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British Farmers Growing Their Own Internet Service 178

Posted by Soulskill
from the bring-tucows-over-to-spread-e-fertilizer dept.
pigrabbitbear writes "Look outside of your window: if you see miles of farmland, chances are you have terrible internet service. That's because major telecommunications companies don't think it's worth the investment to bring high-speed broadband to sparsely populated areas. But like most businesses, farms increasingly depend on the internet to pay bills, monitor the market and communicate with partners. In the face of a sluggish connection, what's a group of farmers to do? Grow their own, naturally. That's what the people of Lancashire, England, are doing. Last year, a coalition of local farmers and others from the northwestern British county began asking local landowners if they could use their land to begin laying a brand-new community-owned high-speed network, sparing them the expense of tearing up roads. Then, armed with shovels and backhoes, the group, called Broadband for the Rural North, or B4RN (it's pronounced 'barn'), began digging the first of what will be approximately 180,000 meters of trenches and filling them with fiber-optic cable, all on its own."
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British Farmers Growing Their Own Internet Service

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  • by PPH (736903) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @07:50PM (#43029389)

    The city of Tacoma has their own fiber network. Put in by their power company [click-network.com] for the purpose of controlling their substations, it turned out to have some extra capacity. Some Eastern Washington State power PUDs, awash in cash from their hydro power sales have strung fiber around their largely rural, agricultural service territories as well.

    Since then, the telcoms have sought legislative injunctions against public utilities implementing new systems. And the private utility I used to work for was scared sh*tless about their wrath to the point of never putting in fiber even restricted to their own internal requirements.

  • Re:Or... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tibit (1762298) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @08:31PM (#43029757)

    Are you serious? Rural America votes, and their votes affect you. Do you really want them not to have at least potential access to the wealth of knowledge and "dissent" that Internet offers? Consider the alternatives: they'll only listen to the local ClearChannel station and watch Fox News OTA. I'm not saying an average Joe Redneck is reading random wikipedia article each day to edify himself, but your way of thinking makes it not merely improbable: it becomes impossible.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @11:42PM (#43031085)

    Telecoms lose money in rural areas. Even with phone service. This has been a problem since the invention of the telephone. The solution? Give the telephone company monopoly over a large area, but require them by law to provide service to rural residents. Just how far rural they go will be negotiated between the local municipality and the telco. Putting in rural service is not profitable, but the telco can raise rates in the metropolitan areas to make up the difference.

    Now, some jackass comes along claiming free market and starts selling his own service. He offers it to whomever he likes, is under no obligation to provide service to anyone, and can undercut the telco in the easiest to serve markets. If you want free and open competition in these markets, that's fine. But you need to lift the regulations the telcos are under before you can do that. There are some areas of the country were the local phone company is required by law to maintain dialtone and 911 service even if the house is vacant or condemned. Just in case some homeless person needs to use the phone. How can a company that has to do maintain service like that compete with random competitors that have no such obligations? A free and open market for internet service means NO rural internet service at all. Simple as that. It's not profitable, and an open market means it can't exist.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 28, 2013 @01:48AM (#43031643)

    There's still a few of us out there that embrace the American spirit that made our country. The problem is that we have to keep a low profile and stick to trusted circle of friends/family/associates to avoid being prosecuted for being innovative.

    It was really screwed up when I had to redo a section of my roof and a city inspector came onto my property saying I needed either to pay for a permit or hire a contractor. The only thing that saved my ass is that I have a fenced in yard and driveway and a habit of leaving the gates closed. As it turns out opening the gate into someone's yard and walking onto their property without permission against the law. So the only "evidence" he had that I redid that section of roof without a permit or contractor was no longer valid in court.

  • Re:Or... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by khallow (566160) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @04:59AM (#43032299)

    It comes from the freeloaders that benefited from these improvements all their life but don't want to do anything for their kids.

    There's only so much lunch to go around. When you got too many freeloaders for the free meal, they'll turn on each other. It's worth noting that the same sort of selfishness came out in people who aren't boomers.

    Social Security was a known problem for decades and while they did make some fixes to it, there also was some crazy stuff like the one percent "kicker" (the amount of benefit was increased by CPI-indexed inflation plus 1% each year) that was implemented for a brief while in the 70s and the accounting fraud, which would be illegal, if it were done by private businesses. That mess which was broken on arrival wasn't started by the Boomers. They were born into the system.

    Similarly, we have some pretty crazy stuff going on with student loans and credit cards to an extent. I gather a number of the borrowers either had way off expectations of how much they'd be earning or they thought they could weasel out of it. Sure, the government side of this particular mess is remarkably incompetent and to a degree malicious (who thinks we're really helping people by guaranteeing huge loans for them and then passing onerous laws to make sure that student loan debt is almost unique a burden to bankrupt ex-students?), but it's all above board. You just need to look at people who've run through the gantlet to see how risky it is to take big debt for an attempt at a degree of dubious value. These people aren't for the most part, Boomers.

    These sort of games are what happens when you let entitlement spending get out of control so that even things which you can put together an ok argument for, like subsidizing internet hookups in rural areas, are difficult to fund, because ultimately, you're taking that money from some other freeloader.

    And this leads to the corporatism symptom. Who's going to fare the best in such an environment? It's not going to be some particular age bloc, no matter how numerous they might be. It'll be the businesses and non-profits which specialize in obtaining public funds, usually with the connivance of the politicians who hold the purse strings. It's a natural breeding ground for all kinds of corruption.

  • Re:Or... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kermidge (2221646) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @05:12AM (#43032343) Journal

    "It certainly wasn't the boomers that were building anything in the 50s or 60s."

          And you think that they should have been building stuff then?

          You might consider that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, baby boomers are those who were born between 1945 - 1964.
          For instance, I was born in 1947. What do you think I should have been building in, say, 1960, when I was all of 13 years old? Or 1967 maybe, when I was 20? (Now, by then I did work in the construction trades, but hadn't the capital to even leverage buying land and setting up construction projects; I wasn't precocious enough for your liking, I guess.)
          And for someone born in '64, I suppose you're really bent out of shape that the greatest building projects for a 6-year old likely involved Lego or somesuch.

          As for the 'sense of entitlement'....
          You'd have to search far and wide to find someone in my parent's generation who hadn't been affected by The Great Depression (as it was known, although it seems there's one of those every other generation or so) and World War II - both thoroughly global things.
          So, no, we didn't have to deal with either of them directly, although the aftermath of each had some lasting effects on attitudes, behaviours, values, politics and law.
          Sure, our parents, having gone through some real shit, generally wanted to see to it that their children didn't have to - 'cuz it was some serious bad shit, the kind that was bad enough that a grown-up mostly wouldn't wish even an enemy to experience.
          As a result of all those good wishes, some of us were spoiled, some still came up hardscrabble, and, as in most things done by humans when nothing special is going on, most of us just came up in the middle of the muddle, as it were.
          Overall, the watchword was opportunity - we tended to have better schools, better clothes, better medical care, better diet than did our parents generation, so we may have taken those things for granted.
          The cultural, social, and psychological stuff, that was a mixed bag. There were some little things, the undeclared war in Southeast Asia (first advisors, 1955, first combat troops, 1965), the Cold War (duck and cover, mother-fucker), the commie hunt, the wonderful Cuban missile circus, all the various civil rights issues. Nothing special, really.

          But maybe you had your own fun in the Sandbox, I dunno.

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