The director of business ISP Andrews and Arnold (AAISP), Adrian Kennard, has criticised the O2 Wholesale (BE Broadband) back-haul capacity offered through Fluidata because of “congestion issues” that have been “going on for a while“; some of which is spill-over from heavy use on O2/BE’s “unlimited” consumer services.
AAISP, like any sensible provider, doesn’t just use BT for its back-haul requirements and also signed up Fluidata for capacity through BE/O2 as well. This not only gives the ISPs customers some choice but it also offers an extra level of redundancy.
Sadly it’s well known that some of BE/O2’s exchanges are suffering from congestion and indeed BE itself recently had to disconnect one of its customers for related abuse (here). But now this problem is spilling over to hurt business traffic, which could spell more trouble for O2 in the future (sale rumours not withstanding), unless it can resolve the problem.
Adrian Kennard, Director of ISP Andrews & Arnold, said:
“The main issue here is that O2 are upgrading their network, which is good, but they are behind the usage, so there are cases of severe congestion happening and it being months before any planned upgrades. We have changed customers back to BT, or waited for the upgrades, but it is starting to be a real problem in some areas now … we are not really making any progress on this.
I’m pleased to say that we have really got on top of this sort of issue on the BT side – they are proactive in network upgrades now, and are responding reasonably quickly when there are exceptions. They are considering congestion issues (loss and latency) to be a fault, although it can take some persuading.
Fluidata are not, and are in fact pointing out that their “unlimited” Business grade wholesale services are not in fact unlimited. They are blaming unspecified other “super users” for causing congestion ahead of planned upgrades. Apparently we would have to justify excessive usage (excessive, on an “unlimited” service) if our users were the cause of the problem, rather the victim as in this case. That is somewhat of a concern.”
The problems have now caused AAISP to select another back-haul carrier, which should come on-line “very soon“. At present it’s not known whom the ISP has selected but the new carrier terms and service proposition are said to be closely matched with their existing supply from BT.
Meanwhile the Managing Director of business ISP Fluidata, Piers Daniell, told ISPreview.co.uk that Kennard might have “got the wrong end of the stick“. Daniell noted that AAISP does pay them for service and support (through the Service Exchange Platform) but they “don’t own O2s network so we are reliant on them to investigate and propose a solution“. Daniell felt that Fluidata had also been “very open” with AAISP about “where the issues lie and how it will be resolved“.
Piers Daniell added:
“There is a planned upgrade for the exchange but that is out of our control obviously and is scheduled to happen in April which will give more bandwidth to the network. I think his point on ‘unlimited’ and ‘business’ services is unfair though because we have never had to warn anyone over usage and the only issue has come from BE’s own direct consumer traffic having an impact on the business services.
As you know this is down to one or two super users paying a lower amount for a consumer product and hence trying to rein in their usage is a sensible step until more backhaul traffic is available. If anything we are trying to give priority to his customers and solve his issue.”
Daniell anticipates that O2/BE’s new converged core network should ultimately help by delivering more control and better protection for the separation of business and consumer traffic. “Considering how long O2s network has been in place and its popularity I think they have done a lot to alleviate core network traffic whereas other networks have always been playing catch-up,” said Daniell to ISPreview.co.uk.
Fluidata’s Service Exchange Platform claims to have access to over 16 national networks and has offered to “support moving [AAISP] to an alternative network such as TalkTalk” if the O2 network isn’t working out as well as had been hoped.
UPDATE 23rd Feb 2013
Now O2 have joined BE in warning super-heavy users about their usage and threatening disconnection if they refuse to change. It’s perhaps preferable for them to remove a few consumers than to lose whole ISPs as clients from their wholesale division.