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Can Broadband Go Everywhere?

Posted July 21, 2010 7:41 AM by Sharkles

There's a big push to bring high speed internet access to rural areas. It's a worthy idea to bridge the digital divide, but do we really have the resources to bring broadband to every isolated hamlet out there? Is there a better way than stringing fiber and cable?

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#1

Re: Can Broadband Go Everywhere?

07/21/2010 12:24 PM

Many rural areas already have broadband, including parts of extremely rural Appalachia. It was put in by the telecommunication companies themselves without the need for, or sponsorship by, any government program.

Also, the cable television industry began as a service in extremely rural areas where regular broadcast TV signals were too weak or blocked by mountains. Satellite TV, including satellite internet, is as available in these areas as it is in the heavily populated metropolitan areas of the east and west coasts.

For some areas that get excessively heavy rainfall, such as the Gulf area around Mobile, Alabama, the southern Blue Ridge and Smokey Mountain areas, and the Pacific Northwest, fiber optic broadband for TV and internet is probably a more reliable technology than satellite.

Each person determines his own 'need'; the government shouldn't be spending billions of dollars for a technology that private companies are already in the business of doing.

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#2

Re: Can Broadband Go Everywhere?

07/21/2010 10:13 PM

In Australia, the government has been working on establishing a national broadband network, with 90% of people in the country with direct access and the remaining 10% with access via satellite internet. The satellite is provided free of charge if you are in an area where to run hard lines would not be cost effective. The only catch is that you have to sign up for a plan if you get the satellite.

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#3

Re: Can Broadband Go Everywhere?

07/22/2010 2:21 PM

I have been working in this area for the past 17 years. I believe that it can and more importantly SHOULD be done. The problem that I have seen is that the approach to the problem is flawed. A few questions and my opinions:

1. Should government be in the business of helping to bridge the digital divide? I believe the answer is yes.

2. Should corporations be in the business of providing services to who ever wants them and can pay for them? I believe the answer is yes.

3. Is there at least one concept o how to do this and NOT break the bank? I believe the answer is yes.

What is required is the will power to do it and the decision to do it once by doing it right the first time.

IMHO the correct technical solution is a combination of fiber and wireless.

IMHO I believe the correct business answer is a properly defined public private partnership. Why do I say this?

a. There are benefits that a governmental entity has that do not exist in the private sector (owbership of right of ways, existing service to all citizens, and the lowest cost money that exists)

b. There are benefits that the private sector has that a governmental entity does not have. Technology savvy, focus on the bottom line, ability to scale through multiple service areas (governments are limited within their defined jurisdictional boundaries).

What is the thought of the group here on what I have written so far?

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Can Broadband Go Everywhere?

07/22/2010 11:01 PM

Sounds good to me

how about some of your experience over here

http://cr4.globalspec.com/blogentry/13331/On-the-Fence-About-Net-Neutrality

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#7
In reply to #3

Re: Can Broadband Go Everywhere?

07/24/2010 8:58 AM

1. Should government be in the business of helping to bridge the digital divide? I believe the answer is yes.

Well, I believe the answer is no. I moved to 'the sticks' a few years ago to get away from crowded cities and suburbs. I want a dark sky to do Astronomy. I moved here knowing that I might have to do without some conveniences. Nevertheless, high-speed broadband is here, as well as cable TV and satellite and G4 cellular service. At least one corporation is planning to run fiber optic cable here. I'm not convinced that any 'digital divide' exists except perhaps for people who want that divide. I'm concerned that I may have to move again, further out, in the near future.

2. Should corporations be in the business of providing services to who ever wants them and can pay for them? I believe the answer is yes.

My only quibble with this statement is the word 'should', as though corporations need to be commanded to this. It's the corporations choice and it's about the bottom line.

