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Right away you'd probably want to say, "Well just ask Fairpoint." I've done that, a number of times in as many different ways I can phrase it and just keep hitting a brick wall where they will not commit to giving any useful information and instead recommend contracting an outside firm and spending a pile of money. Anyway...

I'm trying to help a family member out with an office connection that is being setup. I've managed to scrape tiny details here and there from our discussions with the ISP (Fairpoint in Maine) about what is going to be done and what is going to be needed. This is the connection that is being setup:

Information I have been given:

  • Via this connection I can get IPs across different C blocks if that were necessary (it is not)
  • Fairpoint is bringing hardware with them that they claim simply does the conversion from whatever line is coming in the building to ethernet, they have referred to this as the "Fairpoint Netvanta" which I know suggests a line of products that I have looked up, but some (most? all?) of those seems to handle all the routing that I saw.
  • Fairpoint says that I need to bring my own router to sit behind their device. They have literally declined to even suggest products that have worked for other clients in the past and fall back on "any business router works, not a home router." That alone makes my head spin.

Detail and clarity hit a brick wall from there. At one moment I got them to cough up that the router I provide needs to be able to do VPN tunneling but they typically fall back to "not a home router" and I was even given "just a business router, Cisco or something, it'll be $500-$1000". Now I know that VPN tunneling routers exist well below that price point and since this connection is going to one machine, possibly two only via ethernet, my desire to purchase networking hardware that over-delivers what I need is not very high.

They are literally setting all this up, have provided no configuration details for after they finish, and expect me to just plunk a $500+ router behind it and cross my fingers or contract out to a third party company. If there were other options available for the location, I would have dropped them in a second, but there aren't.

The device that is connected requires a static IP and I'm honestly a bit hazy on the necessity of an additional router behind their device and generally a bit over my head. I presume that the router needs to be able to serve external static IPs to its clients, but I really don't know what is going to show up when they come to do the install. This was originally going to be run via an ADSL bridge modem with a range of static IPs (which is easy and is currently setup properly) but the location is too far from the telco to get speeds that we really want for upload and this is also a connection that needs high availability.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated (I see a number of options in the Cisco Small Business line and other competitors that aren't going to break the bank…), especially if you've worked with Fairpoint before!

Thanks for reading my wall of text.

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closed as off topic by Dave M, kce, Ward, nedm, Tom O'Connor Sep 14 '12 at 16:08

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You are giving too much background information, and not enough information about what you are actually trying to acheive - yes, it's a wall of text. If you want a good answer, you might want to change that :-) – dunxd Sep 12 '12 at 13:46
It's basically all the information I have from them. The device has been installed and I've selected a router and if all goes well, I'll report back, but yes, I realize it's super specific. – Tegeril Sep 12 '12 at 18:10

What's happening here is that FP are terminating a cable drop of some sort at the NetVanta router, which they will probably call an IAD. the type of cable feeding into the IAD varies by site but might be optical fiber, or a coax connector, an ethernet-style connector (RJ-45) or even a real Ethernet connector (RJ-45) itself.

On the other side of the Netvanta will be an ethernet port that you connect to your local network. At this point the NetVanta can authenticate to Fairpoint's network, set up things like quality of service and do BASIC firewalling. Whether FP do any of those things will depend on your contract with them. I suspect they they do the barest minimum.

Now for your LAN side. The Netvanta as delivered is unlikely to be enough to protect your internal network from attack. It's a perfectly good box, and could certainly be made to protect it in many ways, but that's not its true purpose in life. So you need to protect your internal network by putting another device between the NetVanta and your PCs. Hence the router. Thought really it should be called a router/firewall.

Depending on your skills and time you can buy a dedicated device to do this, or you can set up a spare PC as a router (the Linux and BSD family of operating systems are great for this). You may also be guided by extra features that you might like. For example, the Cisco 800 series includes little network switch you can plug PCs into, a firewall and a wifi access point. Or if you chose to run a PC router, you could set up an effective spam filter on the box or provide other services. It's up to you.

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There is a self-contained non-PC system that will be on this network and absolutely nothing else except for brief moments to allow configuration of that device should issues arise so there isn't much of an internal network to 'protect' aside from (I imagine) denial of service activities. This connection is primarily being used due to reliability and its SLA and secondarily due to pricing and available service levels at the location. I am honestly inclined to go as low-end on the price scale for the routing hardware, within reason, because it's servicing one non-PC box (Barix Exstreamer). – Tegeril Sep 10 '12 at 17:46
We've been pondering this, prior to your response, so if you have any opinions they would be much appreciated: – Tegeril Sep 10 '12 at 17:52

Fairpoint provided a NetVanta 818 and upon installation provided appropriate configuration information for me to use to configure my router. I chose a Cisco Small Business RV180 in router mode with one-to-one NAT enabled and am able to map the public IPs that are available to internal IPs and all is well.

Thanks for the input, it was definitely helpful regardless of the outcome.

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