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Ask Slashdot: Provisioning Internet For Condo Association?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the connected-vending-machines-in-the-lobby dept.

Networking 257

An anonymous reader writes "I am on a committee to evaluate internet options for a medium sized condo association (80 units — 20 stories) in a major metropolitan area (Chicago). What options are out there? What questions should one ask of the various sales representatives? How should access be distributed within the building (wireless APs, ethernet cable). Does it make sense to provide any additional condo wide infrastructure (servers, services)? How much should it cost? How much dedicated bandwidth is required to support a community of this size?"

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No offense, but... (3, Insightful)

war4peace (1628283) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206223)

If you're asking all those questions, you should not be in that committee.

Re:No offense, but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206243)

That depends on whether he's the only one on the committee who even knows Slashdot.

Hire an expert. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206253)

Most of the people who want Internet service probably already have it.

If you're looking at consolidating that then you'd want to talk to a network engineer. That person would be able to tell you what your options were (wireless between floors probably won't work well) and how much to expect to pay for them and what kind of throughput to you will likely see.

Re:No offense, but... (5, Insightful)

Mr0bvious (968303) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206307)

I often ask questions that I already have an opinion about (or believed expertise) to either validate my thoughts or to bring in additional insights from others.

Just because he's asked the questions doesn't mean that he is not competent in this area.

Personally, I think *not* asking these types of questions is arrogant and closed minded.

If you think you're an expert that has nothing more to learn, you are a lot less smart than you think - this is just another take on the Dunning–Kruger effect [wikipedia.org] .

Re:No offense, but... (3, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206909)

Yes but the bigger question is is this an Ask Slashdot question and the answer is no, it is not. Network engineers get paid good money to set up places like this because it IS complex, difficult, and basically a royal PITA, especially in a high rise. This isn't a question like "Here is the jobs I have, what kind of CPU would be best with this budget?" or some such, frankly the answers he is gonna get are gonna be worthless because you need to know the layout, what kind of lines are in the area, what kind of throughput are they expecting, etc.

This just isn't the kind of question you can just throw onto a form with so little details and get anything but total bullshit back, sorry.

Re:No offense, but... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40207041)

Those are pretty fine reasons you outlined for asking questions. However in this instance there's not enough information to provide meaningful answers to someone who hasn't really demonstrated the ability to make any use of good answers. In fact, with his last two questions it's quite clear that he's way out of his league. Ask Slashdot is very useful for the reasons you outlined. It is a waste of time when editors post these "do my homework" questions from people who are either lazy or way out of their depth.

Re:No offense, but... (3, Interesting)

war4peace (1628283) | more than 2 years ago | (#40207161)

I don't have anything against asking specific, directed questions about a well-documented issue. But the article submitter wants ALL the answers on a cloudy issue that hasn't been detailed.
Analogy: "I have to buy a car for my wife, here's several questions about how the car should be: Headlights? Tires? Engine? Consumption? Color?"
The questions and details are crap, so the answers would be crap too.

Re:No offense, but... (4, Insightful)

Sorthum (123064) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206311)

Yeah, not trying to be offensive here, but answering the questions you've posed has spun up an entire industry; it's decidedly non-trivial. On the plus side, for a project of this size you can quite easily get a number of consultancies in Chicago to quote you free of charge.

Re:No offense, but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206321)

Well, that was offensive.

Re:No offense, but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206335)

If you're asking all those questions, you should not be in that committee.

The single most important things is are you trying to control which ISP your tennants use and force them to use "YOUR CHOICE" or allow them to choose their own ISP .

I would suggest you move very rapidly away from the building is supplied by ISP xyz idea and allow people their rights to free choice

Re:No offense, but... (5, Interesting)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206899)

On the other hand, a pooling of resources and building-wide network makes sense for many reasons...

Having lots of different individual wireless networks in a small space causes congestion, a single centrally controlled one is far more efficient, and if there are any public areas in the development this could cover those too.

Depending how small the units are, having a central area where users can install noisy devices like a NAS (and not have to listen to it while you sleep) could be useful.

A building wide network has other uses, for instance door access systems, CCTV, access to shared resources such as a satellite dish etc.

There's no reason to have only a single internet connection, several could be used and load balanced while also providing some redundancy - depending on whats available in the area.

Re:No offense, but... (5, Informative)

sortadan (786274) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206339)

The poster isn't incompetent necessarily, just completely lazy dumping his research project on an internet forum and hoping other people will google stuff for him while he goes and does what ever he does when he's not working.

I looked into doing this at my place in Seattle. There are a number of options with their own pros and cons. Direct microwave antenna on the roof to the fiber hub downtown was the best option for large buildings, but that's specific to my area and had a large cost of entry.

Ended up not doing anything and I highly recommend it. Best you can do is to tell everyone to go solve the problem themselves and if a few neighbors want to share a connection over a WiFi router that has QOS enabled and split the bill then the association won't report them to the ISP for violating the TOS.

To give you an idea of why this is almost certainly the best option, here is the list of things you should have done as soon as you got this task assigned to you:
do the actual work you've been assigned of getting the list of provider,
examining the different terms of service,
see what options exist,
do a cost benefit analysis,
decide how you want the liability to work,
determine who is responsible for responding to DMCA take-down notices when some teenager is hosting stolen content,
decide what happens if you have a heavy bit torrent user that is reported to you,
who pays the lawyers fees for dealing with issues that may arise,
what binding agreement you are going to give each of your units,
what if they are renting to other tenants,
what if they have an open wifi router connected,
who is going to draft the binding terms of service,
how much is it going to cost just to get the agreement worked out,
how cats and dogs are supposed to live together,
etc...

Re:No offense, but... (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206429)

I agree, this sounds like way more trouble than it is worth.

The least you could do (and the object is in fact to do the least possible) is to let a contract for cat5 or fiber to each unit
all terminating in the basement or some such locked place.

Then allow the various ISPs to come in and do the rest of the work on a customer by customer basis.
You don't want these guys running cable all over your building.

ISPs get a numbered patch panel in the basement, and one (or more) direct runs to each apartment.
Space and power for their rack/router.

What goes on inside the apartment is the apartment owner's problem.

You want to protect your building's common areas from legions of independent installers.
But you do not want to get into the ISP business.

Re:No offense, but... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206543)

I very much agree with icebike, but in addition to the above, make sure that you have an access route for the various ISP's from outside (curb side or whatever) to get their run into the building. You could ever put provisioning in there that if an ISP has several customers in the building, they still have to run only one fibre in.

