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Communications The Internet United States

VoIP As a Solution To Rural Broadband 149 recommends his article up at Network Performance Daily, which notes the recent reports that up to 30% of households do not have a landline telephone, preferring a VoIP or cell-phone based solution. What to do with the miles of last-mile phone line infrastructure already in place in almost all the homes across the country? Maybe there's a solution to rural broadband by using the high-reliability frequencies reserved for voice purely for data — and using VoIP to make phone calls. From the article: "Repurposing the broadband of 0-25kHz would result in... speeds of around 14.4 kBytes/s (or 115.9 kbits/s) upload and 28.8 kBytes/s (231.3 kbits/s) download. That's not much of a speed boost. Still, if you've been plodding along on a '56.6k' modem, at speeds of 7.2kBytes/s, this would be like an oasis in the desert. And what about those phone calls? Well, if you make the same phone calls with VoIP that you were with the standard 0-4kHz landline, it would only take about 20.8kbits/s using the G.723.1 codec — that still leaves you with 80% of your broadband capacity when on the phone — and 100% of your broadband when you're off it." Only the US FCC calls 231K "broadband," but as noted it does beat dialup.
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VoIP As a Solution To Rural Broadband

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  • by E IS mC(Square) ( 721736 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @11:52AM (#23518422) Journal
    Not to be pedantic (and I understand the general drift of the article), but from wikipedia: "... the US FCC used 200 kbit/s in their definition until march 19th 2008 after which it was scaled up to require a minimum of 768 kbit/s to be defined as broadband and at that time the FCC introduced new tiers in their definition as follows: 1) 200kbit/s to 768kbit/s ("first generation data"); 2) 768kbit/s to 1.5Mbit/s ("basic broadband"); 3) 1.5Mbit/s to 3 Mbit/s; 4) 3Mbit/s to 6 Mbit/s; and 5) 6Mbit/s and above." []
    • by esocid ( 946821 )
      yes, yes. shallow and pedantic.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23, 2008 @12:15PM (#23518772)
      "Broadband" isn't a data transmission speed, not anymore than "cable", "modem" or "DSL" are transmission speeds.

      Here's a real definition of broadband:

      broadÂband adjective

      1. of, pertaining to, or responsive to a continuous, wide range of frequencies.

      2. pertaining to or denoting a type of high-speed data transmission in which the bandwidth is shared by more than one simultaneous signal.

      [definition] []

      Hence: "the broadband of 0-25kHz" mentioned in the article.
      • by datajack ( 17285 )
        Hear! Hear!

        Why were they allowed take a well-defined technical term and re-purpose it as meaningless marketing drivel?

        This mis-use of 'broadband' also has repurcussions for other terms. There are many people who thuink that baseband or narrowband means 'slower then broadband'. I'd love to see a public broadband link that comes close to the speed of my baseband network.
        • by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @12:57PM (#23519364) Homepage Journal
          Why were they allowed take a well-defined technical term and re-purpose it as meaningless marketing drivel?

          The main reason is called the First Amendment. ;-) It permits anyone to misuse any term they like for any reason.

          In this case, they're just Doing What Marketing Does. They use whatever words are effective in selling what they're selling. They figured out that to the public that has no clue about such technical terms, "broadband" just means "faster". So they adopted it as a marketing term.

          It's nothing at all unique to Internet marketing. The same approach is used everywhere that it works. People have been complaining about marketers' misuse of words since marketing came into existence back in prehistory. There's no way we're going to change this, short of educating the public about the actual definition of the terms. And considering the general public contempt for geeky stuff that requires education, that's not going to happen any time soon.

          (This misuse isn't nearly as agregious as the use of "quantum" to mean "large", when the technical definition is more like "the smallest difference possible". I'm sure others here have their favorite misuses of technical terms. ;-)

          • by datajack ( 17285 )
            Yes, but isn't the FCC a technical certification or standards body, not a marketing group? (I'm not from the US, so don't shout too loud if I'm wrong!) Why are they 'defining' 'broadband' in this way?
            • by Gilmoure ( 18428 )
              The FCC appears to be made up of lobbying groups funded by the tel-cos. And they dress funny.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by limaxray ( 1292094 )
          The same can be said for other terms as well.

