November 12th, 1996

ISP Fest '96

11/12/96 RMIUG Meeting Minutes - ISP Fest '96

Alek Komarnitsky convened the meeting at 7:00 at the NIST auditorium. Querying the audience, about 1/2 of the approximately 85 people in attendance were there for the first time. About 1/2 were on an RMIUG email list. About 30% had personal web pages and about 20% had their own domains.

The following announcements were made:

  • Maxine Most, maxmost@ix.netcom.com, 449-8881, newly arrived from silicon valley is interested in consulting in business development and strategic marketing.
  • Michael Rabb, mrabb@indra.com, announced the ISDN Users group meeting coming up in Denver. Information is available by sending email to majordomo@ccid@org.
  • Joe Biegelsen of Spatial Technology Inc. announced that there is an job opening for a person experienced with ActiveX development. If interested send a resume to jmb@spatial.com or steveb@spatial.com
  • Ed Allbright ,ed@eazy.net is looking for a web designer with excellent computer skills, some LAN experience and demonstrated success in web design. Fax resume to 770-0494.
  • Shelli Meyers announced that Indras Net is looking for several part time technical support persons. Send email to personnel@indra.com.
  • There are several job openings at Compatible Inc., a company making routers. See their web site at www.compatible.com.
  • Kim Logan announced the Boulder Daily news site, www.bouldernews.com.
  • It was announced that Lewan and Associates is accepting donations of old PCs for redistribution to charitable organizations.

Alek then introduced the panelists for the Fall 1996 ISP Festival. Each was given a few minutes to describe their services. They included:

  • Ted Pinkowitz, tap@ecentral.com, for E.Central. Ted explained that ECentral focuses on the moderate user, using less than 20 hours per month. The are $7.95 per month for those 20 hours. ECentral provides content, particularly the "Big City-Small Planet" site hosting information about Denver.
  • Terri Richardson, terrir@eazy.net, for Eazy.Net. Terri noted that Eazy.Net focuses on small (<50 employees) business and business professionals. They provided basic connections, ISDN and web-site design and hosting.
  • Shelli Meyers, sam@indra.com, for Indra's Net. Shelli explained that Indra's Net is a Boulder based ISP around since 1994 and now has under 2000 dialup accounts. They support individuals and small and medium sized businesses, with web development, hosting and marketing consulting. They emphasize quality customer support.
  • Brian Bostwick, bostwick@henge.com), for Stonehenge. Brian noted that they were a 6 year old company based on NovellNet and have been doing internet business for 2.5 years. They provide unlimited access accounts and are moving towards Intranets and LAN/Internet integration. They plan to support 32.6-56K modems in January.
  • Guy Cook, gcook@sni.net, for SuperNet. Guy showed the SuperNet's statewide network map and briefly explained the history of SuperNet's rise from a non-profit to a for-profit organization owned by the state of Colorado, operating for the public good. He detailed their 155MBps and 45 Mbps Internet connectivity and their support of large organizations ike Digital, US West, CU, etc. SuperNet has over 10,000 dialup accounts ranging from individuals to businesses. Guy noted that SuperNet has over 22 machine rooms across the state with about 700 modems. They help build web sites and are consulting across the US and internationally.

Alek then solicited and posed questions to the 5 panels.

Q: Does it make sense for all "mom and pop" businesses to have an internet site?

Shelli(SM) - uncharted waters and it depends on the business.
Terri(TR) - small businesses may use their sites as an "intranet" within an industry.
Ted(TP) - some small business are pioneers but may be preaching to the choir.
Brian(BB) - may be an alternative for small ad budgets
Guy(GC) - Colorado is a techno-literate society, web sites must have a reason, e.g. cut production costs, etc.

Q: Does hosting web sites slow down an ISP's service? Are ISP's scaling up?

GC: Constantly scaling up
BB: Some impact. ISP's must monitor and upgrade.
SM: Scale up not just bandwidth but general systems.
TR: ISP's have to keep up with demand. Ask other people what they think of a particular ISP's service.

Q: What is the "general" ratio of users to lines/modems?

