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The Internet

Publicly Funded Broadband and 802.11 211

bflame writes: "The Canadian province of Alberta is building the infrastructure to provide highspeed internet service to 422 cities. The government of Alberta along with Cisco Networks, Microsoft and Axia will be installing highspeed fiber optic lines to link 422 cities. The contracts also required competition among ISPs to insure lower internet costs. Cisco provides a nice write up in IQ magazine. Globe Technologies is reporting that work has started on the Alberta Supernet. The government of Alberta has an article about the supernet along with this article." We've mentioned Alberta earlier - nice to see they're moving ahead with the project. And an anonymous reader sent in a link about the city of Tallahasee rolling out a public WLAN.
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Publicly Funded Broadband and 802.11

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  • microsoft? (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by ciryon ( 218518 )
    Aaah, now I know why they mentioned Microsoft. On the last link you'll find a nice

    "We recommend Internet Explorer 5.0+"

    I wonder how much they paid for that? :-P

  • on behalf of all of us here, i'd like to welcome the thousands of hard drinkin' gun rack owners to the information superhighway! :P
    • On behalf of those of us who actually live in Tallahassee, Tallahasse has been connected for years. We've got one of the oldest Freenet's in the country.
      We're also not all rednecks, although there are still a few around. You forget that Florida is not a southern state but a northern one trying to stay warm. The capital reflects that.
      • Now if only the government would give us some decent restaurants, we'd be all set! (not that I dislike Momo's, Gordo's, and the like, but it would be nice to actually have the option of a nice dinner with my girlfriend occassionally.

        That and finish the campuswide wireless. Can't stray to far from my office yet. =)

    • Ah'd shoot ya fer yer remarks if'n ah could get up outta this pool a' vomit *hic*
  • I'm really happy about this, although the only software company I know in Alberta is BioWare [bioware.com].

    It's about time the Canadians teach Americans (and several other nationalities) how to really run government to support the people.

    • well, i hope nobody decides to try learning from Gordon Campbell... head of the BC "liberals" who are the most acutely evil political party to rule in BC for many years. with the kinda budget they're running, you can expect them to be thinking of ways to "sell the internet", not bring publicly funded connections to the people.
    • I wonder what American corporations will be without American citizens? Oh what was I thinking, there getting rid of their American workers every day.

      I already live in Detroit, so you just let Windsor get a city internet. I will move my arse right across that border.
  • This is what I like to see, this is good stuff. This should happen more often, everywhere, but it doesn't. I think I like Canada more and more to be honest.
    • by tonywong ( 96839 ) on Monday February 25, 2002 @06:54AM (#3064261) Homepage
      If you thought you liked it because of these articles...you should see the prices we pay. You should pack your bags and come on over.

      There are two major providers of broadband here in Edmonton (one of two major cities in Alberta). Cable modem (www.shaw.ca) is $40 per month, and DSL is $50 per month (www.telusplanet.com).
      What's so special about that? If you factor in the prices I mentioned are in Canadian dollars (about 63 cents US), you'll realize that Albertans pay just a little more than dial-up users in the US.

      Even better is that my provider (Shaw) doesn't care how many machines I've got hooked up to my cable modem. I've got 10 different machines here without needing NAT or DHCP servers of my own.
      • Well when the city has people to support and bills to pay, its nice to see them make the $$$. In the end it saves you tax dollars. As opposed to some FAT head buying a Bahamian beach with the billions he has profitted.
      • In the UK we pay £10 for the phone line and £14.99 a month for an unmetered internet dial-up account with BT. £24.99 is about 58 canadian dollars, more than the cost of DSL in Canada. ADSL in the UK is currently at 93 Canadian dollars for 512/128 with possible plans to reduce it to the heady low of 70 to improve uptake. Availablity is poor and domestic subscribers don't even get a ADSL modem with a LAN connector on it - the standard issue one is USB. Business users get LAN ADSL modems but also have to pay a good deal more (up to £200, about 460 Canadian dollars, for 2048 downstream).
  • now you can check hockey scores onine, eh
  • A rather high figure isn't that?

