Telkom Internet Routing Causing Problems

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South African Internet users are plagued by high latency, dropped connections and general slow speed. Finally, the cause can be laid squarely at Telkom’s door. Telkom’s network is found by routing analysis to be dropping up to 100% of packets.

Six weeks after first writing this article the problems continue although there has been a small level of improvement and latency remains unacceptably. high. With South Africa’s Internet so heavily reliant on Telkom for inter-connectivity this problem must impact business negatively.

My Internet connection uses 8ta HSPA (3G) which is part of Telkom’s network, and works with Telkom ADSL network. The problem is affecting ADSL users as well as 3G users, so clearly this is the part of the network with the problem.

Nearly every Internet user in South Africa relies at some point on Telkom’s infrastructure for connectivity. With few exceptions, all Internet routing in SA is carried by Telkom land lines at some point. When Telkom has problems, the entire nations Internet has problems!

What is the cause?

I can only speculate that a lack of technical skill to keep the network performing at acceptable levels has resulted in poor maintenance or incorrect configuration of the switching devices used to carry data traffic. Or the system has reached it’s maximum carrying capacity and cannot handle the load.
What Can You Do

Nothing! If you report this to Telkom and assuming you manage to contact someone who has any knowledge of technical matters, the answer received will invariably be “it’s a problem on your side”. You will no doubt be instructed to follow a process to reboot your modem, uninstall and re-instal the drivers and software. The procedure will take about 45 minutes and WON’T SOLVE THE PROBLEM. Then they will want to send a technician to your premises – which you will have to pay for. And the problem will still not be fixed.

This is not a client side issue – it is a network problem.
How Long Will This Bad Internet Connectivity Last

Don’t hold your breath. It has been going on for three weeks or longer with no end in sight. If you think about the number of traffic lights (a relatively simple technology) that have faults, and never get properly fixed, you will realise the real problem is lack of competent technicians. Repairing the high latency, dropped Internet packets and other routing problems causing poor Internet performance requires a higher level of skill.

This is not a forum to analyse the reasons for the appalling level of technical ability in this country, or the reasons why para-statals like Telkom cannot employ technicians with suitable ability…