residents signed up to the internet service they’d be able to offer once this work was finished. Given that signing up would involve an activation charge of only £100 and a £95 installation fee (which can be avoided if customers install their routers themselves), this minimum target of 40% was soon hit. As a result, Gigaclear won the contract, promising to have the work completed by May 2016.

This is all significant because, contrary to what might be implied when the likes of BT boast that they’ve delivered high-speed broadband to 25 million premises, it shows that smaller providers are also pivotal to the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project. It shows that, when it comes to connecting the remaining 10% of the UK that hasn’t yet been covered by BDUK, Gigaclear and other smaller ISPs like Call Flow and Cotswolds Broadband will be key.

Without Gigaclear’s involvement, Crazies Hill would still be looking for a provider to connect it, since the bigger ISPs all deemed the hamlet too small and under-populated to be worth the expense. However, unlike these bigger providers, Gigaclear’s business model means they don’t have to exploit particularly large economies of scale in order to be profitable. Since they offered residents an ultrafast broadband connection on the condition that these residents subscribe to their service, they’ll be recouping the costs of installation over time, rather than immediately. This allows them to serve even the smallest and most remote of communities, because these communities don’t have to pay for everything all at once.

This approach will prove highly valuable in plugging the remaining gaps in the UK’s broadband. Indeed, in recent months BDUK has been making slower progress (PDF), as it seeks to expand into more inaccessible rural locations and move from 90% coverage to the target of 95%. It’s here that the project and the Government should bring in the likes of Gigaclear to play a bigger role, since it’s such smaller ISPs who are more able to serve rural areas.

Also, BT has of late been criticised by Ofcom and other parties for its sometimes lacklustre performance in rolling out super- and ultra-fast broadband throughout the UK, which in fact lags behind many other developed nations in its fibre-optic coverage. While Ofcom has attempted to rectify this problem by calling for BT’s Openreach division to be legally separated from BT as a whole, it would also go a long way to helping the situation if Gigaclear and other smaller ISPs like Call Flow and Cotswolds Broadband were given more support by the Government.

With more support and funding, and with more involvement in official projects, the likes of Call Flow and Gigaclear would be better able to afford more of the initial outlays that are then recouped over time via internet subscriptions. They would be able to apply their particular subscription-based models to more rural areas at the same time, and they would therefore go much further in advancing the UK towards its 95% target. What’s more, having just signed a deal in July with CityFibre to use 1,100km of the latter’s fibre-optic network, it really does seem as though Gigaclear are more than ready to assume a greater role in BDUK.

If the Government is serious about meeting this target, then it should seriously consider giving less priority to BT and other big providers, and more to such smaller providers. Not only would it help to reduce the arguable monopoly that BT hold over the UK’s broadband network, but it would also significantly reduce the time which rural communities like Crazies Hill would have to wait before being able to join this network. And that, when all’s said and done, is what Broadband Delivery UK is really all about.

simon chandlerSimon Chandler is the news editor of Choose, a consumer information site covering home media and mobile services including broadband services and digital inclusion topics.

broadband End User

Broadband bandwidth growth driver – BT 4K TV


At last week’s very excellent UKNOF35 meeting in Glasgow BT Chief Network Architect Neil Mcrae gave a talk about the BT 4K TV project. 4k has been creeping up on us for a while now and TVs that notionally support it have been in the shops for at least a couple of years (mortgage application pending).

For me the interesting thing about Neil’s talk was the fact that a 4k stream needs 30Mbps bandwidth.  Not all households will therefore be able to receive the service and this I understand. It’s a competitive world and in a marketplace here BT is trying to up its content game then an early launch of 4k services makes a lot of sense. They have stolen a march.

This issue from the Davies perspective though is the fact that we have four kids. Ok they don’t all live at home now but when they did the one noticeable thing about our house was that we had six people all watching streaming media from different rooms in the house.

Extrapolate this to 6 x 4k streams and all of a sudden we would need 180Mbps downstream. Actually we have 200Mbps but I doubt a high proportion of the populace has the same connectivity.

BT 4k TV is clearly a driver for more bandwidth to the home (actually any 4K TV). I’m also shooting a lot of 4k video with my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and uploading this to Google Drive. On occasion I’m also subsequently downloading it to my Macbook for turning into a produced video/vlog and then uploading it again to YouTube. The file size in this case can be huge – several gigs and so my upload speed is also very important to me.

So where is this taking me? We (a majority of us – not all) have come a long way since the first ADSL rollout. We clearly still have a way to go. My prediction is that by 2020 we should be looking for 1Gbps to the home. Why not? By then 8k will be out (whether we will be able to tell the difference or not – the marketing hype will persuade us that we can). If I still had four kids in the house then I imagine the six streams will use up most of that Gigabit.

The question is who is going to deliver?

More 4k tv stuff on this blog.

PS Excellent UKNOF 35 btw – well done Keith, Denesh, Chris and Mike and the growing number of peeps needed to make it happen.

PPS I’ve looked at various Pay TV services and there ain’t much on I want to watch so I’m not a customer!

End User media

Storage space growth forecast bang on the money

Storage space in line with forecast

Just realised recently that I get 5GB free cloud storage space with Amazon Drive. I also have two Google drive accounts with over a TeraByte of storage space available plus a small amount of storage space on both Microsoft SkyDrive and Dropbox.

I don’t need all these but they have occasionally been useful, specially the Amazon space where I’ve had to resort to the Kindle Fire for my mobile browsing and photography. It’s a slow device with a poor camera but it’s a port in a storm.

It was whilst figuring out how to export the pics from the Kindle that I realised they were all automatically uploading to Amazon Drive. Not sure I set this up but I’m ok with it on this occasion.

I also have a ReadyNAS which is going to need some attention. I can see the folders but not individual files within them. Hmm. I suspect the folder sizes are getting to be too large. Before I lost my phone I’d used 13GB of mobile data – mostly just in the day I went to Wimbledon. It was 36GB in the first two weeks of May with Coast to Coast.

The backed up images are definitely in the NAS – it just needs more processor oomph and memory to properly manage/display them.