Re:No offense, but... (4, Insightful)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 2 years ago | (#40207017)

Where's the +6 modifier when you need it?

If you go with one provider to support Internet for the whole building, you're locked in.

Getting each apartment wired and then just letting the ISPs fight it out in the basement closet where the patch cables terminate is much safer.

You do NOT want to run your own severs in the basement.

You MAY want to mandate that individual apartments not have dish antennas sticking out their windows.

Re:No offense, but... (3, Insightful)

Zebai (979227) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206579)

I recommend this also, do nothing. Making a choice like this for your community forces those who want no part of it to contribute to it as part of their association fees. It would also severely restrict competition as many competitors will not invest in a community with an existing bulk cable/internet arrangements because the number of customers they could acquire would not be enough to warrant construction and maintenance cost. I work for a cable company and we do offer bulk agreements to communities but these type of arrangements restrict choices and is best left to places that would suit it (nursing homes, student housing etc, places that change tenants frequently.)

Re:No offense, but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206715)

Yes, but on the flipside in many parts of the country the only way to get decent pricing and service is if you do buy in as an entire building. My brother's condo has basic cable included and he can actually view all the channels. Something that Comcast wasn't known for around here prior to the digital switch over.

It's really going to depend about how much money you're talking about, in this day and age few people genuinely want to opt out and that gets less and less common as time goes by.

Re:No offense, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40207135)

agree. it will just be another reason for people to dislike the condo association too. Don't do it.

Re:No offense, but... (4, Insightful)

w.hamra1987 (1193987) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206423)

we spend years in university, paying thousands of dollars, to study networking and communication, not to sit at home and watch... but to answer those questions for you. hire a network engineer, and he'll be well worth it for you.

Re:No offense, but... (2)

chrismcb (983081) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206497)

Yes, because every condo unit with at least 80 units as a resident internet expert.

Re:No offense, but... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206873)

Condo huh.... Sounds like rich people.

Advice isn't free.

Sounds like you're too cheap to pay a consultant to do the job right.

Re:No offense, but... (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206973)

Well put. What he and the committee should be doing is putting out an RFP to all the local telcos/ISPs. If they don't know enough to decide on the parameters (bandwidth, etc.) then they should hire someone competent to help them develop the specifications and write the request.

Re:No offense, but... (0)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#40207243)

If he's asking those questions he's never heard of a cable installer or a telecommunications technician. Both shove internet into the buildings and the corporations decide the bandwidth details. If it is really a problem at this point, has he never heard of wifi? Join the other hotels and condos in providing wireless internet. No running miles of cable by some guy with a buttcrack on display. Seems like the modern thing to do unless this condo has a 90s theme to it.
What should you ask a represenative? Well duh! " How much do you estimate it will cost?" Find the low number, make the call and quit bothering us with stupid questions.

Re:No offense, but... (1)

Life2Death (801594) | more than 2 years ago | (#40207363)

I came here to say this. About half of the questions can only be answered by the people or committee you're supposedly on as it depends on a lot of things. Wired or wireless? Depends on how much you want to spend putting cable into everyones space or just in the common areas. Or depends on what people want. Maybe they want both.

As for what providers they are and how much they cost, we cant help unless you give us an address as this varies per neighborhood. Try using google.

step 1 (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206235)

Step 1: hire a competent network engineer who isn't you.

Re:step 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206341)

And for you.

Step 1: Read the summary again and note that he is on a committee evaluating the possible products, not the engineer implementing it. Sheesh!

Re:step 1 (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206379)

Spend $1000 to hire somebody who'll save you $500 by proposing a cheaper solution.

do colocation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206239)

I would not provide additional services. You really want to compete for web hosting/email services with the millions of other providers. The only exception though would be co-location. Build a few extra racks into your plan and let members rent space in them.

Re:do colocation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206245)

No. Do not follow parent post's advice. Whatever "business class" cablemodem your building ends up would be saturated by some idiot's TOR relay or IRC server.

Hire a professional. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206249)

You need to hire a professional.

Somebody who's capable of -being at the location- and looking directly at the requirements and making recommendations. And then, they'll some ideas about where to go from there, because it doesn't look like you do. (You do have some requirements at least, don't you?)

We could ask you every little detail of your situation, and you could hang around in the comments looking for the answers. Time consuming and counterproductive.

Right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206251)

Can I have your job? Apparently you are not equipped to be doing it, if you're polling random internet "experts" (of unknown skill level or experience) to do it for you.

If I can't have your job, then outsource your job to a consulting IT firm, get some design and cost bids, and pick one based on the committee's overall most important metric (be it cost, reliability, etc.)

Forget the servers and such locally. Do not want. That much I'm willing to help you out with.

Don't be stupid. Hire someone. (2)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206257)

There's a lot more to this than just asking slashdot what wires to run. Once it's set up, someone will have to keep it working. And slashdot won't be able to help you with that.

Hire a company that does this as a business. Hire them to set it up and contract them to keep it running.

Re:Don't be stupid. Hire someone. (5, Informative)

1karmik1 (963790) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206287)

I'll go with the crowd here. As a matter of fact, i work for a company that would fit your profile brilliantly (Cisco Partner and working with Small and Medium Businesses). Too bad we operate in Italy :P Network Design (more than anything else) and cabling are very very very delicate and complex operations and easy to screw up. Your idea is mighty fine, grouping together will allow you to have a much better bartering ability in working out the service delivered by the ISP. It means, on average, your condo will have better internet than their surrounding buildings (if the Network Engineer you'll hire is good). A few pointers on who to hire: 1 - Get a company that does ONLY this. No behemoths that do everything. Don't ask the ISP directly (if it does managed services). 2 - Get a company with some, but not too much, history in the field. Meaning a company that has been operating for 4-5 years (less likely to go under *during* your delivery) but not one that has been in the field 20-30 years. You want fresh people with brilliant ideas that can still deliver them. 3 - I'll blow my own trumpet here, but get certified professionals. I'm not saying you should go with a Cisco partner necessarily (you should), but get a company that does networking as their bread and butter. This usually means Cisco or Juniper partners (even at the lowest level, which in Cisco's case is SELECT level). I'll get hate for this post and i know it.

Re:Don't be stupid. Hire someone. (2)

1karmik1 (963790) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206301)

I fail at formatting badly. I Apologies.

