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Wireless Networking Hardware

Caveats In Reselling DSL Bandwidth To Neighbors? 383

chrisleetn writes "I'm contemplating getting Slashdot (Speakeasy) 6Mbps broadband or something similar and offering wireless internet access to my neighborhood. Speakeasy even has a plan to allow this. What should I be aware of as far as legal/business/regulatory implications? I know I need to restrict obvious illegal stuff and probably p2p to be safe, but is the local cable modem company going to come after me for competing with them? Has anyone done this who can offer some insight?"
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Caveats In Reselling DSL Bandwidth To Neighbors?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    On what logical basis did you come to that conclusion?
  • by Zweistein_42 ( 753978 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @04:45PM (#11186271) Homepage
    Providing it free as a service probably wouldn't be too difficult. But would it make sense to go through all the hassle for the few bucks you can make?
    • by TedCheshireAcad ( 311748 ) <{ted} {at} {fc.rit.edu}> on Sunday December 26, 2004 @04:52PM (#11186310) Homepage
      if you're willing to offer it for free to your neighbors, i salute your nobility. however, it may be worth your while to come to some kind of informal agreement with your neighbors (they make you cookies once a month or something like that). this country needs more friendly things like that.

      i'd call it the Food for IP program. like food for oil, but not corrupt.
      • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @05:05PM (#11186375) Journal
        Plenty of people have "rediscovered" the barter system, hell, many never forgot it.

        I set up a laptop with quickbooks and some custom invoices and reciepts for a friend of mine who runs a tree service, in return he cut down a few trees and ground out some stumps.

        I fixed another friend of a friends' kids PS2, and he (a plumber) came over and helped me replace a hot water heater.

        I do it all the time, it's all about being social and knowing the right people, and having something to trade.

        It works well for us.. Many/most tradesmen who work with their hands don't know shit about their PCs.

        My neighbour is a cabinetmaker by trade, and a contractor. This idea of giving him free wireless internet is intriguing. I think I might just offer him free internet forever* if he helps me build the bar I want.

        * - forever does not necessarily mean "for ever"

        I wish 'society' could be a little more social. Look at an amish barnraising to see how much can be accomplished in a short amount of time if people will pitch in.

        Yet, despite the fact that I sweated and toiled one weekend to help a neighbour install a chain link fence, he just sat there with his new snowblower while watching me bust my ass shovelling my driveway when he could have done it in about 5 minutes.

        Oh well, people are a bunch of asses. That's why we invented money.
        • That's why we invented money. We invented money because you can't compound interest on chickens... plus it's a hassle to put them in my wallet. However, I agree with the barter system. My wife tutors French for a girl in our town, and the girl's mother is a LMP so free massages.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          There are a lot of places, even within the United States where this barter system is not only common, it is necessary. The agreed upon currency, U.S. Dollars for example, is in such scarce supply, but the thing you might buy -- labor (guy with shovel or saw), equipment (tractor or dump truck), technical expertise (computer repair, clothing repair), is quite plentiful.

          In some places, such as the rural United States, you don't always explicitly barter one service for another. You help out when you are need
        • by bwy ( 726112 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @06:23PM (#11186758)
          Yet, despite the fact that I sweated and toiled one weekend to help a neighbour install a chain link fence, he just sat there with his new snowblower while watching me bust my ass shovelling my driveway when he could have done it in about 5 minutes.

          Oh well, people are a bunch of asses. That's why we invented money.

          Unfortunately, even inside close circles of family and friends, shit occasionally happens. I'd never recommend doing anything of large financial scale with family or friends without having a written contract. Part of the problem is people interpret things differently or have different expectations. You might make a handshake deal to rent a condo you own to a family member for $500 a month. Sounds good, huh? Well, what does this include? For how long? What happens if the condo association dues go up? Can you raise the rate? What if said family member loses his job? Is he expecting you to let the rent slide for 6 months or a year? If the place is dirty when he finally moves out and needs new carpet and paint, who pays?

          In fact, contract or no contract, I've often found it better NOT to do business with friends. I know of too many cases where it has ruined relationships that I assure you were originally rock-solid.

          That said, there is nothing wrong with friends helping friends on occasion as long as there are no expectations. This is what friendship is all about.
          • As my father always said, "Don't loan money to people unless you can afford to give it to them."
          • In fact, contract or no contract, I've often found it better NOT to do business with friends. I know of too many cases where it has ruined relationships that I assure you were originally rock-solid.

            My $0.016 (it's canadian money):
            One of my old great friends from high school asked me to get a ticket for him too for a concert. I was a poor student, but i figured it was no problem to drop $40 for his ticket knowing he'd pay me back as soon as he could. But instead, even after i told him multiple times tha

        • by Anonymous Coward
          "I fixed another friend of a friends' kids PS2, and he (a plumber) came over and helped me replace a hot water heater."