Will spend a little time looking around. Also need to upgrade my very old Fast Ethernet switch. Says something when you can get faster wifi than your fixed ethernet connection although that is more reliable. I have some time over the next couple of weeks before I head for the Isle of Man and other exotic locations.

Before I go I thought I’d take a peek back at a storage growth post wot I wrote almost exactly 3 years ago. In it I forecast the amount of storage I would need by year.

accumulated storage space

Amazingly I was right on the money. In July of 2016 I have used a TeraByte of NAS storage. Will have to start thinking about the upgrade soon. I used 100GB of storage for photos in just the April – July period this year. The NAS box can take 4TB drives so it is either a case of swapping the drives out or going for something with a bit more oomph anyway.

Engineer peering

@LONAP reaches for Sky

Sky has joined Internet Exchange Point LONAP –immediately boosts traffic

Pleased to announce that UK eyeball network Sky has joined Internet Exchange Point LONAP. Sky, as most of you will know are one of the largest ISPs in the UK and this move is really an endorsement that the London based IXP has come of age.

LONAP, which was established 19 years ago, has moved on from being seen as just a peering point for smaller networks in the UK. The membership list now includes the vast majority of the world’s giant content providers: Google, Apple, Akamai, Amazon etc. Now with Sky onboard we are seeing the connection of millions of UK broadband subscribers.

This news comes after LONAP’s recent announcement of their investment in a brand new 100GigE core based on equipment from California networking company Arista. We now have a healthy number of 100Gig connections in the pipeline.

LONAP is a not for profit membership organisation operated with two and a half full time employees with occasional contributions from members and the board of directors.

Check out other internet peering posts on

If you re interested in hearing more about what LONAP can do for your network please do get in touch. I am trefordavies on Facebook and have had the privilege of having served on the LONAP board for three years or so now.

btw in case you didn’t get it the featured image is of sky. Blue sky. It is summer after all. There’s a bit of tree in there too:)

Engineer peering

UK and Ireland Peering Forum in Dublin – with @dantartic

UK and Ireland Peering Forum success

Terrific UK and Ireland Peering Forum in Dublin. Mostly attendees from the republic but plenty of people made the trip over from the UK. It was followed by the regular INEX meeting which had a superset of attendees – bit of a pun – they were all v nice – geddit.

The day was closed by Danny McFadden (@dantartic) who spoke about his two year stint as IT manager of the British Antartic Survey base in Rothera which is on the sticking out bit. An interesting life experience.

Rothera has recently upgraded its satellite internet connection to 1.5Mbps which costs them £150k pa. Next time you think of changing broadband suppliers and whinge about pricing just think of that.

It is currently winter in Antartica and the bases are either closed or trimmed down to a skeleton staff of 18 or so persons. It was interesting to get an insight into the difficult nature of the live in wintertime and perpetual darkness. For example there was at the time of his talk, a medical emergency happening at the South Pole base. An American scientist was ill and needed emergency evacuation to hospital.

This is harder than you think. Two planes had to fly in to Rothera. One then switched to skis and flew on to the pole. This is a ten hour flight in darkness. It was also a very expensive job. One barrel of fuel costs $1,000 by the time it has been transported to Rothera. To get it to the South Pole costs another $9,000. That’s a ten thousand dollar barrel of fuel. And the plane needs 5 of them to get from Rothera to the pole.

So the return flight for one plane from the edge of Antartica to the pole cost $100,000 in fuel alone. Science is an expensive business. Governments support it because the Antartic treaty comes to an end in 2050 and countries want to maintain their presence as an investment towards the land grab/bun fight that is expected to happen at that time.

It could spell disaster for Antartica because they are all interested in the mineral rights.

As a footnote my sister Sue went to Antartica on a cruise a few years ago. Aside from the fantastic wildlife the high point was the 10 thousand year old ice cubes they used in their gin and tonics – hacked from a nearby ice shelf 🙂

A big thanks to INEX and especially Eileen for such a well organised event. The UK and Ireland Peering Forum is run by LONAP, INEX, LINX and IXLeeds (in no particular order of preference).

Other peering posts here.

Engineer peering

The great wiring challenge

Cables r us

poor wiringThe great thing about working with LONAP is that I get to meet interesting people in interesting places. Yesterday my daughter Hannah and I met with Barry O’Donovan (INEX) and Mara Novakovic (LinkedIn) for early door at Slattery’s pub in Dublin. It’s a big rugby pub that is heaving when there is a match on.

Apart from the Guinness and the considerable choice of beers the one thing that stood out about Slattery’s was the wiring. I challenge anyone to produce a picture with a worse tangle of wires that in the featured image.

It’s so bad it’s a wonder anything gets fixed when it breaks – how would you find the right cable?

Over in Dublin with LONAP for the UK and Ireland Peering Forum. It’s been a very good morning – a morning of talks and opportunities to chat with colleagues, members and potential members.

Other peering posts on this blog. Pic courtesy of Barry using my phone.

Engineer internet peering

First @LONAP 100GigE port connected

Akamai hook up with LONAP 100GigE port

Excited to tell you that Content Distribution Networks and LONAP member Akamai have connected at Equinix HEX with our first 100GigE port. This is a testament to the great work done by our engineering team Will, Rob and Tom.

If you aren’t in the business this might not mean that much to you. 100Gigabits per second of connectivity seems difficult to get your brain around. However if you consider that when streaming HD video from the internet you could be using several Mbits per second and that millions of people are also doing this all at the same time then the core of the internet needs to be able to handle a lot of traffic.

When it comes to shifting internet data around the bigger the pipe the better and 100GigE is the current state of production art. The project at LONAP is still only part way through. We are replacing our old Extreme switches with a brand new LAN using Arista.

This is a big investment for LONAP but one that has to be repeated every few years as internet traffic grows and capacity requirements increase. This time around we have been under some pressure from our content provider members to get the 100Gig ports installed. The timing on this occasion is good as the Euro2016 football tournament gets into full sway and folk start watching the matches on the internet. The 100Gig port adds instant capacity. We like to have plenty of headroom on our network at LOANP.

The member and port count at LONAP continues to grow up and to the right. It is a good place to be right now. We are very lucky to have a great community of members. If you haven’t yet registered but plan on coming to the UK and Ireland Peering Forum in Dublin next Monday I’d get your name down. See you there.

