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A DSL Co-op in Your Neighborhood? 318

Steve Hamlin writes "In reading on Slashdot about the increasing cost of cable broadband (and DSL is no cheaper), I ran across this article about a neighborhood that put together a co-op for DSL broadband. From a DSLAM housed in a barn to microwave relays, a frame relay T-1, and problems with Qwest, the whole deal."
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A DSL Co-op in Your Neighborhood?

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  • by hendridm ( 302246 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @07:10AM (#3308886) Homepage
    Why is broadband access so expensive, so bad, or so innaccessible in the U.S. that it makes something like this necessary? It just seems like our broadband options are going from bad to worse, and I cringe at the idea of eventually having to do something like this just to get decent, affordable access. I'll be damned if I'm going to pay TW by the megabyte for broadband access for long like the expensive old days of AOL.
    • by fmaxwell ( 249001 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @07:48AM (#3308996) Homepage Journal
      The fact that people are forced to do things like this to get broadband access is why we need government intervention.

      Because of their monopoly on broadband service in my area, I am a Cox Road Runner subscriber in Fairfax County, VA. The service has been so bad that the County has levied numerous fines against Cox. We have had multi-day outages, packet loss over 50% for days at a time, latency measured at 1/2 second or more, etc. Throughout this, they have said "wait until we get the fiber optic upgrade done." Well, it's just about done and our reward looks like it will be Terms of Service that prohibit VPNs, telecommuting more than one day per week, all servers regardless of the amount of traffic moved (even password-protected ones used only by the subscriber). And we get a $5 to $10 per month increase in service rates.

      They don't care because they have a monopoly. DSL coverage is, at best, spotty. The phone company has installed multiplexers everywhere to avoid running more copper, which kills DSL for everyone on the multiplexers.

      The Congress needs to issue mandates to the phone companies requiring that they make DSL available to all customers. They need to pass legislation preventing broadband providers from placing limitations on the mechanisms used by the customers to move data (e.g., no limitations on servers, P2P, VPN, etc). If the broadband providers have limits on bandwidth usage, they should be legally required to publish those limits in a clear, easy to read form.

      The lack of broadband is beginning to have a real effect on the economy, quality of life, education, and even traffic and pollution (since telecommuting is often impractical with a dial-up line). To all of you anti-government people, I say "get a clue!" The current system is not working and the free market is, by and large, not solving the problem.
      • Bravo.

        I'm with you fmaxwell, governments should invest in broadband as they do other types of infrastructure (roads, bridges, dams), because that's what broadband amounts to these days.

        All politics aside, government contracts to build infrastructure aided public optimism that the Great Depression would end in the 1930's. Perhaps this country could use some extra jobs, paid for by Uncle Sam, right now. The people who get the jobs benefit, and the people who get the access benefit. To me, that's worth a few tax dollars.
      • To all of you anti-government people, I say "get a clue!" The current system is not working and the free market is, by and large, not solving the problem.

        The free market IS solving the problem (see the article that spawned this thread) when it is permited to do so.

        The problem here stems from monopolies propped up by the government in the first place, leaving you with no legal alternatives. In fact, about the only thing that justifies government regulation to any extent (and not enough, in my book), is the existance of a government-enforced monopoly.

        Of course, if you seek government "regulation", to provide taxpayer funded subsidies for your net-access, then I say MOVE!

        • by King Babar ( 19862 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @11:10AM (#3310048) Homepage
          To all of you anti-government people, I say "get a clue!" The current system is not working and the free market is, by and large, not solving the problem.

          The free market IS solving the problem (see the article that spawned this thread) when it is permited to do so.

          The problem here stems from monopolies propped up by the government in the first place, leaving you with no legal alternatives. In fact, about the only thing that justifies government regulation to any extent (and not enough, in my book), is the existance of a government-enforced monopoly.

          The most fascinating thing about some radical libertarians is their consistency. The big, gaping piece left out of the above argument about government regulation and monopolies is any comment on how or why we might have some government-sanctioned monopolies in the first place. We have them because there was a time for each monopoly industry when it was believed that the best and cheapest way to provide some capital-intensive service where economies of scale were required was through a private sector company (rather than, say, a municipal utility). In some cases, the decision was probably a good one; in others, possibly less so. In *all* cases, the stage was set for a time when changes in technology would lead to the situation where the status quo (government-regulated monopoly) was awkward. So, I think ATT did about as good and as fast a job of wiring up huge pieces of the US in its day, and provided a level of consistent service that served a genuine public good. But the possibility of commodity long-distance pretty much completely changed that reality, so you had the ATT break-up and now the really awkward situation situation where the Verizons and Qwests of the world have some shadowy status of quasi-monopolies via the effective use of bureaucracy.

          Wiring up big metro areas for cable was certainly expensive, costly, and not the kind of thing that any company would jump to do unless they had a guaranteed revenue stream. This was fine when all cable amounted to was higher quality feeds of local channels and a few exotic notions like HBO. Now the capacity and reach of the system has gone waaaay beyond that for which the original monopoly made sense...but getting a system with universal access and anything like free market pricing and any kind of reasonable structure is tough.

          I could go on. I think it's pretty clear that in most cases, what has gone wrong is neither some raw "failure of the market" or "failure of governmental regulation" but changes in the whole technology landscape that have had completely unforseen consequences on companies, governments, and citizens. It is going to be a mess. I think a market can set prices when it is competitive, but we don't really have many of those going now (except for long distance telephone, the big success story for de-regulation). I think regulated monopolies can spend the money it takes to get infrastructure built, but they are much less useful when their reach extends to the content that is broadcast or the services that are provided.

          For that matter, some of the near-future technologies that can help remove us from this quagmire will also require some amount of regulation to do any good. I think wireless IP will be the best thing since sliced bread within a decade. With the appropriate set-up, you *could* do voice, date, TV...you name it with a much different kind of capital outlay (look ma, no cable being laid in our street!). But we already know that unfettered 802.11b can have some, um, interesting consequences if there is no planning or regulation of the use of the specrum involved.

          I have no idea what the best answer is, but I have little faith that either hard-core governmental regulation approaches or cowboy networking provide the best answer to all concerned.

          • The problem with your analysis is that it empowers the state to overcome "activation energy" at the taxpayer's expense so that a desirable steady-state is achieved sooner, rather than later.

            Armed with this power, the state can then extend a monopoly status quo beyond the point where it has short-term bebefits.

            Libertarians generally say that this is a poor trade. In those cases where many agree that the short-term expense would be worth the immediate benefit, you wouldn't need government intervention.

            There are many industries where economies of scale are enormous. The PC industry is one: it costs an enormous amount of money to make the "first" new-fangled CPU. After that, they're cheap as dirt, almost literally. No government intervention was required for this industry to take off. And, while I would have liked to see cheaper PCs sooner, it would be wrong to tax my fellows to achieve this.

            The record on government intervention to "jump-start" infrastructure is generally poor, the odd success notwithstanding extended scrutiny of the track record.

            • How do you define a poor record? Do you have references? Hard data comparisons between private buildout of infrastructure vs. public?

              So tell me, if you had your way, would we all be driving on State Farm toll roads, pissing in Enron sewer systems, and riding in airplanes controlled by the Microsoft ATC network? Gee, it smells just like utopia...
              • I will not do your homework for you.

                ...if you had your way...

                No, I might have that, and you'd be free to continue to subscribe to the present tax'n'burn state, just count me out.

