The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Monday, August 21, 2000

Connectivity Blues

I learned last week that my connection to the Internet, my dedicated and I don't pay for it connection to the Internet, may be going away soon.

Currently, it's a sweet deal—my provider, Atlantic Internet, is kind enough to pay for my ISDN connection, 32 static IP addresses and a colocated server at their facility, and in return I help out occasionally, fixing the occasional network problem (routing, DNS, etc) and general consulting when they need it.

I use half the addresses here at my home location, and the other half are used by Mark on his home network; our two networks are connected via a dedicated PPP link. As it is, I'm the only one locally among my friends (well, except Mark) with a WAN.

But all that may change. When, I don't exactly know, but at the outside I'm looking at two months, maximum. Mark just called and said he's been looking into getting DSL. And fortunately, he just found a company that will provide him with a connection via Boca Teeca.

The problem Mark has is that while Boca Teeca is across the street (more or less) from Mark, that is not is CO. Mark's CO is Boca Main, over four miles away. A border issue, you know, the so close yet so far type thing.

So finding a company that will hook him up to Boca Teeca is real good. Yet trying to get static IPs are impossible, or very expensive. But it's not like I don't have resources available. There exists the very real possibility of us getting an entire C-block of IP addresses for our own use. A portable (i.e. one that can be rerouted and is not tied to any one provider) C-block.

Talk about rare.


Connectivity Blues II

Mark has been calling around and it seems that if we were to provide our own network block, it costs more. One place quoted him $350 a month if we provided our own IP addresses.

$350/MONTH!

I can see something like $350 to set up the routers to route the block, but once it's set that's it. It's not like it's that much overhead but since such a request falls outside the standard template that most of these companies seem to use, they probably feel they can charge outrageous fees.

And then there are the various DSL horror stories I've heard of, where it takes months to get DSL installed.


ISP Profitability

Months ago Mark and I had a conversation about ISPs and the services they offer. At the time, Atlantic Internet, my current provider, was not pursuing the home dialup market and I could understand why. While it's a steady revenue stream, it's the tech support that eats into any profit the company might get (and the tech stories that you hear about—they're true). But get mostly corporate customers, you can really charge and then the tech support doesn't eat into the profits.

But Mark kept arguing that Atlantic Internet shouldn't give up the home dialup market. But another argument against the small ISP are the likes of BellSouth.Net and Adelphia Cable. The former is a subsidiary of BellSouth, one of the BabyBells so they pretty much own the phone lines down here, and Adelphia, well, a cable company has pretty much the same coverage (more or less) as the BabyBells, and how can you compete with cable modems?

Mark and I seem to have a difference of opinion in the area of ISP profitability. I don't think they are, and Mark does.

00:31:02 [Mark]: So I don't think the ISP makes that much off you by the time they are done.

00:32:49 [Sean]: But it's not much better with regular dialup lines, what with paying the phone company and the equipment needed (not to mention the upgrades—I remember [ISP] customers screaming for 28.8 even before 28.8 was standardized between modems)

00:34:34 [Mark]: Exactly. That's what I'm talking about. So that's why there is about as much incentive to sell DSL as there is dialup lines. Which is why I never liked the “we don't do dialup” attitude. The reason being that if everybody hosts web pages it won't do much good if nobody can browse them.

. . .

01:24:16 [Sean]: Perhaps I am. But I'm still not entirely convinced a local ISP can be profitable.

01:25:31 [Mark]: My argument is that a local ISP, run with the correct know-how can be. The problem is that tech guys don't know about the know-how. That is something you need to find customer service reps for.

Something neither company probably has. Sales, Marketing and Tech aren't the only things.

01:26:25 [Mark]: I would be more tempted to hire a Wal*Mart employee for ISP tech support than a person with a clue. The person with the clue may know more than the Wal*Mart person, but the Wal*Mart person will make an angry customer a happy customer.

I don't think anybody at either company got that.

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