          Why do you heat your hot water?
        • by avecfrites ( 605293 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @09:11PM (#11188029)
          Technically, even when bartering goods and services, you are legally required to report the imputed value of any compensation you receive as taxable income. This is ridiculous of course -- but it brings to mind a general government strategy of control: if the government makes everything illegal, and enforce s the laws selectively, it in effect has the ability to do anything it wants to anyone it wants. You're probably better off without a true meeting of the minds on who does what in exchange for what. If you give away a service, and others give away services, and the value of anything given away doesn't exceed to 10 or $11k annual value, and nothing is a clear payment for anything, it's hard to pin a tax on you. Hmmm -- maybe the government has constructed a mechanism to encourange people to give assistance to eachother without necessarily getting something in return. Those clever IRS people really are doing the work of the lord.
        • Plenty of people have "rediscovered" the barter system, hell, many never forgot it.

          'Struth. Especially at the poverty level, there's a *lot* of that going on. I've been working with a very-low-income couple through our church, and I now find myself with a dozen fresh brown eggs every now and again, which they get from a neighbor in exchange for lawn work, and which I get "in exchange" for providing rides. And my van gets worked on gratis, and things like that. Pretty much, you do what you have to to
      • by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) * on Sunday December 26, 2004 @05:10PM (#11186398) Journal

        The cookie program is probably your best bet on the grounds that you'll lose yourself a whole lot of legal hassle and gain yourself something more fulfilling community wise. There's just something nice about your neighbours bringing you dinner once a month or every couple of months. And there's something not nice about introducing money/legal agreements to friendships; or the calculator-fight that will break out when your connection goes down and they want re-imbursement or because you aren't there for tech support because you're on holiday, etc.

        Saying you will provide this service on best-effort terms in return for cookies/lawn-mowing/kid-collecting etc is your best, friendliest, non-legally dangerous way of doing this. A great idea that I shall probably copy.
      • At college, I had to bring down the number of computers that I fix. Otherwise I would have no time. So I started charging 3 dozen oatmeal raisen cookies for each repair. Had a lot of cookies. But the best part was that I wasn't fixing 15 computers a week, only five, and got 15 dozen cookies out of it.
      • by The Tyro ( 247333 ) * on Sunday December 26, 2004 @08:34PM (#11187841)
        and it has value in the business world. Don't rule out giving away the access for free... you never know what you might get in return (and try not to expect too much... some people are leeches by nature).

        An example from my own experience. My "day job" is as an emergency physician... and that's what pays the bills. However, computers have been a life-long interest of mine, and I am fairly adept with them. It's a great hobby.

        As a side benefit, my hobby gives me something to trade... my nurses and ancillary personnel are forever bringing me broken/virus-ridden computers that I fix for them for nothing. (sometimes it's as simple as dropping in a knoppix CD and running a virus scan). You get unexpected bennies for doing such things... I've received cookies, gift certificates, other food, computer hardware, etc, etc... all for doing something that I enjoy anyway.

        This not only works for my staff, but also for business associates ( for instance, drug reps who I've helped out seem to bring me samples more often, which is very helpful for my indigent patients). I've set up networks and wireless hotspots for other physicians, and I'm also the unofficial IT go-to guy for them. Keeping the medical staff happy takes us back to "good will," and has a direct effect on my job security (if the CEO of the hospital decides to replace the ER group, which includes me, a hue-and-cry from the other physicians can save my job).

        It's all about making yourself valuable to other people... it creates "good will," which can pay off in all sorts of unexpected ways. Don't go into it expecting a big return, because people can often sense false altruism... but never underestimate what that good will can do.
    • Yes, I beleave it is worth the trouble in offering services like this. In rural Britain where there are more sheep than people it's often hard to find fast internet services, so people started doing similar things to what your suggesting (but mostly with satellite connections). I doubt anybody would come after you for trying to 'steal' their business, as long as your only charging the minimum amount allowing you to cover the costs involved in providing the service (e.g. electricity and service charge sprea
      • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @05:21PM (#11186455)
        talk to your layer

        Let's see ... would that be the transport layer or the protocol layer?

        But yeah ... particularly here in the U.S. it would be an excellent idea to seek a good lawyer's advice. Just because you are offering something for free doesn't mean you aren't liable for something. It's pretty much guaranteed that there is a law on the books, somewhere, that makes anything a human being might want to do illegal. It's just a matter of someone deciding to go after you with it. Hell, even one of your erstwhile customers might get pissed off and sue you for something. Actually, I'd be inclined to exclude attorneys from my customer list ... they have no real barrier to filing a lawsuit, which can make them rather dangerous to do business with.

        At a minimum, he will most certainly need some way to implement bandwidth caps. Otherwise I guarantee little Tommy next door will hog the whole proceedings downloading by Britney Spears' latest video, or all seven seasons of Stargate SG-1.

