Tag Archives: Internet

Becomming a Communications Provider because of the DEB

I am no longer a “Subscriber” to the internet. I am instead a “Communications Provider” but, what does this mean?

Well, it means I provide some form of Communications to other people at no cost to them and with no contract. In my case I offer Open Public Wifi access for free. It has users using it, and all woks well. I have also made my ISP aware that I am a Communications Provider (infact, it was their idea). There are a number of reasons to do this, the biggest is just to prove how stupid laws can be. The New DEB pretty much makes you guilty of downloading before you’ve even thought about doing it but only as a “Subscriber” (which I now am not). Now, I haven’t downloaded music or video’s, etc for many years. and neither have I bought any. The thought of going to the shop to buy a disk with music on when I’ve not heard any of it and don’t know if I will like it is ludicrous. 5 years ago I downloaded music, if I liked it I went and bought it, if I didn’t like it I quietly discarded it, I don’t really see anything wrong with this. would you go and buy a car without test driving it? would you buy a house without viewing it? no, you wouldn’t. Anyway, I don’t agree with a “guilty until proven innocent” and I dislike being declared “Guilty” on an assumption. I have a network with 10 PC’s why do you think it’s me that’s downloading? could be any of the other people. It is for this reason that I have moved to be a Communications Provider.

I don’t intend on doing any downloading, and maybe I’m making myself automatically guilty by putting myself down as a Communications Provider, but they’re going to have to really prove that *I* was doing the downloading. Given I host public access wifi, good luck with that one. What I’m actually doing is sticking up my middle finger at Labour, and showing them why the law doesn’t work, and why they shouldn’t rush these things through just because there’s an election going on. There’s more important things to worry about.

I think what annoys me the most about this whole thing is the Music Industry, By which I mean the record labels, think they’re losing money, well the artists I saw complaining about people downloading had such shite music I wouldn’t even use it to wipe the dogs arse with. The artists that appears to agree that downloading music could be OK if you could some how monitor it, or limit it, and that it was “The way of the future” are the ones that have good music. The pattern, ah, that’s right, if you write good music people will pay you anyway, if you’re shit people wont. I’m betting everyone that downloaded the music of the complaining artist probably quickly discarded it straight after.

Anyway, back to the point, there are ways around the DEB, and I’m only mentioning one of them here. I’m not the only one doing this, and some ISP’s are advising people do. keep in-mind that an ISP isn’t going to want to send you letters telling you they’re going to disconnect your internet, this would be complete corporate suicide. I advise anyone that can to put themselves down as a Communications Provider, and show the government what’s wrong with their system. Note you can be a Communications Provider even if you just offer the internet to anyone in your own house that is not the “subscriber”, you don’t have to open a network up for public access.

VirginMedia – A Friendly Bunch

Over the past few months myself along with some other residents of Basingstoke, The council, both Basingstoke & Dean and Hampshire County and our M.P. Maria Miller have been in meetings and discussions with some rather large telecomms companies regarding broadband speeds in and around Basingstoke. (More so around, really). This came about with BT releasing that they were going to deploy FTTC to Basingstoke, which has turned out that it’s actually 30% of Basingstoke. A Meeting with them went “OK” it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad, we offended them on a number of points, but showed some good statistics from door knocks about where the demand was. Things like 95% of people have internet and only 19% of those were actually happy with the service, Also that 70% of people would change providers and 60% would pay more to get a faster service.

All interesting information, so you’d think, but BT really didn’t appear all that interested, we have given them dates to get back to us and maybe they’ll surprise us with some good news. However, today we had a meeting with Virgin Media. to start with, it was much more friendly, with the occasional laugh coming from our meeting room. There was very positive feedback about the deployment of Virgin Cable in the area’s that BT have blindly ignored (that is most area’s outside of town).

Currently the eHampshire website only has information regarding FTTC, as this is a new deployment. If, and we hope they do, Virgin Media start a new deployment in Basingstoke, the information will also be in-putted into the eHampshire website.but I advice anyone in Baingstoke that hasn’t already to register their details on the site at http://www.ehampshire.org/ so that we can easily see the area’s in which deployments should take place.

I’m personally looking forward to a deployment from Virgin Media, as this will really show BT that they don’t have the better game, I personally believe with the bad press BT have currently got in and around Basingstoke, a lot of people will be wanting to flee away from them. Come-on Virgin, do us all a favour!

Jason

Basingstoke FTTC Trial(?)

Ok, I’m a tad angry now. BT announced earlier this year that they would be trialling FTTC in Basingstoke, Myself and a few other people I know have been waiting almost impatiently for this, due to the lack of speed and constant line drops.

The line checker to find out what connection people can get was updated with eMLC on Friday 27th, so that ISP’s could see the FTTC on the list, however, it didn’t show up for us!  Is this a mistake? Did they leave us out?