Re:Don't be stupid. Hire someone. (5, Funny)

worf_mo (193770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40207057)

You're actually quite good at formatting badly! :)

Re:Don't be stupid. Hire someone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40207171)

I disagree - you did a great job of badly formatting that!

Re:Don't be stupid. Hire someone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206343)

You want fresh people with brilliant ideas that can still deliver them.

Seriously, with the hyperbole? This guy wants internet access for a condo, and not to find a cure for cancer.

Re:Don't be stupid. Hire someone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206405)

If he gets one or the other it sounds win-win to me

Re:Don't be stupid. Hire someone. (1)

1karmik1 (963790) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206425)

I don't know about you, but i work with people that learn new things and innovate all the time, even on clients way smaller than this.

There are several options to solve a problem like this. Selling them an average, more-or-less working solution at the market price is daily work.
Nailing a tailored solution at the right price is the brilliance is was referring to :) You can live with the first, and no one will die because of it but why can't you aim for the latter if you have to pick someone anyway?

Re:Don't be stupid. Hire someone. (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206493)

Firstly before absolutely anything research the accessible ISPs to find out what they can provide in terms of service and how much this will cost to be provided, both in terms of initial connection to the building and in running cost. Also what happens should all the occupants not take up the service with regards to ISP charges to continuing users. Forget all about network costs in the building largely arbitrary until you have locked in the provision of service and had that accepted by the majority. How easy or difficult it will be to switch to another ISP, what will it cost, duration of ISP contract etc.

Fussing about with the network in the Condo before sorting out the ISP is like putting the cart before the horse. Firstly sort out the ISP and put a range of options forward. Once you have agreement in principle on that, you can start wasting computer networking companies with quotes on networking the structure and providing the required ISP connection point, what ever that may end up being.

Re:Don't be stupid. Hire someone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40207111)

I think if you find a good networking contractor who is local. They'll tell what happened the last time a customer tried to use ISP XXX over our recommend ISP AAA. AKA, they actually have experience with the ISPs. Of course if they are dishonest they might be getting some soft of kick back.

Re:Don't be stupid. Hire someone. (4, Interesting)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206943)

The problem with cisco certified people and partners, is that they will push cisco products regardless of wether they are best value for the job... Same for any other vendor cert, all designed to sell products rather than provide a quality service.

For example, I built several networks recently using hp switches because they came in considerably cheaper than cisco, while still providing the required functionality.

I would much rather use a vendor-neutral organisation.

Re:Don't be stupid. Hire someone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40207247)

Yea if someone is a partner of a single vendor that is a definite nono, they're usually just marketing drones for said vendor. They might as well be that vendors own SEs, just paid worse. The firm we deal with does all the big vendors, and we run a hybrid F5, HP, Cisco environment.

Re:Don't be stupid. Hire someone. (5, Interesting)

blackC0pter (1013737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206411)

On top of this, you will also need to manage turning access on and off to each unit, collecting monthly/annual revenue from each user, changing rate limiting settings for each user based on the amount they have purchased, dealing with DMCA complaints and any other law enforcement requests since you would be an ISP, blocking spam from being pumped from your network, servicing customer service requests when the service is not working or users don't know how to configure equipment, handling equipment or wiring failures, etc. You would be basically starting your own ISP and your own company without really knowing how to run an ISP (based on the fact you are asking these questions).

Actually installing the wiring and the equipment to run this operation really isn't that bad (as long as you get some professional advice). The trouble is managing the service and maintaining it. Have you tried reaching out to established ISPs to see if they will manage this for you and draw a fat pipe to your building in exchange for something (minimum user guarantee or the primary ISP for the tenants or a required connection as part of condo fees)? I have seen local ISPs draw a line to condo and office buildings and then sell portions of that line and manage the system. I have also seen condo buildings have a dedicated satellite connection (cable tv) and only offer that single satellite provider service to tenants.

Distribution (4, Insightful)

Zan Lynx (87672) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206265)

Note that I only have experience as a user of internet services.

If you have the choice at all, please go for wired distribution. Wireless only if the association cannot afford the wire pulls. Wireless is subject to so many interference sources and there's nothing you can really do to fix it if "The Internet is Down!" or more likely, the high-definition video feed starts buffering because of someone's microwave oven.

You may also be able to distribute over cable TV cables and cable modems. Either because you made a deal with a cable provider, or because you purchased the same equipment they use on the server-side. Could be tricky though, as I assume the cable TV people don't approve of competition and won't make it easy.

Speaking of high-definition video feeds, you may as well assume that at prime time hours at least half and maybe all of the units are watching HD Netflix, Hulu, Youtube or some other video source. That is 7 Mbps each, minimum, right there.

That is the best advice. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206337)

Run a separate wire to each condo. If they want wireless, they can put
in their own wireless router and deal with their own problems.

The kind of "wire" depends on how the internet arrives at the condo.
A talk with your ISP or ISPs is in order.

It would be nice if the ISP was to feed each wire separately, and then
you are free of any headaches. Apportioning bandwidth among
tenants is a nightmare, you will get complaints, lawsuits, people
demanding their rent back, etc. And ... 95% of the problems will
come from only 5% of your tenants.

Re:Distribution (4, Insightful)

adolf (21054) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206385)

Speaking of high-definition video feeds, you may as well assume that at prime time hours at least half and maybe all of the units are watching HD Netflix, Hulu, Youtube or some other video source. That is 7 Mbps each, minimum, right there.

Indeed. And at this point, the dollars and cents probably cease to make any sense anymore: Half a gigabit/s of bandwidth, just for one "medium-sized" condo? I'm a decade or two behind on my terminology and pricing for "big pipes," but I'm thinking that 80 people won't want to pay for all that -- especially it they also have to pay for the folks who manage it.

My suggestion: Make sure the building has good wiring, and excellent service availability with whatever established providers that already exist.

Pander to the needs and wants of existing providers. Run coax and twisted pair all over the place, and multimode fiber if that ever seems like a real possibility (and it almost never does). Ask ISPs what it is that they want from you (this takes footwork, phone calls, and meetings) to ensure stellar service in the building..

Resist the temptation to combine spaces and designate wiring closets which are only for communications, and organize them so that they're easy to use without Larry the Cable Guy fucking everything up on accident.

And then, if they want it managed for them, do so: Charge the tenants for access, both per wired port and per wireless access point, since that part is easy to manage. And then allow their own ISP to handle the bandwidth requirements.

