David Szpunar: Lead Engineer, PC Help Services

David's Church Information Technology

April 22nd, 2009 at 5:49 pm Print This Post Print This Post

Dave Ramsey Town Hall For Hope Test

We, along with over 6,000 other venues, are hosting the Dave Ramsey Town Hall For Hope event tomorrow night (Thursday the 23rd of April). There have been several tests planned because the event is being distributed via the internet (primarily) to most event host locations. As you can imagine, that’s quite a bit of bandwidth and with a large event, a lot of redundancy and backups that LifeChurch.tv (the live event host) gets to have in place to make things run smoothly!

Today there are two final tests (each venue can pick one) where the stream is run for a couple of hours to the venues to make sure things are going smoothly. Last week there were some various hiccups that they found and fixed and this past Monday the test went very smoothly. We ran the afternoon test (the other is tonight) today in our Youth Center where we’re hosting the event and just after the official test, I decided to test our bandwidth with Comcast. I kept adding streams until I was streaming the 2.5Mbps (highest available) stream seven different times! Bandwidth peaked at over 18.5 Mbps downstream with all those streams running at the same time! And I think we had some bandwidth to spare (this is on our Comcast Business internet connection). Our connection is rated for 16 Mbps down and 2 Mbps up, while I’ve seen speed tests recently as high as 30 Mbps down and 4.5 Mbps up. Certainly the almost-19Mbps speed seen here is excellent and above our rating!

I’ve posted a bandwidth graph showing our internet connection’s utilization (also on TwitPic):

Cacti Graph - Town Hall For Hope Test 7x 2.5 Mbps Stream

Cacti Graph - Town Hall For Hope Test 7x 2.5 Mbps Stream

Comcast Fun

Of course we almost missed the test this morning because someone cut our main Comcast tap this morning just before it went under the parking lot to our building. You can see the actual cut cable (and a part of my shoe) in the picture I uploaded to TwitPic earlier. This caused a four-hour internet outage (8am to noon) that I managed to get back up once I realized (thanks to some prompting from our awesome Facilities Director Mike Moore) that the other end of our building has a completely separate cable tap from Comcast for the TVs on that end of the building! That tap was unharmed so I moved the modem to that IDF and plugged into the tap. I adjusted some VLAN configuration settings to put the firewall’s WAN port on a private VLAN with the modem’s LAN interface (it was plugged in directly before) and tada, at 11:58 am (two minutes before we were scheduled to test the Town Hall For Hope stream) the internet came back!

Comcast did come out later (during the Town Hall For Hope test in fact) and repair the cable that was cut. I’ll be moving the modem back after hours; the TVs are working so I’m going to assume the modem will be fine back on its original line as well. I’m really glad we had that second tap though, because we would have had to push the Town Hall For Hope test off until tonight when the youth group uses the room we’re using, and we wouldn’t have gotten as good of a test. And kudos to Comcast for their fast response to our issues, even though they weren’t the cause.

So, today didn’t quite go as planned, but given the issues I think we had plenty of successes. And I’m not going to worry about blocking free wifi or other bandwidth use during the Town Hall event tomorrow night; since we’re only doing one stream I think we can handle it! In fact, I just realized that if we overflow that Youth Center venue for some reason (which I doubt we will not because it’s not going to be a big event, but because there are so many other churches also hosting it), there’s no reason we can’t handle adding a feed to our main sanctuary as well if necessary. I like being prepared. Just keep the backhoe’s away from the property!