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Make Your Own DSL 272

Logic Bomb writes: "Robert Cringley's latest is a striking set of instructions on how to create your own DSL service, or even your own "socialist Internet Service Provider". A cookie goes to whomever manages to implement this first! :-D" Cringley is on a roll.
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Make Your Own DSL

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  • Gives a new meaning to "Code Red"....
  • For those of you who didn't know, a Westell (Infotel) Modem contains the Alcatel chipset, with two ARM processors, that are firmware upgradable. If anyone has WAP, or other cool firmware hacks, contact me.

    The chips themselves are:
    Virata Helium (VC8410-PQc 05)
    Alcatel Dynamite (0023 SAMB ARM)

  • I'm hardly a neophyte when it comes to technical stuff, but a lot of this article went over my head. Am I alone here? Maybe I'm just tired right now.

    • I'm hardly a neophyte when it comes to technical stuff, but a lot of this article went over my head. Am I alone here? Maybe I'm just tired right now.

      It's really that easy.

      All you're ordering from the phone company is a pair of copper wires going from point A to point B. The names differ depending on the phone company, but that's all it is. Two pieces of copper wire, which go from your house to your friend's house.

      Now, within reason, you can pump anything you want across that wire. Voice, ordinary modem data, etc.

      DSL is simply a special kind of 56k modem. It carries the data exactly the same way as an ordinary modem, but it uses a few tricks so that you can use the telephone line at the same time. For one thing, it carries the data at higher frequencies than voice communications - that's how it doesn't interfere with voice. The next thing is that it doesn't load down the telephone line enough for the telephone company's equipment to detect that a phone is off-hook. But aside from that, it's just a 56k modem.

      An ordinary modem is restricted to run no higher than about 3kHz, leaving a small pipe to carry the data. On the other hand, DSL typically starts at about 5kHz, and depending on circuit (line) quality, can go up to about 256kHz. That's a lot more bandwidth than a 56k modem has available; as a result, using 56k modem modulation techniques (QUAM, it's called, "QUadrature Amplitude Modulation"), you can carry a lot more data.

      If you connect two DSL modems to the copper pair that you get from the telephone company, they should connect and communicate, just like two 56k modems on the same line. (Hell, you could even do it simultaneously!) That's all there is to it.

      An established ISP merely has the telephone company connect a modem at the phone company's central office. Today, they're usually built into your "loop card", which is the device that connects your telephone line to the switching system.

      Problems with a do-it-yourself copper line from the phone company could arise with distance (since the dry pair will probably go to the phone company and will be manually patched on the other customer's dry pair) and with EMI line coils. (Telephone companies will often put inductors across the line to help with stability for voice communications; often, these interfere with the high frequency DSL signal.)

  • um, yeah, whatever (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kaisyain ( 15013 )
    Notice that part where he says:

    So now we have a two megabit circuit but no Internet...But to turn that into an Internet connection, one end has to be plugged to an Internet backbone. There are many ways to do this. Put one end of the circuit at your business. Put one end at your school. Put one end in the machine room at a local ISP.

    You're kinda missing the whole if you think this article offers any useful information. Broadband without access to the internet is somewhat less than useful for the majority of people. And having DSL between me and Jimmy down the block doesn't do much good when it's just slamming into my 56k modem to get to the "internet".
    • The point is, is that you can have your own GATEWAY to the internet.

      Also, it is insanely cool to play quake with the kid down the road (if executed properly)

      IMHO not worth the effort, but Intranets are looking nicer and nicer as the internet gets more commercial...
    • Yeah... I love the part where he says "put the other end on the Internet backbone at your business." Okay, everyone ... get out your hard hats, we're stringin' circuits!

      Oh, but wait -- if it's "my" business, aren't I paying for the magic "Internet backbone" there, too? He must mean someone else's business. But isn't that a little ethically dubious? Nah, I guess not... we're getting over on Da Man, after all. Damn telcos! I'll show 'em...

      • Cringley is in talking about getting some sort of service in areas where you can't get DSL. Sure, you still have to pay for it, but maybe it will let you get DSL speeds to your home when previously you couldn't. His previous articles on the subject discussed how he set up a long range wireless link to another house which does has high speed access, and he is paying the owner of the other home for bandwidth. I don't think he's advocating taking bandwidth without permission. He's advocating working around telcos which refuse to provide high speed service.
      • Or envision (and I am most certainly envisioning this, because it's right in front of me) a business with two offices, close together but not close enough to run wire ourselves. Two DSL's? Two T-1's? Classic telco solution is ISDN between the two buildings. Homegrown DSL sounds pretty good to me. One T-1 and a little more...
      • Speaking of getting over on Da Man, the State of California's web site appears slashdotted. I'm guessing everyone is trying to do what I'm trying to do - find out if PacBell, Verizon, etc. has tariffs on file for this service. If anybody knows for sure and can provide links, please post them.