Or just modernize. Give them their own wiring closet (it need only be a cubby) where things come together, inside of their own unit, and let the ISP (or the end-user, or both) just deal with it, as they would in any other well-wired dwelling, and write off the cost of the prewire exactly as one would that of the carpet and the blinds.

Distribution-MoCA & a Latte. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206639)

You may also be able to distribute over cable TV cables and cable modems. Either because you made a deal with a cable provider, or because you purchased the same equipment they use on the server-side. Could be tricky though, as I assume the cable TV people don't approve of competition and won't make it easy.

MoCA [wikipedia.org]

That's your job ... (3, Interesting)

thsths (31372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206269)

... asking those questions to both sides, and negotiating between them.

It would have been a good idea to agree a general frame of reference first - such as how much should it cost, and do people expect WiFi.

On the technical side, there are only a few interesting questions.

1) Do you need wired internet? (IPTV works much better, for example).

2) What kind of services can you reasonably provide locally?
And I think the answer is file hosting (mind the back-up) and IPTV. You could also interface with the building, for example doing CCTV recordings and controlling HVAC (maybe even remotely?), but that's a whole different can of worms.

But as I said, you have to ask these questions to the people who foot the bill, not to slashdot.

This is why nobody likes commitees (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206283)

They are always full of people who seem to have little to no grasp on whatever it is they are commiteeing about.

Choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206289)

Get in touch with major providers in the area and discuss what they would need to provide their service to the people in the building. Then pick the "best" two and negotiate.
But I completely agree with other posters: If you have to ask these questions you better should get someone who knows what he's doing.

Wire for Twisted-pair Ethernet (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206291)

I was involved in my Condo community and they gave me permission to run Ethernet wires (CAT-5e) in the walls with some number of drops in each unit depending on the size, and you could add more via a cost per port.

We then had a single shared high-speed connection that the whole community shared via a small server in an equipment closet running Linux. This was some years ago (14 now?) that we started it, and I'm not living there anymore, but I occasionally hear from people still there who say it is still working well for them.

The cost, even with our overhead in, ended up being like 1/2 or less that of commercial connections for all the members.

We DID add wireless, but frankly, wireless for lots of users is overrated. I.e. it just doesn't get the level of service that you think it will. Just put in the ethernet cables.

Erich Boleyn

Re:Wire for Twisted-pair Ethernet (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206351)

The wireless is good for guests, though, and one AP per floor may be an improvement over four routers per floor (three undoubtedly on one channel) -- or it may just end up with all five, if your coverage is perceived as inadequate..

Fiber (2)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206319)

Run fiber to each condo. It goes further than ethernet, does not get/cause RF interference, can be upgraded easier, and with the correct equipment can even have the TV on the same fiber.

Re:Fiber (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206403)

And run your own ISP and cable subscription, if not the the infrastructure would be useless.

Keep it simple. (3, Insightful)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206323)

I wouldn't do anything fancy.

The ISPs are very happy to offer service individually to residents. Rather then having some building wide system, let residents work it out for themselves.

In my building, we have cable and DSL. The cable is handled entirely by the cable company and the DSL is handled entirely by the phone company.

The homeowner's association pays to maintain the telephone box but mostly it doesn't pay for anything.

This isn't a bad thing. Residents pay no more for internet service then a home owner would and no one is forced into an agreement they don't want. If I didn't want internet service, I could cancel it and pay nothing. If there were a building agreement then I'd be paying whether I wanted to pay or not.

Keep it simple and let residents work it out on their own. Let the cable company worry about the logistics.

I disagree (5, Informative)

tanveer1979 (530624) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206577)

When you have a high density condo, by pooling in their resources, members can actually get much better QoS

For example, 80 condos can make a deal with a leased line vendor and get a 1000mbps 1:1 connection.
Even if everybody is using their internet at the same time downloading torrents, you still have a 10mbps+ actually BW available to users.

Monthly cost of 1000mbps is in the ballpark of 500-1000$

Even if you take it as 1000$/month, we are talking about less than 20$ per condo, which is cheaper than the cheapest 10mbps unlimited ADSL plan from a DSL provider.

Re:I disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206733)

That only works if you have some capable person doing a lot of free work managing the network and responding to complaints. There will be complaints - from tenants, from copyright holders, from people who get spammed by the tenants' zombie PCs, etc.

Is burstable bandwidth really worth all that work and risk? If you come down too hard on people, they might abandon the shared network and go with their own subscription. If you manage too leniently, a handful of users will hog the network and everybody else may become discontent and leave for their own subscription.

Re:I disagree (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206751)

By the same logic why not do that for the whole country? Everyone could have cheap internet.

The logic sounds compelling but there are devils in the details. I prefer to keep things separated and let people make their own minds up.

Further your cost projections are not as good as you think.

I get 15 mbps cable internet and pay only 20 dollars a month for it. It's bundled with some other things as a package deal.

If my condo forced me to buy their program I wouldn't be able to make those deals or if I did I would be paying twice for the same thing.

Let me make my own arrangements. it's all well and good if people want to join your club. But just because I buy a condo it doesn't mean I want to be lectured to by every other resident about how I should or should live. And I do not appreciate them trying to make me pay for things that I do not want or need. I pay my share which is to cover building maintenance. If people want something more they can get people to voluntarily chip in to get that service. Try to force me to buy in regardless of whether you took a vote and I'll rally the other malcontents in the building to make sure it dies.

I've done this in my own condo repeatedly and there are a few people that don't like me. I'm not telling them what to do. They can do whatever they want. Just leave me out of it. If they want my support for something then keep it optional. Point blank.

Re:I disagree (1)

Dodgy G33za (1669772) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206971)

This is the same model that cable uses. Very high bandwidth spread across multiple users. Guess what, at peak times the speed drops markedly and you have no control over this. Which is exactly why I opted for DSL. Maybe a much lower bandwidth but at least I know it is all mine, at least to the exchange.

Presumably the condo would have a contact person for the ISP. When they are not contactable and the Internet goes down you are stuffed. Unless your contact person has the same hours or better than the ISP call centre, this is not a good idea.

Seconded (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206805)

Becoming an ISP is probably all kinds of not worth the hassle and then you have to deal with people who think they shouldn't have to pay for it and so on.

So go out to the people with right of ways in town and get them to submit bids to provide access. These will be the phone company and cable company for sure, but there might be others. In all likelihood their bids won't involve much, if any, cost to you just an allowance that they can run their cables around. They might want you to wire up the units themselves from their box, but that'll be it, and they might be willing to do that for you at a good price or for free.