        This endeavor will probably end up being more trouble than it is really worth, but if the guy gets a kick out of it ... more power to him. We need more neighbors like that.
    • Another question: What if one of your neighbors starts downloading warez or kiddie pr0n, who'd be responsible then?
    • by modecx ( 130548 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @05:35PM (#11186523)
      IMO, the real hassle wouldn't be in setting the equipment up and making it work, this is easy stuff.

      When you do a small ISP jobby, you make yourself the sole support contact. Everyone will bug you about every minor shit problem imaginable. I did this with my nuclear family (basically all living on the same block), and it was just pathetic. Your ass will be on line for every computer problem they can throw at you, and worst of all you're not getting paid for it. And if you don't go and fix it soon, these people know where you live, and they're going to resent it.

      Really, it wasn't that these things were so problemsome, but my family is a group of procrastinators to the extreme. I try hard to avoid this, but when grandma calls dad and says that cousin susie has a computer problem and can't finish her midterm assignement the night before it's due (when in reality she's downloading cowboy music off of Kazzaa--which also means your ass is grass is she ever gets caught)... Well, you're tempted to grab the shotgun and blow shit up. Not healthy.

      Having had personal experience with this issue, I'd say it's not a good idea at all, UNLESS all of your neighbors are cheap ass geeks who can fix their own problems, but are too poor to afford a cable connection on their own... Basically, It's a stupid idea, unless you want the hassle...
  • by Average_Joe_Sixpack ( 534373 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @04:47PM (#11186284)
    At 768 up you would need some way to cap their upload. Otherwise you'd risk a neighbor ruining it for everybody.
    • the parent post makes a very good point, let me add some firsthand experience. I've shared DSL with neighbors in my various apartments over the last couple years; here in NYC where high population density means a 10' patch cable or a single off-the-shelf access point is often all it takes to get your neighbor plugged in, there's no reason not to. After years of sharing DSL lines, I'm about to get a cable modem. The problem is that both my current neighbor and I are content creators of one sort or another, a
      • Where I live the DSL does not behave like this, you can upload to an ftp server at full speed and download at full speed simultaneously. The cable provider however _is_ like this, you start an upload and it destroys your download speeds.

        So people will have to ask around or test out their particular local dsl/cable service before coming to the conclusion that it behaves this way.
        • Where I live the DSL does not behave like this, you can upload to an ftp server at full speed and download at full speed simultaneously. The cable provider however _is_ like this, you start an upload and it destroys your download speeds.

          This is really a TCP limitation, and it all depends on the ratio of your upload and download speeds. You need a certain amount of upload bandwidth just to send ACK packets, otherwise your download will slow down because it thinks you're missing packets and will resend them
  • by IO ERROR ( 128968 ) * <error@noSPAm.ioerror.us> on Sunday December 26, 2004 @04:47PM (#11186285) Homepage Journal
    You might want to set up something like NoCatAuth [seattlewireless.net]. NoCatAuth redirects users to a login page, implementing a captive portal system. This is important if you're selling the service because you want to be able to grant and deny access, and 802.11[A-Za-z] is otherwise full of holes [slashdot.org].
    • by kagaku ( 774787 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @05:58PM (#11186632)
      Or he might want to check out m0n0wall [m0n0.ch]. It not only has the aforementioned feature, but much more. Traffic shaping/prioritizing, wireless support, along with everything you'd expect a router to have, and more. Not only that, the entire operating system fits onto a 16mb compact flash card, runs off a CD using a floppy disk for settings, or simply runs off a standard hard drive. I'd highly recommend it.
  • by stimpleton ( 732392 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @04:48PM (#11186289)

    In the broadest sense, once people start paying money, no matter how small, the relationship changes.

    When connectivity on Sunday at 7am goes down, people will look at where they can get help. If they have a door to knock on, then woe betide you.
    • Bingo, and I would probably make them sign an agreement that you are not liable for outages so you don't get some lawsuit happy moron suing you when they can't get a crucial business email off, or something like that.

    • That was my thought. My questions for you is how much service are you willing to provide? How much time are you willing to spend helping your neighbors get setup and remain connected. How much liability are you willing to assume when thier networks get infected, or when they have thier identity stolen?

      Certainly if you want to be an ISP, then you need to have a lawyer. You also need to figure out if your customers will pay enough to cover the lawyer, the DSL fees, and your time. So what might it be, 1

  • ianal but.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Naikrovek ( 667 ) <jjohnson.psg@com> on Sunday December 26, 2004 @04:49PM (#11186295)
    i can't think of a problem. the 802.11b/g spectrum is unlicensed. you can use it for whatever reason you wish. if your kick-ass provider lets you do this, then they won't complain.

    as another poster said, is it really worth the trouble when it comes to billing?

    also keep in mind that using wireless opens up their computer to the world. make sure folks know this before you let them join your network.
  • by Cylix ( 55374 ) * on Sunday December 26, 2004 @04:50PM (#11186299) Homepage Journal
    This is one of those cases where some simple common sense comes into play.

    Alright, so you not going to be an illicit reseller, but an authorized body capable of forming a legal binding agreements with your customers.