                The trouble is, this is not what you want. To achieve the rapid infrastructure buildout you desire requires taking from others, who may not agree with what you desire, by force.

                In my book, that is theft, pure and simple. Your subscription to a mob-rule ethos does not make it moral. I count you, and your ilk, among the biggots, racists, petty thieves, religious zealots, and Nazis of the world. Chose what you will for yourself, but please do not presume to chose for me.

                • How presumptuous on your part... I'm not choosing anything for you, I'm choosing for me. I couldn't care less what you want - far as I know, you're free to do as you like, as well. Hell, you can even move to places that are totally free of that pesky government regulation, if you believe in this philosophy so thoroughly... yes, those charming places where nothing is taken from others by force and everyone lives in blissful harmony. Sealand, maybe? I hear Liberia is nice this time of year. Enjoy! Me, I'll hang here with my Nazi pals, downing government-regulated Jagermeister (pretty much a zero percent chance of permanent blindness, thank goodness) and enjoying our at least semi-functional infrastructure.

                  In my book, your philosophy is a laughably unrealistic pipe dream, a Randroid power fantasy built on a foundation of pure conjecture, with no more empiricism behind it than any of the other fantasies you disdain. And I don't believe for a second you could "do my homework for me," because I don't think you really know anything... all you've got is bluster and hot air.

                  A tip of the hat, though, for the hyperbole. Nice touch.
                  • I'm not choosing anything for you, I'm choosing for me. I couldn't care less what you want - far as I know, you're free to do as you like, as well.

                    I've bolded the quote to reflect the tone of the post.

                    Notice that when faced with the immorality of majority-sanctioned theft, the statist has to resort to bluster. Let's pick this apart, bit by bit:

                    I'm not choosing anything for you,...

                    Ah, but you are. And you're chosing for all who disagree with you, to boot. Asking a government to regulate something that meets with your dissatisfaction, is asking that government to take my hard-earned money, and spend it to effect the outcome you desire, and furthermore inflict that outcome on me to the extent that free-market alternatives that might satisfy my desires can't compete with the state-sanctioned monopolist, whether legally, or economically (due to tax-funded state subsidies).

                    Democracies euphemize away the theft aspect of this practice by virtue of mob support, however taking from one against their will, so that they are without is theft, pure and simple. It is surprising that democracies don't degrade faster than they do, given that the few checks against outright mob rule are codified on flimsy sheets of paper in the form of a constitution.

                    I'm choosing for me.

                    Well, yes, but at the expense of others' freedom to chose for themselves as well. If you wish to form a cooperative to build out the kind of infrastructure you seek, and exclude me if I don't contribute to your cause, then more power to you. But, you and your supporters, can't muster the money to do this, so you use force to take the extra you need from others, often offering them a piece of the spoils. A forced exchange is neither fair nor free.

                    I couldn't care less what you want...

                    I doubt this since you take such a vocal, ardent, and venomous stance against my libertarian beliefs. This suggests that you very much do care that I oppose your intrusion into my life and indirectly into my wallet. Perhaps my calling you a thief brought this on, but I call a spade a spade, and you certainly have the attributes that I would associate with a thief, or at least a would-be thief. All statists share this attribute, so don't take it too personally. You have plenty of company.

                    ...you're free to do as you like,...

                    Well, no I'm not. There are things I can not do, like send my child to a better school, contribute more to worthwhile charities and organizations like the EFF, etc., because of my tax burden. If the government wants to offer me a service, fine -- send me a bill. If economy of scale arguments are so compelling that the government can offer services to me cheaper than any private organization, this leaves room to raise the price, while still remaining competitive, so as to subsidize the poor.

                    downing government-regulated Jagermeister (pretty much a zero percent chance of permanent blindness, thank goodness)

                    Oh! A swipe at an unregulated alcohol industry. If the government wants to certify distilleries as "safe", then let it, and sell me a list of the safe ones. Or, offer a certification program, with fancy little seals and certificates (though that is so ripe for corruption)..

                    ...enjoying our at least semi-functional infrastructure...

                    Well, this brings up back to the original complaint. Perhaps it isn't improving because of the government-sanctioned monopolies that remove any incentive to improve. Perhaps most people are too stupid to realize how bad things are. Perhaps someone jumped the gun on trying to deploy DSL on 50 year old loaded copper pairs in an attempt to make a fast buck. Yeah, it would be nice for the future to be here already. But, to spend other peoples' money in an attempt to fix things is plain wrong. It is even wronger to give this money to the organization that likely fucked things up in the first place with their policies.

                  • Have any of you morons who spout invective at Rand at the drop of a hat actually read what she has to say? What Rand argues for, and what her idiot followers say (no doubt having done as little actual reading as you yourself have), are two entirely different things.

                    Rand was in favor of a strongly capitalist, very free market, with little government intervention (given the track record of government, I really don't see how this could be any worse than the system we have today). She said nothing about abolishing government altogether, nor did she engage in lsd-inspired fantasies of 'practical' anarchy. Rand was quite aware that anything close to anarchy was a crock and had already been tried hundreds of times in the past, all with the end result of the powerful stomping all over the weak.

                    Rand was vocal, committed, and entirely opposed to the fucking morons of the day - of which their were quite a few, the communists not the least among them. So what? Most of what she said turns out to be fairly accurate, and well ahead of her time - which peaked in the bloody 1950's! For her time she was practically visionary, especially compared to her contemporaries. Some of her ideas might be outdated by now, but the same bloody thing can be said of Adam Smith and you don't hear anyone talking shit about him.

                    Max
            • The problem with your analysis is that it empowers the state to overcome "activation energy" at the taxpayer's expense so that a desirable steady-state is achieved sooner, rather than later.

              OK, so I'd written a much larger reply to this that got taken out by a Netscape crash. Serves me right. All I will say here is that I really don't see any connection between what you say here and what I said above. I was discussing situations where no good is provided unless something gets started, and that one way for things to get started is via a regulated monopoly. Also, that the problems creep in when the purpose for which the monopoly was desirable is lost and replaced (often through technological innovation) by some other purpose which should not enjoy such a protection. Cable TV is a pretty natural monopoly to grant when all you're doing is giving people the chance to see local stations with less interference and something like HBO; then, it is just a content conveyer. The monopoly is no longer desirable when it becomes associated with the identity of *the* big-time content provider to most homes, and the supplier of most internet bandwidth besides. How do we get out of this? It's not easy, but I severely doubt that saying "let's let the market sort it all out" will work because a monopoly is now involved. And (wait for it...) monopolies and markets don't mix well.

              There are many industries where economies of scale are enormous. The PC industry is one: it costs an enormous amount of money to make the "first" new-fangled CPU. After that, they're cheap as dirt, almost literally. No government intervention was required for this industry to take off. And, while I would have liked to see cheaper PCs sooner, it would be wrong to tax my fellows to achieve this.

              OK, so I might have been a bit unclear in my original post. The obvious reasons why governmental intervention is a bad idea in the PC industry are simply:

              1. No limited public good (like spectrum, land, right of way, right to pollute, etc.) is directly involved.
              2. There are no "positive network effects" that need to be encouraged here. (It doesn't matter whether you and I use brand X or brand Y, or whether we are the only computer users on earth.)

              So while you could argue cases for electrical power delivery, the telephone, the interstate highways system, and old-tyme cable TV, you wouldn't argue for PCs.

