Corporate vs ISP networks for the ISP

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j2 Briefing: FCC news, Microsoft whitespace, polls

The j2 Podcast for August 29, 2019

Microsoft is pushing it’s Whitespace product as a solution to the Digital divide. This has been branded “Airband”
https://www.multichannel.com/news/microsoft-brands-rural-divide-national-crisis

The FCC
The commission unanimously voted to distribute more than $20 billion of Universal Service Fund subsidies over the next decade as part of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. It also adopted a long-awaited proposal to get more detailed information from broadband providers about where they offer service in order to improve the agency’s coverage maps.  <let’s hope this revamps the form 477 reportin>

iOt is showing it’s age
Amazon is killing off the gimicky Dash buttons.
https://www.engadget.com/2019/08/01/amazon-dash-buttons/

Verizon turns up 5G

In the ever-changing 5g race Verizon turns up 5G in Atlanta, Detroit, Indianapolis, Washington DC

New poll says the Internet is more important than Air conditioning while on vacation
https://www.swnsdigital.com/2019/08/majority-of-americans-would-rather-give-up-air-conditioning-than-have-no-internet-on-vacation/

Mobile Users double since 2013
The percentage of respondents who said their primary online access devices is mobile has effectively doubled since 2013, and many of those are using mobile as a substitute, rather than a complement, to wired broadband service.
https://www.multichannel.com/news/pew-mobile-broadband-users-double-since-2013

 

ISP vs Enterprise networks

I recently was hanging out with an ISP admin who moved over from the Enterprise world. After a few days with him, it rekindled the interest in writing this article. From a high level, a network is a network. Its job is to move bits to and fro. The goals of the network are where we start to see networks separate themselves. Let’s start with some simple goals of each system.

An enterprise network’s goal is to protect the end-users from outside threats and themselves while giving access to the things they need for their job. An enterprise admin deals with things like firewalls, file servers, software, and Domain controllers. Switches and routers are backend systems for the enterprise. A means to deliver the software to the end-user.

An ISP network’s goal is to give access to the Internet as a whole to its customers while protecting its infrastructure.  Access points, fiber ONTS, and backhauls are the things routinely dealt with by ISP admins. Servers and things are backend systems for the ISP. The servers become the support systems to deliver access to the customers.

The most significant difference between the two networks above is the Enterprise customers are given access to what they need for their job. If they need the Internet, it is routinely filtered for content, and non-work related sites are blocked. Admins of the Enterprise network follow the “block all and allow what is needed” approach. Sure, the Enterprise admin deals with things like WAN connections, switching, and sometimes even BGP but not in the same ways a Service provider does.

Typical corporate or enterprise network

In contrast, Service Provider networks should give unfettered access to the Internet and leave it up to the customer to decide what they should and should not restrict access. With ISP customers you are only dealing with Internet access and don’t necessarily know what the users are doing with the Internet “pipe”. You don’t have to worry about content filtering (unless that is an add-on or your business model), file shares (handled by corporate VPNs) and restricting access to things.

Typical ISP network

My oversimplified view is most ISPs mainly deal with layers 1-3 of the OSI model for their access networks, while Enterprise networks deal a lot with layers 4-7.  The software takes focus, and layers 1-3 are just necessary to make the software work.   In other words, the corporate network deals with the LAN more than the WAN and the ISP network deals with the WAN more than the LAN. As corporate networks grow these lines tend to blur a little.

If you are an ISP admin, your goal should not be blocking what users are doing. Your goal should be to give the user fast speed and the lowest latency possible while protecting your infrastructure from them and the outside world. I mentioned latency because of gaming and streaming. Every device the customer goes through it adds latency. Sometimes its fractions of a millisecond, but there is no free lunch. This speed hit is why firewalls have limited uses in the ISP world for access customers. Firewall options give you a myriad of choices when it comes to throughput and latency. These licensing options for things such as the number of concurrent connections, latency level pricing, and the sheer number of users supported. You pay for the more connections you need to run through the firewalls. What may be useful for a corporation of 500 users probably won’t support a 500 user ISP if everyone is routed through a firewall.

So what is someone to do with all this information? If you are an ISP, you should adopt and adapt the following guidelines for your business.

1. Don’t firewall your customers on your access network. Let them be responsible for that. If you are a managed service provider (MSP) then you have firewall services at the desktop and router level you can sell. If you are just an ISP you can sell a managed router service to help protect the customers and your infrastructure. However, don’t be heavy-handed as it will create more problems than it solves (see #2)

2. Things change so much in terms of how programs and apps utilize networks. Customer demand routinely drives service providers to adapt and change with the times. An ISP who restricts what their customers do gets left behind pretty quickly. In some instances, you even have laws about limiting access to content.

