OpenWrt for an ISP

Ok so an employee of a small isp on ON Canada we are on the hunt for hardware and software for new routers currently we use asus rtn -12
We need something that can handle higher speeds up to 1 Gbps service

These are must haves :
Common platform hardware and software for res and small to med biz again handling from 6 mbps dsl to 1 Gbps docsis WAN
Low or no management overhead small company less than 10 people
Easy to use and configure
Remote management
Parental controls / web filter
Dual band wi fi
Throughput on par with SMB routers from the 150 to 300 CAD retail
At least 2 ethernet ports besides wan ethernet
Wireless performance on par with aboved mentioned range

Future needs
The ability to pull data from a web interface via remote management or a remote desktop to include doing internet speed tests
Web filter
Ad filter
Ability to add 2 or more units to create a mesh network with the same SSID

Hardware cost less than 120 CAD per unit

This is a router OS distribution for enthusiasts, so there is nothing easy or pre-packaged about it. It also does not have access to any hw acceleration with few exceptions, so achieving 1Gbps in that price range is unrealistic.

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So I guess my question is based on say the bannana pi r64 or say E2500 would the support overhead be low and able to quickly provisioned

Well, all provisioning can be done from command line, so It can be automated, but I am not aware of any remote provisioning tools like standard ISP provisioning interfaces. Someone else might suggest a solution here.

As far as I am concerned, you need to get your hands dirty and start building your solution. Some of your required functionality already exists, some does not. My personal experience is that some of the functionality you want to integrate, does not stay 100% backwards compatible and can significantly change in a stable release. So, there is issue of integration testing every time. Support cycle for 19.07 is ~1.5 years: is that sufficient?

I support several routers by embedding the setup scripts into the firmware, so a factory reset gets the router back to a working state that I configured and tested.

This firmware is fun, but it is not free to maintain an OpenWRT router. Now I hope someone else can provide a more optimistic assessment :wink:

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As much as I love OpenWrt, I wouldn't personally use it for a commercial ISP service. There are devices that are designed for this particular application space -- consider the EdgeRouter X or Aircube devices from Ubiquiti. They are designed as CPEs for ISP deployments. Both of these solutions can interface with a management console called UNMS which provides a centralized system for your entire deployed fleet.

The ER-X is ~$60 USD, and the air cube about half that.

Regarding remote management there is

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No-one here is gonna say it is impossible, but I read your original post as a shopping list (or a list of demands?) for a turn key commercial solution for free. That ain't gonna happen with OpenWrt. It will take a lot of blood and sweat to make what you want a reality.

Since ISPs work with fiber cables you should be looking at higher price points.
I would for example go for hardware such as:

  • EdgeRouter Infinity
  • EdgeRouter 8

But if you want to work with multi gigabit ports per business/household i would highly suggest going with EdgeRouter Infinity as the performance of that gear can be handled easily with acceleration options etc etc. Everything an ISP needs to maintain it's linespeed + comes with all the stuff you want.

As to the costumer end point i would suggest obtaining routers such as:

  • EdgeRouter 6P
  • EdgeRouter 4

For smaller businesses as they usually don't want gigabit premium internet i would give them either the:

  • EdgeRouter Lite
  • EdgeRouter X or X SFP

But to be really honest.
You will never find something at your current price limit for full stable flatline/loadline 1Gbps Sym/Asym speeds. Unless the hardware comes with accelerators which most of them are not even compatible with majority of router software such as DD/OpenWRT/Etc.
Plus of course you are an ISP so you should spend good money for good gear for good quality and performance.

-- Some points:

  • Easy to use and configure:
    Yeah don't even think about that. IT will be hard regardless.

  • Remote management:
    Understandable from some perspective.

  • Parental controls / web filter:
    Yeah i wouldn't want to be with you as ISP really. People want total freedom.

  • Wireless performance on par with aboved mentioned range:
    Yeah about that. If you want wifi with good speeds you need to spend some good money on that too.
    EdgeRouter has a subsection called AIR which provides hardware for wifi. In case you go with POE routers you could get their POE wifi gear and don't have to worry about more cables but just ethernet cables.

  • Overall general answer:
    Being an ISP is not cheap when it comes to hardware, but bandwidth is cheap.
    So your requests are far bellow expected price tags.
    Push up the price to $200 US per unit and make them pay for the gear or rent it out included in the price.

