Telecoms 99.999% uptime guarantee.

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Dave -, Sep 22, 2005.

  1. Can anyone get me any official info about Telecoms 99.999% guarantee?

    From the info I gleemed from their website it is only for their core
    network, which in itself is fine, but there is no qualification as to
    where their core network is.

    So I asked Telecom for details of what their "core network" was, which
    got me either vacant white noise on the other end of the phone, or a "we
    can't give details out about our core network due to security reasons".

    So, to me atleast, that makes their 99.999% guarantee, worth exactly
    nothing... how about you guys, your thoughts please.
    Dave -, Sep 22, 2005
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  2. Dave -

    Richard Guest

    Well I think there rat chewed cable they had recently will have blown away a few
    years worth of outages they can have ;)
    Richard, Sep 23, 2005
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  3. Dave -

    Who Am I Guest

    Well lets see, that's 1 in 100,000 calls will fail.

    so in to 2001 census there were 1,240,827 telephones (I think I read
    that right), we could reasonably increase this by say 50% to allow for
    business phones, so we have about 1.8 million phones.

    If we assume that only 1 call is made per phone each day we end up with
    about 18 calls failing per day.

    Of course the 99.999% calls is based on WHAT data ? is this a running
    average over a year, or a "spot sample" over say an hour. I would think
    both methods would give different answers.
    Who Am I, Sep 23, 2005
  4. Dave -

    Kent Smith Guest

    Well I know there was a combination of rats and post-hole digging which took
    out their core fibre network earlier this year for longer than 5 mins. In
    fact it was about 4.5 hours I believe. It affected voice, data, internet
    and mobile services and even led to the closure of the stock exchange.

    As the outage lasted four-and-a-half hours, Telecom's "five-nines" promise
    means it will have to run the network for just under 50 years without
    interruptions to achieve its claim of five-nines reliability or give
    everyone gets their subs back.

    But our government has no balls.

    Kent Smith, Sep 23, 2005
  5. Dave -

    ~misfit~ Guest

    I'd say that they've got a pair of triple-redundant servers with the name
    "Core network" stuck to the side that they can parade in court if they were
    ever challenged over the claim. "Core network" can mean anything they want
    it to mean, as long as there are at least two parts networked together.
    ~misfit~, Sep 23, 2005
  6. Dave -

    Richard Guest

    Its most likly just the billing network thats 99.999 available ;)
    Richard, Sep 23, 2005
  7. from memory, I'm pretty sure that it'll be 54 years before another
    outage like that.
    Dave -, Sep 23, 2005
  8. Dave -

    Shane Guest

    /me goes out to the shed to start up the back hoe

    take THAT telecom :)
    Shane, Sep 23, 2005
  9. *SNIP*

    When they first introduced their five nines "guarantee" (which they're not
    honouring, for anyone), the core network was defined as their voice and
    data switching equipment and the links between the major exchanges - major
    being the likes of Airedale St and Mayoral Drive, both of which terminate
    many thousands of phone lines. It's not the line to your suburban
    exchange (however exchanges such as Remuera, which are backup facilities
    for designated major exchanges, are usually counted), though the exchange
    itself may or may not be covered depending upon how they chose to
    interpret the definition on that particular occasion.
    Matthew Poole, Sep 23, 2005
  10. Dave -

    ~misfit~ Guest

    LOL, touché.
    ~misfit~, Sep 23, 2005
  11. Dave -

    BTMO Guest

    You are pretty much onto it Dave.

    It is the core network - essentially the switches and the fibre between the
    switches. The number is of no earthly use to customers, and when I worked at
    Telecom, I made no bones about telling anyone in management who would listen
    that it **was** of no earthly use to customers. It was pretty much a
    bullshit number that sounded good, that marketing had picked up on.

    You may notice they don't actually advertise it any longer (unless they have
    started again recently).

    In fact, the number fell out of favour so much when I worked there, I was
    making a video presentation for an internal conference (network dept only)
    and was told by marketing I couldn't use the footage from the tv ad - even
    as a cool swirly background!!

    The bizarre thing was... because it had been quoted in the media, we (the
    network dept) had to measure and report it every month - in case someone
    (ie, a politician) checked.

    From memory the measure, as it was specified, did indeed meet the standard
    every month.

    However, my personal opinion was that it was quantified and measured in such
    a way that it was similar to someone buying a ruler from the shop, defining
    it as a standard metre, then measuring the "standard" every month and
    reporting "Yep, still a metre".
    BTMO, Sep 23, 2005
  12. What was great about the big outage was that there's no wiggle room for
    them to claim it wasn't an outage of the core network. When the phones go
    out between cities, that's a core network outage by any telco definition.
    It's a real shame that they didn't get more flak over it. If I had the
    time, and had suffered the financial impact to make it worthwhile, I'd
    consider taking them to Court for false advertising. They guaranteed five
    nines of reliability, failed to deliver, and are offering their customers
    precisely zero compensation.
    Matthew Poole, Sep 23, 2005
  13. Dave -

    BTMO Guest

    Ah... but where are the *ends* of the core network???
    Depending on who you ask - suppose the measure is "Hereford St Auckland to
    Mayoral Drive Auckland"? That is (after all) the *core* of the network.


    But like I said before, the measure was meaningless.

