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Australia Network The Internet IT

Aussie Network Engineers Form Members-Only ISP 66

schliz writes "A group of Australian network engineers is planning to launch a not-for-profit internet service provider that will provide access to the nation's high-speed NBN fibre network for like-minded people. The cooperative, dubbed 'No ISP,' has no staff or add-on services to keep costs down. Members will be able to 'trade' excess download quota for a market-based price, depending on supply and demand."
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Aussie Network Engineers Form Members-Only ISP

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  • by seifried ( 12921 ) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @04:17AM (#40722085) Homepage

    All I want is reliable bandwidth and latency (what good is 50ms latency if it spikes to 1-2 seconds every so often? say good bye to skype and any online gaming) and ideally a static IP.

    $110 per month for a terabyte plan on 100 Mbps down and 40 Mbps speeds over the fibre network

    Is actually better than what I currently pay, I get 100 meg down, 5 up, 250 gig cap for $90 a month (Canadian duopoly, wheee). I hope they write up how they accomplish all this, might be time to start more of these co-ops. I also love the fact that with the trading scheme they encourage people to use the bandwidth, but intelligently. Right now since there's no real advantage of disadvantage to me when I run major downloads during prime time (and I notice that my speeds/latency are quite a bit worse during prime time), this co-op would result in me scripting most downloads it to run when bandwidth is "cheaper" (aka 3am). I suspect this is true for many other heavy users.

    • The project may be technically feasible, but economically I do not think it makes sense

      I hope the Auzzies do a thorough feasibility study before launching it, or someone would end up paying a lot for nothing

      I am not discouraging them from carrying it out, I'm just being practical

      • by aaronb1138 ( 2035478 ) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @06:18AM (#40722441)

        You must be kidding. Providing internet service is insanely high margin once the lines are in place. I seriously doubt they are planning to drop new fibre or any other high capital infrastructure investments. I'm sure they will be riding on mostly existing infrastructure, especially the last mile.

        These are a bunch of network techs, so they do have some clue what the costs will be.

        Not only that, but I'm sure for some of them, they will actually make money on the side from the service. Have a trunk link down, oh well, me and my buddy Jim will fix that right up at our normal contractor rate (without our boss taking a cut!). Not only that, but I am sure they will be buying a lot of second hand hardware that a corporation would never buy just because it is used and donating spares from their various work projects. Their infrastructure will be incredibly cheap. Not to mention, that they will be able to crowdsource a lot of the design and implementation. Usually, I consider crowdsourcing a way of making a crap situation crappier, but it works great when you are working with a group of experts in their field.

        What's that? The boss wants to upgrade the ASA 5500's at the South East branch, awesome. Hey guys, I just got a new gateway cluster for the secondary trunk line.

        Networking hardware is incredibly cheap if you take the time to shop around. Unfortunately, 9 out of 10 businesses just grab it at over inflated prices from CDW or whatever other rip-off artist they usually deal with.

        There are two long term challenges which they will have to face that could come back to destroy everything in about 8-15 years. First is any kind of crowdsourcing turning into politics or committees. Second is letting too many people do their own thing with the network with no documentation or oversight and creating a horrific mess waiting to collapse. Strong, well considered leadership solves both of these issues very easily.

        Taco, I respect you, but I think your idea of practical is not the same as the direction these guys are heading.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          me and my mate Jim


        • by Anonymous Coward

          Except they're doing none of that and buy all services wholesale instead. They're not even leasing lines. They're just acting as a buying syndicate.

          Since they're network engineers, they probably know that it's a cutthroat business. The profit margins are thin to negative. Networks are not made of routers, networks are made of buried fiber. Suppose you have 100 miles of fiber in the ground, which is nothing really, and that fiber has an average lifetime of 50 years (due to technological changes, construction

          • by DeSigna ( 522207 )

            The vast majority of ISPs in Australia work on the VISP model, reselling various components of other ISPs' infrastructure. I work for one myself - we offer cloud, rackspace and WAN products tying in well with our traditional integration and support services.

