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Ask Slashdot: Provisioning Internet For Condo Association? 257

Posted by timothy
from the connected-vending-machines-in-the-lobby dept.
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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Ask Slashdot: Provisioning Internet For Condo Association?

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  • No offense, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by war4peace (1628283) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:22AM (#40206223)

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

    • Hire an expert. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:29AM (#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:Hire an expert. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sycodon (149926) on Monday June 04, 2012 @09:28AM (#40207961)

        Further, those without it probably don't want it.

        Yet this committee is now going to contract to provide it to everyone, jack up the association dues to pay for it and those who didn't want it in the first place are going to take it in the ass.

        I hate Condo/Home owner associations.

        • Re:Hire an expert. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Monday June 04, 2012 @10:48AM (#40208799)

          I hate Condo/Home owner associations.

          You are not alone. If you look in the real estate section of the classifieds, many ads will say "No HOA!" The lack of an HOA is a major selling point. I have never see one that say "Great HOA!"

          HOAs are interesting because they are a microcosm of the problems with democracy. Even though they are elected, the majority hate them and don't feel they represent their interests. The people who run for the HOA board tend to be busybodies who want to "solve" everyone else's non-problems. The poster is a good example of that. He is trying to turn the HOA into an ISP middleman, which I doubt a single tenant wants.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            ...HOAs are interesting because they are a microcosm of the problems with democracy. Even though they are elected, the majority hate them and don't feel they represent their interests. The people who run for the HOA board tend to be busybodies who want to "solve" everyone else's non-problems. The poster is a good example of that. He is trying to turn the HOA into an ISP middleman, which I doubt a single tenant wants.

            That's because, just like in a democracy, no one wants to be bothered with their civic duties. Most don't want to run, most don't bother to even show up for the meetings and vote on issues, most don't even want to hear about anything that doesn't immediately concern them. They would rather complain in shock and outrage any time something goes wrong and invent theories about how others are somehow conspiring against them.

    • by Mr0bvious (968303) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:46AM (#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].

    • by Sorthum (123064) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:48AM (#40206311) Homepage

      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.

      • by aaarrrgggh (9205) on Monday June 04, 2012 @10:58AM (#40208909)

        Having wondered a similar thing, a little input can go a long way to determine if the project would make sense. If it wouldn't, you won't find vendors that will tell you so for free.

        So, I will share what I do know about it:
        -If the building owns the telephone cable plant, the cheapest solution is to go to ADSL at the main point of entry for distribution to the units. This will limit capacity, but is easiest to implement. Your handoff between an upstream supplier will likely be Ethernet.
        -If you have concrete shear walls between units, don't consider wireless.
        -Most importantly, it requires nearly 100% buy-in from the owners all wanting the service you can provide for it to be economically viable. If you can get 100Mbit for $1400/month (recent quote I got elsewhere), your MRC is $17.50 per unit. So, if you amortize over 36 months, you can only spend $7k and keep the monthly cost at $20 without any profit.

        There should be full-service companies that will give you triple-play packages, but it is going to be hard to justify on cost.

        • by theNAM666 (179776)

          >If you can get 100Mbit for $1400/month

          Wow. Not that I don't know that that's typical in some places, but it varies, you know? The local telco in the small rural town my mom lives in offers 100M fibre-to-premise for $100/month; I took the 10M, $40/mo plan for her. 100M is much more expensive in the nearest metro (~600K) where I have an apartment, but you'd better get *service* at $1400/mo. Heck, you'd better get a phone box, as we had 100M, and 30 phone lines at the office, for about $400/m

    • by sortadan (786274) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:55AM (#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...
      • by icebike (68054) * on Monday June 04, 2012 @03:20AM (#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: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          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.

        • by MMC Monster (602931) on Monday June 04, 2012 @06:34AM (#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.

          • by Hatta (162192)

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

            This is actually a violation of federal law.

            • Actually mandating is not a violation of federal law. You can mandate anything, getting it upheld by a court is a separate issue.

            • Not necessarily. I ran into this recently trying to help someone figure out how to deal with her condo HOA. For condos, the association owns the exterior structure and the FCC regs do allow prohibiting mounting dishes to a common area. The roof may be considered a common area (it's outlined in the FAQ), especially if it's visible to other areas, which hers is. Some of her neighbors were able to mount theirs on patios which, while visible, are private access specific to the unit to which they're attached, wh

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

            NO WAY COMCAST SUCKS

      • by Zebai (979227) on Monday June 04, 2012 @04:01AM (#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.)

    • by w.hamra1987 (1193987) on Monday June 04, 2012 @03:19AM (#40206423) Homepage
      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.
    • by chrismcb (983081)
      Yes, because every condo unit with at least 80 units as a resident internet expert.
    • 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.

