Intelligent Solutions

Keep your customers in business through the Olympics!

Simon Woodhead

Simon Woodhead

14th March 2012

Without wishing to contribute to the moaning about London 2012, we think it will pose a problem for many of our customers and their onward customers. Here’s why and what you can do about it.

The problem

We’ve sat in numerous presentations over recent months by many parties including BT, BBC and the mobile networks. The effort they’ve had to put in to handle the concentration of people in one area has been immense and the BBC in particular have some awesome things lined up. To pick on just that, there will be 24 channels of live coverage coming out of the Olympic park but just 3 channels on traditional television to view it; there will therefore be 24 channels streamed on-line, with the on-line route being the only way of watching the majority. Those channels will also be available in HD and not just through computers but through most modern TVs and mobile devices. This is being badged the ‘Internet Olympics’ with good reason.

That all sounds tremendous and technically is very exciting. However, you have to cast your mind back to the World Cup where during a game, commodity Internet access was essentially unusable via many providers. The idea of sharing capacity works fine as long as you don’t all want it at once! Even products such as domestic ‘cable’ services whilst not contended at the access end, inevitably face congestion at some point – if not, why do they not top the various independent speed tests when they have far and away the highest access ‘speeds’?

The Olympics has been estimated as equivalent to 24 World Cups with 40x ordinary Internet traffic.

So things may be a bit slow, so what? True, for TCP based services such as web browsing and e-mail; TCP adapts to available bandwidth naturally and a few seconds of waiting is no big deal. But what about the fire-and-forget UDP? UDP and congestion do not go well together and UDP is fundamental for VoIP. You cannot slow down VoIP, it is instead broken at best at worst completely absent.

Many events will take place during office hours which gives three issues. Firstly, the local Internet connection may well be congested due to office users watching events or at least keeping abreast of news more regularly than usual. Secondly, any wider congestion is going to coincide with the working day. Finally, with many London workers opting to work from home to avoid travel problems the load on office connections through VPN access and the wider Internet will be higher.

Whilst we don’t recommend using VoIP over ADSL we know very well that this is exactly how many end users are configured, in some cases even for entire offices. A lot of the time it is fine but ask yourself how was it during the World Cup? Is it at least 40 times better today? What if a Brit does well?

We feel a responsibility to air these concerns and at least ask you to consider them. If you think we’re wrong and everything will be ok, that’s fine. It is actually one of those instances where we hope we are wrong! However, if you have customers who may be affected please read on. You have an opportunity to at least offer them high speed connectivity exclusively for them.

The solution

Simwood’s Carrier Ethernet gives you the ability to join your customer’s sites to each other or back to a data centre in speeds from 2Mbps to 10Gbps with 100% reserved bandwidth and the performance that can only come from a clean pure fibre-optic connection. We could talk all day about the possibilities with this product but in fact we’re seeing one use-case dominating new business and of relevance here: high speed Internet access.

We typically find our solution works out substantially cheaper than an existing leased line solution, usually with a dramatic increase in performance. As the cost is in the connection rather than the bandwidth the sweet spot tends to be around 100Mbps; it costs little more than 10Mbps but is a speed that will wow your customers and enable them to transact on-line business, use SaaS based services, or dare we say use VoIP through the Olympics! There can be no comparison in the performance or security of this product to EFM or any shared capacity product such as ADSL – your customer effectively gets a piece of fibre to us and it is exclusively theirs. That fibre is installed by BT for Simwood – no middle-men, no complication, no congestion.

If your customers are within 35km of London Docklands, Manchester city centre or Edinburgh city centre, we can run a direct fibre-optic tail into the Simwood network at an astonishingly low cost. If they are anywhere else in the UK (or many parts of the world) we can leverage our network-to-network interconnects with other operators to achieve the same end.

Once on our network, Internet access can be provided by Simwood, leveraging our network built for voice and built for business. It only carries business traffic, most of which is voice, and enjoys some of the lowest utilisation levels in the industry (by design!) along with some of the highest levels of peered traffic – over 80% of our traffic flows directly to the destination network. Alternatively, we can link the connection to TiNet giving direct optical access to a global tier 1 network with the comfort and capacity that that affords.

Furthermore, both our and TiNet’s network are independent of London. Yes, London is a major site for both of us but Manchester also affords independent access out of the UK; in our case internationally via TiNet and AMS-IX.

To provide a quote we simply need the post-code of the site you’d like to provide service to and the speed you’re interested in – just pop us an e-mail. We’d urge you to do so soon as many networks, including ours, will be imposing freezes in early summer before the Olympics and we’re anecdotally already aware of delays in certain quarters.

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