            The margins are very good as long as you know who to talk to. Buying transit or backhaul capacity off one supplier may mean you can get local tails at far below base cost, if they're willing to take the hit for the volume of services you can push through

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          You must be kidding. Providing internet service is insanely high margin once the lines are in place. I seriously doubt they are planning to drop new fibre or any other high capital infrastructure investments. I'm sure they will be riding on mostly existing infrastructure, especially the last mile.

          I think this is where a lot of European localities get it right: Layer 1 is owned by the government (municipal, province/state, etc.) or a neutral/non-profit third-party. The competition occurs at Layer 3 of the stack.

        • by jthill ( 303417 )

          Providing internet service is insanely high margin once the lines are in place

          Meaning, we're handing a lot of welfare^W"capital-gains" queens billions per year for nothing. They're providing a pittance of a service, far less for our money than what we get for taxes, and priding themselves on their "success".

        • The NBN (National Broadband Network) is going to be mostly new hardware (fibre) put in by NBN Co, so these blokes just need to follow the install through the cities and towns offering services, someone else puts it in and maintains it for them. Sweet.
      • It's perfectly feasible. It sounds like they're relying on the fact that at wholesale, you're paying for CIR not bits. So they buy x CIR, then distribute that among the members, and operate some sort of trading program to let the members buy bits from each other. Interesting concept, really.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'd sign up in a second if I lived in .au

      Where do you live then, .com?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nine932038 ( 1934132 )

      I'm really curious about how they solved the last mile problem. I've thought about starting a non-profit ISP in Canada, but the real questions is how to avoid paying Bell their pound of flesh. Until that problem is solved and you've got ISP-agnostic fibre being laid, it means that you're charging what Bell is charging.

  • by David Gerard ( 12369 ) <slashdot&davidgerard,co,uk> on Saturday July 21, 2012 @04:35AM (#40722143) Homepage

    APANA [apana.org.au] part two?

    • by pterry ( 100705 )
      APANA isn't an ISP, and only offers broadband internet service through commercial ISPs (at no discount to those ISP's standard rates).
  • No ISP will not always compete successfully with ISP mainstays on price

    An equivalent plan can be purchased for $10 less a month from iiNet, due mainly to the larger ISP’s existing scale and direct connection to the NBN.

    That really defeats the purpose !!!

    I get the peripheral benefits so sharing quota but most plans have shaping and I'm sure how well sharing would work ... doesn't seem all that compelling

    • Re:What? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 21, 2012 @05:14AM (#40722251)

      Except you're actually getting what you pay for. They plan to buy a terabyte of bandwidth wholesale for each user, unlike traditional ISPs, which typically use traffic modeling to oversell their infrastructure. With the new model, if you're under your cap and I'm over my cap, I can buy the extra from you at cost, and keep getting full speed service instead of getting capped at 1MBps.

  • no staff? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 21, 2012 @05:18AM (#40722267)

    The cooperative, dubbed 'No ISP,' has no staff

    I know not all countries have an established history of co-ops, but that's a completely disingenuous way of representing them.

    Everyone may own an equal share. Some people may only contribute money (e.g. UK's Co-op model). Or it may be that only those who contribute work may be members, as in a partnership (e.g. John Lewis model). But as long as work needs to be done, there are staff.

    Since these have been some of the most stable businesses in the UK through this recession, it's worth it for anyone who is intending to start up a new one to represent it properly.

    • Re:no staff? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @05:30AM (#40722307) Homepage

      You give examples of several different co-op models yourself. Why couldn't there be another co-op model for this "No ISP"?

      It should be perfectly possible for them to automate ~99% of daily operations and only occasionally require human intervention, so when they say "no staff", perhaps they mean that all work can be done in a few hours a week from home.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    No proof I did, and so what, I may have thought of the idea but these guys are actively pursuing it.

