NetEqualizer News: May 2014


May 2014

Greetings!

Enjoy another issue of NetEqualizer News! This month, we preview our new NetEqualizer Cloud Reporting feature, show off our new Internet Providers Guide, and highlight one of our international resellers – Reinaldo Neilla. As always, feel free to pass this along to others who might be interested in NetEqualizer News.

A message from Art…
Art Reisman, CTO – APconnections

I must admit that my head has been in the clouds a lot lately, as I like to bird watch, and the spring migrations are in full swing here in Colorado. I saw two “life birds” this spring (a life bird is the first time you see a bird in the wild) – the Common Yellowthroat Warbler (not common in my part of Colorado!) and a Lesser Goldfinch (only a tiny slice of its range is in Boulder).art_small

I guess staring at all those clouds gave me an idea, which I share with you this month in more detail below. In a nutshell, we can use the cloud to help store longer periods of data for reporting. Read more about our upcoming NetEqualizer Cloud Reporting offering below.

We love it when we hear back from you – so if you have a story you would like to share with us of how we have helped you, let us know. Email me directly at art@netequalizer.com. I would love to hear from you!

NetEqualizer Cloud Reporting

Coming this July, we will offer the ability to store up to one year of reporting data from our Dynamic Real-Time Reports onto a cloud server. The benefits will be numerous, as it will be complete turn key access to historical usage at the touch of button.

For example, if you want to know what your usage data looked like for the same month last year, you can pull it up instantly.

graph

To get started, the requirements will be fairly simple:

1) Your NetEqualizer must have access to the Internet (our cloud server).
2) You must sign up for an account with us. There will be a yearly charge for this service:
– $1,000 for small installations (<= 300 users) – $2,000 for medium installations (> 300 users, <= 1000 users) – $3,000 for large installations (> 1000 users)

Retrieval will be as easy as providing a date range, and IP or subnet. In version 1.0, all usage will be IP based.

We will also include reports for system protocol usage (Netflix, YouTube, etc.) depending on demand for this information in coming releases.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at:

sales@apconnections.net

-or-

303-997-1300


NetEqualizer Summary Guide for Internet Providers

This month we have updated our Internet Providers Guide. If you are a telecommunications, satellite systems, cable, or wireless/wired Internet Services Provider (ISP), and are considering a NetEqualizer, you may want to review our updated Internet Providers Guide.isp_wp

This summary guide (2-3 pages) is focused on issues specific to Internet Providers, and explains how the NetEqualizer is used by our customers to address these common issues. This is a quick way to learn about how the NetEqualizer might apply to your environment.

If you are a current customer, these guides are a great read to optimize your NetEqualizer configuration. Take a look to see if there are features that you might not be using and want to take advantage of in your NetEqualizer installation. We would be happy to help you with your configuration.

If you are current on NetEqualizer Software and Support (NSS), contact:

support@apconnections.net

-or-

303-997-1300

to get help optimizing your NetEqualizer.


Spotlight: Our South American Reseller, Reinaldo Neilla

As many of our customers know, we sell directly to businesses in most geographies, particularly the U.S. and Canada. However, in some areas of the world, we work with reseller organizations. Many of these international resellers started as our customers, loved our product, and asked to get involved in building out the marketplace in their country.

We find that our international resellers are great at navigating customs requirements, communicating in local languages, and sharing their technical knowledge of the NetEqualizer.

This month we profile one of them, Telefonia Publica y Privada S.A. (TPP S.A.). TPP is an Argentinian WISP with over 30,000 broadband users in different cities in the interior of Argentina (growing at a rate of 450 per month). Reinaldo Neilla of TPP has been using a NetEqualizer for his business since July 2008.

According to Reinaldo, “the NetEqualizer helps us (TPP) to automatically and economically provide flow control for our customers. We converted from an Allot NetEnforcer and have never looked back.”

TPP represents NetEqualizer to customers in South America. If you are in South America, and would like to talk to or email Reinaldo, you can find his contact information on our web page, here:

NetEqualizer TPP Profile


Home Networking Tip

We often have networking tutorials in our blog – but not all of them are for enterprise networks. Recently, our Co-Founder, Steve Wagor, wrote a how-to on improving wireless dead spots in your home and setting up wireless home music. Check it out!