              The record on government intervention to "jump-start" infrastructure is generally poor, the odd success notwithstanding extended scrutiny of the track record.

              This looks like a statement unsupported by facts. I would claim that the government was intimately involved with successful projects like:

              • universal telepohone access
              • universal electrical power access
              • clean and drinkable water
              • high quality highways (interstates)
              • research that sparked innovation in a variety of fields including darpanet

              Now, this doesn't mean that whatever government touches turns to gold; involvement in agricultural subsidies, Amtrak, military protection afforded to oil companies, resource management in national forests would all be poor examples. I would argue that the common thread through most of these are that these are situations that do not involve common goods and/or positive network effects. (OK, so losing money in the timber industry is just blatant theft, but that's a different thread.)

              I actually don't think we're as far apart as you think, but I'm not sure that many libertarians really do take the historical record into account as much as they think they do.

              • I actually don't think we're as far apart as you think, but I'm not sure that many libertarians really do take the historical record into account as much as they think they do.

                Utilities backed by government monopolies enjoyed higher profits far too long because of their monopoly status. Hence, "deregulation" being all the rage.

                Canada, and Quebec, in particular (admitedly, not part of the U.S.) are notorious for building roads, at great expense, to nowhere, simply to bolster employment of road-building workers. Not quite the same as a monopoly, but such disasters do not inspire confidence in the ability to plan and regulate anything.

                Put another was: do you really want technological infrustructure to look like subsidized housing?

                I just don't subscribe to the notion that the taxpayer should subsidize an infrustructure buildout unless there is strong desire for same, and then you don't need the subsidy!

                It's almost laughable that /. attracts both the anti-CBDTCA (sp?) and anti-DMCA crowds, as well as people calling for increased government regulation for their favorite technology.

        • The free market IS solving the problem (see the article that spawned this thread) when it is permited to do so.

          No, a few people with a lot of time, money, and technical expertise were able to get broadband. This "solution" does not work for the average consumer.
          • No, a few people with a lot of time, money, and technical expertise were able to get broadband. This "solution" does not work for the average consumer.

            Well, yes, early adopters, er, adopt early. And, with some expense, and difficulty. This is true of all new technologies. It was true of dial-up internet access. Few people had it in the late 80s. Then, it spread like wildfire once the average Joe and Jane saw what their fortunate tech-savy friends had. But the key point was that earlier attempts at such networks for non-tech savvy people failed, generally because of their closed design.

            Would you also call for taxes so that GNU/Linux be made ready for the desktop? Or, worse, made free/open source development illegal unless it was with the express purpose of dumbing it down for the desktop?

      • Okay, I've been trolled and caught. But...

        The lack of broadband is beginning to have a real effect on the economy, quality of life, education, and even traffic and pollution (since telecommuting is often impractical with a dial-up line).

        Whose quality of life? My dad is perfectly happy without broadband at home. If he could, he'd dump the phone as well, but mom loves email.

        Telecommunting's problems are outdated management ideas, not lack of broadband.

        To all of you anti-government people, I say "get a clue!" The current system is not working and the free market is, by and large, not solving the problem.

        While we're at it, let's pass a law forbidding bad luck and bad weather.

        First, the reason we have telco and cable monopolies is because of legislation. You are advocating fixing the problem by calling the same people who screwed it up. If a plumber plugs your sewage line into your ice maker, do you call the same guy when you need to replace your faucets?

        Second, how has the free market failed? The government-sanctioned monopoly wasn't providing the service, so a motivated guy put together an alternative. If, in the end, he isn't able to get access to the Qwest local loop, do you think he'll kick the dirt and say, "Darnit..."? Or do you think he'll move to 802.11b?

        Nice troll, though.

        • Whose quality of life?

          Everyone who wants and could benefit from broadband. Businesses that rely on Internet sales, the PC industry, students, scholars, people seeking entertainment, cancer victims that want to access online support groups and medical information... The list goes on and on.

          Telecommunting's problems are outdated management ideas, not lack of broadband.

          It's both. If broadband is not readily available, it makes telecommuting impractical for most people. If you think that broadband availability does not promote telecommuting, you're just kidding yourself.

          First, the reason we have telco and cable monopolies is because of legislation. You are advocating fixing the problem by calling the same people who screwed it up.

          We have a cable monopoly in my county because no other provider can foresee a feasible way to come in, run lines, and provide a service profitably. That's why you have cable monopolies in most areas. It's also why you have water monopolies, sewage monopolies, etc.

          And you seem to feel that the way that the monopoly came into existence is important. I do not. They exist and now we need to do something to protect the consumer.

          so a motivated guy put together an alternative.

          The fact that such stories are so rare, and that he's still facing technological hurdles, shows just how absurd it is to rely on that to solve the problem for the population as a whole.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Because of their monopoly on broadband service in my area, I am a Cox Road Runner subscriber in Fairfax County, VA. The service has been so bad that the County has levied numerous fines against Cox.

        ...

        The Congress needs to issue mandates to the phone companies requiring that they make DSL available to all customers.

        Quibble. If your county has given Cox a monopoly on broadband service in your area (I'm assuming that your local county gave them the monopoly, but I'm certain it wasn't Congress), then your county should be taking it away.

        It bothers me when everyone runs to Washington to pass new laws everytime someone gets a hangnail and then turn around and complain that Washington has too much power.


        • My county did not give them a monopoly. They have one because of the tremendous cost for a competitor to come in and set up an alternative cable system.

          It's the same reason that there is only one supplier of water in most areas. The costs, permits, etc. to run a duplicate delivery system are just too great.

      • All of your rants are certainly justified, but unfortunately solving this issue is not as easy as it appears. These days, you have pretty much four choices for high-speed internet: cable, DSL, satellite and wireless (radio, optical, microwave). You can immediately toss out satellite for many uses because of the high latency times that are not resolvable unless we find a way to make light travel faster (tachyons?). Similarly, all the wireless technologies that I'm aware of are more prone to weather disturbances than the others. However, they may still be fine for some levels of service.

        We are left with two choices of service where there is a physical wire running to our house. That's DSL and cable. DSL is, at the present, hindered by transmission distances. You have to be relatively close to a central office to obtain adequate DSL service. And before somebody mentions iDSL, let me say that in my opinion, that's not high-speed. Cable modem is somewhat hindered by limits on how many locations you can put on a single loop. Certainly there are many areas that can receive cable TV that just have too many people out there to make cable modem available to all. To complicate matters, it seems that most areas that have one of these choices available lacks the other choice. This is, actually, not too surprising. Central offices will be closest to the most dense areas, while cable modem is actually more operable in areas with less density. You can also be sure that the avoidance of competition has been somewhat intentional. After all, you can charge higher prices and provide crappier service if there's nobody to compete against. I'm not going to accuse the big DSL and cable providers of collaborating on this, but I wouldn't be overly surprised to find out that they do. And as far as I know, there's nothing illegal about that unless they discuss pricing. (IANAL)

        Now, let's suppose that Congress mandates the availability of DSL to all customers. That means that the phone company needs to build CO's close to every tiny little area on the map. That's INCREDIBLY expensive (obtaining land and permits, building the office, laying the cable), takes time, and the phone company may never see anything close to a return on their "investment." Cable providers would have similar problems, although it may be cheaper to lay cable for an additional loop than it would be to build a new CO. I'm not sure about that.