In the condo I live in there is cable and phone so we can get Internet through either of those (and of course any companies that lease their lines). I like it because I can get some nice business class cable with static IPs and no bandwidth caps. Some of my neighbours I don't think even have Internet as there are a lot of vacation condos. We all get what we want.

Only thing special I'd do were I in charge of doing it now is solicit bids from other companies. I know of a couple ISPs in town that have some right of ways, and while they don't normally do residential stuff, maybe one of them would be interested in being a 3rd provider since they could run a single line and then have equipment on premises. However if I couldn't find one I wouldn't sweat it, I'd stick with phone and cable.

Re:Seconded (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206831)

The hassle factor in all this is a big deal.

We have a handyman employed by the building who basically does odd jobs and helps maintain the building. His skill set doesn't include maintaining a partitioned network. He can't take care of that. Which means we'd need a volunteer to do it which is always dicey since you can't really fire them. Or you'd need to pay someone to take care of it which means you just lost whatever savings you think you were making.

This sort of things makes sense for a big organization. But a condo isn't really a big organization. It's one building that hosts a lot of little sub organizations with different needs and interests. We're not joining a club. We're buying a home. Just because I move in next to someone doesn't mean I want to be their friend etc. Not that I don't mind being neighborly... it just shouldn't be a requirement if I have other ideas.

Whatever you do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206331)

be sure to redirect all outgoing HTTP requests to Last Measure.

condo internet access. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206347)

don't. let people get it on their own. From a troubleshooting standpoint, who's going to be there to fix it when something goes on the Friday before a holiday weekend, or someone needs the keys to let someone else into some place to do something to fix something....basically, let the big boys like ATT or cable do their thing. you're not going to save that much money, and in the long run, it's just going to be more of a headache.

Why do you have to do anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206349)

Seriously - the condos aren't already wired for cable coax and phone service? I would be stunned if any building that size didn't already have the basic coax and copper infrastructure already there.

What have condo owners done for broadband in the last ten years? Gone without? Run off dialup? This seems inconceivable in the middle of a major metro area.

If for some insane reason there is no coax get a quote to have it pulled to all the units. It will be expensive and you'll want a qualified installer who knows how to build coax plant of that size.

Rogue DHCP !!! (2)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206355)

Do it, put some volonteer work in it, and you will be amazed how cheap internet access becomes. Probably under 1/4 of a regular subscription. The one big gotcha: watch out for rogue DHCP servers. People buy crappy DLINK, put the upload cable in a white plug instead of the yellow one and you can go around knocking on doors to check 50 routers. So make sure your switches are smart enough to drop rogue DHCP packages. Use cheap ethernet wherever possible. I would avoid homebrew servers, they will just take your time and lead to support calls. Let people use Gmail/hotmail whatever. The one exception might be a SQUID server to get more bang out of your internet buck. You also going to have to come up with a Bittorrent policy. Is it ok for one household to upload 50 GB of porn?

Re:Rogue DHCP !!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206375)

Is it ok for one household to upload 50 GB of porn?

That depends on how much bandwidth they have available. I'd try to make it a minimum of 100GB of porn per month per resident.

Re:Rogue DHCP !!! (1)

1karmik1 (963790) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206445)

That would only works if you had very big broadcast domain.
I would break down them at every floor, *at least* and i would limit myself at that just to drive costs down. Small broadcast domains + smart management = WIN.

Re:Rogue DHCP !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206447)

You also going to have to come up with a Bittorrent policy. Is it ok for one household to upload 50 GB of porn?

If you really want it to work. Look at how local peer discovery works, and make sure the other condos are treated as local peers. And make it clear the limit is only for bandwidth outside the community and there are no limits within.

Re:Rogue DHCP !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40207027)

As someone who's for years tended rogue dhcp detection at certain events, as well as picked off the odd one at corporate networks, I can tell you that if you shell out for decent kit, it's no longer an issue. Recent enterprise switches have filters built right in for exactly this sort of thing. Of course, cheap kit won't have that, but if you buy cheap consumer crap for an operation like this, you get what you deserve. Sure, the hardware price shoots up. But time lost in fault-finding and maintenance is much, much higher on the cheap crap.

I've got a few answers... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206359)

Ignore the children. They're just being snarky as well as useless.

I've set up an ISP or two that have had thier challenges...

Buildings of that height often have communication racks in place, so start with the telephone service provider, as well as the cable provider.

The cable provider is the most likely candidate to start with. The infrastructure is already in place. Additional services beyond a data connection can be as diverse as your imagination. If you see it on the net, chances are good you can have a private version for your building, including web pages, email services, etc. Typically, a sales rep will jump at a business set up for all the tennants and the internet service can be included into the rent or dues, and it can be a selling point as well.

Several options to consider (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206361)

Options:
- One big switch in the basement vs one small switch on each floor.
One big switch is more expensive, but gives you line-rate between any two condo's.
This means that condo 1 (1e floor) and condo 41 (floor x) Can transfer files an Gbps without affecting anyone else.
Small switch on each floor, means the cables are shorter (you have a 100m max length to deal with)
But several high load transfers will affect others (what is the expected traffic matrix?)

- One device allowed vs multiple devices allowed.
If only 1 device is allowed each condo will probably end up installing a small router.
This can be done as part of the installation. One router (with integrated 4-8 port switch) per condo.
If multiple devices are allowed, make sure you have a redundant DHCP server with a big pool of addresses.
A condo may have multiple PC's and when you use wireless in you're condo the smartphones will also use ip-addresses.

- One IP-address for the building vs network range.
When you have only a single IP-address for the whole building (with a router in each condo?) you will have double-NAT going on.
Expect a lot of trouble with this setup if some-one uses more exotic protocols and/or legacy protocols (http will be fine)
Also check the local law. You may be required by law-enforcement to link traffic from 6 months ago to a certain condo.
With a range (/25 ==> 128 IP-addresses) You can assign a dedicated IP-address to each condo.
And still have some left for a shared wireless infrastructure.

- No redundancy vs redundancy.
If a cable between floor 5 & 6 breaks, do you want traffic to still be possible or not?

- Security
When you go with a shared DHCP server, the entire building will basically be a LAN.
Which means microsoft file-sharing protocols will work between condo's.
Do you want you're neighbors to see you're drives?

