The Residential Broadband Users’ Association

August 1st, 2001

Rogers Meeting Agenda:

  • Network Architecture Issues, Problems and Planned Improvements
Presented by Dermot O'Carroll, Senior VP of Network Engineering and Operations, Rogers Cable

Presentation Outline:

  1. Update of current initiatives and network upgrades
    1. headend CMTS deployments and regional transport network upgrades added much capacity
    2. Ontario DWDM optical fiber ring now completely in place
    3. Ottawa to be on the DWDM ring within 1-2 weeks of meeting
    4. ex-Shaw areas completely converted to run off of @Home's backbone
    5. backbone redundancy (second fiber route to Buffalo) to be live next month
    6. third fibre route through Windsor to be up in 2-3 months
    7. fiber in place to CANIX/TORIX for increased Canadian peering

  2. DOCSIS deployment
    1. currently in “field testing” stage
    2. 100% deployment by Feb/Mar 2002
    3. Rogers will have full provisioning control over DOCSIS right from the start
    4. triple redundancy for DHCP and DNS services

  3. Rebuild of network
    1. the central portion of Greater Toronto Area to be complete by Dec 2001 / Jan 2002

  4. Customers abusing the service
    1. extremely large and consistent downloads (e.g. a gigabyte per day or more, every day) by a small minority of the subscriber base, wreaks havoc on the service for everyone else
    2. non-casual servers (i.e. high bandwidth, usually advertised, sometimes carrying illegal material) cause similar problems, particularly peak hours
    3. abuse of the service to the detriment of others will not be tolerated by Rogers; they will first warn and later disconnect abusers upon noncompliance with the initial warning
    4. disconnection due to abuse is generally a rare phenomenon, since those warned almost always cease their abusive activity immediately

  5. @Home initiatives
    1. new e-mail capacity and architecture to be deployed over the coming months

  6. Conclusions
    1. all network upgrades and initiatives are now on track and progressing well
    2. management’s objective is for Rogers@Home to be the best broadband internet service in all of North America

  • Customer Service Issues, Problems and Planned Improvements
Presented by Vic Pollen, Director of Customer Care and Operations, Rogers@Home
  • Presentation not given as originally planned
  • Time for presentation was turned into a Q&A; period (perhaps 15 minutes in length), where clarifications were sought on RBUA agenda items
  • All customer service issues were addressed earlier in the meeting, with the items on the association's agenda
  • Any clarifications provided at this point shall be listed within the responses below

RBUA Meeting Agenda:

Current Issues

1. Shaw -> Rogers Cable Asset Swap and Integration

  • several major unforeseen problems run into by Rogers when integrating ex-Shaw subscribers and performing congestion relief
  • ex-Shaw systems originally had different IP management in place; IP theft was rampant in ex-Shaw areas; some subscribers were using 10+ public IP addresses on their home LANs
  • Shaw didn’t use contiguous IP blocks- Rogers does; integration was difficult under these circumstances
  • customer provisioning database had to be rebuilt
  • major congestion relief for all ex-Shaw areas was supposed to commence in May; was pushed back to beginning of July due to the above issues
  • all ex-Shaw areas now completely converted and integrated
  • congestion relief done everywhere except for West Hill / McNicoll in Scarborough (requires new fiber to be laid – will be complete by end of Sept, or beginning of Oct, 2001)

2. Mail server issues

  • @Home is working with Brightmail to offer an opt-in spam filtering program
  • service failures, although far less common than before, are still occurring
  • major mail server outage on July 9th the result of an admitted @Home snafu
  • outage the result of an "unauthorized" procedure being performed in Redwood City, California
  • mail (SMTP) failures reported on July 23rd and July 24th the result of the SirCam worm
  • mail traffic was over 2.5x the previous “norm” during propagation of SirCam
  • mail architecture will be permanently moving from a regional, distributed topology, to being a completely centralized server farm in California

3. News Server and Corporate Censorship Issues

  • news1.rdc2.on.home.com ( replaced a few days before this meeting; binary retention times should be much improved for subscribers allocated to this server (mainly ex-Shaw)
  • new @Home news hub to be deployed very soon on the East Coast; binary retention should be increased all-around
  • Rogers will look into the newsgroup censorship issue

4. Disclosure of Information to Customers

  • entire subscriber call histories are apparently available and have been available for some time; histories go as far back as the Rogers Wave days
  • Rogers will investigate trouble tickets continuing to be closed without subscribers' knowledge or consent
  • much to our chagrin, a proper network status page will most likely not be implemented in the near future; this is due to Rogers's concern that their effort would not be duplicated by Bell
  • the announcement of outages on Rogers Community Television may not be possible, due to logistical issues; since the end of April, however, scheduled maintainance notices have been regularly displayed on this medium

