....er... because the rest of the internet doesn't operate on a 2MB contended line. maybe :/
It seems our completely fictitious support fox Gloria has been blogging again. It is my contention that the post is interesting nonetheless.
I would welcome your comments.
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....er... because the rest of the internet doesn't operate on a 2MB contended line. maybe :/
Yes, nearly everything is contended, including spending within a school. One thing that is not contended is my responsibility to get the best value for the students at my place of employment. If LA provision of broadband was good value, then there would not be a contention with the contention between spending contention and bandwidth contention. As it was, the value proposition of LA broadband provision was so poor for the students I am responsible for, that moving away from the LA was one of the most uncontentious decisions I've ever had to 'sell'. Saying Good riddance to our local 'Gloria' has been Great.
Last edited by pcstru; 20th November 2012 at 08:18 PM.
I guess on this forum, it's a bit like teaching Granny to suck eggs, because us technical types know all about contention and bandwidth etc. but when one of the major selling points any service provider makes when trying to win business is the fact that they're putting in a uncontended line, that might sound great to the uninformed and could skew a decision.
ISPs don't seem to market the unconteded lines as much as they just guarantee speeds now usually using a speed checker between yourself and the ISP to rule out any "contention"
The question to ask doesnt seem to be 'am I contended or uncontended?' but 'what is my contention ratio?' as ultimately it seems to be that which is going to make the difference.
Whilst home users may find themselves floating somewhere between 20:1 or 50:1 contention ratios, business users want to be on a much better ratio than this, the best possible being 1:1.....
Last edited by RTFM; 21st November 2012 at 10:07 AM.
Does she not miss the point, that a school isn't using an uncontended line to visit just one website at once. Lots of people are visiting lots of websites, so you aren't trying to get an uncontended line to each website in the world, but get the best connection possible.
And it seems that members of a *community* have seemed to miss the reference to COIN. It seems to me that if anyone mentions the idea of working together to have a collectively appropriate service then they are accused of forgetting the responsibility of an individual in an individual school to get the best deal.
Don't get me wrong ... I know the pressures of making sure that everything is fine for your school, and that the intense competition between schools, the shortfall in funding and the anti-centralisation agenda which is out there makes it difficult to justify thinking of others.
The politics behind who runs things is also an interesting thing ... and I'll make no friends (and lose some) when I say that the power battle between LA and School, when done at a technical level, is petty, often wrongly placed and is often not done for the benefit of the school but for the benefit of individuals (and this applies on both sides to be completely honest).
Gloria raises an interesting point about sharing of lines (which applies in other grids when you consider back hauls, exchange locations, etc) and the impact on other schools should one decide to listen to spin and hype.
No disrespect is meant to colleagues in ISPs, the movement away from using contention but to congestion to describe the exact same thing has not helped. It has just put another marketing term in and it will not be long until it gets abused as well.
I could rant on a number of things around this ... the politics of LA / RBC control, of schools power struggles, of the wealth of collective expertise sometimes hiding the individual lack of knowledge, the lack of CPD for school technical staff and so on ... but I would just say that Gloria deserves a break for highlighting an important area where more mis-selling is likely to occur in the coming years. Of course ... contention / congestion is not the only think to consider ... and some of the extra support that some schools need is often missed by some of the membership here ... remembering that most of the regular members are the more adept, more capable and more open to sharing. It is a shame that not all schools are in that position.
I find centralised providers for 'the greater good' are all politics and no substance, at least around here. They will go on and on about helpfully managing this and that for you while locking you out of all sorts of stuff and charging you four to five times over the odds for their lacklustre 'service'.
Our new mindless overlords are all for a new NEN (national education network) which they have pretty much admitted already in the planning stage will shutdown all the nice up-to-date and practilly free stuff we run now like internal DirectAccess / VPN / RemoteApp servers for their 'better' pay for filth. These are the same idiots who can't even scrape together enough tech to pay their own staff and bring down entire regions with broadcast storms becacuse no-one there knows about broadcast domains.
Generally in what I have had to deal with centralised education networks are several steps down from a 1980s BBS in both speed and reliability and are more childish and unreliable than the traditional 14 year old running it from their bedrooms.
It will of course take another decade of pain before the powers that be discover that they were wrong / their bribes from Telescum run out but by then another whole generation of school kids will have been victimised by this silly game of top trumps with the loudest and possibly bribiest voices winning out in the we know best competition.
In the above 'plan' sure a single 1GB/s pipe will be more than enough for every school using Google Services. Its already at 60% plus with less than 10% of the schools on it and their are still no plans for upgrade.
At least with a corporate provider you get a fair shake at a decent amount of resources unlike the usual EDU overpromise and under deliver situation.
Last edited by SYNACK; 21st November 2012 at 02:54 PM.
I'm afraid our experience of LA support was terrible (they were unresponsive to support issues, often simply wrong and often misleading). We stuck with it for too long because of the 'common good', but in the end we have over 2000 students paying over the odds (compared to market) to share an inadequate (n)Mbs service (where n was expressed as single digit!). The school down the road with 400 students got the same (n)Mbs (so student contention was much better) and paid less.
For all services in schools paying for the exact same service based on ability to pay (shown by number of learners) rather than paying for what you get is always a contentious issue (remembering that some tools from RBCs / LAs are used on an individual user basis such as filtering, email, etc). It is the same across lots of areas, including health, the Post Office, rail services and so on.
One of the problem with contracts is that to get the aggregated benefit over a long period (and also reducing risk) the legal hoops are a nightmare. In the same way that $ISP can decide that they are no longer offering a service (eg BT pulling out bonding kit to make space for FTTC ... even though it is not being delivered there for 18-24 months is one that I think was covered before) and just turn it off ... even if you are making good use of it. Google did the same with a number of really good tools, but since you aren't paying or have a good lock on the delivery of that service then you don't have a leg to stand on. This is part of the risk that needs to be understood when buying into something (for 'buying' also take it to mean investing time and effort, as well as hard-earned cash).
I'm not saying that RBCs / LAs are for everyone ... and some compromises are needed (on both sides) but having seen the good and bad that arises from people not understanding even the contentious area of contention ... I think Gloria has a good point that shouldn't be ignored just because it comes from an RBC.
Gloria's argument is somewhat spurious. Yes, everything is contended. Our electricity supply is contended - if everyone in Minehead turned everything they own on at once, the local substation would probably pop. However, for normal day to day life, everybody gets the service they want - they can turn their lights on in their home when they get back from work, and work can turn on their lights during the day. Simple.
Internet connectivity in schools has to work in a similar way - and with LAs and RBCs it simply doesn't at present. Artificial limits are put in place in order to justify providing poorer schools with better connections, thereby limiting higher users. I've seen this first hand - we were told about 5 years ago that our 2Mbit connection was never being maxed out, so we didn't need anything more. What they failed to realise was that the reason it was never maxed out was that it was so slow and unreliable that no-one used it!
Simply put - if an LA/RBC wishes to keep schools as customers, then they have to accept that network speed is the key thing that they have to fight on, along with price. Schools will put up with being limited in what they can do (for example, Skype isn't useable here, and if we want to use video conferencing, we have to book time on the WAN to do so), if they get a good speed for a good price. If either of those things aren't right, they will leave.
So, yes, contention is always going to exist - but if someone has a 100Mbit line in their school, they can be sure to expect to be able to get 100Mbit from it when they need to. If they don't, then they will consider that service to be a failure.
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