          Take 'bandwidth' for example. It traditionally means the width of a channel, as in the difference between an upper and lower cutoff frequencies. So say you have a bandpass filter that blocks all frequencies below 1 MHz and above 5 Mhz. It's bandwidth is said to be 4 MHz.

          In the digital era though, it has evolved to also mean data rate. This has come about because channel width on an analog medium directly impacts channel capacity; the wider the channel, t
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by petermgreen ( 876956 )
            For the purposes of this post bandwidth is defined in the traditional sense of the range of frequencies availible for your transmission.

            ALL real world mediums are analog. Signals reflect off discontinuities. Noise gets added and higher frequencies get attenuated. Your channel may be all the usable bandwidth of a cable or it may be only a subset of it but it is still most certainly a meaningfull figure. A differential pair has a limited bandwidth just like any other cable (it has good noise immunitiy though
          • Technology evolves, and language must evolve with it. The fact is the people evolving the language aren't the ones evolving the technology; they're usually the ones selling the technology.

            This looks a little contradictory. As technology evolves, there are usually new things that require new expressions. However, salespeople are making language more "narrowband" ;)

            There are two very different technical concepts of bandwidth and channel capacity (aka data rate). Modern parlance makes the word "bandwith" refer to both kinds, depending on the context (technical or mainstream). This, IMHO, is not evolution in any sense. If this is the way we're going, I predict future English to have only

      • Words can have different definitions in different usages. Welcome to the English Language.
        • by datajack ( 17285 )
          The problem is that this is redefining the term for the same usage.
          What can you call a broadband transmission at 20Kb/s? It's broadband by it's very nature.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Comboman ( 895500 )
        "Broadband" isn't a data transmission speed, not anymore than "cable", "modem" or "DSL" are transmission speeds.

        You're right; it isn't a speed, it's a bandwidth (a broad bandwidth).

        1. of, pertaining to, or responsive to a continuous, wide range of frequencies.

        Note the use of the word wide (i.e. broad) in that definition.

        Hence: "the broadband of 0-25kHz" mentioned in the article.

        This is the part I have a problem with. While "broad" and "narrow" are somewhat relative terms, broadband is typically band

        • by fbjon ( 692006 )
          Ah, but the opposite of broadband isn't narrowband, it's baseband. Wideband is the opposite of narrowband.
    • by karot ( 26201 )
      ...And then there is the "general public" definition of broadband, which is usually just "anything that is not dial-up".

      This is largely due to
      a) The fact that they largely neither know nor care what a Mbit/s is
      b) Have been subject to TV advertising for so long that they just know that they need to "buy a broadband to make the Internet in their PC go fast"

  • Sounds cheaper (Score:4, Interesting)

    by esocid ( 946821 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @11:52AM (#23518432) Journal
    And better than satellite since it shouldn't degrade when the weather isn't perfect. That was the main complaint of people I know who live in the boonies and have to go with satellite (note that those people don't require low latency).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MBGMorden ( 803437 )
      Not only that, but my brother is a dial-up user and while he does comment on my connection being faster than his when he's over, the most common "OMG teh coolness!" thing he likes about my connection: it doesn't tie up the phone line.

