Horizontal Bar

MVNet-1: What is MVNet anyway?

Wm Magill - June 20, 2018

Men at Work Sign Under Construction sign

The field of Computer Networking is extensive, complex, pervasive, hidden and largely unknown to the general population.
It is part of the "infrastructure" just like water-mains, electric lines and streets and highways.
Therefore, this series of technical notes covers a lot of material that is likely not part of your everyday conversation if you are not "in the business", but which impacts your use of "the net" every day. And, just to throw some more gasoline on the fire, how you use the net is also changing every day as these technologies change!

MVNet is part of the communications infrastructure of the Masonic Villages, Inc. It can be found at all 5 Masonic Villages.
At the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, there are multiple WiFi networks which comprise this infrastructure. These multiple networks all share the same hardware components and exist by virtue of the Virtual Private Network (VPN) concept.

Back in 2015 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a new definition of "Broadband" that establishes 25 megabits per second (25 Mbps) as the baseline for high-speed downloads, up from 4 Mbps previously. This definition also, sets the minimum speed for uploads at 3 Mbps. Generally this is now referred to as 25/3 Service.

This speed is normally exceeded for Internet service provided by Cable or Fibre-optic ISPs. However, classic Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) service at (4x1) is not a close contender!

MVNet is provided in two basic forms -- via ethernet connected WiFi Access points in the various campus buildings, and by Very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line (VDSL) connected WiFi Access points in cottages. There may or may not be any measurable speed differences between these two implementations. At the time of this writing (20 June, 2018) there is insufficient data available. VDSL can, theoretically provide speeds in excess of 55 Mbps downstream. VDSL2 can theoretically provide speeeds in excess of 200 Mbps downstream and 100 Mbps upstream.

Comcast product offerings

Today (20 June, 2018) at the Masonic Village, Comcast (Xfinity) Performance Plus Internet now provides 60 Mbps Download and 5 Mbps upload speeds, at a cost of $39.99 (plus tax and equipment rental) per month for one year. At the end of the year, that price jumps up to $61.95 + $11 modem rental, if you do not provide your own equipment - i.e. modem and router.

This Performance Plus level of service (60 x 5) is more than adequate of 99.9% of internet users.

Comcast also offers "Performance Pro" Internet at 150 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload speeds at $54.99 (plus tax and equipment rental) per month for one year. At the end of the year, that price also jumps upwards. Only .1% of Internet users will ever user, let alone need, this kind of download speed. Similarly, Comcast's "Blast! Pro" at 250 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload at $69.99 (plus tax and equipment rental) per month for one year,is quite ridiculous for the normal user. Both of these offerings are aimed at small businesses with multiple users on-line at the same time. Neither is particularly cost effective for a Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) environment.

Also as of today (20 June, 2018) there has been no formal statement as to the speeds Download or upload, to be provided by MVnet. The only "official" statements, oral, not writte, claim that speed is comparable to Comcast.

Windstream product offerings

Again, as of 20 June, 2018, Windstream (and, apparently Century Link) offers only classic DSL service (4x1) for around $60 per month in this area.

Verizon FIOS product offering

Verizon has no Fibre Optic lines in Masonic Village, therefore it cannot offer FIOS. The only service they can offer is a DSL offering.

Companies competing for your communications dollars, Verizon and Xfinity (Comcast) for example, use the same words to mean different things. The most common phrase - "Wireless Networking" - means using your cellphone to connect to the Internet via Cellular technology when you are talking to Verizon, but when talking to Xfinity it means WiFi, or as they now call it XFi.

Most of the time, the difference between these two services is strictly all about speed. A WiFi internet connection is normally significantly faster than a cellular internet connection. However, if you are driving down a highway, or out of your house for a walk, you are likely out of range of WiFi, (especially your own) but you can have internet access via a cellular connection. Today, while you can get Internet access via a 3G or occasionally a 4G cellular connection, they are both significantly slower when compared to Cable based WiFi.

Similarly, the difference between Cable based Internet connectivity (Xfinity) when compared to DSL (Windstream) is significant.

MVNet, like Xfinity, attempts to address this difference by providing "hot spots" which attempt to proved a seamless coverage area for users. By making each of their WiFi Access points available to all of their customers, these hot-spots spread the WiFi coverage area significantly.

Some important networking jargon defined

(Links are to Wikipedia articles for more in-depth information.)
For a full discussion of AAA see the article: MVNet-3: What is RADIUS?

Normally visible WiFi Networks in residential areas.

MVnet

Access to this network require subscription to a Masonic Village Communications Package which will assign you a Userid and Password.

See: MVNet-6: Communications Packages for Residents

GuestMVnet

This network allows access to WiFi without the need for a pre-assigned userid and password.

It is intended for occasional use by visitors, just as the MVGuest network has in the past.

It is bandwidth restricted.

GuestMVNet first presents the device with an information screen which contains the MVnet "Terms of Service" to which the user must agree.

See: MVNet-4: GuestMVnet Login Instructions and Acceptable Use Policy

DevicesMVnet

This network is for devices, such as WiFi enabled printers, which must be identified to the Network using their MAC address.

K4Community

This network is used by the K4-Box and other K4 devices

See: K4-13 - Installation of K4 boxes campus-wide

MV Resident or MV Guest

These networks are visible in many common areas of the campus.

See: MVNet-5: Public WiFi Terms and Conditions