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Be Broadband revamps network for IPv6

The ISP is overhauling its 'core' network to increase resiliency and bandwidth, and to prepare itself for the switch to IPv6
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

Internet service provider Be Broadband is overhauling its 'core' network to increase bandwidth, and help prepare for the transition to IPv6.

The ISP — which was bought by O2 in June 2006 — said the upgrade would also help to improve the network's resiliency in the event of service outages. However, the company warned on Thursday that the upgrade could cause some disruption to customers.

"As we are effectively building a new 'core' network, we'll need to migrate everyone across from the existing network, the result being a small amount of downtime to the broadband service, and a change to everyone's IP addresses," the company said on its blog.

Work will begin in early 2012 and will last for approximately six to seven months "with both dynamic and static IP addresses also changing during this time", Be said. In order to ease strain, it will support old and new IP addresses for 30 days, allowing ample time to migrate across to the new system. It also reiterated that only the infrastructure Be owns is being upgraded, rather than the infrastructure it rents from other providers, such as BT.

Some users expressed their concern on the customer-restricted Be Broadband forum on hearing the news.

"Although change is good I'm fed up of being screwed over with downtime as a few months ago we had a series of outages in my area," a user by the name of 'timetraveler' wrote. "You guys struggled to find the issue and we ended up having days without internet, but conveniently it was covered under your TOS [terms of service]."

IP address block allocation

The company is also changing the way it allocates static IP address blocks following the upgrade, in order to fall in line with industry standards, it said. Previously, multiple static IP addresses had been assigned in blocks of four, 18 and 16; following the change, these addresses will be available in blocks of one, 6 and 14.

"There'll be no change to our current pricing, however, with an allocation of six being priced the same as the current four, and 14 the same price as the existing block of 16," Be said. "Those customers currently using either four or eight addresses will have their allocation changed to six and for those using 16 the allocation will be reduced to 14."

However, forum users expressed confusion over how the process will work, raising questions over the new block system.

"I currently have a chunk of eight addresses — I'm deliberately avoiding the term 'block' here — if I am being reduced to six, this is not enough for me, so will I be able to upgrade to 14, what is the cost difference, and will I still be able to have a transition period?" 'sjoram' wrote.

Another forum member, named 'dragon2611', suggested that "Be should be providing documentation on which settings need to change so that those of us with third-party routers will be able to configure them to work with their new network".

The company said in a separate response to a forum member that it will replace the routers of static IP customers still using non-IPv6 capable equipment.

"All Be members will be receiving emails regarding this over the coming months, detailing how it will affect them and what action they need to take," the company added.

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