    • by Gripp (1969738)
      just because he asked the questions doesn't mean he is technically inept. He may already have a good idea of what the answer is and simply wants to see if it is in line with what others think. And even if he doesn't, he may still be the most technical person on the board. Asking questions/assuming you don't know everything/getting a broad range of opinion is ALWAYS the smart way to go about things.
    • If you're asking all those questions, you should not be in that committee.

      Typical dumb-assed non-answer that both misses the point and is clearly ignorant of what a condo committee is.

      First: A condo committee is made up of condo RESIDENTS who are tasked with managing various aspects of the management of the facility. It's silly to expect that every condo has a network engineer in residence or on the staff. If a network engineer is required, they will *HIRE* one.

      Second: Why do people like you even bother with such remark? It adds nothing to the conversation, and pretty much makes

  • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:29AM (#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.

    • by 1karmik1 (963790) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:41AM (#40206287) Homepage
      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.
      • by 1karmik1 (963790)
        I fail at formatting badly. I Apologies.
      • by rtb61 (674572)

        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 ea

      • by Bert64 (520050) <bert&slashdot,firenzee,com> on Monday June 04, 2012 @06:12AM (#40206943) Homepage

        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.

    • by blackC0pter (1013737) on Monday June 04, 2012 @03:15AM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zan Lynx (87672) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:33AM (#40206265) Homepage

    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.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:55AM (#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.

      • by swb (14022)

        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.

        It's a Condo, they aren't tenants. All the association has to do is throw the association agreement in their face and ask them how well they like living in a dictatorship.

        On the other hand, if you don't like your bandwidth, you can lobby the association to fix the problem, up to and including running for the board.

        I w

    • Re:Distribution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Monday June 04, 2012 @03:06AM (#40206385) Journal

      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.

      • Re:Distribution (Score:5, Informative)

        by PIBM (588930) on Monday June 04, 2012 @08:08AM (#40207373) Homepage

        1Gb unmetered fiber for a company runs at 1500$ per month in Quebec city, while 175/175mbs runs at 130$ per month for a end user (with a stupid 300GB cap). A 1Gb pipe would provide a minimum of 12mbps for everyone with a running cost of less than 20$ per month while a user would pay 55$ here for such speed and would have a download cap of 120GB. I don`t know how much is a 10Gb pipe but I'd certainly look it up ;)

  • That's your job ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thsths (31372) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:35AM (#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.

    • by necro81 (917438)

      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.

      As a matter of pragmatic security, don't run the building CCTV and HVAC controls through the same network as the units' internet connection. Last thing the building management needs is some 13-year old whiz playing with the thermostats! If you have opportunities to, for instance, get all the wiring runs done at the same time, great, but keep

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:42AM (#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

  • by tagno25 (1518033) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:50AM (#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.

  • Keep it simple. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Karmashock (2415832) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:51AM (#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 (Score:5, Informative)

      by tanveer1979 (530624) on Monday June 04, 2012 @04:00AM (#40206577) Homepage Journal

      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.

      • 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 woul

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Hatta (162192)

          By the same logic why not do that for the whole country?

          Republicans, that's why. Nation wide internet is a great idea for the same reason the interstate system is. But it will never happen as long as private profits are more important than the public good.

          • That makes no more sense then nationalizing tennis shoes or restaurants.

            Obviously there will always be those believe they know better then anyone else and think they have the right to tell everyone what to do. You are one of those people. You don't believe in freedom. You're effectively a communist. When the government controls everything and the individual has no choice... what then?

            And what if your perfect little system turns out to be a disaster? Will you admit it? Of course not. Much like the north kore

            • by Hatta (162192)

              Public utilities == communism. This is what Republicans actually believe.

      • 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 cal

        • by cdrudge (68377)

          at peak times the speed drops markedly and you have no control over this.

          If only they made some type of device that could shape the traffic. You know, to guarantee some type of quality of service such that every user was guaranteed an equal portion of the overall main connection if needed, but any extra was divvied up among those that could use more...

        • Re:I disagree (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Shinobi (19308) on Monday June 04, 2012 @09:11AM (#40207795)

          So you're saying that a decent capacity ethernet connected to the internet via redundant pairs of multimode fiber, which is what's installed in all the apartment houses in the area, is as slow as the loop that many cable ISP's use? Wrong...

          Let's just put this out there: I opted for the 100Mb/s up and down service(and am currently trying to see if I can justify the cost of the gigabit service). In an area with a bit over 600 apartments, my ISP has 495 customers. Even during prime time, I can use my connection to its fullest, downloading ISO's, updating games, reaching 11.5MB/s practical speed. I can also upload at that speed.

          The difference is, here in Sweden, ISP's don't oversubscribe like they do in the US. You could have that in the US too, if more people started working together and negotiating as a group, to counter the abuse from the big ISP's/telcos.

    • 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 themse

      • 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

    • by Shinobi (19308)

      I oppose your rather limiting concepts, based on having used cable, DSL and now FTTP/ethernet.

