Outsourcing a modem pool for dialup? Any advice?

Ted Mittelstaedt tedm at toybox.placo.com
Fri Jun 10 06:31:03 GMT 2005

>-----Original Message-----
>From: owner-freebsd-questions at freebsd.org
>[mailto:owner-freebsd-questions at freebsd.org]On Behalf Of Philip
>Sent: Thursday, June 09, 2005 10:38 AM
>To: freebsd-questions at freebsd.org
>Subject: Outsourcing a modem pool for dialup? Any advice?
>Hi all -
> 	Our company has a product such that a small server is
>installed at
>each customer site.  This server dials up to the Internet every
>night and
>exchanges some content with a central server in our data center.  Total
>transaction takes about 5 minutes.
>Customers can have multiple sites.  Our largets to date has three, but
>some potentials have several hundred.
>In the cases where the site does not have an existing Internet
>we currently use dialup via a major ISP.
>This works for now, but won't for the long haul for a couple of reasons:
>- they all are all sharing the same username and password (yes yes, I
>- we're moving into canada and this ISP doesn't have many local
>numbers up
>- Dealing with local numbers and their somewhat frequent changing is a
>real headache.

OK. Now then, am I assuming that if you go the 800 number route then
that you will be billing the customers for the LD usage on that or are
you going to eat it?

>What I want is a modem pool with one local number (tied into an 800
>number) where I can create as many username/password pairs as
>needed.  I
>want that local number to never change :-)

Totally unnecessary since your using an 800 number.  If the local number
changes you just repoint the 800 number to the new local number.

The only drawback is if the site is in the same local calling area as
the local number the 800 number is pointed to, if they call the 800
you will still get charged LD.

>Now... to make it fun...
>- No, I can't install a dialup server in our corporate datacenter.

Why not?  This is so calling out for you to run your own dialup server
that it is unbelievable.

>- No, I can't setup a freebsd server in satellite office.
>That leaves me with an outsourced solution that needs to work with
>FreeBSD's PPP.
>Anyone know of anyone that does this sort of thing?  Or an ISP
>that has a
>service geared towards this (our current one does not).

Most of the major telcos will do outsourced dialup.  The problem is this:

a) Unless you are handling the authentication, (like a real paper ISP
would do)
they are going to charge you for each individual account.  I think the
rate is something like $5/month for a minimum of 50 accounts, or some
plus LD costs, and that is what is going to kill you, because they will
to provision the 800 number, and they will certainly charge 15 or 20
cents a
minute (we do) for the LD.

b) If you do your own authentication you will need to run a couple radius
(very easy) which they will point to - but you will need to buy ports
in blocks of 24 (since 24 is the minimum most outsourcers can point a
calling number to)  Once again this is pretty spendy.  The advantage of
course is
that you can run your own 800 number and get Sprint or someone to give
you the
usual 6 cents a minute LD rate.

Please also note that since you are going the 800 number route, the
dialup pool can
be anywhere in North America as Canada calling LD charges are going to be
similar that your probably going to get a better LD rate if you combine
all the calls
under one plan, rather than going for a 800 number for customers located
the states, and an 800 number for customers located in canada.

Frankly I think your really being business-stupid by ruling out a dialup
server in your datacenter.  If you program your remotes to call in under
staggered pattern rather than all of them at midnight, you can probably
go to
a ratio of 50-to-1 or even higher.  If the data packet is small enough
you probably could do all of them on a couple of POTS phone lines.
All you need to do is pick up a used Portmaster, or Ascend Mux or
even a Cisco AS2509 and hang external modems on it, setup your RADIUS
servers, and your up and running.

You could probably contract with a technician at whatever ISP your going
be using in Canada to set the entire thing up for you in 16 hours or so.
Unless that is of course you cheap-out on your Canada ISP and get some
large national ISP that doesen't know you from Adam.


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