Below is an article written by Alex Goldman, managing editor of ISP-Planet.com, which highlights the NetEqualizer technology.
Network Contention Specialist
This company’s getting attention right now for its CALEA solution, but the wireless AP that’s in development may be the big story here
By: Alex Goldman
Lafayette, Colorado-based NetEqualizer has one product on the market right now, a bandwidth manager called the NE 200 (for NetEqualizer 200).
“Our primary mission is to make ISPs more efficient,” says Art Reisman, CEO and co-founder of NetEqualizer.
He and his colleagues tried to build a local WISP in 2002. In a wealthy, tech savvy suburb of Boulder, they thought they had the ideal market. He thinks it’s tougher to be a WISP than it is to do what he’s doing now. “It took us two years to get NetEqualizer to [profitability],” he says. “We don’t sell through channels. It’s all organic growth. We didn’t need a huge amount of money fast.”
In contrast, an ISP needs to keep growing. “We pulled in a T-1 and ran an AP on the roof. Then DSL came along and killed our WISP. We talk to five or six WISPs every day, of all sizes, from 20 customers to 10,000. ISPs can put out flyers and get to 100 customers, but it’s very tough to go from there. We noticed that our talents were engineering, not RF.”
Sharing is not a contest
So the company built a box that helps dole out bandwidth on contested networks. It monitors each stream, and throttles streams that are bandwidth-intensive when there’s a conflict. “We can go after a user’s big download and leave their IM stream up,” explains Reisman. He says that allowing low-bandwidth transactions like e-mail, IM, and VoIP to go through while throttling the high cost streams—such as streaming video, file downloads, and P2P—will result in fewer angry calls to the ISP.
Since the box already examines each stream, it’s easy to make this into a CALEA probe. Reisman admits that his box is not certified “CALEA-compliant” but says that since the law doesn’t say what is and what is not compliant, no other vendor can say they are either.
Some vendors comply specifically with the ATIS specification, but not all Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) comply with it (though the biggest, the FBI, does).
ISPCON attendees learned all about this when Maura Quinn, head of the FBI’s Electronic Surveillance Technology Section (Operational Technology Division) based in Quantico, Va., said, “the FBI cannot endorse specific equipment. TTPs and equipment makers can advise you as to what’s CALEA compliant. The FBI does not have a list. Service providers can obtain detailed documentation by contacting the FBI.”
Reisman says he was reluctant to make the device a probe, but customers demanded it. “It’s not our goal to make money from fear or from government requirements,” he says.
He says that the box has been criticized by his competitors because it lacks features. “People tell us we have to do it this way, but for our customers, the alternative is to do nothing or go bankrupt [buying expensive equipment]. Our device is just the first step to compliance. There’s no standards body that certifies that devices are CALEA compliant.”
He understands that many ISPs will buy the more expensive equipment that’s out there (or go with a TTP). “I don’t want to embarrass anyone who bought the more expensive stuff,” he says. “This is a service to our existing customers.”
Pricing and availability
All boxes are able to handle up to 150 Mbps of throughput, but NetEqualizer sells products at different prices depending on the throughput needed. More throughput can be unlocked with a more expensive software key. Pricing is published online and starts at $2,050 with warranty and software upgrades for a 2 Mbps box, running to $6,750 for the top of the line box with warranty and upgrades.
Reisman says he had a cheaper box for the low end of the market but could not guarantee manufacturing quality, and now ships only one model.