UBS demand catches out Orcon, Telecom

Orcon's customers growing impatient with poor bitstream performance

Unbundled bitstream service pioneer Orcon is blaming Telecom for performance issues some customers are reporting, after finding customers are using far more data than anticipated.

"Our UBS problems are occurring because of congestion on the data circuit between us and Telecom used for UBS, not because we have a shortage of bandwidth — which is capacity from Orcon's network to the Internet," says managing director Seeby Woodhouse.

Woodhouse responded to customer complaints about poor performance with their UBS connections by saying it was caused by congestion on the ATM data circuit between Orcon and Telecom.

"We have been waiting for Telecom to split our UBS traffic across two data circuits, as we are now exceeding the 155Mbit/s of UBS traffic that can be carried on a single ATM circuit. Telecom [is] currently trying to figure out how to migrate half our customer base to the new circuit as this has not been done before."

Woodhouse says Telecom has configured the UBS network to support an average of 24 kbit/s per customer and month. All ISPs face this constraint, including Xtra, and it equates to approximately 10GB of traffic for each customer per month.

However, Orcon itself didn't expect to carry such high levels of traffic either.

"When we did calculations on our $49.95 UBS pricing plan (before we released it) we worked on an estimated average data usage of around 4GB per 256kbit/s UBS user, this being twice the average 2GB of data that our flat rate 128k JetStart users were using at the time," says Woodhouse in an email to customers. Instead, Orcon UBS customers are using around 15GB of traffic a month.

The high average traffic figure means Orcon is exceeding Telecom’s designed dimension of UBS, thus causing congestion, Woodhouse says.

Telecom’s communications and strategy manager of its wholesale services group, Justin Caswell confirms that a second ATM circuit is being installed for Orcon.

Caswell says that Orcon appears to be leading a lot of the market and picking up many high volume users with its retail flat rate plans. However, Caswell says the 15GB average traffic volume is “huge” for average broadband customers.

Asked why Telecom is delivering UBS over ATM instead of cheaper Ethernet as with interim UBS, Caswell says the telco has used the network technology for years and that it still has advantages in some areas, including IP. However, Caswell concedes that Etherenet is cheaper at the edge of networks and adds that Telecom will move to the protocol progressively.

As for the possibility of the above capacity constraints affecting the faster 1 and 2 Mbit/s UBS offerings coming onstream this year, Caswell says Telecom will ensure that there is satisfactory capacity at all parts of its network to deliver the promised products to its service providers as well as end customers.

The capacity issues bedevilling the 256kbit/s UBS currently is something Telecom had to deal with in order to provide the higher-speed plans, Caswell says, when asked if they were in fact the “real technical issues” referred to last year when the telco said it could only deliver the low-speed UBS at the time.

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