After much frustration, communicating with my (extremely helpful) ISP and a few other people, we have found out that BT are NOT enabling my Cabinet, or any of the Cabinets connecting people I know in Basingstoke, So, what/Who ARE they connecting? it seems a very small percentage (only 77 cabinets) in Basingstoke are actually going to be connected to FTTC, and most ISPs won’t even be trialling it, well, unless there’s someone on the Board of directors in town, anyway (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/11/30/rake_broadband/).

“In Basingstoke, for example, 50% of telephone lines are more than 6km from the exchange, and in Hampshire as a whole a quarter of postcodes get less than 1Mbps.” (Source:BBC : http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8068676.stm)

Logic and common sense would dictate that one would update the cabinets in the areas already well known for poor broadband, like Hatch Warren, Beggarwood and Chineham, but no!  They are installing cabinets in a lot of areas with already reasonable coverage, What sense does this make?

Myself and a few other people in Basingstoke, some who run businesses or work from home have vented our frustration to the person in Basingstoke & Dean Council, who is liaising with BT/Openreach of the roll-out in Basingstoke. We have also been in contact with the Gazette’s news desk. by this afternoon people were getting the response of “you as well, huh?”

Anyone in Basingstoke wanting to vent about this, in-fact, even if you are not particularly interested in having high speed FTTC, but think others should be entitled to have vaguely decent internet in Basingstoke (where, of course most places get less than 2Mb), Then Please. Contact Andy and the Gazette – I won’t put their numbers on here, but you can ask me for them and I shall reveal all, The more people that complain about this the sooner they come to their senses and actually do a REAL trial.

J

UK Internet with BT 21CN

Well, I’ve not posted for a while. and there’s good reason too. I’m always a big fan of Technology, the way it’s moving and what it brings with it. The Internet is one of those things that has been moving relatively rapidly (though maybe not so much for the normal home-user). However with my ISP, I do get to test some nice connections (sometimes) and connect to test networks, with test routers and so on. I even run a router that I have written a bit of code for, so that I can run my IPv6, VPN links, Fail-over connections & some customised routes (including a tunnel system to have IPv6 on my laptop no matter where I am in the world).

Anyway, For those that don’t know, In the UK most of the lines are supplied by BT, This means if you want internet you can choose any supplier you want, but many of them will be using BT lines to your house, and BT equipment to hook it all up. This, however isn’t too bad, or rather, Wasn’t. BT have been rolling out their 21CN network, which I am connected to, this is supposed to be next generation ADSL, when it was first installed, it was OK, and around a month ago it became unusable. My ISP (AAISP) has been attacking BT regarding this problem, and I’m not alone with the problem, there seemed to be a number of people on my exchange that had the same problem. this is what I get on my line:

Jason Line Graph

The Green bars (going up) ar latency on the line, the higher that bar, the slower things are to respond.
The Red bars (going down) are loss on the line – the lower this bar the less things that get to you
The White is a line disconnect
and the green dots are download (from the internet), and reddish-brown is upload (to the internet)

As you can see, if I tried to download anything I got latency (went slow) packet loss (things just didn’t get to me) and line drops. not to mention my download speek was around 50K if I was lucky on a 4mb line. BT have access to these graphs, and persisted for a very long time that there was nothing wrong with the line. Anyway, a couple of nights ago, they admitted there was a problem, and nailed it down to a Cisco IOS bug in some of their routers, and they did some test work on my exchange / BRAS last night, this took them around 45 minutes and all of a sudden my line was alot better. and I could download at my full speed.

This problem with BT (along with a few others) that seem to show just how incompetent BT are at times has pushed my ISP to look into other  wholesale LLU providers, as an extra option on the BT infrustructure. Although I’m not exactly a fan of some LLU providers from what I’ve seen of BT, could they possibly be worse? probably not.

just to note: this isn’t the case that this problem existed, I can deal with that, technology has it’s problems. What I can’t deal with, is companies like BT that have sole control over fixing them, saying there isn’t a problem when they have been given the evidence to show that there is a problem.

I will be looking forward to the FTTC rollout, and will be testing it. Lets hope BT can do a better job with that than they have done with 21CN

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edit:
BT Have finally fixed my line (actually they did this last week) and everything has been working again, and of-course I’m getting my full download-speeds again. still – I’m waiting for FTTC and my ISP have signed up for Be* LLU wholesale – so I may switch to this to get away from BT for a short while. – This turned out to not be a bug in the code, but they had over filled the pipes from Basingstoke…. Thanks BT, Nice going…

The Virus that is Skype

I have not really been around much at home the last few weeks, but I have been on test equipment for my Internet at home with Andrews and Arnold. Today while running through some tests with them I noticed a lot of traffic on my Internet line. Instantly flipping into the mode of “I must sort this” I started searching for clues about what’s going on with the traffic.

