Build an Xserve ISP

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by Metatron, Jan 20, 2004.

  1. Metatron macrumors 6502

    Metatron

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2002
    #1
    I was wanting to know how to build my own isp using an xserve. I am so tired of having to pay 20 dollars a month for a busy signal. I will just tie into a T1 or T3 and sell internet for 10 bucks. I am not looking to make a ton of profit. How do I set one up? What equipment do i need? I have looked on the net and can not find anything about xserves being used for isp's. Where do i even start? I have a few thousand to shell out I might as well see if i can make my savings profitable.
     
  2. Versello macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2003
    #2
    It's definately not as easy as you think...

    The cost of a T1 alone will cost you over a grand a month, and getting dial-up users as clients will be tricky.
     
  3. tomf87 macrumors 65816

    tomf87

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2003
    #3
    Not only cost of the T1 line, but you would still need an upstream ISP to link to. Then you'd have to go through the process to get some IP's allocated to you for your dialup clients. You would need to prove to IANA and your ISP that you need a subnet allocated to you.

    After that, you would need a modem bank, as well as a bank of phone lines to tie into them, or, even better, another T1 and split the channels off to each modem. Then you'd setup a server (XServe in this case), to act as a DHCP server for those dialin clients. You'd also have to configure some sort of authentication for those users.

    It's going to take more than a few grand to get started. Plus, the dialup ISP business is a very tight market.

    Good luck.
     
  4. unc32 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2002
    #4
    you could just wireless with the people in our neighborhood or apartment complex. Seems like a big undertaking for a few bucks a month. If you save 10 dollars a month then it still takes 20 months just to pay off the 2 grand.
     
  5. superbovine macrumors 68030

    superbovine

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2003
    #5
    you guys forgot on network setup too. i don't seem to get the feeling he has every tried to setup something like a cisco 2600 router with 3com superstacks switches. oh yeah don't forget the 19" rack mount he will need to install to hold his pizza box and network gear. don't forgot the nice rack mountable battery backup just in case the power goes out. maybe a extra fans or ac unit ready to go in case heat ever become an issue.

    after then you will need someone to man the tech support line. you don't want your paying customer to loss access at 3:00 am and not be able to call tech support. insurance perheps? i am not to sure on that end of the deal.

    then probably someone to take orders.
    someone to do daily maintence of the server. someone to do hunt people down that didn't pay their bills. hmmm am i missing anything?

    oh yeah!

    also nobody mentioned that he will need to probably a get CPA and an attorney plus pay whatever fees you need to pay to start and business.
     
  6. Metatron thread starter macrumors 6502

    Metatron

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2002
    #6
    yes, yes, I get the picture....but

    but I have about 20 grand to blow. Here is my reasoning. I live in a town that has a poplutation of 20 thousand. Sprint is the only teleco here so you must use there DSL, which is only in select parts of the town. Comcast owns the cable and wont have cable modems here until 2006. And the majority of users around this town just check email anyways. I am not wanting to set up a massive ISP. Just one to serve about 1500 people. We only have one local ISP and they are 21 bucks a month. You can use MSN or AOL, but they too are over twenty dollars. So I think that I can spend a few grand and just recover my cost, if not I have an amazing rendering farm for Video editing.

    So I am not to sure how this works so don't discourage me with doubt, help a fellow Mac-cy out.

    I know I will need a T1, Xserve, Router, and RAS. I do not understand how I can make 500 connections at once though. Do I have to have 500 incoming phone lines to a RAS. How does that work? And how much more could internet service cost if I am already going to pay a grand a month for a T1? What other equipment do I need. How do I hook all that crap up. I have done plenty of networking, but nothing like this.

    Also, if it all goes bad, I can ebay the equipment, lose a little money, and at least enjoyed the experience....right. Plus I can set up payments though an automated withdraw only clause.....i mean come on...it is ten bucks. And as for maintance......it is an Xserve for Christ sake......the envy of the server world. When collecting past due bills....well I lost a few 10 dollar bills....who cares. I can write a script to check to see if someone managed to not have suffecient funds and automatically turns off their service. I can make an installation CD to setup service for those who lack computer savvy skills. As for being sued, or tech support. I will wright in the user agreement that it is not my fault if your computer does not boot.....buy a mac. And as for advertising. Every thing in my little town sells by word of mouth around here.

