Copyright OpenFalklands.com 2019 1
Falkland Islands Chamber of Commerce
5 p.m. 28th November 2019
Tel: +500 62971
Falkland Islands Internet
- Some Thoughts -
Background and caveats
I've been involved in Falkland Islands telecommunications since 1999.
I consider myself a ‘friend’ of the islands.
I am NOT a consultant! “Advice is easy; it’s the doing that’s hard”
I provided a limited advisory service to FIG until 2017.
I undertook Quality of Experience monitoring of the island’s Internet
service for several years.
Since 2017 I have had NO inside knowledge of Sure’s or FIG’s activities.
I created OpenFalklands to provide a public airing of my views.
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Me, presenting C&W’s global Internet strategy to the
financial analyst community in New York in 1999.
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What have I chosen to talk about?
I will talk about some issues that are impacting consumers and
All of these subjects have been talked about on OpenFalklands.
The views expressed are mine alone and are based on public domain
This will unavoidably be a bit technical at times.
It’s a ‘deep’ and ‘wide’ subject so it may seem a bit rushed.
Finally, a question and answer session!
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Silver package at home
Silver package at a hotspot
using broadband log-in
Hotspot £10 card
• ‘Speedtest’ page is located in Stanley.
• Only one mile down the road.
• Why low download speed?
• Local hotspot congestion? (No)
• Local IP network congestion (No)
• Severely throttled (rate limited)?
• An incentive to use 4G?
What is going on; I don’t know?
• Shouldn’t a package work the same at
a hotspot as at home when there is no
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Request to website
Response from website
We’ll be talking about these things a lot!
December 2019 changes
Copyright OpenFalklands.com 2018/9 7
The enigma of Quotas
With limited satellite capacity, quotas are mandatory to
minimise congestion at times of peak usage.
Quotas deliberately constrain Internet usage to maintain ‘fair
So do package prices!
‘Traffic shaping’ is also mandatory.
Implementation is a balancing act between allowing
sufficient monthly use of the Internet and preventing
congestion. Get it wrong and the service collapses.
Remember: The higher the quota, the higher the congestion
at peak times.
Uncapped usage will never be an achievable objective for
the Falkland Islands without a subsea cable.
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Misleading ‘Maximum’ download speeds
Maximum speeds quoted for Internet packages are
totally misleading. Using them alone in the UK is
These are Maximum Speeds and not-attainable for
99% of time and never at times of peak usage
(220Mbits/ 5.25Mbit/s = 40 users!)
Optional OFCOM Code of Practice (CoP):
Transparent and accurate information on realistic
broadband speeds at point of sale where the
underlying technology used may result in lower
access line than headline speeds.
Has adoption of this CoP been demanded in the FK?
Remember: The higher the Maximum Speeds; the
higher the congestion at peak times.
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The impact of simultaneous users.
A rough calculation of actual download speeds versus number of
• Network utilisation: Worst -100% streaming & Best - 5% browsing
Worst: video streaming & Best: web browsing
• Note: It’s not possible to calculate accurate results due to the
statistical mix of usage at any one time.
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Impact of increasing Quotas & Maximum speeds
Increasing quotas and/or Headline Speeds has a
direct impact on congestion at times of peak usage.
Doubling Quotas doubles IP traffic which is effectively equal to
doubling the number of users:
Doubling Maximum speeds doubles IP traffic which is equal to
doubling the number of users:
Doubling both at the same time:
Caveat: Assuming usage profile remains the same.
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Lack of local Internet Apps and Services
Falkland Islanders have strong entrepreneurial attitudes & experience.
Internet reliability has improved over the years!
But, I believe you are constrained by a ??????? local Internet environment.
What Internet changes have taken place since 2000?
Satellite capacity has increased steadily.
Internet reliability has improved (well, until October 2019).
4G introduced; now a ten-year old technology.
These cannot be called innovation in any sense of the word.
Application innovation does NOT happen in telcos or ISPs.
They provide the ‘networks’ to enable Internet innovation.
They do not have an appropriate culture to develop applications.
Application services are developed by private companies.
Telcos should not restrain a ‘bubbling’ digital environment.
The island is digitally constrained due to unaddressed issues.
Myoptic focus on satellite capacity.
Quotas and package maximum speeds.
Not all Internet traffic has to go off-island.
Favourite words: “not technically achievable”; “commercially confidential”; unaffordable; small
Lack of a fast on-island Intranet.
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What are some of the local Internet
Telcos provide access and core IP networks to enable innovation.
