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Communications United States

Louisiana Towns Going High-Tech 331

Posted by michael
from the rated-c-for-can-you-hear-me-now dept.
wolverineinspector writes "Mink, LA is finally getting telephone land lines after the neighbouring communities got theirs in 1970. In the article they also say that as many as 6.2% of US homes don't have phone service - that would mean that 19 million Americans don't have wired phone lines available to them."
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Louisiana Towns Going High-Tech

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  • by WilliamsDA (567274) <{derk} {at} {derk.org}> on Friday December 17, 2004 @11:04PM (#11122425) Homepage
    Just because 6.2% of people don't have wired phones doesn't mean that the service isn't available to them. A lot of people ditch their wired lines and just use their cell phone.
    • what part of don't have phone service mean to you? it means they have no phones. no lines, no towers.
      • I don't have phone service. I have phones, lines, and towers, but I don't pay and don't receive service over them.
        • But you have it available to you (as do I, but I don't use it, I use celphones). The quote said 6.2% of people in the US don't have phone service available to them. The number of people without phone service is likely quite higher with people moving to cellphones or cable phone service.
      • what part of don't have phone service mean to you? it means they have no phones. no lines, no towers.

        It means "No Secrets"

        From the article:

        For years, they said, they used a pay phone at the Kisatchie general store. "But people were nosy - they'd come out and sit on the bench to listen," Blanche Marshall said.

        Apparently, life around there is incredibly boring too. From the descriptions the article has of the inhabitants, I can't imagine their phone calls being very thrilling. hanzie

    • Bad Credit? (Score:3, Funny)

      by mfh (56)
      Just because 6.2% of people don't have wired phones doesn't mean that the service isn't available to them. A lot of people ditch their wired lines and just use their cell phone.

      I'm guessing it's bad credit.
    • probably meaning land or cell.
    • I wonder what the percentage of Amish in the population is.

      LK
      • by TykeClone (668449) * <TykeClone@gmail.com> on Saturday December 18, 2004 @12:08AM (#11122742) Homepage Journal
        I was at a meeting this fall and one of the speakers was talking about how the Amish use technology. I thought we'd find out about those cutting edge things like blacksmithing and such, but it wasn't quite that. Apparently, as long as the technology doesn't get in the way of their religious life, it's ok.

        Land line telephones = bad; cell phones (or telephones kept "out of the house") = good.

        Utility power = bad; small portable generators = good

        Computers = bad; Palm Pilots/Pocket PCs = good (no word on the Zaurus though - maybe that just gets you into Purgatory)

        John Deere = bad; draft horses = good (and with that they're able to make a larger profit per acre farming than the typical farm in the country).

        There's probably something to learn from them about not letting technology drive your life, but I don't have time to think about that now - back to Slashdot!

        • It's good to realize that the Amish are not anti-technology. What they are against is anything that could complicate their lives - such as home phones ringing all the time or the monthly electric bill. They certainly don't live like cave men - they just find novel ways of getting what they need while remaining self-sufficient, such as using gas lighting and said generators for such things as running electronic cash registers.
        • Apparently, as long as the technology doesn't get in the way of their religious life, it's ok.

          Does this mean Luke Skkywalker is Amish? IIRC, he was using a portable generator to charge R2D2 when visiting Yoda, but I have'nt seen him plugging the android into a wall.

          Hm.. more serious.. How can it be that carrying a portable generator is NOT abusive to their religion, but plugging in the same equipment into the wall is? You can kick your toes into portable equipment, you can trip over it etc.

          As far as pho
          • Does this mean Luke Skkywalker is Amish? IIRC, he was using a portable generator to charge R2D2 when visiting Yoda, but I have'nt seen him plugging the android into a wall.

            That's because the droid and generator were both 110V, but the wall current was 220V. Remember, Uncle Owen wouldn't let him go to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters.
        • We lived near (as in 30 minutes or so away) from a large Amish community in Ohio.

