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    Wow.

    It’s disappointing how slow the roll-out of fast fibre broadband in the UK has been. A couple of years ago I was living in central London, with 67Mb/s the top download speed I could get. Of course, this was asymmetric, so the upload speed was even worse. After several months, Hyperoptic wired the building up with fibre and I could get a symmetric gigabit connection, which was fantastic.

    Then I had to move slightly further out, still in the London area and still with a fibre connection, but now the best I can get is asymmetric 550Mb/s down / 35Mb/s up. Yes, this is still really fast, but… it’s so much worse than it could be!

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      In Cambridge, I have BT’s FTTP package, which is 900 Mb/s down, 110 Mb/s up. I don’t know why they do the asymmetric thing, I’d more happily pay for a 500 Mb/s symmetric link. CitiFibre is rolling out a parallel fibre network, though it doesn’t seem reliable. Folks I know using it frequently report downtime and often have poor quality in video calls and so I suspect that they’re not getting anything like their promised 1000Mb/s symmetric bandwidth.

      Generally, with 900Mb/s downloads, the bottleneck is elsewhere. A lot of servers top out at 200-400 Mb/s, so with wired GigE I can make a second fast connection somewhere else but can’t get more speed from a single download location. With 802.11ac, the WiFi is more often a bottleneck than the wired connection. I don’t have any 11ax hardware yet, in theory it should move the bottleneck back.

      Upgrading the wiring in my house to handle more than GigE is probably a lot of effort, so I doubt that I’d get much benefit from a faster connection - I only upgraded the switches from 100Mb/s to 1Gb/s a couple of years ago after GigE equipment prices dropped to the dirt-cheap price that I paid for the 100Mb/s hardware I’ve had for 10-15 years. 10GigE switches seem to cost about 50 times as much as 1GigE ones, so I’m in no hurry to upgrade.

      I remember the upgrade from 2400baud to 14.4 Kb/s and then to 28.8 Kb/s as big jumps that made it possible to load images on web pages by default most of the time. The jump to a 512 Kb/s cable modem in a shared house was a huge improvement. First, because it was always on, but it meant that downloading entire videos or Linux ISOs was feasible (though with some traffic shaping at the router, especially so that someone using BitTorrent didn’t saturate the upstream and prevent ACK packets getting through for everything else. I learned to use PF / ALTQ on OpenBSD from one my housemates solving that problem). I was living with geeks and so when the 1Mb/s option came along we jumped on it and had enough spare bandwidth that we could listen to decent-quality Internet radio. I did set up a repeater for Radio Paradise so that we weren’t using half of the bandwidth to all download the same stream though.

      I think the provider (NTL, later Virgin Media) upgraded us to 5 Mb/s and then 10 Mb/s on the same price. That was, again, a big jump because we didn’t need to restrict usage at all. I stayed on the 10 Mb/s connection (by then living by myself) as it went from the most expensive package to the cheapest, and as the cheapest connection went from 10-20-30 Mb/s. Streaming video came out around then and Virgin Media did some annoying rate limiting, which meant if you watched an hour of HD video at peak times you’d be throttled for a few hours. They stopped that after a year or so.

      I think I stayed on 30 Mb/s until moving here. I moved from the cheapest FTTP offering to the most expensive during lockdown when working from home and wanting to make sure the Internet wasn’t a bottleneck (again, mostly for upstream) but 99% of the time I don’t notice the difference. We can play cloud games on Xbox game pass and stream HD video at the same time, but I think you could do that on the 56 Mb/s connection too. Backing up from my NAS to the cloud is faster and downloading games from Game Pass or gog.com is faster (a lot faster from gog.com), but I increasingly don’t install games locally given how good the streaming option is (Game Pass pops up a thing saying ‘Install this game for the best experience’, but I don’t consider worse graphics and longer loading times from my Xbox One S versus the Xbox Series X in the cloud to be the best experience).

      Maybe 3D AR things will drive up the demand again, but since we passed 50Mb/s we’ve been well in diminshing-returns land, unless you have a large family that all wants to watch different HD films at the same time.