- Private server.
Do you want to be able to run a private web/mail/file server in you condo?

Questions to ask:
The above options to the members of the committee.
You must have a basic idea on what is wanted/needed before you start talking to salesman.
(It is easier for both parties + you tend to get a better deal)

Fiber (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206401)

At least from my perspective the standard for a new building of that type today is usually fiber to each apartment, then a converter box that offers TV, Internet and phone for so called triple play [wikipedia.org] . Then you would normally pull a fiber cable to each apartment and have a magic box that breaks it out into the various services. I assume you don't have a cable TV provider today? Because if you're already wired for cable, hooking up cable modems is clearly the easiest way to go. And if they won't give you a nice price, threaten to switch providers for everything. I've never heard of an entire apartment building being supplied by wireless APs, sure people can set up their own APs but there's always been a wire to the wall. It might be a bit cheaper to retrofit to an existing building but I wouldn't recommend it, hotels and such have struggled a lot to get good reception in every room.

From the point of view of the Network Engineer (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206415)

I work for an ISP that specializes in MDU offerings. I've seen a lot of successful deployments, and have torn out a lot of horrible deployments.

Don't do a wireless distribution. The majority of Tenants will have wireless routers and it will cause a lot of noise and issues. Optimal and scalable would be something like fiber between floors and Cat-5/6 to the units. However budget / infrastructure can be limiting. Cable and DSL are viable options, as long as the head-end is on location.

Ask the company how they intend prevent unit A from accessing the resources of unit B.

Make sure that they do bandwidth shaping on location, and that it is done per unit.

It doesn't make sense to add other services.

Dedicated bandwidth really depends on what the HOA members want. A good oversubscription is 10:1 so if 80 units want 10mpbs, 80mbps dedicated should be sufficient. Have the companies provide some sort of SLA on the bandwidth of the main feed and individual units. It's hard to predict how many tenants watch Netflix back-to-back, until the network is in place.

I may be biased, but I would stear clear of the major players (Time Warner, Comcast, CenturyLink, etc), and go with a local company. You'll get better service, and your solution will be customized to your complex. I would imagine you have a property management company, ask them for reccomendations.

Re:From the point of view of the Network Engineer (5, Informative)

bbn (172659) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206881)

Dedicated bandwidth really depends on what the HOA members want. A good oversubscription is 10:1 so if 80 units want 10mpbs, 80mbps dedicated should be sufficient. Have the companies provide some sort of SLA on the bandwidth of the main feed and individual units. It's hard to predict how many tenants watch Netflix back-to-back, until the network is in place.

Here is the MRTG for an apartment complex with 1600 apartments (approx 5000 people) and free to use internet for them all: http://bolignet.farummidtpunkt.dk/cgi-bin/mrtg-rrd.cgi/fiber.html [farummidtpunkt.dk]

The interesting thing to note is that we are not just maxing out the uplink. There is no traffic shaping, everyone can use whatever they want (bittorrent too!), everyone got gigabit and the uplink is gigabit too.

Do what South Korea does (2)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206433)

Wire all your homes to a central point, bring the telcos to the same point and connect. Total freedom of isp, always wired up.

Re:Do what South Korea does (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206927)

That's how it is done in many cities in Sweden too.

We Have It Already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206453)

The way we handle this for our twenty building complex is by contract with a local cable provider. Every unit is required to pay for extended basic cable. It is billed as part of the maintenance fee. Each unit can subscribe to premium channels, very high speed internet, and phone over cable as well. This leaved the burden of equipment and band width totally upon the cable company. And since I take several premium channels as well as phone and high speed internet as a bundle it is far less expensive than hiring a phone company to install two lines, one for data, and another for voice. And my speed is probably greater than double that of a DSL phone system and weather does not have an effect on my HD TV services.

why do you want a LAN? (2)

issicus (2031176) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206507)

If you do not have a good reason, stick to dsl/cable from your ISP. wiring a 20 story building with ethernet could be 10k+ not to mention the router and switches. plus you probably are going to need an IT guy on retainer.

Check if you have fiber ? (1)

Coeurderoy (717228) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206519)

Basically you cannot readilly know the splitup of your "customers", most probably at least 79 units will want Internet, but some might want a combo mobile+fixed, other a high end triple play and a third the cheapest dsl possible.
The "total" cost of triple play for all should not be more than 4000$ a month with free installation. (that would be the approximate price in most well connected cities if each customer buys its own).
Now the prices in the US tend to be too high, so their might be a rational for group negociation.

But in practice

Either you have fiber to the building and then you'd want to know what operator is handling this and make sure that they have a decent end user price, and that'll be the best offer.
Or you do not have, then the best option is to get your "customer" to sign a paper confirming that they want offer x:
Then you show it to all the operators and tell them that the first to commit to fiber to the building within 6 month will get the business, and if they do not make an offer you will use just to demonstrate that you are not happy, and will put in the internal rules of the condo that using their offer is not "nice"...

Most probably either a local cable operator, or one of the telco will think that it's worth its while to connect you.

    good luck

The standard setup in Sweden (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206535)

In Sweden 'condo associations' are really common and LAN/Fiber installations as well.

My last 4 apartments all have had wired Internet connection of some kind. The absolute best solution so far is fiber to each apartment and from the wiring closet dual CAT6 to each room. Everything in my apartment runs TCP/IP- phone, network, TV, alarm-system (with cell backup), we don't even have a POTS-connection to the building.

In the building basement we got a wire closet that recives the big fat fiber from the local dark-fiber provider (actually the municpality). Due to the open net standard we got a wide range of providers in the network giving each apartment owner a choice of provider. If the fiber based providers isn't your cup of thé you can always go for a 4G solution which works excelent as well.

So my tip is to go for fiber to each apartment. Future safe and the price diffrence isn't that large.

Re:The standard setup in Sweden (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206633)

Yeah, as another Swede I'll have to chime in here and point out that I would never move somewhere where I didn't have a choice when it came to my ISP. Or, more specifically, I wouldn't move somewhere where my choices were "FTTH from an association-approved ISP" or "crappy DSL".

In an ideal situation the OP should just get the entire condo association hooked up to an open city net.

Of course, in a lot of places (like the US), this is rarely an option.

Go with fibre (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206565)

My company does this in Oz. What we do is Greenfields estates, but we have also done brownfields retrofits. Company is wholesale only, open access.

