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Business roadmap

msssltd
Grafter
Posts: 77
Registered: ‎28-06-2007

Business roadmap

The number of ADSL related issues reported to me by my customers is on the increase.
There are the service issues published by PN and those don't concern me too much,
The events I am concerned with are the issues which occur for no discernible reason and cure themselves miraculously, some hours or days later.  What exactly causes them, who might be to blame and why no one is able to provide any information, would all be very interesting but ultimately does not resolve the problems.
Quite frankly a small business can not operate while it is being subjected to random, extended, internet outages and slowdowns.  My own business can not operate efficiently while customers are chasing 'phantom' faults, causing us to jump through BTs diagnostic hoops, that typically only ever appear to prove the fault lies somewhere upstream.
So.  More and more of my customers, who are almost all PN business subscribers, are asking about fibre, hoping for increased reliability rather than increased speed.  With the fuss BT are making about Infinity, these customers are aware that fibre is available in their LEX or will be within the next 3 to 6 months and are looking to plan accordingly.
What can I tell them?
What is the likely hood of PN having a business fibre product released by the end of September?
Will it be equivalent to the existing Business accounts, in terms of traffic priority and uncapped bandwidth?
Will it improve on the current 448 / 800 / 1Mb upload speeds?
I am also being asked (less frequently) when are PN Business likely to support IPV6?
Another way of looking at these enquiries.  A lot of businesses make their plans for the year ahead around April.  If PN are not prepared to answer these questions now, the plans are likely to include moving to an ISP that will.
6 REPLIES 6
lsimister
Dabbler
Posts: 12
Registered: ‎28-12-2009

Re: Business roadmap

Hi,
Regarding your comments relating to "phantom" faults, it is entirely possible for there to be temporary faults that resolve themselves from time to time, but as part of our fault investigations for a circuit, we always try and establish a root cause and resolution. If you or your customers are seeing line faults, please give our support teams a call and we'll be happy to look into it for you.
While I can't confirm any specific details about our future plans for our product line, I can assure you that rolling out a full Fibre product is high on our priority list. We do recognise there's a high demand for such technology and agree that bringing this to market is important.
Traffic priority and bandwidth will be considered as part of any product we release, and regarding upload speeds, Fibre normally comes in three flavours of 80 down / 20 up, 40 down / 10 up and 40 down / 2 up. Obviously for commercial reasons, our road maps, product specifications and current timescales for product releases cannot be shared with the wider public.
That said, we are currently operating a trial Fibre option for Business customers, if you or your clients are interested. Details can be found at http://trials.plus.net .
IPV6 is also something we are looking at, but again I can't share specific details with you just yet.
Mark
Grafter
Posts: 1,852
Registered: ‎04-04-2007

Re: Business roadmap

Hi there,
Lee's answered the main points but this element jumped out at me
Quote
I am also being asked (less frequently) when are PN Business likely to support IPV6?

This is something I've discussed at length with a large number of our blue chip corporates and large SME's over the last 12 months and tbh I'm seeing a great sense of inertia and lack of planning within the general business community to get ready or plan for IPv6. This is perhaps down to alack of awareness.
I know you're speaking to business customers regularly and whilst I appreciate you're being asked infrequently about IPv6, whats your experience, or sense of understanding within the business community of the need or potential to embrace IPv6?
I'll throw the question out there to the wider audience too for input.
I'm keen to understand the thoughts of our business community and resellers.
Mark
MauriceC
Hero
Posts: 4,085
Thanks: 929
Fixes: 17
Registered: ‎10-04-2007

Re: Business roadmap

I was involved in IPv6 conferences back in 1999 when it was all promise and test beds and soon became a believer.  But now things have moved forward to a position where much (if not all?)  of the core backbone is  now IPv6.  Progress from this position is now largely in the 'Chicken and egg' arena, where Business isn't moving because (too a great extent) the service is not being delivered by ISP's and ISP's are therefore not seeing enough traction to build a solid business case. 
At some point the dam will break due to one of many of the known issues / limitations with IPv4 and then the fun starts.  As the current trials are discovering, there are a number of problems to resolve in order to deliver a solid service to both new IPv6 Users and to still support the legacy majority of IPv4 Users.  Getting a service 'out there'  even with limited initial take up will help build both Plusnet / User confidence that a supportable service is deliverable and   build up the internal skillset needed to install / maintain / support the service.
So yes, it is still a bit of a gamble - does Plusnet want to be early or late to the party for the 'early adopters' in the small business community?
Maurice

Superusers are not staff, but they do have a direct line of communication into the business in order to raise issues, concerns and feedback from the community.

msssltd
Grafter
Posts: 77
Registered: ‎28-06-2007

Re: Business roadmap

Quote from: Mark
I'm keen to understand the thoughts of our business community and resellers.

