Still lying through their teeth…

In an incident yesterday in Reading, a downed router on BT’s network took out 9,000 homes. If you believe the press release.

If you actually check however, you’ll find that BT has once again lied.’s user graph (remember that is a BT subsiduary?) alone shows a drop of nearly 25,000 users.

How does a nationwide broadband and telephony provider in this day and age allowed to get away with such a crap non-resilient network design and still be handed the sole country-wide monopoly?

BT lying again (update)

One of the telecoms engineers in my workplace spoke to a source inside BT and found out the true story behind the two outages. Last Friday was not a power cut. A card in a router locked up, and rather than replacing it BT took the decision to simply reboot it and hope it doesn’t happen again.

This goes against general practices in any large datacentre where you have a multitude of people relying on a single device to be working properly 100% of the time – when something that critical fails, you replace it immediately. It also means they really don’t have any redundancy as it appears there was no second card or router to take over when the first failed, and that means a 2-6 hour outage while engineers are gotten out of their beds, travel to site, diagnose and fix.

BT lying again (update)

So it seems I was right, given that this morning once again the entire of Northern Ireland, Scotland and parts of England all lost their broadband connections again. Except this time BT is blaming an unnamed hardware vendor for the issue, again at the Edinburgh datacentre.

Imagine the broadband access for the entire of California, of even just a large city like New York going out for hours on end. There would be a senate hearing on the cause, loss of manhours for businesses and public outrage. In the UK… our government just gives the incumbent telco some more money and a tells them to try and not do it again.

BT lying again

There was an overnight outage where BT’s Edinburgh datacentre lost power. Now bearing in mind that the BRAS’s in this datacentre service pretty much the entire of Northern Ireland and Scotland, and parts of the North of England, why would they claim that only 20,000 homes were affected?

My workplace specializes in providing DSL to businesses in Northern Ireland, and I know for a fact that every single one of them was down aside from a small of handful of lines that we have in England. These are lines spread across the entire province, from Belfast to Derry. None of my neighbors had working broadband either, except for the two that were using Sky LLU. My Dad didn’t and he’s on Plusnet, many miles from where I live.

20,000 homes is about an 8th of the numbers of homes in Belfast alone, never mind across Northern Ireland, Scotland, or the North of England. Why won’t BT admit to the real number of homes affected? Because then people might realize how utterly incompetent they are to design such a widely used and relied upon system to be able to be take down nearly half the country because of a supposed power outage in a single location (which in a properly built datacentre, should be nearly impossible).

BT – Liars and idiots. Can someone remind me again why we gave these people the telecoms monopoly?

Fearsome Crisps

Back from Mac

I recently had one of the two fans in my old 15″ Apple MacBook Pro die, and rather than repair it (the third mechanical failure I’ve had on the MacBook in 4-5 years), I decided it was time to replace it… and I replaced it with a Windows machine. Why?


I like Mac OS X. I really do. It’s very simply, easy to use, and of course is based on BSD which meant I could often put my Linux knowledge to use on day to day tasks. I loved the build of my old MacBook, with it’s solid aluminium case meaning that the motherboard isn’t subjected to stress anytime it’s picked up and should last a lifetime with care.

Unfortunately, the cost of doing business with Apple is extremely high, and I just can’t afford that anymore. The spec of the new machine versus what I’d be able to afford from Apple is as follows:

Toshiba A660-11M Apple MacBook
Cost £799 £849
CPU 1.6/2.8Ghz Core i7-720QM 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
Memory 4GB 2GB
Hard-disk 500GB 5400RPM 250GB 5400RPM
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M 1GB NVIDIA GeForce 320M 256MB
Display 16″ Toshiba TruBrite® LED-backlit widescreen 13.3″ LED-backlit glossy
Audio Built-in Harman Kardon® stereo speakers and microphone Stereo speakers and omnidirectional microphone
Keyboard & Mouse 102 key “chicklet style” keyboard with full numeric pad and 2-button trackpad 79 key “chicklet style” keyboard and 1-button trackpad

I think the difference is pretty clear. The Toshiba might have a cheap plastic case, but it is both cheaper and better kitted, actually featuring technology from the last 6 months as opposed to tired old kit from 2 years ago (seriously, Core 2 Duo’s when everyone else is offering Core i3/5/7? And a 256MB graphics card? I haven’t seen a graphics card with less than 512MB, even in laptops, in about 18 months).