PS For what it’s worth I’ll be helping to reduce the pressure on the internet by watching the Wales v England game on the TV in the beer garden at the Strugglers pub in Lincoln. C’mon Wales.

More peering posts on

End User media

1080p versus 4k video

How much space have you got – 1080p versus 4k video?

Simple post really. Kid 3 is home briefly from uni as he has a gig on Sunday. At the same time I took delivery this morning of my new Weber rotisserie. There is no correlation between these two facts.

The link is that as regular Facebook pals know I have a habit of sticking videos online of me talking about everyday things. Today I took a video of the new rotisserie in action. The main difference is that in stead of me being in shot I used my higher quality forward facing camera. This uses 4k video format.

Kid 3, or Joe as he is more commonly known, sat with me and gave me a lesson in iMovie production, fair play. Having played around with the footage, added intro and credits I proceeded to the rendering stage. iMovie gave me options. I initially chose 4k but was quite surprised to see that this would consume 6.5GB of storage for 1min 24 seconds of video. Wow.

1080p was expected to be around 1.6GB. Still hefty but more manageable. I rendered it using 1080p, ended up with 1.4GB of movie and uploaded to Facebook. Now doing the same to YouTube. It’s going to be interesting to see how Virgin Media react to this because I’m fairly sure I’ll be breaking their “fair usage” policy even though I am on their top package.

It doesn’t seem that uploading two lots of 1.4GB is anything out of the ordinary today though does it?

Just checked. The 1 hour threshold for uploading (at which point they throttle you) is 2.25GB but it doesn’t start until 4pm so I might be ok:). They only throttle you by 50% though which seems a bit daft. I’m still going to upload the same amount of data. It will just take twice as long. I accept that it is reducing peak usage but hey…

Its a 15 minute upload but tbh that is pretty acceptable for a 1.4GB file. The limitation might even be the server limiting hte upload – can’t be bothered to work it out. Ok I will

1.4GB is 11,200,000,000 bits ish. I’m uploading at 12Mbps or 12,000,000 bps (lets assume no packet overhead) so it should take 933 seconds or 15 .55 mins – hey bang on.

Movie below – volume is a bit low – I’m a novice.

couple of pics here

rotisserie4k rotisserie1080

Engineer peering

UK & Ireland Peering Forum – Monday 20th June

A chance to talk peering in Dublin

Peering in Dublin. If you haven’t already got your name down and work for an organisation that is a member of one of the UK Internet Exchange Points you should seriously consider coming along to the UK and Ireland Peering Forum. This is being held in Dublin on Monday 20th April.

Members and prospective members of INEX, IX Leeds, LINX and LONAP will be gathering for a day of talks and discussions on subjects of real interest to the network engineer.

The UK&I Peering Forum takes place in the morning and participants are invite to the INEX meeting in the afternoon. Regular participant at UKNOF meetings will be familiar with some of the regulars who come across for the events. This is a chance to meet and talk with the rest of the Irish networking community.

We are going to be covering peering tools, take a peek at what is happening on the regulatory front and how this might affect they way you have to run your network, together with a couple of technical sessions.

The biggest benefit you will get from this meeting is the opportunity to set up new peering relationships. Attending will also allow you to meet your peers (pun intended) at other networks and catch up on what are the issues of the day.

I will be announcing the full peering in Dublin line up in the next few days.

Peering in Dublin – UK & Ireland Peering Forum Hosts

There are four host exchanges of the UK & Ireland Peering Forum. These are INEX in Dublin, Ireland, IXLeeds in Yorkshire and LINX and LONAP who are both based in London.


INEX is a neutral, industry-owned Association, founded in 1996, that provides IP peering facilities for its members. INEX membership is open to all organisations that can benefit from peering their IP traffic. There are currently 96 members. Our objective is to provide high-speed, reliable and resilient IP traffic exchange facilities for both Irish and International organisations, allowing them to route IP traffic efficiently thereby providing faster, more reliable and lower-latency internet access for their customers. The INEX switching centres are located in six secure data centres around Dublin; Telecity Group in Kilcarbery Park, Citywest Business Campus and Northwest Business Park, Interxion DUB1 and Interxion DUB2 in Park West, and the Vodafone data centre in Clonshaugh. The infrastructure is connected by dedicated resilient fibre links.

For more information, please visit


IXLeeds is one of three internet exchange operators in the UK and the only operator based outside of London. It’s aims are to promote regional cooperation between network operators and to raise awareness of the purpose and importance of a solid internet exchange fabric in the UK. IXLeeds is a limited company with a board of four directors and a company secretary. IXLeeds’ first board was elected on 21st September 2011 by its founding members and comprises of Andy Davidson, Allegro Networks (Chair), Mark Fordyce, York Data Services (Finance Director), Tom Bird, Portfast (Director), Thomas Mangin, Exa Networks (Technical Director) and Adam Beaumont, aql (Company Secretary)..

For more information, please visit


The London Internet Exchange (LINX) is a global leader of Internet Exchange Points (IXP). Our company ethos and aspirations result in constant growth and improvement in our services and as a result, members have access to the most attractive peers at the lowest cost. With over 690 members connecting from over 66 different countries worldwide, LINX members have access to direct routes from a large number of diverse international peering partners. In addition to its dual LAN topology in London using equipment from Juniper Networks and Extreme Networks, LINX has three UK regional exchanges (IXManchester, IXScotland and IXCardiff) and another in North Virginia, USA (LINX NoVA). Using LINX allows a reliable exchange of traffic with increased routing control and improved performance. As a not-for-profit organisation, we focus on investing our service and membership fees into strengthening LINX network services. This ensures that our infrastructure is as up to date as possible and that we remain at the forefront of the IXP industry. By doing so, we can confidently provide our members with improved network performance, low latency and more control.

For more information, please visit


The London Access Point [LONAP] was first established in 1997 as a ‘not for profit’ Internet Exchange Point for London. Today, our list of active members includes global brands, London businesses and FTSE100 companies, all of which are joint stakeholders in the organisation. As members, they all have exclusive interconnectivity and direct input into the configuration of the network and enjoy the commercial, operational and social benefits of working with a vibrant and dynamic exchange. Our growing membership includes ISPs, network operators and content providers with their own data networks. LONAP members exchange traffic using a network of interconnected switches hosted in our data centres across the City of London and Docklands.

