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November 2019 OpenFalklands presentation

This was a well-attended public presentation I gave at the Chamber of Commerce in Stanley, Falkland Islands on Thursday 28th November 2019.

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November 2019 OpenFalklands presentation

  1. 1. Copyright 2019 1 Chris Gare Falkland Islands Chamber of Commerce 5 p.m. 28th November 2019 Email: Tel: +500 62971 Falkland Islands Internet - Some Thoughts -
  2. 2. 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. Copyright 2018/9 2 April 2000
  3. 3. Copyright 2018/9 3 Me, presenting C&W’s global Internet strategy to the financial analyst community in New York in 1999.
  4. 4. Copyright 2018/9 4 What have I chosen to talk about?  I will talk about some issues that are impacting consumers and businesses today.  All of these subjects have been talked about on OpenFalklands.  The views expressed are mine alone and are based on public domain information.  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!
  5. 5. Copyright 2018/9 5 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 Wi-Fi congestion?
  6. 6. Copyright 2018/9 6Confidential Gare Ventures 2017 6 Request to website Response from website WebsiteSatellite dish Satellite dish Intelsat Satellite Worldwide Internet PC Ethernet/ Wi-Fi Sure Stanley Sure UK equipment Vodafone Network We’ll be talking about these things a lot! Sure ADSL Sure 4G network XX December 2019 changes
  7. 7. Copyright 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 usage’.  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. Sure UK equipment
  8. 8. Copyright 2018/9 8 Misleading ‘Maximum’ download speeds  Maximum speeds quoted for Internet packages are totally misleading. Using them alone in the UK is unacceptable.  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.
  9. 9. Copyright 2019 9 The impact of simultaneous users. A rough calculation of actual download speeds versus number of simultaneous users: • 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.
  10. 10. Copyright 2018/9 10 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. Doubling Quotas Doubling speeds Doubling both 4x Gbytes/month
  11. 11. Copyright 2018/9 11 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 community.  Lack of a fast on-island Intranet.
  12. 12. Copyright 2018/9 12 What are some of the local Internet innovation constraints?  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 Internet services.  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 local services.  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”?
  13. 13. Copyright 2018/9 13 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
  14. 14. Copyright 2018/9 14 LTE 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 commodity equipment.  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!
  15. 15. Copyright 2018/9 15 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 to be!  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’ communications capabilities.  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
  16. 16. Copyright 2018/9 16 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 Strategy’?  Should public money be spent on such a major strategic island capability?
  17. 17. Copyright 2018/9 17 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. 48 36 24 23 48 62 78 80 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 2016 2017 2017 2018 2018 2019 2019 ContenionRatio Year 'Worst case' Contention Ratios 2016 to 2019 No ADSL or Quota Satellite, Quota, Headline Satellite, Quota Satellite, Headline Satellite 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.
  18. 18. Copyright 2018/9 18 Will the December 2019 satellite capacity improve Quality of Experience?  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 their packages.”  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?
  19. 19. Copyright 2018/9 19 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 changed.” “We suggested to the government a more cautious approach and see how customers respond.” Even Sure agrees with me…
  20. 20. Copyright 2018/9 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 and/or content.  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 both objectives.  “Plan for improved Contention Ratios rather than hope”.  This could have been achieved by only increasing Quotas by 30% rather than 100%. 20
  21. 21. Copyright 2018/9 21 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 Satellite, Quota Satellite, Headline Satellite As agreed, doubling Quota - not conservative - No quota increases - very conservative - Quota increase by 30% - good compromise -
  22. 22. Copyright 2018/9 22 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 -
  23. 23. Copyright 2018/9 23 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 complaints procedure.  This would make the Report useful and informative about whether service operations are actually improving.  Is reporting a fault also a complaint?
  24. 24. Copyright 2018/9 24 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.
  25. 25. Copyright 2018/9 25 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 been undertaken?
  26. 26. Copyright 2018/9 26 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 the islands.  The consequences:  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 multiple locations.  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.”
  27. 27. Copyright 2018/9 27 The October / November / December Event First: satellite capacity reduction. Second: Local caching proxy issue?
  28. 28. Copyright 2018/9 28 This week (28th November 2019)
  29. 29. Copyright 2018/9 29
  30. 30. Copyright 2018/9 30 Food for thought – Hughes VSAT SA consumer services 80GB £80 40Mbit/s £758 Today…..
  31. 31. Copyright 2018/9 31 posts
  32. 32. Copyright 2018/9 32 To finish on a good note: Things have definitely improved! 10/11/2009
  33. 33. Copyright 2018/9 33 There are loads of other issues I could have talked about: Question time? Go to or email