        I would love it if the tariffs are still on file. Most small customers get tariffs waved in their face when they try to get discounts on data services (larger customers get these discounds with little problem), so it'd be super-sweet to be able to wave some tariffs back.
    • Yea really... This is about as usefull as the classic BBS text file on how to assemble a nuclear weapon.

      "Step 3) Okay, now you need to do is steal some weapons grade plutonium"

      yea, okay... Thanks for that tid bit.

      • Yea really... This is about as usefull as the classic BBS text file on how to assemble a nuclear weapon.
        "Step 3) Okay, now you need to do is steal some weapons grade plutonium"

        Bah. Just go to Home Depot and special-order 500,000 smoke detectors. Americium 241 is fissionable.

        yea, okay... Thanks for that tid bit.

        Note that all you need to do is call up the phone company and get a bare leased line. If a taxi company in Ottawa can do it, so can you.

        Then, go to Fry's or whoever, buy two DSL modems, plug them into each side of the line, and you're up and running. There's gonna be some configuration there, but that's it.

        Speaking as one who has bought and installed dozens of leased bare copper lines (mostly for old FSK modem data), the hardest part is explaining to the (non-technical) salesperson at the telco what kind of line I need.

        Incidentally, Miralla Lunardo at Bell Canada needed it explained to her that Pearson International Airport's Terminal Three doesn't actually have a street address.

    • by DeadPrez ( 129998 )
      One thing you have to remember is most T-1, DSL, etc contracts specifically state you can not resell bandwidth. If you were going to do this you better make sure whatever you use for your uplink legally lets you resell bandwidth (99% of the time its going to be illegal).
      • by SagSaw ( 219314 )
        I Am Not And Never Ever Hope To Be A Lawyer, but it seems like you and your 20 best friends (and probably the landlord as well) could form some kind of legal entity which could then contract for business T-1 access.

      • One thing you have to remember is most T-1, DSL, etc contracts specifically state you can not resell bandwidth. If you were going to do this you better make sure whatever you use for your uplink legally lets you resell bandwidth (99% of the time its going to be illegal).

        That's why the contract you sign with the guy states that the rental is chargeable on the 1 square foot occupied by the modem.

    • its called a Co-Op (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cybercuzco ( 100904 )
      Yes, except that then you coulld say, start up a local internet co/op in your neighborhood/apartment/housing project. Offer service for 30 bucks a month and if you get enough takers (approx 17 subscribers) you can afford a REAL T1 line to the net. With only 20 or so subscribers, chances are good that when you load up a webpage youre the only one doing so at that time. As long as no one is hosting linux distros, youre golden (and of course you can have a clause in your service contract to charge for thruput). Everyone gets cheap high speed internet access, and you get to make some money on the side.
    • I think his point is valid.

      If I had a dry pair to your house, we could shuttle info back and forth very effectively, right? If we both had a 802.11b point, then so could our neighbors, for about a couple miles or whatever the range is. You now have 30, 40 people hooked up to each other.

      If one other person in each of these clouds also had a dry pair to another house elsewhere, and their own bridge, they could connect pairs of clouds... linked dumbbells, as it were. Each point would link up 10 or so houses, until a grassroots net could spring up, catering exclusively to the town. All it would take is one individual, perhaps working collectively with 20 other people, to get a high bandwidth connection, say a T1, or whatever, even a 'normal' 2mb DSL line, and this gathering of clouds hooked up by dry lines would be connected to the larger 'net. He doesn't mention this in his article, but it's a reasonable next step.

      It's about communal, grassroots, bottoms up, emergent behavior type internet, and not the traditional top down subscription based allocated and doled up bandwidth that is the norm.
      • I like it - it's emergent just like the original 'net was (in a Cold War military-industrial complex sort of way). You don't subscribe to a service, you just toss a line to whomever you want to talk to.

        I think population density might be the killer here - you have to have enough people close together that the interconnects aren't too expensive. Also, eventually somebody has to pay for a gateway to the "real" 'net, and that's still going to cost you. It would take a while for a locally-organized coop to have enough home-grown content that most of the traffic would be retained within the coop rather than going out through the expensive gateway.

        But for a densely populated neighborhood of mostly wealthy and/or geeky folks, this would be a great setup!