    Support costs are HUGE burden for the ISP, anything to save them money and bring the costs down. and let's face it most of our DSL connections are reliable anyway.

    My idea was slightly different though, I proposed that one of the peering exchanges (like WAIX or PIPE) allow DSL straight into a RAS on there network, and then you have a backdoor to your own equipment as an ISP. This will then allow you to reach y

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Looks like someone has done zero research into what the NBN is.
  • by metrix007 ( 200091 ) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @06:38AM (#40722497)

    I suspect what essentially amounts to price fixing is going on with the ISP's in Oz.

    The cost to carry data is no where near the profit earned by instituting the caps and the charges for going over. Surely in a natural market the price would be lower, reflecting the cost and allowing for a profit, but not an obscene profit.

    For a 1st world country having the caps they do is pretty pathetic. There is little excuse for it, and "people in the know" should do something about it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There is little excuse for it, and "people in the know" should do something about it.

      We're going to need a year or so to switch out the current "leadership" [tumblr.com]...

      Also: +1 your sig.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Guess you missed how the Liberals' plan for the internet is "kill it all and let God sort it out".

    • Caps? Charges going over?

      Some ISPs offer unlimited internet for $30/month providing you lease your landline from them as well at $30/month. And before anyone who doesn't know how this system works, would you rather spend $60/month on landline + unlimited internet from one company, or spend $20/month on your landline with one company and $60/month for 500GB datacap with another?

      Yes the caps are bullshit, but at least they are going down. I still remember the bad old days of a 3GB cap (the worlds first cap I

    • by the_raptor ( 652941 ) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @09:18AM (#40723067)

      >There is little excuse for it

      Yeah there is, most traffic is to American sites and we have a limited international cable infrastructure which mostly relies on 2nd and 3rd parties in the link. On my last ISP I had connection problems on occasion because either SingTel or the US ISP at the landing in America would fuck with some settings. With the NBN I believe most of the international links and peering will be handled by NBNCo which should have more bargaining power then the small ISP's currently do (the big ISP's in Australia generally prefer fucking customers over).

      • The limited cable structure thing is bullshit. We have several high speed links to asia, which get data from the us without issue.

        I hear that argument all the time and...it's just bollocks.

      • by goonerw ( 99408 )
        With the NBN I believe most of the international links and peering will be handled by NBNCo

        Umm no. All NBNCo do is provide a connection from you to your chosen RSP (reatil service provider), nothing more. Your RSP is the one that needs to provision the bandwidth from the PoI you're connected to, to the Internet.
    • by hairyfish ( 1653411 ) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @10:14AM (#40723301)

      For a 1st world country having the caps they do is pretty pathetic. There is little excuse for it, and "people in the know" should do something about it.

      I live in Australia. My current plan is $50/month for 30Mb/1Mb cable with a 50GB cap. I'm not sure what other people do with their internet, but even watching unlimited porn I've only ever gone over this cap once in the many years I've had it, and this was when I downloaded a ton of movies I never watched while watching a ton of porn. I really don't get why the average Joe needs more than this?

      • I should also mention, if I go over the cap there is no charge, they throttle the speed down to dial up speed. So I'm not sure where these obscene profits are that you speak of.
    • Are you sure that their profit model isn't necessitated by having to lay thousands of miles of fiber just to reach about 15 million subscribers? If you're paying $100k/mile and you're trying to connect a city of 3 million (melbourne to perth?) about 2,000 miles away, you're paying 2 billion for a cable. If you're paying 5% interest on the cost of laying that cable you're paying 100 million a year in interest JUST ON THE CABLE. This doesn't include all of the fiber you need to lay for the last mile, equipmen

      • Sorry, I made an error. According to deutsche telecom the ISPs nowadays are only getting 100gbps per chanel which would equate to 6 terrabits per cable.

        http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2012/03/deutsche-telekom-break-record-with-512gbps-data-speed-via-fibre-optic-cable.html [ispreview.co.uk]

        Which cuts my example bandwidth in 1/4th and only give 1.5mbps per line to 4 million people. You can see why the costs of laying cable to Australia's cities with their low population and farflung cities would be challenging.

