- Bobby Vassallo
As Charles leased office space in Addison (TX) for his big company move from the West Coast, his focus was “location, location, location.” Having learned this adage in college, Charles surmised that if he was centrally located and with reasonable office space costs, it would work out. Indeed, it was not that simple. With a 5 year lease and a five year option, he went about buildout. His staffer called the local incumbent/monopoly/carrier for phone and internet. “Oops! We’ve already signed the lease!”
As most every company knows, Dallas-area internet is spotty, at best. Had Charles focused on “capacity, capacity, capacity” first, he’d been in pricier real estate. He had the necessary internet horsepower to run his tech company on California internet, but was Texas.
Dallas’ legacy carriers promise all kinds of things. 100 Megabit generally means (only) download speeds. Promised upload speeds would be 10 megabit. If that doesn’t work, they’ll provide you 200 Megabit, but 10 Megabit of upload. When you cry, they’ll give you 300, or their limit of 400, but still 10 or so on the upload. Charles was devastated by lack of upload for simple cloud services he enjoyed as routine in California. As he typed his complaint letter, he had to wait for the text characters to populate the screen, common on Office365 and bad network.
Excepting Austin, Texas is devoid of good internet. A promised 100 by 10 megabit can be 60 x 6, or less. Do you hold any naive thought whether the carriers play this game as common practice? There exists no oversight and our supposed oversight is completely compromised. So let’s talk about the actual internet you receive.
Apples to apples, if you are on a true, fiber, speed of light network, 100x100 would/should be exactly that. Your data backups stream in real time, your Office365 never hiccups or waivers. When you speediest, you’ll see almost no “ping rate” and your jitter non-existent. Speed tests, now compromised by the carriers, hide their results, leaving out one major piece of the puzzle. LATENCY. When on an old copper network from most any of these legacy providers, latency and jitter are a major issue. VoIP phones are a constant frustration and backups fail when big latency exists. Most speed tests don’t even show latency; this most important factor.
A problem in Addison and around the Dallas Metroplex is the “appearance of fiber to your premise.” Your carrier says, “yes, Charlie. We are bringing in new fiber and it will solve all your problems.” Here you go again. The copper network box on the corner gets a piece of fiber run from it to you. You see the bright and shiny new fiber and are delighted with your new-found capabilities. Alas, nothing has changed on their network except the “end” they brought into your room. Imagine a 16 lane freeway brought to your door, but a block away, it is back to a one lane road. Disinformation abounds.
Hopping is one of the biggest contributors to latency; that word carriers want to avoid. If you go to WhiteHouse.Gov, a trace route on your major carrier might show 35 hops, meaning that they had no direct route to your requested site. So, they shipped your packets the best they could. A trace route from Dallas might run to Houston, Atlanta, Miami, Madrid, London, Dublin, Boston, New York and down to DC with several other stops along the way. Each of these locations has a seemingly fast router, only slowing your search milliseconds. Problem is, each hop aggregates more and more latency, plus, one bad-acting server (perhaps, Dublin) adds .8 milliseconds while most only add .222 per hop. At the end of the trip, now at WhiteHouse.Gov, you have huge latency which could have been avoided by proper routing; something legacy networks haven’t bothered to fix, or can’t.
Proper routing means that the carrier “peers” with as many heavily-visited sites as possible so that when you hit “enter,” you are immediately on the site, quicker than the eye. North Texas Fiber, in Dallas, is within one hop of the (almost) 300 sites Charlie is most likely to visit.
While we welcome tech companies fleeing California, let me issue the warning. Make sure to check “connectivity” before location. Once that lease is signed, you may be stuck.
Originally published at https://bobbyvassallo.com on April 8, 2020.