        All of the service problems that have been mentioned (no VPN, no servers, bandwidth limits, crappy service, high prices) are the DIRECT result of the lack of competition. Unfortunately, the local monopolies OWN that "last mile" that is necessary to connect to the residences. They paid to install all of that cable and it's not really fair to ask them to just give access to it away at no price. And there are very very few startups who have the resources to lay their own wires. So, those few companies that provide any competition are forced to pay for use of the local loops. Once the big boys start charging for use of their wires, it's really easy for them to set the prices or service levels such that it drives their competition right out of business. And it's really hard to regulate that part of the industry.

        So, how do we resolve the situation? There are really only a few choices as far as I can see.

        1. The government can find a way to regulate last mile pricing and service levels -- a task easier said than done, and not likely to happen anytime soon.
        2. The government can flat out BUY the local lines from the big boys, but I don't think that the government has ever in its history managed to run things any cheaper than private enterprise, so the results of this would be shaky at best.
        3. People can turn to building their own DSL co-op, with all of the associated reliability and administration problems. Obviously, the provider that ultimately connects these do-it-yourself networks to the internet can still provide really crappy service just to frustrate the people using it.
        Are there any better ideas out there? Do we have any new DSL technology that still works over copper and at much longer distances?
    • Because if you live in a rural area such as myself, you and possibly three other people in the entire county will use the product. It would take about fifty years for them to pay off the cost of just the hardware that they have to install in the central office, much less the relay equiptment(and that's at a high charge price). I'm just going to take it, and either get several phone lines/isp accounts and MP it or I'm just going to stick with the crappy 26.4 connection I'm getting now. Don't bother to say anything about satellite, it sucks... bad. I'd say it is worth about a quarter of the price for the latency... not to mention I can't use it with my linux boxen(no MS products see the inside of my home).
    • Both the US land line and wireless telecoms sectors are hopelessly disorganised compared to Europe[1] or Asia.

      [1] Not that Europe's telecoms industries are well run either.

    • Why is broadband access so expensive, so bad, or so innaccessible in the U.S. that it makes something like this necessary?

      I think it's interesting that many people consider this to be a necessary evil instead of a wonderful opportunity.

      Coops seem like the perfect way to handle connectivity. It's minimized middlemen and cost, minimized involvement from people from afar (both in terms of regulators and faceless corporations), maximum local accountability, and maximum fairness. Solving the last mile problem by having people in the last mile deal with it, sounds pretty ideal to me. The only real drawback is that it requires a bit more activism and getting off one's butt, as opposed to just writing checks.

    • Short answer: land mass. Look at how big the U.S. is and imagine how spread out the people could be...
  • Cooooooool! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Qwerpafw ( 315600 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @07:10AM (#3308888) Homepage
    This is the kind of thing you could only really have in a neighborhood with a bunch of cool (read technically adept) people, or at least people who can tell the difference between AOL and DSL :(

    And it could never occur in the middle of a city, though I would think T1 wiring would end up being cheasper in an urban area.

    But... Here's to hoping my neighbors wise up and realise that they, too, need to stick it to the establishment and form a neighborhood broadband ISP!
  • by ruzel ( 216220 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @07:16AM (#3308903) Homepage
    And I live in Massachusetts, not New York City.

    I live on the upper West side of New York -- which by New York standards is pretty nice. Doesn't matter -- Verizon is all in it like termites. I've yet to meet a DSL provider that can go head to head with the V monster and stand a chance of providing me reasonably priced, consistent DSL over 128kps.

    One particular company I worked with in midtown had outages in their DSL line at least twice a month -- the DSLs excuse: Verizon. What exactly is the matter with this company? I suppose I expected too much just because they changed their name from xBell to Verizon.
    __________________
  • Charges (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kruemelmo ( 21012 )
    It's totally great. I wonder what they do when the upstream provider eventually starts charging for traffic, though.
    • they have a T-1, according to their page. This means that their provider is already charging for bandwidth.

      Most lines like that (and all bigger lines) will be run under some sort of 95th percentile pricing...basically, you pay the flat monthly rate until your usage passes 95% of full, continuous. (There's lots of argument as to just how to compute that 95%, but that number's pretty standard.) Above 95%, there's a "burst" rate that you'll pay for the extra usage (the point is to get you to upgrade rather than smoke a little line/router).

      That sort of contract is pretty standard for T-1's and the like...I would think that the bandwidth bit is already taken care of.
  • About time (Score:3, Interesting)

    by blankmange ( 571591 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @07:22AM (#3308913)
    Maybe it is about time for something like this. Currently, I have to link through a community 56k ISP due my location -- no cable or DSL options and the DirecPC options far too costly/unreliable. If my ISP would offer a DSL plan similar to their current dial-up plan, I would definitely be first in line for it. Of course, I could just move in from the sticks and solve all my problems....
  • A barn? (Score:4, Funny)

    by saintlupus ( 227599 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @07:26AM (#3308925) Homepage
    a DSLAM housed in a barn

    Wow, that's a much better idea than any of the Verizon installations I've seen....

    --saint
  • What will this do to debian users? man, this sucks the big one, I am not close enough for DSL and I have a huge tree in my neghbor's yard that block the line of sight of Satilight access.

    bastards....it better be somthing lik 2000MB per month.
  • I have Verizon DSL and have enjoyed great service for years (after the initial nightmare of obtaining it). I appear to be grandfathered at a price of $39.95/month for 640 kbps. In a few months, I'll have to move to a college town, and I'm beginning to apprehensively research my options in my new home.

    The best option appears to be a large apartment complex inhabited almost exclusively by business and law students. The complex has its own T1, and I am told it charges a flat fee of under $250/year for each unit. The residents with whom I spoke said there were never any speed problems.

    Perhaps high-speed access is similar to cable 20 years ago. Back then, companies trying to gain customers would promise lifetime rate guaruntees and free premium channels when pitching to condominium complexes. Some of the older condos still are under these plans - to the displeasure of the current cable monopolies. One resident even was able to turn away the cable guy who was sent to disconnect his cable because he proved that he was protected by the condo agreement. The cable guy left in a huff after verifying it with the central office.

    The beauty of internet access is that it is (for now) a commodity based on open standards. As long as you have IP connectivity and open ports, there's really no differece what kind of access (DSL, cable, microwave, pigeon, etc) you have. This openness could promise a rosy picture for co-operative pricing models.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 )
    First off broadband is NOT expensive. your cable modem and DSL is dirt cheap compared to what the bandwidth actually costs. Second broadband is a luxury.... yes kiddies the world doesn't end when you lose internet connectivity. As a luxury it is priced accordingly... what the market will bear and the market will bear up to $75.00 a month for cable speed broadband. Many bitch and moan that they have a reverse bandwidth cap. Well if you want to host a server do like the rest of us and buy a T-1. $1500.00 a month is what I pay for the right to have a server and a static ip. If you whine that your $50.00 a month cable modem doesnt give you what I have.... personally I'll tell you to piss off.

    Broadband is dirt cheap here in the states.

    Besides, look at cellular... back in 1986 it was horribly expensive.. now you can get 60bajillion minutes for $39.95 (nights between the hours of 3:00 and 3:15am and weekends during full moons and if the outside temperateure is above 59 degrees)
    broadband is a spanking new technology.. and these grass roots attemptes are great! (I run a 802.11 open WIFI network in my city.. I give away some of my expensive bandwidth..)
    But please get real people... Broadband at home is dirt cheap. and if you cant afford $50.00 a month then why the hell are you wasting your money on luxury items like broadband?
    • I entirely agree with that. People want to pay nothing, but download like maniacs on high speed links. Sorry but that does not work. I like the concept of pay for the byte because it keeps the lines free.

