Members and Customers have been asking how Jisc are managing, and adapting usage of the Janet Network, and other key services, in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. Here’s an FAQ with our response as of 23rd March 2020.
As operations and service delivery changes to meet the rapidly changing needs of our Members and Customers we will add to this FAQ or post longer more detailed breakout posts.
Q: Has Janet got enough bandwidth?
Answer by James Blessing, Deputy director of network architecture
Yes, there is over 3TB of connected capacity on the edge of Janet to various peers of which 500G is for Global Transit[i]. In the first few days of the working from home directive we have seen a drop of about 1/3rd of the traffic on the Janet backbone but there has been a change between the traffic on the different individual peers. We continue to monitor our individual peers, moving traffic to alternative paths if any link shows sign of congestion, and arranging additional capacity where necessary.
 The Internet is a network of networks, to reach other autonomous networks an operator needs to either directly connect to every other network via a dedicated peering or contract with a larger network to ‘transit’ their network to get to other networks. Jisc has built the Janet network to peer with as many other networks as possible and then use two transit providers to reach the rest of the world.
Q: If my organisation’s Janet connection bandwidth needs upgrading will that still be done?
Answer by Neil Shewry, Head of delivery
If you’ve got an upgrade or new service on order with us already, we’ll continue with the work required to deliver it, subject to the various suppliers involved continuing to deliver their components (which at the time of writing they all are). But one issue may be site access, as we are seeing data centres and customer sites restricting access to nothing beyond essential work. That said, we’ll do all we can to deliver your service as quickly as we can.
If you want/need an upgrade, but haven’t yet approached us about it, then please come and talk to us. We’ll be happy to work with you to design and cost a solution to meet your requirements, and we’ll happily place orders on our suppliers for the infrastructure required. What we can’t guarantee is exactly how long it will take to deliver your service, as based on the restrictions mentioned above, access to the necessary locations on our network might be difficult. That said, we’ll do all we can to deliver your service as quickly as we can.
All of this boils down to us continuing to work in a BAU environment as much as we can, with the caveat that things will probably just take a little bit longer than usual.
UPDATE 24/03/2020: Given the latest restrictions imposed by the government, by our suppliers, and internally on our own engineers, the delivery of all new/upgraded services will almost certainly be delayed. We’ll endeavor to deliver services as quickly as possible, and will advise on expected lead times once we have the relevant information to hand.
Q: What effect has the COVID-19 situation had on the Janet Access Programme
Answer by Neil Shewry, Head of delivery
To date the situation hasn’t had a huge impact – networks are still being designed, orders are still being placed, and infrastructure is still being delivered. Projects continue. That said, we are seeing signs of access restrictions being imposed at data centres and at customer sites, places we need to get into for our engineers to engineers to deliver and enable new infrastructure. If telecoms engineers are accepted as ‘key workers’ according to the current list published by the government; that may help them back into work and similarly help IT managers argue the case for careful and considered access to their sites. Even with this exception led decision to allow access it is likely that Janet access projects will be delayed, but by how much we can’t currently say.
UPDATE 24/03/2020: Given the latest restrictions imposed by the government, by our suppliers, and internally on our own engineers, the Janet Access Programme will almost certainly be delayed. We’re busy re-planning and re-forecasting, and will share revised plans as soon as they’re available.
Q: How working from home has changed the traffic on the Janet Network?
Answer by Rob Evans, Chief Network Architect
As many of us are moving from working at a college or University to working at home, so the ways that data is flowing across the Janet network are changing. Read a detailed post on the impact on the Janet Network and how traffic is proactive monitored and managed.
Q: What has been ISPs’ response to the sudden shift to remote working/study and the demands that online delivery will place on staff and students’ home broadband. Will ISPs treat home broadband connections as they do leased lines for business, with QoS etc?
Answer by Rob Evans, Chief Network Architect & Mark Clark, Subject Specialist: infrastructure
It’s worth noting that most homeworking activities, even a multi-party Zoom conference, use far less bandwidth than a Netflix stream (I’ve just been on an hour-long 10 party zoom meeting with average download of 2Mbps, watching Netflix last night was 6Mbps).
This might be interesting from BT: https://newsroom.bt.com/the-facts-about-our-network-and-coronavirus/
The impact on most domestic ISPs will be minimal, the peak traffic times for domestic providers is usually 18:00 – 20:00 outside of normal office working hours, and mostly from service streaming, gaming and the like. Zoom and Skype et al don’t really have a huge bandwidth requirement comparatively speaking.
An issue closer to home is where problems arise in using Wifi in built up areas and blocks of flats with completing interference from neighbour’s wireless router and microwave ovens etc.
Teams calls, Zoom etc are sensitive to packet loss and jitter caused by this Wifi interference so it’s advisable to use an ethernet cable direct from your home laptop to your providers router and that usually really helps with performance. It’s also worth remembering that the bandwidth performance quoted by ISP’s is the download speed, the upload speed is usually much slower like 10% of that quoted speed and that upload speed is important if you are on a conference. Try a broadband checker (such as https://www.speedtest.net/) to test that out. There have been some noticeable issues or at least a step up in traffic at a national level between providers where ISP’s connect together (peering) which is monitored closely and are being addressed.
I don’t think there is going to be a mass deployment of QoS, because it’s difficult to know what traffic to differentiate, but it’s also going to be difficult to roll anything like that out to “N” million lines.
Q: How are Jisc’s federated roaming services, eduroam and govroam, effected?
Answer by Mark O’Leary, Head of Network access
With many of us working from home, the power of federated roaming to facilitate network access when visiting other sites might seem less relevant. However, to meet the demand of the current situation, many key workers particularly in the NHS are finding themselves redistributed to points of need. In many cases govroam and eduroam are part of this dynamic solution.
Jisc’s network access team is geographically distributed and contains homeworkers under normal circumstances, so the current situation is simply an extension of practices which we already familiar with, so both services are fully operational.
Q: Will my circuit fault still get fixed?
Answer by Neil Shewry, Head of delivery
Short answer is yes it will, it just may take a bit longer than usual. Openreach has recently announced MBORC (Matters Beyond Our Reasonable Control) status, which means they’ll still fix faults, but can’t currently commit to their usual SLA.
We’re seeing telecoms supplier work being split into a number of different categories at the moment, based on how important it is in the context of COVID-19, as follows:
- Blue Light services
- Critical National Infrastructure
- Welfare customers
- COVID-19 at risk
- Customers with no service
- Customers with significantly degraded service
- Customers with intermittent service
- Other repair and existing / new provisioning jobs
Fixing faults in our community starts at level 5 – ‘Customers with no service’.
So fear not, faults will still get fixed, they may just take longer than usual, and as always the precise time to resolution depends on the severity of the fault and the work required to fix it.