The worldwide Internet should not stop at the shores of the Falkland Islands. Local
innovative services should have naturally developed in the islands.
What are some of the reasons why this not happening?
Crude quota regime does not distinguish between in- & off-island traffic.
Quotas applied to in-island traffic 100% kills the creation of local
In-island IP traffic MUST be quota-free.
This has been an issue and discussed many times over many years.
The lack of a 21st century local multi-Gbit/s Intranet kills innovative
Maximum rates too low for HD video streaming which
needs 7Mbit/s and will need to be quota free at 3Gb per hour!
The in-island quota freedom talked about for the miPlayer service must
be made available to all businesses.
A monopoly telco transport environment should not prevent 3rd parties launching local
Internet Services and Applications, otherwise it is ‘not fit for purpose’.
February Public meeting
Source: Penguin News
It can be done! *
* It “technically can’t be done”?
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What a telco monopoly should include (and not include)
IP Connectivity and Access layer
(Camp LTE, ADSL, Public Wi-Fi & 4G & satellite etc.
Telephony service layer
Voice, SMS, MMS, email
All other Internet applications & services
Monopoly – non-Monopoly
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What is a local multi-Gbit/s Intranet?
Built on a 10Gbit/s ring-based, fibre-optic network in Stanley.
The Intranet must, of course, be 100% reliable and quota free for local traffic.
There are no technical reasons why this could not be built. It only uses
The Intranet would still be connected to the Internet, so access to international
services and web sites would still be speed-limited by the satellite.
All locally hosted services would run at high speed.
Main benefit is that they will also be super fast and thus frustration free!
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Why a local multi-Gbit/s Intranet desperately needed.
There are substantial financial, technical and strategic benefits.
It will create a major opportunity for local entrepreneurs (and even Sure) to
create new services and Internet businesses. The Internet as it was meant
It is essential to realising the full potential of the 4G network. 4G was
specifically designed as a data network 15 years ago!
Not building this will considerably hinder
future improvements to the islands’
But, this has not been addressed in the
‘National Broadband Strategy’.
A study should be undertaken to understand
needs, costs, requirements and constraints.
Unless consumers & businesses ask for this
it won’t happen. 4G download speeds
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Fantastic local services would be enabled.
Social, community & government services.
Disaster recovery, Camp education and tuition, Home working, Health care and remote
diagnosis, visitor promotion, Utility payment and usage, E-payments.
Business services would be speeded up
IP-VPNs, Intranets, Remote access, Data back-up, VoIP, Home working, Real-time messaging and
chat, Video conferencing, Web sites, Financial services, E-commerce.
Consumer services would enabled:
Entertainment services, video streaming, Home automation, On-line gaming, Video Messaging,
Video sharing service, OS updating cache. Visitor support (Family-level download speeds).
A fast local Intranet must be placed at the heart of a future ‘Falkland Islands Plan’
The National Broadband Strategy should be renamed National Internet Strategy
as the former implied a myopic focus on increasing satellite capacity.
Has this been seriously discussed as part of the unpublished ‘National Broadband
Should public money be spent on such a major strategic island capability?
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Strategic choices in upgrading satellite capacity.
“Contention Ratio is the number of users sharing the same data capacity.”
The LOWER the Contention Ratio; the BETTER the Quality of Experience.
The HIGHER the Contention Ratio; the WORSE the Quality of Experience.
Especially at times at times of peak usage.
I created a rough What-if model for the set of 2016 to 2019 Sure KPIs:
My model predicted that satellite capacity needed to be increased to 360Mbit/s to
revert to a 2016 Contention Ratio.
2016 2017 2017 2018 2018 2019 2019
'Worst case' Contention Ratios 2016 to 2019
Satellite, Quota, Headline
What actuality happened.
• Data did not include:
• Starter, Lite and
Platinum package traffic
• Business traffic
• Military traffic
• Wi-Fi hotspot traffic
• 2G mobile data traffic
• FIG Internet traffic
• 4G data traffic.
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Will the December 2019 satellite capacity improve Quality of
It was stated in the EXCO paper ‘133/19P: Broadband Provision’ that…
“The Contention Ratio would improve by 50% for everyone, which would
greatly improve the user experience by helping relieve congestion at peak
periods and ensure more people could achieve the speeds available within
This is not quite correct. The decision to double quotas at the same time as
doubling satellite capacity, effectively cancels out most of Quality of Experience
(QoE) improvements at times of congestion.
Experienced Contention Ratios have not really changed.