For more information, please visit

Engineer fun stuff peering


LONAP is at RIPE72

Wearing my LONAP hat again today. Actually that is a figure of speech. You can see from the featured image that I’m really wearing my LONAP shirt. Facebook friends will know that I’m at the RIPE72 conference in Copenhagen.

We, LONAP, get a lot out of these conferences. Not only is there a lot of good content but it is a fantastic place to meet existing and prospective members. The LONAP community is growing.

LONAP are also slap bang in the middle of a total core network upgrade. Our new network is going to be based on Arista 100GigE kit. 100GigE has been around for perhaps four years but the first generation of equipment was very expensive. The introduction of cheaper more powerful silicon has brought the pricing down with the timing being just right for our roll out. It feels as if 100Gig is only now reaching the same stage of commoditisation that 10Gig was at 7 years ago.

Other benefits that Arista bring include programmability (API) and VXLAN for loop free layer-two. It’s worth noting that the Internet Exchange Point market has specific technical needs that aren’t addressed by all vendors.  The fact that Arista has an industry category specifically for identifying IXPs in its customer sign up page is very telling. I’ve not seen this in any other vendor (am prepared to be corrected here).

Check out the image


It’s an exciting time to be at LONAP. Our IXP in the middle of a transition from being “just a small exchange run by people with other day jobs” to a professional outfit that is attracting big players from both the content provider and eyeball network communities.

We still like to think of it as a family business though. We are a community that does things on behalf of the community. Our low overhead base means we are amongst the most cost effective IXPs in the game.

More in due course. In the meantime if you are  at RIPE72 and want to chat to us look out for our LONAP branded shirts.

Check out all peering posts here.

4g broadband charitable Coast to Coast End User

Coast to coast walk broadband coverage

Coast to Coast broadband

Thought it would be interesting to see what the Coast to Coast broadband coverage was likely to be during our walk in May. It will be most inconvenient is I cant upload stuff at the end of each day. I’m assuming that the daytime coverage in the mountains will be largely on existent which is a bit of a shame as otherwise I’d be able to store my pics and videos as I go along.

I used the BT postcode checker, EE’s own website for mobile coverage  and the Ofcom coverage page. The results are below.

The places with very little or no bandwidth are small villages. The larger the place the more likely they are to have service. Obvs.

If I left out the place names and postcodes you could guess which stopping points were in National Parks and which weren’t. Clearly the inhabitants of these places have compensations to offset their poor internet access (innit @Cyberdoyle? 🙂 )

What I thought most amusing was that at our ultimate destination, Robin Hood’s Bay, the only network that apparently has 4G coverage is Vodafone and that is out at sea – see featured image. So if the tide is out people with Vodafone sims get good connectivity. Hopefully they have waterproof phones.

Day Place BT checker EE coverage Ofcom 4G checker
Saturday St Bees CA27 0DE 68Mbps 4G EE
Sunday Ennerdale Bridge CA23 3AR 1Mbps none EE nearby
Monday Seatoller CA12 5XQ 1Mbps none none
Tuesday Patterdale CA11 0PJ 80Mbps none none
Wednesday Shap CA10 3LX 33Mbps 4G EE good O2/Voda fair
Thursday Kirkby Stephen CA17 4QQ 78Mbs 4G EE
Friday Keld DL11 6LL 2Mbps none none
Saturday Reeth DL11 6SN 73Mbps 2G no data none
Sunday Richmond DL10 7AG 75Mbps 4G all good
Monday Ingleby Cross DL6 3LN 73Mbps 3G O2/Voda good EE sketchy
Tuesday Chop Gate (Clay Bank Top) TS9 7JF 10Mbps none none – all sketchy nearby
Wednesday Glaisedale YO21 2QL 10Mbps 3G Voda limited
Thursday Robin Hood’s Bay YO22 4RJ 46Mbps 3G Voda out at sea only!

Would have been better had I been able to represent this data graphically but I can’t so never mind.

Don’t forget I’m raising cash for Cancer Research UK whilst on this Coast to Coast walk JustGiving page here. The start date of the walk coincides with the anniversary of my mother’s death on May 1st last year. Mam was Chairman of the Marown & District branch of the IoM Anti Cancer Association.

4g broadband Business

Virgin Media Broadband Problem

Virgin Media Broadband Problem s R Us

I’m having a Virgin Media broadband problem. Took a skeet on my router and no WAN IP address was present. I haven’t bothered logging a fault as their website tells me there know about it – see featured image above. It’s been down since I got back from the dentist at around 10am.

In the meantime I’ve been using my phone as a portable hotspot connected to the EE 4G network. Since I got a 20GB data bundle for £20 a month (see here for story) I am totally comfortable with hammering the 4G connection. In fact you will see below that at 40Mbps down and almost 20Mbps up  I am getting a reasonable speed out of it – faster indeed than my old 80/20 FTTC line that only ever gave me 30/7.


The only problem I have is that my SIP deskphone doesn’t work and similarly neither do our SIP DECT phones that are the “landlines”.

This is a little bit of a nuisance as I use the SIP line to make free conference calls and to call my dear old dad in the Isle of Man. Mobile operators rip you off on calls to the IoM by not only treating them as international roaming calls but also outside the EU. Landline calls are treated as UK geo.

The only easy way to find out if the problem has been fixed is by occasionally trying my landline. Otherwise it’s a nuisance switching hotspots. The connection did come back momentarily but has now disappeared again.

I can get by using the 4G line and mobile calls but you can see why it is important for larger businesses to that they have robust connectivity. If I had an office full of people it would be worth paying for a second totally separate line for resilience/redundancy.

The Virgin service status page says estimated fix time is 14.20. Who wants a bet on whether it will be fixed by then?

broadband Business

CLA calls for legal right to broadband

Broadband for all?