    ISP's do this all the time... they simple resell bandwidth they have purchased from their providers.

    Basically, write out what services you will provide and clearly define what you won't allow. It needs to be clearly written and agreed upon by your clients.

    After that, you simply need to track ip addresses (assumming DHCP will be in iuse), keep mail logs (if you provide smtp/pop service) and generally ensure that you can track illicit activity back to the source if requested to do so by a court order.

    It's simply a matter of accountability and this is something you can easily do given it is a service you can provide.

    Anything else is just extra, but it would probably be a good idea to track bandwidth usage.
    • After that, you simply need to track ip addresses (assumming DHCP will be in iuse), keep mail logs (if you provide smtp/pop service) and generally ensure that you can track illicit activity back to the source if requested to do so by a court order.

      Or don't and say that the logs aren't kept. There are no laws that say that logs are a requirement and there is no reason to keep them for longer than a short period of time anyway.
    • Out of curiosity, does anyone know if it's against the law NOT to keep said logs? If I were running an ISP, I really wouldn't want to help the **AA's. Why not just keep the logs for a week for internal security use, and then send em to /dev/null? If someone from within your network was viewing child porn and it was tracked back, if you cannot provide the information will you be held accountable?
  • by Jace of Fuse! ( 72042 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @04:51PM (#11186306) Homepage
    What you do with your bandwidth, as long as it doesn't violate terms of service, is your business, not that of your local cable company.

    However, would your neighbors be willing to pay?

    In my neighborhood, I can count no less than 9 unprotected networks. Most of them are all on the default linksys channel of 6 with the default SSID of "linksys". That can sometimes make them difficult to use since they tend to interfere. Some of them are configured well enough to be usable but are still not protected.

    I've found that in the rare events that my internet connection goes down, I've been able to easily just use a neighbor's. I'd feel worse about doing it if it weren't for the fact that it's so common, but it's very common.

    A friend and I drove around town one night with a laptop and a wireless 802.11g card and we kept finding Netgear and Linksys routers all night.

    Most of them had the default passwords. It's very scary, really.

    The scary ones are the ones who know enough to make serious changes to their configuration, but still don't have the sense to change their passwords.
    • In my neighborhood, I can count no less than 9 unprotected networks. Most of them are all on the default linksys channel of 6 with the default SSID of "linksys". That can sometimes make them difficult to use since they tend to interfere. Some of them are configured well enough to be usable but are still not protected.
      Sadly, logging in with the default password and setting them to channels 1,6, and 11 is still illegal. Shouldn't there be a 'preventative hygiene' defense?
    • The scary ones are the ones who know enough to make serious changes to their configuration, but still don't have the sense to change their passwords.

      You think that's scary? I recently had my laptop on around my parents house and picked up an open wireless point in the area. No key and the SSID was 'Wireless'. I connected and had a snoop around to try and figure out who it was (my parents have a good relationship with their neighbours).

      I discovered that the access point was a linux server with a wireles
  • Hogs? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eMartin ( 210973 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @04:53PM (#11186313)
    Well, I certainly wouldn't sign up for your plan to share a 6 Mb connection with others.

    But for those that do, what are you going to do to guarantee them that one of your neighbours isn't going to hog all of the bandwidth?

    I know just in my house (also a 6 Mb connection), if I'm downloading something through Bit Torrent, it really slows down any internet stuff on the other computers, and if another computer here downloads a file or checks email, it makes games on mine stutter.

    Are you going to give them bandwidth caps? And will those go down everytime you get a new customer?
  • No Way (Score:5, Informative)

    by global_diffusion ( 540737 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @04:53PM (#11186314) Homepage
    If you go through Speakeasy, they set it up so that the people you sell it to are their customers, and not yours. The deal is that the more you sell, the less you pay. It's a good deal.
    • It's a good deal.

      It's a fantastic deal- for them.

      Despite the fact that they're speakeasy's customers- they'll probably still come to you first. That means less calls for "oh, wait, the cord popped out". $.

      They only have to run one circuit to service multiple customers; so less money to Verizon/whoever, more to them. $$.

      They don't have to run wires, buy equipment, install any of it. $$$.

      I also highly doubt it's a 'linear' discount, either...and even a linear discount wouldn't be 'fair' given

  • Incorporate (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hifiandrew ( 699454 )
    I'm no attorney but if it were me, I would look into possibly incorporating, perhaps even as a non-profit cooperative or something to that effect if you plan to offer the service for free or at cost. I don't have any personal expereince running a community ISP but incorporating seems like a good precaution against liability.
  • Tech support (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Epsillon ( 608775 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @04:58PM (#11186334) Journal
    Be VERY careful. If you help one neighbour even once with a connectivity issue, chances are your door will never be silent again. This is not a joke. Trust me, you will be sat in front of other people's computers more than you are your own. Be firm from the outset. I'm sure you have better things to do with your time than being dragged from house to house to put the WEP key back in, only to have some luser remove it again.
    • As someone who has to deal with only ONE customer (my wife) and one mail server (mine) I know precisely the problems you will run into.