          While I'm certainly no expert on their beliefs, one thing that was clear is that technology was tolerable for work (or to increase productivity) but not pleasure.

          Many Amish had power in their barns; for example to run lights so they could work longer hours. Some would use tractors, but not drive cars. It would not surprise me at all that Amish would use phones or cellular phones if it were related to business and selling go
      • You laugh but we actually have an amish client that has a webspace account with us. He sells horse/mule tack online, beautiful stuff too, traditional hewn timber, hand tanned leather, and hand forged iron.
  • by jxyama (821091) on Friday December 17, 2004 @11:08PM (#11122451)
    if you look on the map, Mink, LA is ~15 miles off I-49, which is a major highway between two of the larger Lousiana cities: Shreveport and Baton Rouge.

    surely they have cell phone signals there... why bother with a land line? how are they going to recuperate the capital cost?

    • by nxtr (813179) on Friday December 17, 2004 @11:13PM (#11122488)
      If you had read the article, you would've realized that they went to the town dump to make a call, because they got the best reception there.
      • I'm finding it hard to understand how a land line to every home is cheaper than a single new cell tower in the town. The cost seemed to be very similar according to the article (~$700,000). That seems high for a single tower, doesn't it? Anyone in the biz know better?
    • how are they going to recuperate the capital cost?

      It's not just about voice: xDSL services also run over landlines. In the UK wireless broadband services are almost always significantly more expensive than wired, and are often considered as a last resort solution. Even with the considerably more dispersed population of the bulk of the US, I doubt that things are much different on the other side of the pond.

    • They're not going to recoup the cost, at least not from the people of Mink. One of the line charge taxes included in your monthly bill is designed to compensate the phone companies for rolling out service in areas that are money losers. The Universal Service Fund, or something like that.
    • As a resident of the state of Louisiana, I can tell you that there has NEVER been cell service on most of I-49... which is mostly just forested area. I can remember driving my sister to college back in the mid-90s (when my dad had a humongous cell phone w/ a battery pack)... there wasn't service back then, and there still isn't service now.
    • Others have said that the area doesn't have cell service (at least not reliable coverage).

      Call towers typically only cover a few miles (2-3 mile radius IIRC). Also, there has to be land-line phone service in the area already; that's how the towers are connected to the telephone network. A cell company is not going to pay the huge fees to run service to areas off the normal telco map; they'd never break even on the tower (and I don't think cell service is covered by the Universal Service Fund).
  • by blanks (108019) on Friday December 17, 2004 @11:10PM (#11122465) Homepage Journal
    " 6.2% of US homes don't have phone service "
    Does this include the number of people who have cellphones that dont want a land line.

    Or how about the people that just dont want a land line. Or get digital phone service from their cable provider.
    • From the article:
      93.8 percent of American households had
      telephones of some sort.


      If they have any type of phone service, they have been counted.

      The statistic doesn't say how many of those 6.2% of people live way out in the middle of nowhere (ie. Alaska), or how many may simply have decided they don't need a telephone.
    • A friend of mine has 2 phones, a cell phone and a VoIP phone. He has no "normal phones". Some statistics would count him as having no phone, even though he has 2.

      I personally would feel uncomfortable not having a land line. Of course I also have a cell, as that is a necessity nowadays, especially for any technophile ("geek". :)

      If I have an emergency, I want to know I can dial 911 and the line will be working and the local authorities notified (not some remote center) and they will know who and where I am.
  • by nxtr (813179) on Friday December 17, 2004 @11:11PM (#11122471)
    So much for Canada being the great white north.
  • "Yes, the telephone is not everywhere. In fact, televisions are more common in American homes today."

    So guess what?
    Cable is about to explode with services.
    Check out vonage.com
    Get yourself connected.
    $10 for equipment
    $15 per month unlimted North America calling.

    Say goodbye to the phrase, "Long Distance".