        • bear the cost of the T1 access point, and pass it to the neighbors monthly. I've had a dry pair connect going before to a friend the lives block or so away. A couple of guys in our local lan group are phone techs who set up the lines for us.
          We had 10 people at my house and 8 at his connected to UT and TFC via the dry pair and both our cable/dsl connects. Worked nicely and made for an AWESOME lan party.
      • Hmm. Sounds kinda like UUCP. Takes me back to 1990, when I graduated from university, moved to San Francisco, and went looking for an email & news account someplace. Wound up at wet!sbeitzel, because I couldn't find an ISP whom I was willing to pay -- they charged a LOT. wet was connected periodically to Netcom, and eventually I got a Netcom account. Shell access, all the time, and a nice fat pipe to the rest of the Internet. Woohoo!

        In case you hadn't noticed, there's a reason people don't do UUCP BBSes so much anymore. Sure, Fidonet still exists, and UUCP support still gets built when I rebuild world on my FreeBSD boxen, but that's not my primary method of interaction with the Internet, nor is it for most folks...because it's slow and cranky. Let's hear it for convenience.
        • UUCP support still gets built when I rebuild world on my FreeBSD boxen, but that's not my primary method of interaction with the Internet, nor is it for most folks...because it's slow and cranky. Let's hear it for convenience.

          Actually UUCP over TCP is a really good way to get net news if you only have one feed. It is much more tolarent of high latency then NNTP.

          Other then that it doesn't have that much use any more... at least not that I can think of off the top of my head.

      • Each point would link up 10 or so houses, until a grassroots net could spring up, catering exclusively to the town.

        You have a good point, a cooperative net like that could conceivably work, BUT...

        All it would take is one individual, perhaps working collectively with 20 other people, to get a high bandwidth connection, say a T1, or whatever, even a 'normal' 2mb DSL line

        I think you're pretty naive if you think a T1 or 2-megabit DSL line is going to offer enough bandwidth to serve this whole neighborhood or town. Let's see... a T-1 offers you a symmetrical 1.5Mbits/sec, which is about 150kilobytes of data per second. And you want to service a whole town with that?

        By the time you've got 30 people on this wonderful grass-roots network of yours, each person's slice of the internet bandwidth is roughly equivalent to a 56K modem. Of course, file-sharing and LAN gaming amongst the members of your little guerilla network would still be pretty zippy. :)

        See, the article is great, but TOTALLY glosses over the fact that you need a fat pipe to the internet to make this work. And there's really no way of getting around The Man to make that work.

        • By the time you've got 30 people on this wonderful grass-roots network of yours, each person's slice of the internet bandwidth is roughly equivalent to a 56K modem.

          100 to one oversubscription for DSL subscribers isn't uncommon. People really use their line less then you think. 10 to one oversubscription is actually pretty nice.

          Web usage is a really good fit here. Click, use a ton of bandwidth for 3 to 8 seconds, then read for five minutes. Click again...

          Someone downloading ISOs of the latest Linux distro will throw that off for an hour or two, but that's not too bad as long as only a few people do it at once... Of corse someone trying to run an ISP off their 2Mbits will hurt you :-)

          The real problem is affording a T1 to an ISP that lets you resell bandwidth, or funding a lawyer to assert that your co-op is not a reseller since there is no money exchanged between the co-op members...

    • Well.. sorta, cos now you and jimmy can split the cost of an internet DSL connection (or a cable, or a T-3) running to either house. Which would still be more than what you pay for 56k but it should be faster.

      Especially if you have a small office near your house (it doenst talk about distance limits but i am assuming around 10~20mi) and you can share the bandwidth with it.

    • I heartily agree - the article is long on how to interconnect everything around you but short on how to actually GET to the net to use all that insane bandwidth. You'll have insane bandwidth to your neighbor but probably nothing going out. If you connect to the phone company, they'll probably charge you the equivalent of a T-1 line. If you connect to your office or school, you're illegally stealing bandwidth, which is something I don't think very many people want to get into long term, especially if you're opening an ISP. Word would get around pretty darn fast and people would definitely be checking you out. What it DOES seem he is proposing in the article is something like an alternate internet. The phrase
      What if everyone got a dry pair, made an Internet connection, then offered wireless service to their neighbors. It's a beautiful thing.
      seems to imply that, instead of connecting to the existing net, why don't we make our own? Which would be cool except that not 1/10000% of the people have the needed expertise, money, or even desire to do such a thing.
    • This is no indication of what the distance this kind of thing is capable of. Does anyone know? Is it the same as a DSL line from the phone company?

