Reliable High Speed Business Internet Access must include a Backup Solution

At Skyway West we strive to provide the most reliable high speed Internet access for business, but sometimes circumstances arise that are beyond our control.  The best way to ensure a continuous network connection for your business is to have two or more redundant connections, but it can be difficult to use both of them to full advantage. Here’s a solution we came up with recently for a customer fighting a challenge that’s becoming more and more common — theft of copper wire from the telco’s trunk lines.

The customer has several offices in Greater Vancouver. They required a wide-area network that connects their offices together for critical business services like inter-office VoIP, Point of Sale terminals, and general IT use. The customer had an existing WAN based on wireless technology, but they found the wireless network lacked QoS and performed very poorly for VoIP use. Each site had private IP addresses and the customer was maintaining a collection of VPN routers to tie their private network together.

Skyway West set up a new WAN for the customer based on our AnyIP technology. We provided T1 circuits into each of the customer’s offices, with a Skyway West-provided router at each site, and an additional router in our network core to act as the customer’s corporate firewall and primary router for the business. This allowed the customer to retire their old VPN routers and the associated encapsulation overhead. It also allowed us to provide bi-directional QoS priority queuing on their T1 circuits, greatly improving the VoIP call quality for all of their sites.

The customer chose to have us connect the legacy wireless circuits into their site routers as well. Partly due to wireless’s ever-present light packet loss, and partly due to the wireless provider’s traffic charge structure, we decided that bonding the T1 with their wireless was a poor solution. Instead, we configured their network so that wireless is used as a backup, fail-over circuit only. In the event a T1 circuit goes down, the Skyway routers establish a backup VPN tunnel across their wireless network. On restoration of the T1 circuit the wireless returns to an idle state. We also implemented a bi-directional QoS scheme for VoIP on the backup tunnel. With this in place, the VoIP quality over this backup wireless network is better now than when wireless was the sole WAN connection.

Our backup solution has proven itself over and over again, as one of the customer’s shops has been repeatedly victimized by copper cable theft. Rising metal prices have encouraged thieves become more active, particularly in some areas of Surrey and Richmond. It’s usually the big thick trunk cables on the telephone poles that are targeted, and the thieves don’t care that hundreds of customers will be without phone service or knocked offline, sometimes anywhere from 4 to 48 hours. Telco copper carries many services, including voice, DSL, T1 circuits, EoC (Ethernet over Copper), and others. All of these technologies are vulnerable to cable theft.

Our customer has lost their Surrey T1 circuits more than twice in the same month, each time due to theft of Telus trunk cable off the telephone pole in the middle of the night. When this happens we automatically generate an outage alert, notify the customer, and open a ticket with the telco to have the T1 repaired ASAP. In the meantime our backup circuits carry our customer’s critical VoIP and data, and their business carries on without disruption. Given the alternative of extended downtime, there’s no doubt that our backup solution has proved to be extremely worthwhile.