Best Of The Blog

Why Does Fear Sell over Value for IT?

By Art Reisman – CTO – APconnections

When Willie Sutton was asked, why do you rob Banks? He replied, “Because that is where the money is.”

Why do companies sell fear? Ask Willie Sutton. :)

From Y2K and ozone holes, to IP4 address space, sales channels love a good crises to drive a sale. The funny thing is, from my experience, the process of adjusting a product line to accommodate customer fear is evolutionary, akin to natural selection, and not a preplanned conspiracy. Demand seems to be created from some external uncontrolled upwelling, and not from a hard sell within the vendor ranks…

Photo Of The Month

IMG_0040

Common Yellowthroat Warbler
Common Yellowthroats are small songbirds that have olive backs, wings and tails, yellow throats and chests, and white bellies. Adult males have black face masks which stretch from the sides of the neck across the eyes and forehead, which are bordered above with white or gray. Females are similar in appearance, but have paler underparts and lack the black mask. These birds are on the move this time of year through Colorado.

Will Bandwidth Shaping Ever Be Obsolete?


By Art Reisman

CTO – www.netequalizer.com

I find public forums where universities openly share information about their bandwidth shaping policies an excellent source of information. Unlike commercial providers, these user groups have found technical collaboration is in their best interest, and they often openly discuss current trends in bandwidth control.

A recent university IT user group discussion thread kicked off with the following comment:

“We are in the process of trying to decide whether or not to upgrade or all together remove our packet shaper from our residence hall network.  My network engineers are confident we can accomplish rate limiting/shaping through use of our core equipment, but I am not convinced removing the appliance will turn out well.”

Notice that he is not talking about removing rate limits completely, just backing off from an expensive extra piece of packet shaping equipment and using the simpler rate limits available on his router.  The point of my reference to this discussion is not so much to discourse over the different approaches of rate limiting, but to emphasize, at this point in time, running wide-open without some sort of restriction is not even being considered.

Despite an 80 to 90 percent reduction in bulk bandwidth prices in the past few years, bandwidth is not quite yet cheap enough for an ISP to run wide-open. Will it ever be possible for an ISP to run wide-open without deliberately restricting their users?

The answer is not likely.

First of all, there seems to be no limit to the ways consumer devices and content providers will conspire to gobble bandwidth. The common assumption is that no matter what an ISP does to deliver higher speeds, consumer appetite will outstrip it.

Yes, an ISP can temporarily leap ahead of demand.

We do have a precedent from several years ago. In 2006, the University of Brighton in the UK was able to unplug our bandwidth shaper without issue. When I followed up with their IT director, he mentioned that their students’ total consumption was capped by the far end services of the Internet, and thus they did not hit their heads on the ceiling of the local pipes. Running without restriction, 10,000 students were not able to eat up their 1 gigabit pipe! I must caveat this experiment by saying that in the UK their university system had invested heavily in subsidized bandwidth and were far ahead of the average ISP curve for the times. Content services on the Internet for video were just not that widely used by students at the time. Such an experiment today would bring a pipe under a similar contention ratio to its knees in a few seconds. I suspect today one would need more or on the order of 15 to 25 gigabits to run wide open without contention-related problems.

It also seems that we are coming to the end of the line for bandwidth in the wireless world much more quickly than wired bandwidth.

It is unlikely consumers are going to carry cables around with their iPad’s and iPhones to plug into wall jacks any time soon. With the diminishing returns in investment for higher speeds on the wireless networks of the world, bandwidth control is the only way to keep order of some kind.

Lastly I do not expect bulk bandwidth prices to continue to fall at their present rate.

The last few years of falling prices are the result of a perfect storm of factors not likely to be repeated.

For these reasons, it is not likely that bandwidth control will be obsolete for at least another decade. I am sure we will be revisiting this issue in the next few years for an update.

Ever Wonder What Happened to All Those Original ISPs?


Editor’s Note: The folks over at ISP Finder (a nice service for those of you looking for ISP options) posted the following article this week that we thought was interesting.

Today there are thousands of ISP’s (Internet Service Providers), but it all started with a handful of dial-up services. Some of the names you will recognize and some of them you will not. All of them played a part in the early beginnings of what is now known as the world wide web.

