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Federating Do-It-Yourself ISPs from around the world (ffdn.org)
112 points by taziden on Jan 3, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 32 comments

At first, I thought this was encouraging. But then I checked out the 3 "providers" listed for my country (Germany). One is a club maintaining connectivity for a specific student housing project, one offers only dialup/ISDN, and finally only one offers actual ADSL connectivity. I'm sure it's the same in other countries.

While it's interesting as a concept, I don't really get the feeling there is much to see here. It's also not clear to me how these very few access providers would actually federate without real backbone connectivity.

We have a foundation that is setting up a federation of co-operatives of Neighborhood ISP's that will offer professional, secure and anonymous fiber to the home and farm internet at speeds of 1 Gbps, 10 Gbps up to 80 Gbps. We invite everyone who wants to participate or start their own ISP with our help. We currently have more then 1000 km of backbone on three continents for everyone to hook up their DIY ISP at cost price. We can also set up new backbones in other area's. We produce our own open source hardware switches and routers with fiber, copper ethernet and wifi. You can reach us at aart at knoware dot nl We will provide courses, tools and investment for anyone willing to attempt to built an ISP, provide privacy protection is your intent. I started the first public internet provider in my country, to indicate that have some experience.

In Belgium, we are in the process of setting up an associative ISP, the road is long, but we have already started "formallly" to investigate technical solutions for vdsl lines, radio/wifi links; procurement of server, uplink, datacenter.. We have just passed a milestone which was to set up the legal entity supporting our diy isp.

You are right to point out that there is still a lot of work to be done, but this is a step in the right direction imho.

The idea behind this federation at this point is more to advertise the status of the various projects, and connect people together to share expertise (legal and hands-on).

> but this is a step in the right direction imho.

It absolutely is, yes. What you're doing is admirable.

> The idea behind this federation at this point is more to advertise the status of the various projects

Ah, alright then. My first association was there'd by an effort to extricate yourself from the all-pervading surveillance, censoring, and traffic-shaping planned or already taking place. Of course, setting up an organization for knowledge sharing is also a worthy cause.

I sure hope this happens at the federation level too and becomes intrinsically tied to it. But what I am sure of, is that these aspects are some of the main drivers for people I had the pleasure to meet irl, and who are behind these initiatives.

Have always been curious about setting up an ISP. Especially so recently. I have been unsuccessful finding much information, though I haven't tried as hard as I probably could. Anyone have any good links?

From what I understand so far, the model they encourage is:

- register a legal entity (coop, non-proft, corp, whatever)

- register with IANA to get an ipv4 and ipv6 block

- find an ISP who can do the BGP announcements for you (DSL resellers usually support it, even if for a residential connection)

- use something like Quagga for routing, no need for big expensive routers

- connect with whatever premises you want your DYI-ISP to cover: ex: specific building, such as a student dorm, specific residential district with a mesh wifi, cat5 flying all over the place, install your own fiber (it's not that complicated!), etc.

Browsing the FFDN database, a lot of their members are small orgs with 50-100 users. With time, if you encourage a community legal model (coop or non-profit), people will develop more expertise and step up to manage and expand your network.

PS: I'm part of a Montreal mesh community called "Réseau libre" (http://www.reseaulibre.ca). We don't provide Internet, but we build the underlying infrastructure. It's a lot of fun and a great way to learn crazy networking stuff on a shoe-string budget.

> register with IANA to get an ipv4 and ipv6 block

Actually one has to register as a Local Internet Registry with the local monopoly RIR, such as ARIN or RIPE. Only they can request blocks from IANA, which they then allocate to LIRs in exchange for non-trivial membership fees.

Fees in the order of 3,000EUR to join and not much less on a recurring annual basis:


Unfortunately since the ITU proposal for a non-geographic RIR faded some years ago there is no competition in this space, as the existing RIRs refuse to service cross-geography requests.

On top of it, the last I read, getting IP blocks from a RIR (even a decently supplied one like ARIN) is rather difficult as the IPv4 space continually dwindles. Also read that ARIN won't give you IPv6 space unless you first have assigned v4 space. Not sure if that's still true. I only read and research this stuff, haven't actually dealt with these entities myself. For a just starting out ISP, I think you'd be forced to lease IP's from your transit provider.

> Also read that ARIN won't give you IPv6 space unless you first have assigned v4 space.

You misread an "or" as an "and".

For end-users: https://www.arin.net/resources/request/ipv6_initial_assign.h...

"Meet one of the following requirements"

one of, not all of.

For ISPs/LIRs: https://www.arin.net/resources/request/ipv6_initial_alloc.ht...