Sorry Apple, but as much as I like your hardware, your prices have gone far beyond my budget. It’s just no contest.

DoS Fail

IPv6 Subnetting – You and your customer

There’s this great debate in the IPv6 world about how to chop up your allocation into assignments for your customers. Typically, most ISPs are being handed a /32, and general guidelines say to allow for a /48 per DSL/leased line/cable customer.

However a lot of people are asking, why not a /64?  Quoted below is the sort of answer you’re likely to receive on NANOG, by one Mark Smith:

There are a variety of scenarios where customers, including residential, will benefit from having multiple subnets. They may wish to separate the wired and wireless segments, to prevent multicast IPTV from degrading wireless performance. They may wish to segregate the children/family PC from the adult PC network or SOHO network, allowing the subnet boundary to be an additional Internet access policy enforcement point. They’ll need separate subnets if they wish to use a different link layer technology, such as LoWPAN. They may wish to setup a separate subnet to act as a DMZ for Internet facing devices, such as a local web server for sharing photos with relatives. Game consoles may be put in a separate subnet to ensure file transfers don’t interfere with game traffic latency, using the subnet ID as a QoS classifier.

This answer is quite simply unrealistic. It’s the answer of a typical geek with no sense of perspective as to what the average consumer wants. It’s the opinion of what Mark Smith the network engineer and geek would want.

In the real world, most consumers of domestic internet services have absolutely no concept of IP addresses let alone subnetting, VLANs, segregation or quality of service. Most domestic networks are a single flat subnet with NAT to a single IP address and no servers that would require port forwarding, and rarely an IPTV system, but those are usually setup to use special triple-play routers configured by the ISP. Most domestic users just want to be able to plug stuff in and have it work.

Now, people will argue that there are more IPv6 addresses than there are atoms in the world. However that argument isn’t as good when you are assigning 1,208,925,819,614,629,500,000,000 IP addresses for just 2 or 3 devices. It’s a grossly inefficient waste no matter what you say. Not to mention that if you’re one of the big cable or DSL providers with millions of customers, it makes much more sense. Each barely used /48 that you throw out contains 256 /64’s.

As such, I personally am inclined to go for the default of a /64 per customer, but allow for a /48 should they need it. There is absolutely no point in issuing a /48 subnet to someone who is never ever going to use it… it’s just laziness, which is what got us into the current situation with IPv4 in the first place.

Nvidia Fail

If you have a system built with the still quite good Nvidia GeForce 8800GTS graphics card, and decide to upgrade by adding a second one and running SLI, beware the Nvidia Fail.

Nvidia in their wisdom made an upgraded version of the card called the 8800GTS 512. It is not SLI compatible with the original 8800GTS, and the odds are you won’t know it until you’ve bought one and spent an afternoon wondering why SLI won’t work.

God damn you Nvidia.

Just how dumb are BT Wholesale?

They tried to requote us for their 21CN broadband platform, assuming we take it in London as they wanted to charge us 50p per meter all the way from Manchester to Belfast (totaling some £250k). After carefully examining our current installation they decided that we should replace our pair of 34Mb pipes with a single pipe containing:

  • 20 users on 24Mb ADSL sharing just 1Mb of bandwidth.
  • All other users sharing 30Mb of bandwidth on old 20CN 8Mb ADSL.
  • Added in enhanced care for all users at £8 a go.
  • Forgot monthly broadband line rental charges at £7.90 a go.
  • Will charge us for bandwidth across the 21CN network, plus charges for 3km of fibre across the London Docklands and we have to provide the BRAS – but yet they still have the balls to charge us £24k a year just for the privilege of doing business with the almighty BT Wholesale. Seriously, noone can explain what this charge is for given that they have separate charges for both bandwidth and fibre.

When I entered the correct figures into their shitty little price sheet, added in all the things they forgot, it came to a whopping £26 per user before any profit margin is added.

By comparison, Be/Fluidata is charging a non-recurring £3k to setup a simple crossconnect in any London Telehouse, and then all we pay are simple line charges depending on the product used, the average one of which is £16 per month.

It’s quite clear that BT Wholesale is not interested in providing any sort of service to other service providers. The ridiculous ordering/faults system, the outright denial of clear area-wide faults and now these ridiculous and quite arbitrary charges for access to their so-called 21st Century Network that still doesn’t properly support IPv6 are all very telling.