[SunRescue] Real ISPs
bobk at sinister.com
Wed Feb 23 17:38:37 CST 2000
On 23 Feb 2000 jwbirdsa at carfallin.picarefy.com wrote:
> Well, I'm connected through Seanet in Seattle. I've been with them for
> five years and until recently I've been quite happy. However, since the
> beginning of this year, they seem to have gone senile, apparently a result
> of growth, which means that most of their operation is geared toward
> supporting braindead Windows users.
> I celebrated the New Year by being offline for four days because they'd
> hosed the routing for my class C. That seems to happen about once a year,
> but normally it's just a matter of a phone call to get it fixed. This time,
...typical story about loser ISP omitted..
The dumbing down of the Internet continues unabated. The sad thing is,
this is happening at most ISPs.
> Assuming this pattern continues, I will probably change soon, but I'm
> not going to bother with trying any of the consumer ISPs. At this point,
> what I really want is a business ISP: they're used to hooking up entire
> networks, not invididual machines, and they have 24-hour operations
> staffing, so there's always somebody to talk to. It doesn't guarantee that
> they can fix your problem, but at least you're one step closer than when
> you can't even reach anybody because they're closed for the night.
> I haven't done any hard research on the matter yet, but I'll probably
> start by looking at CAIS and Sprint.
I have seen that 'business' ISPs are not really much better. As a
consultant, I have seen essential business functions destroyed by a
'business' ISP that couldn't or wouldn't deliver what the salesman claimed
they could. And when you go to look at your service agreement, deep in the
verbiage you find stuff that says basically they owe you nothing, and they
can disconnect you for any reason any time they want. In addition, many of
them have 'acceptable usage' policies that I find unacceptable (Exodus for
example). If you're not a big player, its hard to get a salesman to even
talk to you, and you have no pull on changing the service agreement. The
24 hour NOC means that there's some junior guy who is stuck there to
answer phones in the middle of the night, and maybe reboot a hung windows
server if someone yells enough. The rest of the time, they play doom.
Well this is all the worst case scenario, but you'll find a lot of these
traits, and worse, in your average ISP.
The pseudo-ISP that I run, Sinister.Com, has never done any marketing or
had a formal business plan or anything similar since we started in '95. I
have about 60 shell users that I ask for donations, but those
donations don't amount to much. We get our net connection from Ennui.Net
via ethernet, they are located upstairs and are pretty much a hobby ISP
like Sinister (and they use my class C). We've been having problems
because the ISP we are connected to (OEM.NET) has undergone three changes
of ownership since we first got connectivity from them, and the current
regieme seems to not really be interested in serving us at all. We are
looking at alternatives, such as connecting directly to the Boston MXP
(http://www.bostonmxp.com), and buying transit from whatever provider is
best (don't know if that's possible yet).
Anyhow, my comments and the comments of others over time are making me
think that a niche-ISP serving the geek market is viable in at least some
locales. It would be great if we could be national, but that's quite a bit
of work & money. Maybe a few ISPs of such ilk in different areas of the
country would be the best shot.
I think the problem with most ISPs is the way they market. Almost all
consumer ISPs operate like an "all you can eat" buffet restaurant. They
assume a standard "diet" of about 20 hours per month, even though they
sell you unlimited access. They depend on the statistical average of
internet users to cram a lot of users into a given bandwidth. They don't
like people who have a spare phone line and leave themselves connected
24x7. They institute all sort of policies and technologies to keep people
from doing that. Its annoying for all involved, but as long as the
customer looks for the lowest monthly dialup price, that's the way the
mass market will continue.
I'd rather be a customer or operator of an ISP with a different marketing
formula, one that is "a la carte": You pay for bandwidth, and connect
time, in line with what it costs the ISP to serve you, and its not
horribly expensive. Its a lot less hassle for everyone involved. The
question remains, is there enough of a market for it?
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