Wednesday 29 February 2012

The Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi Foundation which is based in Cambridge has today released a new low-cost credit card sized computer.

The main aim of this bare-bones device, which does not come with a case, is to encourage school children to take an interest in programming as it is generally felt that the UK is falling behind other countries. At £22 for the first model and then a cheaper version costing £16 later in the year, this really is an attractive low cost way of getting into coding and programming.

The device can be hooked up to a monitor, mouse and keyboard, has an ethernet port for internet access and runs the Linux open source operating system.

There has been such a buzz about this product on today, the day of it's release that the main Raspberry Pi website have had to present a more basic and static version due to the high traffic levels.

Here at CCS Leeds we will be buying one of these new tiny computers so make sure you check back soon for our review.

Thursday 23 February 2012

Third of UK homes suffer from poor broadband

Despite the promise of UK-wide super-fast broadband, new research shows just how many areas of the country are being left behind in the high-speed broadband revolution.

More than a third (34%) of UK postcodes receive average broadband download speeds of 5 Mbp/s or less, almost a quarter have average speeds of 4 Mbp/s or less, and one in 10 has speeds of 3 Mbp/s or less – at least six times slower than even the basic super-fast broadband speed of 20 Mbp/s.

The data - based on 1.68 million broadband speed tests carried out by home and business broadband users over the past six months - reveals that despite major investment by providers into upgrading Britain’s urban broadband infrastructure, there is still a significant number of larger towns and cities across the country that have download speeds well below the UK average of 6.742 Mbp/s.

The cathedral city of Hereford has a population of more than 55,000, and yet average download speeds are a pedestrian 3.196 Mbp/s, more than 50% slower than the national average. Lancaster, with a sizeable population of almost 134,000 and home to two universities, is also below the national average speed, at 5.479 Mbp/s. At this speed, it would take just under 24 minutes to download a standard quality 1.5GB movie.

These figures bring into sharp focus the challenge the Government faces if it is to fulfil the pledge made back in December 2010[5] that everyone in the UK would have access to super-fast broadband by 2015. More than 12 months down the line and that target appears to be a long way off, with large swathes of Britain still having to make do with broadband speeds that are more snail’s pace than super-fast.

When it comes to the worst broadband blackspots in Britain, it is clear that it’s still the UK’s smaller towns and villages that are suffering from a serious bout of broadband lethargy, having to endure frustratingly slow speeds of below 2 Mbp/s which make surfing the internet a chore.
In our part of the world Richmond and Helmsley in North Yorkshire have to struggle with just over 2 Mbps.

However, with an average broadband speed of just 1.11 Mbp/s, Winchelsea a small village in East Sussex, currently holds the unenviable title of having the slowest average broadband speed of any postcode in the UK, six times slower than the national average.
Britain might be riding the wave of a super-fast broadband revolution, but for the 49% who get less than the national average broadband speed, the wave isn’t causing so much a splash as a ripple. And what’s really surprising is the number of cities and towns such as Hereford and Carlisle that are suffering from slow broadband speeds, dispelling the view that it’s just rural areas and small towns that have issues with their broadband.

It is important to remember that the fastest headline speeds being punted by some broadband providers are not guaranteed and home broadband users should run online broadband speed tests to check they’re getting the best possible performance. If broadband users feel the service they’re receiving is not up to scratch, don’t be afraid to shop around for a better deal.

Get ready for Olympic web meltdown

Recently we have been warning clients and other businesses that they could lose their internet connections during the Olympics this summer as online traffic rockets.

We believe demand for streaming media and services like the BBC’s iPlayer could mean that some companies will be forced to ration internet access if they are to keep critical internet functions working.

A lot of businesses have still not prepared for the enormous risks presented by the 2012 Games - many companies will be avoiding London this summer because there has been a lot of talk about traffic snarl ups, but there has been little discussion about potential internet traffic problems.
Many companies are encouraging staff to avoid London during the Olympics and work from home but the reality is they may not be able to if they cannot access the internet.

CCS’s warning echoes similar concerns from the Cabinet Office which has issued concerns in its official advice, Preparing your Business For The Games. It says: "It is possible that internet services may be slower during the Games or, in very severe cases, there may be dropouts due to an increased number of people accessing the internet."

Companies need to examine whether their IT systems would be capable of allowing staff to work from home and whether their ISPs have sufficient capacity to deal with the upsurge. Our new data centre in Leeds will be immune to any problems but, nevertheless, we are advising customers, particularly those in the south to take measures now to protect themselves from any outages.

