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TalkTalk promises its state-of-the-art network won’t suffer 512K internet wobbles

TalkTalk has said its customers are safe from the latest round of web outages because its network supports ‘modern’ hardware.

The company says £100m invested in upgrades will protect its customers from the ‘512K Day’ connection problems which affected internet users around the world on August 12.

The problems were caused by out-dated routers that weren’t expected to cope with the number of people and devices online in 2014, and the huge number of websites, but TalkTalk said its upgrades let it support 100 times the online traffic of older systems.

Some of the world's biggest ISPs reported internet outages last week
Some of the world’s biggest ISPs reported internet outages last week

TalkTalk’s chief technology officer, Gary Steen, said: “TalkTalk maintains more than enough bandwidth to meet demand and ensure TalkTalk homes and businesses consistently have the best experience.

“We are improving resilience, so that if problems arise in one part of the network, traffic can be rerouted without causing problems for our customers trying to get online, and we have rolled out new software that improves efficiency and reliability.”

The routers designed to deliver you with internet five years ago just aren’t up to scratch when it comes to providing hundreds of thousands of people with super-fast internet around the world, although most of the problems were reported by customers outside of the UK.

The problems only affected those using 512k routers, so called because they support 512,000 routes in their memory. When these routes get full – a problem that happens when multiple users are accessing multiple websites at any time – they fall over and that causes an internet connection to drop out.

Apparently, engineers knew in May this year that the problem was going to happen, but chief executives in many ISPs and internet routing companies decided to ignore their warnings.

The 512k problem is one of several internet engineering challenges made worse by the ‘Y2K hangover’, where the success of worldwide efforts to prevent computers crashing at the start of the year 2000 convinced many people there had never been a problem to worry about.

The most significant of these challenges is the need to switch to IPv6 before the number of available internet addresses runs out. Many ISPs have failed to upgrade to IPv6, while the new technology’s architects have refused to introduce compromises which would make the change smoother.

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