Internet Connectivity

Following on from the last blog post, this one deals with Internet connectivity.

So as a business you can get some great deal from many providers, but before you do so STOP!

Now go and talk to your IT (Technology) Provider.

Although most broadband migrations go smoothly what is going to happen if it doesn’t?
Other things you need to ask/establish are

  1. Is Broadband enough or do you need another option
  2. Do you need a resilient/Redundant connection
  3. If yes to above, how is that going to happen
  4. Is the connection capped
  5. What happens when you reach the cap limit
  6. How easy is it to get support? Search the Internet to see customers experiences, these are likely all to be negative as we only ever seem to moan on line.  But are there good ones.  Talk to other businesses
It is highly likely your IT provider can supply broadband to you, so why not make this your first call. After all you already know how good their support is! And it is likely to mean you don’t have to speak to India to not get any service!
They will certainly give a better migration service than a broadband only supplier, after all they want to make sure you are happy with the whole experience.
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Happy Birthday to us!!

Today Limbtec is 12 years old, so we thought it would be good to see what was happening in 2002 when we started.

Operating Systems

Let’s start with Windows XP, when we started a new computing experience had just hit the streets, it was Windows XP, and it has lived as long as we have as a company.  Having said that most of our customers were still using

  • Windows 98
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows NT 4
We also had a few installs of Windows 95, and I do remembers looking at a Windows 3.11 system at some point, along with these we have also seen
Vista, 7, 8, 8.1
along with server 2003, 2008, 2012
This is without mentioning the work we have done on Mac both OS X, and it predecessor, and the few Linux/Unix issues we have dealt with.
Internet Connectivity

ADSL had really only just come out with blistering fast 2MB connections, although a lot of customers were dialing up (YES Really) on 56K connections, or maybe if they were a little posh might have an ISDN connection.  Currently sitting here on a FTTC connection at 76MB, having said that we also do far more online, not just with social media, but almost everything we do is reliant on an internet connection.
Storage
Servers had 10Gb or so of storage, and these we were replacing with servers with 40Gb of storage, now even the smallest of small business have 1TB of storage available to them, and probably even more than this
Although even small businesses had an advantage to having a Small Business Server, now a lot of these customers are using Office 365 and a nice fanless NAS box for on site document storage.
Backup of these were done by tape, DDS 4 or smaller, now for a lot of people the backup is done online into the cloud, and if it is an onsite storage it will more than likely be on to external drives.
Screen’s
Almost everyone had a crt screen (about 15″) sat on their desks, then LCD screens still around 15″, now we put out mostly 19 -21″ as standard and a lot of customers buying 24″ +.  Also seen the introduction of touch screens, which now with Windows 8 offers a new way of doing some tasks.
We have also said goodbye, to the floppy drive, and starting to see end of optical drives specially in mobile devices. Processors have become much faster, and with multiple cores, and memory, well that now comes in amounts never even dreamed of 12 years ago.
Now just wondering what the business IT environment will be in 12 years time?
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What a difference a router can make.

Today, we installed a new Threat Management device for a customer.
As part of this we installed a new Router, the old one had started to drop the connection.

WOW – a massive speed boost. Knowing how far the customer was from the exchange I always wondered why they weren’t getting a speed of around 18Mb. In fact they were getting between 9 – 10 Mb!

So the Threat Management Device was configured,and ready to be installed on their network, as was the router. Plugged everything in, and it seemed to take an age (it was probably only about 30 seconds) for the ADSL to get into Sync. But when it did, it connected up. Next up was to test it was all working and those processes allowed through, were getting through, then a quick speed check. and bang just under 20Mb download and a shade under 1Mb upload.

Later on we then needed to remote in to the servers, and what an amazing difference this makes, it was like working directly on the server.

So if you check on the BT website what speed you should be able to get, and you actual speed is different, then it may well be worth checking your router, and possibly changing it. doubling your speed just by changing your router!

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BT Again

So a whole lot of trouble first thing this morning.
We noticed our monitored servers all dropping off the Internet starting at around 7.30AM this morning, not only customers of our broadband service.

Although we were also affected we were able to minimise the issue wit our mobile Broadband cutting in. We Contacted our suppliers who confirmed to us what we had already guessed.

This issue affected people not using BT as there ISP, who were on 21CN network. I say that because i have spoken to a couple of people who use BT Internet and they didn’t know what had happened.

