Saturday, 6 February 2016

Future of BT?

Some has asked about splitting BT and the like, but I did have some thoughts.

I do think that the technology has moved on and a heck of a lot of the lines in the country are capable of getting VDSL from the cabinet now. (Fibre To The Cabinet, Infinity, etc)

It seems odd that we even have a copper pair to the exchange - makes more sense to be the cabinet with an MSAN but sold by the likes of Openreach to any CP connection at the exchange with SIP for voice and ethernet port/VLAN for data. Why have a copper part to the exchange at all. Do an "outside the exchange" cab for direct exchange lines even.

In some ways new SOGEA will get close, but not offering the voice on the pair. And to some extent the idea of data only connectivity is sensible in the long term. However, there are silly people wanting old fashioned copper pairs to something I guess for a while.

I think the problem may have been regulatory - what you need there is OR to be operating this as a non-profit maybe. Though you have to work out where the capital investment comes in.

This seems more sensible than sub-loop unbundling to me. And could move on to FTTP or DP based DSL in the same way - hand over at the exchange as ethernet with SIP and all sorted.

Sorry if too technical - just a bit if techy rant this time.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Blood pressure

Stuff that they just don't tell you at school.

OK, there was a lot of shit at school, but very little on "life" and what happens in life and getting old.

I have diabetes, and I knew about that solely because my mum had it, and so was ready for it.

Blood pressure issues is a new one - I was always scared of this. Largely because you get asked "are you on blood pressure medication" when buying Sudafed.

But actually it is one of those odd conditions. For many, high blood pressure has no symptoms apart from high risk of suddenly being dead.

For me it has some symptoms. One I notice is that with high blood pressure, excessive alcohol consumption causes really very bad headaches and unwell feelings. Not like any normal hangover. Seriously this is not at all nice.

But also, and what I had not noticed, is a general "not that well" feeling - tired early in the day. Not doing that well mentally. I did not notice any of this until taking meds for blood pressure made it all go away. I feel way better now.

The meds have side effects - one was a nasty rash! The one I have now is a cough. But the meds do work.

So, seriously, check it out. High blood pressure may be a "symptomless" issue (apart from suddenly being dead) but it may be making your life shit without your realising it - get checked out and medicated!

Copyright reform

Some very simple comments on this.

1. Yes, artists need some way to get paid for their work.

2. Current copyright law is broken in far too many ways and was written before the Internet and computers.

One of the things I would like is the idea that I can buy a copy of something, a book, or film, or computer programme, or picture, or TV show or something, and I own a "copy" of it. I "own" a right to view/access it at any time in any way I like.

That, like owning a real book or VHS tape or DVD, means I can watch/view it, and the choice of device on which I do so should not be a problem.

Indeed, like a book, I can lend it to friends and family - maybe some "family sharing" system as iTunes has.

I am pleased to say that some systems are close to this, but within each system. I have paid for loads of movies and TV shows on iTunes, and some on Sky TV. I have paid for books on two types of e-reader things including Kindle.

But ideally I should only have to pay once, and I "own" a copy. The platform should not matter. I can understand if there is some nominal fee for spreading what I own to a new platform - cheaper if I do it in bulk for all I have. But ideally once I own a copy of NCIS Series 1 Episode 1 in HD, I should damn well *own* it!

We need copyright law that allows the various platform operators like Sky, and iTunes, and Amazon, and whatever (XBOX?) to be able to recognise that somehow I own a copy of something and therefore be legally allowed to stream it or download and play it to me on any device. These operators make money selling me new content and by ongoing subscription or such.

Basically, the underlying notion of "copying" being the right that is protected is bullshit and nonsense. It was created in a time when copying was a "hard" thing to do. Now we live in a world where copying is transient and costless in all practical terms. So we need the idea of a person owning a logical "copy" of a work and once they do so being able to access and view that as they wish with the underlying "copy" process being totally irrelevant.

The price of snooping

One the the huge unknowns aspects of the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill is the cost of compliance.

