For most BPO and call center operators in the Philippines, their network will be similar to ours at Bitstop Network Services Inc. where we have multiple gateways to the internet. These redundant links are not only for disaster recovery but also helps to optimize traffic to and from other networks.
Our issue started when I noticed our inbound traffic coming from PLDT steadily decreasing over the past 6 months. In contrast to our other links like Globe Telecoms and Telstra which were increasing over time. In fact, just yesterday, PLDT accounted for only 20% of total inbound traffic, compared to Globe at 45% and Telstra at 35%.
As a side note to non-system administrators: When YOUR IP block is not being advertised by your carrier to other carriers, the rest of the world do not know how to reach your network. Therefore, the rule is, the more networks that get to ‘know’ about how to get to your network (via BGP route advertisements by your carrier), the better and faster it is for your network to get inbound traffic.
The two usual suspects for this issue/behavior would be:
- Misconfiguration of PLDT’s BGP (border gateway protocol) announcement of our IP block to their partners.
- PLDT’s international inter-connections have been steadily outpaced by Globe Telecoms and Telstra.
To get to the bottom of this I did two things.
First to rule out misconfiguration issue, I asked Michael Catan, our PLDT account manager to escalate this to their technical support. Thanks to Mike, I already have a Ticket ID 18987322. As of this writing, PLDT technical support has neither confirmed nor denied any misconfiguration. They are still looking into it.
Secondly, to rule out “inferior network links” and based on suggestions from friends like Amante Alvaran, I decided to analyze BGP information from global looking glass operators like Hurricane Electric, British Telecoms, Tata Communications, Level3, NTT, TeliaSonera, Deutsche Telecoms and Flagtel Communications. (Level3’s looking glass was so slow I wasn’t able to use it at all.)
A looking glass is a facility that allows one to check what BGP routes are installed at a particular location. It also includes the AS number (Autonomous System) of the advertising party. For PLDT it is 9299, Globe is 4775 and Telstra is 4637.
A screenshot example of HE’s looking glass might show something like this:
The result of the survey will show if indeed the reason of the lower inbound traffic from PLDT is due to the fact that it is ‘less preferred’ or has fewer links globally with the rest of the internet, vis-à-vis Globe and Telstra.
Initial results looked pretty bad for PLDT. From Hurricane Electric’s looking glass, PLDT was seen advertising our IP block in only about slightly over 10% of international locations. In contrast, Telstra and Globe were seen advertising our IP blocks in the majority of cases.
To get a better picture, we need to get more looking glass operator results to provide a more balanced point of view. The compiled results from most of the global looking glass are presented below:
For each continent, we generated a ranking based on the number of locations where we see each carrier advertising our route. Based on the compiled results, Globe is the overall winner. It ranked number 1 for Asia, Africa, North and South America, while PLDT is ranked 1st in Australia and Europe only.
We can drill down to specific countries and from specific Looking Glass Operators. So while Globe leads the pack overall for the whole of the world and lost to PDLT in Europe, a drill down to country level shows that PLDT isn’t always ranked 1st in all the European states for all the looking glass operators.
The graph below shows the results in Europe from British Telecoms Looking Glass. Globe is blue, PLDT is yellow and Telstra is green.
So what does it mean for BPO and other network operators? If majority of your traffic comes from the US, Asia, Middle East and Africa, Globe Telecoms is the better carrier choice. However, if your traffic comes from Europe and Australia, PLDT would be a good buy. Overall though, Globe telecoms have surpassed PLDT in the number of network locations that we examined.
If you would like access to the stats and visualization behind this please post a comment here and I will respond within 24 hours.