Yes, QoE will improve at non-peak times when fewer consumers & businesses
are using the Internet.
Congestion could remain similar to today at times of peak congestion.
Yes, if consumers & businesses do not use their doubled quotas then
congestion at peak times will reduce, but what are the odds of that happening?
Could there a better way?
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Sure: October 2019. (Source: FITV)
“What we have learnt in the past is that if you increase quota
and line speeds at the same time people may not notice the
difference because the contention ratio wouldn't have really
“We suggested to the government a more cautious approach
and see how customers respond.”
Even Sure agrees with me…
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Quality of Experience (QoE) must be improved as well.
A big benefit to consumers & businesses is that
they will be able to double the usage – both time
But, this should not be the only objective in
increasing satellite capacity.
Increasing quotas at the same rate as increasing
the satellite capacity does not improve QoE at times of congestion and is not a
conservative approach as claimed.
Improving your experience of using the Internet at times of congestion is just
as important – if not more important! This is what most customer complaints
are about it seems to me.
Although this is now a rhetorical point (or is it?) as the decision has been
announced, I am adamant it would have made more sense to try and achieve
“Plan for improved Contention Ratios rather than hope”.
This could have been achieved by only increasing Quotas by 30% rather than
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The December satellite capacity upgrade could have achieved
an improved Quality of Experience.
The best strategic upgrade strategy would have been to both increase
time/content consumers could use AND to improve Quality of Experience by
reducing congestion at peak times of usage.
Satellite, Quota, Headline
As agreed, doubling Quota
- not conservative -
No quota increases
- very conservative -
Quota increase by 30%
- good compromise -
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The spring 2017 event
…problems with the network experienced over 65 days including four days
of significant disruption (Regulator’s report, June 2017).
- Quotas increased without satellite capacity increase -
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Inadequacy of the quarterly Customer Complaints Report
The current report just calls for Sure to report the bare minimum data
i.e. number of complaints at each escalation stage.
What consumers should see, to make the activity worthwhile, is the number of
complaints upheld, rejected and resolved/unresolved at each stage of the
This would make the Report useful and informative about whether service
operations are actually improving.
Is reporting a fault also a complaint?
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The challenge of unused data ‘rollover’.
Some Roll-Over policy benefits:
There are quite a few benefits for consumers in having a
Roll-Over policy of their fixed and mobile data services.
Clearly, it prevents wasted megabyte and wasting money.
It lets you plan ahead and save data for busier months.
It makes you less likely to run out of data and pay extra charges.
It means you can choose a package with just the right amount of data without having to buy a
more expensive package just to ensure that you do not run over the quota limit.
What is involved in implementing a Roll-Over policy?
Today’s quota system is easy to manage – one monthly level per customer.
A rollover policy requires a different quota level each month.
Sure now have a centralised billing system – difficult to implement for FI alone? What billing s/w?
Possible Roll-over option limitations
Roll-Over data might be available for just one month and expire at the end of month two.
Roll-Over data might only be available up to a fixed gigabyte limit.
Roll-Over data might not include top-up data.
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Sure have stated (Listen to the OpenFalklands FITV post):
• “Would require Extremely complex billing systems.”
• “Generally only mobile operators use billing systems that handle quotas.
• “Would require 1,800 individual packages.”
• “Disproportionally complex billing system.”
• “Cost would be disproportionate.”
• Sure stated they “would have to “pass on the cost” to consumers.”
• What is the capability of Sure’s centralised billing system?
• Has an objective, technically independent, evaluation of these anecdotal claims
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Lack of diversity of .FK Domain Name Server (DNSs)
“The Domain Name System (DNS) translates more readily
memorized domain names to the numerical IP addresses
needed for locating and identifying computer services.”
The DNS service is a fundamental part of the Internet.
Currently this is only hosted in the Falkland Islands (since
the sale of C&W?)
If the satellite link is down, it is not inaccessible outside of
Web sites hosted internationally might not be accessible.
International email to .FK addresses could be unreliable.
All external DNS lookups go over the satellite adding to congestion and
slowing down lookups (not for FI users).
The .FK DNS servers must have diversity and be hosted in
IANA’s rules specify that there MUST be DNS server diversity.
FI Regulator: It made practical sense for all the changes to be made
together. Sure network engineers are in the process of building and
testing a tertiary name server with diversity that satisfies IANA’s
requirements. This server will be online in the next few weeks.”
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The October / November / December Event
First: satellite capacity reduction.
Second: Local caching proxy issue?
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This week (28th November 2019)