5. Excite@Home’s Financial Situation

  • a contingency plan is in place, so that in the event of Excite@Home's dissolution, subscribers would be unaffected
  • Rogers maintains that Excite@Home will survive without any problems
  • several large MSO's have a vested interest in keeping @Home operational

6. Backbone, Peering and Redundancy Issues

  • Sprintlink's connections to @Home's backbone to be upgraded within 30-40 days
  • @Home makes every attempt to route around Bell Nexxia's congestion
  • peering at York Mills ended due to the former providers pulling the plug on those connections; site will be used again in the future
  • new OC-48 into into building that houses CANIX/TORIX to allow private peering with ex-CANIX participants (i.e. Bell Nexxia, IBM Canada, AT&T; Canada, UUNET Canada, etc.)

7. Cablemodem Provisioning

  • all provisioning problems to be cleared up upon full DOCSIS deployment in Feb/Mar 2002

Revisited / Pending Issues

8. Local Congestion, Saturation and Overcrowding

  • recent saturation problems with the OC-48 ring covering SWO / GTA have been fully resolved
  • regular segmentation to continue in the ex-Shaw areas
  • saturated data segments are immediately flagged and investigated for problems and/or abuse
  • Ottawa region to be swept for congestion around the end of this month

9. Customer Support Issues

  • Rogers is fully committed to keeping minimal hold times with no busy signals
  • all e-mails to support should be answered within 24 hours
  • as stated above, the trouble ticket problems will be investigated
  • also as stated above, full subscriber call histories are available and accessible by Rogers

10. Compensation / Credit for Faulty or Nonexistent Service

  • this issue was not at all addressed due to the pending $75 million class action lawsuit brought against Rogers Cable

11. Additional Server Issues

  • Rogers will investigate issue with DHCP servers only responding to broadcast requests
  • static configurations are discouraged by Rogers, but are not illegal; DHCP should be used whenever possible
  • Rogers cannot be held accountable by statically configured subscribers who lose their connectivity during a resegmentation or IP renumeration
  • Rogers will notify many statically configured subscribers via e-mail if a resegmentation or IP renumeration is imminent
  • DHCP servers still somewhat unreliable in RDC2, which serves ex-Shaw subscribers; upgrades and additional server deployments planned; extra DHCP clusters will be added
  • DNS and HTTP proxies put on separate clusters
  • DNS resolution problems unknown before now; will be investigated by @Home
  • @Home’s EFnet IRC server was taken offline in Sept 2000 due to abuse; it was never intended for production use in the first place; issue now moot, since @Home subscribers are allowed on many more servers than in the past

12. DOCSIS Details

  • DOCSIS modem trial began in July
  • DOCSIS deployment to commence in Sept/Oct 2001; each region must first be provisioned before deployment can start
  • Rogers currently has no plans in place regarding DOCSIS billing changes
  • monthly modem rental fee is pure speculation at this point- nothing is planned by Rogers right now
  • service tiers are being looked into, but nothing is even close to being finalized at this point
  • modem vendors will be RCA/Thomson, Ericsson and Toshiba
  • CMTS is Cisco, DOCSIS 1.0 compliant

Important Odds and Ends
  • estimated duration of meeting was 3 hours
  • on our end, Jason deCourcy arrived late due to traffic and had to leave early; was present for roughly half of the meeting
  • on Rogers end, John Tory arrived late due to a concurrent meeting and had to leave early; was present for more than half of the meeting
  • due to Mr. Tory's imminent early departure, the association's agenda, which was to be attended to after both of the Rogers presentations, was addressed immediately following Dermot O'Carroll's presentation
  • Vic Pollen's presentation was to take place following our completion of the group's agenda, but most of the questions ended up being answered earlier; turned into a short Q&A; session
  • on Excite@Home's end, Glenn Beeswanger had to leave early; was present for roughly 75% of the meeting
  • any unfamilar definitions contained within this report can be thoroughly uncovered and researched at http://www.pcwebopaedia.com/ and http://whatis.com/

Prepared by Christopher Weisdorf

President and Technical Director,
Residential Broadband Users’ Association

Major contributions by:

  • Bryan Samis, Senior Member, Toronto
  • Rob Borek, Senior Member, Kitchener-Waterloo
  • Wojtek Zlobicki, Senior Member and Regional Representative, Mississauga and Brampton

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