* Posts by Carl Thomas

51 publicly visible posts • joined 26 Oct 2007


1Gbps, 4K streaming, buffering a thing of the past – but do Brits really even want full fibre?

Carl Thomas

Re: Few points

'As I understand it from discussions with cabling system vendors, BT only runs 4 pairs to each FTTC cabinet, which may prove a limitation long term.'

The cabinets aren't fed by fibre pairs, they use 1000BaseBX. With that in mind not sure how seriously you can take the rest of what you were told.

Community Fibre wins £18m from UK.gov infrastructure fund

Carl Thomas

Fibre to the Press Release

Virgin Media's parent claim to have networks supporting 1Gb, per their 'Gigaworld' Fibre to the Press Release rollout of 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzBrAdafe58 however there's litlte sign of any interest in deploying such technologies any time soon.

It's perfectly possible that Comcast will have 54.3 million premises able to order gigabit cable services before Virgin Media have any homes passed by it.

Hopefully more competition from FTTP will provide them some incentive to get their backsides into gear and make the relatively modest investment to get DOCSIS 3.1 out there. They're just doing standard operating procedure for UK businesses and investing the bare minimum possible.

Copper feel, fibre it ain't: Ads regulator could face court for playing hard and fast with definitions

Carl Thomas

Heh, hi Keith. Hope you've been well.

Hate to disagree with you but as I recall the first claims of fibre optic broadband in the UK came from what was then ntl:telewest.

I think in the US cable companies started on the fibre optic thing in response to Verizon FiOS which is FTTP.

UK's BT: Ofcom's wholesale superfast broadband price slash will hurt bottom line

Carl Thomas

Re: TalkTalk

The price reductions on line rental have been what's kept broadband prices down while usage has had a CAGR of 40-60%.

Obviously not so good for those that don't have broadband, they've been subsidising those that do via their line rental.

Carl Thomas

Re: TalkTalk

23rd February: Ofcom confirm wholesale price cut on 40/10 FTTC.

23rd February: TalkTalk announce temporary price cut.

I didn't say prices would go down, I said that people like paying less, Captain Patronising. Ofcom's policies have long been to ensure broadband is as cheap as possible at the low end, see LLU, and they've done it again with the 40/10 price cut.

Why would companies bother risking their own cash when they can count on Ofcom to ensure access to anything Openreach build on the cheap?

Ofcom's CEO loves to point to Spain and Portugal but completely forgets that the incumbent didn't have to wholesale FTTP there for a while when they built it, forcing competitors to build to compete.

Carl Thomas


It might go a bit of the way to helping TalkTalk out of the financial hole they are in, mind.

The public like paying less for things. The politicians in government like it when Ofcom do popular things, it makes for more votes for them. Longer term planning be damned, naturally.

CableLabs signs off MAC spec for DOCSIS full duplex

Carl Thomas

Re: What difference does it make what wifi router you put on it?

'No one is going to get the full 10 gigabit, that's the entire system bandwidth (nearly 1 GHz of spectrum required at QAM 4096) for everyone sharing your node.'

Full duplex DOCSIS requires different nodes and no amplifiers between node and end user so the restrictions of existing systems aren't really an issue.

Most cable systems in North America have only 37 MHz of return path bandwidth and even in Europe most systems have 80 MHz. Obviously the full duplex signal can't ride on the same nodes and amplifiers.

It'll require replacement of nodes with digital nodes and passive coax from there to homes, so any bridge or line extender amplifiers will need replacing with nodes too. The coax itself should be good for multiple GHz. To go above a GHz needs replacement of tap banks and splitters in cabinets along with splitters and isolators in homes. FDX DOCSIS is probably going to be a fibre to the tap solution with the main use for 'legacy' nodal cabinets being to act as power supplies for the digital nodes deeper into the network.

Carl Thomas

Data doesn't bear this out

Virgin Media's average customer uses less than 2Mb/s at peak times. This is an ISP where no-one is on less than 50Mb. Andrews and Arnold recently broke 1Mb/s per customer. They are the heaviest BT Wholesale customer. Sky, with their extensive reliance on broadband to deliver VoD, run at sub-2Mb/s per customer.