Go with fibre, FTTH. Get an OLT setup, GPON, EPON, EPON whatever, have the gear in the basement and depending on your tastes, you can run an ONT to each apartment or if phone/internet only, you can share an ONT between two or more, might be able to get an RF splitter to each room, but meh.

I suggest an ONT per apartment. Go for the triple play. Find a company that would let others choose Internet and phone provider over the connection, cause once you are locked in and they are the sole provider, it can go tits up.

Once the fibre is done, you just need to upgrade the ends to get faster speeds. VDSL can work at short distances, but do it properly the first time.

We did it a decade ago (1)

Peter H.S. (38077) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206599)

A short brain dump;
Rule number One: Everything should be done in such a way, that it requires as little works as possible for the volunteers.

Let everything be hosted at a provider; email isn't a core service the same way it used to be since people use gmail, sms etc. Same with web servers. Only provide "pure" Internet access. Buy outside knowledge if necessary. We still run our own email servers and firewall, but that is because we are Linux freaks willing to invest the necessary time in such projects. It certainly helped the careerer of some of the volunteers that we ran things like DNS, email, Squid, Apache, firewall etc.

Install LAN cables. Install Coax for TV and radio if needed, set-up a separate TV committee if there is interest. Keep the cables as a separate investment. Not everybody wants (your) internet access since eg. their employer pays their present internet access, but every condo should be wired regardless if possible. Sell it as an investment that increase the property value.
Make sure the cable installer knows what they are doing. Buy outside help if needed.

For historic reasons our network is a NAT'ted LAN. Not sure it makes sense any more to be able to directly share resources between condos since eg. running you own game server is on its way out, so it may provide less hassle to simply isolate every LAN access. That also helps against some LAN scanning malware. As a minimum run intelligent switches that can firewall rogue DNS servers etc.

Have a charter or similar, that stipulate what can be done and can't be done with the network; IMHO, you should firewall the internet access pretty strict; don't allow people to host their own email or web servers, since eg. spambots spewing out spam mails from your LAN can cause all kinds of trouble for you (see rule number one).

Internet access is now considered an important utility; so spend some time on service monitoring; eg. if switch 4 is down, who should be informed, who should they call. Make sure the provider has a detailed page on service status, and they inform you when there is maintenance downtime.

After the first hurdles, things will settle down so the committee will get a more reasonable work load. The bonus of all the work is that we have had high speed, (low latency and fat pipes) Internet access for a very low price for more than a decade. It is also a good selling point that the condo have 100 mbit Internet access for $10 a month.

ePoint HotSpot to the rescue! (1)

DanyaN (2654303) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206631)

Hello, Here is an open source solution for precisely your case: https://www.epointsystem.org/trac/website/wiki/2010/10/30/13.20 [epointsystem.org] I would recommend using Ubiquiti PicoStation M2HP for outdoors APs and TP-Link TL WR-1043ND for indoors ones. You can also connect some of your customers by Ethernet plugged in the switch of the WR-1043ND. For more info, please feel free to contact the authors at info@epointsystem.org

LAN for your condo? (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206691)

It sounds like you're planning to build a LAN in your condo, rather than have each tenant obtain and be responsible for their own service. This will all have additional overhead since, if you have a building wide network, you will need an administrator to keep it under control and working properly. You will also be responsible for the incredibly stupid shit your tenants do on your network (viruses, copyright infringement, etc.)

The simplest method, from the property owner's perspective, is to let the occupants handle it all themselves. Not sure what your circumstances are (new construction? renovation of an existing building?) but set aside a medium sized room for utilities - usually in or near the same room that the electrical service comes in - that ISP companies can install their equipment. From that room, run maybe 3" conduits to a closet on each floor, and then 1.5" conduits from that closet to each unit. make sure the installing contractor leaves nylon cords in each conduit and they are all clearly labeled. In this way, when a tenant wants internet service X, the installing tech can run a cable of the appropriate type from his company's box to the space with absolutely minimal disturbance.

Each unit gets their own service. They can do pretty much whatever they want however they want it. They pay the bill directly for whatever level of service they want. You are not providing anything that requires maintenance or anything that exposes you to liability. Empty conduit is cheap, too, and future-proof in that you can pull anything you want through it - even if you decide to become your own mini-ISP in the future you can still go that route.
=Smidge=

Here's an idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206699)

As already mentioned, there's quite a few things you need to work out. In essence, you become your own ISP.

You can still try and use your leverage. Deliver each unit one network drop and rent out the resulting infrastructure to one or more ISPs, who'll then deliver to your tenants. Their investment is then limited to running fibre to the building. You do the installation and charge a bit for maintenance, but that overall can still be cheaper than a third party needing to run and maintain ADSL to each unit individually. You'd need "multi-play" kit to do the "unbundling", but it exists, it's even simply for sale. As an extra I'd probably want to add a community billboard or something, but that isn't even required.

Counterquestion (1)

subreality (157447) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206713)

Will you be providing metered or "all you can eat" bandwidth? If it's the former, people will bitch about unpredictable bills or quotas. If the latter, people will torrent as hard as they can and you had better get a lot of bandwidth.

I advocate metered bandwidth (at a reasonable price). It works out best for everyone, but you have to understand the reason why the industry has settled on the stupid "unlimited but not really" model.

basic design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206775)

80 units...

10 GB ethernet fibre to the basement. /23 public IP address block (est 5 per unit).

2 x 48 port gigabit switches running CAT 6 copper to each unit and OSPF to the ISP. Set each ethernet port to 100 MB speed for now, increase it in the future if you eventually increase your uplink to 100 GB.

That's it, nice and simple. 100 MB ethernet connection to each unit. Residents plug in their own AP or switch in their apartment.

Metro Ethernet? - Below lay fantasies. (3)

aaronb1138 (2035478) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206777)

If your association is full of tech heads (>50%) you could try to talk them into metro Ethernet.

If you are in a metropolitan area, you should be able to get a metro GbE Ethernet drop for around $5000 / month. Go straight to the top tier providers, probably your best bet is Level 3. Send me a message if you like, I know someone who does sales for them (not trying to plug, just being honest). Most of the competitors are just re-leasing Level 3, Comcast, etcetera's lines. Comes out to about $60-70 / month each unit, so it's not cheap. While 12 mbps per unit sounds like low DSL speeds, it would be a rarity to have more than 30-50% online pulling full bandwidth even during peak hours... unless absolutely everyone is heavy into Netflix and Hulu.

