Russian telecoms say tests of new Internet-isolation equipment caused slowdowns and service disruptions
Eight telecom operators reported in November 2019 to Russia’s Communication Ministry about traffic-filtration tests using new DPI (deep packet inspection) equipment needed to implement new regulations designed to isolate the Russian segment of the Internet. The website RBC was the first news outlet to learn about the companies’ reports to the federal government.
“VimpelCom,” “MTS,” “Er-Telecom,” “Rostelecom,” and “Motiv” all reported problems when installing the new equipment. In the Chelyabinsk and Tyumen regions, customers of “Beeline” and Er-Telecom say their mobile Internet speeds and signal strength dropped noticeably. In its report, Er-Telecom said its DPI technology was unable to block the banned instant messenger Telegram because the app uses proxy servers with a special cryptographic protocol for transmitting an encrypted signal. “TTK” reported “an incident” where Internet service to clients in an entire city was disrupted. Rostelecom says the test caused a six-minute service outage, though the company offered no details. MTS, meanwhile, found that commercial Internet traffic ceased in Magnitogorsk during the DPI test.
In their reports, Megafon, Tele-2, and Motiv said their customers experienced no connectivity or speed issues.
A source “close to the organization of the experiment” told RBC that the companies’ reports concerned “the start-up and commissioning of equipment for network operators,” not the testing of the hardware itself.
“The testing was done earlier and the results were positive, but in recent years network operators have been actively developing and now they rely on multifarious equipment with different software. This has complicated the implementation of DPI,” says RBC’s source. The start-up and commissioning were completed late last year and now, he says, everything works properly in all modes.
In its report to Russia’s Communications Ministry, VimpelCom stated that it is unable to evaluate the real technical capacity of using DPI with large volumes of traffic, insofar as the experiment last year was carried out in a region with relatively few customers. The company asked the government to continue testing. Er-Telecom also requested more extensive testing before Roskomnadzor’s program rolls out nationwide. RBC’s source says, however, that the government has deemed further testing to be unnecessary.