There aren't a mass of people using tens of megabits per second. People aren't wringing their hands over their 76Mb or 100Mb connections because they run like treacle.

Everyone isn't running all the devices in their home flat out all the time. I work from home, we barely watch any linear TV, there are 2 teens, both of whom stream and game and the 95th percentile on my service is about 4.5Mb.

I don't see any issues with congestion on the WiFi. Our devices are spread across a dual-band 4x4 802.11ac radio running at well above the maximum speed of the broadband connection.

If the scenario you describe were anything like accurate every ISP in the UK would have their network grind to a screeching halt all the time. As it is Virgin Media can share 1.2Gb/s between a few hundred customers without problems in most areas, Hyperoptic can sell 150Mb and 1Gb to hundreds of customers on a 2Gb LAG, and to a number of them on 1Gb without incident, and FTTC providers can aggregate hundreds of customers onto a single 1Gb GEA CableLink without problems.

The CAGR is 40-60% at the moment. 10Gb being inadequate for a few dozen premises is a long, long way away yet.

Carl Thomas

'I wonder how far from the node a client on coax can be to still get 10gbs.'

This only works with node + 0, so no amplifiers or actives after the optical node. Range depends on thickness of coax and how many splits in the path.

Should SANs be patched to fix the Spectre and Meltdown bugs? Er ... yes and no

Carl Thomas

Embedded systems

On the whole if an attacker can run their own code on an embedded system it's game over anyway. This should require high level permissions that allow all kinds of other entertainment to happen.

If it doesn't while I don't want to make light of these issues there are other, more urgent, ones that need working on.

Virgin Media only adds another 127,000 homes to Project Lightning

Carl Thomas

Indeed it is. One of the first things Liberty did was rebuild much of the network. It was in a terrible state and most of it couldn't handle broadband of any description.

The network VM had in the UK was mostly okay, so they had less of a commercial case to upgrade it. In addition VM are rather bound by the need to offer the same service everywhere. They offer different services in different areas and people lose their excrement.

Carl Thomas

Re: Dig some holes

WSM may well be a long way from existing VM network. They aren't going to spend a fortune getting to WSM before even passing any premises if they've no network nearby when there are a bunch of premises near existing core network they haven't deployed to.

Carl Thomas

Re: Not pegged

The newest hub does not support DOCSIS 3.1, let alone full duplex DOCSIS, which has no CPE available right now commercially as it's barely off the drawing board.

They cannot run with as many channels up as down. There are no 3.0 CPE that support more than 8 x 6.4 MHz, 64 QAM channels up, while they support 24 - 32 x 8 MHz 256 QAM channels down.

With standard DOCSIS 3.0 kit and a mid-split network they are looking at 80 MHz total for upstream, with some of the lower bandwidth unusable, and 900 MHz + for downstream, all usable where not used elsewhere. Slight asymmetry.

Upstream will increase once VM have completed the program to bond 4 upstream channels.

Other than those minor factual inaccuracies an excellent post my Anonymous friend.

Openreach pegs full fibre overhaul anywhere between £3bn and £6bn

Carl Thomas

LLU - sweating the copper

Can't see TalkTalk and Sky being too enthusiastic. They only began deploying VDSL kicking and screaming and will certainly want to sweat their LLU copper assets for as long as possible.

That said in this instance they should be ignored. Exchange-based xDSL is really holding things up and needs to go by hook or crook. Even where there's no FTTP the spectrum gained would be useful for extending the reach and improving the performance of copper via Long Reach VDSL.

Virgin Media biz service goes TITSUP* across London

Carl Thomas

One fibre break

One single fibre break takes down a bunch of councils. Normal broadband at the access layer I can understand, the entire London Grid having a single fibre point of failure not so much.

So, so bad. I hope that at very least this was a case of redundancy not working as expected rather than that it wasn't built with any.

Virgin Media to close flagship Oxford St store in August

Carl Thomas

They want everyone onto the Superhub 3 if possible because it tunes more channels and, in theory, delivers better performance.

Most areas are on 16-24 channels, the 2 and 2 ac can only tune 8 of them.