Meanwhile, telecommunications companies are struggling to put new lines in and around the capital before manhole covers and other access point are secured throughout the Games as a precaution against any terrorist activities.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Parent's Evening on the internet

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) is dedicated to eradicating the sexual abuse of children via the internet.

At CCS we were pleased to see that CEOP has launched ‘The Parents’ and Carers’ Guide to the Internet’, a light hearted and realistic look at what it takes to be a better online parent. The show covers topics such as, talking to your child about the technologies they use and the things they might see, such as pornography.

With interviews from leading experts such as, Professor Tanya Byron, Dr Linda Papadopoulos and Reg Bailey, as well as key industry players from Facebook, Club Penguin and Moshi Monsters , this online guide aims to equip you with the tools to have those tricky conversations with your children and keep your family safe online.

So grab a cuppa, sit back and enjoy!

New data centre opens at CCS

CCS’s Peter Knapp, Giles Falkingham and Nick Ryder in the company’s new data centre
After several months of hard work by the CCS team we are delighted to announce the opening of our new data centre in Leeds – this will ensure we continue to deliver the service in business server collocation and cloud computing.

The centre, which went live last week , forms part of a major £150,000 investment by CCS and which can house up to 4,800 servers cooled by an eco-friendly air conditioning system which will significantly reduce the company’s energy costs and carbon emissions.

The reason for the choice of location is multi-threaded. Our new data centre on the Leeds Ring Road at Seacroft gives us the space, power, carrier availability, visitor facilities and most importantly gives our staff instant access to server equipment to ensure it runs uninterrupted 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

The data centre also benefits from a so-call ‘N+1 configuration’ which means multiple uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) are in place to ensure there are no outages or down time. It is also connected to the CCS’s core London network via a direct dual link, with a third carrier link due to come on line in the next couple of months.

We have also upgraded our security on the data centre which means new and existing clients can ensure their data is safe.
At a time when many companies are cutting back on capital investment, at CCS we believe it is vitally important that we continue to invest in the best IT infrastructure to ensure that existing and new clients benefit from the best possible service.

All the funding for the new data centre came from CCS’ own internal resources and we have not looked outside the business for third-party finance.

The site has been planned from the ground up to allow expansion without disruption to any customer, including pre-configured provision within the power systems for additional suites to be brought on line with no service interruption. Moreover, further UPSs can be brought on line at the same time as we expand cooling systems with no impact on customer service.

In due course we hope to have an official opening so keep a look out for your invite.

Friday 3 February 2012

99% of UK Homes with cheap 30Mbp/s Broadband?

We came across a really interesting article here by Br0kenTeleph0n3 so thought we would repost it on our Blog so as to share it with our faithful readers. Here it is in full;

Market consultancy Analysys Masons (AM) has done some theoretical thumbsucking and concluded that by doubling the network frequency (planned for 2012) and applying novel VDSL acceleration technologies such as vectoring, bonding and phantom lines, BT will be able, theoretically mind, to provide a 30Mbps broadband service over existing copper lines to 99% of homes in the UK.

Bloody marvellous, what!

AM was at pains to say that these technologies are in use or planned in the United States (AT&T’s U-verse), in Netherlands (KPN) and even Pakistan (PTCL), because they allow incumbent telcos to compete on sheer speed using their existing copper access networks against fibre and cable companies, and in some cases beat them for coverage.

Of course, there are caveats (see here for attenuation issues). Fibre to the cabinet, the most expensive part, has to be pretty well ubiquitous. The line length from the cabinet to the premises must be under two kilometres. The copper in the lines should be good quality. The homes should have at least two pairs of wires that could be bonded. The telephone pole to the cluster of homes it serves should be not be multiplexing services ie 12 homes each with two pair cables should have a 48-wire cable on the pole.

AM says it’s a secret how many homes have just a single copper pair. Br0kenTeleph0n3 understands that many, if not most, premises actually have four pairs, something AM doesn’t dispute hotly. And 99% of homes are within two kilometres of a street cabinet, it says.

Slam dunk, game over, right?

Well, no. There’s a problem with quantifying demand, which goes to the commercial or business case.

OK, so what’s the cost of just building it and hoping they will come? Remember this is only for the one-third of the country that BT says it requires taxpayers’ money to make it worthwhile. AM reckons the extra costs represents about 15% of monthly revenues from those subscribers.

So would BDUK’s £830m cover it?

AM’s answer to that is not clear and explicit. That’s because I asked if that money was applied mostly to put in fibre to the cabinets rather than upgrade the “last mile”, might it not contravene European Union rules on state aid?

Apparently this was getting into an area where conflicts of interest might apply, and the interview ended. Abrup…