This is part one of a longer post on co-operative network activity in Finland. The Finnish model differs from the way Internet services are provided in most other counties. Information on Finnish co-ops has never before been available in English. Here I have tried to put together all the relevant information and experience.1 Networking in housing co-ops - HomePNA? 2 Router issues 3 Cabling issues - Ethernet on phone wires 4 Wireless networking
This message has been cross-posted to several newsgroups. General follow-ups to news:comp.networking.connectivity.*** *** ***
The beginning - Operator-driven networks
The first Finnish in-house networks were built in the late 1990's when construction companies began installing structural cabling in new apartment buildings. An Ethernet LAN was used to provide Internet access to residents.
This brought external service providers in to the in-house network. In this business model the operator (telco) would sell the the service directly to to the resident.
Sometimes the building would be connected to the service providers network by fiber-optic cable. The fiber would be placed at an early stage of construction. The newly formed housing cooperative would pay the full cost of the cabling work as sign-up fees for the Internet service. The agreement between the co-op and ISP would not allow the co-op to buy Internet service. Instead it allowed the ISP to take over the internal wiring and monopolize the network. The service provider was free to price the service as they pleased. The co-op could not abandon the agreement as it meant loosing their large sign-up fees.
This model did bring residents fast Internet access. It did not however bring down the cost of access as the service was always priced at or above the price of slower fixed access alternatives. The monthly fee for fast Ethernet access in these houses is around EUR 50 with little change in sight.
A new technology, HomePNA was introduced to in-house networks by the Internet operator Jippii (now Saunalahti). Originally Home Phoneline Networking (HomePNA) was marketed in the US as a way of building home networks by utilizing the multiple existing phone sockets in the house. In Asia the technology was adapted for ISP use with the introduction HomePNA 1.1 switches.
Internet connectivity is provided by one (or more) ADSL or G.SHDSL connections.
Operator-run HomePNA networks reached their peak popularity by the end of2003. In that year most landlords owning apartment blocks, including "council housing", made agreements with ISPs to market HomePNA services to tenants at a price of around EUR 35 a month.
The last year has seen a steady decline in popularity of ISP run HomePNA networks.
- A sharp decline in ADSL prices and increase in speeds has made HomePNA service uncompetitive against ADSL and cable modem connections starting at EUR 19,50 a month.
- The business model is unworkable. An infrastructure like an in-house network needs "monopoly protection", not market competition. In the worst case, one housing cooperative might have two competing HomePNA networks installed in the same wiring closet, both networks providing service to 2 - 3 customers.
Also one problem is that often the operator providing HomePNA service is also providing ADSL service in the same area. These operators are unwilling to push HomePNA prices below ADSL prices.
In 2000 housing cooperatives in Finland started building their own HomePNA networks. In this model the housing cooperative would own the networking hardware and pay for the Internet connection.
In early networks only those residents interested in the fixed Internet connection would take part in the costs. A subscription fee was set up and collected monthly by the housing cooperative, along with the maintenance fee and any other extras for services like the weekly sauna or parking space. The cost of hardware and installation was covered by the fee in about two years.
In these early networks about 50% of residents were connected with monthly fees at around EUR 7.
Some of the first networks were set up in the Helsinki neighborhood of Maunula in an government initiated project:
Newer networks have adopted a different model. All apartments are connected to the network and Internet service is provided without any extra fee. At a minimum Internet-service can be provided at around EUR 1 per month with around EUR 100 per apartment in initial investment costs.
Not having to connect and disconnect individual apartments greatly eases the maintenance of the network.
In houses with free Internet access network usage has reached a level of 85% of apartments.
The future of HomePNA
With "Full Rate" ADSL connections at 8/1 Mbps becoming available to consumers at a price of EUR 45 and to housing cooperatives at EUR 115 the limited speed (1 Mbps) of HomePNA 1.1 has become a bottleneck. To lock the key "heavy users" to the cooperative network faster speeds must be available. Construction of new HomePNA-based networks now seems to have come to a standstill.
HomePNA 2.0 at 10Mbps proved to be too prone to cross talk so no switches are available. HomePNA 3.0 could provide a speed of 100Mbps but the switches have yet to reach European markets.
At the same time the price of compact ADSL DSLAMs (switches) has dropped to almost the same level as HomePNA switches, at around EUR 50 per subscriber. The problem with ADSL is its ATM foundation, which causes unnecessary configuration issues in an otherwise purely Ethernet-based network. VDSL would provide better Ethernet compatibility and higher speeds, but the standards are immature and hardware is incompatible.
Ethernet would provide the best alternative, but usually the wiring is missing. Finnish housing cooperatives are now facing a tough technical choice between rewiring for Ethernet and adapting ADSL or VDSL technology for in-house networks.
Security in an in-house network requires that users cannot communicate directly through the LAN using local IP-addresses or LAN-protocols. All traffic must pass through a router and be based on public IP-addresses. The technique to achieve this is to use "port isolation" in the Ethernet and HomePNA switches. This feature is available in all switches targeted for the MDU-market.
In-house networks usually share one public IP-address among all users. The NAPT router isolates the house network from the Internet and provides a built in firewall.
Finnish national policy
The Finnish national "Broadband Strategy" emphasizes competition to the detriment of infrastructure. The aim is to utilize the existing coper base of the telephone network to its fullest. In this model each user will have an individual subscription with a profit driven telco.
Virtually no encouragement is given to cooperative networks or even in-house networks.
Housing in Finland
Most Finns live in apartment blocks. Finland has the second highest percentage of apartments in Europe after Spain. Also, a large proportion of Finns own their apartments. Most apartment houses are organized as housing cooperatives. The first housing cooperatives were built in Finland around1900.
Some of the first Finnish Housing cooperatives are located in the Katajanokka neighborhood in Helsinki: -
"The first true cooperative development in the United States was started in 1918 by a group of Finnish artisans-the Finnish Home Building Association in Brooklyn, New York. " -
Housing cooperative "Housing cooperatives are a form of homeownership where individuals own shares or memberships in a corporation that owns or controls the land and buildings that provide housing. The ownership of a share entitles one to occupy a unit within the cooperative."
MDU Multi-Dwelling Unit
In-house network A LAN connecting apartments in an apartment block and providing Internet access
Internet connection sharing In English parlance "connection sharing" is often used to refer to sharing your Internet connection between multiple computers. In this text it refers to sharing one WAN connection and possibly one IPv4 address between multiple subscribers.
Operator In the US often referred to as "carrier". A large telco offering telephone and ISP services.
Euro (EUR) The European Currency Unit, now rated at about US $1.32 to one Euro.