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Topic # 95548 7-Jan-2012 20:18
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I have a question for you all

If I run a broadband network, and dont provide any email addresses, or email services, but i allow my customers to use any email service they like, without any restrictions, should I still be required to provide an SMTP server?

It is my understanding that whoever provides the email address/mailbox or service should be the ones to also provide the smtp service also. 

The reason I dont provide email services is because i encourage my customers to use a proper email service such as gmail, so if they ever change ISP, they dont have to change their email address.  
       
There is a few major new zealand hosting companies that dont provide smtp service - not even authenticated or secure smtp on another port and their customer support says the customer must use their ISP's email server. 
This is an issue for traveling customers - whenever they stay at a motel, they need to change their smtp server, so i do what i can to encourage people to use their proper email providers server.

So in your guys opinions, should I be required to provide an smtp server, or should it really be left for the hosting company that provides the email service?




Ray Taylor
Taylor Broadband (rural hawkes bay)
www.ruralkiwi.com

There is no place like localhost
For my general guide to extending your wireless network Click Here




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  Reply # 565873 7-Jan-2012 20:32
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it should be up to the email provider to provide SMTP service..




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  Reply # 565875 7-Jan-2012 20:39
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No you should not be required to provide a smtp server leave it up to the email hosting company

John

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  Reply # 565885 7-Jan-2012 20:47
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The old-school thinking is that the SMTP (outgoing mail service) is operationally seperate from the incoming service (POP or IMAP).

The POP relationship is based on user/password (to get access to the mailbox) but the SMTP relationship is purely based on source IP address; if your IP is considered 'local' then relay to anywhere, else only accept mail destined for local domains.

It was fairly common in the old days for mail service providers (usually web hosting outfits with email as a tack-on feature, from the days where ISPs were the dominant way of getting an email address) to provide inbound only, and to ask you to use your ISPs SMTP service.

In more recent times there's been changes in the landscape; SPF records now carry out checks based on source IP addresses, comparing them with the domain name you're operating under and then providing feedback as to whether the mail source is considered genuine or not. DKIM goes further again. Most external mail service providers now provide SMTP-AUTH service out-of-the-box, so that you can use your user/pass to verify your outgoing mail and bypass the IP address trust relationship, continue to honour SPF requirements, etc.

My personal viewpoint is that if you're going to run a network access service, the path of least resistance is to stand up an SMTP server, appropriately configured, and let people use it on a 'best effort' basis. You could even outsource this to another ISP, so long as you can provide them with your IP range.

To insist that all end-users either use webmail, or use smtp-auth, is a harder path to follow as it requires your users to have a little more cloo and for you to play the hardball 'sorry we can't help you with this, contact your mail service provider for help'... I say hardball because most of the free players (gmail, yahoo, hotmail, etc) don't exactly provide local, helpful, hands-on tech support!

So even if you don't host email, to my mind an SMTP server would be relatively easy to stand up and maintain on a best-effort basis, or a relatively basic outsource arrangement could achieve same, and it'd give your customers that much less of a headache...?

My $0.02.
BJ.

Disclosure: In a private capacity, I host several folks email domains and drop their mail into pop/imap/webmailable boxes or forward them elsewhere. I don't offer my 'customers' SMTP service.
Comparitively, in a professional capacity I work for a mail service provider who offer SMTP-AUTH for all hosted mail services.




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  Reply # 565888 7-Jan-2012 20:59
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Thanks Blackjack


I pretty much understood all that - email was just something isp's provided out of habit for getting customers online. 


To be honest, i do have an smtp server, and i do have a few customers who use it - eg. elderly who wouldnt know how to open internet explorer, so i let them use an email@ruralkiwi.com address of their choosing because it would be more effort teaching them how to use gmail.


But i also get quite a few calls from people who are not my customers, but have come onto my network by staying at a customers house, or in a motel i provide service to. The motels have the smtp server address at the reception desk, but i still get calls on how to program it in. Eg. Your email is an @xtra.co.nz address but for some reason it is my problem its not working Foot in Mouth
 

But its annoying to have to field these calls when i provide a dirt cheap service. I am proud of the referals i get because of my good customer service - but i dont think i should be having to support customers that really should be getting support from somewhere else.


So i thought i would ask what the general consensus is upon the matter.




Ray Taylor
Taylor Broadband (rural hawkes bay)
www.ruralkiwi.com

There is no place like localhost
For my general guide to extending your wireless network Click Here




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  Reply # 565905 7-Jan-2012 21:46
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Just get your customers using other pop email accounts to use their own emails smtp servers.

You could refer them to their email provider - they could always setup the smtp server using UN and PW like the pop server is setup.... then they will be able to send email no matter what provider they are running their connection through.

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  Reply # 565932 7-Jan-2012 22:41
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simon14: Just get your customers using other pop email accounts to use their own emails smtp servers.

You could refer them to their email provider - they could always setup the smtp server using UN and PW like the pop server is setup.... then they will be able to send email no matter what provider they are running their connection through.


If the service provider doesn't provide authenticated SMTP this wont work.  In my helpdesk days I never had cause to support authenticated SMTP, though it was >5 years ago now and the world of SMTP has changed a lot since then.