      I have 1 MB DSL with a cap and extra charges. But guess what I have full DSL speed access and the lines are always up. You know how much fun it is to download at 1 MB? Tons....
      • Read the article first, though. We all know bandwidth is artificially scarce. We all know the big phone companies ran their only competitors in the DSL market into the ground. This article affirms how much of a pain in the ass the CLEC will make it for anyone else to use their loops. Deregulation is bliss, isn't it?

        If you didn't read the article, here is a choice quote:

        "By far the biggest challenge faced by the Coop - a challenge that dwarfed any of the technical and financial challenges - was gaining access to subloops from Qwest under the Telecommunications Act of 1996," reads the homepage introduction. "The course of negotiations was such that the Coop found it necessary to file an informal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission and subsequently found it necessary to pursue arbitration before the Colorado Public Service Commission."
    • That sounds great, but you don't know what the hell you are talking about.

      Cable providers do not purchase bandwidth in T1 size chunks. They buy OC-48's, OC-192's and split it through their own network (most of which was funded and built by the TV side of the business) In a mid sized market, broadband costs the cable company about $12-17 a month, while you are charged $40-70. Plus they are making money on the cable modem lease.

      The cable companies biggest expense is depreciation on equipment purchased 3-5 years ago.

      Your notion that bandwidth is so expensive is not really that accurate. Monopolistic telephone companies charge inflated rates for T1 service because they can. Broadband will be similar soon as the cable companies flex their monopoly muscles to the end-user's detriment.
      • Um, you are basiclly agreeing with the guy. Hence:

        The cable companies biggest expense is depreciation on equipment purchased 3-5 years ago.

        Wrong. The biggest expense in any semi-large business is always the salarys of your employees.

        broadband costs the cable company about $12-17 a month, while you are charged $40-70.

        Er, that's not really that much of a markup there Jimbo. Do you have any idea how running a buisness works and how much it costs? That markup wont even pay for one tech support guys salary + benefits for one hour of work! Assuming you need at LEAST 1 tech support person available per 100 or so users at any given moment, and these techs earn a modest 15 dollars / hr including benefits, it takes a 30 dollar a month profit just to pay the support guys. Now add in your costs for things like rent, power, heat, and a general profit margin, and see how badly they are "robbing you".

        • by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @08:59AM (#3309259)
          Wrong. Please get a clue about how busineses work.

          Have you ever heard of something called "accounting"???

          As a business, if you buy $2 million worth of equipment that has a life of 5 years, you charge $400,000 per year against your bottom line as a depreciation expense. Cable companies invested heavily in equipment for broadband service 1-5 years ago, so they are still feeling the pinch of depreciation expenses for capital equipment purchases.

          If a line costs $12/month and you charge $40/month, you have a gross margin of 70%. That is incredibly high -- ripoff things like extended warranties and car undercoating usually run in the 50-80% margin range. Supermarkets run 2-5% margins, department stores run 8-15%, manufacturing companies run 5-20%. If you cannot make money with those margins, you are incompetent.

          Your call center numbers are crazy too. At my last gig we had a call center with anywhere from 20-120 people working at any one time. These folks handled upwards of 2500 calls per hour peak and 75% of them made $8.50/hour or less.
    • check your demagraphic, lot of college kids on here, that get high spped for real cheap. they move on to the work force and the bandwidth goes down, the rates go up. When you get used to something cheap(or free in some cases) and then you have to pay (what many in this situation would consider) outrageous fees, you might bitch.

      I personally agree with what you are saying. However, not everyone has the $1500.00 a month to shell out for a static ip.

      btw, who in the hell says DSL access is cheap?
    • Speaking of fallacies....

      The bigest fallacy is that the bandwidth is expensive. Bandwidth does cost money (and good reliable bandwidth cost more.) BUT almost half the cost for that T1 is the local loop charge, which goes to the "Bell"s. They are reaping huge rewards from the digital boom! (and if you are paying 1500/mo for a Tier-1 T1 my friend, you are getting ripped off big time!)

      If you are a big time ISP and you can afford to colocate in the "Bell" facilities you can cut your local loop charge, while taking it up the *** for the colocation fee, you still come out ahead, but not by much.

      Bandwidth does cost money, but the Local Exchange Carriers are keeping a strangle hold on the cost by charging a ton of money for the right to use thier lines. A monopoly by any other name is still a monopoly.

      ~Sean
    • Yeah. Broadband is a luxury - and I don't know too much about the situation in the US. But here in Scotland I jus upgraded from a 1/2 Meg ADSL to a 2 Meg ADSL connection for MINUS £30!

      Thats right. I found the half was restrictive, phoned the telco, asked for a quote for a 2 Meg upgrade and was told it would SAVE me £30 a month.

      Bitches!

      This had been correct for about 6 months. Thats £180 they shafted me for! THATS what makes it seem expensive. People dont know what it costs, and have nasties (or nicies - which people still perceive as nasties) jumping out at them.

      I consider my line good value- actually, I consider it cheap. Thats because I NEED it to work through. If I NEEDED it to play games on I'd think it was fucking expensive. Needs must!

      People never complain about the price of water - only the price of beer.
    • broadband is a spanking new technology..

      True! For the first few months I had my cable modem, all I did was stay at home, download porn and spank 24-7.

      InitZero

    • Well if you want to host a server do like the rest of us and buy a T-1. $1500.00 a month is what I pay for the right to have a server and a static ip.


      A T1? What are you thinking?
      If you really want to run a server, do what the pros do and get space in a facility that is dedicated to doing that. You can get a dedicated server [he.net] with 1Mbps of traffic for less than half that price. I like Hurricane Electric, but there are also dozens of other companies that do the same thing, do a search on Google for "dedicated servers".
      If the company is any good, they include the computer, the space to store it, the electricity to run it, the UPS to make sure it keeps running, and a staff that spends their day making sure your connections stay up, and of course, a static IP, all for a fraction of the price you quote.

      -- this is not a .sig
  • by lindner ( 257395 ) <lindner@inuus.com> on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @07:33AM (#3308946) Homepage
    (So this isn't a comment about roll-your-own DSL, instead it's about saving money by rolling your own ISP and DSL sharing.)

    Together our Condo Home Owner Association runs our own ISP/network. Every unit has 2 cat5 cable drops connected to our central server room. There we operate a simple mail/proxy/DNS/dhcp server for the residents of the building. In addition we now have wireless access on most floors of the building and are considering adding network attached security cameras so we can see how's at the front door.

    About 20 people are sharing a 1.5/1.5Mbps SDSL connection for the paltry sum of $22/month/user. Each person saves around $30/month and gets the higher peak bandwidth. I would definitely recommend doing this, especially if you have the tech volunteers to implement it.
  • by fruey ( 563914 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @07:47AM (#3308989) Homepage Journal
    You can get a fat pipe to your house for next to nothing.

    You can't get data to your house for nothing.

    It's already pay for what you use on a larger scale. It's no different for broadband. Bandwidth itself costs money, infrastructures cost money, international sharing agreements cost time and money

    Get real people. Having access to 2mbps is not the same as downloading at full speed all the time on it.