1) Compuserve: Compuserve is one of the oldest and yet, still well-known online service providers. So what became of Compuserve? In 1980, Compuserve was purchased by H&R Block (that’s correct, the tax preparers). Approximately 20 years later they decided to sell off Compuserve. AOL offered a stock trade which wasn’t accepted but eventually it did end up under their umbrella via being purchased by Worldcom instead. The remaining aspects of Compuserve are now clothed within the Verizon Network.

2) Mindspring: This early ISP was located in Georgia. In the year 2000 Mindspring merged with Earthlink and has remained underneath their wing ever since. In 2008 Earthlink launched its VoIP under the Mindspring name.

Full Article

Your ISP May Not Be Who You Think It Is


By Art Reisman, APconnections CTO (www.netequalizer.com)

Have you ever logged into your wireless laptop at a library or hotel lobby or airport?

Have you ever visited and used WiFi in a small-town coffee shop?

Do you take classes at a local university?

What got us thinking on this subject was the flurry of articles on net neutrality — a hot-button issue in the media these days. With each story, the reporters usually rush to get quotes and statements from all the usual suspects — Verizon, Google, Comcast, Time Warner, etc. It’s as if these providers ARE the Internet. However, in this article, we’ll show there is a significant loose conglomerate of smaller providers that, taken together, create a much larger entity than any of these traditional players.

These smaller organizations buy bulk bandwidth from tier-1 providers such as Level 3 and then redistribute it to their customers. In other words, they are your ISP. To give you a rough idea on just how large this segment is, we have worked up some numbers with conservative estimates.

There are roughly 121,000 libraries in the US. Some are very large with thousands of patrons per day and some are very small with perhaps just a handful of daily visitors. We estimate that half provide some form of wireless Internet service, and of those, they would average 300 unique users per month. That gives us approximately 18 million patrons using the Internet in libraries per year.

There are approximately 15 million students attending higher education institutions, with K-through-12 schools making up another 72 million students. If all the university students, and perhaps half of the K-through-12 students use the Internet at their schools, that gives us another 45 million users.

In 2004, half the hotels in the U.S. had broadband service.  It would be safe to assume that this numbers is over 90 percent in 2010. There are approximately 130,000 hotels listed in the US. With an average occupancy per night of 30 guests per hotel (very conservative), we can easily conclude that 100 million people use the Internet from U.S. hotels over the course of a year.

Lastly there are 10,000 small regional ISPs and cable companies serving smaller and rural customers. These companies average about 1,000 customers, covering another 10 million people.

Yes, some of these users are being double counted as many obviously have multiple sources to the Internet, but the point is, with conservative estimates, we were able to easily estimate 100 million users through these alternate channels, making this segment much larger than any single provider.

Therefore, when discussing the issue of net neutrality, or any regulation or privacy debate concerning the Internet, one should look beyond just the big-name providers. There’s a good chance you’ll find your own online experience regularly extends beyond these high-profile ISPs.

NetEqualizer bandwidth controllers are used in hotels, libraries, schools, WiFi hotspots and businesses around the world and have aided in the Internet experience of over 100 million users since 2003.

NetEqualizer Bandwidth Shaping Solution: Telecom, Satellite Systems, Cable, and Wired and Wireless ISPs


In working with Internet providers around the world, we’ve repeatedly heard the same issues and challenges facing network administrators. Here are just a few:

Download ISP White Paper

  • We need to support selling fixed bandwidth to our customers.
  • We need to be able to report on subscriber usage.
  • We need the ability to increase subscriber ratio, or not have a subscriber cutback, before having to buy more bandwidth.
  • We need to meet the varying needs of all of our users.
  • We need to manage P2P traffic.
  • We need to give VoIP traffic priority.
  • We need to make exemptions for customers routing all of their traffic through VPN tunnels.
  • We need a solution that’s low cost, low maintenance, and easy to set up.
  • We need a solution that will grow with our network.
  • We need a solution that will meet CALEA requirements.

In this article, we will talk about how the NetEqualizer has been used to solve these issues for Internet providers worldwide.

Download article (PDF) ISP White Paper

Read full article …

Do We Need an Internet User Bill of Rights?


The Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference wraps up today in Washington, D.C., with conference participants having paid significant attention to the on-going debates concerning ISPs, Deep Packet Inspection and net neutrality.  Over the past several days, representatives from the various interested parties have made their cases for and against certain measures pertaining to user privacy. As was expected, demands for the protection of user privacy often came into conflict with ISPs’ advertising strategies and their defense of their overall network quality.

At the center of this debate is the issue of transparency and what ISPs are actually telling customers. In many cases, apparent intrusions into user privacy are qualified by what’s stated in the “fine print” of customer contracts. If these contracts notify customers that their Internet activity and personal information may be used for advertising or other purposes, then it can’t really be said that the customer’s privacy has been invaded. But, the question is, how many users actually read their contracts, and furhtermore, how many people actually understand the fine print? It would be interesting to see what percentage of Internet users could define deep packet inspection. Probably not very many.

This situation is reminiscent of many others involving service contracts, but one particular timely example comes to mind — credit cards. Last month, the Senate passed a credit card “bill of rights,” through which consumers would be both better protected and better informed. Of the latter, President Obama stated, “you should not have to worry that when you sign up for a credit card, you’re signing away all your rights. You shouldn’t need a magnifying glass or a law degree to read the fine print that sometimes doesn’t even appear to be written in English.”

Ultimately, the same should be true for any service contracts, but especially if private information is at stake, as is the case with the Internet privacy debate. Therefore, while it’s a step in the right direction to include potential user privacy issues in service contracts, it should not be done only with the intention of preventing potential legal backlash, but rather with the customer’s true understanding of the agreement in mind.

Editor’s Note: APconnections and NetEqualizer have long been a proponent of both transparency and the protection of user privacy, having devoted several years to developing technology that maintains network quality while respecting the privacy of Internet users.

Obama’s Revival of Net Neutrality Revisits An Issue Hardly Forgotten


Last Friday, President Obama reinvigorated (for many people, at least) the debate over net neutrality during a speech from the White House on cybersecurity. The president made it clear that users’ privacy and net neutrality would not be threatened under the guise of cybersecurity measures. President Obama stated:

“Let me also be clear about what we will not do. Our pursuit of cyber-security will not — I repeat, will not include — monitoring private sector networks or Internet traffic. We will preserve and protect the personal privacy and civil liberties that we cherish as Americans. Indeed, I remain firmly committed to net neutrality so we can keep the Internet as it should be — open and free.”

While this is certainly an important issue on the security front, for many ISPs and networks administrators, it didn’t take the president’s comments to put user privacy or net neutrality back in the spotlight.  In may cases, ISPs and network administrators constantly must walk the fine line between net neutrality, user privacy, and ultimately the well being of their own networks, something that can be compromised on a number of fronts (security, bandwidth, economics, etc.).

Therefore, despite the president’s on-going commitment to net neturality, the issue will continue to be debated and remain at the forefront of the minds of ISPs, administrators, and many users. Over the past few years, we at NetEqualizer have been working to provide a compromise for these interested parties, ensuring network quality and neutrality while protecting the privacy of users. It will be interesting to see how this debate plays out, and what it will mean for policy, as the philosophy of network neutrality continues to be challenged — both by individuals and network demands.

Further Reading

APconnections Announces 50-Percent-Off Sale of New NetEqualizer-Lite


Beginning May 26, all customers purchasing a full size NetEqualizer 2000/3000 model will qualify for a 50-percent discount on the NetEqualizer-Lite. In addition, the offer will be extended to all existing NetEqualizer users who will also be entitled to the 50-percent discount on their first NetEqualizer-Lite purchase. This offer is valid until June 30, 2009. Limit two per customer.

As well as offering users the same services available through previously released NetEqualizer models, the NetEqualizer-Lite is Power-over-Ethernet (PoE), handling up to 10 megabits of traffic and 200 users. Furthermore, the NetEqualizer-Lite also serves to solve hidden node issues without customers having to change their existing access points.*

Although the core technology behind the NetEqualizer has not changed, with the latest release price point, many ISPs and businesses are deploying the NetEqualizer-Lite closer to end users, often directly behind congested access points.

