In our previous blog posts I have talked about getting a connection from your house to our core network. In this post I want to look at what is a ‘core network’ and what makes a difference when wanting a low latency, high bandwidth connection to support online gaming and e-Sports. I also want to touch on why high capacity is going to be the most important element to handling the new FTTP (full fibre) connections in the market now.
Networks typically have “access layer”, “edge layer” and the core. The edge sits on the entry (Ingress) point and exit (Egress point) of the network facing towards the Internet, the access layer is where your broadband connects, and the core is what connects the edges together. No One runs a collapsed core/ edge design where our routers handle both passing traffic around the network and our external peering (More about peering to follow!).
Access is handed by dedicated broadband routers (LNSes) who are responsible for terminating the incoming broadband sessions and passing these to the core routers for passing to the Internet. These core routers are high capacity, low latency devices specifically designed for this purpose. This allows them to be able to handle more than 1Tb/s (Or 1000Gb/s) worth of data throughput.
One of the challenges of today’s Internet is that it is a medium for delivering everything in our lives, from cat videos through to phone (and video) calls, gaming, shopping… You name it and the network must handle it. This means that devices of old that could handle high bandwidths are now struggling because the criteria for measuring the high capacity was based on maximum transmission efficiency. To explain, data is sent in chunks over a network. This is done because if part goes ‘missing’ along the way it can be easily resent (or compensated for) without needing the whole lot to be resent. The chunks are called packets and in a standard network these packets are just 1500 bytes long (A byte is 8 ones or noughts or bits so the whole packet has a total data capacity of 12,000 bits). I am not going to explain frames, packets and payloads in this blog but suffice to say that not all of that 1500 bytes is used for actual transmitted data. Some is used for addressing, so the network knows where this data is going, and details about the contents that will be used when the data is received at the destination. The problem in today’s network is that some things send lots of smaller packets, like games and telephony and other things use the whole packet such as downloading a file or browsing a web site. This means that you have to have hardware that is not just capable of passing the big packets but is also capable of pushing the small ones very quickly too. If the hardware can’t pass small packets very quickly then lag starts to appear in games or phone calls. Worse still, if the router starts to run out of packet processing capacity then it might even cause some of those packets to be dropped. Depending on the type of data that might mean they need to be resent (a retransmission) or they are lost forever! A great example of this is when you are in a low signal area with your mobile phone. The signal drops the packets rather than the network, but you get dropped words and a ‘choppy’ call. The same thing can happen if the network router is not capable of handling the packet demands. The next problem becomes when you have networks of different speeds. Let’s imagine you have a home connection with Trunk at 38Mb/s and start a download. The server sending your download will send it as fast as it can until it’s told to slow down by your computer. These start and stop messages are very ‘hard brakes’ on the data flow and on a busy server you might find that it goes to handle another request while your computer is finishing processing the download. What if you could have some kind of small reserve of data that you could call on while the sending server turns the data stream back on, that would mean that your data flows more smoothly with less jerky stop, start, stop, start flows? Our routers offer this in the guise of 4Gb buffers (as these reserves are called) and allow this data to be saved up locally and just smooth the peaks and troughs of the data being sent to your computer. This makes your phone/ video calls and game play smoother by ensuring that during an ‘off’ your data is not being dropped or turned off.
As you may have noticed, Trunk Networks, its gaming broadband brand Leetline and our residential broadband company No One Internet are now able to offer 1Gb/s FTTP Internet connections. We are particularly excited to be able to offer these as we designed and built our network with the high capacity home or office in mind. Gigabit connections have the capability of using huge amounts of bandwidth, so you have to design and build the networks for this. This nicely brings me to peering and interconnects.
Peering is an agreement between two networks to exchange data. This agreement can be ‘paid for’ or ‘settlement free’. A paid for service can also be known as a transit provider. No One has both transit providers and direct settlement peers. We prefer peering directly with other networks, usually via the London InterNet eXchange (LINX), LondoN Access Point (LoNAP), the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX) and FranceIX in Paris. These allow us to directly connect our network with hundreds of other networks giving us the shortest possible path between your home and the server you want to download content from or play a game on. This ensures that you have the lowest latency and we have the greatest amount of control over the quality of this part of the network.
We carefully select our transit providers based on the quality of their network, the latency across it and the size of their customer base. The latter is important as it means your traffic doesn’t leave our trusted partner’s network so we can be confident about the level of service you will experience if we are unable to deliver your data directly to the end server network. Your data is never more than 3 hops away from leaving our 100Gb network, no matter where in the World it is going and often it leaves our network on the same core router as the broadband router is plugged in to. All these factors contribute to achieve our low latency, high bandwidth network that we pride ourselves on.
We truly believe the Network is King!