BITNETS

BITNETS, founded in 1999, provides one-stop technology consulting services to you as a small business or professional.

What differentiates us from the competition? From what we hear from our clients, we are the fastest, both in response time and speed of completion. We get more work done right the first time and in less time, requiring fewer visits and with fewer resources, whether these be constraints of hardware, software, bandwidth or something beyond your control, saving you time, money and aggravation. We are upfront about our charges, work efficiently and provide an itemized invoice. Plus our broad ranging advice covers your small business concerns, beyond our technology services. That has been the hallmark of BITNETS.

We seek to build strong, long-term relationships with clients who understand and appreciate the value of standards-based solutions and the confidence of doing business with a trusted technology advisor.

BITNETS makes the Internet work for you — in more ways than you might consider possible!

Winners of the St. Albert Chamber of Commerce 2003 InfoTech Award of Distinction.

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BITNETS FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions - With Answers

We spend a lot of time responding to your questions. Typically an hour to read and draft a single reply if no research is involved, sometimes even 3 hours. We understand every message thoroughly before responding so you're never exasperated trying to re-explain your issue several times over to several different people. Your tough question might be a good one, but we won't stop at telling you that! Please refer to this FAQ before requesting support, since that will save us the time to come up with many more good answers. Plus, it might resolve your issue before we get to it.
 

SERVICE AND SUPPORT

I'm experiencing service interruptions with my existing service provider, and there were billing problems with another service provider before that. In such situations, what's worse is, not receiving a response from billing and support. If such an incident should occur with you, what's my recourse other than changing service providers once again?

We think the case with anyone would be that you would have to switch. We have never had a billing related problem or an extended service interruption, so we do not think this would be an issue.
 

Do you have a policy of pre-warning when you schedule a maintenance or system overhaul, or do you just go ahead and shut off mail service? While the maintenance is being carried out, does a backup server take over or is service interrupted for that duration?

Scheduled maintenance such as major system upgrades will be announced. Minor component upgrades don't usually require a server reboot, so the momentary downtime is usually under 5 seconds, and even a reboot translates to less than a minute of downtime. Yes, backup servers do take over any time mail is not deliverable to the primary server for any reason.

The way the Internet works, every ISP has an upstream ISP. If one of our upstream ISPs goes down unannounced (does not happen too often, of course), we won't be able to pre-warn you. We would nonetheless receive pager notification from our own monitoring system and be aware of the problem, and would take steps to restore connectivity ASAP.

During the upstream outage, mail will still be received since we have both multi-homed connectivity and multi-location backup servers. You might experience intermittent connection failures when attempting to download mail in spite of our redundant Internet connectivity. We won't get into the complexity of why this happens, but it is a limitation of existing e-mail systems. To help fix this issue we have done our part in contacting mail user agent (e-mail software) vendors to modify their software, and written up an Internet Draft that might someday become an Internet standard that would overcome these shortcomings. Mail will never bounce or be lost as a result of failures at any one upstream ISP.
 

Do you have 24x7 monitoring and support staff who will alert me by e-mail immediately should I be mail bombed or hacked? Or will I find out only much later when I don't receive mail for hours?

Do you know of any service provider that does this? We'd like to see that! We restrict the size of any single message deposited in your mailbox to 15 MB, but this requires your mailbox size to be much larger than the default 15 MB. We have no way of telling if your mailbox has been bombed or your account has been hacked. This is because the large message (sometimes several megabytes) could be a legitimate message containing an attachment of program source code etc. Or if your account information is known to a third party, someone could log in with your username and password. In both cases the system does not think anything is wrong. This is the case with any provider though, not just us. The only way we could find something like this is to manually check every client's account all the time which would require considerable manpower.

We monitor our servers 24x7, though not by a human. Monitoring includes utility power, Internet connectivity and ensuring battery backups, network devices, server hardware and software are all functioning. If for any reason service at our end is disrupted, we will attempt to rectify it immediately, without regard to what time of the day or night it is. This does not include monitoring every account on the servers, but we do resolve any issues you might point out as quickly as possible. You could set up some sort of external script that monitors your own mailbox, one that will notify you based on certain criteria.

We do not provide 24x7 support, even if in practice we do reply to your e-mail messages immediately whenever someone is available after hours. We do however have faster turnaround times than most service providers who do offer 24x7 support. This is because their after hours personnel are usually not empowered to deal with any issues other than basic web browser compatibility and e-mail program configuration. We have a flat, single-tier support infrastructure and all support personnel are empowered to at least begin resolving your issue immediately. You won't have to open a support ticket and wait for hours or even days for your ticket to be escalted to reach personnel empowered to deal with your issue, as you might with a multi-tiered support infrastructure.
 

