Backup ISP - Hit me with it

We have a local ISP who recently contacted me about supplying our church with a 30x30 backup internet connection over AirFiber at our main camups. His normal fee is $400.00/mo, but he is offering this connection for free to retain rights to redistribute internet to other surrounding customers. The contract will specify that they will be able to access the building during normal business hours to maintain their equipment, but will be required to make an appointment for access outside business hours.

Our operations pastor has asked me to find out what other churches are doing for backup internet… so let me know what you’re doing + maybe your your main campus attendance.

BTW - our primary connection has been a 50x50 Fiber connection with a backup LTE modem. For the past 3 months we’ve had Google Fiber and no backup internet connection.

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We use Verizon LTE as our backup - about 3k average attendance at that campus.

At my last job at a private (not faith-based) college, we had a similar arrangement as what your local ISP is proposing with the Illinois Century Network, who needed to relocate their POP/regeneration facility. (small town, they didn’t have many options) We hosted their routing equipment/fiber headend, and they provided HVAC and backup generator that we were allowed to pull off of. I believe they paid for electricity and gave us a free 150/150 Internet connection and a very low cost gigabit private connection to the secondary smaller college campus in another town where they already had a good size presence.

It could be a good deal for you. You have to consider that your presumably tax-free facilities are now being used to generate revenue for a third party. Make sure you talk it over with your legal counsel.

Most churches… and I mean overwhelming majority… don’t have backup internet, they also rarely have many on-site services that need 24/7 connectivity from off-site or anything in the cloud so critical that it needs 24/7 access from on-site either, those that do usually go with as cheap as possible LTE to limp through an outage. A lot of places figure they will fall back to 3G/4G on the BYOD/mobility devices for whatever they need from the cloud during an outage, which in a pinch works.

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At my previous church, we used a Verizon LTE connection as our secondary. It was super cheap…maybe $40/mo for unlimited data. If you’re running VoIP or have your emergency services (fire, security) running over IP, then a secondary connection, in my opinion, is a must.

Our attendance was 1300.

We have a primary gig fiber through Spectrum and a backup 100/100 through windstream, plus a LTE as final failover, but that has to be set up manually if everything else fails. We are currently running our public wifi through the backup fiber and keep the Gig primary for office, phone and streaming services. We have auto failover setup for internet and phones.


Our primary line is an MPLS 500Mb/s circuit that we send most of the staff and web traffic out of. We have a backup 1Gb/s line through Wow! that we send our nightly backups and public traffic through. This also serves as a backup route for our main campus in case the main link goes down (which came in handy a few months ago). We actually got a pretty crazy deal on that backup line which is why its faster than our primary.

Thanks Mark. What are your critical services that depend on your highly available internet connection? Streaming? Hosted Email? And how many staff / sites / church members rely on the HA connection?

Wow Stephen. A backup that’s higher than your primary?! Is that because you’ve agreed to only use it as a backup? That’s awesome. WOW in Kansas City was recently purchased by MidCo. I’m curious if MidCo would give us a low backup rate and let us pay for bandwidth rather than the high monthly service.

I’ll have to check into that.

Good stuff.

It was a little more than just the services that lead us to the backup ISP. But first, we have Skype for Business and wanted to make sure our phone system was up, plus inhouse Exchange, Skype, ChMS, Security, so all our primary systems needed to be up. The second reason was simply where we are “Lincoln, NE”, we had limited options and only 2 primary fiber feeds in to the city, so when one went down it took out our DNS and connections to the Web. We actually found 2 different ISP services that each used a different path in providing us great failover. We are reviewing again, services have improved over the years and downtime is so much less, we will decide on changes when our contracts come up next year.

At our main campus, where we do most/all of our officeing, we have actually brought in two different provider fibers. Spectrum and FrontierFios. We had FIOS exclusively, but wanted some robustness and QOS for our video stream push service. We have now configured our Sonicwall 3600 HA pair to fail-over to the Spectrum service when our primary FIOS goes down. Our in house testing shows we we typically recover in under 5 seconds. We also took the extra effort to bring the fibers into opposite ends of the building to reduce the probability of a errant dig site cutting both of the lines. We have 300 down on Fios and 150/150 symmetric QOS on Spectrum.

We are right down the street from Matt above and have a pretty similar set up. We have 500/500 FiOS as primary and cheap coax Spectrum 300/20 as failover and guest wifi.

At our two larger campuses that are also broadcast campuses for Living as One, we have 50x50 Comcast fiber with a 100x20 Comcast coax internet. All my other decoder only campuses have just 50x20 Comcast Coax internet and it has been solid for all but one campus. At that one we have a backup LTE from Verizon but it hasn’t been that reliable. We found that it can’t pull the LAO feed on the weekend bandwidth wise. We now use it for pulling in our web feed if we needed to.

I love the idea of a WISP using our facility but none of the ones I talked to were interested. I’d do it if I had that option.