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UPD2 London Fixed Wireless ISP Relish Tackles Stability and CGNAT Concern

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 (1:19 am) - Score 18,099

Fixed 4G wireless broadband ISP Relish (UK Broadband Ltd.), which launched in June, claims to have put right a problem that caused connection drops for some of their early subscribers and has promised to release a limited block of public IPv4 addresses to their consumer customers (at cost) in order to cater for those frustrated by the network’s use of IP address sharing (CGNAT).

The new-ish service, which is technically UKB’s third bash at being a consumer fixed wireless ISP after failing to get the mix right with ‘Netvigator’ and ‘Now’, primarily covers central London via 124MHz of spectrum in LTE (4G) bands 42 and 43 (3.5GHz and 3.6GHz). Home customers who take the service are offered an “unlimited” connection with speeds of up to 50Mbps for just £20 per month (no line rental required).

Suffice to say that the service has proven to be quite attractive, especially to homes that reside in areas where fixed line broadband has failed to deliver even remotely comparable performance, although not all of the early experiences have been positive (teething problems are normal for any new network).

Over the past few months ISPreview.co.uk has received complaints concerning a variety of issues, although the most common have tended to centre around dropped connections (some customers have complained about losing connection several times an hour), flaky after-sales support and the fact customers had no idea that the ISP used Carrier Grade Network Address Translation (CGNAT / IP address sharing) before they subscribed.

The CGNAT issues have been particularly galling for those people who need to use port forwarding, such as multiplayer gamers, or conduct other advanced networking that can be hindered by such systems.

Thankfully Relish aren’t allowing themselves to stay blind to such issues, with a spokesperson for the ISP saying that a “software upgrade on the network” caused most of the connection drops in July 2014. But apparently this has now been largely resolved and “the network remains under close monitoring“.

A Spokesperson for Relish told ISPreview.co.uk:

Since then we have had a small number of localised issues in specific locations that engineers have immediately responded to. We are working hard to ensure we have a reliable and consistent network experience for our customers.”

Relish also confirmed that their Gemtek router does support port forwarding, but in order to use this functionality the end-user will need a public IP address and at present this is only available to their business customers. The provider intends to tackle this issue by releasing a “limited block” of public IPv4 addresses to their home customers from the 1st September 2014, although apparently this will be “subject to some qualifying criteria and an additional monthly fee“.

At present we don’t know what the qualifying criteria will be or how much Relish intend to charge customers for access to their own IPv4 address, which we assume will be a Static IP. However it’s not uncommon for other ISPs to charge an additional fee of around £2 per month to have a Static IP, but this does vary quite a lot. Going forward Relish said that a “longer-term solution” would be to allow customers to use IPv6 addressing.

A Spokesperson for Relish added:

Due to the global exhaustion of legacy IP addresses (IPv4) ISPs around the world have been forced to implement CGNAT solutions to enable a single IP address to be shared by many customers. – this is becoming increasingly common.

We have implemented a solution used by many network operators and ISPs for fixed and mobile services. This was tested extensively prior to launch using a range of applications including online gaming with no issues reported. We do acknowledge that it is difficult to test every scenario that may exist in every application and as a result we are going to release a limited block of public IPv4 addresses to our consumer customers.”

ISPreview.co.uk also queried the status of Relish’s ambition to expand its network outside of London and into other parts of the United Kingdom, although at present the ISP said that they don’t have any “confirmed timescales” for doing this and will instead continue to focus on getting their service right in London first. Fair enough.

UPDATE 29th August 11:46am

Apparently the Static IP option will cost an extra £10 per month on top of the existing service fee, which makes it quite expensive for such a feature.

UPDATE 8th Dec 2014

The problems appear to be continuing (here).

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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