SOWN[at]HOME

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SOWN[at]HOME Node
A SOWN[at]HOME Node

Ever wondered what the latest score is when out? Have to find that must-have item in the pub? The Internet on the move is your solution. As more and more people have wireless enabled devices, we believe that students should be able to get free wireless coverage anywhere they need it, so they can use it to its full potential.

When SOWN started, we realised that there was a lot of hard work needed to set up equipment. Since then technology has evolved, and prices have reduced, so the main resource we lack is volunteers. Relax - we are not looking for people with hardcore technical skills; anyone can help - even those inexperienced with technology! If you want to get involved send us a message through our contact us form.

SOWN is aiming to roll out wireless internet coverage to as much of the student population as possible. If you feel that you are capable and want to help please complete a request form to host a SOWN[at]HOME node.

SOWN is not about "Something for Nothing". We understand that the more people who host a node, the more likely it is that you will get something for your effort. We are hoping that with sufficient coverage, you will benefit as well from having coverage in other parts of Southampton where you wouldn't be able to connect before. We are also aware that many people may have reservations about the technology behind our network and may be worried about excessive usage.

How does it work then?

  1. A user sees a SOWN[at]HOME node and wants to connect to the Internet.
  2. They connect to the node and are confronted with a login screen.
  3. They provide their details which are checked against a completely secure service hosted by the University.
  4. If they are authenticated, they are then allowed to access the internet connection (ADSL) behind that node.
  5. Once authenticated, a user's usage and bandwidth can be limited and access to inappropriate services blocked. Users on your node do not (unless you explicitly allow individual users) have access to the computers on your network.

SOWN[at]HOME nodes are designed to be user-friendly. In most circumstances they are Plug'n'Play, and work straight out of the box. In other circumstances, our committee are on hand to correct any problems.

I'm still not convinced I want to get involved / host a node

SOWN currently offers a multitude of user services. As a Community network, the scope of these is only limited by the imagination and willpower of our users. If you get involved you will:

  • Be part of a well-funded community research project.
  • Be helping contribute to an ever expanding network.
  • Increase the wireless potential of your own house, and unfetter your broadband for the good of not only yourself, but others.
  • Have direct access to all of SOWN's new technologies (many of which aren't available through regular ISPs) including:
    • Voice Over IP.
    • Low bandwidth network games and collaborative software such as OpenTTD.
    • IPv6 connectivity to the Internet (allowing you access to IPv6-only resources eg IPv6 Google).
    • Multicast Technology (SOWN is investigating rolling out multicast tv).

How can I be sure by node will not be abused?

SOWN actively monitors traffic for abuse. This is to protect you and us from anything going wrong. SOWN provides several tools to provide protection dependent on your needs. These include:

  1. Usage Monitoring
  2. Connection Throttling
  3. IP Blacklisting
  4. P2P Software Blocking
  5. Logging

1. Usage Monitoring

This exists to protect your node and Internet connection from those that might abuse your hospitality. Every node has a configurable monthly usage cap (i.e. the sum of uploads and downloads). This figure is used in two ways. It is used to calculate a daily, weekly and monthly ammount. If the node goes over its allocation for any of those periods, it prevents users from using the node. Secondly it calculates a maximum transfer per-person, so that no one user may use all of the node's daily/weekly/monthly allowance. Node admins can grant exemptions to the usage monitoring for specific individuals if they know their email address.

2. Connection Throttling

SOWN has always had mechanisms for limiting the rate at which people can download files. This means that once set, the end users cannot flood your connection and/or make your home network unusable.

3. IP/DNS Blacklisting

We know that there are some people out there that have funny ideas on what is acceptable use for public Internet. To that end, we maintain a blacklist of known peer-to-peer sites (e.g. BitTorrent) to hinder people from such activities.

4. P2P Software Blocking

Many people hear horror stories of anti-piracy agencies sending letters demanding payment for illegal downloads only to find that it was a neighbour who had connected to their wireless network. SOWN has software that can mitigate that. Any person caught using software like BitTorrent will be kicked off the SOWN network and habitual offenders will be banned.

5. Logging

This is an extension of the previous two features. When enabled, SOWN maintains a log on your behalf of all traffic that passes through the node. In extreme circumstances this can be used, legal issues not withstanding, to locate offending users.

Minimum services

SOWN is a research network, and as such there is no service guarantee, and/or uptime guaruntee. When working, our peering arrangements with groups such as eduroam mandate a minimum list of services accessible via the node. Full details can be found on the SOWN eduroam wiki page, but among these are Web, email, ftp, ssh and vpn access.

Legal

It should be noted that any data stored by SOWN in relation to traffic or network activity is protected under our data protection policy, which is in turn governed by the rules and regulations laid out by the University of Southampton, enforceable under UK Law. Any decision to release such information would have to be in accordance with these rules.

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