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Re: Customer Forum Meeting. One attendees view

JonathanW
Grafter
Posts: 2,648
Registered: 02-10-2007

Re: Customer Forum Meeting. One attendees view

Quote
They are investing heavily in this area and currently are the only ISP in the UK using this provider.


That's not quite the case. We were the first ISP in the UK to start using LONAP, but since then a few others have started peering with them as well.

As for dgwebb's questions about bandwidth. One of the things to take into account here is that during the year we've switched from 155s to 622s, which handle the bandwidth in a much better way, reducing the ammount of capacity used by overheads.
8 REPLIES
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Customer Forum Meeting. One attendees view

I attended the meeting yesterday which was hosted by Stew Norriss, Ben Brown, John Whiting and Neil Armstrong. It was a very good natured event starting at about 1030 and finishing at 4.15pm and I should like to say thank you to the Comms team for taking the time to listen to our moans and gripes. It was also a good exercise to meet other F9/ PN customers and put faces to names. As most readers of this forum will know, I am not a lacky of F9/ PN and have had my share of run ins in the past, so my view is totally unbiassed. The information given was interesting and the graphs to show usage patterns explained the magic 1% we keep hearing about!!

The meeting addressed the concerns that customers have regarding the lack of communication between them and us. It is an issue which has been addressed and there is a target to be reached, that being the same level of trust and service attained in 2004. It was stated that many people were fed up with tickets not being answered which has been addresses. More CSC agents have been freed from the telephone to answer tickets. This has had the knock on effect of there being fewer telephone calls to the centre enquiring about unanswered tickets and thus quicker response times.

It was also said that they were contractually obliged to put another pipe in place from Jan '06.

A few months back, PN were experiencing the green BTW screen. Apparently what happens when you try to connect is you hit a pipe, if that pipe is full then you are re- directed until you hit a pipe that has space, usually 2 or 3 attempts which is not noticed by the customer. At that time the system was failing and sending you directly to the BTW screen instead of hitting another pipe. This has now been resolved.

There was various other talk about gateways and the like. Again, I am not a techie so only have a vague understanding. Apparently PN's traffic is now approaching 3GB/s. They have recently added a 3rd gateway provider specifically to carry the new range of services expected with MaxDSL. Two of the pipes are rated at about 2GB/s (from memory, I may be wrong I am sure one of the others who attended will be able to correct me) and the 3rd is a 10GB/s gateway. They are investing heavily in this area and currently are the only ISP in the UK using this provider.

These are the questions I specifically asked about the BB+ product and usenet:

What percentage of users throughout the customer base are usenet users?

They were uncertain of the percentage amount, but quoted a figure of 500 users across the platform using the in house usenet server and about 4500 using external servers.

Is it +Net’s intention to remove all binary newsgroup access to BB+ users, given that it is almost impossible to even download headers from news.force9.net?

No. It was acknowledged that the implementation of the traffic shaping through the ellacoya units went a bit pear shaped, so instead of squeezing the connections of the "naughty" users, it affected everybody. Apparently the patterns usenet and p2p use were placed within the same profile which resulted in p2p running away with the available bandwidth, detrimentally affecting usenet users. Both of these protocols have now been split to separate patterns which should have been adjusted to take effect from the next billing date. This will enable a full service off peak with a slightly throttled product on peak. It was stressed that binary usenet should now be more than useable. I'm afraid I have to take their word for it as I do not frequent binaries.

In an attempt to try and un blur the lines between Premier and BB+, I did ask them if it would be better to introduce a cap to the BB+ account, say 30GB pm. Considering BT and the likes only offer about 2GB pm for this price and that average use on this account is only 2.52GB, that would be ample for the majority. The answer was that they would not consider caps as any mention of them would probably frighten customers and lead to an increase in the amount of calls being made to the CSC and potentially migrating to another provider (who may well have lwer caps!!).


Just for some extra information on BB+ usage patterns.

The average download amount on a BB+ account is 2.52GB

0- 90% of BB+ customers only use 0.97GB pm

1% of BB+ customers use 52.79GB pm

There were figures for 91%- 98% but I wasn't quick enough to write them down!!

BB+ accounts havea basic graph for perceived p2p and usenet usage along the lines of:

Midnight - 8am Full speed
8-am- 4pm Reduced speed
4pm- Midnight Speed reduced further

There were no speed figures quoted on that graph that I could see.

I know that Jeremy asked a raft of questions that had been requested by other forum users and I am sure he will post answers as soon as he has recovered from his journey home. There are plans for this to be a regular thing with different members being selected each time, so put your name down if you are interested next time, it is an interesting day.

Mark
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Customer Forum Meeting. One attendees view

I agree mark, it was a very interesting, and my apollogies to all arriving late. I had actually driven past the building 3 times, and the parking attendants, etc didn't even know where it was.

As for meeting the other users and the staff, then yes it was great to put faces to names.

The meeting was well presented, and very informative.

Many people have raised the issues about the SUP levels within these forums, but from seeing the graphs for both premier and bb+ users, the limits are more than ample.

99% of premier customers use less than 100gb a month, with 1% using upto 150gb or more. As F9/PN state why should they cater for the 1% which are making the service unbearable or less effective for the 99%. This would only cost them more money and when you see the cost of how much it is to run a pipe then you will understand why the measures are in place. An any company has to make money to keep afloat otherwise they go out of business.