You need a bit of stamina in this broadband punditry game. It’s such a complex situation that it is difficult to follow everything that goes on. Yesterday the CLA (Countryside Landowners Association) called “on MPs today to press Government for a clear and unequivocal ‘Universal Service Obligation’ that means every home and business in rural England and Wales will get broadband coverage of at least 10 megabits per second by 2020.” Broadband for all!

It was only in November last year that Dave Cameron said:

“Access to the Internet shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be a right – absolutely fundamental to life in 21st century Britain. That is why I’m announcing a giant leap in my digital mission for Britain. Just as our forebears effectively brought gas, electricity and water to all, we’re going to bring fast broadband to every home and business that wants it. That’s right: we’re getting Britain – all of Britain – online, and on the way to becoming the most prosperous economy in the whole of Europe.”

Dave was talking 10Mbps USO by 2020. I think you have to accept the politicospeak that comes with the announcement as par for the course.

What does need drilling down into though is the detail which politicians rarely cover and is what gets these idealist statements bogged down in the mire of reality.

  1. First of all who pays for this? Why should BT (other broadband providers may be available) be legally obliged to shoulder the cost of running connectivity to a farmer 5 miles from the nearest green cabinet.
  2. Offering alternatives such as satellite based broadband doesn’t cut the mustard.
  3. By 2020 10Mbps will not cut the mustard either – it should be 1Gbps.

In relation to point 1 we also have to consider the competitive landscape for broadband in the UK. We claim to have the most competitive market going. This is fair enough (probably – I’ve not really looked elsewhere but I think broadband prices in the UK are very low) but this is only in the provision of services largely running over BT infrastructure. There is Virgin of course but Virgin don’t have a wholesale play and certainly (and understandably) ain’t interested in running DOCSIS to farmhouses five miles out of town. Competition isn’t providing services to Farmer Giles.

It seems to me that the only way to do this is for UK PLC to have a state owned infrastructure company that just runs fibre to rural areas places that need it. This entity doesn’t sell services to end users. It just supplies connectivity to service providers.

It may be that this connectivity is just backhaul in many areas which is often the seed required for communities to look after themselves. We need lots of B4RNs. Maybe we need B4RN to spread to every bit of the country. There is nothing to stop the BTs, Skys and Virgins of this world from selling Over The Top services that use someone else’s underlying connectivity.

Having a state owned infrastructure provider won’t sit very well with this government. In fact it doesn’t sit very well with me either really – I don’t trust governments to do things efficiently and well if only because they get themselves entangled in their own red tape. Could Openreach be that state owned infrastructure supplier?

I think the penny is very slowly starting to drop in the minds of the powers that be but it has a long way to go before the light comes on.

There you go. Rant over for now. Check out yesterday’s post on the lack of UK national broadband vision.

PS note new image of cow. I’ve been using one from @Cyberdoyle’s farm for ages. Thought I’d have a change:)

broadband Business

UK national lack of broadband vision

B4RL turns out to be a good source and the lack of UK broadband vision

Last year I created the B4RL Facebook page. B4RL stands for Broadband 4 Rural Lincolnshire. Seemed to me we needed one aka B4RN (Broadband for the Rural North) and B4RDS (Broadband for Rural Devon and Somerset). B4RN is by now world famous and B4RDS is becoming a place for heated discussion with people who have very clear views on the availability (or lack of) of connectivity.

I occasionally get contacted by people local to me looking for help getting connectivity to their communities. Usually the brick wall is backhaul cost. Lincolnshire folk don’t generally seem to be particularly demonstrative when it comes to broadband. It’s usually constrained to social media outcries when their broadband stops working, as the technology periodically tends to do.

B4RL however has turned out to be a good place to follow relevant news in the broadband space because a number of stalwarts post to the timeline on a regular basis.

This morning it’s all about The Culture, Media and Sport Committee visit to Russell’s Water Village, as part of its inquiry on “Establishing world-class connectivity throughout the UK”. The visit has already met with a hiccup as you can see from the tweet:

This week has also seen a link to an article in the Telegraph on the best and worst places to get broadband in the UK. Amazingly my home town Lincoln comes near the top. That’ll be my 200Mbps Virgin connection driving up the average.

best and worst broadbandThe difference between the best and the worst is really marked though. What’s more  we have to consider that to get an average a lot of people must be seeing far worse speeds. Also this probably doesn’t recognise that many households won’t be getting broadband of any sort.

There are lots more good articles on B4RL. What I really wanted to get to was the issue of what is to be done about broadband access and speeds and why we need to do anything..

There is a valid argument that nobody yet needs a 1Gbps connection aka the services of B4RN, Gigaclear et al. I doubt that I ever use my 200Mbps to the full. It may be argued that over and above a certain speed (say 10Mbps per person) what is more important is the contention/congestion on the service provider’s network. That’s as may be but the real point is that as a nation that needs to compete and be innovative in the big bad technology ruled world we need to have that cutting edge.

Commercial websites have evidence that shows how revenues increase with faster page load times. Amazon claim a 1% increase in revenue for every 100 milliseconds improvement in page loading time. Yahoo increased traffic by 9% for every 400 milliseconds improvement. Google say that “Slowing down the search results page by 100 to 400 milliseconds has a measurable impact on the number of searches per user of -0.2% to -0.6%”.

This is one of the reasons why large content providers are members of Internet Exchange Points like LONAP where their traffic gets the benefit of faster connectivity.

It may be about speed in the headlines but behind all the hype it’s about money.

The same logic can be applied to broadband connectivity. I found this Forbes article from 2012 that claimed that GDP increases by 0.3% with a doubling of broadband growth. Now I’m sure that there will be lots of caveats and conditions associated with this but the general message seems to be clear.

The problem is that this isn’t a BT or a Virgin issue. Apart from the fact that B4RN and Gigaclear have shown that it is very much doable to provide 1Gbps to the home economically (£30 a month for a 1Gig connection – I’d say that’s hugely competitive).

BT’s job is to generate value for its shareholders and not to underpin the economy. This is a we the people issue. Why should the UK wait for BT to decide that there is indeed a business case in providing FTTH, which is what we are talking about. Fibre all the way to your house.