    Like I said, I am not wanting to take on AOL....just help out us poor folk.

    SO......who know how to make an ISP??
     
  7. Versello macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2003
  8. tomf87 macrumors 65816

    tomf87

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2003
    #8
    Re: yes, yes, I get the picture....but

    Sorry for the discouragement. My former company tried this and failed.

    So, here's what you do. You can use a T1, DSL, whatever to get yourself connected to the Internet. Just make sure the line can handle your maximum users. Let's say each user uses 30kbps of usage and you have 100 users average. Then you will need at least a 3000kbps line (or 2 T1's). You will pay the phone company for the lines, then you will pay an ISP for a hookup charge, which can get pricey. Check the major ISP's, like Cable & Wireless, or Sprint. We had two T1's for $1200/month total. When you order the access from the ISP, you need to get an IP subnet allocated to you. For this you will need to prove to the ISP and IANA that you need some number of IP's. You'd be lucky to get a class C subnet handed to you right off the bat.

    Now for the line coming in, here's how that works. You'll still need the 2 T1's above for Internet access. These lines will serve as dialin lines. A T1 has 24 channels at 64kbps each. You will order the T1 from the phone company, and you will need a block of telephone numbers and a hunt group. A hunt group is simply a generic number that people dial and it gets routed to the first available number. Say, if you have a group of numbers 555-1000 - 555-1100. Then you can make your hunt group number 555-1000 and when people dial it, they get one of the first available numbers from 555-1001 - 555-1100.

    When you get that T1 sorted out, you will run it into the back of an edge device like Lucent's (http://www.lucent.com/solutions/edge_access.html) This will convert that T1 and can receive incoming dialin signals from a modem. Now, if you have 100 users average, and a T1 only has 24 channels, you're going to need 5 T1's or a T3, which has 28 T1 signals or 28 T1's * 24 channels = 672 channels total.

    Then you would configure the edge device to use either the XServe as DHCP and authentication or let the edge device do it.

    To be honest, if I were setting up an ISP, I would ditch the XServe and get better networking equipment instead. The XServe would be a waste for just using it for DHCP and authentication.

    To link the dialin and Internet together, you'll need to get a modular router. You could get a fixed router (one that can't have ports added to it), but if you need more lines added, then you're stuck with buying a new router. A Cisco 7200 is very modular and would provide high-speed routing. We have one of these with a DS3 built into it, and we don't use it at all. Wanna buy it? :)

    Let me know if this helps.

    Maybe if Lanbrown were around he could add/suggest/correct something on what I just said. :)
     
  9. superbovine macrumors 68030

    superbovine

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2003
    #9
    yeah i am in agreement with you. just using a faster linux box solution would probably be the better way to go. buy network equipment.

    in all seriousness you might want find a contractor or consultant to help setup this network for you.
     
  10. Lanbrown macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    #10
    From somebody that does networking all day, here is the scoop.

    You would not need to go to ARIN for IP address allocation. You can get those from your ISP provider. This would be the ideal path, as you don't have the recurring annual costs associated with getting an allocation from ARIN. This could also save yourself from having to deal with BGP routing. Trust me, you don't want to deal with it. The use of NAT would also cut down the number of addresses you would need. You need to determine how man concurrent users you will have to determine the amount of bandwidth you will require. Then you need to get the circuit(s) from your ISP and determine if you want them to supply and manage the router or you. You will also want maintenance, as users don't like to be without Internet access. The next step is to protect your equipment, which means security measures need to be in place. You can use the router as a firewall or you could just use an appliance. The appliance works the best out of the two. Now you also need to go back to your concurrent user count and buy a RAS that can support that many. You said about 500 in one on your messages. To support that many users you would need 22 PRI lines, and that's just so they can dial-up. If you went with a 4:1 ratio for bandwidth you could get away with 5 or 6 T1 lines. At peak times if everyone was attempting to use their connection to the fullest then they would get about one quarter of their connection speed, assuming they were all 53Kbps connections. That means you would need a DS-3 coming into wherever you place this equipment. You could go with individual T1 lines, but a DS-3 would be cheaper. Load balancing only really works well with three or less connections and you would have six for the Internet. You could mux two T1's into one physical/virtual connection and end up with three or mux three and end up with two. Or you could just use a fractional DS-3 with 9Mbps of bandwidth. Anyway you put it, this now increases the cost of the equipment. The RAS can provide the IP address to the users via DHCP. Now you have authentication for the users. You could store the user authentication information in the NAS, but depending on what brand you use and this would be a Telco/ISP model you would be looking at, it would not be wise. So now you need to store that elsewhere, which also increases the costs. Are you going to provide mail? If so, now you need even more hardware. You would not want to put their e-mail, authentication information and any other services you want to provide all on one server. That would be a very bad idea.

