Query : seeking a (low cost & secure) turnkey plug-and-play appliance to report network outages

Kristian Kielhofner kris at kriskinc.com
Thu Nov 17 15:03:07 CST 2011


On Thu, Nov 17, 2011 at 7:58 AM, A. Chase Turner <chase at stumpy.com> wrote:
> I am seeking a $100 turnkey micro hardware appliance to plug into a LAN hub (behind a consumer-level cable modem) whose only purpose in life is to send heartbeat (and simple quality of service metrics) to a pre-configured central aggregation service on the WAN.
>
> Key requirement is the micro hardware appliance will be installed by non-technical elderly end-users -- so, it must be pre-configured and literally plug and play without need for the person installing the appliance to open a web browser to configure.  And it must be a secure, good-reputation stand-alone hardware appliance ... because the heartbeat cannot / must not be a service installed on the end-user's computer where it becomes a support burden (e.g., did the end-user turn off their computer?  Is their antivirus software blocking the outgoing heartbeat? That the end-user needs to enter a username/password/destination to enable the heartbeat, etc)
>
> There is a commercial turnkey solution that meets all the requirements except one -- that the solution cannot exceed $100 per remote appliance  :
>        http://www.myconnectionserver.com/learnmore/quality.html
>
> Question to the list: do you know of an alternative hardware solution under $100 that would suffice -- and be of such quality that an incumbent internet service provider will not thumb their nose at me when I call in to report remote users are down based upon the loss of heartbeats from the remote users?
>
> MOTIVATION FOR THE ABOVE
>
> Ten elderly neighbors to my mother in a rural area suffer frequent internet outages from their one (and only) incumbent cable internet service provider.  All of them have learned they will encounter one of the following responses :
>
>  "You are the only one reporting a problem"
> OR
>  "We need three reports before we take action"
> OR
>  "We fixed it.  You need to re-boot your modem.  (moments later after rebooting cable modem).  It must be your computer that is the problem."
> OR
>  "We know there is a problem.  We'll send a crew out to repair the issue next week"
>
> These 10 elderly neighbors are fuming ... and they recently formed a call tree -- so that when one person suffers an internet outage, they call other neighbors in the call tree to see if they too have an outage ... and if so, each calls in an outage report (often 20 minutes of being placed on hold)
>
> The call tree is working (somewhat) to improve accountability and response by the cable service provider ... but it is a waste of their time as there is no formal "record" of outage events to spur the provider to provide refunds for unscheduled service outages.   Thus, I am seeking a turnkey quality of service micro appliance that automates (and documents) service outage notifications .. so as to allow me (living in a city and my being on a different internet service provider) to take on the role of calling the rural cable service provider and claim (with authority) that I know that 10 individuals systems (who have the heartbeat appliance installed) are down and that the cable service provider needs to fix the issue...
>
>

OpenWRT running on one of these:

http://embeddedtimes.blogspot.com/2011/09/tp-link-tl-wr703n-tiny-linux-capable.html

I ordered mine from the Volume Rates link:

http://www.volumerates.com/product/genuine-tp-link-tl-wr703n-150m-11n-mini-wifi-wireless-router-for-instant-wifi-connection-99273

You could order all 10 for around $180 + shipping (straight from Hong
Kong).  I have two, they're pretty awesome and potentially useful for
all kinds of things...

-- 
Kristian Kielhofner



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