      They are not pretty.

      First will be the calls when "the server is down". This will be on a Friday or Saturday night when someone is keen on looking at that latest "movie" by Ms. Hilton...

      Second will be the person who wonders if the "can use a voice over IP" on this wicked fast system.

      Third is the multiple households that decide they're going to stream video (legally) to th
  • Points to consider (Score:5, Informative)

    by gregwbrooks ( 512319 ) * <`gregb' `at' `west-third.com'> on Sunday December 26, 2004 @04:59PM (#11186342)
    The idea of selling access -- even if it's dirt cheap -- is a good idea and it doesn't make you a blood-sucking capitalist. What it *does* make you is someone who can avoid the "tragedy of the commons," issues that arise when you give away something that people value.

    Charging lets you assign value to your service, and assigning value is a key way to keep customers in line while covering your nut.

    In terms of the cable modem companies "coming after you," you need only worry about legal competition -- no franchise agreements come to mind that completely lock out all broadband competition. It's worth noting, however, that Verizon has backed legislation in Pennsylvania to prevent municipalities from setting up free broadband services -- a bad step in the direction of market control.

    If you *are* going to charge, then you've got some additional costs to consider:

    • Business licence, if necessary, or registration as a non-profit if you're pursuing it as such. One way or another, you don't want to get caught running a business in all but the tiniest towns without the right license, because city hall likes to extract its pound of flesh as much as the next guy.
    • Insurance and incorporation -- because it's important, i.e., "Little Jimmy viewed Paris Hilton's tits on the DSL leech you sold me, and now I'm going to sue you for everything you've got!" For you, that probably means your house and your stuff UNLESS you're a.) incorporated (to separate your business assets from your personal ones); and b.) insured. (And yes, I know your TOS would limit your liability -- it doesn't matter. People don't have to win lawsuits to leech every penny you have... they just need to file them and force you to defend them.)
    • Bulletproof TOS. No matter what you do, give yourself the ability to shut folks down at your sole discretion. Have an attorney who Knows About These Things review your TOS, even if it costs you a few bucks to do so.

    Good luck!

  • There was this guy I used to work with who got his cablemodem from the company we both worked for. He decided to share his cablemodem with his whole building, which was CLEARLY against our Aacceptable Use Policy. Every other person in the building has this cable company. This guy was so smart he put flyers all over the building telling everyone how to get free internet through wireless. With over 80 units in his building, one might think he might have shown some restraint.

    Well some Cable Company Wire Techn
  • Legal Issues (Score:4, Informative)

    by Nate75Sanders ( 743234 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @05:03PM (#11186358)
    - You're now earning income. You at least have to tack this onto your normal income tax to be legal. If you're making enough money, maybe you also have to get a business license. - If you do have to get a business license, you have to deal with zoning laws. If this is a small business being run out of your home, you can't meet with clients at your home, at least in some states. There's a good chance you don't care about either of those, as maybe you're not going to pay taxes or file for a business license, etc, but you asked, so it's something to consider
  • by Quixote ( 154172 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @05:04PM (#11186373) Homepage Journal
    Hopefully this is not construed as being OT, but I have a tangential question.

    I have had broadband over cable for close to 5 years now. From the beginning, my uploads have been capped at around 48KBps (384Kbps). In this period, the technology has changed; prices of almost everything in this field have come down drastically; there's a massive bandwidth glut (with oodles of dark fiber lying around), and yet my upload speed is still capped. My question is: why?

    OK, one answer could be: ISPs have to pay to send traffic to other ISPs. But that begs the question: why can't I get fullspeed (10Mbps) to my neighbor, if we are both on the same ISP? I can understand this peering argument to have merit when you're crossing ISP borders, but why doesn't the ISP let me get the full benefit of the technology to people in the same subnet?

    My cynical guess is that this prevents file-sharing, the bogeyman of the entertainment industry. Since cable ISPs are beholden to (if not owned by) this industry, they are deliberately keeping the UL rates low.

    Any thoughts?

    • But that begs the question: why can't I get fullspeed (10Mbps) to my neighbor, if we are both on the same ISP? I can understand this peering argument to have merit when you're crossing ISP borders, but why doesn't the ISP let me get the full benefit of the technology to people in the same subnet?

      Why are you so sure this is technologically possible? I can imagine the upstream bandwidth is limited by design because thie meets market demand. This is the case for e.g. DSL too.

    • by Roofus ( 15591 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @10:12PM (#11188393) Homepage
      You're cable company caps your upstream bandwidth so low not because of their cost per megabyte, but because of DOCSIS.