    A cheaper router for the NAS would be analog phone lines, in your case, 500 of them. The carrier would most likely charge you to install more copper to support these as that require more then they probably have. The users would also never get 53Kbps either, you need digital for that and a PRI/T1 is what you would need.

    Depending on where you are, a 6Mbps DS-3 with Internet port charge can cost $4,000 and higher. Some areas might be cheaper; some might be more. A lowball figure would be at least $500 each. There is another $11,000. If you are in a small town, I can almost guarantee you that your prices will me much higher. You mentioned $20,000 to spend; that is what you would spend in a month just for Telco charges.

    I worked for a fortune 10 company and installed remote access in one of the regions; if you want more suggestions, PM me and I would be than happy to help. I was going to respond last night, but it was 9PM and wanted to leave to work.
     
  11. GigaWire macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2001
    #11
    $20,000 can buy a lot of wireless access points.
     
  12. bigbadmac macrumors member

    bigbadmac

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2004
    Location:
    Washington State
    #12
    Go Wireless?

    I'm enjoying this posting a lot as I have a similar problem. I'm on an island just of the mainland here in WA state. There is no DSL or Cable. However, about 2.3 miles accross the water, DSL, Cable and even some offices with T1's are available. I've batted around the idea of starting a wireless co-op. The idea is to beam the signal accross the bay to my home here that has a clear shot. I then thought of building up a local wireless network that in theroy could be expanded to accomodate a small local area. Granted, this would not be a money maker, but it would give 30-50 of us better internet service than the 56k we got now...

    I'm taking my inspiration from a group in Hawaii that has a great wireless network for education. WEST
    (Wireless Education Solutions Team)


    Check out the site... tons of info...
     
  13. superbovine macrumors 68030

    superbovine

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2003
    #13
    Re: Go Wireless?


    http://www.wwc.edu/~frohro/Airport/Primestar/Primestar.html

    with a clear line of site this 802.11 anteena will go 10 miles. if you setup two of these you could link WAP to a wireless router, or you could just make directional anteena aka canteena (the tin portion in the picture) for each pc. just point it at the dish. with the signal traveling 2.3 miles though, bad weather will hinder your performance. this is a cheap project though especially if you got an old dish laying around.

    you will need wireless cards that support external anteenas unless you rig two wireless routers or wireless router to a WAP then spread out your WAP through your location. dlink i know has a lot of good outdoor equipment and nice equipment and software to offer a "hotspot". they even have a thermal printer that will print tickets that links with the software that runs your access point.
     
  14. Lanbrown macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    #14
    If someone wanted to offer WLAN, they wouldn't use consumer gear, but an enterprise solution. Management is far easier when you are talking about a lot of AP's and they are designed to provide more of a seamless coverage pattern.
     
  15. bigbadmac macrumors member

    bigbadmac

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2004
    Location:
    Washington State
    #15
    My own ISP

    I did the ISP thing from my home here in WA. I was the only one in my neighborhood with a CO. Then GTE sold out to Verizon... they then started selling my bandwidth to everyone withing the CO range... only about 6 months till I ended up in court over my contract with them.

    Long story short... I ended up doing the CoLo for about three years, then I got tired of that and then did dedicated server lease for another 2 years... finally I'm back to square one... flat out, out of the business.

    Good luck... the competition is brutal... especially the big guns!
     

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