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Trying to Connect MacBook Wirelessly to 56K Dialup


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#1 Drift_91

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 07:11 PM

Hey, I got a MacBook after my Vista PC's motherboard fried. So far I've got another PC I had laying around using ICS from an internal PCI modem, then sharring the connection to an Ad-Hoc Wi-Fi network.

First off, I'm stuck with WEP, I'm very unhappy with this level of security. Second, Ad-Hoc is extremely slow and the instant I get too far away the Wi-Fi is even slower than the already horridly slow Dialup.

Does anyone know of any currently sold Wi-Fi routers that could connect to a USB Dialup hardware modem? I'm thinking of using a linux software router, but the PC I have now is too unreliable and it has leaking capacitors.

I know that routers in the past have been able to use dialup serial-port modems, but knowing how manufacturers now treat us people still stuck on dialup...
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#2 Orecomm

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 10:12 AM

Older Airport wireless basestations had nice support for dialup-on-demand. Ebay maybe ? Or get together with a half-dozen neighbors and build your own community wireless ISP to get some actual broadband in the neighborhood. I can give you some pointers on that if you are interested.

#3 Drift_91

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 02:36 PM

Older Airport wireless basestations had nice support for dialup-on-demand.

I was looking into that. I also found a product called WiFlyer that was specifically made for that. It to is however also discontinued.

Another thing I was looking into was flashing a Linksys or DLink with OpenWRT which would convert the USB port for a printer or DSL modem into a USB port for almost anything, including my USB modem. Upside to this is that I'll still have use for it when I ever move to an area serviced by DSL.

Or get together with a half-dozen neighbors and build your own community wireless ISP to get some actual broadband in the neighborhood. I can give you some pointers on that if you are interested.

Pfft... you don't know my neighbourhood... :thumbsup:

I am however interested in how you go about doing so. I've always wished I could just tap into a boundary router like an ISP and get free, unmonitored internet.

#4 Orecomm

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 10:44 AM

"Free unmonitored Internet" doesn't exist. However, for a price you can get DIA (Direct Internet Access) link from an upstream ISP that you can distribute among others, effectively forming your own ISP. Don't expect it to be cheap - $100 per month per Mbps is about the going rate here - which is why you need a few neighbors to share the pipe - and the price. The difference between DIA and bog-standard home access is that you get a contractual right to the entire bandwidth you pay for, up and downlink, 100% of the time. A 3Mbps access is about normal for a startup neighborhood ISP, which means with six families you get $50 a month per for a service vastly better than dialup. Add more families and more DIA bandwith and things get better. Most of the neighborhood ISP's I have worked with charge about $40/Mo. and that keeps them ahead of the bandwidth demand curve and pays for common equipment. Subscribers pay for their own subscriber radio and installation, about $200 total, at signup. Low cost radios have really made this a viable solution.

#5 Drift_91

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Posted 14 August 2010 - 12:53 AM

Do you know if they provide the service in rual areas? I would assume they would be willing to draw a line out to your ISP and then leave the rest of the connectivity to you.

#6 Orecomm

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Posted 18 August 2010 - 12:15 PM

Yes, in fact rural areas are the most prominent areas for this type of setup. Sometimes you can find a wireless provider in range of one of your locations using a point to point access - that's the most popular way, but in some cases you are stuck using two or more T1 lines to a point in your network for access. That's pretty expensive, and is the reason you need multiple families involved. At about six families it gets down to reasonable pricing, and six families can easily share a 3Mbos (two T1's) connection as long as nobody is using BitTorrent or similar file sharing or Netflix. It beats dial-up by a long, long ways. The local network is made up of low cost, high speed radio links (see Ubiquity, www.ubnt.com, for examples) and isn't too hard to set up once you figure it out. If you'd like to email me at dfoley at orecomm dot com I can send you a bit of info on what other have done. There is even some grant money out there for this type of project, but for most small neighborhood projects it isn't worth the effort.

#7 Drift_91

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 04:35 AM

I'm kinda confused about getting connected to the DIA. Were you saying that I could connect to the Upstream ISP wirelessly OR through two T1s?

I should mention the telecomunications industry is a bit different in Canada. One example is that 90% of the DSL lines in the whole country are owned by Bell Nexxia and they wholesale/lease to other ISPs. But I don't know about ISP peering and T1 lines and such.