UK GDP at the end of 2015 was around £1,787 Billion. Last year Ofcom told us that the average UK broadband speed had grown to 22.8Mbps by the end of November 2014. If everyone was getting 1Gbps that would be over x 25 growth or, if for the sake of a number we use the Forbes 0.3% figure, a 1.5% growth in GDP.That would take GDP to £1,814bn or a growth of £27Bn which is funnily enough roughly what the Caio Report in 2008 said that rolling out nationally FTTH would cost. Bear in mind this figure would be based on BT type overheads and costs.

Compare this to the £15.5 to £19.5Bn annual increase in GDP by 2040 quoted for the H2S train project for an investment of around £50Bn.

I don’t have a problem with investing for the future. The government’s problem is that it can’t see how an investment in digital infrastructure would generate growth. It can’t work out the numbers. A capital project such as HS2 has an established business model that bean counters can bet their brains around. The brave new digital world is a mystery to most of them. They aren’t necessarily to blame as it’s new for everyone. What is lacking however is vision.

There is something else lacking. If you talk to the folk at B4RN they won’t touch government money with a barge pole. This is partly out of bitter experience.  When they were starting they were ignored by the establishment in favour of BT when it came to the distribution of funds. BT being seen to be a “safer” pair of hands. It is also because government money comes so wrapped in red tape that accessing it is seen as too much effort to get to.

So somehow the MPS on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee visiting Russell’s Water today need to be provided with a message they can take back to Westminster. A message that says “raise your game UK”. Let’s be seen by the world as being visionaries and not just by a few people in government trying to spin a story.

The CartoDB  website is useful if you are looking for data on your local broadband speeds.

ecommerce Engineer internet ipv6

NANOG 66 is in San Diego by the sea @LONAP

NANOG 66 – bring your shorts

One of the downsides perhaps of being in the internet plumbing industry is that your Facebook timeline constantly fills up with people  off to conferences in exotic places. Even when they aren’t off to a meeting people are still off to exotic places as they spend their air miles. This week it’s NANOG 66  in San Diego.

San Diego is one of the nicest places you can choose to go to a conference. The other popular destination is Hawaii. I’ve done San Diego but not Hawaii. In fact I tend to avoid conferences that involve long haul travel these days because it’s hard enough submitting your body to a week of conference talks, corridor meetings and the follow on eating and drinking without throwing jet lag into the mix.

Out of curiosity I took a look at the NANOG Facebook group and the NANOG website. The first thing that hit me on Facebook was a comment that told me there were 1002 people signed up for the conference. That’s a lot of people. So many people that you have to figure out how to make the most of the fact that they are all there. The value in these meetings tends not to be in the actual conference material but in the people that attend.

This brings me to my second observation. The list of Platinum Sponsors, organisations that have paid $100,000 to sponsor the three events in the year, includes a business called Addrex. Addrex are an IP address broker. That’s a serious chunk of change they have invested in marketing by becoming a NANOG sponsor. It just goes to show how much money there must be in the IPv4 address game.

internet traffic growthI am more familiar with Sandra Brown and the IPv4 Market Group who very generously sponsored the LONAP dinner last month. LONAP usually sends a couple of people to the NANOG meetings because they are very good recruiting grounds for new members. Most of our big members have come on board as a result of relationships developed at such meetings.

If you are in NANOG this week do take the opportunity to look up Will Hargrave and Richard Irving who will be there representing us.

Business engineering internet

Cisco v Arista

Cisco Arista court case gets judgement

Cisco Arista court case gets judgement in favour of Cisco.  Quite an interesting spat going on in the big wide world of internet plumbing and routing at the moment. Cisco are suing Arista for patent infringement and have been given a judgement in their favour.

Now it seems to be the norm for big companies to go about suing each other these days: witness the long running Apple v Samsung saga, or Samsung v Apple – take your pick. This is no change to the status quo really. Many years ago when I was in the semiconductor business I once got a letter (yes letter) from AT&T or some similar long established telecoms giant saying that we were infringing a patent of theirs. We were using a CMOS process and they assumed that because of this we were using technology that they had patented.

They probably sent them out to every semiconductor manufacturer fishing for a response that they could grab hold of and drill deeper. I threw the letter in the bin and heard no more of it.

AT&T had a revenue generating department that specialised in doing this sort of thing – their patent portfolio was huge.

Nowadays the stakes are very high. Cisco are still market leaders (ref Gartner Magic Quadrant – Who’s Leading The Data Center Networking Market) but Arista are the fastest growing and together with Cisco hailed as leaders.

There are three reference points in respect of this court case:

  1. Cisco’s Mark Chandler (SVP, General Counsel and Secretary General Counsel) in a blog post on protecting innovation naturally takes the line that “copying and misappropriation are not a legitimate strategy”.
  2. Arista founder and CTO Kenneth Duda obviously has his own views here.His blog post entitled Protecting IP or Market Share?  is well worth a read.
  3. The third reference point, apart from the judgement itself is the online outcry from the internet engineering community. The feeling is that there is prior art that covers the meat of what Cisco are claiming as their own patented technology. There is also a sense that the patent authorities do not have sufficient expertise to vet a patent application and that we have to wait for expensive law suits to prove prior art.

Now there’s no way I’m going to get involved in this discussion (apart from the fact that I sort of already have here) other than to say that the only people who will do well out of this will be the lawyers – how much did that blog post cost Cisco? I doubt that it will make any difference to anything in the great scheme of things.

Note when we talk about data center market share we are talking about the core of the internet.

Engineer peering

LONAP networking dinner is great success @JoeBaguley @LONAP

Industry peers get together for LONAP networking dinner

The LONAP networking dinner held in a private dining room  at Kettner’s last Thursday night was as usual a huge success with guest speaker VMWare CTO Joe Baguley providing some stimulating thoughts for debate. Joe was speaking about Network Function Virtualisation.

LONAP as you may know is an Internet Exchange Point (IXP) of which I have the honour of being Chairman. Now the whole point of an IXP is to provide eyeball networks and content providers a meeting place for them to share their network traffic (peer) cost effectively and get the best performance out of their networks. The typically lower latencies obtained by peering at an IXP result in the best experience for their end user customers.

