Telstra Open Day at the Albion Exchange & Museum

By brendon on March 13th, 2012

Kudos must go to the Telstra staff who contributed and ran the Open Day at the exchange at Albion on the Saturday just passed. A very interesting and informative event with everything from 4G & fibre splicing to hotdog eating contests and face painting. As a self-confessed geek I often find I cannot speak with the right person to understand the whole picture of “how stuff works”.

While at the event I had the opportunity to grill engage with many different departments; techs were available from research, design, implementation, testing and maintenance. All within line-of-site and all happy to discuss the technology to great detail. It is difficult to find technical information published on the Telstra Velocity/ NBN network equipment being deployed around Australia. We know that it uses fibre to provide up to 100Mbit/s internet, phone and cable TV but what you don’t know is the HOW.

From my discussions I learned that the fibre based Ethernet+ PSTN+ Cable services being deployed utilise a type passive hub or one-to-many fibre splice connecting a single service from the Exchange to 24 nodes. All 24 end nodes will receive the same light transmissions from the exchange relying on the end hardware to select traffic destined for the appropriate serial number to process. At present a standard light wavelength will be used for each of the Ethernet/ PSTN & Cable service; each signal from the fibre using encoding unique to the appropriate port signal. Every premise will send & receive on the SAME light wavelength meaning that there must be some time-splicing or multiplexing built into signal transmission.

To my fortune, a Telstra Account Executive had invited me along to the day and was able to arrange for a personal tour of the live Exchange. Seeing the technology advance from a wall off rotating counter wheels soldered directly to telephone wires using string for cable management; to the racks of POTS switching equipment right through to the “new” ADSL DSLAM units connected by only a few strands of fibre was simply amazing. So much of the exchange is now empty where Moore’s law has reduce the space used by active equipment by 1/5 while still servicing the heavily populated inner-city suburbs.

There isn’t time to cover the relics and equipment in the Museum side of the Exchange, the only word that can sum up all the experiences from the day. #BestOpenDayEver

CISCO QoS for Dummies

By brendon on February 5th, 2010

Hey, for all those out there who have as much trouble with the CISCO QoS implementation as I do…. Here are 4 no so easy steps to configure. Continue Reading

New version of ISA – FFTMG

By brendon on December 14th, 2009

Well it has been a long time coming but Microsoft have finally released a new version of their awesome Internet Acceleration and Security (ISA) server. The last major upgrade was 2004 and since then the product has become a little long in the tooth. There are several new ways the internet is being used and ISA 2004/2006 in my opinion just couldn’t keep up.

Jump over to http://www.microsoft.com/forefront/threat-management-gateway/en/us/default.aspx and check out the details on Forfront Threat Management Gateway (FFTMG). Building on the new Windows Server 2008 network stack there are several new features that administrators (myself included) have been crying for:

  • Support for dual/ failover internet links. (using a separate fibre service for remote access and publishing plus a DSL2 service for web access.)
  • Publishing (Static NAT) rules apply to both inbound and outbound traffic. (ISA would always NAT outbound connections on default IP address.)
  • Category based Access lists (requires additional licenses) to filter traffic for “Social Networking” or “Known Virus URL’s”.
  • Support in a Hyper-V or ESXi or XenServer virtualised environments.
  • ONLY RUNS on Windows Server 2008 x64 eddition!!!

The old ISA server team blog has been updated to reference TMG now also; there are half a dozen articles available here that may help with deployment considerations.

Awesome new AP at home

By brendon on December 8th, 2009

As a person that rents, I don’t have the option to use a patch panel and run CAT6 cables into each of my rooms. I am forced to live with ugly blue cables around the house or compete for spectrum with my neighbours using a wireless network. When I upgraded my MCE one of the components I added was a duel radio 802.11n (draft) PCI card with external antenna.

Once 802.11n was released as a certified standard, I started looking around for a new Access Point that would be able to support the HD video content I use around the house. Reading over the forums and reviews I came upon SmallNetBuilder and their review of the NetGear WNDR3700 Wireless GBit router.

The device ran duel radio’s 802.11abgn, had 4x GBit interfaces and wouldn’t break the bank. My current NetComm 3G18Wn was running 11n but only had 100Mbit ports and didn’t work properly with the iPhone. When I received the device I swapped it in place of the NetComm leaving all the wireless details the same.

  • GOOD: One of the funky features is when using Windows 7, WINDOWS takes you through a wizard to configure and secure the access point. Simply put in the PIN from the bottom of the device, next, next, finish and your AP is configured.
  • GOOD: All my existing devices connected without any hassles and transfers between the WHS and PC are much faster using the built-in GBit switch.
  • GOOD: There are buttons on the front of the AP which let you enable and disable the wireless plus unlock it for several seconds to let a new device associate.
  • BAD: My only problem with the device is that it expects to be the internet gateway for your network. If your lucky enough to have a CISCO 877 (with IPv6) as your DSL modem and firewall, the WNDR3700 cannot use a LAN address as the default gateway.

OPINION: Well the title says it all. If you don’t have a 11n access point at the moment, go pick up one of these. It associates at 300MBit and I get at least 80-90Mbit/s throughput over the wireless around home. It can stream WTV files to the MCE plus DVDs to the NetBook at the same time.