Hi Mark
I specialise at the small end of the SME market, although I occasionally carry out break fix and the odd consultancy job for larger businesses.  SME customers are generally buying my services because they can not justify employing someone with my level of knowledge and experience (3rd line).  My market is self selecting, in so far as customers must want or need to do something more sophisticated than web browsing and POP mail before they will pay the premium for my attention - I have no interest in customers looking for the cheapest possible price.
I am encouraged to see at least one person at PN is taking an interest in business customers, because they have been neglected for years in my opinion.  In a nutshell, I get the impression that PN does not understand today's small business needs AT ALL.  Unfortunately I presently regard PN as the best of a bad bunch.  I am more than happy to assist with a view to improving services for small business customers but I have little patience when it comes to being humoured in exchange.
Anyhow IPV6.  Most of my customers have never heard of it and are entirely disinterested in it!  They have their own businesses to run, which tends to mean they don't have time for  the continually changing hype and learning curves associated with IT.  That would be why they engage me to advise them, to take an interest and to negotiate the tedium of the technical details.  I very, very, very rarely get asked about specific technologies.  So no, virtually no one has asked me about IPV6 specifically. 
What I get asked for are solutions to business problems.  Many of the solutions benefit from public IP address space.  The need for IPV6 is not essential though, as workarounds (NAT, MNAT, PAT, VPN) have been developed for IPV4 over the years.  However, as you probably know there are no ratified standards, which can lead to device configuration and interoperability issues.
To summarise the issue, there is almost always a workaround but what is neglected (by IT people) is the additional cost of working around, which can be substantial. 
For instance.
1.  PN once turned down a RIPE application I made, on the grounds I could use port forwarding.  Yes, I could use port forwarding but it would mean having to reprogram a dozen devices, retrain existing users and interfere with my internal remote support systems.  As a result, the customer abandoned the project, blamed me and removed all their business.  Total cost to the customer about £1K, total cost to me about £2K + loss of a £2K PA contract!
2.  A customer has asked me to enable another of their workstations for remote desktop access.  They are out of public IPs which means their existing subnet needs consolidating.  So I was up early this morning reconfiguring private DNS and DHCP on their server.  Later I will adjust the public DNS records, then I need to set up port forwarding on their router and write some instructions telling their existing remote users how to reconfigure MSTSC on their home computers.  It will probably turn out that I have to suck up the cost as attempting to educate the customer to the need to do the work, would take far longer than doing the work itself.
Those are both reactive issues, where I am reacting directly to a customer request. 
3. A proportion of the solutions I provide are based on speculative project sales.  A customer with whom I have an established relationship will say something which provides an opportunity to suggest a technology solution that had not occurred to them.  Often, whatever the benefits might be, the cost can not be justified immediately or in isolation.  The idea may be resurrected the following April (maybe the April after that) when financial plans are being made for the year ahead.  Increasingly these projects require public IP space  and often it is these projects which justify moving from one ISP to another.
Such issues go away once IPV6 is rolled out.
I agree with MauriceC in so far as it is a chicken and egg.  I could compare the IPV6 situation with the ADSL rollout.  Upgrading from a dial-up account was a big investment for a lot of small businesses but once the investment was made, it opened a lot of doors few people even knew existed.  Where IPV6 is concerned, there is no question of, if.  It is going to happen.  Should PN get on and offer it now, they become a market leading ISP.  Should PN wait until the customer base is aware, they end up with the price conscious low hanging fruit, while the quality custom quietly moves to the ISPs who already offer it.
msssltd
Grafter
Posts: 77
Registered: ‎28-06-2007

Re: Business roadmap

Thank you for your attention Lee
Quote from: Lee
If you or your customers are seeing line faults, please give our support teams a call and we'll be happy to look into it for you.

I fear you are missing the point.  Neither I nor my customers are able to isolate a fault as being a line fault, by virtue of line faults residing with BT OR.  A line fault is one possibility but the process to close off that one possibility requires a ridiculous amount of hoop jumping, with the time, disruption and cost it causes.  For instance.  The CSC will demand the router is changed, which may not be a trivial operation.  CSC will point out that an engineer's visit may cost £60 + VAT (whatever) with no guarantee of any progress being made toward resolving the actual fault.  Hence calling the CSC is the last thing my customers want or want me to do for them. 
As I said, I am not interested in debating why the ADSL network is in the state it is in these days.  That it is in such a state, is what is not acceptable to my clients.
Quote
Obviously for commercial reasons, our road maps, product specifications and current timescales for product releases cannot be shared with the wider public.

I do not think it is at all obvious!  The LEX upgrade dates are hardly a secret.  Your competitors already have fibre products on release.  Being unprepared to provide an indication of what PN will offer and when is just going to cause anxiety, ultimately providing previously loyal business customers with reasons to leave PN.
Quote
That said, we are currently operating a trial Fibre option for Business customers, if you or your clients are interested.

ROFLMAO.  Next you will be suggesting my customers run beta software on their production servers?  I may be interested in a trial but my clients definitely would not be.
I get the message.  It is a one way street.  PN have no interest in working WITH their business customers.
jelv
Seasoned Hero
Posts: 26,786
Thanks: 990
Fixes: 10
Registered: ‎10-04-2007

Re: Business roadmap

Having read your post I don't understand why you are not pushing your clients towards aaisp! They've had IPv6 for some time and probably have the best reputation of all ISPs for handling faults.
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
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