Customers on the Gamer 200 and Vivid 300 tiers shouldn't be provisioned on anything else. Provisioning a 300Mb tier on a 400Mb bonded group is a bad idea.

Carl Thomas

Nothing to do with Lightning

'However, one insider said staff were told specifically that they were losing jobs because of not hitting the projected Lightning figures due to the numbers having been exaggerated.'

Either this is the usual excellent communications within a comms company or someone is stirring. Lightning's funding is nothing to do with BAU operational expenditure and these redundancies are nothing to do with that project.

Lightning going over cost per premises passed gets resolved either by reducing costs or passing fewer premises.

Virgin Media cuts 250 jobs amid £3bn Project Lightning cockup fallout

Carl Thomas

Some senior management have already gotten the bullet over the Lightning screw up. As this was planned for a while and isn't related to the Lightning issues be a tad unfair to fire more of them over this.

UK Home Sec: Give us a snoop-around for WhatApp encryption. Don't worry, we won't go into the cloud

Carl Thomas

Key Escrow

Like the zombie that just keeps returning, key escrow is back on the radar.

Sources: Liberty Global, Vodafone take seats at negotiating table AGAIN

Carl Thomas

That looks like nothing more than the IWF watch list being dubiously implemented. Content on Imgur fell foul of it so all requests to some IP addresses get routed to a proxy that filters out the nastiness but, of course, can't do anything with HTTPS.

Carl Thomas


Rumours of an asset swap have been rumbling on since before talk of a merger. LGI have been wanting to get their hands on a UK MNO for nearly as long as they've wanted ntl:telewest.

Unsure what impact this might have in the enterprise market but as far as consumer goes I don't see there being a problem.

Vaizey: Legal right to internet access, sure. But I'm NOT gonna die on the 10Mbps hill

Carl Thomas

Re: Upstream?

Sadly not an option. Have to have the same bands for upstream and downstream for all cables in the bundle else crosstalk between pairs causes problems. Your downstream signals getting blown away by the neighbours' upstream and vice-versa wouldn't work so well.

Also, alas, not supported by the ANFP.


Government hails superfast broadband deal for new homes

Carl Thomas

Re: Here we go again...

Who owns the ducts when they're done, though?

In my experience developers don't like paying for anything if they can help it, up to and including street maintenance.

Carl Thomas

Re: What about competition?

I'm sure huge swathes of the country feel for you having the choice between FTTP and cable.

There is no reason why other companies cannot supply you FTTP, just most of them choose not to.

Zen should be able to help you if I remember rightly, as can Andrews and Arnold. I'm sure there are others, too.

BT and Openreach: Splitsville or not? We'll not find out till Feb – at the earliest

Carl Thomas

Re: The important question...

In New Zealand the government stepped in with an open wallet. Chorus haven't yet stood on their own for any length of time.

Not to mention that in New Zealand there was no cable company covering about half the country, Chorus are an absolute monopoly.

So unless you know something I don't about the UK government planning to offer Openreach some nice, low rate loans to do FTTP to mostly urban and suburban areas alongside running a public-private partnership to deliver wireless to rural areas I'm not sure we can use New Zealand as an example.

EE fails to apologise for HUGE T-Mobile outage that hit Brits on Friday

Carl Thomas

Great to see such a resilient network in place that a single fibre break can have such widespread consequences.

Ofcom to BT Openreach: From now on, you'd better kill 70% of gremlins within 2 days

Carl Thomas

FTTP - see Verizon, JT, etc

Who knows, maybe if Openreach had deployed FTTP on their own tab seriously rather than it looking more like a moderately sized trial they'd have less of that aged copper to maintain.

Psst. We've got 400Gb/s Ethernet working - but don't tell anyone

Carl Thomas

Way ahead of the access layer

With half the country stuck on 76Mb or less for the foreseeable, and certainly no more than maybe 100Mb in prospect for years, it'll be interesting to see how backbone traffic increases.

Ministry of Fun builds crack team to juice up bumpkin broadband

Carl Thomas

Re: Wot about townies?

Yes - zero and the cynic was completely wrong. No copper is being replaced with fibre by FTTC as the dial tone for voice services still comes from the exchange as POTS in all the products available so far.

