Broadband in Joe’s world..

Keep in mind I used to be in the ISP business. Now I’m a “consumer”.

Layer2
The city provides fibre to my block. Some of this infrastructure is community owned. I connect to their switch at my cost. My wifi hotspot is open, it simply extends the switch fabric. I can plug in my computer(s) or laptop with Ethernet or Wifi.. no real difference. To get on to the switch fabric beyond my block I use something like dot1x. Everything is switched, no routing, no PPPoE lameness. The city uses Carrier Ethernet to get around the little MAC address limit issue.

Layer3
Anybody can sell IP traffic over this switch fabric. Open Access. Citizens can publish a personal RFP which outlines their needs. I want low latency and I’ll pay for it.. I’m not a heavy user. My neighbour could want something totally different. A marketplace engine gives me my top5 ISP products.. this can change from month to month. Some traffic providers may even be collective buying systems. Together we all buy 1gazillion megs. At the end of the month my bill is my share of our total usage.

I get a bill for my last-mile traffic and my IP traffic. I get this bill in an open format and I can request stats about my usage patterns which I can use to update my RFPs. I can go anywhere in the city, wired or wireless and use the same account. It’s a user-centric design, not device-centric. I never need to login manually. I just open my laptop and it works.

I think all of the above is possible today.

9 thoughts on “Broadband in Joe’s world..

  1. Yup. The sad thing is that people seem stuck on this idea of “local loop unbundling” and adding a bit more speed to ADSL or 3G every year.. ignoring the ugliness of the solution.

  2. Hi Joe

    Interesting post. It prompted me to write this:
    http://localloop.co.za/2010/08/open-access-consumer-broadband-in-south-africa/

    Just one comment about your choice of technology:

    Given a choice, I would not want to run a large native layer 2 network unless it used 802.11aq or TRILL for routing (legacy alternatives are a nightmare to manage, scale badly, are proprietary, or all of the above).

    Since neither 802.11aq or TRILL is widely supported yet, I would push MPLS as far to the edge as my budget allows and roll VPLS over that.

    Regards,
    Simeon.

    1. Hi Roelf

      Yup, I agree with your Layer2 “Pre-select” idea.

      I started out with a longer post but got stuck in the details.. so I ended up skipping over the details very conveniently (-:

      I agree that dot1x is probably not ready for prime time.. which is why my post talked about “something like dot1x”.

      I’d hate to end up with a browser based auth system but I guess a set of browser plugins could do the job… or be a fallback for those who can’t get dot1x working.

      Maybe the solution is to do a simple http post to a URL which requires a client side cert.. surely the switch vendors can figure out how to support that.

      I really hope the people running these new city fibre projects are thinking in a similar direction.

      1. The browser based approach can, and has worked.

        However it’s not so much something the switch vendors have to figure out, as the AAA guys have to figure out.

        The standard from a switch perspective is generally support in some (proprietary) or other way.

        It can all be handled with a clever captive portal the really integrates tightly with a RADIUS server. And because RADIUS is so nicely extensible, and (generally) vendor independant it makes for a solution.

        Something like cached PKI credentials (think ssh or pageant) would work well.

        Glue-ing it together in a platform that achieves “plug and play experience” fashion is the hard part. The WiMAX 802.16e guys have given it some serious thought, got a neat solution, and then in a sense, cocked it up. In fact many vendors have integrated the PPP approach to make things “easier” as an L2 access mechanism over WiMAX. Even after all the PKI and ugliness.

        Ergo, PPP remains the defacto useful standard in many senses. Dial-up. Over your Metro-E.

        “Party like it’s 1994” comes to mind.

        But without meaningful discussion, the issues will never get addressed. I like your vision…

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