    Internet always on != downloading all the time.

    Here I pay a huge amount for 2mbps. But, I resell parts of it an calculate that I can cut costs because everyone is not using the bandwidth all the time.

    Broadband users are generally bandwidth hogs and ISPs just got the pricing wrong. Live with it. The economic reality is that your real cost to your ISP is:

    local loop + equipment (probably monthly fee + equipment depreciation) = not a lot
    Actual KB transferred = a fixed, calculable cost to them.

    So that's all there is to it.

    • OK, I've got 10Mbps from telco and cable (peak 10Mbps) from cableco. Completely automated routines download about 7GB per day, plus email, websurfing, telecommuting, occasional RedHat ISO, and so on. That is, 7GB/day + not very much.

      However, the important point is that the 7GB/day is from the local networks. I'd guess it's about 90/10 from telco/cableco networks. And You know what that means? That the cable traffic may be significant in that it's shared bandwidth (except that as it's pretty much evenly distributed, it's not much in the end), but the telco traffic is nothing, as it's 10Mbps dedicated to their backbone. And in there, it's local traffic, and thus there's so much bandwidth that it won't be a problem, and also it doesn't cost them a cent in addition to local equipment and bandwidth, as opposed to any traffic from/to outside their network where they probably pay by the bit to peers and global backbones.

      The point is, if the providing ISPs manage to provide such content that the consumers want from within their own network, the issue of bandwidth becomes irrelevant. Then we can finally start talking about broadband content and price of the content.

      Oh yes, both the telco and cableco have different kinds of audio and video content services.. Alhough I do prefer my regular TV set for AV content, and the cableco provides enough content via standard cable TV means that I haven't checked what additional AV content do they provide for broadband data customers.
    • To be sure bandwidth adds tot he cost, but for a T-1 connection to the frame cloud it's in the realm of $300-500 per month. Even DSL is pretty expensive. It's like $120-150 per month for 1mbit DSL with nothing on the other end. When you start to talk big connections like an OC-3 or something it gets huge real fast. I can look up what our building-building OC-3s cost if you like (we're a university). Just receantly we moved a few departments off of campus proper (where we control the cable plan) to a building about a mile away. The only way to get connectivity is either wireless, which isn't fast and reliable enough at this point, or a connection to the fibremux, which is what we got. The building has an OC-3 and I think it just comes in on one of the OC-12s on our end then gets split off. At any rate, I don't have the numbers here but based on the bitching and whining I'm guessing it's pretty expensive monthly, espically compared to the eithernet lines we lay ourselves on campus.

      Bandwidth certianly does cost money, noone is arguing that, however I do feel that an awful lot of the charge is in the local loop part, and with no good reason. Like here Qwest provides DSL lines at varying speeds, andthing from 256k up to 7mb. Thing is, the faster lines cost more. Not just for bandwidth, but for the actual line itself. If you want to get a 640/256k line and connect it to say a company network it'd be like $30 a month or something. Take that same line and upgrade it to 7/1mb and now you are talking $400 or so. In both cases you are talking just line costs, no bandwidth on top of that.
  • Probably not, but... search the last weeks' worth of the NANOG [nanog.org] list archives for evidence that even highly trained network engineers with years of experience get sucked into phone tag hell with Qwest "support" services.
  • 1) T1
    2) Microwave relays
    3) DSLAM
    4) webserver running on a 386... site is already slashdotted

    • No, our webserver is nowhere near to being busy. The bottleneck just now (see http://www.patents.com/mrtg/dillon3.html ) is our T1 line. You will see our T1 line, normally never anywhere near full, is quite full, I expect trying to keep up with all of the SlashDot visitors.
  • by call -151 ( 230520 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @08:05AM (#3309055) Homepage
    If you live in a big complex, it may well be cost-effective to do what our complex has done. We have 6 T1 lines coming in and then a wired network so that every unit has good high-speed access. The cost is included in our maintenance, and that brought the cable to just above your front door. (If you want someone else to do the interior wiring in your unit, you have to spring for that.) We've had this for years and everyone is very happy with the arrangement. DSLreports speed test [dslreports.com] reports 2538kbps down/1368kps up, so we are getting excellent connection speed.

    We are in NYC and have co-op apartment in a 5 building complex with 400+ units. The co-op arangement means that the units are owned collectively by people who live here, so the decision was made by people live here and who have very much the interests of those who live here in mind. Our course, many of the people who live here are not taking full advantage of the bandwidth (there are many little old ladies who emigrated from Eastern Europe post WWII here.) In a sense, their maintenance is subsidizing the rest, but even those who do not use it or do not use it much are very pleased with what it has done for the resale value of the apartments. ("Free high-speed internet included with unit.")

    Before we did this, we tried to figure out how much it would cost per unit, but that was hard to get a true cost since much of it was one-time costs like wiring and the firewalls and hardware, and since much of the setup and planning was done for free by people who live here. Even the most pessimistic estimates, though, put it at around than $10/mo /unit long-term, way less than the $50/mo cost of cable modem "service", which had been the only previous option. Since around one in five units already were paying for cable modem service, with more people signing up each month (that was two years ago), it was cost-effecive and a significant improvement in many respects.

    • I applaud your landlords and/or apartment co-op. This is very forward thinking in terms of future investiment. Even if a developer cannot necessarily afford to get a T1 into a complex, the next best thing they can do is to make sure every unit is wired from the start with 2 phone and a DSL-like line, and cable into every room, and have all those lines meet at a common structure, which then goes off to ILECs, network providers, and cable providers. If, at some point, the community decides to spring for T1 as a shared cost among all, it's simply a matter of getting the T1 into place; all other connectivity is completed ahead of time. It's much easier than to retrofit every unit to get the additional lines in place as well as to deal with individual phone boxes on each separate building as most places have now.

      • I applaud your landlords and/or apartment co-op. This is very forward thinking in terms of future investment.
        Despite the fact that it was a no-brainer cost-wise, there was a lot of opposition from people who thought that since we were one of the first ones doing it, it could not possibly be a good idea and that money could have been better spent on painting some of the lobbies or towards the gardening budget. Fortunately, there were enough persuasive tech-saavy people and now just about everyone in hindsight agrees that it has worked out well.

        Actually, it wasn't a total no-brainer cost-wise as to how to actually do something, and we did look into wireless and thought that might work out cheaper, but are happy with how it is arranged now. Our buildings are prewar and running the wires was nontrivial (we used ventilation ducts and some space in the trash compacter areas) but now that it is there, we are happy. There are occasional outages (30 minutes/month, usually less) and some odd config problems, but overall our service (run by community members, primarily) is way better than what some of us were paying for beforehand from Time Warner.

    • We have 6 T1 lines coming in and then a wired network so that every unit has good high-speed access

      You should look at the cost fo a T3, they can be cheaper than many T1's

      -- Tim
      • Thanks, we will do. It's been a while since we priced alternatives. One nice thing about our setup is that since we have the internal infrastructure already, we are free to change the incoming pipes as demand and economics change. Of course, changing things is a config hassle once it is working, but that factors into the decision about whether or not to change.
  • what a small world (Score:2, Informative)

    by mmusn ( 567069 )
    The co-op was apparently started by Carl Oppedahl. Unless I'm confusing him with another patent lawyer, I believe he's a guy who thinks that the current patent system is just swell and that it's great how much money everybody is making off it (including himself).