After just over a month in the field, NetEqualizer-Lite users are reporting they can now easily increase Internet subscribers by 30 to 50 percent at once congested towers and AP sites. For example, a customer with an 802.11b radio now has 100 subscribers on his network and is still running smoothly. In the past, this customer’s norm for saturation stood at roughly 20 users, but he is now enjoying a 500-percent increase after installing the NetEqualizer-Lite. This is translating into both higher revenues and a more satisfied customer base.

The NetEqualizer-Lite lists at $1499. In addition to the 50-percent discount, we are also currently offering volume discounts. Pricing information on all other NetEqualizer models is available online at http://www.netequalizer.com. For more information, please contact APconnections at 1-800-918-2763 or admin@apconnections.net.

*Hidden nodes are a problem frequently encountered by commercial wireless operators that has previously been solved using APconnections’ AirEqualizer technology. The NetEqualizer-Lite’s capability to offer similar solutions is simply one of the multiple benefits of the technology for administrators of networks of many different types and sizes.

APconnections Releases NetEqualizer for Small Business and WISP Market


LAFAYETTE, Colo., April 13 /PRNewswire/ -- APconnections (http://www.netequalizer.com),
a leading supplier of plug-and-play bandwidth shaping products,
today announced the release of its newest NetEqualizer model,
developed specifically with WISPs and small business users in mind.

This newest NetEqualizer release easily handles up to 10 megabits of traffic and up to 100 users, allowing room for expansion for growing demand. Furthermore, in addition to offering all standard NetEqualizer features, this smaller model will be Power over Ethernet, providing administrators greater flexibility in placing the unit within their network.

The model was developed to meet a growing demand both for an affordable traffic shaping device to help small businesses run VoIP concurrent with data traffic over their Internet link as well as a need for a shaping unit with PoE for the WISP market.

In a large wireless network, congestion often occurs at tower locations. However, with a low-cost PoE version of the NetEqualizer, wireless providers can now afford to have advanced bandwidth control at or near their access distribution points.

“About half of wireless network slowness comes from p2p (Bit Torrent) and video users overloading the access points,” said Joe D’Esopo, vice president of business development at APconnections. “We have had great success with our NE2000 series, but the price point of $2,500 was a bit too high to duplicate all over the network.”

For a small- or medium-sized office with a hosted VoIP PBX solution, the NetEqualizer is one of the few products on the market that can provide QoS for VoIP over an Internet link. And now, with volume pricing approaching $1,000, the NetEqualizer will help revolutionize the way offices use their Internet connection.

Pricing for the new model will be $1,200 for existing NetEqualizer users and $1,499 for non-customers purchasing their first unit. However, the price for subsequent units will be $1,200 for users and nonusers alike.

The NetEqualizer is a plug-and-play bandwidth control and WAN/Internet optimization appliance that is flexible and scalable. When the network is congested, NetEqualizer’s unique “behavior shaping” technology gives priority to latency sensitive applications, such as VoIP and email. It does it all dynamically and automatically, improving on other available bandwidth shaping technology. It controls network flow for the best WAN optimization.

APconnections is a privately held company founded in 2003 and is based in Lafayette, Colorado.

Full Article

Is running an ISP/Wisp a recession proof business ?


February 24th, 2009

Lafayette Colorado

APconnections makers of the of the popular NetEqualizer line of bandwidth control and traffic shaping hardware appliances today announced results of their annual ISP  state of the business survey, below is the summary.

We have been asking our ISP/WISP customers  how their business is faring in the recession over the past several months and the answer is a resoundingly upbeat !

Out of the 25 ISPs ( Tier 2 providers) only two had seen  a decline in subscribers, 18 were holding their own, and 5 were seeing strong growth.  Here are some other tidbits.

1) Many Households will cancel their cable TV before giving up their broad band

2) Cancellations  for one provider mainly occured with foreclosures, again this supports the notion of people holding their broadband right up to the end of their finances.

3) Laid off workers are signing up for broad band as they see this as a needed for job searches and also in looking for ways to start small home businesses

4) We have seen an increase in inquiries for our services across the US and Canada

5) We have not heard of anybody foregoing food as of yet , but I would not put it past some of the gamers.

Can your ISP support Video for all?