The downside, is that is before the other $5-10k or so of switching and routing equipment you need to regulate traffic and a few thousand more in line runs. You need to run at least one drop to each unit, possibly allow them to have it run to a utility closet or such and dropped into their own switch. I would really be looking at 2 drops per unit, one in a closet or bedroom, one in the living room.

Besides the obvious advantage of fully symmetric bandwidth, metro Ethernet never has any caps since it is a business class service. You could also roll a VoIP system in and have the installers pull the existing phone lines for their drops.

Level 3 is also in the business of selling virtualized cloud router service. The metro Ethernet drop from the DMARC goes straight to their hosted firewall, which you or they can manage to handle firewall, NAT, and routing of the resident drops. These are non-trivial, provider grade firewalls at that. I *think* they can handle the per port load balancing side of the equation, but I would have to check with my buddy just to be sure. The point is, you want to take as much maintenance and responsibility away from yourself as possible while getting the best quality and price of service.

All in all, it would be a great idea with a community that size to host a premium grade of service in house, but I suspect it is still a bit cost prohibitive. It would also add a small amount of legal protection for the residents should the RIAA or MPAA try to come after anyone. After all, it is 80 units behind a single IP. For resident privacy protection, your SLA could state that no logging be maintained except in the event of troubleshooting. I would verify with a lawyer that since it is community owned, that such lack of logging would be legal, since you are not an ISP.

Re:Metro Ethernet? - Below lay fantasies. (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#40207003)

I tend to be wary of having service exclusively from a top tier provider... Such providers have been known to have peering disagreements with other such providers, and thus cut you off from chunks of the internet... Sometimes you also end up with very poor routes because the provider your using doesn't peer locally, so your traffic goes on a thousand mile round trip.

The smaller companies may be leasing lines from the big providers, but they will usually be using several of those providers at once so you end up with better local peering and much lower risk of peering disagreements.

Run the cable via the elevator shaft(s) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40206787)

Run the cable via the elevator shaft(s) and since there are only four units per floor install a WiFi AP or Repeater in the common hallway. The preferred cable in the elevator shaft is fiber optic. Within each unit a WiFi AP if a WiFI Repeater was installed in the common hallway. Each fiber run handles only four units so bandwidth should not be an issue except at the point of connection to the ISP's network.

I don't want a condo association middleman (3, Insightful)

dougsyo (84601) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206965)

This is exactly the kind of thing I don't want from a condo association - a middleman that takes a cut of my fees and adds no value. I would rather contract directly with DSL or cable provider. That way if it breaks I don't have to call the condo offices (during business hours only, of course) to call the internet contractor (again, only reachable during business hours) to commence the finger-pointing.

Re:I don't want a condo association middleman (2)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40207197)

Even worst, this concentrates power away from you.

Your experience will have to match the expectations from the majority of users, that thinks the Internet is just a "Facebook provider".

You torrents are choking? Your problem - 95% of the others condos are fine.

IP (1)

fa2k (881632) | more than 2 years ago | (#40206981)

I'm just a user, but it is a good idea to provide one IPv4 address to each flat. There are many protocols that require or benefit from peer-to-peer connectivity, including Skype, the Xbox and IM-based file transfer. These work with NAT, but they use UPNP, so either you have to provide UPNP port forwarding to all flats at once (a big clusterfuck) or an IP address to each. All those protocols do work around lame NATs by proxying, but this is slower and the applications sometimes indicate this to the user (so they can complain). Some "old-school" VPNs don't work with NAT.

On WiFi, the expectation is different, so you can provide either NATed or firewalled connections for WiFi (assuming you build both WiFi and wired nets).

If you build support for IPv6, you can delegate a subnet to each wired outlet, and use firewalled (drop all incoming, allow all outgoing) for wireless connections.

I would appreciate this setup greatly as a user, but I'm a geek, and "normal" people may not care that much. Still, the examples in the first paragraph are used by many people, so I think it's a fair point. (even better would be multiple public IPs per outlet, but that would just encourage noob users to get a switch instead of a router, which is bad. Windows is probably not ready for the "bare " internet yet)

Put in phone lines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40207029)

Just give each apartment at least 1 phone line and let each person who wants internet access arrange it themselves. Extra phone lines would be a benefit as would trunking to put extra cables though later. Other than that don't get involved unless you really want to support everyone's equipment 24/7 and get the blame for every windows virus, every illegally downloaded movie, every botnet DDOS attack from cracked windows machine, and every child porn incident from 'your' network. You won't be able to provide cheaper service than the ISPs either unless you resell domestic ADSL which is against the terms and conditions.

The amount of hassle you will have putting a mini-ISP together will not be worth it. Leave running an ISP to the ISPs.

Its what I used to do for a living. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40207055)

I once worked for a company that installed internet services for condos here in Florida. We would get business class Internet services from 2 local companies (by local I mean Comcast or Century link), get a router that supports dual WAN input with load balancing, and run Cat5e to the units where the owner provides their own wireless router. Keep in mind that if you do not block the incoming DHCP port on the client side via a managed switch you will get rogue DHCP servers for the building. This works very well and you should charge an extra $20-25 a month in HOA fees.

Good luck and farewell.

Ah, Slashdot! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40207233)

Where the first instinctual response to someone asking for help is to flame the requestor for asking.

Look. Condo associations are made up of condo owners. They're not construction professionals, network professionals, or experts in many areas critical to run condos. And yes, they hire experts to handle a lot of stuff. They probably WILL hire an expert on this.

But how do they tell the difference between a true expert and someone blowing smoke? There are a lot of charlatans out there who either don't know what they're talking about, or worse know what they're talking about but will recommend overspec'ing, underspec'ing, or a specific vendor becaus it maximizes the consultants payoff. The boad needs to be a check on this. Which means a responsible board person nees to do some research.

In this case, the board member asked the experts. And the experts disdainfully called him an unqualified idiot for his trouble.

I have an answer... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40207335)

Use a Cisco Wireless solution. The whole setup using their Managed setup. Run Cat 6 everywhere, 2 runs to each location leave one in place for future. I would also run an extra cat6 to every unit and let them pay to have their builder add in runs to each room or the integrator to run to where the AV racks will be for each unit.

I would also add a good Cisco firewall and a transparent proxy cache server to reduce your POP load.

Call up any Cisco Certified dealers and they can give you a nice exact list of what you need and a price.

Dont even think of dinking around with consumer gear for this. And dont think you can get away without running wires.

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