      DOCSIS 1.0 and 1.1 define QAM modulation for your downstream, but only QPSK for your upstream. QPSK is much less sensitive to noise than 64/256 QAM is, but as a result, you get less bits/Hz. Not to mention the cable provider can allocate a hundred or more Mhz per node for downstream, but less than 54 MHz upstream. This is due to legacy reasons, most amplifiers only pass upstream up to 54 MHz.

      DOCSIS 2.0 will change things, which should be rolled out in the next few year.

      Roofus - Ex Comcast Engineer.
  • by didde ( 685567 ) * on Sunday December 26, 2004 @05:07PM (#11186383) Homepage

    I am doing this exact thing, except I'm in Sweden. I do not block things like P2P but I do use keyword based filtering through a proxy if the client requests this (usually if it's family computer where they want to keep the kids from visiting Goatse.cx, ;-)

    Anyway, I'm no legal expert but I would think it'd help to keep the logs from Squid so you can account for who visited what and when. That way, you can always identify the person responsible if it ever comes to that.

    I would not worry about your local ISP coming after you for stealing some of their potential customers as long as _your_ deal with _your_ ISP says that you can share your connection with others.

    Oh, one more thing... You might want to looking into putting a contract together for your customers / friends who'll be using your line. You could basically ensure that _they_ are infact resposible for what they're doing on your xDSL.

  • The NetShare service from Speakeasy does look nice, but let's say you decide to use it with the 6mbps package. It costs $110/month. Don't think you will be making a profit with this type of sharing, at least not considerable profit. It MIGHT cover the cost of the connection, if you find enough willing customers. Let's say you resell 768Kbps to 7 people, for $20/month. You'll be making around $20 after taxes and other overhead costs. Considering Speakeasy's cheapest offering is $40/month, you could potenti
    • You assume your neighbors/clients are just like you. The trick is finding neighbors whose intended application is getting e-mail and browsing the web. This way you get your big arse pipe and they get something better than dialup for about the same price. You get a fat pipe for less and they get something better than what they have.

      You could reach 5-6 houses if you're lucky, and not all will want to share a connection.

      If this is your game plan... you could buy WiFi repeaters. Each client is connected
  • Here's an idea (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MasTRE ( 588396 )
    Simplify your life - go old-school and run actual Ethernet. They already have holes in their apartments for those roof-mounted satellite antennas anyway. No more wasting time with wireless setup, eliminating all WiFi security risks. Heck, plug them into a Linux box that's a p90 with 64MB RAM and n+1 dirt-cheap tulips (where n = your number of clients), don't share their connections, use htb for smart bandwidth throttling, and so on, and so forth. You can probably add a monitoring port that mirrors all p
    • Last time I checked, ethernet cable was expensive. Unless you want to get a roll of cat-5 cable, crimpers and socket ends. Then you have to crawl all over the place, run and secure cable.

      How much is your time worth?

      I have run cable through my house and I have also set up 2 airports and am sharing one ethernet connection ala Internet sharing over my Airport card.

      802.11g transfer rates I have observed for single user are similar to 1 to 2.5 X 10-baseT transfer speeds.

      Go wireless with an antenna connecte
    • They already have holes in their apartments for those roof-mounted satellite antennas anyway. No more wasting time with wireless setup, eliminating all WiFi security risks.

      That is a good idea except for one problem. It would likely be a violation of your agreement with the apartment for good reason. Most apartments won't even let you change the wall plate on your phone to a double jack if you get a 2nd line installed, you have to wire both lines into the single jack and get a splitter.

      You might think c
  • Depends on a lot of different things. First it depends on you. Are you willing to put up with handling billing and tech support? You'll have to make sure people pay you on time, and they won't sometimes, and you'll need to be tech support for them. You need to ask yourself if you are willing to spend the time to do that.

    Also depends on what kind of people your neighbours are. A biggie here is what kind of tech support they'll want/demand. Given that you are right next door, they may expect that you should
  • Unlikely to be legal (Score:4, Informative)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @05:27PM (#11186484) Homepage Journal

    At least here in Australia if you provide communication services which cross a property boundary then you have to be a licensed telecommunications carrier.

    I believe that in NZ this is not a difficult thing to do (about as hard as applying for a passport) but the Australian Government is not fond of the idea of administring millions of telecommunication carriers, and has made the process much more difficult.

    I think if you dig deeper in your juristiction you will find that similar rules apply. Remember all the regulations which apply to carriers: having to provide wiretap facilities, etc. Legally, this could be quite messy

    • But people who you share the broadband with form a community. As such they share property (in some sense), and have common property boundary. So you don't need the license.
      • I am not sure what you mean by a "property boundary" in this context. The legal context refers to the boundary between one title and another

        I used to be involved in setting up WAN's along freeways for traffic monitoring purposes. We got away with laying our own fibre cable because the freeway alignment way all on one title.

        I have heard of a guy who owned two shops side by side. He ran an intercom circuit between the two shops, which is technically illegal here. Not that anybody cared. But if you start doi

  • by repetty ( 260322 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @05:30PM (#11186503) Homepage
    Do NOT sell access to a Slashdot subscriber.
  • In Spain, sharing your broadband connection (via wireless or with a ethernet cable to your neightbourd) is forbidden by law.