My problem is we have had this before, and a single link between the South West and Bristol is just not good enough, there is no resilience.

I have to congratulate BT it only took 2 hours to resolve the problem, that was 2 hours that a lot of businesses on the South West peninsular was without Broadband, and in the 21st Century this is not good enough.

Let hope it doesn’t happened again any time soon.

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BT Again

Another slightly damp period and yet another blog post about BT.

To recap, earlier in the year, and so that I could get a stable Broadband connection BT changed the cable between here and the street side cabinet. That was fine whilst the sun was out, we have had a bit of rain over the last few weeks and so disaster struck!

Firstly our Broadband started dropping out, then our phone line was so unstable you cold not hear a thing.

Now my point here is if BT actually fixed the cable with what must have very dodgy insulation, then the change of cable and indeed the issues would then not happen.

So by the time it was organised for a report to be made to BT by our ISP, the circuit had dried out enough to enable the broadband to be considered to be stable.

I think this is a well it nearly is stable it still drops out but I guess losing your Broadband connection 3 or 4 times a day is better than only having a connection for 4 or 5 minutes a day!

The engineer did finally come out to sort the phone line, but he nearly didn’t. I have tested it and all is fine, well back to the weather.!

He did come out and did replace a bit of cable, I question why he did this, the answer is simple because for the last 18 months I have been complaining to the chief Exec of BT office.

Now my broadband – 18 months ago we moved to an ADSL 2 platform, because of the distance from the exchange to us, i wasn’t expecting any major speed increase but i have actually seen by 6.6Mb connection now deteriorated down to a measly 2.5Mb – I guess that is what BT call progress? If and when they start putting fibre down in Plymouth I guess we will see our speed disappear and revert back to dial up.

Honestly BT, you need to sort this out, along with all those other continual issues I know happen.
It must be cheaper to fix the issue than continually come and patch the cable up.

I am seriously considering switching my Broadband to a Business cable package, a little more expensive but hopefully a strong stable connection with some speed!

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BT Update

Well, my customer is off line again, despite the promise this morning of someone calling before an engineer would turn up. The engineer turned up, and a massive surprise he can’t get sync. Good job I diagnosed this on Monday.

Now he believes they have misconfigured the line.

So many issues, and yet they can’t seem to just sort it our

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BT & the Internet

Just to follow on from the previous post.

So yesterday out of the blue the customers Broadband started working! Yes after 2 days BT had indeed found a fault, and had carried out a tie pair modification to get things working again.

Today we visited the site to change the router back over to their router, from our spare one we carry just in case.

Nothing, no sync, no connection nothing, we tried the spare nothing, and just to make sure we tried a brand new router. Nothing, then we changed the filter and tried again, nothing.

The customer phoned BT Broadband, and as soon as they gave their details the broadband suddenly connected (now I’m sure this is a coincidence?), The customer was told yet again, nothing is wrong with the line it mus be your equipment, at which point I managed to get in on the act. When pointing out that there is nothing else connected to the=is master socket other than an ADSL Filter, and connected to that is a broadband router, of which we have tried 6 combinations and not 1 of them was a winner. They finally conceded we need to run more tests, at which point the broadband died and didn’t return.

Now if you can take off the faceplate of the master socket and plug it into the test socket we can run more tests. To be fair this did spark a connection, and Internet connectivity was re-established. Then I got the story if we send an engineer out and they find a fault with your equipment we will charge you- er hello nothing wrong with the equipment, but there is with yours.

BT you need to start some good engineering in fault rectification, honestly, work done at the exchange fixed the issue, for some 20 hours, so it is logical that the fault is with the customer.
This is like have your exhaust replaced, and when you get in start the car up it rattles. It is so obviously the fault of the driver for starting the car. The BT question in this case would be ‘have you tried a different key, or a different driver’

Then we got on to question of Broadband faults and engineers just turning up un announced. This DOES NOT HAPPEN’ Really I know of 2 cases in the past week alone, you even get a call when you have your shopping delivered by some supermarkets?

BT Broadband, and BT Broadband WholeSale, and of course BT Openreach. You need to raise your game in customer service. If the customer is seeing a fault, and it was working fine, and they have tried a filter change and a different router YOU have an issue. You need to get it resolved, if that customer is a business, specially a micro or small business this is likely to critical to that customer. They are likely to be losing money.

