Update on iDX upgrade, iDirect software bug

As you are aware, we have been engaged with iDirect over the last several months on a project to upgrade one of our primary network operating systems from iDS 7.0.7 to iDX 2.1.3.

About a month ago, we were able to identify a bug in iDirect’s remote side software that prevents Infinity remotes from acquiring Rx Lock on outbound carriers with certain frequency/symbol rate combinations.

Our primary outroute, unfortunately, is positioned at the precise frequency as to be affected by this software bug.  This bug required us to roll back our previous upgrade to allow iDirect an opportunity to develop and test a patch.  This new software is now available, and we will be proceeding as follows, beginning on Wednesday, October 19th at 5pm Eastern.  As before, we will be conducting this upgrade in stages over a 10 day period. You will be able to continue using your Internet service throughout this upgrade process.

In Brief:

The upgrade procedure we are following will require two short outages for each remote on the network, each of approximately 5 minutes in duration.  During the first outage, your remote will be moved to transitional space segment.  This transitional space will allow you to continue to use your satellite Internet service while we complete the rest of the upgrade.  Once we are ready to upgrade your modem, you will experience a second short outage while your modem is upgraded to iDX and returned to its permanent space.  For the majority of our customers, the move to the transitional space will occur October 19th – 22nd. The upgrade itself will take place October 23rd and 24th.  We have reserved the transitional space for an additional eight days, to allow us the opportunity to individually work with certain special case customers to ensure that their upgrade goes smoothly as well.

What you need to do:

If you have a fixed antenna, you do not need to do anything.  Simply leave your modem turned on over the weekend, and we will complete the upgrade normally.  If you are curious as to if your upgrade has been completed, please send email to support@skycasters.com, with your account number in the subject line, and ask for a status on your upgrade.  We’ll be happy to let you know where you are in the queue.

For the smoothest possible upgrade for you, please be sure to leave your system online over the weekend.

If you have a mobile (auto-pointing) dish, and you are planning to be online over the weekend, great.  We’ll move you with everyone else.  If you are not planning to be online over the weekend, simply call the NOC between October 24th and October 28th, and we will be happy to upgrade you in real-time (330-785-2101).  Real time upgrade will require you to deploy your dish, and will require about 15 minutes to complete the upgrade and verify proper operation.  (Note: If you can’t call in during that time, not to worry, we can complete the upgrade later – when it is convenient for you.)

All the details:

In order to facilitate this move, we have acquired additional capacity on G28.  We will use this capacity to set up a transitional network to support the upgrade.  This transitional network will allow all remotes to remain active and online during the upgrade period.  Beginning on Wednesday, October 19th, we will begin moving remotes to the transitional network.  Before we move a remote, we will verify it is online and stable with good numbers, and that the remote has been idle for at least 10 minutes.  We are anticipating that by following this check-and-verify procedure, we will be able to make the move without disrupting user activity.  This move will result in a service interruption of a few minutes as your modem reboots.  We will be moving the majority of our customers on October 19th through the 21st.

Beginning on Saturday morning, we will be moving the remaining .2 customers to our transitional network.  By Saturday afternoon, we anticipate that 90% of our customers will have been moved to the transitional network.  The only customers that will not be moved are any mobiles (or other sites) that are off line.

Once all active customers have been moved to the transitional network, the 7.0.7 carrier will be temporarily decommissioned and replaced with the new iDX carrier.  We will conduct engineering testing and validation on the revised iDX code on Saturday.  Once these engineering tests are complete, we will restore the primary 7.0.7 carrier.

On Sunday morning, we will begin the actual iDX upgrade.  At this time, the 7.0.7 .2 carrier will be decommissioned, and replaced with the new iDX carrier.  At the same time, the revision server will be started.  The revision server will allow those customers not moved to the transitional network to be upgraded manually (in real-time), as they rejoin the network.  You will need to call the NOC (330-785-2101) to have us initiate this process for your modem.  If you have a mobile system, you will be upgraded using the revision server process.  Just give us a call, and we will be happy to bring you in.

Once we have verified that the revision server is working as expected, we will begin upgrading customers that were previously moved to the transitional space.  As before, we will identify customer remotes that are stable with good numbers, and that have been idle for 10 minutes.  We will batch these customers and upgrade them to iDX while moving them back to their permanent space segment.  This upgrade process will require a reboot of your modem, again resulting in a brief service interruption (under five minutes).

This process will continue throughout the day on Sunday.  While the majority of remotes will be addressed on Sunday, we anticipate that there will be some remotes that will remain on the transitional space into the week of October 24th.  These remotes will be addressed individually throughout the week.

Any remote that is not online over the October 21st-23rd weekend will be upgraded manually during the week of October 24th.  We will begin contacting customers on Monday the 24th to coordinate times to perform this upgrade.  This process will be conducted from the NOC – we only need to coordinate having your system placed online for the upgrade.

As always, we will be broadcasting updates throughout the upgrade on Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/skycasters/).  We appreciate the trust that you have placed in us, and we know how vital your satellite link is to you.  We are taking extraordinary measures to minimize disruption as we position the network for future growth and expansion.

All the best,

-Mike Kister
Skycasters / VSAT Systems





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