Each criteria is followed by "or"

OK, I was referencing some older info: http://lowendtalk.com/discussion/2339/arin-stupid-policies

If I interpret that post correctly (and I'm not sure I do, because it sure reads like it was written by someone who doesn't really know what they're doing and has an axe to grind), they submitted a request for both IPv4 space and IPv6 space at the same time, and ARIN wanted to go through the approval process for IPv4 first. This is understandable and not surprising.

At the end of the post it even says "Nothing stopping us from paying 1250 a year for our own IPv6 space though.".

This is an angry, confused individual upset about costs who decided to go rant semi-coherently on a forum full of people I wouldn't trust to administer a network anyway. It is not a reliable source of information.

Any notion that you require an IPv4 allocation to get an IPv6 allocation is wrong, was wrong in April 2012 when that post was written, and as far as I know, has always been wrong. You have never required an IPv4 assignment to get an IPv6 assignment, such a policy would be absurd and utterly counter-productive.

This is the ARIN policy document in place in April 2012: https://www.arin.net/policy/archive/nrpm_20120210.pdf

I can find no requirement that new IPv6 allocations require an IPv4 allocation. See sections and, which correspond to the pages I linked to earlier.

The author probably misunderstood because having an IPv4 allocation makes the IPv6 allocation faster, almost automatic, since you have already proven that you need IPs and the RIR will want to encourage IPv6 adoption. (but having ipv4 is by no means mandatory)

OK, that all makes sense. I was clearly mistaken on that part then, thanks for the info.

Wow, that's crazy.. Afaik, last time I checked, it's cheaper when dealing with ARIN? i.e. for small orgs, 500$/year + fee per block?

(but indeed, I should have written "register with an RIR, such as ARIN/RIPE", instead of IANA.)

Yeah, ARIN is $500/yr for ISPs using a /22 or smaller of IPv4 space (i.e. 1022 addresses), $1000 for up to a /20 (4094 addresses): https://www.arin.net/fees/fee_schedule.html

RIPE is a lot pricier for small members because it isn't tiered. Everyone pays €3800 the first year and then €1800/year thereafter: http://www.ripe.net/lir-services/member-support/become-a-mem...

These prices are for becoming a Local Internet Registry (LIR). You don't need this to provide access with your own adress blocks, AS and stuff.

It's not exactly this. The "find an ISP who can do the BGP annoucements for you" is not accurate. We encourage each org to announce herself their ranges, when possible.

"an ISP who can do the BGP announcements for you"

This might be a list worth compiling: ISP's that will announce IPv4 address blocks for residential customers.

That is definitely one of the reason for http://www.diyisp.org to be setup right now. The idea would be to have a sort of http://hackerspaces.org (one stop website for hackerspaces around the world) to facilitate discovery and spreading of useful information.

I've done a fair amount of research here. There are few links that just "have everything" as not a ton of people are doing this from the ground up. The biggest bottleneck is infrastructure, which to some extent boils down to government and corporation politics, a lot of which are difficult to reference online.

There is useful information on ffdn's wiki, if french is not an issue, in particular this 11 parts series on how to build an isp hosted on spyou's blog: http://blog.spyou.org/wordpress-mu/2010/06/09/comment-deveni...

I am willing to point you to all the information and skills needed. Or teach you those skills. See my earlier comment above.

It seems like the "from around the world" part isn't really up and running yet. I expected to see some of my local SF Bay Area ISPs on the map, but it's only showing some European ISPs right now. Further I wondered what the qualifications for DIY might be--individual-level shared networks or the typical small business thing? Next I wondered why it was so important to know about FDN attending some conference, vs. spending more time explaining in basic terms what they do and what they plan to do.

Anyway, seems like a neat idea.

Their main page (ffdn.org) has this description:

Members of the FDN Federation are Non-Profit Internet Service Providers sharing common values: volunteer-based, solidarity-driven, democratic and non-profit working; defense and promotion of Net neutrality.

I've always wondered what it would take to setup an ISP. I think customers would be the major pain point (especially in america when competing with Comcast or AT&T).

A good part of DIY ISP don't have customers, they have users, it's a major difference, they are made by the people for the people.

It really depends on the country where you want to do that, but, generally, it's hard and expensive to setup a traditional (think *DSL, FTTH) ISP.

Can you do this sort of thing in the US? Are the legal/political barriers too high?

Hi, there is already people doing things like that in the US, like the Free Network Fundation : https://www.thefnf.org/

They're pretty awesome.


If you need to run any cables/fiber over any property that you don't own, then yeah.

If you just want to set up a DSL reseller account, knock yourself out.

Could Namecoin be used for the database?

We were thinking about using the spare cpu cycles of our wireless antennas to dig dogecoins, a PoC may come soon.

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