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Wi-Fi Broadband Project.

Hello,

I am in my final year studying Business IT at uni and am researching a number of technologies and ideas on which I could base my final year project. The project is concerned with finding an IT opportunity and developing the idea to a level where it could become marketable. I have found a particular interest in Wi-Fi and broadband. Basically my idea involves providing a cheap wireless broadband service to the students who live in the university area. There are tens of thousands of students who live in a 1 km radius of the university so there is a real opportunity to utilise Wi-Fi. I have researched the technology and it appears that the LocustWorld Mesh (http://www.locustworld.com/) system is widely used around the world and would be ideal for this project. I am unsure yet as to what would be the most economical way to obtain a service from an ISP on a scale where I could become a local ISP myself as that is essentially the objective of the project. I have looked at Aramiska (http://www.aramiska.com) who provide a satellite broadband service and provide helpful case studies on their site.  I would be grateful if anyone could share their experience or offer their advice on this subject.

Many thanks,

PK
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keenanpatrick
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keenanpatrick
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publicCommented:
The satellite service offers 2048kbps for  £ 349. This could serve maybe 10 students. Orders of magnitude off the mark. You need to find a better backhaul.
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keenanpatrickAuthor Commented:
Hi public,

Thanks for your comment. I have done some more research and believe that a leased ADSL/SDSL line would be a better option to satellite. I am unsure however as to what my requirements are. What sort of service would I require to provide say for example a 512Kbps - 1 Mbps service for 50 students. When you say I need to find a better backhaul, is that in relation to the satellite service only having a 1 way link?
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publicCommented:
You need to determine the number of students likely to use the connection at the same time. You can specify a range of speeds, for example min 128 kbps with bursts to 1500 kbps for example. You will need a multiple adsl lines. You also have to consider how to charge for the service.
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Fatal_ExceptionCommented:
I agree with public here.  You will need to create a business model and determine the anticipated cash flow requirements for your operation.  This will tell you a lot about what you can afford in regards to your WAN connections.  I would definitely stay away from satellite, and stick to the adsl solution, possibly with multiple connections and load balancing in place.  Once you get an anticipated cash flow statement defined, you will know a lot more about what you can do in this scenario.

BTW:  this does sound like a workable business, and one that may provide a very decent return on investment (ROI).  
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keenanpatrickAuthor Commented:

Thanks for your response guys.

I am currently researching the cost of a leased adsl line and am awaiting documentation from a few companies about their services. I am rather new to this area and am not 100% sure what you mean when you talk about multiple connections and load balancing. I'd be very grateful if you could explain it briefly to me.

Many thanks,

PK
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Fatal_ExceptionCommented:
You could have an ISP (or multiple ISP's) drop 2 (or more) lines into the NOC (Network Operations Center) and use Load Balancing to distribute the packets to the lines...  I use a combination of ADSL and Cable for my operation, with a dual WAN router to distribute the packets...

FE
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keenanpatrickAuthor Commented:
That's interesting... What operation have you set up Fatal? Do you provide an ISP of your own? What sort of scale is your service?

Thanks again,

PK
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Fatal_ExceptionCommented:
I wish I were an ISP..  But your idea is sound, and could be a cash-cow if it was done right.

I installed my services primarily for redundancy in my network, and to allow for faster upload speeds than my original provider (Time Warner Cable) gave me.  The ADSL connection is (I believe) 384/768, and I get approx. 300/4000 from the cable.  This also gives me 5 static addresses, at a relatively cheap price.  I don't have quite T1 bandwidth, but it is close enough for me, and if one goes down, I always have a backup running.  (If I included a generator into the equation, with the Telco connection, even a power outage would not keep me down, as many times the Telco's will stay on when power goes out.  Cable is powered by amplifiers every 1000 feet, and the power for these amps comes directly from the power company.)  I believe the total monthly nut on both of these is around $150...  If you bump up the bandwidth of your DSL connection, and add a cable drop as backup, you might find it an interesting proposal.

FE
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keenanpatrickAuthor Commented:

That seems like a lovely setup you have there FE. You've been a great help to me. Must get a model started to see what the overheads are like.

Many thanks mate,

PK

 
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Fatal_ExceptionCommented:
You are welcome.  I would like to see any data you generate, as it would be an interesting topic.  

Good luck..!!

FE
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keenanpatrickAuthor Commented:
I will let you know how I get on FE.

Thanks again,

PK
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td_milesCommented:
Without wanting to put too much of a damper on your entrepreneurial activities, most of the terms of service you agree to when you sign up for a cable/DSL service include a bit about not being able to resell the connection. The companies used to say you couldn't even share it, but now most don't worry about this, as long as you're not charging for it (ie. sharing a connection with your three flat-mates). I think most even turn a blind eye if you're sharing it with your neighbour and getting a few $ from him on the side. If you start up a business and commence reselling bandwidth from a "residential class service" to hundreds of other people, the ISP will not be happy about this (they see that you are taking their business, as they would want to provide a seperate connection to each one of these ppl). This is where you start having to look at paying for "business class services" that usually have metered data (as opposed to residential, which is often unlimited) data. You also need to check that the even on a business service, the terms of agreement allow you to onsell the connection.

IANAL, but you should give some consideration to these issues. If you choose to go ahead regardless, that's your choice. You may get away with it for years and make quite a bit of money, or you may get away with it for a month and find out that when you have to purchase higher cost connections, the whole plan become financially unworkable.

Maybe you could partner with an ISP directly, altough I'm not sure what would be in it for them ?

On a technical side, you should also consider how much bandwidth you will need to satisfy everyone. If you have a 1500kbps connection that is being shared between 100 ppl (at the same time), that is 15kbps per person. Given that dial-up is (min) 36kbps, what you have isn't that much. Yes, the lower bandwidth may be offset by the fact that it is wireless and they can roam & use it from wherever they please, but you need to take this into account.
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Fatal_ExceptionCommented:
Good considerations, and I want to make clear that my setup is not for the type of business that we are discussing.  You would have to go business class to do this properly, probably dropping a T1 at least into your NOC, along with negotiating the proper EULA with the provider.  But these costs are also dropping considerably.  For example, web hosting services are constantly negotiating lower rates on their leased lines.  

And the shared bandwidth must also be considered (but it is doubtful that all your users will be using their connections at the same moment).  It would be a similar setup as a cable ISP provider, that being that when the kids get home from school, bandwidth suffers considerably.  You must be prepared for these high usage times.
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Fatal_ExceptionCommented:
Just wanted to throw a figure out at you...  I am discussing installation of a full T1 into my business with CityNet, and they are quoting me $675/month right now.  One year ago, I was paying twice that for a full T1..  As I said, the prices seem to be dropping considerably...

And Thanks..   As I said, I would certainly be interested in reading anything you put together on this project, if only as a curiosity...   You can get my email addy from my website at www.doverproductions.com...

FE
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