    Then say hello to, "TiVo, Replay and MythTv" while your at it.
  • by UpLateDrinkingCoffee (605179) on Friday December 17, 2004 @11:13PM (#11122481)
    In the article they also say that as many as 6.2% of US homes don't have phone service - that would mean that 19 million Americans don't have wired phone lines available to them."
    Maybe some people just don't want a telephone, like the Amish [amish.net]. They certainly don't account for 6.2% of U.S. homes, but I'll bet it's a factor.
  • I didn't either... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LinuxInDallas (73952) on Friday December 17, 2004 @11:15PM (#11122494)
    I didn't have a land line either until I finally bought a house. Now the only reason I have it is because it's required for the security system. What a waste, every call on the land line is a telemarketer...about 6-10 a day.
    • by jschottm (317343) on Friday December 17, 2004 @11:34PM (#11122598)
      What a waste, every call on the land line is a telemarketer...about 6-10 a day.

      At the very least, use it for some fun. Just get an answering machine without a ringer. Here's some ideas to get you started:

      1. Record the little error tone that the phone company uses and get a woman to do a really pinched voice, "The number you have called, 555-1234, has been changed. The new number is 555-1234. Please note this change."

      2. Get someone to do the voice of an elderly person, "Hello? Hello? You're goana have to speak up sonny, I'm a little hard of hearing. What? You're calling from who?" It helps if you can get a really long recording time.

      3. I'm going to assume from your username that you're down in Texas. Just record something really unpleasant happening on a farm to a cow.

      4. Fax handshake. For added style points, record a message and record a 300 baud modem sending it in plaintext ala Information Society.

      5. Amusing excerpts - for a while I had bits of Deliverence or the introduction to Jesus Built My Hotrod as my message.

      6. Same concept as 2, but get an actual little kid. "No, Daddy doesn't want to talk to you. I have blocks. I like them. I make..."

      At the end of the month, play back the messages and see if you got any amusing responses. It would be more amusing to hack up a Linux telephony box so you could record their responses as the message plays, but that might be a little too much effort.
    • If its just for the alarm ... why pick up unless you know they're going to call to confirm an accidental activation?
    • I had a 2nd line for a period of time. I was waiting for DSL or cable modem in my neighborhood. I never put a phone on the 2nd line, but I gave out that number to any business that asked. I didn't care. I certainly wasn't going to give them my unlisted number. I tried calling it once... and it just rang and rang. No voicemail, nothing. Perfect. I wish I had an idea of how many telemarketers or even auto-dialers tried that number. I still use it today. I know no one has it... several businesses use
    • https://www.donotcall.gov/default.aspx it's well worth the minimal time it takes. The vast majority of telemarketers respect this list, and don't call you. The reason is that they can face severe fines if they do. There are always a few morons, and it won't get rid of those, but you can expect to see 95%+ of the calls go away. The main ones you'll recieve are from companies that you do bussiness with, they are still allowed to call you.

      Also, you should check on the requirement of a line for the security sy
    • Wow. You really need to get that number on the federal DNC list. I have a New York 212 number which has been in the phone book for years, and under my name for 2. I used to get several marketing calls a day, now I get maybe one a month.
  • Demand - Supply (Score:3, Informative)

    by FuturePastNow (836765) on Friday December 17, 2004 @11:17PM (#11122513)
    My mother lives way out in the country, and the local telco quoted her an obscene price to run a landline to the house. Unfortunately, she lives too far from the highway to get decent cellphone coverage. She ended up having to pay it.

    I have to believe, though, that if the people of Mink, LA really wanted phone coverage some company would have wanted to sell it to them. I guess it wasn't worth it, until now, for just fifteen homes.
    • Some smart guy is going to go setup a Dlink 624 next to the cable Internet and make some good coin off 15 people per month. Especially if they use VOIP services.

      Hell, I'm phoneing those people right now! ...Oh wait...no phone.