Brussels blesses British BDUK broadband boost blurt

Carl Thomas


Certainly another nice boost for the BT pension fund.

The rollout was anti-competitive enough with the variety of concessions Ofcom gave without having public money added.

Virgin Media blames Activision for Call of Duty lag problems

Carl Thomas
Thumb Up

Perfectly Accurate Virgin Are Worst For Gaming

Officially - the same Ofcom stats that Virgin trumpet as proof they have the fastest downloads also show they have the worst jitter among their peers.

That's the bit they don't like to talk about so much. :)

Virgin Media introduces P2P throttling

Carl Thomas

Usenet Throttling

How would they shape Usenet over SSL?

From the point of view of identifying it it's really not hard.

'Oh look, someone has 10 SSL connections to news.giganews.com. I wonder what those could be?'

Virgin Media set-top box modder gets 5 years

Carl Thomas

@Stuart Castle

DOCSIS 3 is nothing to do with the TV service. The keys used to encrypt the content are changed every few seconds. These are different from 'master' keys stored on the cards themselves. These are used to decrypt the keys needed to get at the content.

Carl Thomas

Reasonable Doubt

Reasonable doubt, or lack of Mr Anonymous. Without that you'd never get anyone prosecuted unless they were caught in the act.

Virgin Media to demo 200Mb/s broadband tomorrow

Carl Thomas

Not Fibre To Home

It's not fibre to the home, it's using DOCSIS 3 with no downstream bandwidth limit, 4 x 50Mbit channels bonded = 200Mbit.

Of course you need to be the only person in your area doing anything download related to get the full 200Mbit at the moment :)

BT could jack up line charges to fill pensions hole

Carl Thomas

Seems Reasonable

Seems quite reasonable to me for BT to increase prices if their own costs of operating have increased. It's what most other companies would do in this situation if their prices were not regulated. Unbundling will still be pretty cheap.

Broadband tax of £6 per year to fund rural fibre rollout

Carl Thomas


The government take of GDP in the UK is around 39%. If Londoners are producing on average a GDP of 30,385GBP we are net contributors even with that higher public money allowance, producing government take of 11850.15 per capita.

Scotland with its' estimated 19,152 GDP gives a government take of 7469.28 per capita.

So you were right it's not just about GDP per capita, according to your figures each Londoner's economic output subsidises the public purse to the tune of 2,102GBP while each Scot is a net beneficiary to the tune of 2161 GBP.

Given Greater London's population and ignoring everything else such as commuters from outside Greater London who work here, etc, Londoners subsidise to the tune of a shade under 15.8 billion a year which offsets Scotland's 11.17 billion deficit with a bit of change.

If you guys fancy paying an extra 2000 quid for every man woman and child in tax per year to maintain expenditure as it is by offsetting this that's your prerogative.

Carl Thomas

Few Things

@Andus this is an additional 50p/mth tax on all landlines.

@Various anonymous posters, it's not about the amount it's the principle. This is not following the Australian model and improving services for everyone, it's about at most 30% of the population who will benefit from 100% of the population paying to improve their services.

Also read the thread, it's not about increasing broadband availability or about providing at least 2Mbps to everywhere, it's about increasing that 2Mbps to 'next generation' speeds.

This will not benefit everyone, won't benefit any more than 30% of the population infact, and is a very direct subsidy.

Last people claiming that rural users subsidise urban ones, you don't. BT have lower costs in urban areas which is why urban areas get things earlier and BT are entitled to charge less due to these lower costs. You also do not subsidise LLU options in any way, where LLU is available in more remote areas it is subsidised by urban areas and backhauls chained from them.

Natural resources wise of course cities consume more than they might provide, in basically every other way they are the engine of the economy, that's a simple fact. The South East of England (specifically mentioned) could exist without relying on the rest of the country, paying market rates for water, electricity, etc, the rest of the country would seriously be harmed financially by losing the South East.