      Well, let us presume that it is about the same as what the phone company offers, which is around 17,500 ft. (NOTE: This max distance is not the limit of transmission, but rather about as far as the phone company feels they can guaranty to provide the minimum data rate. They could extend service, but would not be able to provide a stable data rate above their minimum.)
      So, what happens if you live 30,500 feet away or even 18,000 ft away. Either way you aren't getting DSL. Unless you use Robert's idea and hook into a friend. Then you all of a sudden can have a distance from the C.O. of up to 35,000 ft (and even further if you don't care about 384k minimum).

      And, what about sharing the costs with someone. Let's say that you and your friend are *both* within range and could otherwise get DSL. Rather than both of you getting basic DSL with variable IP's for 50$/month, one of you can get enhanced (5 *fixed* IP's) for 65$/month, tack on the dry pair art 15$, and split the costs. This makes it 10$ *less* each and both of you get 2.5 *fixed* IP's.

      And you have the added bouns of fraggin' the crap out of one another from your own homes without having to packup your server and tote it anywhere.

    • Actually this DOES have uses. We have a client
      right now that wanted two buildings connected so
      that they could share info, but didn't want that
      info to be accessible on the internet at all.
      We ran an alarm circuit between the two buildings,
      plugged in a box on each side, and got a 2 meg
      circuit up between them. Yes, there are lots of
      uses for this. Not *everything* needs to be about
      the *internet*, sometimes it's just about sharing information.
  • What exactly is the technology being talked about in this article? Could anyone point me to more technical specification of this dry line technology and how it was used in the past or is still used in a commercial arena?
    • It's the same technology you use for your analog telephone, or that the burglar alarm companies use to learn of break-in attempts. Back in the days before the internet, it was how a business with two buildings in the same general area (but too far to walk) could keep in touch on their internal phone system.

      Some of these wires probably powered the telegraph many decades ago.
    • It is SDSL technology. And to learn more, I would check out "DSL for Dummies," which is actually a decent book. I worked in Network Ops for a year or so at a national DSL provider, and you'd be surprised how many of our engineers had a copy of that one. :-)
  • by bruceg ( 14365 ) on Friday August 24, 2001 @01:37PM (#2214201) Homepage
    I tried to order one of these circuits about three months ago, and apparantly the telco's are on to this. I wanted to connect two buildings, so I tried ordering a "dry pair" from Verizon, and they said they didn't do those anymore.

    I ended up ordering a PtP T1, which is only going to increase the cost of replacing the aging 56k circuit, now connecting the two buildings, by $110. Not bad considering the increase in bandwidth.
    • Just out of curiosity, did you tell the phone company why you wanted the dry pair? Cringely makes it sound like you might have to ask for the service in a variety of ways before you get them to admit they can do it (alarm circuits, opx, etc.).
      • I told them it was for an alarm circuit, that I was going to use between the two buildings. At first, the salesperson had never heard of this type of circuit. I was put on hold, and then they came back and told me that they didn't do those types of circuits anymore. Maybe they realized that people were ordering these circuits, and it was cannibalizing their PtP T1 business.
        • Seriously... has anyone with a legal background thought about this?

          Price gouging. Protectionism. Unethical quashing of the competition. These are *supposed* to be against the interests of a truly free market, and therefore illegal.

          Most of those lines were laid out during the govt-sanctioned monopoly days, so an argument could be made that the taxpayers are entitled to use those lines however they see fit. Why should the telcos act entitled?

          Perhaps if a large enough group of people threatened to sue the telcos for fraud under anti-trust or (much harder to prove but also more powerful) RICO laws, we could bring things back into check?

    • When the DSL company I worked for was starting up, before they had CLEC status, they ordered some "burgalar alarm" circuit from Verizon (then Bell Atlantic). That might be what they call 'em.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The companies can tell you they don't offer the service, but sometimes they will be lying (as Cringley notes).
      Telcos are regulated. Unlike a regular corporation they can't just stop offering a service that they don't like. They can just neglect to train their staff in it and hope eveyone forgets about it.
      But if you push them they have to comply. The services that Verison can offer in New York is specified by the tariff in that state, and it's state law. There are some really nit-picky regulations (down to standards for signal strengh and placement of network interfaces in apartment buildings). In exchange for all these budensome regulations Verison gets a monopoly on New York state phone service for all intents and purposes.

      The Public Service Commission is the state body in New York that oversees this, using both carrot (deregulation) and stick (fines) to motivate Verison. In my experience, Verison-people CARE about getting in trouble with the PSC, and more people should know that. The evaluation of managers at all levels includes a measure of PSC complaints.

