• United States

VSATs and cyber cafes

Jul 19, 20043 mins
BroadbandEnterprise ApplicationsNetwork Security

I leave in Abuja, Nigeria and would like to set up a medium-size cyber cafe with about 20 computers. I want to use a C-band VSAT. I also hope to be an ISP in the near future. Could you please advise how I can optimize the use of VSAT? What additional devices and equipment will I need to set all this up? Also I would like to be more technically informed about VSATs, VoIP, broadband, etc., before I approach vendors.

– Via the Internet

Since you’re looking at C-band VSAT, I assume local Internet connections are either non-existent or so expensive that VSAT is your only choice. I would recommend a good firewall as a starting point. Since you are looking at running this as a business, look at the more commercially-oriented firewalls such as Cisco’s PIX or Watchguard’s firebox line. You can consider some of the software-based firewalls, such as Novell’s Border Manager or Microsoft’s ISA Server, if you have an extra server to dedicate to this process. You can also look at the open-source community but getting support when you need it may be a problem since if your Internet conection is down, how will you get to the newsgroups to find help?

Since your ‘Net connection will probably be far less than a T-1, you must look at ways of minimizing use of your connection for repeated requests to the same site. This means you’ll need to consider some type of caching server, where it can keep a copy of requested pages so when additional requests are made the information is served locally instead of going out over your Internet connection to get it again. This is one feature included with Novell’s Border Manager solution that makes it an attractive option – you get a firewall and a caching server in one package. There are probably other products that do this; this just happens to be the one I’m familiar with.

Depending on the bandwidth you’re able to get on a satellite connection and the quality of the connection, you may run into a problem with trying to do VoIP. The main issue with this will be IP latency on the connection – how long it takes to get the packet from Point A to Point B and back to A. While I have seen latency around 200ms on a satellite connection, I’ve also heard of much higher latency numbers being the norm. When looking at a satellite provider, this is a good question to ask. You’ll also need some type of billing software if you want to meter your patrons’ PC use. The questions you ask are not those that can be answered in just a paragraph or two. Hopefully I’ve been able to give you enough of a thumbnail sketch to get you started.