Customer stay calm, and keep contacting them. It may take months, but they will eventually find the faults and fix them.

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All things Internet

It’s been a shambles in Plymouth recently.

Yesterday there were massive issues for Virgin Telecom customers in the city. Apparently the power was being taken off of exchange, and was going to be supplied by a diesel generator. However when the power was taken off the generator packed in. I have to ask would you rely on 1 generator to provide the power. I wonder if that generator is their backup generator, just in case they have a power failure! If it is then I would worry about being a Virgin telecom customer!

BT and Broadband, now this is the BT Broadband Wholesale and BT Openreach people. In February this year my Broadband was moved from the old 20CN system to the new 21CN system. With a pile of issues, I have Broadband since 2000, was 1 of the first to connect to it on my Exchange, and have a rock solid connection at ever increasing speeds. Finaaly reaching between 6 – 7.5Mbs. Then it was all moved, and ever since I have endless outages, and speed issues, resulting in my best speed last week of about 2 Mbs.

BT Broadband Wholesale couldn’t find a problem on my line, it was working and because it had been connected for over 7 days there couldn’t possibly be anything wrong with it? However as i pointed out, it is pointless being connected if you have no throughput, which actually happened more times than I could handle. Eventually, they ran some test and found I had an high voltage on my line, and a cross connection with someone else.

I have spent 10 months trying to get this resolved, I am now up to a blistering fast 5 Mbs still slower than I had, but at least for the last 3 days I have had a useable connection.

Yesterday I had a call from a customer who had lost there broadband, they described the lights on the router, and it obvious they didn’t have an ADSL Sync light. It transpired they were moving their telephone lines back to BT, and as a thank you BT have cut their Broadband off! That was 20 hours ago, they still have no broadband this is going to cost the customer thousands of pounds their whole business is based on the internet. This sort of issue is just NOT acceptable.

A couple of weeks ago, I went ot a presentation given by the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, about connectivity. They have come up with a wonderful plan, and I personall hope the H20 (A company who run fast internet connectivity through the sewer system) do actually invest in Plymouth.

It would give another option to businesses in the city, and would enable customers to have a fail over system.

What we will be recommending to all customers, whose business is reliant on the internet is to have multiple providers and to utalise that, with a router, able to both bond the connections to give faster speed, and also able to failover to a single broadband connection.

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Extra Tax to have a phone line

So the UK Government announced a plan yesterday to charge an extra tax to have a phone line, to help cover the cost of the move over to fibre. This is to enable the 15% of the population who can’t get over 2Mbps, and to move us up the League table (we are currently 7th) and to get to the top we need to get 100Mbps to the majority of the population. And simply with this plan it isn’t going to happen!

Some of this money is also going to help fund regional news programmes on the Commercial Channel, and to my mind the key word here is Commercial, if it isn’t commercially viable then it can’t be run as a commercial concern and should be run as not for porfit community interest companies.

For me I will in the coming months look at what we have both personally and commercially in the way of phone lines, and we will reduce these lines by about 50%, I would urge everyone home users. or businesses to consider the line you have, and consider using the very thing that this is designed to improve, your broadband connection and use VoIP (Voice over IP)

Certainly the days of homes getting extra lines installed, just to have more than 1 phone line due to kids usign are gone. And remember this tax will be here to stay.

Personally I would perfer for the backbone to sold off from BT and sold to a commercial company to be run as a commercial concern, this may mean a slight increase in Broadband charges, but then at least those of us who use the net to extremes will be paying for it instead of evreyone paying for it regardless of your internet usage.

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A Busy Month

April was a busy month. We were busy with all sorts of issues.
we have been replacing laptop screens at the rate of about 2 a week, and it is amazing what hits these to cause them to break! Our recommendation is if you aren’t using your laptop close the lid, and place the laptop out of the reach of Children and animals. This should help you save around £100. Yes it is repairable, and the price comes in around £100 depending on Screen size.

A network install, which still isn’t complete. BT are such a pain it is about time that BT Realise how important a Broadband connection is to business. It is no longer a nice to have, in business it is essential.

A high number of Hard Drive failurers, a stunning amount of drive failurers. Whilst these will happen make sure you have your data backed up, being able to restore your data makes the whole process so much less painful.

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