      So if the phone company denies you your "burgler alarm" check with your state's equivalent regulatory body to see if you are being lied to. (You may also want to do research on the actual tariff itself to see if it's still on the books where you live.)
      • I've heard that in NYS Verizon is automatically putting taps/filters on all the copper. If you want clean copper you have to pay then $5K to remove the taps/filters. This is to prevent any use of copper loops except for alarm circuits.
    • Also note, that if they dont give it to you, you can call up the Utilities Commision and complain. Its illegal.
  • We did this at ICorp about three or four years ago using Paradyne equipment. Worked great when you could get BellSouth to install the lines correctly. The biggest problem with this idea is that the phone company does not make any guarntee as to what freq the line will be able to pass. We did have good luck with it, however.
  • Ah, I get it. The service is cheap or free, but you have to stand in line for hours [] to get a decent connection.

    Makes sense to me. People in my area have been waiting in line for months to get DLS installed correctly.

  • Our company, Cadvision, has been doing exactally this for about 5 years now. We run old CAP based DSL equipment in near-locate naps to businesses all over the city. Nice article but it's old news.
    • Yup, even Slashdot has covered it before []. I guess its novel 'cause Cringely's talking about it tho.
    • Cadvision is a great example of this. Too bad they sold out to the man ;)

      I've also done this completely home-brew several years ago. It's nothing 'new' or 'revealing'... people just don't bother to look beyond the buzzword.

      The whole point of ADSL was that it worked over standard copper pairs...

      Also.. for those trying to order a 'dry pair' and being told it can't be done.. check regulations, or try asking for an 'alarm circuit'. I believe most phone companies are obliged to sell such a service.

  • make-your-own DSL? pfft. when do we get the Big Boys? you know, "make-your-own Fiber Optics line"? =D now THAT i would do!
  • Now in addition to having non-technial amateurs running IIS servers on home DSL service, we'll having non-technical amateurs providing the service. Code Red IV will be disastrous. Maybe real ISPs can boycotting this trash on the backbone level.
  • He's on here every damn week now. Why don't you
    just steal him from PBS? (insert Katz insult here)
    Or a Cringely SlashBox?

    Sheesh. Like I don't know how to use the internet except to find /.

    • Actually, there is a Cringely slashbox. Some of his articles are a little lame, but (especially since I'm shopping for DSL right now) this one made sense to me.

      While I'm at it: has anyone had any luck starting the DSL installation process with the phone company ahead of a move, so that you have access right on the day you move in?

  • OK, so you can rent a dry circuit between your house and the local CO for cheap. Big deal. As Cringley says, in order to turn that into an internet connection, you need to hook onto someone else's backbone. You need an IP address and (more importantly) have someone tell the upstream routers how to find it. And that is what's going to cost you. About the only way this could be made to work (cheaply) is if you know somone who'll let you hang a router off their backbone.
    • While the dry pair does go through the CO, it can be connected to another dry pair to another location at the CO.

      Check your local PUC for the tarriffs, and see if this is a mandated service. (It probably is.) If the phone company tells you that they can't do it, show them the tarriff. If it's tarriffed, THEY HAVE TO SUPPLY IT.

      There is a bunch of cool stuff you can do... Within the city WAN's for cheap or maybe split the cost off Internet T1 bandwidth with another company, etc.
    • You conclude that doing this to connect to the internet is the only useful application for this. When I was at college and living off-campus, my friends and I ended up running cat5 cable between townhomes in a complex (burying it when nobody else was looking, of course). Do you think we did it to share an internet connection? No, that line was used for two things: StarCraft and Quake 2. And even then, those of us that didn't live in either of those two buildings had to lug their PCs over for when we had LAN parties.

      Now living arrangements have changed and, even though a lot of us still live in the same town, we're too far apart to even consider doing something like ethat. However, building a DSL cicruit like this would be just the solution. All the advantages of having a private LAN and none of the disadvantages of trying to play over the internet.
      • Did you ever consider a satellite conection on one end for the internet? I know it would be higher latency, but if latency is not a problem (i.e. email, web surfing/hosting, instant messaging, napster-type sharing), why not?

        Does anybody know the prices of satellite 2-way internet service?

    • Funny, I thought the 'dry pair' stuff was the boring part of the article. I happen to be in telecom and that's all a no-brainer.

      What was fascinating was the potential (admittedly) limited uses for roll-your-own DSL. Read the Lariat [] homepage - what an amazing project for a small town!

      I think the main points of the article are:

      1) There are lots of last-mile solutions, and they don't all have to come from your ILEC.