Do you know where I could find information on the local Upstream ISPs?



At first I was thinking it would be useless to do a collaberative project with the neigborhood because I thought you mean't using Wi-Fi, which even with amplifiers wouldn't reach any further than those who would rather spend thier money on alcohol and drugs. But now that I see that wireless transmiter can reach such long rangers I could probably run Omniglobe out of business. I'm sure if I put short towers along the coast of several lakes there would be alot of cottagers interersted in the service if I can keep the costs lower or service better than Rogers' and Bell's 3G USB sticks. Also Omniglobe has an extremely poor coverage area and my friend says thier service is horrible. Not to mention thier two towers are ungrounded (one was down due to lightning strikes) and the one in my town is at the lowest elevation in the entire town.

#8 Drift_91

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 04:37 AM

The only problem is that we plan on moving soon, so I'm not too keen on making a major setup. However even after moving I would be very interested in making my own ISP.

#9 Orecomm

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 10:16 AM

The first step is to find out what ISP's are in your area. This often takes some digging as, believe it or not, many don't advertise much at all. You might also try looking at some of the Gov programs like Industry Canada's Broadband Connect and CAP programs. It may not be worth jumping through the hoops to try and get funding from them, but through them you might be able to find some other outfit close that can feed you a link. You only need to hit one point on your network, so cast a fairly wide net. If you can locate someone interested in participating that owns a piece of high ground, hilltop or building, that usually makes a nice center for your network and has the best chance of reaching out to some remote uplink location. T1's are usually a hybrid of phone company for the wire plus another ISP for the Internet access, usually from a router they have co-located at the Telco office.

The second thing is to scope out the area you intend to cover and get a feel for how many subscribers and what their pain levels are for cost and performance. If you can find a techie or two that wants to help that's even better. Someone with satellite, cable, or telco installation experience is ideal for fieldwork, someone with a little network and routing background and maybe even a little DNS and DHCP is nice for the core, but you can go it alone with all off-the-shelf stuff and a little research time if needed. You will need to build a cost and return model - basically a business plan - before you get into it (unless you are independently wealthy and are looking at this as a charity donation). It's not hard, but it does take some planning and attention to detail. Start looking at locations that have a good line-of-sight to multiple potential clients ( in wooded areas the best time is just after dark when lighted windows show up. By eye only about 1/4 of the available houses are easily visible in the daytime in our area.) In an unserved area we see a take rate of about 25% in the first year if the service is reasonably priced and delivered. $100-200 startup and $35-$50 per month is about the tolerance levels here in rural Oregon.

Here are some other folks that have taken the plunge, mostly larger Co-ops:
3C Co-op Early effort, sold out to a larger ISP, not a bad exit strategy
Magnolia Road Co-op
Ripton Broadband Co-op - download and read their membership packet for a lot of good ideas and info.
Olalla FastNet, one of my clients

#10 Drift_91

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 11:31 AM

Nearest ISP to here is North Frontenac Telephone Company. I'm assuming thier Upstream is Nexicom. I did a traceroute to their website, www.frontenac.net, and it went through my ISPs network all the way to Toronto then through the Toronto IPX to Nexicom who were the last network before NFTC. I'd prefer to connect directly to Nexicom instead of connecting to a Tier 3 (I doubt NFTC has any non-end-user clients), although I would prefer to connect directly to the IPX but I doubt that'll happen.

One problem for the wireless is that the topography for hundreds of miles is comparable to the surface of paper-mashet, it's very rough but there's no high ground. If you lookup Arden, Mountain Grove and Sharbot Lake on google maps and look at thier topography you'll see what I'm talking about. Most of the hilltops are about the same hight so on any hill you'd reach all the other hilltops but only the lower valley around that one hill.

I'm also wondering how I go about providing my clients with their own unique external IP address. I hate not being able to do my own port forwarding and I don't want to do that to my clients. I'm also concerned about access control, can I use PPPoE over a wireless connection or give them each their own WPA key? (that wireless equipment at www.ubnt.com seems to use Wi-Fi)

I'm going to try to slap together a rough map of the Internet backbone in the area using traceroutes.