Joe Baguley in his talk highlighted an interesting use for NFV that was highly analogous to the way an IXP works. He discussed the scenario where a betting firm could set up a virtual network at the datacentre closest to a specific sporting event. This would in theory give the betting firm’s customers the fastest response time and best experience. ie help them to lose their money more quickly.

Once the event is over they just tear down the virtual network. A click of a virtual switch. Highly cost effective.

Virtual network functions we are told are just as good as hardware implementations these days. When you think about it unless your need requires high end state of the art ASIC silicon everything is realisable in software these days.

These LONAP networking dinners are always successful, helped on this occasion by the very generous support of the IPv4 Market Group (IPv4 address proker) and Xantaro (network integrator). I think both sponsors will have had great value from the exposure into a fast growing and high spending community of network operators. Take a look at their sites.

The attendees were a great mix of LONAP members and non-members/prospects ranging from small but agile communications providers to some of the biggest eyeball networks and content providers in the country.

These are top class networking events. If you are in this business, a LONAP member or otherwise, look out for the next dinner which will be sometime in the spring. If you want to sponsor a LONAP networking dinner by all means drop me a line. Vendors get really good exposure into a wide network engineering community.

Last week’s dinner did have a hint of that end of an era feeling. It was the last  week  of trading for Kettner’s, a legendary Soho bar that has been around for 149 years. Kettner’s has been sold to the SoHo House Group who are turning the whole block into a hotel. This is a shame because I’ve been holding private dinners for a few years now and only discovered Kettners in the last year. I’ll have to find another venue.

The sadness at the closure of Kettners was tempered by the fact that because they had been running down stocks of wine we got the most expensive plonk on the wine list for the lower price of the wine we had ordered but which had run out:)

Ciao amigos. Keep peering! A few pics of the evening below including some colourful ones taken en route. Oh and a big thank you for Joe Baguley for coming along and speaking:) Loads of peering content on this blog if you want to read it.

LONAP networking dinner

LONAP networking dinner
LONAP networking dinner guest Joe Baguley gets animated

LONAP networking dinner

LONAP networking dinner

LONAP networking dinner

Engineer engineering internet

UKNOF33 – live action from the conference room floor

UKNOF33 is happening today at Bishopsgate deep in the heart of the City of London

UKNOF33 returns once more to Bishopsgate. It feels a bit odd for what are obviously great bunch of guys and gals, famed for their altruism and generous heartedness to be holding a conference deep in the heart of the financial centre of London – a place known for its single minded pursuit of the filthy lucre purely for the sake of it and (allegedly) at the expense of all moral consciousness. That isn’t to say your average network engineer isn’t interested in the green stuff but we do like to think that we perform a good public service as part of the deal.

Nothwithstanding the location, which due to the growth of the conference is one of the few places able to hold all the people wanting to come, UKNOF continues to be one ofthe most worthwhile meetings in the networking calendar.

These UKNOF posts, in line with other conference posts, aren’t necessarily going to cover the presentations verbatim. You can download the slides if that’s what interests you. No, in these posts you get whatever catches my eye. This might be corridor gossip, interesting (editor’s judgement is final as to what constitute interesting) snippets from the talks, or just photos of things that catch my eye.

Feel free to share, comment and generally participate, if you want to. Otherwise it’s good to be back 🙂

If yer interested check out our other UKNOF posts.

Engineer internet

RIPE71 social scenes

It isn’t all work you know – videos from the first night RIPE71 social

The RIPE71 social was a goodun. It’s always a bit of a risk using video recorded at such events because you never know what clarity of diction is going to be achieve, if you get my drift. On this occasion we were all very sensible and I think hte vids are ok to go:)

Engineer internet travel

RIPE71 – end to end reportingish

A RIPE71 story begins. The live blogging feature doesn’t seem to want to show embedded videos so these are pasted into the body of the blog

broadband Business

Long Line Issues – Living & Working with a 0.18Mbps Internet Connection

Long line issues – makes you appreciate good broadband when you have it

This is Lincolnshire broadband week on Most of the posts have been pretty upbeat. Feelgood stuff about how superfast broadband has changed life/work for the better. Well it ain’t all good I’m afraid. Businessman David MacGregor tells us about his long line issues – broadband so slow as to be almost unusable.

Working and living with a 0.18Mbps connection (…on a good day) is beyond ridiculous. Trust me when I say Broadband rage is real thing. My other half Kirsty and I run a small business (Terranomade) making and designing vinyl graphics, signs, wall art, stickers etc. from our small-holding just outside Theddlethorpe. It never ceases to amaze me that we have managed to grow the business as much as we have, with such limited internet access. Previously we have had some reasonably high profile clients, and attempting to draft and discuss previews and mock-ups via email, whilst operating on such a painfully slow connection speed, has very nearly cost us contracts and further commissions. As you can maybe imagine, in a competitive market place, speed is quite often the key. We genuinely feel as though we are losing business as a direct result of our internet speed issue.

As previously mentioned, one of the main problems with a slow connection is obviously downloading and sending attachments. A considerable portion of our day is spent waiting on pictures uploading, which eats into the time that should be spent on other projects and before you know it you find yourself still working at 9pm at night and thinking I wish I had got more done today.

Quite often friends will ask if we’ve watched some series or another on Netflix or its ilk, and then the quietly embarrassing conversation of “No, we can’t get Netflix etc” ensues. No-one ever quite believes that a connection speed of 0.18mbps is even possible. So, we never get to use on-demand services that’s just a huge no no! Hell, even to watch a 2 minute video on YouTube it takes 10mins and three attempts to get it to play all the way through whilst “buffering”. We have a rule of only one person connected to the internet at a time, primarily because if we are both attempt to go on ebay or facebook we spend the night getting messages of “no internet”.

We are currently awaiting an investigation being completed by BT as to what can be done to improve not only our connection, but also that of the six other houses along our road that are in the same boat. According to Openreach we are some 9.5km down the line and our cabinet has been fibre enabled, which is all well and good, but due to the length of the copper line, it has meant no improvement whatsoever. In the three years of living here our line speed has in fact has become considerably worse. When we first moved in we were lucky enough to get almost 0.35Mbps at times, now, due to more houses or line degradation, we are subjected to a pitiful 0.18Mbps.

Tref writes:

Remember the days of the 56k modem. You’d set something going and walk off to make a cup of tea whilst it downloaded. Might even set it going overnight and hope that it didn’t crash in the wee small hours making you have to start again. Well for some people this is still a reality as David can testify.

Other posts in Lincolnshire broadband week:

Tim Mackintosh gets excited

There’s tiles in them thar clouds

Superfast translation

No more commuting to Budapest by composer Ervin Nagy

Philip Little of Bluecube Move to the cloud accelerated by superfast broadband

Intro to day 4 by Tref

Broadband for all by Tref

Could we have a B4RN in Lincolnshire (B4RL)

Gigaclear Ultrafast broadband in Lincolnshire by CEO Matthew Hare

BT fibrebroadband Managing Director Bill Murphy discusses superfast broadband progress in Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire broadband programme update by Steve Brookes

broadband Business

Tim Mackintosh is getting excited at the prospect of high speed B4RN internet access and has some suggestions of how he might use its excess capacity

ultra high speed broadband uses – innovative ways of using your high capacity internet connection

Tim Mackintosh is about to dig himself onto the B4RN hyperfast hyperhighway. In this post he discusses innovative ways of using the capacity that will soon be made available to him and talks about TV White Space.

Well, it’s a bit too wet today to do anything to help push forward that twenty kilometre trench today … so, I thought I’d just ponder what it might mean to us all once the sods are replaced and Silverdale residents have gigagot their gigabits.

As Karen Adams posted on B4RL Facebook page recently, in an extract from a CNET article written five years ago, Verizon Communications Chief Information Officer Shaygan Kheradpir said:- “I remember when AOL first came out and people wondered why people would ever need faster than 56Kbps downloads,” he said. “Every time we have increased the speed of service, consumers and others have found a way to fill the pipe. I’m confident that someone will figure out what to do with all that capacity.” With our B4RN gigabit fibre broadband, we’ve got 18,724 times more capacity.  That’s a very big pipe to fill.

Of course, we don’t need to fill the pipe.  There’s no obligation upon us to do any more on line than we are doing now.  B4RN fibre is just going to let us do what we do much more reliably.  But what sort of things could we do, if we wanted to?

There’s a company in the Netherlands called Nerdalize.  For people in places like B4RNland with a gigabit at their disposal, they are offering the opportunity to use some of their unused bandwidth to heat their houses.  They will supply storage heater sized server units which will be processing information for universities, research centres and other industrial data managers whilst at the same time, heating the premises.  Nerdalize pay for all the electricity used by the servers and can still offer data processing at 30% – 55% cheaper prices than its competition. – Green, clean and environmentally friendly.

In the USA, there are a number of initiatives where communities can share their surplus bandwidth with less well connected neighbourhoods.  These initiatives are made possible by the use of TV white space and it doesn’t take a huge leap of the imagination to see how it would work in Lincolnshire.

What is TV White Space (TVWS)?

Between 2008 and 2012 the UK’s terrestrial television system switched from analogue to digital broadcasting. The TV transmission system is arranged regionally and so to avoid interference between neighbouring regional signals there needs to be space between the channels used in each region.

Devices used for program making and special events (known as PMSE), such as wireless microphones, occasionally use some of these spare channels, but the remaining channels can be shared for other uses. TV White Space technology makes use of these available channels using an online geo-location database that tells the wireless device which frequency it can use without causing interference to TV broadcasters and PMSE operators.  Depending on the availability of channels in an area, TVWS can offer tens of Mbps per channel over several kilometres.  One of these databases has  already expressed an interest in working with community projects for community benefit.

The Gigabit Libraries Project in the ‘States, has libraries with spare broadband bandwidth, sending some of this connectivity to more remote locations in their communities to provide a WIFI connection for special community events and activities.  TV white space technology is being developed extensively in many parts of the world and the equipment required is becoming more affordable all the time.  Individuals in B4RNland, with connectivity to spare and an interest in community art, could decide to use TVWS to share some of it, as a WIFI hotspot, with a ‘Woodstock’ like music festival visiting the vicinity, or a ‘Hay on Wye’ type book fair a field or two away.

Another TVWS initiative being explored in UK would be particularly resonant in B4RNland with Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks and Sites of Special Scientific Interest as prolific as fleas on a dog’s back.  TVWS would easily allow any B4RN connected environmentalist to furnish a bit of bandwidth to a local university or conservation organisation that wanted eyes and ears on a remote location 24/7.  They could set up an HD video feed serviced by a TVWS link and put it immediately up on the web for the world to see and study.

Our community owned and managed gigabit connectivity is going to give us opportunities that not only don’t exist today but that will open doors to whole new worlds that we cannot even imagine from where we’re standing now.  

From the horse’s mouth, I have it on good authority that TVWS connectivity will soon be able to be mounted on a vehicle.  In the event of an emergency – road accident, rail crash, cockling disaster – anywhere in B4RNland, this TVWS mobile WIFI hub will facilitate immediate high bandwidth WIFI inter connectivity between all the emergency services, volunteers and local community resources to co-ordinate the best possible response in the quickest possible time.  All that’s tomorrow.  But we can start exploring its potential whenever we like.  

Once we’ve dug that twenty kilometre trench …

Tim Mackintosh found B4RN in 2011, attended their launch in Lancaster, bought some shares and started making a nuisance of himself locally. In 2013 he got together with a few like minded individuals and set up B4YS (B4RN broadband for Yealand, Silverdale and Storth) and obtained a grant from Arnside and Silverdale AONB to grease its wheels. So far, BAYS has connected most of one of the three parishes – Yealand. Tim has been interested in TVWS since before B4RN.

Other posts in Lincolnshire broadband week:

There’s tiles in them thar clouds

Superfast translation

No more commuting to Budapest by composer Ervin Nagy

Philip Little of Bluecube Move to the cloud accelerated by superfast broadband

Intro to day 4 by Tref

Broadband for all by Tref

Could we have a B4RN in Lincolnshire (B4RL)

Gigaclear Ultrafast broadband in Lincolnshire by CEO Matthew Hare

BT fibrebroadband Managing Director Bill Murphy discusses superfast broadband progress in Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire broadband programme update by Steve Brookes