Name GDP percapita

Greater London £30,385

South East £22,624

East £20,524

Scotland £19,152

Also the South East and London area is the most densely populated and easiest to wire part of the country by some way on a regional basis - the South East is more densely populated than Japan at 419 people per sq km, compare this with Scotland's 65 people per sq km and it's not rocket science to understand why coverage is as it is.

A more shocking story to be honest is that London doesn't have fibre to the home to any scale given that it has a higher population density than most cities and at 4,758 people per sq km isn't that far off such places as Tokyo.

Carl Thomas


Can't say I'm overjoyed at the idea of my taxes being used to fund a broadband USO, however to have them used to delivery next generation services to the arse end of nowhere gets up my nose in no uncertain terms.

Presumably next will be a tax to get a metro/underground network to every town and city after all it can't be fair that I have one close to me here, I just chose to live in the city and give up all the things someone in the sticks takes for granted like space and clean air in return for these conveniences. Silly of me really could have it both ways once Labour tax my backside.

I guess removing the business rate on fibre optics in ducting to stimulate a fibre optic rollout isn't going to happen, Gordon enjoys raiding our collective pockets far too much to actually drop a tax to improve services.

Virgin Media to battle modem hackers

Carl Thomas
Paris Hilton

@Anonymous Coward

So Virgin can either rewrite the IOS on their CMTS, or they can use an external device which rewrites the MPEG frames on the downstream, along with sending someone to a cabinet to selectively introduce noise..... or they could just diss each leg and see when the modem in question goes offline, which is what they do.

Introducing noise downstream will increment the T4 counter on the modem, so you'd need to be continuously polling the modem via SNMP - not doable if the hacker has removed your SNMP access as often happens with hacked firmware, there is no OSS channel on DOCSIS you have to read MIBs to get information from modems. You'd have to block and block then the CMTS would queue up a load of station maintenance requests and fire those at the modem, you'd have to mess with those as well - this would require messing with IOS or using an EQAM and data diddling both of which would introduce timing issues and make the whole lot no longer DOCSIS compliant risking effecting legitimate subscribers on the entire downstream or EQAM, far more effect than simply dissing a node.

Paris - as while it's of course in theory doable, as rightly said we control everything, it's seriously not practical, just like her!

Carl Thomas

Re: Wondering

If BPI+ were actually implemented and working properly on the VM network these modems wouldn't be getting online in the first place. MAC address and key pair would only match properly on the original modem unless the device were a 'perfect clone' with the RSA key pair stolen as well, however that requires physical access to a modem.

Large swathes of the VM network do not have BPI+ implemented, and even where it is it does not appear to be mandatory so hackers just switch it off.

From my own:

AMBIT Euro DOCSIS 2.0 Cable Modem

DOCSIS operating mode = DOCSIS 1.0

BPI Baseline Privacy Enabled = False

BPI2 Privacy enabled = False

They still however have the cheek to switch off customers' SNMP access to their own modems for 'performance reasons'...

The fire icon, as that's hopefully what this article has set under VM's security people to get them to stop messing around with datacentre stuff and sort the cable network out.

Carl Thomas


The modems have timeslots allocated to them based on when they request data, the CMTS notes which modems have requested data and provides them with a data grant at a certain time which the CMTS then carries out via a downstream broadcast, the MAP.

Introducing noise to a modem's timeslot will *not* knock the modem offline, it'll just retransmit, and as I said you cannot force a modem to request timeslots, nor can you arrange for when the modem will transmit without causing issues for other modems.

Modems carry out periodic maintenance, however even introducing noise to this won't be effective, the modem will retry and a counter will increment, but what use is noting a counter incrementing and what does this tell you about the modem, it remains just a MAC address?

TDR is pointless, cable modems have a timing offset anyway, however all this tells you best case is to within a small area how much fibre and coax there is between CMTS and modem.

Sadly there is only one way to reliably find the evil people, via which CMTS card they are on, and from there disconnecting the HFC network at hardware level a leg at a time and observing if the modem goes offline or not can trace down to which tap the evil person is on, from there going through the taps one at a time.

Tiscali shares suspended on titsup fears

Carl Thomas
Thumb Up


I am deeply moved by this. Who would have thought a crap ISP whose sole selling point is that they are really cheap would have run into trouble considering how tight the average UK broadband punter is with their cash?

