Photo Credit: Leia
For the past 11 days, I’ve been bombarded by accusations that my company’s server is slow. As much as I explained that the server performance is on par with service standards of developed countries (in fact, we’re doing much better than most), the truth of the matter is, regardless of where your server is located; you will always be subjected to your ISP’s failures and incompetencies.
For any problem (especially Internet connectivity related ones), one must find the source of the bottleneck. In our case, it has been Streamyx’s “service interruption” that has been going on since 20 December 2008.
Nevermind that the server has been performing admirably since that period for the rest of the world. The painful truth is that my customer base is almost entirely located in Malaysia. Even more painful is the fact that almost all of them are Streamyx customers; that monolithic, incompetent, self-absorbed, competophobic, poor excuse of an ISP.
Let me reproduce the Streamyx announcement page I linked to in full:
Dear Valued Customers,
Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) wishes to announce that there is a disruption of its Internet services due to circuits fault on Southeast Asia – Middle East – Western Europe 4 (SMW4) submarine cable network between Palermo (Southern Italy) and Alexandria (Northern Egypt) linking Malaysia to Europe. Due to this, customers using Internet services may now experience slow browsing while accessing websites hosted in Europe.
In addition, customers using other IP services such as Virtual Private Network (VPN) and other critical business applications linked to Europe may also experience some service degradation.
To alleviate the problem, some of the links have been rerouted to alternate routes to ease the congestion.
Restoration works on the affected cables are already in progress. However, in the restoration process, traffic to Northern America may experience minor degradation while traffic to other countries is not affected. TM expects the complete recovery of its services by December 31, 2008. TM will make further announcements on the progress of the restoration works.
TM wishes to assure its customers that it is undertaking all necessary measures to restore communications services for its customers as soon as possible.
Customers can call TM at 100 and select “Internet Services” or e-mail us at email@example.com for any Internet related problems.
Note the following sentences:
- Due to this, customers using Internet services may now experience slow browsing while accessing websites hosted in Europe. …:
- However, in the restoration process, traffic to Northern America may experience minor degradation… and;
- …traffic to other countries is not affected.
Let’s see if I can interpret the main points correctly:
- The problem lies with a submarine cable linking Southeast Asia to the Middle East to Western Europe; Result: Slow access speeds to sites hosted in Europe
- To fix this; TM performs traffic re-routing which in turn degrades QOS to North American hosted servers; Result: Slow Internet access to Europe and North America (read: USA and Canada)
- And amazingly; traffic to other countries are not affected! What a good way to put a positive note on the whole issue. FYI TM, more than half of the world’s most popular servers are located in Europe and North America!
So basically, a huge portion of Malaysian Internet users are effectively connected to European and North American sites via sub-par connectivity. The wonderful thing about TM’s broadband business plan is that consumers still pay the full monthly charges even though they’re not getting what they paid for!
Hurray for TM! Oh the advantages of being an incompetent monopoly.
If you think companies that host their content on Malaysian servers are not affected by this issue, you couldn’t be more wrong. Perhaps Malaysians will have little to no problems accessing your content. However, look at the big picture…
- European Internet users account for 26.3% of global usage
- North Americans make up 17% of worldwide Internet users
My question is; Can your business afford losing more than a third of potential global traffic? TM certainly thinks so… at least for 11 days of the most prolific period of Internet spending (the week before and after Christmas are most profitable for a majority of online retailers)!
To TM, this is just a small issue. Why else wouldn’t they apologize to customers in that announcement. It’s not like we, the consumer, have any choice in this matter.