Will there be a troubleshooter who can be contacted by e-mail at 3 AM to respond to and fix a login or POP account problem? We are 14 hours ahead of your time zone, so it wouldn't be an unreasonable time for us to check on mail and ask for help if we encounter any account related problem.

We generally are not around at 3 AM, the time zone difference does make things a bit messy. We do not provide 24x7 support, even if in practice we do reply to your e-mail messages immediately whenever someone is available after hours. We do realise an account related issue which disrupts your mail flow is urgent and we will not wait until the morning to resolve it if at all someone is available, since we well realise what your working hours are. Everything else will be taken care of during our business hours, including replying to your e-mail. So leave us an instant message or e-mail and rest assured it will be taken care of ASAP, without necessarily being there to chat or reply.
 

Our company auditors/tax advisors want to see a service contract. We don't recall having signed one. Does BITNETS provide written contracts?

Yes, in fact we require that you print, sign, date and return a copy of the BITNETS Service Agreement. Please retain a copy for your records.
 

Do you have a partner program for resellers?

You bet! Check out our Hosting Partner Program.
 

Are you going to be around in 6 months?

We do not borrow money and are very modest risk takers. We work to keep our overheads low. We have no outside investors or controlling interests. We rest content providing services within the realm of our core competencies.
We intend to be around for a long time.

 

INVOICES AND PAYMENTS

Can we pay monthly (or quarterly if you prefer) by bank draft with no cheque processing charge levied, either against an e-mail invoice or paper invoice by postal mail? The invoice must show the invoice no. & date, due date, period of service, sender's address, bill to address and details of service.

We require a minimum one year contract, but you could pay quarterly for business accounts. Given the low cost service we can only accept payment annually for personal accounts. There are no cheque processing charges for cheques issued in Canadian Dollars or US Dollars and payable at a Canadian or US bank. There are also no processing charges for SWIFT transfers of a minimum CAD 1,000. Yes, we will send you a descriptive invoice. The invoice is usually sent by e-mail only, as an attached .PDF which you can view and print for your records using Adobe Reader®.
 

Can you not charge us the Canadian Goods and Services Tax?

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requires that we charge 5% GST. By the same ruling we do not charge HST to the participating provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. If you are not a resident of Canada, GST is still payable except as noted below -
Consulting services are zero-rated (0%) and
Hosting is zero-rated (0%) for resellers only
The zero-rating does not apply to residents of Canada.

BITNETS Secure E-mail FAQ

Does secure e-mail stop e-mail viruses?
The BITNETS secure e-mail service includes virus scanning, so yes, all incoming mail is scanned for viruses. Secure e-mail itself is not an anti-virus technology.

So what exactly is secure e-mail? Why do I need secure e-mail?
Secure e-mail uses a point to point TLS (SSL) connection to encrypt e-mail transfers over the Internet wherever possible. For security to be effective, every system the e-mail passes through must support TLS transfers. To assure end-to-end security, BITNETS provides both a system for your correspondents to connect to for sending messages to you and for you to download those messages over a secure, encrypted connection. It assures you privacy since e-mail in transit that is otherwise readable by anyone will be unreadable, with no additional skills or special efforts on your part.

Why not just get anti-virus software?
Anti-virus is not a secure e-mail solution in itself. It is merely one component of the BITNETS secure e-mail service.

Popular desktop anti-virus and all-in-one security products cause system instability, might slow down your computer and even be incompatible with your operating system. They cost more, either due to annual upgrades or if the product is discarded for the problems it might cause. The effectiveness of anti-virus is limited to blocking only known viruses with certainty. The biggest drawback of desktop anti-virus then is that anti-virus might not protect your computer from the latest threats if you do not yourself update virus signatures regularly. Worms can remotely plant themselves on your computer and turn off anti-virus protection, opening up your computer to further infection, while you rest with a false sense of security.

BITNETS employs advanced content filtering developed in-house based on years of ongoing research. The content filter blocks potentially malicious content that might not per se be a virus, so the effectiveness of virus blocking is not limited to and does not depend on anti-virus alone.
The service is platform and operating system independent so every computer you use, not just the one computer that has desktop anti-virus, is protected in more ways without the need to buy, install, configure or update regularly, software for each Windows and Linux PC and Mac.

All your e-mail is filtered before it is even delivered to your mailbox, as against first downloading infected messages to your computer and then scanning with anti-virus software.

So I don't need to buy anti-virus software if I'm using the BITNETS secure e-mail service?
If you forward all your mail from your various e-mail addresses to your BITNETS mailbox, download mail from the BITNETS secure e-mail service exclusively, run a hardware firewall and don't download software except from reputed sites, you never need to run anti-virus software on your computer.