By Art Reisman, CTO, http://www.netequalizer.com

Art Reisman CTO www.netequalizer.com

Art Reisman

As the Internet continues to grow with higher home user speeds available from Tier 1 providers,  video sites such as YouTube , Netflix,  and others are taking advantage of these fatter pipes. However, unlike the peer-to-peer traffic of several years ago (which seems to be abating), These videos don’t face the veil of copyright scrutiny cast upon p2p which caused most p2p users to back off. They are here to stay, and any ISP currently offering high speed Internet will need to accommodate the subsequent rising demand.

How should a Tier2 or Tier3 provider size their overall trunk to insure smooth video at all times for all users?

From measurements done in our NetEqualizer laboratories, a normal quality video stream requires around 350kbs bandwidth sustained over its life span to insure there are no breaks or interruptions. Newer higher definition videos may run at even higher speeds.


A typical rural wireless WISP will have contention ratios of about 300 users per 10-megabit link. This seems to be the ratio point where a small businesses can turn  a profit.  Given this contention ratio, if 30 customers simultaneously watch YouTube, the link will be exhausted and all 300 customers will be experience protracted periods of poor service.

Even though it is theoretically possible  to support 30 subscribers on a 10 megabit , it would only be possible if the remaining 280 subscribers were idle. In reality the trunk will become saturated with perhaps 10 to 15  active video streams,  as  obviously  the remaining 280 users are not idle. Given this realistic scenario, is it reasonable for an ISP with 10 megabits and 300 subscribers to tout they support video ?

As of late 2007 about 10 percent of Internet traffic was attributed to video. It is safe to safe to assume that number is higher now (Jan 2009). Using the 2007 number, 10 percent of 300 subscribers would yield on average 30 video streams, but that is not a fair number, because the 10 percent of people using video, would only apply to the subscribers who are actively on line, and not all 300. To be fair,  we’ll assume 150 of 300 subscribers are online during peak times.  The calculation now  yields an estimated 15 users doing video at one time, which is right on our upper limit of smooth service for a 10 megabit link, any more and something has to give.

The moral of this story so far is,  you should  be cautious before promoting unlimited video support with contention ratios of 30 subscribers to 1 megabit.  The good news is, most rural providers are not competing in metro areas, hence customers will have to make do with what they have. In areas more intense competition for customers where video support might make a difference, our recommendation is that  you will need to have a ratio closer to 20 subscribers to 1 megabit, and you still may have peak outages.

One trick you can use to support Video with limited Internet resources.

We have previously been on record as not being a supporter of Caching to increase Internet speed, well it is time to back track on that. We are now seeing results that Caching can be a big boost in speeding up popular YouTue videos. Caching and video tend to work well together as consumers tend to flock a small subset of the popular videos. The downside is your local caching server will only be able to archive a subset of the content on the master YouTube servers but this should be enough to give the appearance of pretty good video.

In the end there is no substitute for having a big fat pipe with enough room to run video, we’ll just have to wait and see if the market can support this expense.

Tips for testing your internet speed


Five tips to look for when testing your network speed

By Eli Riles

Eli Riles is a retired Insurance Agent from New York. He is a self taught expert in network infrastructure. He spends half the year traveling and visiting remote corners of the earth. The other half of the year you’ll find him in his computer labs testing and tinkering with the latest network technology. For questions or comments please contact him at eliriles@yahoo.com.

In the United States, there are no rules governing truth in bandwidth claims, at least none that we are aware of. Just imagine if every time you went to a gas station, the meters were adjusted to exaggerate the amount of fuel pumped, or the gas contained inert additives. Most consumers count on the fact that state and federal regulators monitor your local gas station to insure that a gallon is a gallon and the fuel is not a mixture of water and rubbing alcohol.

Unfortunately in the Internet service provider world, there is no regulation at this time. So it is up to you the consumer to ensure you are getting what you are paying for.

Network operators deploy an array of strategies to make their service seem faster than others. The most common technique is to simply oversell the amount of bandwidth they can actually handle and hope that not all users are active at one time.

It is up to the consumer, who often has a choice of service providers, Satellite, Cable, Phone company, wireless operator etc, to insure that they are getting what they are paying for.

We at Network Optimization news want to help you level the playing field so here are some tips to use when testing your network speed.

