We’ve been experiencing Internet problems. The Internet was dropping on us, or downloading EXTREEEMELY SLOOOWLLLYYY.
You know how frustrating that can be. My wife was seeing Mac’s ball of futility every other minute, while I saw the standard No Internet Connection message on my HP. It helped us catch up on our reading, but we’re nunkies. (Don’t look it up; I just created it to mean “net junkies.”)
We use Ashland Home Net; most of our friends do not. Our friends haven’t been experiencing problems. We began wondering if it was just us. Perhaps our modem or router was going, or someone was outside, giggling by the side of the house, as they do something to disconnect us. You know, just having fun.
Then, two things happened. One, MSN sent me a notice, apologizing for their outages, problems, and interrupted service. (So, aha, see? Proof that something was going on. And people said I was crazy. I don’t have evidence of that, but it’s probably true.) Two, I called Ashland Home Net.
After two rings, the phone answered and a recording played.
“Tonights Rogue Broadband Wireless Internet Outage
“We are experiencing outages upstream from our equipment. This means, all of our equipment is operating correctly, it is the internet provider that we use that is having an issue.
“This is causing a massive slowdown of our network. Our upstream provider is aware and is working on the problem with every available resource. It is not a simple fix from what we have been told.
“I apologize for the outage and will try to keep you up to date on it as they work to restore service to an acceptable level.
“Thank you for your patience and for supporting a local company for your Rural Internet needs.”
I went to their website. Mostly about marketing, it shared nothing of use about outages. Over on their Facebook page, it was another story, with outages going back several months.
Still doubtful that AHN’s FB post explained everything we were enduring in our cathold, I did more searches. They yielded a ZDNet gem, “Internet hiccups today? You’re not alone. Here’s why.” The article went on to explain, the culprit is the Border Gateway Protocol.
While an ISP maintenance activity may have played a factor, the real problem was that Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routing tables have grown too large for some top-level Internet routers to handle. The result was that these routers could no longer properly handle Internet traffic.
BGP is the routing protocol used to share the master routes, or map, of the Internet. On top of this the Domain Name System (DNS) is layered so that when you click on “www.zdnet.com” you’re taken to ZDNet.
When the BGP maps grow too large for their routers’ memory then, as the Internet Storm Center said, “BGP is flapping.”
“BGP is flapping.” I loved this statement later in the article:
Cisco also warned its customers in May that this BGP problem was coming and that, in particular, a number of routers and networking products would be affected. There are workarounds, and, of course the equipment could have been replaced. But, in all too many cases this was not done.
Ah, good. They knew, and didn’t take action. Technology is grand, but like everything else, it needs some love and attention. At least I verified that it wasn’t just me, and my system.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled writing.