Archive for November, 2009

Leased line services on copper?

Over at FD Wholesale, we’ve been doing some trials in our R&D department bonding Annex M tails together and we’ve been able to get throughput normally associated with leased lines. We’re roughly 1.5Km from our local exchange, and when bonding 2 lines, the total sync rate was 26.7Mbps down and 4Mbps up. When we bonded 4 lines, we obtained 56Mbps down and 8Mbps up.

The applications for this are wide ranging. Consider having a client who lives 5Km+ from their local exchange. 1 DSL would offer them little throughput to sustain a number of users. Aggregate 2 or 3 together and suddenly they can start to look at IP applications that may improve business processes such as SIP or Video conferencing. Another example may be where a client can’t gain wayleave agreement to obtain a fibre run. In this instance, they can have a bonded Annex M service offeirng up to 80Mbps down and 10Mbps up. Obviously these are headline speeds and are dependant on quality of copper and line length, but in all but the worst circumstances, a bonded Annex M service can start to become a compelling alternative to EFM or FTTC. Using the BE network, this is also available immediately, nationwide. No waiting for 2012 to have a coverage of c.300 exchanges.

Currently this is something that all our channel partners are utilising, as it gives them a cost effective alternative to a leased line. Based on the Cisco proprietory protocol, traditionally the stumbling point has been the high initial price point associated with the routers. However, we’ve been conducting some trials with a manufacturer called Virtual Access using their GW7000 boxes, and they’ve been very successful in terms of throughput and stability. However, even more compelling is the fact that they lower the initial price point of the solution to sub £500.

Personally I feel that bonding Annex M tails, at the core is a lot more resilinet solution than trying to aggregate them at the client end, using an external aggregator, as it means that there is little overhead, lower packet loss and less latency. In my opinion, the main thing to take away from this is that even though fibre will still have it’s uses, the applications for DSL are ever increasing. Whereby traditionally a leased line was the only method available to provide large amounts of throughput, the landscape is ever changing to incorporate DSL.

How low can the Sun stoop?


So I’m sure you’re all aware of the recent sacking of David Nutt. His name may not be familiar, but I’m sure his story is. To tell it briefly, he was the Government’s chief drugs advisor. In his role, he stated that there needed to be better ways to classify both legal and illegal drugs. He went on to state that due to recent scientific research, alcohol and tobacco ranked as being more harmful than Cannabis, LSD and Ecstasy. He was promptly sacked under the official line of “damaging efforts to give the public clear messages about the dangers of drugs”. In my opinion, the fact that Mr Nutt, who was appointed to advise the government on their drugs policy, was sacked for doing just that seems to be quite ridicolous. However I’m sure you’ll have your opinions on the matter.

However, since this decision, another war has been waged, by tabloids against the Nutt family. Started by the Sun and continued by the Daily Mail, they have now taken photos of David’s son Steve from Facebook, apparently taking drugs, in a pathetic attempt to slander David Nutt’s character. For me this is quite personal, as I know the Nutt family well, and can’t see how a slanderous piece such as this can be beneficial to the Sun’s readers. The simple verdict is it’s not, and is a quite outrageous piece of low level ‘journalism’ in an attempt to sell papers. More worringly is the fact that images have been taken from a profile on facebook without prior consent of the owner or publisher, and used in a way in which they portray the subject negatively. And that’s putting it mildly. To be honest, there’s very little Steve can do about his images getting into the public domain. Facebook offer’s little protection against that. However, there is a lot he can do about the Sun et al and the story they’ve printed, as it borders on rank libel.

Saying that this piece goes against the Code of Practice is putting it lightly, as it portrays Steve as a joint toting, drug abusing fiend. This portrayl is then used to suggest that Mr Nutt is ill-equipped to advise the government on their drugs policy, due to not being able to control the use of drugs in his own home. Having known the family from when I was young, I can quite confidently state that this is both wrong and completely mis-leading, as all the Nutt’s are both intelligent and intellectual. On the basis of all the above, I have submitted a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission. If you value both accurate and informative journalism, I advise you do the same.

How businesses evolve

It’s useful to understand how over the recent years, big businesses have reinvented themselves. I was reading an article recently on the departing Ericsson CEO Carl-Henric Svanberg, which gave an insightful account of the issues facing Ericsson after the dot-com bubble had burst. His model solely focused around consolidation, whilst others in their market either spread themselves extremely thin in looking for new markets to expand into (see Marconi) or acquired rivals to try and quickly expand (see Alcatel-Lucent). What Carl-Henric Svanberg did with Ericsson was to really consolidate, concentrate on their core business of building networks and inevitably cut costs. This worked, and he now leaves Ericsson today in the healthy position of having 40% of all mobile calls made on their network. I think a lot of companies get excited by the profits and market share available to them when they look outside of their domain. 2 large enterprises who are having mixed results are Google and Cisco. Although Google is still king of search, it’s increasingly more lucrative and more prestigious projects such as Google Books are starting to sap resources from it’s search empire. This has had the effect on competitors like Bing taking more market share.

It was also interesting to see how emerging technologies helped to spur growth in the ailing company. Although a large proportion of their spending is still attributed to legacy networks, opportunities increasingly present themselves to expand into so-called next generation networks. 3G networks are fast becoming their bread and butter, with customers such as Three (3) and T-Mobile in the UK having Ericsson infrastructure to power their data networks. Moving forward, with the advance of M2M, Carl-Henric Svanberg thinks that there is the potential for roughly   sim cards to be embedded into devices as seemingly mundane as fridges, microwaves and washing machines. This is where he envisages Ericsson’s next market shift. There’s no doubting the strength of the mobile data market. Whether it hits a natural saturation period or whether advance such as LTE will help it break through it’s glass ceiling are anyone’s guess. However one thing is certain. Due to the requirement for people to be connected on the move, this is definitely a market that will be key for a long time.

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November 2009
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