I closed all the connections I had open between home and work, and opened a fresh connection and started scanning the traffic, this was around 100 different IP’s all trying to talk to a single IP on my network. However, this was around 10AM, and the system in question (a laptop) had not even been at the house since around 8AM. knowing this, I started to scan the office network, and had the same traffic going to the same machine. This told me I had a machine that was part of a bot-net, so started searching for clue’s on the system without it connected to the network.

3 different virus scanners and 4 malware scanners later I was still scratching my head, and these had taken around 5 hours to complete. so I enabled some more network monitoring, and started monitoring traffic on the laptop at the same time, plugged in the network cable. Instantly all the traffic started again, and this time I had flags to tell me what programs were using this traffic on the system, which told me it was Skype. Closing skype, the traffic all went away.

I hunted around the internet for a short while, and there were not many clues as to a rogue skype client and after to a couple of people I found out that this is by design. Skype talks to everyone it possibly can, and peers calls through other people too. Skype then, have created a very large P2P network, saving them money on servers and bandwidth. Good for them…. maybe….

If you try and block Skype from accessing the Internet, it will use port 80 (HTTP) and 443 (HTTPS) – you can’t block these, as then you can’t browse the Internet. so there’s no real way of blocking Skype, short of blocking everything, or removing it from the system. So here’s where I’m at; Skype will gain access to the Internet by whatever means necessary (RFC2549?) it communicates with every possible other Skype client it can find, and is controlled at a central location (server). for those that don’t know – This is exactly the behaviour of a Bot-net.

some security implications;- this is where it gets slightly fun. Lets say you have Skype, and you wish to call your mum for a chat. Because of the way the system is designed, if there is a blockage on a direct route, it will peer through someone else (each sending and out-going connection to the Peer) let’s say I’m this Peer (and no, I don’t keep disconnecting your session – that’s another peer). So now you’re talking to your mum, and everything seems fine. But with the right software on my system, I can capture the packets that Skype is sending (which I did earlier today) I can then inject those packets into another application, and make it give me the audio from those packets, so I can listen to your conversation. I also have the IP Address of your system, and I have the IP Address of your mums system. I can now start scanning your system(s) to gain access to them, maybe there is a way to make a Skype client that will give me forced entry into your system if you try and peer through me, injecting your system with more virus’s. (This would require deep packet injection, and Skype should be protected against this – but who knows.)

The other issue, at least for me, is I am on a bandwidth limited network, Mostly through choice, I’m not a heavy bandwidth user, but I want lots of specific features. so people making calls through my network uses my bandwidth, which I’m then charged for.

Skype however has no way of turning this option off, it has a (hidden) way of turning it off being a Super-node, this doesn’t eliminate all the traffic, only some of it. and don’t think you’ll be OK because you have NAT – you’re not, and it might be harder to monitor where it’s going from & to.

At 2PM The traffic was still on-going at home. That’s 6 hours after the machine was removed from the network. so my ISP has now blocked all traffic coming to me on that IP Address (I have 30 Routable IP Address’s, and no NAT) I have bodged my DHCP Server to not give that IP to any systems on my network. and I will release all this in 2 days. I’m not talking a trickle of traffic, there was around 20KB/s, which might not sound a lot, but it soon adds up.

The Conclusion here, is Skype has been written to act in the same way that a virus / bot-net works. Will I ever use it again? no. and I will block all traffic to anyone’s laptop if they try and use it on any of the networks I manage. So if you’re coming over anytime soon, and want to have Internet access for more than a few minutes, I suggest removing Skype before connecting to my network. :-)

A Lack of Internet

Ok, so over the past week I’ve been moving house, as some of you may know, However, what this means is there has been no or little Internet at home. I have been able to get online with a mobile “Broadband” dongle, but it’s speed has been varying between completely unusable and completely unbearable. And yes, there is a difference, one allows you to send a message once an hour…

Anyway, if you know me, you’ll also know that I spend my life online. So a week without Internet is like torture for me. One would think that it would give me time to sort some other things out, and to some extent this maybe true, as I now have DVB-S2 card in my media system, but other than setting that up, I really have just been going completely nuts without the internet. But the internet came online on Wedesday, and this is great, after updating all my systems with latest patches, and upgrading the media system, this has had some nice changes, that I’ll go into in another blog.

Not having the Internet for a few days has taught me 1 thing. That is, how much we have come to rely on it. The connection I now have probably costs more than most of yours, as I’ve opted for a business grade line that is with probably the most expensive provider, however, I chose them, because I know them, they’re fantastic, and I’m yet to hear a bad word about them. You get what you pay for.

well, enough for now, I think I have some work to be doing, oh and I need tea bags!