Re: Shared community internet service
From: Bryan Syverson (
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2014 16:45:22 -0700 (PDT)
Hi, Alan,

At La Querencia Fresno Cohousing, I manage our community internet service.
We have two modems provided by ISPs (one AT&T "U-Verse" DSL and one 50mg
Comcast) which, with the help of a BBNA (Broadband Bonding Network
Appliance), give us pretty good performance.  Both of these accounts are
"business" accounts and if the ISPs don't like us sharing it, they've never
said anything about it.  I like the BBNA because it does a good job of
balancing the load between the two WAN connections (it supports up to six)
as well as providing firewall and DHCP, if you need that.

We have 8 residential buildings each connected to our common house wiring
closet via fiber.  Each building has its own edge smart switch and the
common house has the core switch.  Within each building, everything's
copper: each unit has 3 (for a 2bd) to 6 (for a 5bd) wall jacks.

Configuration of the equipment was supposed to have been done by our
consultant but was never done correctly, so we still have all devices on
one big happy subnet.  Although it works, it is not good for security or
performance.  It also means that if an individual's router has DHCP enabled
(as is the default) it screws the whole system up.  So I'm in the process
of replacing the building switches that will isolate each unit on its own
subnet and VLAN.  This should have been done 5 years ago, but I am now no
longer Treasurer, too, so I will have some time to finally get it working.

Support is a big problem: I'm it.  There's one other person here who can
reboot the system when a modem flakes out, but if a switch dies or the BBNA
conks out while I'm on vacation, there's no internet until I get back.
Probably not the best system, but the price is right.  However, a few of
our new, younger, members have some tech skills so I have a new cadre of
folks to train.

Speaking of price, the service is paid for out of HOA dues so there's no
additional cost for free HSI, which everyone uses and likes.  (We have only
one member with her own HSI, not because of performance but because she
thinks she gets a better deal bundling.)  However, I think you'd get an
earful of complaints about how, when things don't work, our tech (me) isn't
always Johnnie-on-the-spot.  I avoid individual support at this point
except for close friends: some folks are simply unsupportable.  My
responsibility ends if the wire in your wiring closet is alive.  WiFi, in
particular, is a nightmare to support (but always remember: you can blame
both construction and sunspots! )

Once I get the VLAN situation ironed out, I'll probably replace our
existing WiFi with the Open Mesh system that others here have recommended.


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