Re: Internet Service
From: R.P. Aditya (
Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2007 12:58:42 -0700 (PDT)

Let me preface by saying that at Great Oak we have several full-time geeks
including one (me) who ran an ISP, so the most important thing is of course to
make sure you have enough people to share the load of keeping your community
network humming along -- most of the time all should work well, occasionally,
as in once or twice a year, things might/will break down and your local one or
two geeks should be able to fix it in 15 minutes or less and once or twice a
year your ISP/upstream vendors etc. will botch things up such that you'll be
down 2-4 hours depending on whether you have redundant/backup connectivity.
Once in 2-3 years you can expect wiring failures (if your community has been
wired) that take a few weeks to solve unless you outsource the running of new
cable or finding the break and fixing to a geek who doesn't have a different
day job :-)

So to answer your specific questions, here's our level of support:

On Fri, Jun 29, 2007 at 10:39:11AM -0400, Sharon Villines wrote:
> 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.

You can expect waking hours support from your local geeks, and if you have
enough geeks, that might encompass anywhere from 18-24 hours a day!

You should be able to support 24/7 music and video downloads for about $5-10
household spending on the link to the outside world (you probably have to pay
a bit beyond $5 per household for less than 10 households) and on top of that
for shared equipment. You can and probably should investigate a "rate-shaping"
router if you still have problems -- we use a Soekris router with monowall
installed on it and it works well -- 2 or 3 times a year we have to warn a
household to cut back on their video downloading (if they saturate the line
for 2-3 hours multiple days a week say) and they have -- it only typically
happens if they don't realize what they are doing :-)

VPN support might push up your equipment cost, but should be doable depending
on your geeks' experience...

> 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.

we have a backup line -- we use Comcast commercial cable modem service as a
primary and have a TDS DSL line as backup and manually switch over, though we
are deploying a wireless network that can use both and automatically failover
(equipment by Beyond that, it becomes a matter of human
resources -- if you expect your local geeks to be available 24x7 and not be
able to do their day-jobs or take vacations, that's unrealistic -- if you
require that sort of service, share the cost of paying for that service from a
professional -- and if enough communities around can share, maybe you can help
a neighbor start their own service providing such support...(though that could
lead to sticky conflict-of-interest situations).

good luck,
Great Oak Cohousing
Ann Arbor, MI, USA

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