        • That argument might apply for more regional areas but it shouldn't hold for Sydney or Melbourne. Yet it does.

      • Also forgot to carry the 0. 200 million for that cable. I fail at maths. That would be the cost for 10 cables. Sorry.

        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          Now, lets look at the real costs with your corrections. $200M for the cable (the cost/mile is almost entirely the digging and right-of-way administration, etc, laying 10 cables costs barely more than laying 1). That will be then $10M/year in interest. That means if you're serving 4M people at say $50/month, you pay for the cable in the FIRST MONTH. Or, you can deduct $5/month/customer to pay off the fiber in a year with interest.

          That kinda blows the whole argument up.

          At 6Tbps/cable, you're looking at 60Tbps

  • FDN (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 21, 2012 @07:07AM (#40722567)

    In France, the oldest provider still in activity (FDN = French Data Network) is an non-profit association (and now an association of association). FDN was created in 1992. Maybe they can learn a lot from this long experience in assiociative service providing and they can probably collaborate to have something like a cross-borders ISP.


  • Where your not just a member, you're also a client.
  • There are already established players in the market, both the 'Premium' ISP iiNet and the 'Low cost' ISP Exetel both offer better priced plans.

    "No ISP" (which really is an ISP because they will still have to handle billing, backhaul network & so on) are more expensive and without any of the extras or support of the other players.

    As a tech who would be interested in helping my clients get on board with NBN (as I already do with ADSL), I would much rather resell an established player with full support tha

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Cambridge Bandwidth Consortium http://www.cambridge.bandwidth-consortium.us/ is similar and has a fairly long history.

  • by KuRa_Scvls ( 932317 ) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @10:34AM (#40723397)

    Some slashdotters here are suggesting that bandwidth limits are meaningless and that all internet connections should be unlimited.


    The ISP themselves are paying by the terabytes.
    The ISPs that provide uncapped services are marketed for the masses, meaning that the low-usage majority subsidise the bandwidth-hogging minority.
    Certain ISPs that provide unlimited plans that we have upheld to be the shining proof of bandwidth limits being meaningless, are slowly starting to switch to caps.

    The fact is that our average data usage has gone up, while no groundbreaking innovation has crept up in the sub-marine cables that connect us all.
    When the usage goes up but the cost stays the same, you MUST change your business strategy.

  • by drwho ( 4190 ) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:47AM (#40723765) Homepage Journal

    yes, since the late 90s, there has been a non-profit ISP for 'people with clue' in the Cambridge/Boston area. Things went well for a while, when we were able to get T1 circuits at a discount, colocation, peering, various telco services. But as T1s die, much of the value proposition is dying as well. Doing more VPN stuff these days. But we have way more IP space than we need. We're just a dozen low key people.

  • I worked for UK ISP Demon in the early 90s, had a 10Mb "baseband" connection to my bedroom direct from the NOC, and I was developing business, systems and network software for the corporate part of Demon. I gave various customers and friends at other ISPs a login on my home Linux box so that they would be able to do traceroutes and so on. Since .org domain is "kfs", my one requirement for anyone wanting a web directory was "come up with a name that uses the kfs initials" - e.g. the "Kite Fliers Site".

    It bec

  • is regulation that makes these ISP monopolies and rate-fixing illegal. Internet access is effectively a utility these days, and it should be regulated as such. It's quite clear that rates have been fixed at inane margins for over a decade now. $80/month for a speed that competes with what I can get on a fucking cell-phone is bullshit. And that's the rate Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and everyone else wants for using their "last-mile infrastructure" which they haven't improved in years and which was built

Don't get suckered in by the comments -- they can be terribly misleading. Debug only code. -- Dave Storer