    Maybe 422 communities?
  • by brinkster ( 523812 ) on Monday February 25, 2002 @06:41AM (#3064237)
    In the west there's Shaw Cable with speeds around 4000/350 or Telus DSL at 1500/256. In the east there's Bell Sympatico 1000/128, Rogers Cable 2000/128 and Videotron 3000/128. Plus there's also the various resellers that are basically rebranded from the bigger companies. The above all cost about $40-$50 CAN. Some companies are also introducing a "lite" product which offers 128/128 speeds for $25 CAN a month which is great for people that have little use for the internet but hate keeping the phone line busy. Even if you can't get DSL or Cable there is a satellite service which will allow you to download at better speeds than dialup.
    This will bring more jobs and more broadband, hopefully the other provinces will follow.
  • To "ensure" lower internet costs, not "insure".
  • by silentbozo ( 542534 ) on Monday February 25, 2002 @06:43AM (#3064241) Journal
    Now, who wants to volunteer to put up repeater stations so people outside of Alberta can leech off of the public infrastructure? :)
  • Will Cisco be throwing in their patented 'Wall of Oppression' firewall package?
  • by cperciva ( 102828 ) on Monday February 25, 2002 @07:08AM (#3064278) Homepage
    From a public policy perspective, I don't understand why there aren't more governments doing this. It is generally accepted that governments should provide and maintain a highway system; how is internet connectivity any different?

    There are many things which governments get involved with (eg health care) which I think they should stay out of as much as possible; but when it comes to natural monopolies I certainly see that they have a role to play.
    • The governments are busy trying to relinquish all their responsibilities. They want to raise taxes and not have to actually do anything in return.

      They are all desperately trying to get out of managing roads, rail, telecoms, education, energy, health, law and order. The only thing which they seem to want is defense. I suppose that's because the toys are bigger, more expensive and make loud noises.

    • by scoove ( 71173 )
      The US had a monopoly Internet for a few years - NSFNET - which wasn't widely used by many other than academic and research folks, and really had done very poorly extending beyond subsidized locations. Yes, many of us /.ers cut our teeth there and have wonderful memories of the fun we had (at significant taxpayer expense), but we can't forget that while NSFNET advanced the protocols and connected the schools, the real revolution came when real, normal people got connected (I know, this is soooo anti-elitist!)

      In 1992, I worked with a rural community of about 8,000 that wanted to launch a freenet. The local NSF regional gave us a quote of $65,000 up front plus $2,500 a month for Internet service - using a 56 Kbps leased line! (They had 35 PhDs on staff and naturally had high costs - that was their justification).

      Thanks to the pioneering efforts of UUNET, CERFNET, PSI (now defunct, alas), Sprint, NEARNET/SURANET, and the folks at the Commercial Internet Exchange, the NSF monopoly (which was planned to go into a Bell-like regional with ANS and the RBOCs running the show) was broken apart. Multilateral and later, bilateral peering, became the norm. Exchange points grew (like MAE-E, MAE-W) and the commercial market blew open.

      This commercialization is what also brought hundreds of millions of regular people (read "not employed by the government") onto the Internet. Not 23 years of NSFNET, but 3 years of commercial Internet.

      While you'd think folks would have discovered the government model doesn't work, we still have numerous states, municipalities and even national governments trying the old way. Iowa, for instance, built a boondoggle fiber network that costs $75,000 to get a connection. Sure, you get fiber, but the Internet connectivity squeezes down to a connection no faster than an ISDN pipe at the egress to the Internet. Although the taxpayers paid for it, many of the fiber customers are leaving for - you guessed - competitive commercial service. We've got the same issues with municipalities providing broadband and having to raise electric, sewer and gas rates to cover their inefficiencies.

      I really hate beating a very dead horse, but for some reason some folks like the previous poster continue to believe misnomers. The Internet isn't like a highway system and it doesn't benefit from government administration.

      What it does benefit from is being offered and operated by people that focus on this and only this expertise - not people that also issue your license plates, run the welfare agencies, operate electric power, clean your sewer, etc. Being a competent ISP is not a part-time operation.

      It also benefits from competition, since this is usually about the only motivator for most folks.

      • Your points are valid... for an american. You need to realize that in Canada, our government is used to running things for it's citizens, in a manner that is more often than not better than could be done by an open market. Health care is an example I am sure you are familiar with.

        The point is, what's good for the united states is not neccesarily good for Canada, and vice versa. I believe you when you say your country could not pull this off; but if you mean to imply that we can't, you're wrong. Theoretically it can be done and it can be done well.

        That having been said, I know a few people who were recruited from where I work now to go work for Axia, the company mainly responsible for building the network, and they were bottom of the barrel staff here. If you've ever seen that comercial where a couple guys go around in vans and round up a bunch of random people to get $100 for 15 minutes work, in order to staff their IT department, that's basically what's going on over at Axia.

