Where we are with network enhancements

Before detailing what has been changed, it’s worth noting that network enhancements are an ongoing process requiring constant re-evaluation and planning for changes. Our primary goal is to improve the entire network above all else.

Recent problems / changes

Over the last couple of weeks, the network has been changed in several ways. Below are the prominent points:

Re-cabling at Killamarsh

Our uplink to the internet currently runs over a wireless link that repeats from a building in Killamarsh. This location has been the cause of many of our historic issues, and diagnosing the exact fault was tricky. We eventually narrowed down the problem to a cable run from the roof of the property down into our cabinet, and replaced the cable on 17th November.

Since the cable was replaced, this wireless backhaul has been solid with only frequency issues causing very short service interruptions.

Replacement of Treeton repeater site equipment

Our repeater site on Wood Lane, which serves a large part of the Beaumont Park estate has been intermittent over recent times, often causing outages for around 20 customers on our network. This equipment was both replaced and upgraded with a second piece of kit on 27th November, allowing us to better manage the customer connections for Beaumont Park.

It’s still early days, but since the installation of this new kit the same local outage as its predecessor has not reoccurred. We’re optimistic that this issue is now resolved.

Reconfiguration of the wireless network in Treeton

On Friday 27th November, the entire network was reconfigured with changes applied to every repeater site and each customer equipment too.

The changes were designed to do several things, amongst which were:

  1. Stabilise the sessions from customer equipment to our core infrastructure
  2. Apply a sliding scale of priority to customer equipment, basically to prioritise customers on higher plans to deliver faster speeds to them at busier times
  3. Improve the segregation of equipment around the network to minimise unnecessary traffic travelling across the wireless network

Plans for the next couple of weeks

We have an exciting few weeks ahead of us, with some major network upgrades planned. We anticipate huge improvements to follow. Here’s a quick overview of the major changes:

FIBRE! Yes, fibre!

Many of our customers already know that we have an order in with Openreach for a dedicated fibre point to point link between our Treeton NOC and the data centre in Holbrook. This link will basically remove the wireless uplink from the network meaning an improvement on both latency and reliability.

The tubing is pulled in at both ends of our fibre run now, meaning that all of the tricky civil engineering works are complete. We’re now just waiting for Openreach to come and blow our fibre in and then to configure the link. We expect this to happen in the next 2-3 weeks.

Once the fibre is in place, we will build an improved core network that allows for automatic failover. If for any reason the fibre link fails (if someone accidentally digs it up for example) our network will detect this and automatically switch over to use the existing wireless uplink until such time as the fibre is repaired.

Dedicated wireless links to repeater sites

Our next big upgrade to the network consists of dedicated links to each repeater site around Treeton. At present each repeater site gets its connection from a sector access point on the mast, meaning that a sector has to share its capacity between customers and repeater sites.

Our planned upgrade will remove this sharing, giving each repeater site its own dedicated link direct from the mast via small dishes. This will provide large increases to the capacity of each repeater site whilst at the same time freeing up the capacity of each sector on the mast. The result of this work should be improved performance across the entire network.

As this work requires a mast climb, it is very much dependant on the weather. We hope to have this in place within the next couple of weeks, but rain or freezing conditions would prevent a safe climb from being possible. We’ll keep you updated on the progress of this.

In summary…

We have made some significant changes over the last couple of weeks, and even more are planned for the coming weeks. We continue to invest heavily in the network, both in terms of time and cash to make the network perform the best it possibly can.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to apologise for delays in recent support ticket responses. Our small team has been stretched with the recent changes we have applied and so we don’t always have the time to respond to tickets as quickly as we would like.