* Posts by John

5 posts • joined 27 Mar 2008

Police drop BT-Phorm probe


Has anyone read RIPA?

AC, above, mentioned the RIPA definition of unlawful interception, but neglected the important "and without lawful authority" part. Section 3 includes the definition of "Lawful interception without an interception warrant", and specifically para (3) states:

"(3) Conduct consisting in the interception of a communication is authorised by this section if---

(a) it is conducted by or on behalf of a person who provides a postal service or a telecommunication service; and

(b) it takes place for purposes connected with the provision or operation of that service or with the enforcement, in relation to that service, of any enactment relating to the use of postal services or telecommunication services."

I would suggest BT's lawyers would claim that "enhancements to the service" - which is what they will claim Phorm is - would fall under part (b), even though, to me, it has nothing to do with actually PROVISIONING or OPERATING (in the technical sense) the service.

Such greyness can only be cleared up, in UK law, by a test case, but, unfortunately, such greyness also provides a perfect excuse for police - in this case - but also the DPP (see RIPA 1. (8)) - to "decide" the case needn't go forward.

If you don't like it, *write* to your MP - that's snail mail write - they routinely ignore email and e-petitions because it takes very little effort, I kid you not.

Bournemouth floats UK's first 100Mbps sewer broadband network


@Anonymous Coward

As an ex-serviceman, it pains me to say it, but "Well, at least UK won one or the other war in contrast to France" just isn't historically accurate. The contribution of the French Army to winning WWI was greater than the British - in killed, wounded, men involved, sectors of the line held, etc. It is also sadly true that Russia won WWII against the Germans, not the West.

More on topic, without more technical info on the service, it's impossible to say if it will be either good or cost-effective. What optical kit are they deploying? Are they using Spanning Tree? RST? VPLS? h-VPLS? Q-in-Q or MAC-in-MAC? We need more info than "fibre at 100Mbps"

PS HK, like most of the much-lauded Far East, only gives good connectivity to high-density MTUs. Try living in the sticks, and see what broadband speeds you get - IP over OX-Cart!

Bell Canada chokes BitTorrent traffic on someone else's ISP


RE: Chad H.

I am delighted to read about your literary pretensions. May I recommend you ask your dad for some scrap paper and crayons.


Network engineers are actually on YOUR side...

RE: Boris H. I never implied that b/w needs will drop, nor that I wished it would. And I am certainly NOT saying that "we should stop progress", nor do I wish it. B/w requirements have increased consistently year-on-year since time immemorial (or in my case the late 70s when I first started networking). My job as a network engineer is to make sure that those needs are catered for. To that end, traffic engineering techniques have been used for decades and will continue to be developed and used for many more, because it is a truism of networks that demand will always exceed capacity.

Capacity *is* constrained. The issue of congestion is NOT just a last-mile question. On the contrary, the problems of large-scale aggregation of customer traffic in the core is far more problematical. While it is true that in certain areas, *some* dark fibre exists, this does not mean that b/w is therefore available. A network need much more than optical fibre to pass IP packets. The major components in capex costs are that of the optical interface cards required to light up fibre, and the switch/router that holds the interface card. The major component in opex is the cost of people required to design, run and maintain the kit. Both these considerable costs have to be met somehow. And passed to the customer, because that's how capitalism works. I was not attempting to excuse the sometimes dubious business behaviour of ISPs, or any other organisations.

I *was* trying to give you an appreciation of the current state of play in the industry. As a long-time socialist I can also assure you that shareholder profit is very far from my concerns! ;-) However, I must point out that ISP's most certainly ARE losing money. The gravy-train ground to a very firm stop in 2000, and since then cost models for next-gen services over converged IP architectures have proven MOST problematical. Have a look at some of the research papers on the subject on the IEEE, if you doubt me. Most Service Providers are looking to move up the food chain, to higher margin corporate services, and frankly, residential services. once seen as desirable, are primarily revenue-generating, not high margin. Our bean-counters would LOVE us to drop residential support entirely. As someone who believes in the benefit of communications to society as a whole, I find this worrying. As far as the situation in the Far East, the business model is significantly different there, due to the large number of very high-density apartments. The costs of running one fibre into such a large building (containing dozens of customers) are NOT commensurate with the costs of running multiple fibres into a widely-dispersed housing scheme in Western Europe, or even more widely-dispersed residential estates in the US.

Finally, re:MorelyDotes, et. al., on the assertion that failing to meet services is fraud, once again, I'm surprised at the naivety. One area where Marketing types are very good, is in the creation of very firm legally binding documents that exonerate them totally from any such allegations. If you're lucky, you MAY get some service credits. If it is a problem for lawyers, then why don't you sue? Let me guess. Because you can't afford it, and if you did, I can assure you, they would tie you up in knots.