        In theory this can be done and it can be very effectively, however, I have little to no faith in Axia to do so, they have been desparately hiring very poor staff.
    • It's not genneraly accepted that governments should provide and maintain highways... that was done by a particular President that wanted to create jobs for pepole who couldn't go out and get jobs themselves. To hell with that stuff now. Creating jobs in the government is called bloat and waste... or misapproptiation of funds.
    • It's not completely the same thing. Normally people can't congest the road except by shear weight of people. Congesting a local net historically has only required a single fast machine with a good protocol stack.

      There are techniques to minimise the impact a single person can have, but this is still going to be an issue. And the more differences there are between the way the road behaves and the way the internet behaves the less your analogy holds.

      Also, it's not clear that this is a natural monopoly; the wireless internets are shaping up to be final mile technologies to bridge onto the ISPs that provide access to the internet backbones. The wireless internets can have firewalls around the internet(!) and provide tunnelling to allow their customers access.

      That also means that there may not be monopolies in the long run.
  • by Voline ( 207517 ) on Monday February 25, 2002 @07:08AM (#3064279)
    Ashland, Oregon already has a publicly owned fiber-optic network through out the town.


    This is serving as the basis for a community wireless network. Businesses and individuals will hook 802.11b nodes up to their connections to the public broadband network and open it up to guest access by anyone within range. The goal it to get enough people involved to cover the whole town with WiFi.

  • Good to see! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ZigMonty ( 524212 ) <slashdot&zigmonty,postinbox,com> on Monday February 25, 2002 @07:38AM (#3064311)
    It's good to see someone showing some foresight. You can't expect immature technologies to be viable to private companies, hence @Home's problems. Until increasingly important services like broadband can be delivered profitably and cheaply to the population, it's the role of the government to provide them (for a fee of course, but a low one). Insert economies of scale arguments, etc.

    That's not to say that *every* unprofitable service should be provided but the internet is becoming increasingly important to modern society. The first communities to get these ubiquitous connections will start to be seen as high-tech communities. The rest will fall behind. They'll get it eventually, but by then it won't be any more special than the telephone. It'll snowball. As more tech-savvy (and high income) people move into the area, they'll increase demand for more tech-services.

    Well, that's what I think anyway. OK, I'm dreaming. This is making Australia (where I am) look even more backwards. This will be really interesting to follow.

    • You can't expect immature technologies to be viable to private companies

      Yeah, the whole computer software industry sure failed to develop. Microsoft works much better as a government-run corporation.

      Actually, for anyone here who thinks their monopoly stinks (rightly so), just imagine if they WERE government run and funded all these years. At least Windows (in theory) works, and the possibility exists for competition. Try making Linux illegal and see how far it gets.

      • I said that you can't *expect* them to be viable not that it's *impossible* for them to be viable. I said that if they're *not* profitable, but are important, then the government should step in. The computer market in general *is* profitable, so... what are you talking about? How is it relevent to what I was saying? My point was that until technologies like broadband are profitable, they should be helped along. The computer industry is already profitable and so needs no help. You're just using my post as a way to bring up the whole Microsoft-Linux thing in a seemingly on-topic way. That's low dude.
  • by rand.srand() ( 243903 ) on Monday February 25, 2002 @08:13AM (#3064342)
    Not to spoil the party of those people looking for free broadband... but this strikes me as very silly for two reasons:

    1) There are only 3 non-overlapping channels in 802.11b. Are all of the transmitter sites going to occupy just one of those, or will they use all of them to overlap and maximize coverage? How will this interact with private WLANs?

    2) 802.11b is a stepping stone to future wireless LAN/WAN/etc technologies and a primitive one at that. Building a whole infrastructure around it is crazy. (see also: the reason North America is still on CDMA/TDMA)

    I've seen a large number of projects crop up locally trying to connect all kinds of things with 802.11b... government facilities, hospitals, etc. Even my company is using it now to link our buildings. It's going to be very crowded with only 3 channels and no one to coordinate the whole mess.
  • by Geek In Training ( 12075 ) <cb398 AT hotmail DOT com> on Monday February 25, 2002 @08:22AM (#3064358) Homepage
    The real shocker in this article is not that the Canadian government is doing something so tech-savvy in provisding ISP services...

    ... but that the province of Alberta actually has 422 cities!

    (In fact, according to this google cached page, [google.com] there are only 9 cities over 25,000 population!)

    Color me amazed!
    • It's a matter of local adminstration.

      Hamlet, village, town, city are decided by two factors: Provincial law (say, anything 10K or over must be a city) and local preference (we're at 5500, over the minimum; do we want to be a town or a city?).

      The actual figures (minimum & maximum population) will vary from province to province.

      It affects whether you are under provincial or local jurisdiction (eg water quality, traffic laws); your ability to raise taxes, ability to borrow money, pass certain kinds of bylaws, zoning, administer schools, etc.