    I'm sure his stunning interpersonal style will have greatly contributed to the ease with which the negotiations with Qwest were carried out.

    • by mmusn ( 567069 )
      Wired (June 2000) [wired.com]
      Oppedahl added that the Patent Office has been unfairly criticized for issuing an unusually large number of bad Internet-age patents. While it may happen, he said, bad patents are no more of a problem now than they have ever been

      Anyway, his opinions on patents are not directly relevant to getting your own DSL coop running. Just understand that the guy behind this one is a high-powered, media-savvy lawyer who knows how to deal with his counterparts in government agencies and corporations. Given the kinds of cases he appears to have been involved in, I suspect money is no problem either. Somehow I think mere engineers like us have no realistic prayer of getting nearly as far.

      • Our Coop is running on a shoestring, actually. Bought our DSLAM and DSL modems used on eBay. The nice thing about the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is that others can "opt in" to the agreement that resulted from our litigation. So the next neighborhood who wants to do this won't need lawyers as we did. I actually think of myself more as a "mere engineer" than as high powered or media savvy.
        • The nice thing about the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is that others can "opt in" to the agreement that resulted from our litigation.

          You can't seriously believe that local phone companies wouldn't fight this tooth and nail. Our phone company has been promising DSL for years and failed to deliver. But you can bet that they would come up with an endless stream of legal and technical obstacles for why we couldn't do what you did, and we wouldn't even begin to know how to challenge that. For that matter, without a lawyer, we wouldn't even know how to structure the cooperative that would be delivering service. We'd spend more money in legal fees just to set this up than you spent for all your equipment, assuming, of course, that we even could interest a lawyer in this.

          I actually think of myself more as a "mere engineer" than as high powered or media savvy.

          I'm not questioning your qualifications as an engineer. But the fact is that you are (also) a practicing lawyer, and a well-known one at that. That's great for you, because you have both the experience and resources to get your legal rights, when it comes to patents, dealing with telephone companies, dealing with traffic stops, or the FCC. Other people don't have that choice. In fact, you yourself keep pointing out tirelessly that engineers just aren't qualified to assess the legal significance of patents.

          I'm sorry that my previous message sounded a bit like a personal attack. But I just can't help being cynical about a small legalistic victory by a lawyer. The sad fact is that the US is a highly legalistic society in which most people just have to live with whatever governments or companies dole out to them. As other Western democracies show, it doesn't have to be that way, but as long as the entire US political system is completely dominated by lawyers, this won't change. In fact, as you seem to demonstrate, most of them probably don't even think anything is wrong.

  • by hqm ( 49964 )
    I paid $2000 / month for 1/4 T1 in 1995.
    Since then, PC's have gone from 90 MhZ to 2 GHz.
    RAM has dropped in price by a factor of 20 or more. Disk drives by a factor of 100. Bandwidth inside of CMOS chips is up by a factor of 100.

    So ... the technology used for switching
    digital signals is now cheaper than any
    analog phone technology. Why should a T1 line be
    any more expensive than a regular voice line?

    The thing stinks of monopoly practices.
    • I paid $2000 / month for 1/4 T1 in 1995.
      Since then, PC's have gone from 90 MhZ to 2 GHz.
      RAM has dropped in price by a factor of 20 or more. Disk drives by a factor of 100. Bandwidth inside of CMOS chips is up by a factor of 100.

      So ... the technology used for switching
      digital signals is now cheaper than any
      analog phone technology. Why should a T1 line be
      any more expensive than a regular voice line?

      The thing stinks of monopoly practices.


      1995 to 2002 is 7 years, which should be 3 to 4 doublings or a factor of 8 - 16.
      If you were paying $2000 for 1/4 of a T1 in 1995,
      you should be able to get a full T1 for $500-$1000 in 2002.
      Guess what, you can.

      If a long distance service offered three cents a minute anytime day or night,
      you'd probably think it was an amazing bargain.
      At $1000 a month, a T1 is under 2.5 cents a minute.

      Even without compression, you could carry more than 1 phone conversation over a T1.
      With compression you could do 30 streams of higher quality than the phone company,
      at a cost of under .1 cents per minute per stream.

      The question isn't "why does a T1 cost more than a voice line?",
      the question is "why does long distance cost so much?".

      -- this is not a .sig
  • I was thinking of doing this, I'm in a sprint controled area in kernersville, nc, and sprint has basiclly said, no upgrading the phone switch ever. I actully had a t1 quoted to me by uslec, and it wasen't too expensive, i mean, i wouldn't get a full data t1, but I would get some phone lines along with it... the perfect mix to start a isp...

    I was thinking wireless, and slightly wired ethernet for near neighboors.
  • Currently I am still on dial-up primarily due to the cost. I see this as a luxury I currently do not need since I can hook my laptop up at work and get down the big updates and such.

    It seems the real battle here in government will be whether or not the companies get the green light (green for cash in this instance) to do whatever they want or will governmnet step in to mandate changes to therefore push for quicker implementation and better competition.

    The sad part is that initiatives by the government helped to get telephones and electricity to rural areas but at the same time I fear that government in its current state can't pull of the same move for high speed access. Why? Because we are not living in the same times and current government movement for such initiatives lately have been messes of bad comprimises and half thought out proposals that have just made situations worse.

    We have the choice between industry strangling growth out of greed or government stepping in and quite possibly making the situation even worse.

    I understand that the rates for telephone service in this country are much less than many parts of the world comparing to average incomes and such but what move can government or the consumer make to promote the kind of growth and price lowering to make broadband a true mass consumer reality?

    ________________________________________________ __
  • Here's the front page of the site:

    Welcome to the Ruby Ranch Internet Cooperative Association The Ruby Ranch Internet Cooperative Association ("the Coop") is a member-owned and operated provider of high-speed Internet connectivity to homes in the Ruby Ranch neighborhood [rubyranch.com] in Summit County, Colorado.

    About the Coop

    The Coop was founded in 2001 because no one offered DSL or cable modem Internet access in our neighborhood, and because the voice telephone service to the neighborhood is of such poor quality that it is not possible to get modem connections faster than about 26K bits per second. The Coop is a Colorado nonprofit corporation [slashdot.org] and is federally tax-exempt under 501(c)(12) [slashdot.org].

    The Coop's Progress

    The Coop has by now accomplished almost everything that is needed to be able to launch service. The Coop has obtained a DSLAM [slashdot.org] (DSL access multiplexer) and the subscribers have their DSL modems [slashdot.org]. The Coop has tested the DSL equipment and has confirmed that it will do what we need. A point-to-point microwave link [www.patents.com] needed to connect the DSLAM to a frame relay T1 line has been designed, constructed, and placed into service. Cabinets and protective equipment have been installed in a barn [slashdot.org] where the DSLAM will be located. You can see a system diagram [slashdot.org] and description [slashdot.org]. Nearly all of the subscribers have arranged for inside wiring work as well as installation of DSL modems and DSL routers, and several subscribers have installed local area networks permitting two or more computers to share the DSL connection. The DSLAM and associated routers have been configured and a block of IP addresses has been obtained and routed. A monitoring system has been set up to monitor the DSL connections, and a second monitoring system has been set up to monitor the UPS (uninterruptable power supply) and the cabinets. The Coop has acquired spares for some of its equipment, with the goal of reducing down-time in the event of equipment failure.

