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We have three schools here on campus, a middle school, a high school, and
a career center.  The CC has a T1, because they pay for it themselves, the
other two until recently shared a free connection from Comcast.  The
problem with the comcast connection is it's asymmetrical, and its only
384k/sec going up.  Most web traffic, of course, is asymmetrical, but
there are some situations that require more bandwidth up.  We have SPEDDOC
on a citrix server at the SU office, and that would run real slow when the
uplink got saturated, for instance.  Nothing like 20 SPED teachers ranting
that they can't write updated IEPs, and we're gonna get sued, to make your
day.

The solution we're trying is to pay for a business class link from
Comcast.  It's 2 meg/sec up, and 16 down (I think, at any rate it's at
least twice as fast down as the free connection, and 6 times as fast up.) 
It's $99/mo, which is a heck of a lot cheaper than we can get even a T1
that's 1.5/1.5.  We were able to keep the free connection in addition to
the business class one, so we can try load balancing, or split the MS and
HS traffic using priority routing on the Cisco router that's at the
network edge, since the MS is a LOT smaller they would probably be fine on
free connection.  At this point all I did was switch the firewall from the
free connection to the business class one, because it was the quickest way
to get more bw online.  Just did that three days ago, and it seems to have
helped.

If you elect to go with Comcast business, I highly recommend talking to
Peter Constant, [log in to unmask]  Just calling comcast's
800 # and hitting the menu choices for business clients is an exercise in
frustration, but Peter, who's a sales rep or something for this area, was
recommended by the local business office when I went down there to
complain about their lousy response to my phone inquiries, and he was
great.  Easy to work with, knowledgeable, got things done, and fairly
quickly.

Peter said Comcast has 100megabits to the pole outside your school, so in
theory they can sell you up to 6 $99 connections, though you have to do
the load balancing yourself, they're just gonna give you 6 of their
routers.  Then for not much more than the cost of one T1, you could really
have a screaming internet connection.  This is all theoretical, of course,
I haven't tried it, we only have the one business class and the one free
one, and I haven't even run them both simultaneously. 

Comcast  does seem to be a little more flaky than some of our other ISPs,
it's kind of strange, really.  The day before yesterday, the career center
could get to Facebook via their T1 connection, but no one at the HS or MS
could get there (broke my heart, really!), even though every other web
site we tried worked fine.  Now, you might wonder if that's comcast's
fault, or whether facebook or their ISP screwed up a router config
somewhere, but it's happened with Google, too, and only on Comcast.  THAT
was more of an issue than Facebook.

On another front, I was chatting with our Sovernet rep, complaining about
the price of T1s, and he told me they are currently testing a new DSL
technology that would be quite high speed, like 20meg/sec or something,
and they could multiplex it for you if you want to go even faster, and if
it works, they may announce something soon, but I don't know that you want
to wait for something that may or may not happen, and no one has a clue
how it will be priced.  I think, though, that Sovernet realizes no one is
gonna be willing to pay $400+/mo for 1.5 mb/sec for much longer, which can
only be a good thing.





Bob Wickberg
Technology Coordinator
Brattleboro Union High School District # 6
802-451-3418

School Information Technology Discussion <[log in to unmask]> writes:
>Burr and Burton Academy is looking to find a more cost effective and
>higher bandwidth solution. What are others using? We currently are using
>Level3 and have a 1.5 megabits per month based service bursting to 10
>megabits. We limit bandwidth to 6 during peak usage hours as well as
>lower during non peak and weekend hours. We are always at the top of the
>limit during the day to avoid overage charges. Are there better services
>with higher bandwidth out there. We have heard about taking multiple
>modems and combining them to provide double the bandwidth, is this a
>viable option? Our classes are suffering with this low bandwidth and the
>increasing media sizes. Any suggestions are welcome, thanks in advance.
>Rick Armitage Network Administrator Burr and Burton Academy