      Each local area must decide by vote (if there's a choice) and it basically boils down to how much control you want vs. how much money & services you get, and whether you have to raise the cash yourself or the province pays.
  • And to say that the Canadian government could have used that money to make extra episodes of the X-files.
  • The use of 802.11b isn't actually specified on any of the referenced sites, so no one needs to worry too much about the 3-channel problem.
    I live in Edmonton, and I've only ever heard it described as a huge all-inclusive fibre optic network to every Alberta community. Perhaps they'll use wireless in the [two] dense cities. I look forward to some more specific details from Axia, the company contracted to lay down the infrastructure.

    I'm moving out of the province in the summer, after being here for six years. Ow, the irony.
  • I find it hard to see what kind of useful contribution Microsoft can make to this venture. Most of the large-scale networking infrastructure doesn't run on Microsoft platforms and doesn't use Microsoft software. Granted, Microsoft runs some large web sites, but that doesn't really seem a useful qualification. Any ideas?
    • and take credit when it's completed. Standard marketing practice.

    • I wondered the same thing, but I'll add this bit of trivia which may partly explain things.
      Here in Taiwan I bought cable modem access from a Giga broadband which is indeed affiliated with Gigabyte motherboards. Anyway, this cable modem venture was largely funded --I heard 40%-- by MS. And it seemed the "value" that MS had added was propietary drivers for the Surfboard cable modems. We ended up having to run our Linux stuff behind a windows proxy. But even if MS is planning the same game in Canada, I'm sure all those clever Canadians will hack something up.
    • I don't know for sure...but it seems that Microsoft is becoming more of a tech investment company more than a software company. Every tech project that comes along seems to have some money from them. This is making them more undefeatable - even if Linux takes over the desktop someday - MSFT will still be around being annoying.
  • Speaking as an Albertan
    Yes, this is a cool tech project, yadda yadda.

    However, the alberta government is doing this at the same time as they are introducing budget cuts to other little things like hospitals... The public school teachers are on strike (and the government claims there isn't any more money to pay them)... if we killed this project, I wonder if all the money that is going into this could do some real good, in more essential areas

    (I mean, it's not exactly hard to get high speed internet in most of the province already!)

    • by Anonymous Coward
      The public school teachers are on strike (and the government claims there isn't any more money to pay them)

      The teachers are on strike because they are greedy.

      For two months before the strike, all we heard about was "salaries, salaries, salaries! We want more money!".. so the government offered enough money to make them the highest paid teachers in the country, which the teachers REJECTED.

      Then the day before the strike, they switch their tune to "quality of education, smaller class sizes - oh, and more money!" instead. I saw an interview with the head of the teachers union, in which he claimed they wanted better working conditions - then at the end of the interview, was asked "what would it take to prevent this strike?" and the reply was "the government could give us the 22% raise we asked for."
      • For two months before the strike, all we heard about was "salaries, salaries, salaries! We want more money!".. so the government offered enough money to make them the highest paid teachers in the country, which the teachers REJECTED.

        And if you dig even deeper, you find out that the reason that offer was rejected was that the money the government offered was to be pulled from funding previously earmarked for the classrooms.

        Do they want more money? Damn straight. After all, the nurses got a 20-25% pay raise - conveniently just before election time, doctors got a 20-25% pay raise - conveniently just before election time, and the government even gave themselves a nice 15%-20% pay raise - conveniently just after election time. (They claim 10% but remember that MLA pay isn't taxable). The teachers see that and want some of that action. Who can really blame them? Personally, I don't think they're worth that much more either, but I can see their point.

        But they don't want it at the expense of the classroom - unlike King Klein.
  • That's nice... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Linegod ( 9952 ) <pasnak AT warpedsystems DOT sk DOT ca> on Monday February 25, 2002 @09:47AM (#3064538) Homepage Journal
    We call it CommunityNet here in Saskatchewan, and the project is over a year old. It's mandated by the Federal Government, Supernet just happens to be the name for the 'Alberta' part of the project. The mention of Microsoft or any other software provider is meaningless. Each hospital, school, government site runs whatever software they want, and here, serveral of them are running Linux, Mac or Solaris. Some of the schools also have the Sun One? connected to the network.

    It's a nice project, and a huge cash cow for the big ISPs and hardware providers, but there is still room for the little guy to get a peice of the action

    • Good good, I was hoping someone was going to point this out. It's very nice for Cisco to take the credit for making the "first project of this kind in North America". The CommunityNet project is not only in full swing, but already functional in many places.

      www.communitynet.ca [communitynet.ca]has mmany of the details.