      2) Innovative uses of these solutions can have come really cool results - like Lariat, like paying for only one broadband connection, like establishing a neighbourhood network then networking these networks... makes you think ;)
    • Buying in bulk is cheaper, that's the idea of a co-op. 30 houses sharing the cost of a T1 would pay less than if they individually got 30 adsl lines from a telco.
  • by darkPHi3er ( 215047 ) on Friday August 24, 2001 @01:44PM (#2214254) Homepage
    Cringely got it right, in my last business, the area was out of dedicated "Data Lines", so PB had to send out an install tech who really knew what he was doing, i was looking over his shoulder and noticed that he was using our alarm lines...the tech told me almost exactly the same story as Cringely, including that if you called PB and asked for a pair of "guard lines" you'd be told they didn't exist or that they were all assigned in your area.

    since this is a point-to-point connection, your throughput will vary with the quality of your wire pairs

    you might also need to perform line balancing, as some of these wire have been in the ground/air for a LONG time

    if you have big power transformers or other "leaky" devices near your wires, your S/N ratio could be terrible

    AND, LAST BUT NOT LEAST, anyone can just simply t-splice your line to get 100% access to your communications, with maybe just having to perform a simple impedence adjustment...

    BUT, still cool for all of that BTW, when "Boardwatch Magazine" still had Jack Richards they ran a very similar (but more detailed) piece on this about 3 years ago

    Peace, Love to my Homies
    • i used to work at an isp where dsl was no where in the near future for our customers, only because of the practices of the local phone company (read baby bell). anyway... you may also want to check in what is sometimes refered to as a BANE circuit (i believe) as this is another name for the alarm circuits.

      one last thing to keep in mind: if the phone company has a load coil on that pair that you plan on using, your dreams have just been killed. sorry.

      either way, some new equipment is starting to surface which brings some new ideas to the table for lines like this such as hdsl2 (search on google, you'll like it ;) ) basically hdsl over a single pair, with increased distances.

      i have to say tho, the idea of moving into the old alarm company's building is a good one, too bad there weren't any around really where we were looking to do this.

  • Uncle Vlad's Socialist ISP:

    Work! Food! Bandwidth! Pr0n!

  • On hs page he has a link to the PairGain/ADC Megabit modems, but the link just returns a blank page. Is there a good link to these modems (or equivelent) somewhere?
  • This is old news, I set up a 768kbps DSL link between my two company buildings in 1997. The cost? 2 DSL bridges and a $30/month "alarm circuit" from Verizon. As long as you're 18,000 feet, you win. The heavy lifting involves getting real Internet connectivity, where the article is short on details.
  • He's just described an ISP and conviniently left out all the other services/equipment required.
  • Wh (Score:2, Funny)

    by abischof ( 255 )
    A cookie goes to whomever manages to implement this first! :-D"

    I don't have a cookie to give to him, but I'd like to grant an honorary cookie to Logic Bomb for correctly using who/whom [] :-). (I thought I'd never see the day when I'd come across "whom" on Slashdot)

    PS Through researching the link for who/whom, I came across this surprisingly interesting discussion [] on teaching non-native English speakers the finer points of how to use the phrase "the hell!".
    • Excellent. That site also covers the difference between "its" and "it's" - one of my pet peeves. If you can persuade them to bookmark it and check before posting, there might be a lot of folks here who suddenly seem literate ;)
  • Once that dry pair is connected to the Net, you can subscribe to an IP telephony service, and then you're only paying Ma Bell for the wire. Sweet!
  • Assuming that DSL is not available in your area due to the distance to the central office, I don't see how this would help. The article says you need to share the same central office, where I assume the link is made from your place to your friend's. If this distance is too far for DSL in the first place, connecting to you friend won't help anyway. Am I wrong, or is there any other way that this could work if you are in the above situation?
    • The problem is, Verizon lies to me. They say they won't support me, too far away, blah, blah, blah.

      I had Northpoint for a couple of months (before they went tits up) and it worked fine. For whatever reason (cable modems not yet available in my neighborhood?) they won't service me.

      FWIW, this is a great idea. I live in one of those community things with a neighborhood swimming pool, and crap like that. I may go to the next meeting, and propose that we do something like this. Having 'free' internet service (covered in your neighborhood association dues) would likely boost property values slightly. Let the server be at the neighborhood center, put up an antenna that covers the neighborhood.

      Then, sell wireless cards to residents (record the MAC) and give them service. In addition, block people with 'wild' MACs, and if they don't pay the neighborhood fee, suspend access.

      • Almost forgot: partner with a local ISP for the connectivity. Or, partner with the local cable company. Let them run a big fat pipe to the neighborhood center, and let us take care of the last mile.

        A bit of advertising (and income) for them. Hell, with a bit of money, we could run the mail servers and all of that crap (and obviously some sort of proxy).

