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

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