      I've even been privilaged to using one of these connections, and holy crap are they fast! The one I was using was 10mbit/10mbit, which results in download speeds around 1Meg/sec :D. Many small communities already have this, and more are in the works.

      Plus, these are being used in diverse environments. The Saskatchewan board of education and Sun are working together putting computers in the classrooms. Sun provides hardware, usually an E250 or E450, and a shitload of SunRays for the classes. The school must provide a technician, that Sun trains to work on them. It's a great deal for everyone. The schools get computers for cheap, the tech's get free training, and Sun gets a generation of children trained to work on Solaris.
  • Good to see someone taking the initiative because the 'all talk no action' federal government isn't despite all the promises. I remember the promises of $4 billion to wire rural communities and bring internet access to every Canadian household.
  • by wackybrit ( 321117 ) on Monday February 25, 2002 @10:16AM (#3064660) Homepage Journal
    Canada is really good at showing up countries much higher up the GNP chain. Take a look at the G7.

    First off we have the USA and Japan, broadband coverage isn't too bad in these countries, although rural coverage is somewhat patchy. Canada is one-uping both of these countries.

    Germany is third. As of the start of 2002, Germany had 1.8 million DSL subscribers. For a country with a net population of something around 10 million, this is pretty good.

    Next is the United Kingdom, my home country, which puts up the most pitiful broadband attempt of any of the top 20 countries by GNP. There are places 15 miles from LONDON that can't even get DSL yet. British Telecom has pretty much said that any telco exchanges not being converted to provide DSL by 2005 probably won't be done forever.. the demand is too low.

    Unlike the Canadian government, the British government is keen for everyone to have broadband, but doesn't actually want to help. They believe that private enterprise will get there, and don't want to risk getting their hands dirty (a la Millennium Dome)

    So, well done Canada. I think Canada will leapfrog us all, and with e-government and a 90%> wireup rate throughout the country, it could actually jump up the GNP tables and become a serious industrial contender this century. Heck, the tiny Netherlands did it in the 1700s.
    • BT has had it's day - if you can, get Tele2 or Blueyonder installed - GIVE BT NOTHING, THEY HAVE FAILED US TOO LONG
    • This is Alberta (pop approx 2.5 million), not Canada. No other province can afford it.

      I believe Singapore is far ahead of any of the nations you mentioned.
      http://www.sgbroadband.com.sg/broadban d/foreword.a sp
      • That might be, but I have personal reports that the government is funding similar efforts in other states.

        For example, I know people in the *Yukon* who have broadband. You're talking an area at least a thousand miles away from any place that would be called a 'city' in European terms!

        I am not quite so familiar with other provinces, but I hear that Ontario and Quebec also have broadband pretty far out into the sticks.
        • As strange as this may sound, Whitehorse Yukon is far more likely to have hi-tech telecomm than even urban areas of Ontario and Quebec; it's the nature of the beast.

          They've been getting their TV from home sattelites for 30 years; phone networks are not based on landlines, etc. If a rural resident (which in the Yukon means "doesn't live in Whitehorse") has a telephone and a computer, it's almost certainly a sat-based TV/broadband service they're hooked up to.
          Satellite phones are nearly as common in the Yukon as regular cellphones are in many urban areas (recent trouble by Qualcomm, etc hasn't affected Canadian customers, just like Iridium continued for a year in Canada after US customers where cut off).

          For those in Whitehorse (a town composed of college-educated administrators and young, single men, typically transplants from somewhere else in Canada and there for the work; the Yukon has Canada's highest average income) they get broadband from the same Teleco and Cable firms that operate in BC and Alberta.

          In other words, this is the land of early communications adopters.
  • You have to hand it to Intrigna. They beat out Alberta's own telco (Telus) to get this contract, which to me is quite a feat. Intrigna jointly owned by BCE and Manitoba Telecom Services. MTS (majority holder) currently has a bunch of communities (from large to extremely small) in it's own province wired for dsl, part of its own 300 million dollar initiative to wire the province for highspeed internet.

    Wondering how much we pay for dsl? Try 19.95 for the first 6 months (~1.2Mbps down, 256kbps up) then the price is 39.95 each month after that. Free install and startup kit included, of course. How about them apples. :)

    The use of the word "cities" is a little strong in the article... I'd imagine some of the communities have less than 100 people.
  • A smart move (Score:3, Insightful)

    by InterruptDescriptorT ( 531083 ) on Monday February 25, 2002 @10:24AM (#3064691) Homepage
    It's been said in earlier post that this is a good move. I agree wholeheartedly... this has so many more benefits than just 'getting everyone online'.