What about spam or junk mail?
The BITNETS secure e-mail service blocks mail from known spammers, so you will see a dramatic reduction in the amount of spam you receive. Messages likely to be spam that you might receive would be tagged as such in the subject line, so you may take appropriate action such as set up a filter or rule in your e-mail program to automatically divert all such tagged messages to a Spam, Junk, Trash or Deleted Items folder for review, and thus eliminate those messages yourself or otherwise deal with them as you deem fit.

Does my e-mail address have to change? Do I still need my cable/ADSL/dialup service?
Your existing e-mail address does not change if you don't want it to. You keep your existing cable, ADSL or dial-up service either way. You get all the benefits of your new service without having to notify your correspondents of an address change, by having e-mail from your current address forward to your new e-mail address.

If I still need to keep my existing cable/ADSL/dialup service, why incur the additional cost?
The short answer is mobility, flexibility, cost and security.

Mobility: Switching from cable to ADSL, switching ADSL service providers, upgrading from dial-up to cable or any such changes will result in your losing your e-mail address that is known to all your friends, family and business associates. The BITNETS service on the other hand operates independent of your Internet connectivity, so even if you move to another part of the world or switch connectivity service providers, you keep your e-mail address for as long as you are signed up with BITNETS. You are free to switch service providers if you are not getting the service levels and value you expect; you don't have to put up with sub-standard service just to keep your e-mail address, once you are signed up with BITNETS.

Flexibility and Cost: If you have residential service (usually under $55/month), your service provider will not permit the use of your own domain name with the bundled e-mail service unless you upgrade to business class of service and pay significantly higher rates. You do not have to pay premium business rates for an Internet connection that offers little value, to have BITNETS host your domain.

Security: BITNETS brings you innovative technologies, and as such your existing provider likely does not
offer TLS. We do not bundle anti-virus or firewall software with our service and claim we are providing benefits that are actually being provided by third party software. We are in the business of protection, not deception.

How much does the BITNETS secure e-mail service cost?
For personal accounts, C$9.80 per month and a one-time setup fee of C$25 on a minimum one-year term.
Business accounts start at C$39.00 per month with a one-time setup fee of C$60 to C$125, depending on whether name service setup is required. The price includes ten domain e-mail addresses and domain registrar fees. Your account can optionally be integrated with a mail server on your premises.

What makes BITNETS different?
BITNETS is an award-winning Managed Solutions Provider. The service is fully managed and totally hands off for you. You get the combination of industry standard SSL encryption (the same technology used for online banking), virus scanning and spam management for total security. BITNETS has multi-homed Internet connectivity such that each upstream provider gets its upstream independent of the other, on-site and remote backup mail and DNS servers on different subnets and daily mail spool backup. None of the servers are outsourced or co-located, all services run on physically secure
in-house servers at multiple BITNETS locations.

Where can I get more information? Can I sign up online?
You can get more information and sign up online.
If you have any questions, would like to discuss options or sign up, call us at 1-877-248-6387 (Canada/US toll-free).

BITNETS Technical FAQ

Can I administer (add/remove users, change passwords etc.) the 60 users in our domain?

Yes, you can change passwords over an SSL connection. The service is fully managed, so we make all other changes such as adding/deleting users, aliases and mail forwarding. Self-administration compromises security for all users by enabling extraneous and insecure services, allowing access to privileged system tools and lowering the level of server lockdown. Of course, there's also the high possibility of user error causing inconvenience to other users. We do not think anyone signing up for secure e-mail would want to compromise security, yet the password change functionality might be considered essential, so that is the only form of self-administration permitted.

There are no charges for minor modifications/updates within any account and we can usually complete changes within minutes of your request during business hours, so time lag or cost should not be a concern. On the other hand, you would be charged a minimum C$25 to reset any account lockout or other errors introduced through self-administration that we would need to fix.

 

Can we use our existing domain name with the service?

Yes, you can use your existing domain name and in fact we will pay for your .com, .net, .org or .ca domain name on a minimum one year mail hosting contract if you choose to have us take care of routine administration (included at no charge for your one-stop convenience). This is a freebie, you don't have to list us as the administrative contact if you don't want to. We would still need access to your domain's DNS records to make changes as necessary.

 

Why can't we download mail from the backup mail server?

You do not have a mailbox on the backup server to which you can connect and download mail. The backup mail server receives mail for you when the primary server is unreachable, and delivers it to your mailbox on the primary server. This is a failover mechanism that prevents mail from bouncing or being lost, it is not a mirror server.

 

How does the virus scanning service work?

All inbound mail is automatically scanned for possible malicious content. Depending on the prcoessing stage at which a message is rejected, one of three things would happen:
1. If detected at the initial mail delivery stage, our mail server would not accept the message, and as such the sender's mail server should inform the sender of the delivery failure with the reason as given by our mail server, or
2. If the message makes it past initial checks, our mail server would return the original message to the sender with the reason for the return and additionally deliver an alert to you with the technical details, or
3. If in the rare case that an accurate assessment of the content is not technically possible, the message would either be tagged as *** UNCHECKED *** in the subject and delivered to you or, in case of undecipherable encrypted archives, bounced as in 2. above

 

How do you identify spam?