In conclusion, knowledge is power. If you wish to "win" over ISPs you need to understand how they work and how they think. And as this is a technical forum, how the technologies work. My aim was to impart some aspects of that, that may be of benefit to YOU, not to mount a defence of ISPs. Traffic shaping does not cause a slow network. Large traffic volumes cause a slow network. Traffic shaping allows a network to continue to function despite the congestion. In it's absence, the network would STOP. Wild caricaturisation and emotive posturing wont get you better service, but understanding the industry *might*.


Well said, Anonymous Coward

As a network engineer within the telecoms industry, can I just try to shed some light on some current issues that underpin customer dissatisfaction.

Most posts here show a lack of understanding of both 1) the current business climate within which the telecoms industry has to survive and turn a profit and 2) traffic engineering principles in a multi-protocol, multi-service next-generation network.

Presumably, most people here consider themselves at least tech-savvy, if not actually a net-head. With that in mind, the first point is simple. Why do you believe the crap told to you by "ISPs"? Let me clarify that. Why do you believe statements written by marketing/sales types that couldn't SPELL IP? The idea that you can get 8Mbps guaranteed throughput "on the 'net" - which actually means "across continents" - for £9.99 a month? Come on! No engineer that works for a telco would promise you that. But the service definitions are written by Marketing types, NOT engineers. And the statements they make are not based upon technical realities, but on "what are the competitors saying, we need to offer more", and "what are the competiton charging, we need to charge less". How naive do you have to be, to think that such services can be technically realised?

Our core network only spans the UK, and I can tell you that that amount of dedicated high-class b/w would COST us approx. £800 per month to provide. That's cost to us, not price to you. And we own our own fibre. Would you be willing to pay £900 a month for a 8 Mbps connection? No? Thought not! Bandwidth is a scarce, expensive resource, and the bean-counters FORCE us engineers to design the network to ensure a good Return On Investment. That means upgrading ONLY when we HAVE to. And engineers do NOT make that call, senior managers do, and they do it based on financial return - which often means DELIBERATELY postponing upgrades that are absolutely essential, in other words accepting bad service. In today's tight financial climate, if an upgrade doesn't bring in good margin, it isn't going to happen. Ergo, we have to design around the problem, because despite what you think, most engineers in this industry want to do a good job, and take pride in technically solving the well-nigh impossible problems given to us by the marketing dead-heads.

So we deploy techniques, like statistical multiplexing and traffic engineering in the core, to put off the expensive day when we have to light up more glass, or worse, dig in more cable. These techniques RELY on users sending intermittent traffic streams. When users don't (and P2P apps turn users from intermittent senders into continuous senders), congestion occurs. When congestion occurs, everyone's traffic is hit. In our case, that means hitting customers like banks and power utilities that pay a LOT more dosh than you to get their traffic delivered.

So, to stop that from happening, we groom the traffic! We cannot do anything else. We cannot deploy enough bandwidth to cope, even if the bean-counters opened the purse strings. There are so many users (millions of 'em!) out there, that the aggregated traffic streams, if they were ALL pumping out 8 - 20 Mbps, would blow our (or any other) backbone, far less an Internet peering connection, and just deploying b/w would NOT cure it. We would need a major redesign on the core network. That means an investment of 10's of millions of pounds and years of, possibly service interrupting, work. It is NOT going to happen! End of story.

Actually, on a technical point, no matter how much b/w we deploy, if we are going to GUARANTEE that no congestion is going to occur in our core network (as our corporate customers insist), we *have* to deploy traffic engineering and grooming techniques, as failures in the core, or sudden events, can still potentially create congestion points (unless we have typical core n/w utilisation of less than 10%).

To illustrate, to cope with BBC coverage of an Olympic event, we increased our b/w, on a link running at 8% utilization i.e the pipe was damn near empty, by a factor of 5 (yup 500% increase), and we STILL got traffic discards at peak). No commercial concerns could conceivably do this on an on-going regular basis and stay in business.

And, for the truly technical among us, the problem is compounded by fact that Internet traffic arrival rates follow a power-law distribution, rather than a Poisson distribution. For the non-technical, that means the aggregated traffic doesn't smooth out, but stays bursty.

So do the sensible thing, and plan your downloads to use off-peak hours. That way you have a chance of decent service. Just railing about it and blasting a 24/7 data stream to/from your supplier, is plain stupid, not tech-savvy.

Sorry for the rant!


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