Jun 05 2009

RTE Player in UCD

Category: NetworksTeknovis @ 17:12

A friend of mine who works in UCD was trying to use the RTE Player on her laptop this week. (Yes, it was work related :o ) She had mixed results!

She could view the RTE Player web page, and any of the video content, using her wired connection in one building. However, she could only view the RTE Player web page, but not any of the video content, using her wireless connection in another building. The video panel would time out after playing the advertisement. That was annoying!

I did a quick search on the Internet, and the only related information that I could find was New RTE player also blocked?. However, this thread seems to be full of inaccuracies, as I normally find on Boards.ie :( In particular, the following statement appears to be incorrect:

The new RTE Player opens a direct connection to the RTE Server on tcp port 1935


I can view the RTE Player video content perfectly from my current location, and I know that I am not allowed to access TCP Port 1935. I also am behind a proxy server, so that cannot be the cause either. My friend was able to access fmsv1.rte.ie, so obviously the site is not blocked.

However, I still do not know what is causing the problem :|

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Apr 11 2009

Yoggie Computer Security Solutions

Category: Networks,SecurityTeknovis @ 10:35

I tend to connect to the Internet a lot with my laptop in public places. I have no confidence in the security provided by Windows (2000 or XP), and I am am extremely sceptical of any software based firewalls for Windows. I am a firm beliver of hardware based security!

So I am very interested in some products by Yoggie that I saw recently. This video explains them:

In particular, I like the Gatekeeper Pro in inline mode. I think that this would be perfect for me if only it also included WiFi.

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Apr 10 2009

Record Traffic For Second Irish Budget 2009

Category: NetworksTeknovis @ 16:27

Last October I described the format of the Irish budget, and how it is broadcast online by RTE, in Record Traffic For Irish Budget 2009 Announcement. At that time INEX had a record throughput of approximately 5.3Gbits/s.

Last Tuesday the Irish Minister for Finance had to announce a second annual budget for 2009 because he got the first one wrong. (I will not comment on his incompetency on this blog ;) It appears that this caused a new record throughput of approximately 7.2Gbits/s according to the INEX traffic statistics.

I should have thought of putting a copy of the Day Graph here earlier in the week :(

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Mar 12 2009

Eircom Broadband in Rural Ireland

Category: NetworksTeknovis @ 23:17

Eircom has been in the news over the last few days due to its broadband strategy:

An Eircom executive has said that people in rural Ireland who live more than 5km from a telephone exchange will never get broadband.

Eircom’s Paul Bradley said that even when the local exchange is upgraded to handle broadband, a modem will not connect as the signal becomes so weak after 5km.

I must admit that I do not see what all the fuss is about. Eircom is simply stating the obvious! You can read more about this in Eircom accused of abandoning rural Ireland and Eircom broadband spend under review, committee told.

It is not clear to me why people in rural Ireland have an expectation that they should be able to avail of the same level of broadband as people who live in urban centres. Do these rural dwellers also expect the proposed Metro for Dublin to extend to their towns? Or do they expect that they can have gas connections to their houses? There are advantages and disadvantages of living in rural or urban areas, and that the associated differences must be recognised!

Indeed, the story gained enough momentum to be featured on national television this evening. You can watch it online on at Eircom re-thinking rural broadband rollout. Damien Mulley, for whom I have a lot of respect, appeared on the program. However, I disagree with him on the significance that broadband has on rural Ireland. As part of his argument he compared broadband access in rural locations in Ireland with broadband access in Amsterdam! I think that this is a very flawed comparison for the obvious reasons!

I also disagree with what Damien said about Eircom blocking access to certain web sites, and in particular, he mentioned The Pirate Bay. I am currently using Eircom to access the Internet, and I appear to have full access to The Pirate Bay. Furthermore, I previously described how many ISPs blocked access a certain web page in Extreme Child Pornography Prevention Measures, but Eircom did not, and still does not, block access to this web page.

In my opinion, it would be significantly more beneficial to Ireland to have investment into providing greater bandwidth and more services into a few well chosen urban locations. In other words, concentrate resources to create a silicon valley in Ireland, rather than create a mediocre service covering the entire country.

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Jan 31 2009

Eircom and Illegal File Sharing

Category: NetworksTeknovis @ 11:31

I remember reading a while ago that some of the record companies were taking legal action against Eircom, because Eircom would not police and prevent illegal P2P music sharing within its network. I think that Eircom would have been mad to do this!

Like many other people, I think that the record labels are still living in the past by spectacularly ignoring the realities of current technology!

So I was very interested in reading this week that this action has been settled out of court. The agreement seems to centre on the record labels detecting illegal downloading themselves without any special access to Eircom’s network. They can then pass the relevant IP addresses to Eircom, and Eircom will serve the offending user with a warning. If the record companies detect that the user persists in sharing illegal music files then Eircom will disconnect the user.

I think that this is a big win for Eircom, and a big loss for the record companies, for the following reasons:

  • Eircom does not need to modify or police its network.
  • The record companies must do the policing themselves. I am sure they would have loved to pass that burden to Eircom!
  • The record companies will not get any special access to the network. So, they will have as much detection abilities as I do!
  • Consequently, it will be relatively easy for users to avoid detection.
  • The record companies will not get access to any personal details of users who are performing illegal downloading.

The full details about this are in Big four music labels and Eircom in landmark piracy settlement.