    In fact, some small villages had made a public wireless net, so everybody could use internet (we're talking of tiny villages with no access to broadband etc), and they were denounced by some stupid "teleccomunication comission"
    The new gobernment told them that they shouldn't have denounced those villages since they were trying to spread internet's access but well...the point is: we
  • Daveats (Score:5, Informative)

    by pvera ( 250260 ) <pedro.vera@gmail.com> on Sunday December 26, 2004 @05:48PM (#11186583) Homepage Journal
    1. You don't have to worry about the cable company. The cable company will only get pissed if the local government tries to provide broadband, because it would be unfair competition.

    2. Triple check that the AUP for your DSL allows you to share and resell the service. Then check again.

    3. If you are reselling, you will probably have to charge for sales tax, check your local tax authority.

    4. There are probably FCC rules about the equipment that you can use and the maximum power that it can irradiate. Of course, if you are using turnkey COTS equipment, the odds are that it is FCC legit.

    5. Check your neighbors and see what is the interest in this kind of service. If there is too little interest then you are setting yourself for failure, since your location is fixed and there is only so far you can reach.

    6. Write your own AUP and make sure the CYA provisions are in bold, plain english a second grader can understand. Then take the AUP to a lawyer to read and see if he can poke holes thru it.

    7. Be prepared for the technical support burden, even if most of your customers are geeks.
  • by fred911 ( 83970 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @05:49PM (#11186586)
    The minute you block anything, you are setting youself up. At that point you are no longer a carrier, you are a content provider.
  • Ok, so its illegal for me to run some coax from my house to my neighbors so he can 'share' my cableTV connection.

    Why would it be legal for me to share my bandwidth?

  • A couple lessons learned:
    The DSL connection is shared among 4 apartments, plus my own. Instead of sharing out the bill into monthly payments, I ask the neighbors to pay the entire bill in the round-robin fashion - i.e. they only have to do it once every 5 months.

    I operate on an honor system, with a wide-open network. If I notice a new MAC address in the logs (ok, a script does it for me) for more then a week, the next time its user will be presented with a friendly page asking to contribute to the coop and
  • If you are paying for residential internet service and attempt to sublease your service to other people, you're going to be in a lot of trouble with your upstream internet provider. The _least_ they might do is cut off your service. They can do a lot worse.

    You may also be breaking local law by trying to pay rates that apply to private persons and residences for something that has use far beyond that.

  • by faedle ( 114018 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @06:28PM (#11186785) Homepage Journal
    It's absolutely amazing how many people don't RTFA or research anything, making statements like "Check your AUP" and things like that. For those people, I say: he is talking about a specific ISP (Speakeasy) that specifically PERMITS sharing, and even has a program set up (NetShare) to handle billing and such for you. Under this particular program, Speakeasy handles all the billing for you, and even gives you an additional IP address to provide to your "customer".

    To answer the question, here are some pointers from somebody who is actually doing Speakeasy NetShare.

    You do not need to worry (from a layman's viewpoint, IANAL, so check with your family attorney if you are worried) about filtering access. In fact, if you read the fine print of Speakeasy's documentation, you are not really permitted to do so. I was told specifically by a Speakeasy rep NOT to do this, even though I had the ability to.

    Since Speakeasy will provide you with an IP address specifically for that customer, it will be easy (should fit hit the shan) to segregate your traffic from theirs. Speakeasy will be billing them seperately, so they will have their address and contact information should the RIAA/MPAA/LE come around. From a legal perspective (again, IANAL), you are no different than your local phone company.. you are only providing a conduit, passively, between the ISP (Speakeasy) and that ISP's customers (your neighbor using NetShare).

    Over here, I have three specific ways of getting access. You can be plugged in to my personal LAN (which, BTW, is hardline). You can be accessing a free and open node (which runs NoCat), which is highly filtered and proxied. Or, you can be on the WPAd side of the house, which is the resale network.

    Don't hesitate to participate in NetShare. It's an awesome way of reducing your monthly bill AND helping your less tech-savvy neighbors to get off AOL. Both are very worthy causes.
  • by sdxxx ( 471771 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @06:37PM (#11186842)
    If you are in the united states, you should be extremely careful not to put yourself in the position of judging the legality of what your neighbors are doing. I have operated several open Internet systems, and the lawyers have specifically instructed me not to filter stuff preemptively, becuase this would vastly increasy my liability for anything I did happen to let through.

    It does seem to be okay to do things like rate-limit people, or traffic shape so as to prevent one person from DoSing another, and probably to block forged IP addresses (if your ISP doesn't do that already).

