Tuesday afternoon turned out to not be a good April Fools day for many. Internet Central released this statement, effectively meaning that at present they are unable to connect all those people who ordered the 1Mbps and 2Mbps 50:1 contention services from them. This is because of restrictions put on the service, that Internet Central and their partner were not aware of, namely BT only allows 74 virtual paths to be connected to each ATM connection. In other words the problem is at the point where the connection is handed over to the service providers control, the 'In Span Handover' element of the BT Datastream product.
In plain english this means, that only 74 exchanges can be connected to each backhaul pipe that Internet Central and their partner have in place. They had planned more, certainly enough pipes to meet demand but with a higher number of paths per pipe. This restriction means more pipes will be needed to carry the data, or a technical work around be found. Internet Central only became aware of the problem on Tuesday, as the result of BT refusing any further orders for virtual paths to link exchanges up, in fact it was a matter of some days between the last successful order and BT passing back the information we are lead to believe.
What can users do? Well Internet Central are contacting people who have orders in the pipeline, if your exchange has a virtual path already connected you should be OK. Otherwise it is sit tight and wait - a 512kbps BT IPstream at a reasonable price is being offered to those unfortunates who will not be getting the fast service immediately.
Internet Central have told us that they are endeavouring to get more exchanges connected to the ATM backhaul, either by raising the limit of 74 or finding pre-existing ATM links that can be used for the service.
The whole problem is very fluid, conference calls are happening to try and resolve things, so if you are affected do not make a snap decision. If all goes well the situation should become a lot clearer over the next few days. The actual technical limitations are something that will affect any other suppliers attempting to provide this service nationally, so unless they previously knew about this limit, they are likely to be caught.
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