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Jan 29 2009

Google ISP Performance Tools

Category: NetworksTeknovis @ 21:28

Google is developing a set of tools that will enable users to determine if their ISPs are interfering with their packets. That should be very useful, especially if more users become aware of the fact that some ISPs might do this!

More details about this are described in Google Introduces A New Weapon In The Fight For Net Neutrality: Measurement Labs.

I am not necessarily an advocate of Net Neutrality. I do not think that a very small proportion of users should be allowed to negatively impact the majority of users. However, this can be ensured through network management without necessarily compromising on Net Neutrality. However, I do think that ISPs should clearly state their network management policies. This enables consumers to make the final decision!

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Jan 28 2009

UCD Students Enjoy Improved YouTube Experience

Category: Networks,Third LevelTeknovis @ 23:21

UCD students will soon be able to enjoy an improved YouTube experience, thanks to the fact that its Internet connection is being upgraded from 1Gbps to 10Gbps :)

OK, I am joking when I write that the purpose of this increased bandwidth is to improve the YouTube experience :P

I wonder how much of this increased bandwidth is needed to keep pace with users’ requirements. I also wonder what sort of new and exciting projects can be undertaken to utilise this increased bandwidth.

For more details about this see UCD gains super-fast connectivity via HEAnet.

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Dec 17 2008

Virgin Broadband

Category: Networks,TelecomsTeknovis @ 22:34

I read an interesting article earlier in the week describing how Virgin Media has launched its new broadband service. This service will be available throughout the UK in the next six months, and it providers users with a maximum download speed of 50Mbps. This will make Virgin Media the fastest ISP in the UK.

More details about this can be read in Virgin unveils next-gen broadband.

The same article describes how BT is beginning a fibre to the cabinet trial that will provide users with speeds up to 40Mbps.

This is very interesting, because in the middle of 2007 I attended an event hosted by T-Com in Berlin. One of the topics at this event was broadband, and T-Com told us that it would have fibre to the cabinet deployed in the 50 largest cities in Germany in 2008. This would be capable of supplying 17 million homes. At that time T-Com had already installed fibre to the cabinet in the 26 largest cities in Germany, and we were shown some of the new cabinets on the streets in Berlin. It was then easy to spot these new cabinets ourselves, because they are slightly larger than the standard cabinets, and if you listen carefully you can hear the cooling equipment running inside them! T-Com were offering a triple play service of phone, television, and Internet to customers using this infrastructure. There were some BT representatives at the meeting also, and I recall them being impressed :o

Independently, it appears that Virgin Media will start traffic shaping P2P traffic next year according to Virgin Media to dump neutrality and target BitTorrent users. I wonder if the Net Neutrality war is being lost in Europe :|

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Dec 07 2008

Broadband Performance in Ireland

Category: NetworksTeknovis @ 20:06

There was mainstream media coverage during the week about a report by Epitiro into broadband services in Ireland. The main finding was that the average fixed line consumer receives only 60% of the advertised bandwidth of his/her product.

This seems like very poor performance to me, so I decided to test my home broadband using Irish ISP Speed Test. I am an Eircom customer, and I am supposed to have a download speed of up to 3Mbps and an upload speed of up to 384kbps.

I conducted the first test very late at night time during the week, so I expected the results to be a best case scenario. This is what I got:

Broadband Speed Test at Night

Broadband Speed Test at Night

I conducted the second test in the middle of the afternoon during the week, so I expected the results to be a worst case scenario. This is what I got:

Broadband Speed Test in Afternoon

Broadband Speed Test in Afternoon

Based on these two tests I am getting roughly the same results in both my best case scenario and my worst case scenario. Furthermore, my real download speed and upload speed are both over 80% of the speeds that I am supposed to have. So I seem to be doing better than average!

For more details see Ireland Internet Performance Index, where you can download the full report.

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Dec 05 2008

ISP Traffic Shaping

Category: Networks,TelecomsTeknovis @ 20:19

Traffic shaping is the practice of examining IP packets (but not the payload), and treating them differently, based on their characteristics. This usually consists of assigning packets priorities which determine how efficiently they are processed by networking equipment.

Traditionally, all packets within the network have been treated as equals. This worked fine when most traffic required only a small amount of bandwidth for a short durations, as is typical in web browsing and email exchange. So most ISPs were relatively happy to peer together, and carry each others traffic for free.

However, as the Internet has developed people are requiring and consuming greater amounts of bandwidth. Often this bandwidth is required across multiple ISPs’ networks, and ISPs and the intervening carriers, are increasingly charging based on the amount of traffic being exchanged. One of the main causes of significant bandwidth being required is P2P applications.

I read an article recently describing how a Canadian court granted the country’s largest ISP permission to apply traffic shaping on its core network. In particular, the court granted the ISP permission to traffic shape P2P traffic. This will effect both the retail customers and the smaller ISPs who buy wholesale services. The full article is Regulators back Bell Canada choking indie ISP traffic.

As far as I am aware, no Irish ISPs currently do any traffic shaping. However, I might be wrong about this!

My opinion is that traffic shaping will become increasingly necessary in the future to ensure that a minority of customers do not consume the majority of resources to the detriment of the majority of the users. However, I am very concerned about the prospect of traffic shaping being used by ISPs to prevent competitive services such as VoIP being used.

Would you be happy if you knew that your ISP was traffic shaping?

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