3. As technology evolves so does the use of your network.  Restricting customer access to the Internet via firewalls creates more support because you are routinely editing rules, troubleshooting, and upgrading firewall software.

I want to close with a little philosophy.  It’s not that firewalling an ISP network is a bad thing, it’s just not very efficient and cost-effective.  You need to keep buying more and more firewalls to keep up with demand.  Firewalls have their place in corporate environments. In my next article, I talk about how ISPs should be running both types of networks. Look for this coming soon.

j2 Podcast:5g hype, more bandwidth, preseem

Hi this is Justin, it’s Tuesday, July 30th, 2019 and this is the ISP news you need to know.  It’s been quite hot in my office so I haven’t been doing many recordings due to fans and such making it noisy in here.  here are some of the things you need to know.

Think 5G is all hype?
The 5G providers are touting how 5G will bridge the digital divide and folks are paying attention.
https://www.digitaltrends.com/web/31-percent-us-households-no-broadband-internet/

Another reason your customers need more bandwidth
Google play store is now selling some Disney movies in 4k.
https://9to5google.com/2019/07/25/google-play-disney-4k/

FCC asks for more c-Band input
The FCC seeks more comments on C-band proposals for flexible use of the 3.7-4.2 GHz Band. Comments on all the further studies are due August 7 to Docket 18-122.   
https://insidetowers.com/cell-tower-news-fcc-asks-for-more-input-on-proposals-to-repurpose-c-band/

Preseem Netflix Video
The folks over at Preseem have a pretty informative video on Netflix.

SouthWest ISP regional meetup July 12, 2019

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2019-southwest-isp-regional-meetup-tickets-63089643823

This meeting is open to any and all Internet Service Providers in Texas, as well as anyone else willing to come to our Great State! You don’t have to be a WISPA member to attend. Come meet with fellow operators, see all the greatness of the Ericsson Headquarters, and hear topics from various knowledge experts.

NTIA launches Funding web-site

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration released a searchable database of 50 federal broadband programs. They span a dozen federal agencies with billions of dollars for broadband grants, loans and other resources. Participating federal agencies helped create the database. It fulfills a goal set out in the American Broadband Initiative announced in February to make it easier for community leaders to find federal funding and permitting information.

#funding #broadband

Remote Peering

Martin J. Levy from Cloudflare did a presentation about remote peering possibly being a bad thing. In this presentation, he brings up several valid points.

https://www.globalpeeringforum.org/pastEvents/gpf14/presentations/Wed_2_MartinLevy_remote_peering_is_bad_for.pdf

Some thoughts of my own.

Yes, remote peering is happening.  One thing touched upon is the layer3 vs layer2 traffic.  We at MidWest-IX only allow remote peering at a layer2 level unless it is groups like routeviews.org or other non-customer traffic situations.

Many providers are overselling their backbone and transit links.  This oversubscription means access to content networks in places that do not have an exchange or places that do have the content locally can suffer through no fault of the ISP or the content provider.  We have situations with content folks like Netflix who do not join for-profit IXes at the moment, keeping the content further away from customers.  These customers are reaching Netflix through the same transit connections many other providers are.  The can result in congested ports and poor quality for the customer.  The ISP is left trying to find creative ways to offload that traffic.  An Internet Exchange is ideal for these companies because cross-connect charges within data centers are on the rise.

When we first turned up MidWest-IX, now known as FD-IX, in Indianapolis we used a layer2 connection to Chicago to bring some of the most needed peers down to our members.  This connection allowed us to kick-start our IX.  We had one member, who after peering with their top talkers, actually saw an increase in bandwidth.  The data gained told the member that their upstream providers were having a bottleneck issue. They had suspected this for a while, but this confirmed it. Either the upstream provider had a congested link, or their peering ports were getting full.

As content makes it way closer remote peering becomes less and less of an issue.  There are many rural broadband companies just now getting layer2 transport back to carrier hotels. These links may stretch a hundred miles or more to reach the data center.  The rural broadband provider will probably never get a carrier hotel close to them.  As they grow, they might be able to afford to host caching boxes. The additional cost and pipe size to fill the caches is also a determining factor. The tradeoff of hosting and filling multiple cache boxes outweighs the latency of a layer2 circuit back to a carrier hotel.

I think remote peering is necessary to by-pass full links which give the ISP more control over their bandwidth.  In today’s race to cut corners to improve the bottom line having more control over your own network is a good thing. By doing a layer2 remote peer you might actually cut down on your latency, even if your upstream ISP is peered or has cache boxes.