TP: Hard to answer because of pricing, e.g. 1 ratio for unlimited access ISPs, another when you have hourly charges.
TR: A rule of thumb: 5-1 is good, 10-1 is okay, 15-1 you can expect busy signals, 20-1 is not so good. Eazy.Net is less than 10-1.
SM: There are cycles. She noted "when Star Trek comes on, the modem lights go out." They now have 11-1 but it's a moving target.
BB: 15-1 right now but bringing in more all the time.
GC: About 10-1. Watch other things like CPU utilization and bandwidth. Note that US West is concerned about the overall telecommunications infrastructure strain: a normal voice call averages 6 minutes, while a data call averages 17 minutes. The infrastructure was built for voice, so there is lobbying for metering usage.

Q: Do you support the Microsoft Front Page editor/explorer? What other support software do you provide?

GC: Yes, but beware it is not yet a panacea for all web developers.
CSN provides standard user software.
BB: No, they are unix based. Provide basic user software.
SM: No, you ftp to update web pages. Standard software.
TR: Yes, they are a Microsoft service provider with NT servers supporting relational data bases.
TP: No, planned in 1997.

Q: Do you provide detail "hit" reports of web service activity?

Most providers do, with varying reporting methods. There was an emphasis on protecting the privacy of their users. Some noted that "hits" are irrelevant.

Q: Any plans for the deployment of ADSL?

GC: ADSL is part of a family of asymetric technologies, providing speeds of up to 6Mbps.* over a normal telephone wire -- but we have to watch USWest to see what their rollout will be.
SM: Has heard some "unofficial results" that ADSL degrades quickly. Very USWest dependent.
TP: Thinks USWest will move quickly into ADSL.

Q: What about the cable modems?

BB: Doesn't see it coming yet. GC: Both ADSL and CM's can both succeed. 60% of RBOC facilities are "ready" for ADSL and 10% of cable facilities are cable modem "ready". Environments will have to co-exist.

Q: Do ISP's run identd?

SM: identd is a server protocol for looking up specific TCP/IP connections and returning the user name of the process owning the connection.
GC: generally no, but we run this protocol on several machines because certain sites on the Internet will not allow file transfers without this.
All: We wish to protect the privacy of their individual users.

Q: Do any ISP's plan to filter email from "junk emailers" like CyberPromotions?

TP: No, but provide tools for users to filter themselves.
TR: They discourage all users from spamming. Note that users pay to receive email, while for surface mail, the sender pays.
SM: Send the "junk mailer" a bill for using up their time and effort!

Q: Where are pricing pressures going?

GC: Prices for connecting to the national backbones are going up and are moving to a usage pricing mode. The next generation + 1 will have clients pay for different service levels depending on application response time requirements.
TP: Pricing for users will come down as more commerce happens, i.e. as the advertising increases, the user prices will drop.

Q: Have ISP's seen a demand for "NetPhone" applications?

TP: Lots of marginal interest;
TR: Questions, but not much demand.
SM: Enthusiastic tryers but still not satisfied.
BB: Video conferencing is starting to come on strong.
GC: Note that Reed Hunt at the FCC is not blocking voice on the Internet, trying to keep the government out of it. The Intranet has been built on top of the Infrastructure, where what is coming is the Infrastructure will be built on top of the Internet.

Q: A prediction has the small ISPs will shortly become consultants. Comments?

BB: There will be some consolidations and buyouts.
GC: There will continue to be more and more IPS with no reason for the small ISPs to go away. Some entrepreneurs will tire of the ISP game.
SM: Small regional providers can provide support that large organizations cannot.
TR: There may be some shakeout - "Internet and Bagels!" - no longer the "money thing to do}. "Some ISPs should be in the bagel business!" -- and some users get their first taste of the Internet from the bad ones. There will always be a niche for good ISPs.
TP: Not much happening in a year. There will be some consolidation as price pressures arise.

Q: Are individuals getting the cold shoulder on the web from ISPs?

TP: No, web sites are free for individuals, $10 for 1 Mbyte for a year.
TR: No. Personal web sites are free.
SM: Ditto. Note that some individual web sites are more interesting than some of the big fancy corporate sites.
BB: Ditto.
GC: Note that individual accounts are generally subsidized by the business accounts.

Last Words!

TP: Micro transactions are coming where you can buy something for a penny or two! Along with it will come lots of opportunities.
TR: If you are looking for an ISP, find someone who talks your language.
SM: The area consumers are lucky to have a choice of several good ISPs.
BB: Ask around and shop around when looking for an ISP.
GC: Ditto and thanks!

The meeting ended at 9:00.

Respectfully submitted, Art Smoot

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