Thanks for all the input I think we arelooking at using a reasonably priced option with possibly moving into our own home cooked solution at a later date

With case and mSATA SSD comes in slightly above your price limit, but works great with OpenWRT and can easily handle 1gbit on all four ethernet ports. Also has two more USB3 ports to expand further.

Dual channel Wifi is also possible, but that costs extra for the two wifi cards that can be added.

dell r210 II with xeon e3 plus vyos , maybe better cards like intel x520 or atleast i340-t4 with multiqueue offloading. pfsense /opnsense is very good for custom packet filtering etc ids

plus 1 for pcengines-APU for powerful router hw.
Having done lot of various custom openwrt-firmwares, mainly for some type of hotspots for WISPs, on different TP-Links, ZBTs, xiaomi, WD, mikrotik, ubiquiti, APU ... practically all your requirements were fulfilled, besides the 1Gbit/s. However, on some type of lower level of expectations as you have. Your requirements are rather broad-based and would need to be detailed. I.e. regarding management: Practically every WISP wants dynamic config of SSID, according to the location, like "Toms Wifi" or "SchnitzelHutWifi" . Or dynamic change of the login-page, even to be maintained by the client himself. Otherwise, I have also seen some of the devices, I did custom fw for, as low-cost homerouters from the ISP, without any mods of the org firmware.
Of course, I also provide "Parental Control" for years already, important for public hotspots. In principal a clone of openDNS, which has to be payed for in case of commercial use.
Firmware upgrades OTA are standard, too, of course.
You might consider providing different types of hw, i.e. low-cost one for home usage (i.e. from ZBT), and more powerful for business use, i.e. APU.
In case of more detailed discussion send me a PM.

all pcengines apu board have rubbish cpu's and are not worth to buy it

I have several tp-links cpe 510, 610, in some nodes. I want to use openwrt in all of them. What do you think?

The AMD CPU on the APU boards being "rubbish" very much depends on what you are planning to do with it. Obviously this is not for gaming and there are other factors than just raw maximum CPU performance which may even count more in embedded environments (such as low energy consumption and operating fan-less/noise-less, no management engine crap, functional serial console in coreboot, ability to build coreboot from source, ...)
But, of course, if you compare an APU board with latest i7 or Epic CPUs in terms of performance, it's clear it will not be the winner :wink:
Yet performance for many use-cases is still much better than the average ARM-based SoCs (mvebu and such) typically used otherwise.

The problem with recommending these APU boards in 2021 just is that's its built upon the rather dated AMD Jaguar CPU and has never been updated since. It can just about do routing/NAT at 1 GBit/s wirespeed, but reaches its limits right there - adding sqm to the mix is beyond its abilities. However 1 GBit/s fibre connections are now becoming increasingly popular, so the primary audience of 'beefy' routers won't be overly happy with these AMD GX-412TC boards anymore - which would otherwise be close to perfect and very flexible.

Sadly the market for affordable small/ silent/ low-power x86_64 boards is rather scarce, yes there are quite a few mini-PCs with up to four 1000BASE-T ethernet ports, but almost none that would accomodate two (thinking about wifi 6e even three-) wireless cards as well.

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The short answer on this is, no it's not possible given the requirements above even by a longshot.
The closest you might get is TurrisOS but that will need quite a bit of customization. Given the budget you'll barely afford hardware let alone any addtitional software solution.

If you're already unbundling the router from the DSL/DOCSIS modem, maybe unbundling WiFi AP from the router wouldn't be such a hard sale for your customers, in which case you may be better served by ER-X and UniFi APs.

Some of the things you're looking for (like the web filter) can be done using the family-type DoH resolvers (CIRA/Cloudflare, etc) or even the adguard/nextdns packages on OpenWrt. There's also an iperf3-based WebUI app in development which may serve as your speed test if you roll out an iperf3 server.

You definitely want to consider different tiers of routers capable of different speeds, maybe some of the GL-Inet routers for the below gigabit speeds and you may want to look into where companies like Sophos and Netgate source their low-tier x86 routers for the higher end/speed models (which will likely exceed your target price tho).

Good luck fighting the monopoly, I hope CRTC reverses its ruling!

If you really must have a gigabit-capable router, read this post:

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However these are very dated and are about as far as a than a quad core A53 SoC @ 1.5Ghz (with crypto extensions) looking at a few results over a so at this stage they're not really that good. Something else worth considering is that from what I can tell they seem to lack UEFI, + "v. - prepared integration of tianocore payload allowing to boot UEFI aware systems" which may not be a dealbreaker but something to consider.