One of the key features of the Ethernet service is reliability. Fibre Ethernet services are inherently more reliable than broadband lines. The fibres are themselves enclosed in strong fibre tubes in the ground, and are not subject to weather, water or radio interference. The service is not trying to squeeze every last bit of speed out of the line like broadband is, and so will reliably stay the same speed over time.
Making sure it works
Obviously, making sure things do not break is the utmost importance.
- We operate multiple routers and equipment at our end to minimise single points of failure.
- Our equipment has dual power feeds and is connected to data centre power which has UPSs and generators.
- We have spares for equipment on site in the data centre, one of which is only 10 minutes drive from our offices.
- We constantly monitor your line with a ping every second (providing you answer pings).
BT's core network has resilient components and is constantly monitored. BT maintain the link between us and you.
If you like we can arrange for dual fibres to your premises to minimise risk of fibre cuts (e.g. because of road works), though this is quite expensive.
If things break
In the unlikely event of a failure, we have 24 hour monitoring on our core network that will alert on-call staff, and data centre staff are available 24 hours a day if we need to do anything to fix a fault. We have an out of hours SMS alert system allowing you to contact on-call staff if you need.
Fixing things quickly.
BT have a service level agreement whereby they will fix any fibre faults promptly (within 5 hours of us reporting it for fibre, 7 hours for FTTC, and 24 hours for EFN). BT allow us to report faults 24 hours a day. BT take fibre services seriously and fix them quickly.
It is important to realise that whilst data centre power is reliable and fibres are reliable, things can break. It is possible for someone to have a DSL line that is more reliable than someone else's fibre. It is possible for your house to have fewer power cuts than a data centre. But in general that is not the case. In general data centre power is very reliable. In general fibre is very reliable and much more so than copper.
However, we strongly recommend you consider how important a working internet connection is to your business and properly consider contingency plans. Our staff can offer help and advice as well as services and equipment to help with this. We can provide routers that will automatically fall-back to alternative links. We can provide DSL lines and even mobile data services. It is also vitally important to regularly test your backup processes and services.
Please ask one of our team to discuss backup and redundancy plans for your service.
At your premises it is possible to have multiple links, which obviously adds to the cost. For fibre services it is possible to arrange diverse routing of the fibre for part of the link between your premises to the exchange, however this is usually very expensive. You may be able to have a dedicated fibre and an FTTC link, for example, but these may use the same ducting so do not protect against a rogue road digger.
At the other end (the link in to us) we can arrange for you to connect more than one Etherflow on your service routed to each of our two data centres. At present this means separate IP address blocks announced independently via different transit connections in to the Internet. This can allow significantly higher reliability as it means that if one of our data centres fails you can maintain some connectivity to the Internet.
In some cases we have a service level agreement with suppliers which includes paying us if they do not fix a fault promptly and paying more if they keep failing to fix a fault promptly several times in a month. We mainly use this as a means to encourage them to get faults fixed promptly.
As per our normal terms we limit our liability to the amount paid for the service during the period the service was not working once the agreed fix time has expired, but in some cases we are able to make a good will payment in additional to this if we have been able to claim from a supplier under their SLA. Such additional payments are at our discretion. Bear in mind it may be that we have claimed an SLA on a hub link where a fault affected many customers, so the SLA we have received from the supplier per affected customer may be very low and we may choose not to make any additional good will payment in such cases.
We provide support during working hours (8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday except bank holidays) and informal support out of these hours. Some staff are on-call out of hours for major outages, and whilst we will usually be able to address any fault outside office hours we do not guarantee it. Our automated monitoring is for identifying major outages - for individual line fault we expect you to report the fault to us. The 5/7/24 hour time-scale for fault repair relates to a link fault or core network fault in BT and starts when we report the fault to BT. We must first determine the fault is a BT fault which may involve our staff visiting the data centre, co-operation from you or your staff, and testing at your end first, all of which will delay reporting the fault and the 5/7/24 hour clock starting. The SLA from BT only applies for total loss of service faults.
Ethernet services can take some time to install, especially if there is any construction work involved. As per our standard terms we do not guarantee an installation date, and a delayed install is not a "fault". We'll try and keep you up to date with forecasts but there is no compensation for a delay, although we may give some good will payments in some cases.