Re: Internet Service
From: Tim Mensch (tim-coho-lbitgems.com)
Date: Sun, 1 Jul 2007 16:33:29 -0700 (PDT)
Sharon Villines wrote:
It seems to be down much too often and very sloooooooow too much of the time. Sometimes the problem is solved by someone going to the basement to restart the modem or reboot something else. People are tired of going to the basement and sometimes everyone who is able is also out of town.
If the problem is the modem needing to be restarted, it's possible that replacing the modem will fix the problem. At PHCH we got a good modem, I set up a nice Linux-based server, and It Just Works. There hasn't been a need to reboot the server because it had crashed, ever. I hear that Wild Sage has a Linux-based router as well, and that after it was installed, the Internet connection was much more reliable. Having just stayed at a friend's house for a few days where their router was failing and needing to be restarted several times a day (?!), I have that much more respect for a good piece of hardware.

If you don't have a Linux geek handy to conscript, something like the OfficeConnect Cable/DSL Router from 3-Com would probably do well for only $51, based on its reviews:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833105049

There are also commercial-quality routers that cost a lot more (8x more, in fact), but that would likely work even better--search newegg.com for the line-up from 3-com to see a list of options.
1. What level of service should we be striving for? Can we support 24/7 music and video downloads? Something called VPN that people need to connect to their offices? Could these things be affecting service? If so, how do we limit service to a level that is sustainable.
If people are using it to download video and music 24/7, then you need to seriously look at your bandwidth needs. The 3-Com above supports multiple VPN pass-through (so lots of people can VPN to their respective workplaces at the same time), which many brands don't. VPN itself doesn't slow down a modem, but downloading large files from the office might. Trying to edit using Microsoft Word or Excel over a VPN connection (on a mounted drive) DOES mess with a connection in a bad way--copy the file to edit it locally rather than editing it over the network.
2. What do we do to upgrade service? Basically most of us expect high quality speed and reliability because we depend on this. I depend on it much more than phone service, for example. My phone could be out for a month and I might not even notice.
At PHCH we have a 6Mbps downstream DSL connection. We don't have people using it to constantly stream music and video, but with 32 households hooked up, I know several of us were likely streaming simultaneously with no noticeable drop in speed. Look around for good deals in your area. Sonic.Net had a 6Mbps business connection (can be sent to multiple households) the last time I looked for $60/month, for instance. The following site should list ISP options in your area--don't miss the wireless options, which may end up working better than cable or DSL:

http://www.broadbandreports.com/

Going back to your first question: If you get a 6Mbps connection (or at least 4Mbps) as the shared connection, and you STILL have problems with bandwidth, ask people to self-report on their usage to figure out what is causing the slowdown. The bottleneck might be at your provider, or if you have a cable modem then it might be your local loop capacity isn't good--providers and cable modem companies both famously oversell capacity, so that during busy times of day everyone gets poor service. If you do have a lot of people trying to download large files at the same time, then you might need to ask people to not use the common network that way--in other words, if you want access to a complete Internet pipe, you need to pay for your own pipe. But I wouldn't suggest restrictions until you have a fast enough connection to start with, and you're sure that the downloads are a problem.

Tim

--
Tim Mensch

Selling a unit at Pleasant Hill Cohousing ( CA): http://phch.org/2230

Currently at Wild Sage (Boulder, CO): http://www.wildsagecohousing.org

Founding member of Tumblerock, a Boulder, CO area community
looking for land: http://tumblerock.org


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