    However, I think you're in for a world of pain with the RIAA if you assume responsibility for making sure your neighbors don't violate copyright. Sure, you might be able to block P2P traffic, but who knows what other things they'll go after people for in the future. Maybe your neighbor will put up a web page on how to de-copy-protect CDs, and the RIAA will decide this caused them $500,000,000 of damage. Do you really want to be responsible for that?

    Do some google searches for "prodigy case". And definitely don't try to institute any kind of blocking without first consulting a lawyer.
  • Let them use p2p (Score:3, Insightful)

    by devhen ( 593554 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @06:43PM (#11186894)
    "I need to restrict obvious illegal stuff and probably p2p to be safe"

    I would cap their bandwidth but don't bother trying to stop them from using p2p. Their own computer is the loser here and as long as you cap their bandwith you wont have to worry about the traffic causing you or other neighbors problems.

    Just a thought.
  • by upsidedown_duck ( 788782 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @07:02PM (#11187031)

    so you are not liable for their crimes. There is no way for you to compose some magic AI that can detect illegal pornography, so all you can do is make sure everything is in writing with their signatures.

  • by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @08:04PM (#11187564)
    A few years ago an apartment resident (iirc) did something similar. I don't remember the details, just that he shared some service with his neighbors.

    His landlord came down on him hard. A local company had an exclusive contract on providing that service and they demanded that the apartment complex deal with it. IIRC he was threatened with eviction unless he dropped the service. The story made the "legal issues" segment of the local news broadcast, and the lawyer told him he didn't have any options. He may have even been forced to drop his personal service even if he didn't share it with neighbors.

    I'm showing my age here but I remember when it took a federal law to invalidate absolute restrictions on small satellite dishes. Exclusive arrangements on cable tv service were common and widely enforced.

    The law changed the environment, but you should still check your particulars. E.g., I can easily imagine an apartment or condo complex banning wireless stations because 1) they wish to minimize interference between neighboring units and 2) they wish to retain the option of providing wireless service throughout the complex as a benefit of renting there. That's less likely with detached housing HOAs, but not impossible.
    • by davidwr ( 791652 )
      The University of Texas at Dallas tried to ban WAPs in their non-dormitory housing. They caved when their lawyers told them the FCC would come down on THEM.

      Basically, a contract that attempts to regulate what is the FCC's exclusive jurisdiction is probably unenforceable.

      Here's what a greedy ISP CAN do:
      If an wire-based ISP has a sweetheart deal with an apartment building and they want to lock out WAPs, they can jam those frequencies. It's deregulated and AFAIK there's nothing that can stop them as long a
  • Don't do it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gnasby ( 264673 ) on Sunday December 26, 2004 @08:31PM (#11187814) Homepage
    The main reason I say don't do it is because the hassle of collecting money from people is just not worth it. When you set it up, you'll need to set a fee schedule. You'll have people trying to debate with you that "you are making money at their expense", or that they don't think the service is worth it..even if they have already used a month worth of service already. Or someone that just doesn't feel like paying you that month. The time you spend chasing people to pay money can become very onerous. Think of this in addition to getting roped into doing tech support (aka "Why should I pay for something which doesn't work"...even if the doesn't work part is because their computer doesn't work or is not set up right or they mucked with thier computer). For these reasons, I would not do it. It isn't worth it. I resold/shared a internet connection in a house when I was in College - it was a nightmare and a termendous time sink.
  • Math is your friend (Score:4, Informative)

    by litewoheat ( 179018 ) * on Sunday December 26, 2004 @09:32PM (#11188141)
    To create a usable secure service is going to cost you at least $5k. Do the math. How long will it take at market access rates for you to make that back with the number of subscribers you think you'll get in the best case. After you do that you will change your mind in a heartbeat. If that doesn't scare you, wait until one of your customers sues you for something and you find out none of your various insurance policies cover it. Or if you're even hardened enough to get past that. Do a bit more math and figure out how many concurent users an aDSL line will handle. Refer to the result of your first math forey (see above) then if you are still not scared then you are stupid. In that case, by all means go for it!
  • by danila ( 69889 ) on Monday December 27, 2004 @08:14AM (#11190431) Homepage
    Rule No 1: They won't cause you any trouble if they don't get caught.

    Give them a good lesson in anonymity and privacy. Give them all necessary software (VPN, encrypted messengers, PGP plugins for e-mail, software for anonymous remailers, disk encryption software, PGP-phone, FreeNet, PeerGuardian, firewalls, some steganography tools, etc., etc.). Explain that THEY are watching. Suggest caution.

    Rule No 2: If there is no evidence, noone can cause you any troubles.

    Either give users optional dynamic IPs or install an anonymizer proxy. Don't keep logs or delete them after a few hours automatically.

    Rule No 3: Honesty is the best policy.

    Be upfront with your customers. Explain that when MPAA comes with a court order, you would need to cooperate. Explain that when FBI comes (even without a court order), you would need to cooperate. State in your terms of use very clearly that you are not monitoring the use of the connection and are in no way responsible for it, it's the sole responsibility of the user.

    Hope this helps.

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"