    Force Majeur...
    Guaranteed where, exactly? Is it in your service contract? It sure as hell
    isn't in mine. It was (simply) marketing bullshit...
    BTMO, Sep 23, 2005
  14. The ability to communicate between cities is one of the major purposes of
    their network. When you can't, regardless of where you are in
    either city, something in the middle is obviously broken.
    Picky picky. Good luck trying to argue that one past a first-year law

    See, the great thing about NZ consumer protection law is that what you say
    on TV, goes. The small print on the advert said that it applied to the
    core network, and by any objective definition their core network was down
    for rather longer than five minutes.
    Air NZ got stung just recently by the ComCom over their use of language,
    because adverts must be designed for interpretation by the common person.
    Trying to weasle out by redefining words isn't allowed, it must mean what
    the person on the street would take it to mean. Explain to Jo Bloggs that
    the "core network" is the part that carries voice calls between main
    centres, and they will immediately take it that the five nines means
    they'll be without inter-city phone service for no more than five minutes
    a year (once you explain what 99.999% of a year means).

    It's not quite open-and-shut, to be sure, but courtesy of our very strong
    laws about misleading the public you could make Telecon sweat pretty good.
    They don't like the ComCom, since they're not very good at just going away.
    Matthew Poole, Sep 23, 2005
  15. Dave -

    BTMO Guest


    And again, I hasten to remind you - I no longer work there, and had no love
    of the measure.
    I wouldn't. I also know that *no one* I knew at the time I was working at
    Telecom knew how the core network measure was actually calculated.

    99.999% gives a lot of wiggle room, believe it or not.

    Example - "core" network either side of the break was actually functional.
    It was simply through traffic that was affected. The measure is about
    availability, not end to end transmission.

    Don't get me wrong - I am not defending Telecom (the bastards can rot for
    all I care) but they were very careful to specify - and avertise - something
    that really is quite meaningless.
    Lets just check my memory for a second...

    "The availability of the core network is 99.999%"

    Hmmmm... nothing there about being able to *send* your traffic. Or anyone

    Also, if the core network is measured as being between switches, and not end
    to end (ie, Kaitaia to Bluff), then *most* of the core network was actually
    "available" during the outage in question.

    Again, this has nothing to do with your traffic, or your ability to
    communicate with the world.
    The *whole* network?

    You mentioned lawyers before. I suppose it should come as no surprise to you
    to learn that Telecom spends a lot of money on lawyers, and employs
    considerably more experienced lawyers than first year students...
    Uh huh.
    But that is the beauty of it from Telecom's point of view. They aren't
    redefining the language. They are using *very* carefully worded language
    that means something quite different to what the unskilled might expect it
    to mean (again, I am not defending them - I think they are shits, and the
    ads were misleading. I also would like to point out that I haven't seen a
    99.999% ad for at least 3 years...)

    Example - "niggardly" has nothing to do with skin colour, but some
    politician (from memory) got caned in the States for using the term. He
    pointed out that the word meant "miserly", but he still lost his job.

    Telecom can justifiably claim that the measure means what *they* say it
    means, because they have the means to demonstrate what they say it means in
    court - should it ever get that far. The will simply claim "it is an
    engineering term, not a popular term, and here are years of agreed (with the
    commerce commission) measurements to support this usage of the term".

    Sorry - I am not laughing at you, just at what you said.


    Just for fun, take them to court - the small claims court, so it won't cost
    you much. What will happen is they will simply trot out their years of
    measurements, show the nice letters from various regulators and govt depts
    acknowledging receipt of the measurements, and confirming the measurements
    were agreed to (and meant what *telecom* meant them to mean) and met the
    letter of the law

    Your $38 fee will be in the ante so quick it won't be funny.
    They don't like the ComCom because becuase it makes Telecom *work* for their
    money. That is about all. When was the last time ComCom found against
    Telecom in anything resembling a significant manner?
    BTMO, Sep 23, 2005
  16. Dave -

    Stu Fleming Guest

    Exactly as you say.
    How much value do you place on 45 minutes per year?
    Stu Fleming, Sep 23, 2005
  17. Dave -

    ~misfit~ Guest

    It depends if you happen to be having a heart
    attack/stroke/life-threatening-occurance during those 45 minutes and need
    ~misfit~, Sep 24, 2005
  18. Ah, but if they count rat-years... :)
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Sep 24, 2005
  19. Dave -

    Bok Guest

    The 99.999% (or so called five nines) is a measure of 'system
    availability". Customarily this metric is applied over a period of one
    year. So claiming a system has 99.999% availability or uptime is the
    same as claiming the system has no more than 0.001% downtime per year,
    which amounts to no more than 5 minutes 15 seconds downtime.

    When telcos claim five nines availability, they are not usually
    referring to end-to-end service availability. Probably just switches,
    power supplies, fiber and any other hardware component that can cause a
    total failure. I don't know exactly what NZ Telecom explicitly exclude
    from their downtime figures, but they could exclude downtime for
    scheduled maintenance, software upgrades, power loss and so on....

    So yes, I agree it's a fairly useless metric for assessing a Telco's
    service availability. It's the sort of figure marketing departments like
    to push and hope they will get away with it (at least for a while).
    Bok, Sep 25, 2005
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