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        I don’t know why they do the asymmetric thing,

        Sometimes the underlying infrastructure is asymmetrical, e.g. with GPON. But mostly, I guess, the big end user ISP optimize their network for incoming traffic from big content provider.

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          I suspect it’s also to discourage people from using residential connections to operate servers.

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            It’s usually because residential users tend to consume content rather than produce content. Offering a symmetrical 200 Mbit connection is generally less useful than a 300/100 Mbit connection. This also lets ISPs cost cut more as they try and use available channels for downlink rather than uplink. There’s limits to how far this goes as you definitely don’t want to saturate your uplink while trying to consume content, but that’s typically why.

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              This is exactly right. People enshrine into technologies and solutions the approaches people are currently taking. This means asymmetry was an engineering shortcut to maximize the usefulness of the technology for what people actually needed.

              And then the rest of us upload images to the cloud and actually get around to saturating that upload, dreaming of a world with symmetric links.

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              Also the reason why you can’t get static IPv6 prefixes at most provider.

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          Hello from the North of England! I’m jealous; there are certainly benefits to moving away from London (I lived there for 15 years) but when it comes to internet speeds the saying “it’s grim up north” certainly rings true!

          Speedtest.net reports 25 Mb/s download, 5 Mb/s upload, and 29 ms ping times for my current connection. And that’s a fantastic improvement since I moved 5 months ago: at my old house a few miles away the fastest connection money could buy was 19 Mb/s down, and just over 1 Mb/s upload. I work from home, and Zoom calls can be rough when others in the house are playing online games.

          Edit: fixed MB/s -> Mb/s (oops)

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            I still only get 28Mb/s down in zone 3 of London. Our infrastructure is generally awful.

            By the way you should know there’s a big difference between “Mb” and “MB”.

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              I’m not sure where Speedtest.net’s edge is, but 29 ms ping times can be killer for video calls depending on the latency to Zoom’s closest video edge. Is the 29 ms over WiFi?

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                That’s interesting. Yes, it’s over Wi-Fi. I don’t own any computers with a physical network port in any more, but I can try to see if I can do a Speedtest from the router. If I get better ping times from that I’ll try to stretch a cable via the loft to my office and buy a usb-c network dongle.

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                  On my home network, speed tests tend to read a latency of 35ms ping under load on WiFi. Latency stays lower when I’m using Ethernet (and I’ve corroborated similar numbers using iPerf.) Zoom performance is way better on my home network with an ethernet connection even if I’m the only one using it (many fewer stutters or freezes). When both my partner and I are using Zoom over Wifi, the experience is pretty terrible unless one of us gets on Ethernet (since it’s easy to have frames collide on Wifi, causing retries and latency on the RTP “connections” Zoom uses to send video).

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                    pinging your gateway may also give you a an approximate picture of how much latency your Wi-Fi leg is contributing to your score, but with less effort.

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                      Thanks, that’s a great idea. Running mtr from my laptop to the domain of my ISP yields this for the first two hops:

                                                             Packets               Pings
                       Host                                Loss%   Snt   Last   Avg  Best  Wrst StDev
                       1. 192.168.1.1                       0.0%    67   26.6   7.5   1.8 124.2  15.9
                       2. fritz.box                         0.0%    67    3.2   5.2   2.5  21.0   3.6
                      

                      192.168.1.1 is a TP-link mesh-networking thing that’s plugged into fritz.box (my ADSL router) with a short cat-5 cable.

                      Walking through the ADSL router’s options looking for a speed-test option it looks like it too supports mesh, so I will try to make it the primary. That might let me discard a hop some of the time? I can see the router itself from half my house, but tend to connect to the mesh. (It has a cooler network name ;-) )

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                        Does your ADSL router have an AP as well? If not then this is standard. Your packet first goes to the AP which then pushes your packet to the router and then to the upstream ISP router.

                        Try running an mtr to a remote and see how much time is spent getting to your AP.