The unknowns for ISPs are the data that is to be generated and recorded, and which ISPs will be targeted. Nobody knows exactly what is intended now, and what could be asked for later once in law.

At present the bill simply requires a "non-zero contribution" to the costs. Why the hell say "non-zero" in the law, that is nonsense, as paying 1p would meet it and be the same as zero for all practical purposes. It is a stupid thing to say.

The Science and Technology Committee has now reported, and has made some good points. But one of the key points is :-

"The Government should reconsider its reluctance for including in the Bill an explicit commitment that Government will pay the full costs incurred by compliance."

This is important and saying that ISPs should indeed get paid for providing this service.

And let's be clear here, this is a service we are being asked to provide if the bill goes through.

When the police buy toner for their photocopier, do they make a "non-zero contribution" to the cost of that toner? No... Do they pay the cost price for that toner? No, they pay a commercial rate for the toner and the supplier gets to run a business and make a profit.

Everyone supplying goods and services to law enforcement does so on a normal commercial basis as a business.

It seems ludicrous to say that ISPs are somehow special and should provide a valuable and costly service without being paid a proper normal commercial rate for that service. Saying they have to provide it "at cost" is crazy, as it saying that they should get even less as a "contribution".

I really cannot see why this is even an issue. Or do we all feel that every service supplier to law enforcement should provide the service at no profit at all, or below cost - effectively conscripting us all in to law enforcement?

Monday, 1 February 2016

Will Govnt allow companies to offer communications services which can't be read?

In spite of saying that I had not made clear what I was asking the government to actually do, they have now published my revised petition which is the same but says I am asking them to answer a question.

Please sign

So let's try and get a straight answer shall we?

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Terabyte services launch

We have to update all of the web pages yet, but I have linked in the new ordering system and a page about the new terabyte services today so customers can order.

The ordering system has had a month of development and testing, but the real proof is letting it loose on real customers.

The service itself does seem to work, and the operations team at A&A are monitoring carefully - we have plans to upgrade the core network and have already started with additional routers. Will be setting up our 40Gb/s ring soon and new LNS links over the next few months to increase capacity.

Exciting times. It is nice to see how we have grown from dialup services which managed 64k on ISDN lines back in the last millennium to services where people bond multiple 80Mb/s circuits and have terabytes of download allowance. I have to wonder where the next 18 years will take us.

Friday, 29 January 2016

BT Engineer appointments

Obviously I had a bit of a rant yesterday, so maybe a chance to be a bit clearer on the real issue here...

Clearly mistakes can happen, appointments can be missed, work can be done wrongly or not completed, shit happens. It always seems to happen too much, but that is largely because we only "see" the problems.

The big issue here is how BT deal with such things.

The basic process is to arrange another appointment to rectify the problem or complete the work - and this seems to be done as a "normal" appointment. There is no concept of this being a screw up or having any urgency.

Now, we know BT can do work quickly - orders can be expedited (for a fee), and fault work can be done on a 24 hour a day working basis and 4 or 7 hour fix targets, if you have paid for the right service or the right "care level".

So it is possible to get another engineer out now, even if it is 8pm, and even if he is on overtime, to finish the job that should have been done by 6pm. It is possible to send someone on Saturday or even Sunday to finish.

It is certainly possible to make the failed job the first job for the engineer the next morning. That would not even add any cost but it would make a massive difference to end user perception.

But right now there seems to be no concept of a "priority" appointment for where BT have screwed up! Of course, where the CP has screwed up and not BT, BT could sell priority appointments for a fee as well.

If this does add cost that simply adds an incentive within the business to avoid the errors in the first place, and that is important. Without it business processes can simply become lax. Indeed, in some cases the problems mean more paid for work (I am thinking failed SFI visits here).

So, that is what I think needs to change.

P.S. why is a missed appointment charge about £80 where an engineer can simply go on to next job wasting maybe 10 minutes, but when an engineer missed an appointment wasting the end user a half day, BT pay out around £30? Is a BT engineer's time really that much more valuable than the end user's?