Another pile crap high, sell crap cheap ISP, the biggest of the lot could be going, fantastic.

Sorry to all those people who might find themselves having to pay more for broadband internet and telephone than 4 pints in a London local now.

BT wins pricing control over faster broadband

Carl Thomas

Well I Got A Question Through

Q. Do Ofcom have any plans to encourage infrastructure competition in the UK rather than retail / resell competition only? I'd be interested in how BT and Ofcom call 40Mbps 'super-fast' while other countries are deploying 100Mbit and 1Gbit.

From @ignitionnet

A. The plans we have set out today on superfast broadband ensure that there is scope for wholesale competition - which will offer flexibility and scope for innovation as well as ensuring that there is scope for further infrastructure upstream should companies wish to invest in competition of this kind. It's important to keep both forms of competition available as we believe both will be important to a successful superfast broadband market in the UK. While the next steps will see much higher data rates, around 50mbps, we expect to see development beyond that in the future to higher speeds.

You know we're in a fantastic state when Ofcom are kissing up to BT over offering 40Mbps while various other places are merrily rolling out more than double that speed.

BT Openreach need to be split from Wholesale / Retail, we may actually see a company more interested in infrastructure than shareholders. This is the company offering a measly 1.5 billion on 'super fast' broadband while happy to piss away more than that in a futile attempt to prop up this laughably run company's share price through share buybacks and dividends.

Virgin puts 'legal P2P' plans on ice

Carl Thomas
Paris Hilton

Haha P2P

P2Ping on a service with a 30:1 download:upload ratio on the shiny new product, that'd have worked.

Paris - for trying to monetise P2P while forgetting the uploading part of the equation.

BT shares tumble on £340m Global Services bill

Carl Thomas

Total Shambles

Just think, wasn't that many years ago this company was one of the 20 largest in the world by market value.

Complete and utter cockup of incredible proportions.

I say borrowing and pissing another billion away on share buybacks is clearly the way forward. Getting the company into more debt and throwing it at the shareholders should work.

BT opens wallet to send fibre to the home

Carl Thomas
Paris Hilton


It's surprising any of us pay for our broadband as your rural town is apparently subsiding us townies, and presumably the rest of your rural area as well.

Get the bug out of your arse over the M25 'chastity belt' cities get this stuff first because it makes the most economic sense, not out of the kindness of BT's heart. Urban areas are more densely populated, tend to have bigger exchanges, and get these services first simply because that's for BT where the *profit* is.

BT seem to think that urban areas subsidise market towns and the like. Pity you have the bug in your backside that you subsidise everything and everyone in the rest of the country.

Without the 'townie' rollout you aren't getting this at all, without the 'townie' rollout you wouldn't have gotten DSL when you did. Get over it just as I get over paying far more for housing and most goods than you along with having smaller living space and being in a more compact area.

Paris, because she's heavily subsidised.

Ofcom flashes cash guarantees at BT for fibre investment

Carl Thomas


Ofcom imply no unbundling to be required, as you'd hope, but a strong wholesale model. Probably just as well considering that some ISPs wanted BT to lay individual fibres from each exchange to each home so that they could physically unbundle, something no-one else in the world has done.

Darling admits Revenue loss of 25 million personal records

Carl Thomas

Good To See The Electronic Era Has Hit HMRC

So they burn the stuff to CD / DVD and mail it...

VPN? Electronic transfer?

Why weren't these details strongly encrypted?

Virgin Media stops the rot

Carl Thomas

Minor Error

*Virgin confirmed the next stage of efforts to further differentiate itself by ramping maximum downloads speeds up to 50Mb/s in 2008. Further down the line it's reviewing an implementation of DOCSIS 3, a newer cable standard, which is capable of downloads in the hundreds of megabits per second.*

Well no, they need to implement DOCSIS 3 before they can increase speeds to 50Mbit/s as the current kit won't do it.

Considering this is the same cable operator that say they are bandwidth limited at the moment and so can't do HD, and DOCSIS 3 needs the equivalent bandwidth on the cable to 12+ HD channels I wouldn't hold my breath.