1)Use a speed test site that transfers at least 10 megabits of data with each test.

Some providers will start slowing your speed after a certain amount of data is passed in a short period, the larger the file in the test the better


2)Repeat your tests with at least three different speed test sites.

Different speed test sites use different methods for passing data and results will vary.


3)Try not to use speed test sites recommended by your provider. 

Or at least augment their recommended sites with other sites.

Enough said.

4)Run your tests during busy hours typically between 5 and 9 p.m. in the evening, try running them at different times.

Often times providers have trouble providing their top advertised speeds during busy hours.


5)Make sure you test your speed in both directions. 

The test you use should upload as well as download information.

To find the latest speed test sites on the network, we suggest you use a Google search with the terms:

“test my network speed”

Dig down deep in the list of results for more obscure sites.

Lastly, remember the grass is not always greener.  If you find your speeds are not always up to their advertised rates don’t be alarmed – the industry is not regulated in the US and speeds can vary for a variety of reasons. Your provider is likely doing the best job it can while trying to stay profitable.

Good Luck!

Eli Riles

Created by APconnections, the NetEqualizer is a plug-and-play bandwidth control and WAN/Internet optimization appliance that is flexible and scalable. When the network is congested, NetEqualizer’s unique “behavior shaping” technology dynamically and automatically gives priority to latency sensitive applications, such as VoIP and email. Click here for a full price list.

Proactive ISP Mikrotec, a Kentucky-based Internet Service Provider


An article by Jagan Jagannathan on TMCnet caught my attention today. For all of our NetEqualizer ISP customers competing with Tier 1 providers, you are likely aware that it is your superior customer service that retains your base.

Mikrotec has a very proactive service to pre-call customers when they spot a problem, a big hit with their subscribers.

Here is an excerpt from the article…

One of the service providers offering proactive support services is Mikrotec, a Kentucky-based Internet service provider that has branded this service Pro-Alert. Pro-Alert offers the broadband provider “live, dynamic visibility” into the performance and availability of every subscriber and application across the entire network ecosystem. This enables Mikrotec to proactively take action on an issue before one of their customers has even noticed that there might be a problem.

Here is a link to the full article: http://callcenterinfo.tmcnet.com/analysis/articles/43534-customer-king-proactive-customer-support.htm

Ten Ways to Make Your Life as an Internet Provider Easier


From ISPs and WISPs to networks in libraries, businesses, and universities, Internet use is on the rise. Yet, as the demand for Internet access continues to grow around the world, so do both the opportunities and challenges for service providers. Just as quickly as your user-base grows, the obstacles facing providers begin to emerge.From competition to unhappy customers, the venture that once seemed certain to succeed can quickly test the will of even the most battle-hardened and tech savvy business owners and network administrators. However, for all types of Internet providers, there are ways to make the process smoother.

For All Providers…

1. Set Boundaries from the Start – When starting up a new service, don’t let your users run wide open. You may be OK without putting rate caps on users when you have only 10 users sharing a 10 meg link, but when you get to 100 users sharing a 10 meg link, you’ll need to put rate caps on them all. The problem with waiting is that your original users will become accustomed to higher speeds and will not be happy with sharing as your business expands – unless you enforce some reasonable restrictions up front.

2. Keep Your Network from Locking Up — Many Internet providers believe that if they set maximum rate caps for their users that their network is safe from locking up due to congestion. However, if you are oversold on your contention ratios, you will lock up and simple rate limits are not enough. Don’t make this mistake.

This may sound obvious, but let me spell it out. We often run into operators with 500 users on a 20-meg link. They then offer two rate plans — 1 meg up and down for consumers and 5 megs up and down for businesses. Next, they put rate caps on each type of user to ensure they don’t exceed their allotted amount. Somehow, this is supposed to exonerate the operator from being oversold. This is all well and good, but if you do the math, 500 users on a 20 meg link will overwhelm your link at some point and nobody will be able to get anywhere close to their “promised amount.”

If you are oversold, you will need something more than rate limits to prevent lockups. At some point, you will need to go with a layer-7 shaper such as Packeteer or Allot NetEnforcer. Or, you can use a NetEqualizer. Your only other option is to keep adding bandwidth.