Today many ISP's block outbound port 25 (basic SMTP) to destinations other than their own local SMTP server as an anti-spam measure. So you shouldn't assume that an end user can get beyond the local ISP on this port.  Encrypted, authenticated SMTP services are now the norm for end users who don't use their own ISPs SMTP service.... the ISP's own SMTP service is the lowest common denomenator as it's simply a source-ip-based decision as to whether to accept the email or not.

The OP doesn't wish to offer this last option.

For most home users who use their ISP provided mail service, they will never need SMTP-Auth it as they fall into the trusted-source-IP category (theyre always at home when sending mail via SMTP). Road Warriors will have some other arrangement, either SMTP-AUTH via their ISP (specifically arranged for the purpose) or a VPN into their office and pass the mail back that way, etc, or Webmail.

The company I work for provide an alternative SMTP service; authenticated (for hosted customers) or trusted-by-ip(as part of our outbound spam/virus protection service).  The OP could potentially use us as his 'outsource' solution, though we normally cater for businesses, not ISPs... our focus is providing SSL, Antivirus and Antispam solutions (i.e. we take the responsibility for mail handling away from companies for whom it's not core business) and the way this is done is usually trust-by-IP (for just a single address, for a single corporate mail server relaying outbound mail).  Hosted customers get SMTP-AUTH because we already have the systems in place to verify their username and password... so even in our case they're the exception rather than the rule.  (Many corporations provide SMTP-AUTH themselves to cater for their own road-warriors; none of this is oriented at end-users such as those the OP describes.)

BJ.






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  Reply # 565947 7-Jan-2012 23:12
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DANGER WILL ROBINSON, DANGER!!

Unless you're going to charge for it you should avoid standing up an SMTP server if possible. We give 5 free mailboxes to our customers and charge for spam/virus filtering, but still it's hard to recoup the actual costs of running best of breed filtering appliances ie Ironports.

Once you provide a service, even if only best effort, people expect it to work 100% of the time, and any outage will only reflect poorly on your business and cost you money. And don't get me started on the fallout of when your smtp servers get blacklisted, it's not pretty.

Besides, it's not hard to follow the guides from google/yahoo etc to use their SMTP servers.






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  Reply # 565962 8-Jan-2012 00:07
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I use Orcons Iserve hosting and email service, and they don't have an SMTP server. They say you need to use your ISPs SMTP server for sending emails, and it has been like that since I have used them. They only host incoming / pop email. The only way to send email is if you use webmail.
The problem with email services like gmail, is that there is no real support for them If you have a technical problem, there is nowhere to go, unless you have a third party helping you with your provider, and even thy may not be able to help. At least with a NZ provider , you can email them when there is a problem. I had a client with a hotmail account, and it got hacked and closed down by hotmail, and they had no way to contact them or get their email back, they just lost it and had to setup a new gmail account..

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  Reply # 565972 8-Jan-2012 00:53
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You can offer it best efforts basis but make this abundantly clear to your customers (and the fact this is a responsibility of their hosters). It's not hard to keep a basic mail server online and if you get blacklisted etc. redirect queries to the email hoster to provide SMTP access.





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  Reply # 566023 8-Jan-2012 10:37
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I don't think you should offer an SMTP server anyway. You are a internet service provider, not an email service provider.

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  Reply # 566034 8-Jan-2012 11:16
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The email environment has changed greatly.

In the olden days, email was open using ports 110 and 25, most users had one computer, at home, and most used their ISP POP/SMTP on an Outlook Expressie client. Life was good.

These days, there are MANY more email users, most of which are not PC/Internet/email literate. Many have multiple PC's, or other devices, travel is much cheaper, spam has caused most ISP's to use or should be using more complex SSL settings, blacklisting occurs. Support is much more an issue.

Now, the most user friendly means is webmail via dedicated email providers such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail. It is simple access, works everywhere where there is an internet connection, and every PC at home or device on the run has the same full access to everything. The non literate users should have a 99.9% experience, the users with smarts can add into their config, the use of these dedicated email providers POP/SMTP if they wish to run a "normal" client on one or some devices, particularly if the service supports IMAP

Support wise, while it is more difficult to get one to one support on a Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail environment, these are dedicated email providers, they will know there is an issue and they will be resolving any issues pronto, due to the competitive environment they exist in.

My 2c worth, + GST

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  Reply # 566299 8-Jan-2012 22:56
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I think you either have no SMTP server and no email services or a full email service with web mail, support and all.

If you have no SMTP server then you can tell travelers at the motel to use there providers web mail service.
Problem solved.

My 1c worth







Now on 2talk Network and it's better.



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  Reply # 566829 10-Jan-2012 11:44
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I probably wouldn't offer an email server.

For users staying at friends trying to use other ISP's smtp servers: I would tell anyone who rang to contact their email provider for assistance in using their smtp server from outside their network.

For people accessing gmail via email client, gmail help has an online wizard for this
https://support.google.com/mail/bin/static.py?hl=en&ts=1668960&page=ts.cs

Tell everyone else to use gmail or hotmail via web browser.

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