    What many people fail to see is that by doing this, you'll draw young people into the world of computer science and other badly-needed fields, like engineering, physics and chemistry. Giving young kids the access to the vast resources that the Internet has to offer is going to encourage them to use the technology and become skilled with it, and that's the first step to a 21st-century workforce. Schools are laden with psyc, business and communications majors, none of whom are helping the estimated half-million job vacancies in high-tech job positions in the US alone. But get kids motivated and interested in technology, and even if a small percentage of them becomes so enamoured of it that they choose it as a career, Alberta is developing a very, very educated and desired workforce. This brings jobs and investment to the province.

    I honestly cannot see why the US doesn't do this more. Kids' education here, let's face it, is suspect, and those that do graduate won't touch engineering and science (hence the glut of comms and psyc majors searching low-paying jobs in the market right now). But light the spark of interest in technology by granting them access to these resources, and reap the rewards many hundred fold in the future.
  • Socialists (Score:1, Troll)

    by jmu1 ( 183541 )
    Why is it not suprising that Canada is doing something like this? They are about two hops short of Communist Cuba as far as governmental control of facilities goes, albeit the US is close on their heels in the electric arena.
    I'm just interested in why anyone would want the government to handle those sort of domestic industries.
    • ...They are about two hops short of Communist Cuba as far as governmental control of facilities goes...

      This might be a troll, but i'll just say that calling the Alberta government socialist is like calling Chairman Mao a freedom loving capitalist! The province of AB is probably the most right wing province in Canada (well, except now maybe BC...).
    • I'm just interested in why anyone would want the government to handle those sort of domestic industries
      Well, they got it done and they got it done cheaply. Now, ideologues aside, who could suggest that that is somehow a bad thing?
    • youre right that it doesnt make any sense to hand over all things to government control but while you exagerate about what is happening by calling it socialism you leave out the damage done by so much corporate control and incompetence, which could just as easily be described as a form of feudalism...

      as usual, we get so caught up in government vs business that freedom gets lost in the mix.
      • I intentionally left out the business side of the argument because I loathe the business side absolutely as much as I do the government side. What ever happened to folks just getting together and raising money however they please(out of pocket, fund-raisers, etc) and doing something they feel is a good idea? That is what I want to see happen.
    • by Soko ( 17987 ) on Monday February 25, 2002 @12:30PM (#3065318) Homepage
      /me feeds the troll:

      Whoa there, Mr. Rebublican. Two hops short of Cuba? Don't think so. We are as democratic as they come (well, almost).

      This is a Canadian thing, you see. Our country is so big with so little population thay we are forced to be communictaions intensive. Yup, lots of our infrestructure is government mandated, but it needs to be - otherwise, it just wouldn't get done. Private Industry wouldn't do it, and well they shouldn't, since there's not much profit to be made. However, we as a country essentially need top shelf communications like this in order to remain a country, since we wouldn't speak to each other much otherwise. It may sound weird to USAians, but it's good for us - like universal public health care. I for one look forward to conversing with my Albertan comapatriots over High Speed bit-pipes - it brings us closer.

      So, at the risk of being a jingoist,

      Take off, eh?


      PS - Maybe you're just miffed at the Hockey Gold we won. :^D
      • lol, I didn't watch the Olympics... mainly b/c I hate listening to people moan because they didn't win. I can understand your plight of long distance communications, however isn't it possible for you and your buddies to create a means of communicating. For instance, you and a group of folks get together and instead of begging the government to do it for you, have fund raisers and what not(I'm not talking about starting a commercial venture) and get your own network started. It has been done before, why not now-days? Where I'm from, my family set up their own electricity in the boon-docks using diesel generators. It was a nieghborhood thing, not a government thing. Then, they had all of their rights yanked out from under them and they can't do that sort of thing now... they _have_ to buy power from the power company... governmentally sanctioned monopolies run by private corporations. See, I'm pissed at both sides!
        • Because how do you fund-raise to purchase several thousand kilometres of fiber-optic cable in a population base smaller than New York City? The percentage of people who contribute to fund-raising efforts, even for such "real" causes as a children's hospital is ludicrously small. You're doing well if you get 5% of the population to contribute.

          Setting up your own generator is one thing. Running a fiber-optic cable through 800 km of field and bush is something else entirely.

    • They are about two hops short of Communist Cuba as far as governmental control of facilities goes

      This is flamebait.

      I'm just interested in why anyone would want the government to handle those sort of domestic industries.

