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News Upgrade plans

At present we have gigabit links in our core network and to carriers (such as BT and BE) and transit and peering connections. This works well, but as we saw with the recent Apple IOS-5 upgrades there are events that can now push these links to the limits.

We have had plans for some time to expand beyond gigabit links, and these are now progressing.

What are we changing

Most of our broadband and mobile connectivity goes via London, and that will continue to be the case. However we are opening up a new rack and putting in a lot more new equipment. We have the rack now, and over Dec/Jan we expect to have equipment in place. This will allow us to test new links and new equipment separately from our main broadband services.

We are increasing the number of routers we operate in order to allow more than a gigabit on Internet traffic. We are also increasing the number of LNSs we use which link us to BT, BE and Three. The main links that are a problem are the BT links, and additional circuits are already on order.

We will be doing various testing, and will probably be asking for testers to try out the new links before we go live with them. All of this is happening before we expect to routinely be using more than a gigabit on any link.

What impact will there be?

At some point, probably in February, we will switch all broadband and mobile services over to the new infrastructure. This will take a few seconds and be no different to a normal LNS switch over which we do typically once a month. We will be in a position to immediately switch back to the old infrastructure if there are any problems.

In the long term the main thing people may notice is that we will be using multiple LNSs, so your links may be on any of these. There are risks of bonded lines being split between LNSs in the event of a failure, but such cases will be corrected automatically.

There will be some work after the switch over to tidy up the old infrastructure, but this should have no impact on services.

Testing

We will do a lot of testing before the move, but once the new system is in place we expect to do a controlled test one Sunday to kill one of the LNSs and confirm everything copes. We'll announce planned works for this. This would impact around a third of customer for a few seconds to a couple of minutes. It is obviously better to do a planned test than wait for something to break.

Anything else affected

At the same time we are adding a new link for Ethernet customers. This will allow any customers with an Etherway to have an additional VLAN tagged Etherflow link to London rather than Maidenhead. It will be separate IP addresses. This can provide a backup for failures in our equipment, either data centre, or (as has happened) fibre failures near our end. Customers using one Etherway will still have one fibre pair their end though.

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