Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: Having had broadband for a while...

Author:Bruce Hoult
Posted:4/10/1999; 4:36:11 AM
Msg #:4929 (In response to 3602)
Prev/Next:4928 / 4930

My friend's recently setup @home connection is a static ip. It even shows ip/gateway/dns on the order ticket. I was investigating their AUP just to see how many of the points I'd be breaking when I went over there with linux firewall/security/mapping software to see just how the logical tolopogy was laid out. (I.e. are they bridged, and just how insecure would it be if my friends computer was unprotected. My guess, wide open.)

Sorry to reply to a month-old message, but I've been out of the DG for a while...

I thought people might be interested to hear what is happening in at least one city Down Under...

A couple of nights ago I was at one of the regular meetings of a bunch of influential open-system (in the widest sense) professionals here in Wellington, New Zealand. This month's topic of discussion was extending "CityLink".

CityLink ( is a community owned and run company spun off from the City Council that for the last several years has been installing a high speed fibre network currently connecting around 300 buildings in Wellington. Most of their fibre is currently strung along the city council-owned electric bus overhead reticulation system.

CityLink provide private point-to-point networks or a managed TCP/IP network connecting everyone.

The "managed TCP/IP" connections can terminate as 10 Mbps or 100 Mbps ethernet (or I guess gigabit), 155 Mbps ATM or 622 Mbps ATM. You can treat it as ethernet using MAC addresses (which means you can run AppleTalk or IPX etc, although non-TCP packets are not switched by default to avoid unwanted accidental interferance between customers) or you can treat it as TCP/IP using CityLink-assigned 192.168.x.y addresses.

CityLink is not an ISP, but there are a number of ISPs that you can connect to via CityLink.

Once you have connectivity you can use CityLink to connect to anyone else on CityLink for any purpose, such as other parts of your company, your customers, your ISP, whatever. You are free to run audio, phone and video over the network and in fact one CLAC already uses CityLink rather than laying their own cables. They are also currently experimenting with TCP/IP telephones that talk to a CityLink-owned computer to do a phone number to IP lookup then connect directly to the called party and this is likely to become a serice very shortly.

The cost of a corporate 100 Mbps ethernet connection is around US$150/month. This is orders of magnitude less than any other means of getting data around the city.

So, anyway, the meeting was about a proposal to start extending CityLink out into the suburbs, with the first one targetted being Tawa (which is where I live, by happy coincidence), 20 km north of the CBD. I don't know for sure, but my guess at the reason for choosing Tawa (other than demographics) is that it is the first stop on the main trunk railway after it gets out of the 10 km tunnel under a big hill and there is loads of fibre bandwidth along it already and a good chunk of that is owned by Clear Communications. Clear is a long distance provider in business since 1991, they recently moved into local access as well, and they happen to be one of CityLink's major shareholders. That the boss of CityLink lives in Tawa probably doesn't hurt either ;-)

The current thinking is to offer residential and small business customers a 100 Mbps connection for around US$50/month, including a TCP/IP phone and connection to an ISP with around 500 MB of free international internet traffic (plus unlimited CityLink traffic, of course). It's pretty certain that once it's in service several potential cable TV companies will line up as customers (most of Wellington doesn't have cable yet), but we can almost certainly get an arrangement to multicast free-to-air TV down the system from the outset (Wellington is *extremely* hilly and many people get good reception on only one or two channels).

For many small businesses and homes just being able to ditch the current monopoly local phone supplier and get as many phone "lines" for the price of one as you like should make it an attractive proposition. Factor in that businesses pay the phone company 2c a minute for local calls wheras we think we can pay for the equipment for maybe 0.1c per call and it's an easy sale to businesses -- especially those currently using dial-up internet and copping the per-minute charges. It's a harder sell for homes (which get free local calling now) but things like access to multicasted "cable" TV are probably the biggie there if we can arrange that -- and satellite dishes have been sprouting all over the past six months in all the streets with lots of retired people. A conventional cable company is due to wire the suburb up about the end of this year, so there's a definite window there.

We're putting together a group to figure out the suburban architecture: do we simply put a weatherproof 100baseT hub on a power pole outside each group of houses? Or does it need to be a full router doing NAT/IP Masquerading? How do we let people play quake with the guy across town while stopping them accidentally printing their homework on the neighbour's printer or saving it on the neighbour's C drive -- while easily letting them do *exactly* that if both want it? How do we encourage people to get their neighbours to pay for their own connection, rather than just slinging an ethernet cable across the fence between them? It's clearly cheaper for CityLink to provide the *whole* infrastruture, but with a huge bandwidth available at a flat rate it's tempting for people to want to share it rather than pay even 50 bucks a month.

Lots of questions. Most of them can be answered fairly easily, and most of the rest with a million dollar pilot system on a few streets. The basic CityLink architecture has already been proven to scale and to be super-reliable with zero service failures since it went into operation.

This page was archived on 6/13/2001; 4:49:18 PM.

© Copyright 1998-2001 UserLand Software, Inc.