      Maybe for the same reason that governements have handled other kinds of infrastructure projects (interstate highway system, rural electrification project, etc.). Because the government can bring a service somewhere that the market alone wouldn't touch.
      • Why is it when someone doesn't like something it is a troll or flamebait? That aside, rural electrification could have been done by private groups(read not industry) without having been force-fed.
        • Why is it when someone doesn't like something it is a troll or flamebait?

          What makes it flamebait is not the fact that I don't like it, but the fact that it is so far removed from the truth that most reasonable people would disagree with it. I can't think of any reasonable person who can realistically compare communist Cuba with the democratically elected government of Canada.

          That aside, rural electrification could have been done by private groups(read not industry) without having been force-fed.

          Maybe, maybe not. It's pretty easy to speculate about all kinds of alternate history, but the fact is, that's not what happened. And, I don't think that anybody is suggesting that rural electrification was a failure, even if the government was the instigator.
  • For those of us who came in late, is there a definitive directory online anywhere of existing public wireless networks? Or semi-accessible private ones, for that matter? I'm new to this whole 802.11 thing.
  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) on Monday February 25, 2002 @11:08AM (#3064919) Homepage Journal
    Interesting government tactic. Find a service out of your control that people like, then agree to provide the service to the taxpayers for 'free'. Everybody knows who's paying for the service, yet the government will still claim it's free, and thereby extend their influence and power.

    What's particularly interesting is that governments typically have not taken control of means of communications where private industry has been successful. Sure, there's the Postal service, but AFAIK, that wasn't a government take over, it was a government-inspired service (at least the Pony Express part). Somebody correct me if I'm wrong here.

    Governments could have provided free newspaper, telegraph, radio, telephone, and television services, but they typically haven't done this to the exclusion of private enterprise. They tend to stick to things like sewers, water, roads - things that can really only be accomplished by local governments.
    • Generally true, for Conservative philosophy.

      But, you should realise that the government of Alberta is rich, rich, rich.

      Unlike the US, Canadian provinces own all the land and minerals in the jurisdiction.

      Alberta has huge Oil resources (taxed at the lowest rate vs. other provinces; there's just so much of it the money keeps rolling in), the lowest taxes in Canada (lowest income tax; there is talk of eliminating it, least public Health Care support, no sales tax, etc), and literally Many $ Billions in the bank (the Alberta Heritage Fund, based on the premise that Oil is depleteable and money should be saved for a "rainy day").

      These guys are both politically and financially conservative.

      Alberta politicians are the most right-wing, free enterprise-friendly in the Canada. It is typically referred to as "the Bible Belt"; the country was run for decades by a fiercely conservative government founded by a preacher; his legacy has not abated.

      They have elected conservative (read: Republican in the US) goverments without exception for virtually all of the Province's history (created 1905).

      Most, if not all North American jurisdictions simply don't have the cash, but they do.

      The issue with Albertans is more about whether Broadband is important enough to spend money on; ie is there an economic benifit that outweighs the value of keeping it in the bank to offset the inevitable higher taxes when the oil runs out a century from now (and they have to start raising money like a "regular" Government, conservative or otherwise).

      The really suprising thing about this initiative is not that it's publicly funded but rather that such a Conservative administration decided to spend anything at all.
  • There is a definite demand here. The corporations are moving too slowly, having been burnt so badly in the past (how many bankrupts DSL and wireless providers are there out there now?). But there are newer, cheaper technologies now. But few corps willing to take the risk, even in the face of tremendous demand for the services. I think municipalities stepping into the gap is great.

    They don't care about milking every extra ounce of profit out of their costumers, and won't market your personal information to the highest bidder (ala my DSL provider, Ameritech).

    Besides, high speed internet is eventually going to end up being a psuedo utility anyway. Just like water and power we won't think twice about there being an always on Internet port in every house.

  • by Rackemup ( 160230 ) on Monday February 25, 2002 @12:22PM (#3065281) Homepage
    Pleeeeeaaassse bring some of that Supernet goodness to Nova Scotia!

    Highly unlikely I know, given the current financial situation in this poor little corner of Canada. Government overspending and mismanagment for the 21st century!

    In NS you basically have 2 choices for residential service (even in the city), Cable and DSL... depending on where you live your connection quality varies greatly and if you're outside the urban areas you're pretty much stuck with crappy dialup. Now if the government were to rollout a supernet-style plan to hook up the rest of the province just think of the benefits... reduced strain on the phone network since there are less people using dialup, more competition for broadband services and more people online... the list goes on.

    It's good to see that not all provincial governments are card-carrying luddites.

  • All someone needs is a good laptop, a wireless card, a copy of 'AirSnort' or whatever, a few hours time, and the skill to work with all the above.