3. Is there at least one concept on how to do this and NOT break the bank? I believe the answer is yes.

As mentioned above, this area has high-speed broadband, cable TV, satellite and G4 cellular -- all installed by corporations acting freely in the marketplace. No government help was needed except for the occasional zoning law changes and granting of rights-of-way.

What is required is the will power to do it and the decision to do it once by doing it right the first time.

Piffle. What is required is a free market.

IMHO the correct technical solution is a combination of fiber and wireless.

Or maybe something else. Technology advances. Different strokes for different folks.

IMHO I believe the correct business answer is a properly defined public private partnership. Why do I say this?

a. There are benefits that a governmental entity has that do not exist in the private sector (ownership of right of ways, existing service to all citizens, and the lowest cost money that exists)

b. There are benefits that the private sector has that a governmental entity does not have. Technology savvy, focus on the bottom line, ability to scale through multiple service areas (governments are limited within their defined jurisdictional boundaries).

Piffle squared. See comments above re: broadband, CATV, satellite, G4. And fiber.

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Can Broadband Go Everywhere?

07/24/2010 3:01 PM

living east of the mississippi you have a different perspective, there just aren't that many areas of very low population density, so the installing of infrastructure is low hanging fruit for the ISP's where you are, as evidenced by the amount of competition you describe

I don't think there should be incentives for the providers, but requirements to keep the telecoms from cherry picking their markets to help average out the costs.

the continuing advancement of wireless technologies will probably render the entire discussion moot

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#9
In reply to #7

Re: Can Broadband Go Everywhere?

07/27/2010 9:29 PM

Usbport,

I am glad that your experience has been good where you are. Your posts are like many who write from their indivdual experience.

I write from being in the business of trying to get better service to millions that lack. I admit my experience is from east of the Mississippi river and mostly south of Kentucky. However, I also collaborate with others in my business that work in mid west states like Montana and kansas. They report the same as I have found, however I do not have direct experience in other regions.

Your statment that you do not believe a digital divide exists is similar to some who say that racism no longer exists, IMHO. The statement on the surface is a statement of one's individual world and has nothing to do with the reality of a high percentage of people in the US. The digital divide exists and for many reasons based on my research and direct observation. Mostly socio economic but a lot because of where a person lives.

I would ask that you take a look at certain factors where you live. Did others like yourself move to your area for similar reasons? Are you on a comfortable retirement income? What is the monthly cost of service (on average) where you are? Is access to the Internet CRITICAL for your day to day life?

I respectfully accept your disagreement about what corporations should do. However any corporation worth its salt, should be focused on what retains customers. Doing the right thing has been shown to equal profitable companies.

Wireless, in my professional opinion, is nothing more than a cash cow for service providers and not a real answer to solving a digital divide. So no tax money should be given to ANYONE that is ONLY putting up a wireless network with the goal of bridging the digital divide, IMHO.

Again, I will end by saying this discussion is about "Can broadband Go Everywhere?" Again I say the answer is yes and cost effectively, profitably and DONE ONCE. Just my $0.02

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Can Broadband Go Everywhere?

07/27/2010 10:24 PM

all4truth,

Why is wireless not the future?

Desk top PC's seem to be a thing of the past

various handheld devices seem to be the future

do you have a different opinion?

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: Can Broadband Go Everywhere?

07/28/2010 6:04 PM

a. IMHO and MPO wireless will not be a solution based on several factors.

1. The new applications are bandwidth hogs. Software developers seem to have fogotten THE efficiency rules when programming.

2. TCP/IP has won as the standard for data applications. Wireless does not provide unlimited bandwidth. The equipment is manufactured to fit within a specified spectrum of frequency. These spectrums are inefficient for TCP/IP applications that dynamically request and send data in bursts. So a single device can be the death of your network based on the device's ability to support multiple applications, SIMULTANEOUSLY.

3. The orignal basis for wireless was to talk to someone. This use only requires 56K per connection and no matter how fast you talk or how much you talk you will only need 56K to get the message across.

b. IMHO handhelds are a force in the design and management of networks.

