I’ve had this one simmering away gently for some time, but @walsallcouncil finally pushed me past the edge today with this on twitter:
Good to see the launch of superfast fibre-based broadband in Walsall. Download speeds of up to 40 mbs help with the town’s regeneration.
They’re talking about a regeneration scheme: Walsall’s [cough] Gigaport.
I have a few issues with this. First of all, mention Gigaport to me, or probably any other geek, and the first thing we’ll think of is this, or similar. Presumably the Giga bit is meant to sound all modern and hi-tech.
Well, it was. around 10 years ago, when I first started installing switches with a 1Gbit/sec backbone, or when a 1GB disk wasn’t a flash drive you’d buy for £5. Now? 1GBit/sec is the comfortable standard, with 10Gbit becoming what you’d install on a new job. Still, we’ll pass over that particular misnomer for now.
The next item that really annoys me? It’s that bit about 40mbps and high speed. Frankly, that’s not a high speed link anymore, and certainly doesn’t deserve all the balls about Fibre Optic tech. Firstly, it’s ‘up to’. Secondly, you can now get ‘up to’ 24Mbit on ADSL- that, boys and girls, is over the ancient old copper that connects your telephone and was originally designed for low-bandwidth analogue speech. Virgin Media have ‘up to’ 50Mbit service running over co-axial copper on a domestic service (despite what VM’s adverts say, the last stage to your house is not fibre), so the fibre-optic bit is frankly, smoke and mirrors. I have ‘up to’ 20MBit here at home.
In my last job, we had 100Mbit back in around 2002, and my current workplace has a 100Mbit bearer, throttled to 50. And that’s not ‘up to’. That’s tested, proven, with no contention, and it supplies one business in a semi-rural setting. Come back when the Gigaport is running 100Gbit everywhere, and then I’ll be impressed.
But what is really starting to nag at me is the lack of substance, and the hollow-sounding promises of a shiny new perfect world, all created by what sounds to me like a bit of office space, a datacentre, internet infrastructure that is somewhat less than cutting-edge and a copy of Wolverhampton Science Park, more than 10 years too late. is this really going to regenerate the town? Really? There’s lots and lots of office space around the town, and if you talk nicely to a decent ISP, any one of them will connect you to the Internet at speeds ranging from a few MBit up to 100, practically anywhere.
Finally: those of us working in networking have a quick and dirty way of checking for crap being talked. In Cisco terms, we’d do something like this:
#sh int fa4 FastEthernet4 is up, line protocol is up Hardware is PQUICC_FEC, address is 0019.3011.de34 (bia 0019.3011.de34) Internet address is 111.222.333.444 MTU 1500 bytes, BW 100000 Kbit/sec, DLY 100 usec, reliability 255/255, txload 1/255, rxload 1/255 Encapsulation ARPA, loopback not set Keepalive set (10 sec) Full-duplex, 100Mb/s, 100BaseTX/FX ARP type: ARPA, ARP Timeout 04:00:00 Last input 00:00:01, output 00:00:06, output hang never Last clearing of "show interface" counters never Input queue: 0/75/0/0 (size/max/drops/flushes); Total output drops: 0 Queueing strategy: fifo Output queue: 0/40 (size/max) 5 minute input rate 2000 bits/sec, 1 packets/sec 5 minute output rate 1000 bits/sec, 1 packets/sec 4275131 packets input, 2252532395 bytes Received 167875 broadcasts, 0 runts, 0 giants, 0 throttles 0 input errors, 0 CRC, 0 frame, 0 overrun, 0 ignored 0 watchdog 0 input packets with dribble condition detected 3654406 packets output, 440792127 bytes, 0 underruns 0 output errors, 0 collisions, 3 interface resets
See that bit about 0 input errors, 0 CRC etc? That means the line is fairly clean, though I notice there’s been 3 resets, where there has been too much crap, so the router has shut down and restarted that port. Funny that. Maybe the CRC checking isn’t working for Walsall Regeneration Company.