#11 Orecomm

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 11:09 AM

Using a Tier 3 really isn't a problem for a small Co-op network, and distance to POP is one of the cost drivers. I'd at least talk to NFTC and see what they can do. Connecting at the IPX is not something you want to do as a small ISP. It's kind of a country club for technical bigwigs and unless you have a BGP Guru on staff you are going to catch more grief than it's worth. It is way easier (and cheaper) to be a little ways down the food chain. You want to see if you can get a small IP address block, say a /25 (128 addresses) or /26 (64 addresses) to assign your clients and for your router. Your radios can all use unregistered addresses if you are careful how you set things up. The folks I work with use WPA2 on the radios and the clients do not have access to the key. We also use MAC authentication for client radios, for a double check. We have chosen not to allow clients to attach laptops and such directly to our AP's as we then lose control of what is going on on the network. Only subscriber radios can connect (and a couple of field service laptops used for installs and surveys). The result is much like a DSL line, the customer gets a wired Ethernet connection as the handoff, with one public IP available for their own router.

From the sounds of it, you might be better off using a Mesh radio topology. This has some advantages, but depends on getting a critical mass of clients over a given topology. Check out OpenMesh for an example. It's probably the simplest way to get a mini-ISP going if you can get enough folks involved to get the coverage seeded. Using larger radios, like the Ubiquity Bullet and an 8dbi Omni antenna you can get clean links at a half mile or more through minimal brush and up to three miles or so with a clean line of sight. Once this type of net gets going and people start hearing about it it will grow on it's own, but it's not easy to get it started. The performance isn't quite as good as a point-to-multipoint network but way better than dialup and cheap to build and operate.

#12 Orecomm

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 11:34 AM

I did a quick check for ISP's in and around the places you mentioned and found several that offer business services (usually a good sign that they will talk to you about a downline ISP feed), Point to Point, and several of those offer wireless as well. All you need is one with a tower in line of sight to any point in your proposed network and an agreeable manager with the ISP and you could be set up pretty quickly. Check out this site to find a few. Make sure you hit the "all services" pulldown to see the whole list of possibles.

#13 Drift_91

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 04:06 AM

canadianisp.ca is extremely inaccurate, they basically list everything in my county even though you enter the individual town. Every ISP in that list is incorrect except OmniGlobe (the one my friend has Listing) and the Dial-Up and Satellite providers. I'm glad I looked at it though because last time I ignored the wireless listings and I haven't been able to find OmniGlobe's consumer website. Speaking of that though they have a website specific to Upstream service so they might be a good option.

I find OmniGlobe's residential service to be reasonably priced so I think I'll get that instead if I have coverage and save the whole ISP thing for later in life (basically what I want to do for a living after I've spent some time as an A+ under someone else's employment). Their site has it's own speed test which usually indicates they provide the bandwidth that you agree to pay for. They also have a lot of stuff telling customers how to go about getting help instead of shunning them as long as they pay up, so seems very customer centric. Unfortunately appearing customer centric to potential clients is also typical of a con-artist. My friend claims to have a lot of trouble with them, however his parents manage the network who I'm not sure are competent enough and all he has for connectivity is a crappy Belkin Wi-Fi USB dongle which is listed all over consumer review sites as having horrible connectivity.

#14 Orecomm

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 10:01 AM

Drift, good luck to you on that ! Running a mini-ISP can be a nice second job as long as you don't need much of a life, but it's nice not to have to depend on it to pay the bills for the first year or two ('cause it probably won't). It's a great way to learn a lot about networking, both electronic and interpersonal. It's nice to be able to get broadband to folks that can't get it any other way as well, there is a lot of genuine appreciation there. It's rapidly getting to the point that broadband is becoming an essential utility like electricity, water, and sewer. Many, including Government, simply assume everyone has broadband today. I have customers who must file forms with the Gov every month, and they can ONLY be filed online. The website is so clunky that it times out on dialup and is unusable. Until I could get a link to them they used to have to drive 30 minutes to a coffee shop with a hotspot with their laptop every month to file their paperwork.

If you are on Linkedin you might want to join the Rural Broadband Watch group to keep up on what is happening in this area.

Great advice from an old instructor of mine:
For professional success, there is one important principle;
Know Everything about Something,
Something about Everything,
and keep changing the Something.

Live well, my friend.




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