Posts Tagged 'be'

BE vs BT

Not wanting to turn this blog into a long sales pitch. However I recently came across a video showing the performance of a BT line against a BE line. Although it’s not a like for like test (the BE line being an Annex M and the BT line being an ADSL Max), it still shows the level of throttling that occurs within BT’s core network at peak times.

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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.

BT and O2 join up

Interesting news in the channel recently about how O2 have signed up with BT Wholesale to provide both fixed line data, broadband and consultancy services. On the surface this seems like a good opportunity for O2 to take a giant step into providing their client base with a converged solution based around their primary mobile offering. However one has to wonder why a comapny who has invested at the least £200 million on it’s own network would then make a further investment in providing a similar service based on another network.

The concept is sound. O2 have a massive mobile subscriber base, consisting of both consumers and businesses of all sizes. With their centre of excellences, they have one of the best support networks around for resellers of their products, to underpin their business offering. By offering their clients a unified solution consisting of business broadband seems like a sure fit. However, for one reason or another, this has never happened.

The acquisition of the Bethere network has enabled O2 to be a major player in the comms market. However so far, the market that has benefitted the most has been the residential market. This does not mean that the network cannot be used for businesses, just that so far, there have been few able to use it in this way. However with the advent of the wholesale channel, the network is now being used by business ISP’s as a primary offering to their client base, and is proving extremely successful in providing high bandwidth low latency services. As more exposure is given to this channel, it will be interesting to see how this is viewed by the powers that be in O2.

There’s nothing to say that a Be/O2 offering can’t co-exist with a BT service, as inevitably in the areas where Be don’t have an exchange unbundled, a rebadged BT service will be used. However, for my 2 pence, although BT Wholesale have persuaded O2 to sign a 5 year contract, I firmly believe that O2 will fully realise what an asset they have with the Be network, before we get anywhere near to the expiry date of their new contract with BT.

What people want

So far, our new wholesale department has been receiving a lot of publicity in relavant publications. This has resulted in a lot of enquiries from other ISP’s looking to have access to Be’s AnnexM services. A number of interesting converastions have been had with various commercial and technical bods, as to the level of service they require for this to fit into their portfolio, and as such, it’s been extremely interesting for me to see what people really want from their carrier.

Having been on the other side of the fence for so long, it’s nice to see how some of these requirements mirror my own image of how a carrier should provide a service. Features such as full visibility and control of the DSLAM for diagnostic purposes shouldn’t only be provided to ‘premier’ partners, but instead should be made available to every partner. Having access to a UK based support team that talk ‘your language’ (instead of the language of BS…) should also be something that is prevalent. Having to raise a ticket and wait for up to 4 hours for a response stating that “our enquiry has been received” in this day and age is not how ANY company should operate. Let alone someone in telecomms.

It’s also interesting to understand how partner’s envisage their client’s usage, and how their requirements change appropriately. For clients who want to provide a redundant tail for resiliency to sit alongside a BT circuit, the fact that there are no ongoing monthly management costs and no central pipe charges sits well with them, as it can offer full visibility of ongoing costs for frugal finance teams . For clients who have a large voice estate, the amount of bandwidth afforded helps them to provide a large number of channels to their client base. For clients who use these within a bonded platform, the ability to look at live DSLAM stats, see error seconds and turn off interleaving means that you can obtain the best performance for your platform.

There are going to be requirements that the channel does not meet. However, in these instances, it is important to keep the lines of communication open between partner and carrier, so that any feedback that is obtained, is seen to be acted upon. This is exactly how I would want to be treated as a partner, and hopefully is the level of service our partners will come to expect as the norm in their dealings with us.

Fluidata/Be Wholesale offering

It’s been an exciting couple of months at Fluidata. We’ve always known the potential of AnnexM as a direct replacement for legacy SDSL. We’ve gauged how popular it’s been within our own client base. And we’ve been successful in aggregating it with services from other carriers. However, my own feeling that there has always been potential to offer a true wholesale platform around AnnexM is now being realised. Over the last few months there has been a lot of discussions between ourselves, Be and O2 regarding the best way to make this viable. Sometimes these conversations have been prolonged, but it’s now a reality. And a unique one at that.

Because initially the Bethere network was deployed specifically for transferring data, they have always made the invesmtent to provide services that allow for high speeds and little contention. By provisioning NTL based 1Gb and 10Gb fibre backhaul at their majority of their DSLAM’s, they’ve limited the possibility of contention arising at these points. Also, backed by O2, they’ve been able to proactively monitor contention throughout their network. This has proved attractive to a consmer audience that regularly uses services such as online gaming and P2P. However, this also has had it’s advantages to businesses who also hold similar values.

Now other ISP’s and service providers can have access to the largest AnnexM ready network in the country. With an ethos of ‘ease of use’, the flexibility afforded allows for maximum control of each tail. From full port functionality to no capacity charges, this offering really does make it easy for partners to fully provision, maintain and support their circuits in a way rarely seen within the industry. By delivering the platform via L2TP, partners now have the ability to compliment their existing centrals with a progressive NGN offering.

For me personally, managing this offering will be a new challenge. After being on the receiving end of a few channel offerings, I have an insight into the levels of service a channel partner may expect. Hopefully this will translate itself into a channel experience beneficial to both ourselves and our partners. If the last few months were exciting, the next few will be even more so!


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