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Your business stopped when B.T. broadband went down ??


Yesterday's news that a failure ( power ? ) in one of B.T.'s Internet network exchanges in Birmingham took out many people's broadband connections for anything ranging from an hour to the rest of the day raised some thought and discussion here.

Speaking to Mike Jenkins ( co-founder and Technical Director here at Poundbury Systems and Futureline ) about this there are a few points that might help people avoid the same thing happening again.

Some broad background might be in order:

There is a very long and quite complicated story that could be told about the history of the cables that enter your building and the way that they support Internet connection.

Probably what you need to know is that most of the cables are copper wires and that they probably originally supported telephones alone. ( Another type of cable was run into some houses by the " cable companies " when they existed - co-axial cables - and some people and larger businesses have fibre optic cable running into their building ). Also most of the cable in place is still owned by B.T. ( openreach ). This is from BT openreach's About page:



" We’re the proud guardians of a critical national asset, the local access network; the infrastructure that delivers the data, broadband and voice services to each home and business throughout the UK, sometimes referred to as the ‘first mile’.

We were created to give communications providers equal access to the wires and fibres that connect us all, and to maintain and improve this infrastructure, which underpins the entire UK communication industry.

We supply Communications Providers with products and services that are linked to the network. We also work on their behalf to ensure that the tens of millions of people across the UK have reliable local access. This makes untold millions of calls, online use and sharing of information possible.

If the unthinkable happened and our infrastructure wasn’t available, the nation would grind to a shuddering halt.

That’s why we take our guardianship so seriously."

Pretty well all Internet Service Providers ( ISP's )  use B.T.'s cable to provide you with an Internet Service. In theory BT openreach have to provide equally good service to BT Wholesale ( who supply other Internet Service Providers ) and B.T. Retail ( who supply customer's directly ).

BT Group ( the overall holding company ) consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, Openreach, BT Retail and BT Wholesale.

Yesterday's broadband outage seemed principally to affect BT Retail's customers. This seems to mean that a part of the Openreach network that supports BT Retail had a problem.


What are the different ways that you can access the Internet??

There are many potential ways but only some of these might be practical options for you:

- The " landline " network described above

- A local " wi-fi " network ( which will probably connect with the landline network fairly quickly )

- A broadband wireless network ( does not exist everywhere ) which will also connect with the landline network

- The " mobile " network

- The " satellite " network

all of these networks have to connect with landline networks and " the Internet " at some point.

Let us put to one side the ( but not forget totally ) " wi-fi " networks, broadband wireless and satellite.

With regard to the " landline " network - although the different providers are using the same ( Openreach ) infrastructure  ( the cable into your house ) they may be using different routes back to the Internet from there. So, one option to achieve non-stop Internet access is to have multiple broadband connections with multiple providers.



Providers are also providing " Ethernet in the First Mile ( EFM ) " connectivity over the existing  Openreach network. It appears that the EFM network was also unaffected by yesterday's outage. So, it would be an option to have a broadband and an EFM connection.

This leaves the " mobile " network. Quite clearly some broadband users who were affected by the outage were using their mobiles to get access to email, Twitter and other Internet services.  It makes sense to get a 3G usb stick for emergencies.

How do you decide what is the best option for you ?

The key to deciding on your best option is understanding how important Internet access is to you. We tend not to appreciate just how much we rely on the Internet these days. We also don't put a value against the loss of connectivity and hence we can't decide how much to spend on a solution.

The two things that maintained my Internet connectivity yesterday were:

1. The fact that I had multiple broadbands ( they were in fact all with BT but clearly there was something different about the connectivity " back in the network " because one worked and one did not. ) 

2. My " mobile " network connection via my Blackberry.

So, technically the solutions are available - but at a cost. It is up to you to consider what the cost to you of not being connected is. 


















Posted @ Tuesday, October 04, 2011 1:27 PM by chris windley
Posted @ Tuesday, October 04, 2011 1:36 PM by chris windley
Interesting article about unbundled lines.
Posted @ Wednesday, October 05, 2011 4:53 AM by chris windley
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