    By far the biggest challenge faced by the Coop, a challenge that dwarfed any of the Coop's technical and financial challenges, was gaining access to subloops from Qwest under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. (The subloops are needed to connect the DSLAM to the subscriber homes. The buried telephone cable in our neighborhood has some three times as many subloops as are actually needed for voice service, and the subloops we wish to rent are among the hundreds of spare subloops which otherwise would generate no revenue for Qwest.) The course of negotiations was such that the Coop found it necessary to file an informal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission [slashdot.org] and subsequently found it necessary to pursue arbitration before the Colorado Public Service Commission [slashdot.org] ("CoPUC"). In the arbitration, the CoPUC found that "all of [the Coop's] proposed equipment is compatible with the Qwest network," and that "Qwest is technically able to accommodate [the Coop's] proposal." The CoPUC found that the Coop is entitled to pay "wholesale" rates for the subloops rather than much higher retail rates. Finally, the CoPUC found that because the Coop will be providing only data services (not voice services) and because the Coop will be offering its services to everyone in its service area, the Coop does not need to be a CoPUC-licensed telephone company. (This is very good news, since being a licensed telephone company would impose prohibitive accounting and record-keeping burdens.) After the CoPUC's arbitration decision there were further negotiations with Qwest, and a signed Interconnect Agreement between the Coop and Qwest has now been submitted to the CoPUC for approval [slashdot.org].

    What remains to be done

    The chief remaining action items are:

    • Burying cable between the barn and the cross-connect box [slashdot.org], also called a Feeder Distribution Interface (FDI) or Serving Area Interface (SAI).
    • Working with Qwest to get a Field Connection Point [qwest.com] (FCP) installed at the cross-connect box. Qwest is obligated to have it ready for service no later than Friday, June 21, 2002, but has agreed to make best efforts to have it installed sooner.
    • Working with Qwest to get subloops connected between the FCP and subscriber homes.

    Barring unforeseen difficulties, the Coop expects to be able to launch service by June 1, 2002, and perhaps sooner.

    This page is http://www.rric.net .

  • by asmithmd1 ( 239950 ) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @08:44AM (#3309202) Homepage Journal
    Before you get to excited about doing this remember that this is a development of multimillioaires. They were going to do this no matter what the cost. Read the decision of the CoPUC

    D. Issue No. 1 - Subloop Activation Charge
    3. We adopt Qwest's position.

    E. Issue 2 - Monthly Recurring Subloop Charge...
    3. We agree with Qwest.

    F. Issue No. 3 - Quote Preparation Fee ("QPF")
    ...we will not require Qwest to refund to Ruby Ranch any monies not expended from the QPF, nor will we require Qwest to provide an itemization of costs for the QPF.

    G. Issue No. 4 - Insurance
    3. The Commission agrees with Qwest that Ruby Ranch should have insurance in the event the need for such insurance should arise. We find the $1,000,000 figure developed from the Qwest Risk Management Group reasonable


    This will cost them thousands in set-up fees, $120 activation fee for each line to a house, and $8.37 per month for the bare wires. All this does is connect them to a barn. Now they need to get an internet connection via microwave and a frame relay circuit. This is an example of millionaires at play, not for the rest of us
    • We already have the internet connection, we already have the frame relay circuit. But yes, we will have to pay Qwest an $1107 quote preparation fee. We will have to pay Qwest $120 for each house. We will have to pay Qwest $8.37 per month for the subloops. And we will have to buy a wholly unnecessary insurance policy for $900 annually. It would be great if I could be a millionaire, but I am not. My neighbors aren't. We are just a bunch of volunteers setting up a nonprofit system which, once the startup costs are recovered, will likely cost only $20-30 per month per subscriber to operate.
  • As a german it is strange to hear about the prices of DSL in the US. Deutsche Telekom, the ex-monopoly now offers DSL in germany at least in most cities with 10000+ people living.

    And its cheap too, we got ADSL 768 kbit downstream and 128 kbit upstream. The price for the DSL is $8.80 per month, but you have to purchase the internet connection seperately. You can either choose some providers with time- oder volume-based billig, or you can get all-you-can-suck (called flatrate) for $21.90.

    So for a total of $30.70 per month i'm having 24/7 dsl with normally arround 80 kb/sec. Not too bad. I don't understand why it is all that expensive in the US. The US used to lead the internet competition and used to have to lowest prices, but it seems its loosing fast. This could be a real treat to US economy.
  • I just finished an 11 page report on such a topic.

    I planned-out a network for 36 homes in the Newton area of Surrey BC, Canada utilising 2 4 Mbit ADSL lines (for a total of 8).

    If I get around to it, I'll convert it to HTML (it is in Word format right now) and possibly risk getting my server Slashdotted.
  • Can someone explain exactly how bandwidth is soo expensive? Personally, if somebody knows why, can they list the statistics?

    Unused T-1 (no profit) =
    Unused T-1 (profit) =
    100% used T-1 (no profit) =
    100%used T-1 (profit) =

    I do understand there are network engineers (big bucks people) and equipment costst a bunch too, but still...

    Why is bandwidth soo expensive???
  • If you're interested in the nitty-gritty of how dsl networks are set up, try subscribing to the ISP-DSL mailing list [isp-planet.com].
    It's full of interesting tidbits on what is involved in making such a system work.

  • ...that demand for broadband isn't there. Hell, they're not willing to listen to the demand.

    I came close to starting a wireless network in my neighborhood fed by a T1 (or better) line. We're all about 500 feet farther than the phone company will allow for any DSL service. But they'd gladly charge a fortune for a T-class line. Unfortunately most of my neighbors are happy with their cable modem access to AOL and I opted for an IDSL connection.

    You just have to ask: What good is mandatory copyright protection in computers to protect digital movies that require broadband that the phone companies aren't willing to provide in the first place?

    • We're all about 500 feet farther than the phone company will allow for any DSL service.

      Sucks to be you. And I mean that in the kindest possible way: I was in the same boat.

      ...I opted for an IDSL connection.

      That strikes me as expensive. If your're willing to pay that kind of $$$, perhaps you can arrange what I did to get 768kbps x 384kbps ADSL at 15.6 kft from the C.O....

      I got a dedicated pair for the DSL, and didn't piggyback it on the existing POTS line. True, this cost an extra $15/month (I pay a total of $81.18/month with tax, in Allen, TX), but it was worth it -- Internet America was the only ISP willing to do this, and they do this as a matter of course for people at the end of long loops. The only catch is, they can't guarantee any particular rate when the service is ordered, but they will qualify the line, and offer the best service they can up to what you desire. If they can't meet your requirements, all bets are off. Struck me as fair.

      It also required that I pay for "professional installation" ($150, IIRC), which I didn't need as I ran all outside pairs to my voice/data/video headend myself (ISP guy showed up, looked at my head-end, mutterred "Damn, better than I would have done," checked my up/download speeds, and left. I found out later that about half that fee covered the cost of the telco (SWB) to drop the pair to the demarc (literally connect two wires inside the demarc box that were already there) and connect it to the DSLAM at the CO, so IA wasn't exactly getting rich on that fee (and seeing their installer's expression at my headend was worth it :-).

      So, sorry for the ramble, but this might be an option if your ISP is willing to play ball (like alarm companies, they can generally get dry pairs cheap, IIRC).

"I say we take off; nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure." - Corporal Hicks, in "Aliens"

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