  • The broadband/internet connection is really the most important part and is usually what you get charged an arm and a leg for. The wires for the T1 and the circuit cost usually run a couple hundred dollars depending on where you are... The bandwidth is what you get truly bent over for...

    More details on that end strike me as more interesting than the ability to set up networking between places... since that's relatively easy. Hell run fiber... it's getting cheap.
  • Spelling (Score:2, Funny)

    by indecision ( 21439 )
    Dear Slashdot Editors and Submitters,

    Please note. My name is Cringely, not Cringley.

    The former sounds like what people do when they read the alarmist drivel I write.

    The latter sounds like a potato chip commercial.

    Robert X. Cringely

  • Perhaps /. should just make a Cringley slashbox in the default set and save everyone the trouble.

    Of course, the same goes for the pattern of linux kernel articles. Download, compile, repeat...
  • I don't have an article reference handy, but I did bookmark the site: The SDSL Homebrew Page [].

    Looks like it was more than a year ago based on the dates and his comment about being Slashdotted.

  • He's shown us how to get a circuit established cheaply. Actually doing it may be made difficult by your phone company, but it shows how they are trying to rape data services for so much more money than than things like security systems.

    The real problem is that you want connectivity to the internet. Even if you find someone who's willing to piggy back you on their circuit, chances are they're violating their terms of service by doing it. That may get them cut off if they're caught. If they're doing NAT it would be hard for their ISP to find out.

    If you really want to offer legitament ISP services, then you'd get your circuit to another ISP, and you'd ask to buy transit rights. Unfortunetly, these don't come cheap. You have to pay them for allowing your data to cross their network, and they probably have to pay transit fees to another ISP which they'll pass along to you.

    It's a great idea. I'd like to see lots of free bandwidth. There's just many many hands between you and the global internet and they all want their cut. By the time you're done it isn't cheap.
  • by just about anybody, is mostly a good thing, especially if several communities made local wireless intranets, connected them together, and so on...we could (potentially) have high-speed wireless access 'round the whole country.
    But the whole thing would just prompt the telecos to hire a $cr1p7 k1dd13 to make another "Code Red"-like virus, and bring the whole thing crashing down, 'cuz they want their profits. :-)
  • And it's not just the money. When the phone company bundles copper, it has to bundle the lines so noise-sensitive services don't suffer from crosstalk. It's been discussed on the ISP list that DSL is on a harmonic that interferes with T1. When the phone company rolls out DSL, they carefully bundle DSL apart from other lines. If you order a dry copper pair, designed to carry 300 baud serial data, they will happily bundle it wherever it fits nicely. If they bundle it with some T1 lines and you run DSL, there are going to be people very angry with Verizon when their T1 connections are destroyed due to crosstalk.

    Ross Vandegrift
  • by Kagato ( 116051 ) on Friday August 24, 2001 @02:06PM (#2214392)
    The alarm line trick as been around for ages. Usually using the line to cross connect a CSU/DSU like it was a frame circuit. The problem isn't technology, it's quality. High speed datacomm expects certain line quality in order to do what it needs to do. Things like quality of the line, minium data throughput, etc are all defined in the tariff. Problem with these types of lines is that the tariff basically says the line should pass a simple continuity test and that's it. Afterall, that's all an alarm needs. So, if you get a real noisy line, you're sunk.

    As an experiment that's fine, but don't let a business depend on this because you'll have no recourse with the Telco.
  • This is great! I live in an area in which DSL in not available, but a freidn of mine who lives jsut over a maile away can get it. We were considering a fewwireless solutions to get me connected to his network, but this seems much less expensive.
    • There's only a couple reasons why he would be able to get DSL and you can't.

      #1, you're on different CO's
      #2, you have lousy wiring into your neighborhood
      #3, He's close enough to the CO, and you're not.

      In the case of #1, you can't use an alarm circuit. In the case of #2, you won't have the quality to get a signal anyway, and in the case of #3, your line has to go from you, to the CO, and back to him. If you can't get DSL one way to the CO, you definitely can't do this in and back out again.
  • $300 here, $250 there, I'd rather just pay for Verizon DSL or a cable modem.
  • I ran a connection over a dry loop for a few years when I lived in student family housing at my school. At the time, the only connectivity choice was a 9600baud ISN (serial) connection. So, for $3 a month or something the University's telecom group connected a dry pair between my apartment and my office on campus.

    I used a pair of short haul modems [] to run a 38400 SLIP connection over the dry loop. This is nothing compared to the speed of DSL technology, but at the time $150 an end was about all I could afford, and DSL stuff wasn't available at a consumer level.

