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Thread: how to manage commercial clients on a small private network?

  1. #1
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    how to manage commercial clients on a small private network?

    Hi

    I posted this in another forum but hope I may get bettter response here.

    We are a company that has for its own use a high bandwidth connection to all our desktops via cisco routers and firewalls and a combination of wired ethernet and wireless airports.

    Part of our business is to hire serviced offices on a long or short term basis, and we have been offering access to our Internet access as part of this service. This is done on a very secure basis, its just internet access we are providing. We do this to try to recover some of the cost of getting the service delivered to us.

    However managing the number of clients we now have is getting complicated and just charging a flat fee (as we have been doing) is not working for us.

    What do I need to do to be able to set up a small-scale low cost ISP service? I'd like to be able to offer a few simple "plans" but to do this I need to be able to at least measure uploads and downloads and possibly limit these in some cases. I need to be able to provide clients with a record of their internet access if requested. I need a reporting and invoicing solution.

    I am a manager, not an IT professional, although I am reasonably savvy in the field. I need to be able to make sensible requests and recommendations to IT department to help me set this up, and to know costs.

    Where do I start?

  2. #2
    Moderator YeOldeStonecat's Avatar
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    Is this something like a professional center...a building where various office spaces are rented out? We partner with a web-host/managed bandwidth provider...he supplies bandwidth to quite a few buildings, and some clients of ours, spread around town using either various T's, bridged "RLAN" DSL, and Motorola Canopy to other buildings.

    The metered/used bandwidth model is tough to sell, pretty much flat fees have been proven to be what works. How much bandwidth the client wants (say...2 megs).
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  3. #3
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    Yes exactly that model. Problem with flat fees is that some users want a small amount of bandwidth and others want industrial-strength uploads and downloads (eg broadcast video files). But bandwidth usage is lumpy. It makes sense for us to amortise the cost of the service we have by onselling it to other users. I find it hard to match usage patterns (if I can even get them) against competing commercial broadband plans in a fair way.

    Most commercial providers seem to place a cap on throughput (for a flat fee plan) and charge per Meg over and above the data limit, OR throttle speeds down over a certain amount of data.

    I need to know how i can achieve that with a minimum of fuss and cost?

    I don't know ANYONE who really has an "all you can eat" plan for a flat fee, though plenty of people say they have one. But there's always a limit somewhere.

  4. #4
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    This is all in a single physical building with partitioned offices that are rented out?

    Your best bet might be doing the flat rate thing, for a few reasons. One is that it is just much easier on you (or whoever would be responsible for figuring out usage) to say $x per month for this level of service. If I go to an ISP I can get a T1 for a flat monthly rate, or higher speeds using fiber, or other ethernet handoff technology. Why should you be any different?

    Then what you can do internally is just put limits on everything. Say for example you get a 100Mbps package. You determine what you need, and some on top of that and then sell the rest off. Then for each tenant you can offer them 10Mbps, or whatever they want, and offer a flat rate per 1Mbps. They can't use more than they pay for, and no discount for using less than they paid for.

    How to accomplish depends greatly on what your exact setup. You can probably work something out in the config of the routers or firewalls. What models are you using, and what setup are they in? Do you have BGP setup?

    Another thing to consider is if they really need to be setup with hard limits. Just impose limits on what can be run (ie no P2P or other bandwidth killing stuff), and sell usage plans based on what would be expected usage. So if one of the tenants is an office with five users, and they mostly work on internal network and only use internet for email, they use next to no bandwidth. The tenant who has 100 people and does many video conferences a day will use a lot of bandwidth.

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