For some years, Andrews & Arnold (known as AAISP) have been monitoring each broadband circuit to every customer once a second. They developed this system to resolve problems with packet loss and excessive latency and it now forms a standard tool available to their technical support and indeed their customers to identify problems, often before BT Wholesale may even be aware of them. With an increasing number of customers on many exchanges, identifying a fault and localising it is becoming easier.
The 'ping' packets which are used to monitor each line only take up a small amount of the bandwidth available so do not cause any visible slowdown in the service but AAISP claim that they have identified patterns which indicate specific types of problems. This helps to identify situations such as where a Sky box is connected without a microfilter, saving the time of sending a BT engineer out to investigate. This has helped identify a recent problem with BT's equipment:
AAISP and WatchFront Electronics hope to launch a new version of the FireBrick product later this year which allows ISPs of all sizes to take advantage of the same monitoring for their own customers. This device would be hosted by the ISP and is specifically designed to cope with the high volume of ping traffic generated for this monitoring.
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