Update From Fibrous Andorra

Hola from the land of melting snow and enlightened fibre.

Had a problem with my termination equipment (no, I don’t mean death devices, I keep away from superbikes and stick to my old Scooby)  that kept overheating – it was -10 outside, god knows what would happen in summer – and dropping my lovely FTTH Internet connection.

Anyway, I called my personal tech support guy – happens to be CTO of Andorra Telecom – and one new unit later I’m back to whizz mode. But just how whizzy? Well, I went down to see the guys at Andorra Telecom and discuss a few ideas – these guys even design and make their own circuit boards for pilot schemes such as temperature sensors and iPhone front-ends etc – and we got onto the subject of just how close to my 100Mbps FTTH “connection” can I actually get?

Well they showed a very fine 96.6Mbps in-house, connecting to their website test page, whereas I’d seen nothing close to that. So, we got onto the subject of low-cost routers and, basically, how crap they are. Now I happen to have a Netgear one that is probably as good as any other 40 euro device (last of the big spenders, eh?) that attaches to my FTTH unit, then via an Ethernet switch – Cisco Catalyst at the moment, but might just as easily be a ProCurve, D-Link, or even c.1999 Nortel Networks switches, just like the ones Avaya recently spent $900m on… Anyway, I’m rambling so – to the gist of the matter; I tested my connection directly into the FTTH termination unit (it has an 10/100 Ethernet port on it), then via the Catalyst only, then via the router, and also via the router in bridged mode, so I was picking up a DHCP address direct from Andorra Telecom.

And guess what – a best of 81.69Mbps when running in any kind of bridged  went down to a best of 41.57Mbps when routing. Of course, if you’re using wireless then this isn’t a bottleneck in itself, but with a wired connection it meant I was losing 50% of my (paid for) bandwidth. And when the monthly cost of the FTTH connection exceeds the total cost of the router, it does suggest that short-changing oneself in this way is not exactly the smartest investment strategy. As it happens I do have an enterprise-strength ProCurve router but it’s bloody noisy. So can someone please provide me with a router that performs at “business” levels but is as silent as a very silent thing indeed (so not a Sky+ box then) so it doesn’t drown out the commentary on Come Dine With Me as I write my blogs…

No wine tip this blog – other than keep the intake up – but some potential alcohol-related news; a mate of mine and yours truly in Andorra are looking at securing local funding to resurrect a micro-brewery just down the road from me that fell on hard times  – watch this space; Andorra Ale might yet appear down your local. And just think of all the “piste” jokes we can do on the pump clips and labels…

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