3. Good Tech Support Is a Must — Don’t put all your faith into the local guru who set up your network. There are many good technical people out there and there are many more that will make a mess of your business. This can create some really tough decisions. I like to use this analogy:

I’m not a concert pianist – not even close – so I can’t tell the guy that hacks away playing Beatles tunes in the piano bar at my local pub from a Julliard trained pianist. Since I can’t play a lick, they all amaze me. Well, the same holds true for non-technical business owners hiring network techs or developers. They all seem amazingly smart when in fact they may run you into the ground. The only way to tell is to find somebody with a really good track record of making things work for people. So, ask around.

The good ones have no vested interest in making a custom dynasty of your business (another thing to watch out for). It’s like the doctor who needs the patient to stay sick. You don’t want that. Poor or misguided tech support may be the single largest cause for failed ISPs or issues with selling your business.

4. Don’t Overspend – ISPs and WISPs, remember that on the open market your business is likely only to be valued at three quarters of your revenue, so don’t delude yourself and overspend on equipment and borrowing thinking that a white night will come along. If your revenue is $500,000 per year, you will be in good shape if you get $400,000 for your business. And this may just cover your debt. Yes, there are exceptions and you might get a bit more, but don’t expect two-times your revenue. It’s just not going to happen, so plan your expenses accordingly.

For network administrators in both public and private companies and institutions, funding is not always a given. Budget cuts and funding reallocation can leave administrators in a bind. So, be judicious when planning and managing your network. Take things like recurring costs and licensing fees into consideration when making purchases. Over time, these expenses can add up.

5. Optimize Your Bandwidth — A NetEqualizer bandwidth controller will allow you to increase your user base by between 10 to 30 percent without having to purchase additional resources. This allows you to increase the amount of people you can put into your infrastructure without an expensive build out. Yet, a purchase like this can be a difficult decision. It’s best to think in the long term.  A NetEqualizer is a one-time cost that will pay for itself in about 4 months. On the other hand, purchasing additional bandwidth keeps adding up month after month.

For Commercial ISPs and WISPs…

6. Make Sure You Have a User-Base to Grow Into — For ISPs and WISPs, perhaps 500 households before you start building out. Yes, you can do it for less, but 500 is sort of a magic number where you can pay yourself and perhaps some hired help so you can be profitable and take a day off. WISPs and ISPs with 100 customers are great, but, at that size, they will remain a hobby that you may not be able to unload a couple of years down the road.

7. Be the Reliable Alternative — If you are in a dense metro area, and have the resources, you can offer Internet connections to hotel and business customers with pay-as-you-go services. Many hotels and businesses have unreliable connections, or none at all.  Obviously you’ll need real estate across the street, but once secured, you can point a directional antenna into the building and give your signal a recognizable name so your users will connect. Then, offer them the connection for a daily fee. For many users, paying a small daily fee for reliable service will be worth it – especially if the hotel or business offers sub par Internet service, none at all, or a connection for an exorbitant price.

8. Make Payment As Easy As Possible — When a customer is delinquent on paying their bill, make sure you have a way to direct them to a payment site. Don’t just shut off their service and wait for them to call. For small operators, you don’t need to automate the payment cycle, just send them to a static page telling them how to pay their bill. For larger operators (3,000-plus users), the expense of automated bill payment may be worth the extra cost, but with a smaller set of customers, a static redirection to a page with instructions and a phone number will suffice.

9. Look for a Competitive Credit Card Processor — Your bank will likely provide a service for you, but they are generally a middle man in this transaction. There are credit card processing agencies that sell their services direct and may be more cost effective. These are no-brainer dollars that add up each month in savings.

10. Cross Market — Don’t be shy about it. Once you have a captive audience, there are all kinds of cross marketing ideas you can do for extra revenue. Done tastefully, your users won’t mind. This could be a special with the local car dealer running coupons for them. Or for something like a pizza place. There is unlimited potential here, and if you’re not taking advantage of it, you’re missing out on easy revenue.

Obviously, these 10 tips won’t apply to every Internet provider, but it’s almost a given that at least some of these issues will emerge over time. While there’s no guarantee that any network will operate perfectly, these tips should help steer Internet providers and network administrators in the right direction.

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