      The way it works with many of the high-speed FTT(P/H) providers here in Sweden is that when they are contracted, they build up a beefy ethernet network, which becomes the property of the house owner/association. That network is then connected via redundant pairs of fiber to the nearest CO/exchange. The contract covers maintenance and operation of that network, and then individual tenants can contact the ISP for ser

      • Not at all. I think your idea is great and I was well aware of the option before you said anything.

        What you didn't understand... and I'm going to explain again... is that you must give INDIVIDUALS a choice. If I don't want your service. Do not force me to pay for it. If I want service then let me choose the provider I want.

        If that means i don't get this great deal you're talking about... that's my problem. You offered and I said no. The consequences are my fault.

        But you don't have a right to force me.

        That i

        • by Shinobi (19308)

          And neither does my outlined suggestion imply that you would have your choice taken away. As I said, cable and DSL is still available. And when the initial contract from the current FTTP provider expires, which is due in a year, there will be several providers lined up to compete on the house owners own network. Which means that ethically, having everyone chip in for improved infrastructure actually IMPROVES competition and choice after a while.

          Making your stance the unethical one: You're, by your very own

  • by spectrokid (660550) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:58AM (#40206355) Homepage
    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?
    • by 1karmik1 (963790)
      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.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    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 o

  • Fiber (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kjella (173770) on Monday June 04, 2012 @03:13AM (#40206401) Homepage

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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

  • by AHuxley (892839) on Monday June 04, 2012 @03:20AM (#40206433) Homepage Journal
    Wire all your homes to a central point, bring the telcos to the same point and connect. Total freedom of isp, always wired up.
  • 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.
  • 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 grou

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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 dar

    • by mikael_j (106439)

      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.

  • 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 c

  • 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 occupan

  • 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.

  • by aaronb1138 (2035478) on Monday June 04, 2012 @05:16AM (#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.

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      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

    • by Kjella (173770)

      After all, it is 80 units behind a single IP.

      I've been on that kind of cripplenet before, wouldn't ever want to go back there. I'd take practically any other kind of connection with a full IP of their own rather than your solution.

  • by dougsyo (84601) on Monday June 04, 2012 @06:20AM (#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.

    • by Lisias (447563)

      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.

  • by fa2k (881632)

    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

  • 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

  • In most areas where condos exist, the commercial ISPs will offer adequate DSL or cable services. This way, individual residents can make a decision about what service they want, and purchase the DSL or cable service that suits them.

    Simply lay down a few ground rules to condo residents: No externally mounted dishes, No new visible cabling in communal areas, etc.

    The condo assoc, may be willing to assist in installing ducting - this way, residents can chose fiber, cable, DSL, etc., and it can all go through ex

    • No externally mounted dishes,

      Note that you cannot require this, assuming this is in America (and I didn't bother reading the submission all that closely. Though I probably could have in the time it's taken to type this disclaimer. Especially the time to write about the time it would have taken. Oh deary me.) FCC OTARD [fcc.gov]

      Other than that, I agree completely. Don't get into the building ISP business. And don't contract with a specific provder to do it either, if you can avoid it. Choice is good. But if y

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I own an apartment building with 31 units. When I bought the place, it was a disaster. Coax cables nailed to the walls of the hallways and apartments, dish network units on the side of the building, etc. Was horrible. I just finished a rehab of it, and here is what I did:

    Basement tech cage. In the basement we have a 10x10 tech room. FIOS, RCN and ComCast all run in to the system (Dish will be installing a building-wide system to feed into this as well, but thats been a cluster f**k), each having their

  • While the majority of comments so far seem to presume the condo association wants to run their own ISP, there is no reason in most of the United States that they have to do so.

    Just like your condo association should be able to get "bulk cable", satellite, or Uverse/FIOS/IPTV service, you can purchase bulk Internet in a similar manner. You can even combined bulk TV, Internet, and/or phone service if you want. Even satellite companies have partners who can take care of Internet service nowadays, or can use

  • I think you may be in the range needed to allow for your setup to have its own switch/noc/head end. as far as the individual units i would say prewire the units for your ISP and then as units are filled drop in the "modem".

    You may want to see if the ISP is willing to cut you a deal for some ad space/bulk discount.

    whatever you do make sure the walls are built with conduits to allow you to snake wires (and check them every once in a while for the odd dead body).

    Also whatever you do Cheaping Out could earn you

  • Call the local ISP (start with cable and ilec) and explain the situation, and discuss options. Remember you cant just buy a single cable modem and run ethernet to 80 different customers, that's illegal.
  • by wfolta (603698) on Monday June 04, 2012 @10:41AM (#40208727)

    What do you mean? Do residents not have internet access at all? In our condo, we have a choice between Comcast and Verizon for TV, phone, internet. So perhaps you're in a very old condo that doesn't even have cable?

    Or do you mean you want to add Wi-Fi for all?

    Don't tackle a problem larger than it has to be.

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