FTTP Has Arrived – With Some Caveats

For 90% of the time I’ve run this website, it’s been run from a server in my house, over a domestic-grade ADSL connection. The problem has always been the very asymmetric download/upload bandwidth provided by domestic ISPs. Normally it’s about a 10:1 ratio these days (the current connection is 350MBit DL / 20MBit UL, which is even worse). Going back a few years, this wasn’t much of an issue – 99.9% of general ISP customers didn’t need a high upload rate, as they were only requesting web addresses, etc. Nowadays especially with the rise of online video services & social media, upload rates are more important than ever, since a good proportion of the population is uploading their own content daily.

Despite these changes in how the networks are utilised by the end users, the upload rates haven’t really improved much, which I’ve always found baffling.

Considering the bandwidth limitations imposed by such a connection on upload rates, the site’s done pretty well over the years, even though it can be a touch slow at times. I’ve been looking at changing this situation for a long time, watching to see if any of the direct fibre ISPs in the UK were going to get around to serving my area, such as Gigafibre, CityFibre or HyperOptic, but they unfortunately haven’t yet appeared anywhere near my locale.

Cue the entry of a new ISP: Brsk. These guys are building an entirely new fibre network, and just so happen to be doing the network build in my direct area at the moment. For only £5 more a month than I’m paying for the service I have now, I can now obtain full gigabit symmetric connectivity!

There’s one small caveat to the service, which wouldn’t bother the average member of the public, is a serious block to how I use my internet connectivity – they don’t hand out globally addressable IPv4 addresses. This is ostensibly due to the global IPv4 address shortage. Instead, they use CGNAT to address their endpoints, which renders me unable to route anything out to the global internet from my connection. Luckily there are ways around this issue.

I do have access to some public IPv4 addresses that are currently unallocated, in another networking installation, which also runs a VPN into my home network. So it’s just a matter of hooking up my primary server to that VPN, and routing one of the spare IPv4s over the private link from the router at the other site. This will limit thing somewhat, as the other site link is a 100MBit symmetric leased-line, however that’s still an 80MBit improvement in upload rate overall.

This latter solution of routing a public IP over VPN to a private endpoint is something I’ve already done in preparation – and it works great. The firewall on the site router provides extra protection for the server, and even with the VPN overhead it’s just as quick as it was before.

Since they’re still building out the network, I’ve only been able to place a preorder, and the connection will be installed (allegedly) sometime in July. Once the new link is in, I can get rid of my existing provider.

Once the link’s installed I’ll provide some updates!

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