Internet Gateway Upgrade for Alberta First Nation Schools
01 February, 2008 by cara.greyeyes
Keewatin Career Development Corporation (KCDC)- First Nation SchoolNet is pleased to announce that our Alberta SuperNet upgrade has been completed.
In late January, KCDC’s Chief Technical Officer, Bryan Orthner, and Service Manager, Valmore Daigneault, spent a week in Calgary completing a major network change affecting the Alberta First Nations schools served through the Alberta Supernet (90% of the First Nations schools in Alberta). Prior to the change, these schools received internet through a shared 10 megabit/second internet gateway service running through Shaw Business Services in Calgary. During their week in Calgary, Bryan and Valmore installed a new firewall / router at KCDC’s co-location site at a Calgary data centre. All the internet traffic from the First Nations schools on the Alberta supernet is now connected to this router through a 100 megabit/second connection. From this router, there are now two external network connections. One is a newly upgraded 30 megabit/second internet gateway from Shaw Business Services. The second is a new 100 megabit/second connection to Cybera, Alberta’s provincial research and
education network. Through the Cybera connection, all of the Alberta schools on the Alberta Supernet now have access to the national CA*Net4 network, which allows access to universities, schools, and research institutions across Canada and around the world. This connection also allows the Alberta schools to connect to the main KCDC office in La Ronge through its dedicated 100 megabit/second connection to SRNet, the Saskatchewan equivalent to Cybera.
How do these connections compare to “high-speed” connections used in homes and many small offices? Most high-speed connections allow download speeds of 1.5 megabits/second, and sometimes up to 5 megabits/second, but limit uploads to anywhere from 0.13 megabits/second (the slowest services), to 0.38 megabits/second (average services), to as much as 1 megabit/second (fairly fast services). Most internet service providers share bandwidth either on their local connections (cable internet services), or on their backbone (their internet gateway), or both.
Typically, services are shared at a 10:1 or 20:1 ratio, so if all their customers are trying to use their full speed at once, each customer will only get 5-10% of their connection speed. The First Nations SchoolNet schools in Alberta have a local access speed of 5 megabits/second, with a few larger sites sharing a 20 megabit/second connection. This connection allows the same speeds for upload and download, so the download speeds are as much as three times the speed of an average
high-speed connection, while the upload speeds are as much as fifteen times the speed of an average high-speed connection. Our 30 megabit/second internet connection means we are sharing the internet gateway at a 7.5:1 ratio, which is significantly better than the average internet service provider – if every school is trying to use its full speed at once, each school will still get about 15% of their connection.
As well, because many bandwidth-intensive sites are connected to research and education networks, many types of internet access would continue at full speed even under maximum demand conditions.
While in Calgary, Bryan and Valmore also worked on KCDC’s offsite backup system, which allow s KCDC to store backups of critical data at the Calgary datacentre, as well as laying groundwork for establishing new network services, including a monitoring service for the First Nations Schoolnet network, to give the KCDC Help Desk an advanced warning system for network troubles and a record of outages, as well as a traffic graphing system to show the network usage levels.