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                Honestly the state of broadband in the capital was extremely dire 8 years ago. It doesn’t surprise me that you’re not having a good time but I am impressed you’re getting those speeds.

                I was on 16Mbit and it would die every night. 3 places in wildly different areas had the same awful oversubscribed ADSL thing. I even ranted about it at length: http://blog.dijit.sh/the-true-state-of-london-broadband

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                If I get 2Mb/s I’m feeling lucky! Totally jealous.

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                  Is any server really going to send you data fast enough to justify a huge pipe like that? I have a measly 200mbps connection (1% of that!) and I rarely see my computer receiving anything close to its capacity. Maybe just when I download a new version of Xcode from Apple.

                  (Obligatory grandpa boast about how my first modem was 110bps — on a Teletype at my middle school — and I’ve experienced pretty much every generation of modem since, from 300 to 1200 to 2400 to… Of all those, the real game changer was going to an always-on DSL connection in the late 90s.)

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                    It’s easy to fill a Gigabit line these days in my experience. With a faster uplink, now all devices at my home can fill at least a Gigabit line, at the same time :)

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                      Filling 1Gbps is trivial, but pumping 25Gbps data would be rather challenging, if you fully utilize the 25Gbps duplex with the NAT. 25Gbps on each direction means 100Gbps throughout for the router. That’s a huge load on the router, for both software and hardware. For benchmarks, you could recent hourly billed hertzer vps, they have 10Gbps connection with a fairly cheap price. I wondering how’s the peering status is this ISP, the 25Gbps doesn’t really mean anything unless you have huge pipes connected to other ASN. Even with dual 100Gbps, the network can only serve 8 customer at full speed, which is :(

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                        init7 peers with hetzner directly, other customers report getting 5+ Gbit/s for their backups to hetzner servers :)

                        The hetzner server I rent only has a 1 Gbit/s port. Maybe I’ll rent an hourly-billed one just for the fun of doing speed tests at some point.

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                          In the mean time, I found this product interesting when searching for ccr2004, at msrp of 199$.

                          https://mikrotik.com/product/ccr2004_1g_2xs_pcie

                          The 2C/3C low-end “cloud” servers has full 10G connection, and it’s available across multiple regions.

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                            What discourages me massively about this device is clunky integration like this:

                            This form-factor does come with certain limitations that you should keep in mind. The CCR NIC card needs some time to boot up compared to ASIC-based setups. If the host system is up before the CCR card, it will not appear among the available devices. You should add a PCIe device initialization delay after power-up in the BIOS. Or you will need to re-initialize the PCIe devices from the HOST system.

                            Also active cooling, which means the noise level is likely above the threshold for my living room :)

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                      DigitalOcean directly peers with my ISP and I can frequently saturate my 1 Gbit FTTH. I use NNCP to batch Youtube downloads I might be interested in and grab them on demand from DO at 1 Gbit, which I have to say is awesome, cause I can download long 4/8K videos in seconds.

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                        It’s pretty easy to saturate that symmetrically once you have multiple people & devices in the mix, eg) stream a 4K HDR10 movie in the living room while a couple of laptops are sending dozens of gigs to backblaze and the kid is downloading a new game from steam.

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                          Not really 4k streaming isn’t that scary, the highest bitrate I’ve ever seen is the spider man form sony at 80Mbps, bb backup over wifi maybe use 1Gbps, and steam download is also capped at 1Gbps. So, it only uses 3Gbps, far from saturated.

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                            Yeah sorry, I meant it’s not hard to saturate GP’s 200Mbps connection. The appeal of 25Gbps is that you’re not going to saturate it no matter what everyone in the house is doing, for at least the next few years.

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                        Notably, I am not living far off but in one of the few (I think) urban areas in Switzerland without fiber. There are fiber7 pops in the surrounding areas. Really wonder how this black spots happen.

                        As an amateur creator, I am mostly annoyed by the slow upload (20 Mbit/s). And actually the reliability and apparent buffer bloat of my UPC connection.

                        Recently, I saw some people laying fiber down but it doesn’t seem available yet. Maybe soon.