Re: Cohousing and the information age (fwd)
From: Dave McComb (
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 1997 23:35:51 -0500
>> Paul B. Chen  pbchen [at]
>> Wed, 16 Apr, 1997
>> For those who have looked into networking issues, some questions.
>> 1) Can anyone recommend a good cross-platform, peer-to-peer networking 
>> solution?  I don't know if we're ready to go the server route; at this 
>> point in time, there's not a heavy PC/networking guru type to keep such a
>> device up and running and in tune.  Plus, there's a couple of Macs, mine 
>> being one of them.

I think you'll probably end up with less admin with a server than with a
peer to peer network.

If a server won't work for you, you'll probably be better off using the
internet as your network.

>> 3) For whatever the cable folks recommend, what is the maximum run 
>> distance before repeaters are required?  And since I've never done any of
>> this myself, would anybody like to recommend a particular manufacturer's 
>> equipment, or they all pretty much the same?

I don't remember the exact run lengths, but it is fairly restrictive.  We
have a fairly small campus and were able to just make it work within the
restrictions.  The two main restrictions are that no node can have more than
3 ( I think) hubs between itself and the server, and then there is the
specific hub to hub distance restrictions.  We have a guy in the community
who does this stuff for a living and worked out the details.  

One of the cooler aspects of our network topology was that we have 11
buildings (duplexes, triplexes and quadplexes) plus a common house.  We have
a hub in each building and when the buildings were built people had the
option of prewiring for the LAN.  It was an extra $25 per wall jack, so we
put one whereever we had a phone jack.

What this means is that you are on a subnet with the people in your building
and then the buildings are hierachically connected to form the community net
(still a LAN)

>> 4) Besides ISDN or T1 coming in / going out, is there anything else that 
>> can be considered?

There are a couple of others that will come up, and I'd recommend your
avoiding them:

The first is cable modems, there has been a lot of talk, and a few trials
attempting to get a network to run off the TV cables that are already in the
ground.  The cables have plenty of capacity, that isn't the problem.  The
problem is the cable companies have used up all the available channels on
that cable with simultaneous broadcast of 100 channels of video.
Furthermore their switches are not really switches, they are broadcasters
that broadcast over cable instead of the airwaves and that is a lot of
capital equipment to get swapped out before any of this will work.  I've
spoken to the head of the local cabel franchise and to some people in the
know about some of these cabel modem trials, and they are a long way from
imminent rollout.  So I'm not holding my breath waiting for cable modems to
save us.

The other one that will come up is the satellite down link with telephone
uplink.  This configuration is borne of the beleif that Internet use is
mostly downloading with little upload, so the upload and download channels
need not be symetrical. (This is a variation on the model that sees the
internet as an entertainment medium where we'll get our videos on the
download and be doing channel changing on the upload).   Firstly, I haven't
heard any credible success stories on this, and even if I had it runs
counter to some of my expectations of the use of the internet.  I think that
as the internet matures a bit more, and as we start to get more work at home
types here is our community, I think its very conceivable that we will be
uploading (to other people) as much traffic as we are downloading. 

We ended up going with ISDN, mostly because the community wasn't ready to
bite off that next chunk.  As it turns out there isn't nearly as much cost
difference between the two, maybe there will be an upgrade in our future.
Right now our main objective is to get enough people on the ISDN system to
recoup the costs we have already incurred and are incurring on an ongoing
rate, before we can look at an upgrade.  When the time comes the decision
will be pretty obvious.

Two other things to consider:  in this part of Colorado getting an ISDN line
takes a long time.  They will promise you 30 days from the day you order,
and it will take on average 6 months, so get your order in early and
expedite it regularly.  

The other thing is ask around to see if there is a co-op in your broader
community, we have one here, where a number of business got together to
share a T1 connection, Greyrock is tied into the that coop, and one of the
nice things is there is much less competition for the bandwidth during the
evening when we use it the most.   
Dave McComb
Community Member At Large
Greyrock Commons, Fort Collins, CO

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