1. The use of handhelds make it easy for everybody to be online at the same time. A scary thought, from a network administration point of view.

2. Handhelds are great to use when mobile but lack comfort once you are back at a stationary work place.

3. To me they are a useful tool and not a replacement for the reliable desktop or laptop computer.

c. In the end, It is MPO that broadband infrastructure should be installed with as much bandwith as affordable and a plan for how to add more within 60 days of being put into service. It is kind of like a trash can. Get a small one and you will not have too much trash. Get a bigger one and the trash grows to fill it up in the same time period as when you had the smaller trashcan.

The network knundrum (did I spell that correctly).

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#12
In reply to #11

Re: Can Broadband Go Everywhere?

07/28/2010 10:52 PM

I had a blackberry for a few months,

after I moved I had to travel 20 miles for it to catch my email, which made it pretty much useless part of the time.

surfing certainly wasn't very satisfying, Using CR4 was slow, I went to Bath Breaking Technique once & had to take it in to be reset

it did catch a signal for voice better than most

I see lots of other people with devices, I would wonder about the long term durability of anything with a touch screen

Personally I've gone to linux, which is is fairly conservative with resources a 10 year old pc is still limited more by the speed of the connection than anything...

Thanks for the explanations

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#5

Re: Can Broadband Go Everywhere?

07/23/2010 9:10 AM

There is much talk about broadband services, fiber and wireless as a solution to the digital divide. There is much talk about what private companies are doing to upgrade their infrastructure in the rural and remote areas. I would like this discussion to break down what is actually being done.

From my experience in the rural and remote areas of the US private companies are just now getting to DSL service expansion and some MSO upgrades of cable service to support Internet access. Their expansion does not include either fibee or WiMAX (tm) technologies in 90% of the areas where dial up Internet is the primary conection today.

From my own experience and research the telephone companies are sending up a smoke screen by serving about 35% of the small towns within DSL reach of their central office. There is no DSL service outside of the immediacy around the central office. The MSOs look at the penetration of Dish Network, Direct TV and satellite usage and if too many (35%) of the users already have one of these services, then they will NOT upgrade their infrastructure to provide Internet access outside of the immediate area near their head end.

To be honest, even in some medium sized cities (less than 100,000), you may have to call the telephone company or the cable company to see if you can get an advertised NEW service at your home or business.

I believe that the CR4 discussion should be about infrastructure improvement. Historically, governments have been best able to make and support baseline infrastructure improvements for every utility that we have and with the exception of electricity and natural gas, municipalities still provide those utility services. We can see how electric service improved once the electric providers realized that a unified grid was best for way to efficienly have an infrastructure that could reach everyone.

I, for one, do not see the current list of telecommunications providers coming together to have a unified infrastructure at anytime in the next 50 years. Only by a public private partnership can the log jam of ineffieciency, that we call our telecommunications infrastructure, be transformed into an efficient tool to serve everybody's need.

The CFOs of today's private telecommunications service providers are committed to squeeeze every bit of use out of an antiquated copper infrastructure, although they have known for 20 years that a better infrastructure could be put in and not be changed for 50 years.

Spending a dollar to save a dime comes to mind when I observe the decisions that are being made by these CFOs (I have been part of the senior staff briefing some of the largest telcos). There are two major providers that have decided to change out their infrastructure, Verizon and SBC. They have to make a conscious decision to spend billions to get it done. Once it happens, they will kill the other smaller providers in their area that own antiquated copper infrastructures and then we will deal with the monopoly this creates. The customers in the Verizon area are blessed that customer service is also a commitment that Verizon makes.

I am making these comments because this discussion group is about the engineering details of what should be done and how it can be done. The media reports are lacking, from an engineering perspective, and I believe that a true business/technical solution can be found that is a win-win-win for the service providers, people and governments.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Can Broadband Go Everywhere?