    This setup worked great until bridge construction (the over a river type of bridge) caused the connection to be rerouted, and it never worked right again. A kind telecom employee took pity on me and I used an illicit second phone line to dial into my office for another year or so, until somebody noticed the connection on the switchboard. After that I was limited to dialing in on my main phone line and getting a cell phone for voice. (Paying the university for a second phone line was more expensive than getting a cell phone.)

    Of course, now a few years later the apartments I lived in have 10/100 connections onto the University backbone.

    BTW, if anybody is interested in buying some used short haul modems, let me know...

  • The main reason that you should go and do this is that, with the current situation, the Telco has no incentive to drive cheap and fast installs of DSL out to your area. They will not build new COs as a way to deny this, and require you to go T1/T3. They will claim "there's a line problem" on a fresh install in a new house when you can see the CO at the end of the block.

    But, if enough people do this, they will have to react. Sure, they'll try to shut it down. Then you just get a Burglar Alarm business and buy em up that way. Eventually they'll get a clue stick and realize that they need to stop seeing those disappearing T1/T3 sales that stop them from driving out DSL quickly (they lose money), and see those disappearing DSL sales that at least they made some money on.

    In the absence of regulatory push, sometimes you have to push it yourself. We are Americans - we deserve DSL to every building! Nothing less. Until they wise up and deliver it for less than $50 a month, we need to fight guerilla style, and grab all the high-speed access we can, at whatever the cost.

    We shall fight them on the airwaves. We shall fight them at the COs. We shall fight them for every sliver of high-speed data access. We shall never surrender, for we are the wired age, and noone shall stand in our way!

    • The telcos have a huge reason to drive DSL installs --- because the cable companies are taking over the Internet access market, and if they win completely and install VoIP, the telcos just go away as far as residential services are concerned.

      The telcos are probably too stupid and/or evil to see this, but the motivation is there.

  • My problem (which a roll-your-own DSL would solve, but with a cost I don't want to absorb) is how to do a wan over an area of about 3 miles radius, with at least one connection having to span 2.5 miles. The roll-your-own DSL would require too many connections, wireless won't broadcast over 1 mile (AFAIK) and everything else is a pain. I'll I'm looking for is something cheap, easily changed (moving nodes - wireless is preferred), and is capable of about 1 - 10 mbps.

    Any ideas? I'm happy to fish ebay for parts to lower costs. ;)

  • Has anyone successfully convinced their ISP to provide internet access for them this way - i.e. to order that "alarm circuit" from your house to the ISP and have a DSL model located at the ISP to which they give you a net connection? If so, then how did they handle support (say you want to reset the DSL model at their end)?

    Maybe I'm a bit cynical, but I find it hard to see an ISP offering this personalized level of service...
  • We use the megabit modems extensively for our business DSL deployment (no DSL offered from the telco, so we do it the hard way). When we started we couldn't justify buying a DSLAM so we just hooked them up back-to-back as described in Cringely's article and as long as you have the rate set the same on both ends, they just work. No, they're not RADSL and personally, I prefer that.

    We've had zero trouble with these units, having installed about a dozen or so over the past 3 years. Great for businesses who KNOW they want on the 'net at high speed, but for a personal connection or as a trial they're a bit pricey. That's why I've been working on some alternatives.

    I've just purchased a pair of Efficient Networks 5250 SDSL bridges. They don't specifically state that they'll work back-to-back but after some research and initial legwork I think they'll work just fine as a cheap alternative. They can be had for USD$50 from Ebay.

    Pairgain stuff has the longest "reach" of all the DSL equipment we've investigated but they are also one of the more expensive ones out there. I suppose you get what you pay for. :-)

  • He really doesn't like the phone company, does he...
  • It sounds like a great idea - But the phone company will eventually catch on. What happens to your business (and all your capitol costs) when the phone company calls you up and says you can't use those pairs anymore?
  • As a city dweller, this sounds like it would have hack value, but little more for wiring up my house.

    However, some of my family lives out in rural Washington State. The nearest telco exchange (and the only ISP) is 10 miles away, and the terrain is so hilly that 802.11 is absolutely impossible.

    The way I read this, one would be able to set up a broadband connection to Stixtown with four segments of copper and a few DSL modems set up as bridges.

    8 Cisco 675s @ $80/each off Ebay = $640 in upfront

    4 Segments of wire @ (hypothetically) $30/month = $120/month + bandwidth charges.

    If a sharing arrangment (via 802.11b?) could be set up with the nine or so houses which are line-of-sight from Stixville Farms, it might even make financial sense.

    Did I miss anything, or can a DSL maven see a problem with my plans?


"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan