broadband Business

Broadband Types: ADSL versus FTTC versus FTTP

As we begin to discuss the merits of broadband types — Fibre To The Cabinet and Fibre To The Premises compared with ADSL — there are a few points worth noting.

First of all there is the speed of the connection. ADSL2+ offers “up to 24Mbps”, FTTC “up to 40Mbps” and FTTP, which has no copper in the loop, is initially 100Mbps with an upgrade path to 1Gbps. I’m not predicting when any reader will have access to these services but those are the numbers. Also the 100M should not need the “up to” inverted commas.

Speed apart the biggest win for me is likely to be in the reliability of the service. Copper based broadband connections are very prone to service interruption due to water and electrical storms.

Believe it or not fault rates do actually go up during summer heatwaves and the thunderstorms that these unbearable periods of British summer weather tend to attract:-). Fibre does not care about water or electromagnetic interference.

Fibre bandwidth delivery is also not dependant on distance in the way that copper based ADSL is. So the overall customer experience is likely to be much improved as we move to FTTP.

BT are assuming that more of their NGA rollouts are going to be FTTC. I think that once FTTP is readily available it will supersede it’s partly copper based sibling. Uses for the bandwidth are going to come along in their droves.

Business internet

Novation, novation, novation

I have recently novated three companies ADSL networks to Timico, including health charity “Stroke Association”.

Novation is the process whereby a company hands over its assets to another, in this case we are talking Wide Area Networks. There are a few reasons why companies do this:

  1. Increasing levels of internet usage drives the need for larger BT Central pipes. Disproportionately large steps in costs are incurred when increased capacity is required.
  2.  BT Central pipes of 34Mbps or less do not support L2TP, which is the technology basis for the modern MPLS Private Wide Area Networks. PWANs are far more efficient than traditional PPP/IP Sec based Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).  The Timico network is fully L2TP compliant.
  3. Increased availability is driving users towards faster 21CN-based ADSL2+ connections which require totally separate connectivity infrastructure. Timico provides an upgrade path, so that customers’ users can be automatically upgraded to ADSL2+ as soon as availability to 21CN is rolled out in their area.

To the uninitiated this might all sound a bit boring but in actual fact in these recessionary days it seems that more and more companies that traditionally ran their own networks are seeing that it makes sense to outsource.

The same cost pressures are starting to be seen in the Internet Service Provider (ISP) business with more and more ISPs putting up for sale signs.  Small ISPs are struggling to come up with the cash to upgrade their networks.  It is important to have cash in the bank these days and looking forwards to the end of the recession I can see the industry in a different shape to today.

End User H/W

Never Look a Gift Laptop in the Mouth??!!

I’m mixing my proverbs up a bit here but the Broadband Genie comparison website has been talking about ADSL deals that include free laptops. The message basically is that these are not usually good deals and tie you in for two years during which time you are likely to be  saddled with a not very good spec laptop.

Typically there is only a choice of one or  two machines in the deal. This compares with hundreds to chose from in the marketplace with prices starting from £175.

The ISPs offering these deals will argue that it is a good way for people to get a laptop without having to stump up the cash up front – good in times of credit crunch!  In my experience you get what you pay for and people don’t realise what they are letting themselves in for.

For example two Christmases ago Santa brought a new PC for my then 10 year old. Santa thought he’d got a great deal but the PC was very slow running and clearly needed a memory upgrade (Vista!).  When I then looked into it (Santa having gone back to the North Pole to feed the reindeer)  there was only a limited scope for adding additional memory.

So remember it is sometimes worth  looking a gift horse in the memory, or hard drive, or battery life or whatever other bits you use to tell whether you are really getting a good deal 🙂

broadband Business

21CN Broadband Testing Task

Just sitting in on a BT webinar on 21CN testing. According to BT they are spending £150m on testing 21CN broadband related devices and networks.

The scope is a lot bigger than I had thought before I sat in on the call. The ADSL related bits, which is my main interest, looks as if it will largely be unproblematic. However when you think about it there is a huge list of equipment out there that has been plugged into the BT network over decades. There is bound to be a problem somewhere.

Initial feedback is that some security related services might have a problem that needs attention. Also one very old PBX whose name escapes me (it’s that old).

A couple of PBXs would appear to have been successfully tested from manufacturers Aastra and Alcatel Lucent. Clearly there is a long way to go because most of the big guys are not in this list. BT does have a proactive programme to contact the top ten manufacturers.

I don’t have a specific list of manufacturers that are being contacted. However if you think that your’s might be from a small vendor who might not appear on the list let me know and I will happily effect the introduction with BT.

One might ask why anyone would buy a PBX from a vendor you have never heard of but hey…

broadband Business

Multi-Site Broadband VPN Deployments

If your company is deploying multi-site broadband VPNs you need to consider using a L2TP Private Wide Area Network. A PWAN employs Virtual Route Forwarding to offer complete security over a shared MPLS backbone.


The beauty of this approach is that you don’t need expensive MPLS connections – an ADSL line will do which can be a very cost effective way of providing security to remote sites.


Moreover there is a choice of PWAN with or without internet access. A company that needs only an inward facing network, for example for streaming music or messaging to stores completely removes the need for firewall support at each remote site.


For a slightly more sophisticated network with internet access and, say broadband VPN connectivity for mobile workers, only one centrally located firewall is needed (or two for resiliency).


This means that corporate resources such as billing platforms and CRM packages that would normally be located at the corporate HQ can now be located at a centrally positioned data-centre. This is then accessible to every site on the corporate network without the need to provide an expensive beefed up IP connection to the HQ and removes this as a single point of failure.


Typically not every ISP offers this kind of PWAN. It relies on BT Central pipes that support L2TP which the smaller pipes do not do. Larger consumer oriented ISPs that may well have the technology are potentially not interested in supporting what is essentially an unique circuit design for every customer.

broadband Business

Heaviest Virgin Media Downloaders Face New Daytime Go-Slow

This is an article reproduced from The Register.

It is basically a perfect advertisment as to why people should use a quality ISP as opposed to a “pile it high sell it cheap” operator. Timico’s policy is that “we don’t throttle….. we just ask users to pay a usage based surcharge if they choose to use a lot of our bandwidth….SIMPLE!”

If business users chose to go with an ISP who operates the type of policy outlined by Virgin below then they are going to get a non optimal experience.

the story goes

Virgin Media will double the number of hours it throttles the bandwidth of customers who hammer its network day and night, changes to its traffic management policy have revealed.

The tightened regime means that between 10am and 3pm subscribers to its “M”, “L” and “XL” packages will have their connection throttled for five hours if they download more than their full speed ration.

The decision follows recent regional testing of extended restrictions in London and the North West. Previously the brakes were only slammed on for five hours if limits were exceeded at any point between 4pm and 9pm.

Now, “M” customers who bust 900MB during the day will have their theoretical maximum download halved from 2Mbit/s to 1Mbit/s. “L” and “XL” users’ usual headline speeds of 10MBit/s and 20MBit/s will be slowed by three quarters if they break daytime download limits of 2400MB and 6000MB respectively.

The download thresholds for the daytime broadband throttling period are double those of the evening period, which also restricts uploads. We’ve reproduced Virgin Media’s explanatory table below:

Virgin Media says that at current levels of demand, one per cent of its 3.8 million customers will be affected by the new daytime restrictions. In the evening, when ISP networks are under most strain, traffic limits are aimed at the top five per cent heaviest users.

A spokesman said the new rules are necessary to ensure quality of service for the majority. The move will nevertheless anger some who have been tricked into believing that “unlimited” broadband actually exists by years of crummy marketing by the ISP industry.

The cable monopoly, created by the merger of NTL and Telewest in 2006, is currently working to boost its top speed to 50MBit/s as part of its strategy to put broadband at the centre of its quadruple-play offering. recent trials to ramp Virgin Media’s 10Gbit/s backhaul to 40GBit/s in support of the upgrade were successful. ®