If the 1% that are having a detrimental effect on the service for the other 99% then they have a choice, lower their usage or leave. They must remember that F9/PN have to pay BT a certain amount each month for a specific amount of bandwitdh, if they go over that limit (mainly by users abusing the bandwidth), they are charged extorniate prices from BT. This in turns makes them lose money, thus operating costs are more than what they are receiving, which if they are not careful will cause them to go bankrupt or out of business like many of the other smaller ISPs.

Another point to mention is that F9/PN are on the cutting edge of technology, and some of the issues that arise from time to time, maybe caused by new technology being added to their system. This new technology is to benefit the consumer (us), to ensure we have the internet when we want it, and able to do what we want within reason.

Many others have also queried about how F9/Pn are going to cope with the new video streaming technologies that are coming online (ie the BBC Imp service). Well they are prepared for this, and as Mark says they are contracted to open up another pipe in january. They also have a pipe that is constantly on standby, ready to be opened when required, but doing so too early would cost them an extremely large about of money, and we're not talking about a few thousand pounds, but more in the few hundred thousand pounds. So as you can see F9/PN are anticipating whats going to happen in the near future, they are preparing for it, but they also have to ensure that the current service levels, etc are not compromised in the process.

Another mention was that many users believe that F9/PN don't take notice of what customers are saying, they do take notice, but they have to look at the feasability of implimenting the changes, the costs involved, and who will be affected. Once these have all been considered then if feasible the changes may come into effect in the near future, remember it won't happen overnight, and may take a few months or so before they can collate all data and make any decision.

They have also admitted they have made mistakes in the past and hold their hands up for this, they are only humans after all. They reliase they need to be more open and keep the customer informed of what is happening. One thing that a lot of us queried was why they didn't email every customer about the changes and just posted it on the forums, etc. The resaon being was that it wouldn't affect 99% of customers, and that it would only cause distress to users, with more calls/tickets being raised regarding the matter. This would then cause issues with customers who were actually having problems with their service being able to get through to support within a reasonable time period.

In all I think F9/PN are doing a very good job, they have an obligation to provide a service to it's customer base, and if the changes they make affect only 1% and not the other 99% then they are right in what they are doing.

The final thing I would like to mention is that if this 1% that were using over their quota, how would they feel like being billed for the extra bandwidth they are using. Are they just going to keep moving from isp to isp, as soon they will be in the situation where they will only get a broadband account that has limits on.

Currently F9/PN are doing a very good deal, as most other isp's will only give you 30gb across peak/offpeak times, while f9/pn are giving 30gb/100gb at a cheaper price.

So all I can say is well done F9/PN, it was a very informative meeting and keep up the good work.

And it was good to see all

regards
mike
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Customer Forum Meeting. One attendees view

I would also like to point out that out of the 3gb/s usage across the customer base, 1gb/s of this is made up of p2p transfers, so you can see how much effect this has on the network.

regards
mike
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Customer Forum Meeting. One attendees view

Cheers for that guys, sorry I couldn't meet you all.
David_W
Rising Star
Posts: 2,291
Thanks: 29
Registered: 19-07-2007

Customer Forum Meeting. One attendees view

Nice that they are opening a new pipe up next month.

One query, did they show any graphs of their customer base over the past say, year? As in, their user base has grown X % over [time scale]? If they did, did they also show any upgrades done to the pipes over the [time scale] to compensate for this?

Or to put it simply, is the available bandwith now, the same as the available bandwith 6-12 months ago when there were less customers?
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Customer Forum Meeting. One attendees view

There was a graph, a bit like a staircase really with a diagonal line through the middle. One side of the line is too much, the other side is not enough and it is a case of trying to balance it out. It was explained that when a new pipe is opened up you are well witihin the "comfort" zone underneath and then as the user base creeps up the lines become a bit blurred on occasions. That said, because of the "relationship" they have with BT they are never longer than being 5 days away from a new pipe if they need it.

To try and answer your question, I think I can recall seeing extra facilities put in place over the course of the last year, so yes they are adding bandwidth wen needed, but also they not throwing more and more bandwidth at the problem of increasing (and excess) usage, preferring to try and manage the system instead.

It should also be said that other ISP's were named as having purchased into the Ellacoya system in an attempt to control their spiralling bandwidth costs.

Regards

Mark
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Re: Customer Forum Meeting. One attendees view

Quote
The meeting addressed the concerns that customers have regarding the lack of communication between them and us. It is an issue which has been addressed and there is a target to be reached, that being the same level of trust and service attained in 2004. It was stated that many people were fed up with tickets not being answered which has been addresses. More CSC agents have been freed from the telephone to answer tickets. This has had the knock on effect of there being fewer telephone calls to the centre enquiring about unanswered tickets and thus quicker response times.

As I was trawling the forum looking for another post, I came across this from last year. Doesn't look like the target of the same support levels as 2004 are anywhere near being achieved yet!!!

I am probably being pessimistic, but I bet there isn't a similar meeting again this year!!!!

Mark
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Customer Forum Meeting. One attendees view

About that time last year I have to say I was still happy with plusnet service, but with emails deleted, further CGI website deletions and problems, putting us on an almost unusable LLU connection that drops every few minutes, even slow DNS, I'm not that happy now! A far cry from the avid PN fan I was up to 2004.

I have already moved all of my domains, hosting and email away as they cant be trusted with it. I'm getting moved back over to a BT connection (I have asked for a fixed speed, not Max), but now we have no dependancy on F9 it wont take much for us to drop them and go and find some other provider that can be more usable.

Its a big shame.