    I have to wonder: Have the cities and governments deploying this given the slightest possible thought to a little thing called "security?" To the already well-known flaws in WEP and 802.11?

    Oh, wait. These are GOVERNMENT agencies I'm referring to. Never mind... ;-)

  • #include "glowing_pride.h"

    Somewhere, somehow, some individual realized that the only way Alberta would prosper in the future is to move away from being a natural resource (ie: oil) centric economy into a more diversified one.

    There is a lot of hoo-hah about wiring up schools, hospitals and government services, but the underlying fact is that broadband is the railway of this century.

    I know that our business stands to benefit enormously from this initiative. We are located in Edmonton (Alberta's capital city) but have manufacturing facilities outside of the city. We would desperately love to have a better connection to our facilities but cannot. Dial-up VPNs are just too painful to contemplate.

    Now, I can see either having a DSL connection or a 802.11a/b connection within 2 years. Fscking-A, to say the least.

    The more I read about the Alberta Supernet project, the happier I am that I live in this province.

    It's not just about being able to serve .mp3's to Johnny Hayseede in Morinville. It's about enabling the economy and businesses.
  • It's funny to me that if the Canadian government proposes this, people go "ooooh, rad!", but if the American government tried it, everybody would (rightly) point out that if you're putting your traffic through a network that is operated by your government, you're effectively giving that government permission to monitor your traffic...
  • One thing to keep in mind... 422 cities sounds like a lot, but when you look at the real number, on paper, it's not really that big. I believe that there are more people in a single, average, American city than are in all of Alberta. Most of the 'cities' in Alberta's supernet are small towns and communities.

    Hats off to them, though... This is a HUGE geographical area they are covering. I think that it's the geographical size, as opposed to the number of people, that makes this project impressive.
  • Isn't nice that we all pay to have Broadband rolled out, just so ISP's can come in and make huge amounts of cash?

    It kind of reminds me of what happens in college, when pharamcutical companies 'developed' new drugs from students' work.

    Oh but, it's nice of the Government to fund these ventures, because that's 'Free Trade'. (Targeted more at the US, than elsewhere).

  • First of all, 802.11 has nothing to do with the Supernet project. Supernet will be fiber-optic only... Of course, facilities that have access to it can install access points if they want to. A province-wide WLAN is not a good idea, nor is it being attempted.
    Second, the government does not and will not own or run the project. The government is acting as a big customer: rural libraries, schools, hospitals etc. will pay for the service, to make the private Supernet project's infrastructure viable. The bandwidth then becomes available to people residing in rural communities as well, through private ISPs.
  • Yea, Chicago has come up with these grandious plans for their MAN. It's still YEARS away from being operational, last I heard. There's talk about an 802.11 net in it.

    In the meantime, what's going on with community wireless in Chicago? NADA! Everyone is waiting for the government handout. Government handouts mean government control.

    Government promises of free (beer) Internet will deter free (speech) networks from forming.

    (kostenlos = free (beer), freiheit = free (speech). I like german)

    Now, as I am not involved with Chicago politics much, if someone wants to correct me on the Chicago facts, I'd be happy to hear it.
  • to link 422 cities

    Let me see, 3 million people, 422 cities, that is what? 7109 people per city. Well, it is a foreign culture, we do have different words for things up here. You say City, we say Town. Same difference.

    Maybe bflame could come visit us [theonion.com] some time, broaden his horizons a bit.

    Seriously, though, I think you have to go Mainland China to find a province with more then 400 cities.

  • The county is setting up a wireless 802.11b network that can be reached from almost anywhere in the count
  • I'm all for highspeed internet access, especially being a resident of Alberta, but...

    One thing not mentioned, that is typical of the Alberta government with their 'bold' and 'innovative' money making ideas, is the fact that these cables have to be laid in the ground. I haven't dug out my topographical maps but it looks to me like a lot of these internet access areas intersect or encompass native land claims/reserves. I'm sure that the government will whip up public support for the project in the media before any native protests are heard so they'll be easily quashed and ignored.

    "Who cares about them damnass backward injuns, eh, I need my high-speed in-ter-net"
    • Indian bands cannot stop roads, power, etc in Canada.

      This is now entrenched in law; the Supreme Court has ruled that any aboriginal or treaty right may be infringed to develop the social and economic resources or infastructure of Canada.

      Part of the reason the Supreme Court had to make a ruling at all is that each and every band in Canada negotiated a specific, individual treaty and therefore they are all unique.

There are no data that cannot be plotted on a straight line if the axis are chosen correctly.