Friday, June 5, 2009

ADSL at 20 Mbps / ADSL à 20 Mega

My DSL line came back online last night and a speed test with showed a throughput of 20 Mbit/s. I'm thrilled. I've gone ahead and made several changes to my network configurations here at home as a result.

I have a WAN router at home which patches together the DSL and cable Internet subscriptions. I can assign different applications to different networks or simply use it in "rollover" mode where the second line is used automatically when the first line goes down. In the past I've used cable as the primary connection but it was down more than half of the time so I was constantly getting cut off from VPN access when the access line switched. Now I'm able to use DSL as the primary connection and use cable only if the DSL line drops.

I'm excited to have the new, faster connection. It seems to really make a difference.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Switching the lines to the new exchange - Changement des lignes au nouveau NRA.

My house is now 797 meters from the DSLAM instead of 4,500. Sam pointed out in a recent blog comment that France Telecom has the new exchange up and running and that Free's DSLAM would be installed soon. I saw it today.


Now if only my line weren't dead so I could enjoy it.

My DSL connection went down yesterday at noon and has been out for 36 hours. My DSL provider (Free) is actually very stable but the line speeds have been very slow. My cable connection with Numericable is just the opposite - fast when it works but out of order more than 50% of the time.

If DSL goes down it's because they are doing something at the exchange. Any problem in the past I've had has been an inadvertent disconnection by FT. I knew something was up when my neighbor across the street came by with his Freebox to test it on my line because his line was down too.

I waited for my cable connection to come back up and then quickly hopped online to check the details of my line. What I found was great news. My line has been shortened by connecting to the new exchange. The bad news is something is wrong with the connection.

Then today I was driving home and saw the large France Telecom manhole at the edge of the village open with workers inside. My son and I walked down and talked to the workers, taking a few pictures of the manholes.

Manhole work to redirect copper lines
The workers were really helpful and let us snag a few pictures of them at work in the underground chamber. I was surprised by how large it actually was.

View down inside manhole   View inside manhole

The next person I encountered we knee-deep in water in a second manhole working to reconnect some of the thousands of lines which have to be rerouted.

Patching copper lines down to the new NRA

Then I walked the rest of the 797 metres and arrived in front of the actually exchange, which they call a NRA(HD). The France Telecom person there was very helpful and answered my questions about the fibre routing and how the exchange was upgraded. Simple telephone lines are still connected to the old exchange but any DSL lines in our village now terminate in the new village exchange.

I was able to snap a few pictures of the exchange with the door open from the fence. You can see the patch panels on the right but the DSLAM's aren't visible in the shot. They are on the left (Free and Neuf).

St Nom La Breteche NRA (S3N78) for DSL   St Nom La Breteche NRA

Interior of St Nom La Breteche NRA (S3N78) for broadband

I was finally able to get through to Free to tell them my line was down. The earliest they will send a technician is in 7 days. That's a long time to go without our fixed line...

Monday, May 11, 2009

New DSLAMs / Nouveaux DSLAMs

Sam posted a comment tonight that our exchange will be upgraded by the end of May and that Free will also install their own DSLAM very soon. He mentions that he expects to receive at least 10 Mbit/s once the new DSLAMs are turned on.

I live fairly close to the exchange and it will be interesting to see what the new speeds will be. The thing I'm looking forward to most is finally being able to take advantage of the television channels through Free. We haven't had access since we've moved here.

I haven't posted recently but I have been doing a lot of work dealing with fiber as part of my day job. It has been such a busy time lately that I haven't been able to post or progress with this project. I'm also in a bit of a wait-and-see mode until I know what changes there will be with the new exchange.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Upgrades at our exchange - Construction de notre nouveau commutatuer

I drove by the exchange in our village tonight and they've delivered a new building (actually a big rectangle box) and put it inside the fence of the exchange. It looks to be the size of a shipping container which sits on the back of a semi-truck.

I looked at the sign posted on the site which gives information about the proposed construction. It says that the old exchange is 11 square meters but will be upgraded to 25 square meters.

It looks as if they're making progress. That could mean faster broadband - but no fiber - pretty soon.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The long silence - Le long silence

I'm still here. It has been quiet but I'm still here and still thinking about fiber. I haven't been able to do much recently with the St Nom broadband project because I've been distracted by other events in the sector.

This is a busy time for telecom analysts because there seems to be a big shift in the way people are thinking about infrastructure and telecommunication investment in general. Broadband has jumped up on the radar of political leaders during the crisis and it looks as if there may be some government money coming to extend networks. At the same time, telecommunication investment is dropping like an anchor in the private sector. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Probably the biggest reason for my delay is I haven't had time to look into the legal structure of starting a French association. As a recap, my status here in France will be a problem for creating and running a company. I deposited the capital to create the SARL at the bank and they've been calling to set up the accounts for the money they're holding. I'm going to have to back out of that though and work on starting an association instead.

I haven't heard any news from the village either on the DSL upgrade. I haven't seen any activity around the site of the exchange so I figure we're still a long way off from getting the new building and the shorter loops.

I'm hoping to pick back up the project after the end of the month.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Business problems - Un problème de l'entreprise

I ran into a bit of a problem registering the fiber business. Everything is ready to go (bank, documents, etc) but there is a lingering question about my work status here in France. I have a peculiar visa which likely won't allow me to be the person running it, the "gerant".

I think I've found another solution though. I'm going to start a non-profit fiber "association" in the village instead of a business. From discussions with my lawyer friends I think I have the right to work with a non-for-profit association as long as I'm not paid.

One of the big differences for me will be tied to the money I put in. The money I put into a non-profit venture could be repaid (possibly with interest) but nothing more than that. I gave it some thought and had to think back to the reasons I started this project. I want to have a fiber connections to our homes, but even more, I want the experience of planning and installing a fiber network. Profit or no profit the mission is the same.

I'll do some research this weekend about starting the association and post my findings.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Too late for changes - Trop tard pour les changements

I received great advice from the Dutch about how municipal government should build the new exchange next year in order to promote competitive fiber development. The problem is I'm a bit too late.

I received word this weekend that the contract and negotiations with France Telecom were too far advanced for the municipality to be able to make changes. It's too bad that the village will be paying for the construction of the building (for France Telecom's benefit) but won't be able to dictate any new terms for fiber. I'm taken back that an exchange being built anywhere in the world in the year 2009 would lack space for competitive fiber equipment.

Hopefully other villages poised to give EUR 50,000 to France Telecom will be able to use the excellent advice I received from my Dutch friends to promote fiber competition in the future.

This means that I'll have to approach this a different way - possibly with a separate fiber shelter next to the copper exchange. Each of the competitive operators has fiber passing through the exchange already so we'd simply have to put the fiber shelter next to this line so they'd be able to interconnect easily.

I'll work on setting up a meeting with the competitive operators this week to discuss a plan.