We have implemented a very extensive, but not overly aggressive approach to spam blocking. We use a combination of verification, blacklists and pattern matching all based on ongoing spam analysis and various common sense measures to reject most spam. The trickle of messages that make it past these checks are further subject to a highly effective anti-spam system with filter rulesets and Bayesian technology, a self-learning system that identifies spam with great precision. Such identified spam is tagged as *** SPAM *** in the subject and delivered to your mailbox to avoid the blocking of legitimate mail, even though in our experience the false positive rate is 0%.

 

11 Reasons to choose BITNETS for E-mail

1. Confidence of entrusting services that you depend on, to a company driven by a passion for messaging solutions.
2. Saves on costs of administration and licensing.
3. Avoids the liability arising from your systems infecting, choking or causing a denial of service to other systems.
4. Protects you from malicious, offensive and undesirable content and affords you peace of mind.
5. Avoids downtime, saves the time and costs of having to re-deploying systems that have been infected or compromised.
6. Lets you get right to business, reading your important messages rather than first having to spend time sifting through and deleting junk mail.
7. Lets you concentrate on your business, frees you from day-to-day technical issues.
8. Affords you more time every day to do the things you want to do.
9. Prevents your systems from being overwhelmed by decreasing the e-mail volume on your network by approx. 80% while correspondingly increasing your network bandwidth.
10. A well-managed secure e-mail infrastructure hosted by an award-winning Managed Solutions Provider enhances your company image and reputation.
11. Excellence in individual customer service from a small business that knows all its customers by name, as compared to large, faceless national telcos and bulk service providers.

BITNETS Service Agreement

Services provided are subject to your unqualified acceptance of the BITNETS Service Agreement as set out in the Terms and Conditions (PDF) and Acceptable Use Policy (PDF).

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BITNETS Privacy Statement

Your use of this and related web sites is governed by our Privacy Statement (PDF).

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BITNETS Hosting Partner

Partner with BITNETS today! We provide the secure and flexible mail hosting infrastructure you need to provide customised back-end Internet mail solutions to your clients. Yes, we can work with you to seamlessly integrate our secure Internet mail hosting with the intranet mail servers you set up for your clients!

For example, all incoming Internet mail for your clients can be scanned for viruses and other harmful content by our servers. Depending on whether your client has ISP provided mailboxes or an intranet mail server, we can forward the filtered mail to your client's ISP provided e-mail address/es or their intranet mail server. Your clients don't need an always on Internet connection, since we can forward mail on demand to an intranet mail server on a dial-up Internet connection.

Flexibility is no longer a concern, so you can minimise your investment in infrastructure by outsourcing to us.

You provide tech support to and bill your clients directly. If you are outside Canada, you don't pay Canadian GST on your orders as a partner reselling our service.

Call 1-877-248-6387 [Canada/US toll-free] to discuss.

Why is BITNETS in uppercase letters?

BITNETS is stylized in uppercase letters in recognition of it originally having being conceived as an acronym.

What's a consultant?

A person who gives professional advice or services in a specialised field
(source: The Canadian Oxford Dictionary)

We are consultants in the true spirit of this definition. Most “consultants” are in practice value–added resellers (VARs). It seems in the IT business a VAR being referred to as a consultant is the norm. It’s not fair to say that they don’t do their job well. They might be doing great selling goods and services on generous markups. Here’s an example that speaks for itself:

from: Rick Newcombe
email: not shown

Need Consultants

Hello,
I need to secure the names and contact numbers for at least 10
"Computer Consulting" firms in BC and AB. telus.net is offering
a generous commission plan to those who will resell our Small
Business Internet services, and we wish to invite the top 10 from
each province to participate. Eventually all qualified "Consultants"
will be able to participate.
Thank you for your suggestions

But they aren’t consultants at all, are they? Do you want the “advice” of such “consultants”? Of course not! VARs have vested interests in specific products or services, so their solutions could be woven around their wares.

You are not required to buy from us to engage our consulting services. There are no vendor-specific contractual obligations or volume purchase commitments to influence our product recommendations. This means we might be required to pay retail for some products and thus sell at cost so as to be priced the lowest across all products. A price we pay to honour our commitment to you as consultants and for your one-stop shopping convenience.

A quote from Larry Kesslin, President, Riverdale, NY-based 4-Profit as published in eChannelLine:

I can't tell you how many resellers I talk to who think they're in the
technology business. The job of a reseller is to sell. If you don't
develop your own technology, then you are in the sales business.