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GCOMM network upgrade – a progress update 1

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Michael Bellears
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A few months ago, I wrote an article informing of how we had made a decision to proceed with upgrading our core network and that over the subsequent months we would be making the changes. The project is currently in full swing and there have been some positive results to date. As I noted, we are upgrading both our core routers and core switch infrastructure.

Since that time we have purchased the core router and switch infrastructure. At the time of the previous article we made the decision to use the ASR routing platform but we were still researching the switching technology. After thorough research we made our decision and recently upgraded  the switching infrastructure utlising the Cisco  4500-X switches. I am pleased to say that the transition is progressing smoothly. But please keep in mind, the upgrade of switching infrastructure on a LAN is not quite as complicated as that on a network supporting thousands of sites and much more end users. There is a great deal to consider and plan.

The Cisco  4500-X in a nutshell

The Cisco  4500-X delivers up-to 800 Gbps of switching capacity, capable of scaling up to 1.6-Tbps capacity with the use of VSS technology. It is packed  with modular uplink and auto-detect 10 Gigabit Ethernet and 1 Gigabit Ethernet ports. They take advantage of a feature called virtual switching system (VSS), which means that  you can combine two switches into a single logical switch. It means that the two switches can be in an active and standby mode, making the entire switching infrastructure completely redundant in architecture.

High performance switches make for reliable broadband

Having the right equipment in the network is essential for running a high performance broadband provider like GCOMM. Typical challenges often faced by carriers include the management of packet loss, jitter, latency and throughput. These issues are all elements that can affect the performance of a customer broadband network. Having robust equipment at the core of the network ensures that broadband services can be provided reliably and securely. These performance issues are most noticeable with time sensitive applications, such as voice and video traffic. For example, when a network drops data packets, it is particularly noticeable to  these applications. The issue compounds with increased network traffic.

The need for the network upgrade was pretty straight forward. The growth in the GCOMM business and the sheer growth in the size of broadband connections means that the traffic required to traverse the GCOMM network is growing. And with all of the carriers delivering larger bandwidth telecommunications circuits and the NBN making progress, the timing was right. It took about 6 months of research and another 3 months of testing and planning before the actual upgrades could physically start.

Cisco ASR 1006 at our core

As previously mentioned in other articles, we have also invested in the Cisco ASR for our core routing technology. These routers have been installed in Brisbane and some services have been migrated. Over the next few weeks we will migrate all of the services to the new equipment. The Sydney infrastructure is currently in testing.

Our commitment to transparency and business

Operating a high performance, aggregated telecommunications network is a key component of our strategy here at GCOMM. We have invested millions of dollars over time in a network that can deliver customised private IP and high speed internet connections to our customers. Given that nearly all of our customers are businesses, we understand the importance of reliable broadband. With the increasing transparency that the Internet gives to customers, we are pleased to be able to proactively provide transparency to our customers.


I am pleased and available to speak to you about the network. If you have any questions or ideas you would like to share then please give me a call or send me an email.

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About Michael Bellears

Michael Bellears
Michael has been working with GCOMM since 1999. He has always enjoyed using computers and was accepted into a Computer Science degree at Deakin University. At GCOMM he is now responsible for the management and operation of GCOMM’s WAN network. He has travelled extensively throughout Europe and Egypt. He is married and has two young children, his “greatest accomplishment”.
  • Hard to imagine so much switching capacity to be honest. I guess its just a sign of what is to come in the future. I have always loved Cisco core networking kit. Its pretty much bullet proof with great support to boot.