Thursday, 25 October 2012

Afrihost moves to MTN


Afrihost (afrihost.co.za) recently announced a move to MTN (www.mtn.co.za) from IS (www.is.co.za) for all their ADSL users, on 16th October the planned move was executed... Everything however did not go as smoothly as they must have planned though and latency/speed complaints continue today (1st Nov). With hindsight at 20-20 below are a few things I picked up on from the move...

1. Good communication really helps with calming the crowd, Afrihost managed to do this in large part with social network messages and replies to most user comments. Many people have mentioned dropped calls and long support call queues which can easily happen when many subscribers have the same issue, of course if they can answer the call and put you in a queue they can offer an automated service to help manage the queue better, like offering a call back etc

2. If you promise to call someone, call them... many users complained of someone offering to call them back but then never calling, this just in turn angered their customers more...

3. Social sites play a huge role, although they didn't post much during the stormy days on their facebook page they seem to be mostly in control of Facebook and Twitter, the main problem being those complaints for which they don't have an immediate solution, in which case they can only try offer assurance of future plans although personally I think this should have been part of the original plan.

4. If you own multiple companies (Afrihost owns Axxess www.axxess.co.za), for the love of all that is good don't move both to a new network at the same time... Most users think these are two independent ISP's and are confused why both moved, additionally they have two companies worth of support calls in one, this was just a plain bad move unless unavoidable...

5. They announced carefully planning had gone into the move and all was covered, the day of the move many could not connect though... this was blamed on a lack of IP address pools on the Telkom (www.telkom.co.za) side of things. Telkom provides the ADSL lines in South Africa, Afrihost claim Telkom didn't implement their request correctly, who knows what really happened...

6. IS (www.is.co.za) have a Telkom connection for traffic from clients in Cape Town, after the move however all these clients ended up being redirected via the MTN in Johannesburg, adding latency to all those users, especially for their local Cape Town servers... Afrihost say they are now fast tracking a plan for Cape Town but it's to late for many users, additionally they claim this influences only certain users in Cape Town, which can obviously not be the case...

7. Latency increased for some paths and seems like it's going to stay, the graph at the top of the page shows monitoring I configured for work to my monitoring service at onms.net from Johannesburg, clearly certain links have remained the same but many have gone up in latency. Many users complained of unacceptable gaming latency, jumps of 60ms+

8. Youtube - users mentioned Youtube being slower and jitter like, I did some testing and it seems like MTN doesn't have a local cache server for Youtube like IS, Mweb, and other local ISP's provide, therefore all the traffic goes overseas and in turns makes Youtube slow. Not sure if they are working on a solution to this?

9. Many users, especially those using uncapped accounts, posted speed test results which show speeds at a fraction of their respective line capacity... I did a quick download test and the speed was on par with the line for local speeds, international seemed to be about half the line speed on average and unstable in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. The same download was running at full speed on my MWeb account.

10. Have a news server ready, with the move the old news server was no longer available, something easily overlooked but many users remain loyal to NNTP

11. They provided another ADSL realm on the previously used IS network to help with the moving pains called afrigamer.co.za, overall a nice gesture but many couldn't as they needed to change router settings and for us to gain access to clients mean't driving out, which is just not a viable option. Afrigamer seems to have moved over to MTN to as many users noted the same speeds/latency issues after the free use of the afrigamer.co.za realm expired.

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