07/23/2010 9:41 AM

I can speak to the situation in my area

fiber optic is installed along many of the public & private roads. there is a access riser on the edge of our property.

I can't connect to it, the service isn't actually offered?

It's only been 5 years since it's been installed

no eta either..

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#13

Re: Can Broadband Go Everywhere?

07/29/2010 2:17 AM

Well, in my experience, wireless anything offers inferior bandwidth and reliability than a wired (or fibered) equivalent. So, I would favour a wired connection every time, if there is an alternative. In the UK, ADSL broadband is available in a high percentage of places (high 90s percent I believe is what they quote) - but of course, what you actually get is highly dependent on line length and quality: That is infinitely variable. This means that many people get slow service that may be 10x of dial up speeds, but still pretty unimpressive compared to what others get for the same money.

I have no problem with government subsidising or legislating for broadband everywhere: They did it with the build out of the UK electricity supply grid (as I believe they did in most countries) where they either provided a subsidy or made universal availability a condition of the license to operate.

We are getting near the point where being without Internet access could be said to amount to deprivation, and yes I know a lot of people scoff at that notion - just as people did in the 1930s and 1940s when the same was being said about not having electricity supplied to your home. So, within 10 years or so, I think it will become a scandal that some people cannot get connected, or cannot get a good connection.

Of course, the real question here is how you do it. Towns and cities can take care of themselves, pretty much. The commercial logic of getting such places on stream for high bandwidth broadband will make that happen, maybe not as quickly as we might like, but nevertheless it will happen. How you do the tiny places is what's problematic - and the meat of the problem.

Technologies like satellite broadband are already available everywhere (But, in the UK, at a cost of about 7x ADSL) and don't offer exactly stunning bandwidth. If such services could be subsidised and improved, they would provide one of the best possible answers to providing places in the middle of nowhere with service. Wireless cellular services can be deployed, but there are issues of reliability and cost. That cost is largely due to the relay fashion in which they have to be built out and the fact that you need quite a high level of expertise to design and maintain the relay locations for any given topography (keeping power on to remote relay stations etc). This applies to any wireless service (such as wireless ethernet etc). However, with 3G and 4G networks there is the cost sharing factor that they overlay on existing voice comms infrastructure - which mitigates the cost somewhat.

Technology is the least of this though. The money side of it is the main thing that has to be addressed. Rural broadband build out is highly speculative and risky for private industry to undertake, it's up to governments to force it to happen, by regulatory means or by subsidy. Probably it will be done with a little of both.

Alan T

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: Can Broadband Go Everywhere?

07/29/2010 1:38 PM

From my experience, you are right on the money with much what you worte. So I agree in principle.

I also agree that HOW you do it is paramount to success and accomplishing the objective. Here is what I propose to this group of engineers and interested people:

1. Provide your 50 year prediction on the amount and type of bandwidth that will be needed to meet ALL broadband requirements. Be as brief or as exspansive as necessary.

2. Give us your opinion on whether the tendency of telecommunications companies to merge and gobble up the smaller competition in order to make outdated business and technical models remain profitable is reliably meeting our country's position in the global market place.

3. Give us your top 5 picks for the highest priority use of brandband technologies today.

This is a small portion of a survey that we used to determine if a community is ready to support 21st century broadband infrastructure deployments. I would like to know what my peers on CR4 think and what your answers would be as a community of technical experts.

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Can Broadband Go Everywhere?

07/29/2010 1:48 PM

You should start a new thread as there are only 4-10 of us still following along

Your questions are better than the original topic

Why not post or link to the original survey in it's entirety?

need any help PM me I'll be happy to assist you

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#16

Re: Can Broadband Go Everywhere?

08/24/2010 1:24 PM

over large areas i would have thought it would be more cost effective to hard wire large areas and the use wireless systems for out lying areas

or use of a single satelite system with a large foot print possibly using normal phone lines to send information and satalite to receive data thus reducing the load on the hard wired systems.

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