      Time to buy a plane ticket I guess.
    • My mother lives way out in the country, and the local telco quoted her an obscene price to run a landline to the house. Unfortunately, she lives too far from the highway to get decent cellphone coverage. She ended up having to pay it.
      She was screwed. At most, she should only have to pay for the run from her house to the nearest splice box, which should be installed within a few hundred feet of the house. It's too bad she already paid, she should have taken the case to the state or county public service com
      • That's the thing .. In some rural areas (portions of Central Texas, anyone?), there is NO PHONE INFRASTRUCTURE at all. No splice box, no poles, no wires, no nothing. The "obscene price" quoted was likely the cost, in wire-feet, to connect her house to something on the PSTN, since there was currently no wire to her house.
        • That's the thing .. In some rural areas (portions of Central Texas, anyone?), there is NO PHONE INFRASTRUCTURE at all. No splice box, no poles, no wires, no nothing. The "obscene price" quoted was likely the cost, in wire-feet, to connect her house to something on the PSTN, since there was currently no wire to her house.
          I should have been more clear -- they shouldn't charge her ANYTHING for brining the infrastructure to her property line. She may be required to pay for the cable run from the nearest (newly
          • IF the jokers try to make her sign a commitment, then they are full of crap. Under the utility regs, she does NOT have to sign ANY form of commitment whatsoever for basic telephone service. For any extra features (call waiting, call ID, etc.) there may be a commitment requested then and only then.

            I had sbc drop a 6 pair lead-in from a utility pole to the home i'm in right now, about 100 yards worth. The contractor had to run the bloody thing under a fence, not to mention tunneling under TWO concrete drivew
        • Re:Demand - Supply (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TheHawke (237817)
          Don't mean a dammed thing... Telephones come under the definition of UTILITY. Meaning, that the CLEC has no option that if a client wants telephone service installed, they have to run the dammed wires to the utility drop at the property line, no matter if it means 2 miles off of the road or 20. Then it's up to the client to finish the run to his home via any method that he/she can find, by either running the lead-in via poles or bury the bloody thing. The telephone company CANNOT deny ANYONE service based u
  • by green pizza (159161) on Friday December 17, 2004 @11:20PM (#11122533) Homepage
    In the USA, there are Rural Telecommunication (and electrification) Acts. I'm not sure about new construction, but I know that in rural Texas if you have an old isolated homestead in need of telephone service, you can call up the nearest telco and they'll string out lines no matter what it costs. It all gets paid for by federal grants.

    The only catch is the telco territory boundries. Sometimes two telcos will bicker over who gets to (or who has to) string the lines. A vist to your state's public services commissioner will get things moving though.
    • It all gets paid for by federal grants.

      Hm, I wonder how many of these people moved out to the country because they wanted to "get the government off their backs", or were looking for lower taxes...
  • by evilviper (135110) on Friday December 17, 2004 @11:23PM (#11122549) Journal
    No matter how many times I read it, I have no clue what the hell this paragraph in the story is supposed to mean:

    The analog service, which is being phased out here, also lacks features like voice mail. So people like Ray, who sells fire-extinguishing systems for Firetrace International in the Southeast, can sometimes be found at the local Dumpster in a clearing, shouting into his digital cell phone: "How is the signal? HOW IS THE SIGNAL?"


    Whaaaaaa?
  • Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dghcasp (459766) on Friday December 17, 2004 @11:27PM (#11122567)
    a survey released in October found that 93.8 percent of American households had telephones of some sort. More households had televisions--98.2 percent, according to Nielsen Media Research-NTI.

    Consider that Nielson would probably have done telephone surveys to determine these statistics, how exactly do they calculate how many people don't have phones?

    "Hey, call Floyd and ask if he's got a phone!"
    Who's Floyd? What's his number?
    I don't know, but there must be a Floyd. Hmm, not in the white pages, so he must not have a phone
    So don't call him, but when you call him, ask him if he has a T.V.

