No more lipstick on a pig

Ronald Bartels
May 19 · 3 min read

Business broadband that does the job right

In South Africa we have a number of broadband access solutions including the two main ones of OpenServe and Vumatel. In most cases people are really chuffed when these fibre based broadband solutions are installed. Previously the only broadband available was either ADSL or wireless. I was involved in the latter and tried my level best to deal with the bucket load of support issues. But these new access networks although better are just lipstick on a pig.

Network connectivity suffers from three main issues:

  • The speed of light is still 186,000 miles per second. There is no Star Trek hyper drive to make packets move faster between continents.
  • The underlying network architecture uses a dated and inefficient method for shifting packets.
  • Many key applications are still inefficient and poorly written. It adds to the problem by smearing the environment with vaseline!

TCP/IP has been around since the seventies! A Swedish band won Eurovision in the same year that Vince Cerf created the protocol that we use to this day as the plumbing for the Internet. The protocol we use to this day wears lycra and knee length white boots…

The bottom line is that it is as vintage as the Lotus Esprit. It might have been the best in its day but doesn’t do the job today. That shiny new fibre broadband that you have installed at your office or home is lipstick on a pig. It can go fast, but stalls, floods and breaks quite often showing the age of its transmission components!

In networking terms, the TCP/IP protocol suffers from packet loss due to congestion and latency caused by distance. Latency from Johannesburg to other cities in the world is dramatic as we are close to 10000 kms away from any other city as a result of distance. TCP/IP and distance are not friends as it triggers latency.

Using this post from Brad Hedlund: How to Calculate TCP throughput for long distance WAN links, the above curve is derived. What it means is the the download throughput of any link in Johannesburg is proportionally worse when compared with any other international city because the comparative distance to any other location in the world is higher. Thus the only method to achieve great downloads in Johannesburg is to use local data centres within Johannesburg.

The graphic above shows what difference a local data centre makes to the broadband experience of a last mile link. However, your broadband link causes the greatest complexity as any congestion triggers packet loss on the last mile, which disproportionately influences any connectivity to international sites. So often clients will see acceptable local speeds but international speeds suck golf balls. At best you can attempt to remove this hindrance by replacing the last mile with SDWAN. SDWAN has optimization techniques to eliminate last mile inefficiencies.

The above is described very well in this video by Stuart Hardy:

Can SDWAN make you experience better? Inbox me to discuss how…

The Technology Burrow

The clan of braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and computers.

Ronald Bartels

Written by

Ronald is a technologist and service management evangelist. He started driving a tractor when he was five years old and would love to own a Massey-Fergurson!

The Technology Burrow

The clan of braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and computers.