    Can you say Reductio ad absurdum kids? I knew you could!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The truth is that there are plenty of homes in the US that aren't even on the electric grid!

    as of 1994 100,000 homes
    http://lists.cohousing.org/archives/cohousi ng-l/ms g00481.html

    How-To
    http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/network/ 2004/12/03 /grid.html

    I was talking to a tech friend of mine the other day. He said about 40% of the homes where he came from didn't have electricity! This was in Id, USA... Crazy eh?
  • Telephone service (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eric76 (679787) on Friday December 17, 2004 @11:32PM (#11122588)
    We didn't get telephone service to my home until 1971 or so.

    Before that, if we needed to make a telephone call, we had to go to my grandmother's house.

    More often, we'd call my grandmother on the radio and she'd place the call for us.
  • WTF (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AndyChrist (161262) <andy_christ@@@yahoo...com> on Friday December 17, 2004 @11:36PM (#11122610) Homepage
    What the fuck have we been paying that universal service fee for?

    • I have no idea, and I don't appreciate paying money for the ability to call the entire universe when I'll only ever need to talk to a tiny portion of it.
    • "The communications industry contributes to a national Universal Service Fund that underwrites uneconomical service in sparsely populated areas, but it has yet to be activated in Louisiana, said Curtin, leaving BellSouth stuck with the tab. But the Louisiana Public Service Commission said it expected to reimburse BellSouth out of a new state service fund next year."

      Last I checked *I* contributed to this becuase the phone
      companies feel the need to be reimbursed for the cost of
      business of their (near) monopo
  • by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Friday December 17, 2004 @11:37PM (#11122616)
    ---The Federal Communications Commission does not keep track of places without phone service, but a survey released in October found that 93.8 percent of American households had telephones of some sort

    Was it a PHONE survey? Please dont say it so..
  • Map? Directions? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by antis0c (133550) on Saturday December 18, 2004 @12:24AM (#11122786)
    Anyone have any ideas where the remaining people live? I'd like to move there. I can feel my blood pressure lowering just thinking about it.
  • by bmooney28 (537716) on Saturday December 18, 2004 @12:53AM (#11122888) Homepage
    slashdot missed this story by the better part of a week ;) (check the date on it!)
  • He had been living at his cabin in the woods for 4 years before he got a phone line. It was only 1/2 mile, but 10K$ was a pretty steep price to pay and have polls sunk and trees trimmed. He used a cell phone but that was rather expensive and even with a monster cell antenna on the roof, if there was a cloud over the house there was no reception. He ran off of gas and a generator for 2 years and put solar power in. Just recently he had power lines run out to his house.

    For me, it's cheaper to use a cell phon
  • I live close to an area where people cannot get a wire line due to either lack of demand, or prohibitively expensive to service for the income gained, or something like it.

    I read in the local paper last year about some guy trying to get a wired line from the local phone company (Verizon) and they told him it would be about $35,000 or so to hook him up, due to there being no local phone network in the area. Far as I know, he's still without a phone though he said he was going to start his own phone company.

  • What the hell, they are going to pull copper pairs to each of those houses ???
    couln't they just pull a 10GE fiber and each house would have had a 1G internet connection, with phone and catv ???
    pfff pathetic
  • Universal Service (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Detritus (11846) on Saturday December 18, 2004 @08:05AM (#11123912) Homepage
    In past surveys, one of the major reasons that people do not have telephones is financial. Poor people often have bad credit, the telephone company wants all old bills paid before restoring service, the telephone company wants a large deposit, the head-of-household is unable to control usage of the telephone by other family members and visitors, and the cost is unpredictable. A typical scenario is that a household gets a telephone, the service gets abused for long distance and other premium calls, the household gets a large bill that they can't pay, the bill doesn't get paid, resulting in termination of service and a poor credit reference. Restoration of service would be expensive and would just setup the household for another cycle of abuse and disconnection. As a solution, some people have suggested requiring the telephone company to offer a fixed-cost service that would have permanent blocks for long distance and premium calls. The bill would be guaranteed to be $X a month, no matter how the phone was used.

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson

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