      Seriously, most rural people are not technophiles. I'd suspect that 256kb/s download would be just fine if they also got to free up their telephone line.
      • by jlindy ( 1028748 )

        Seriously, most rural people are not technophiles. I'd suspect that 256kb/s download would be just fine
        Speak for yourself :). I live in the boonies and just recently was able to get a 256kb connection. Granted it's better than dialup but only just barely. YouTube is still a painful experience.
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by flyingsquid ( 813711 )
        I think it depends on what your goal is. If your goal is just to make it slightly easier for people in the boonies to surf the web and use the phone, then OK, this is probably a fine solution. But I think it's kind of a half-assed solution if your goal is to bring next-generation infrastructure to the United States, and if you think that high-speed internet is one of those things, like telephones, mail, water, and electricity, that we ought to make a serious effort to bring to everyone in the United States.
      • by GweeDo ( 127172 )
        I live in a town of 2000 people and thank the Lord every day that I have 7Mbit/3Mbit cable!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MBGMorden ( 803437 )
          Then your definition of "rural" is a bit looser than mine. When I spoke about my broker earlier: his closest neighbor is 6 miles away ;). There is no "town" to speak of.
      • by Toonol ( 1057698 )
        Seriously, most rural people are not technophiles.

        And a fair amount of Slashdot posters are evidently urbanites who have very little experience with actual rural residents.
        • Um, I grew up in the middle of Francis Marion National Forest and still live there. I have to drive 20 miles to buy groceries and have chickens running around in my back yard you insenstive clod!

          Trust me, I am more than qualified to speak as someone from a rural perspective. I just have broadband because there is a switching station a few miles from my house and by some miracle I'm close enough to get DSL.

          Of course there are exceptions (hell I AM one), but that's why I threw in that little word "most". M
          • "Most" urbanites and suburbanites aren't technophiles, either. Technophiles are a minority wherever you are, unless you happen to live near a place of technophile congregation.

            A city with a research university, an engineering school, a large high-tech manufacturer, a big software company, a government lab, or a military base with a specifically high-tech arsenal will have more technophiles around than the average place of the same size.
            • Yes, but understand: the average person in a city is far beyond the people that I'm talking about. The people I'm talking about don't buy songs on iTunes. Many of them still watch mostly VHS tapes. They don't twitter, they don't use Gmail.

              I'm talking about people who use a computer the way most average people (not Slashdotters) used them 10 years ago: as a glorified typewriter that their kids type up school papers on. Many scoff at paying hundreds of dollars for a computer and are only getting them no
              • My parents live 7 miles from a town of 18,000. They don't have Internet access at home because my mom uses it at work when she needs it and my dad's more interested in mowing the 8 acres on which they live or going camping. They still have DVD players (one for the house, one for the camper), digital OTA tuners (two for the house, one for the camper), a computer (my dad plays single-player games on it, my mom uses it as a photo album, word processor, etc). My mom's in her late 50s and my dad's in his early 6
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )
      if you dont "cheap out" and get the basic package satellite does not degrade when it's cloudy or rains.

      I upgraded to a 2 meter dish and only when it's a insane downpour does my HD and SD tv signals drop out. and I know that works for the sat internet as well. we had 4 of them at headends at comcast in the late 90's. I had connectivity unless it was raining insanely hard (hurricane hard)
    • But it can degrade when the weather isn't perfect (or at least during a thunderstorm). My DSL connection has gone out a couple times during a storm (although the connection obviously wasn't very strong to begin with).
      Certainly the signal quality would degrade, but probably not as much as a minidsh connection.
    • Why not just use 3G data? It's cheap and quick these days.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mr_mischief ( 456295 )
      Actually, the ground expanding and contracting, the copper or aluminum conductors getting wet, cards hitting poles in bad conditions, and winds blowing down lines off of above-ground poles (or the poles falling over, trees breaking in the wind or under the weight of ice and falling on lines) is a huge problem for electricity out in the country, let alone telephone service.

      My parents go without power at least 18 hours a year, and they're only 7 miles from the closest town, with no two houses along their road
  • Much like ISDN... (Score:2, Informative)

    by pagley ( 225355 )
    That was much like the overall premise and promise of ISDN BRI - "high speed" digital access over voice grade plant, which failed miserably due to a number of technical, political, and corporate reasons.

    Granted, the OP's proposal is somewhat different, as I assume he was referring to using DSL-like technology in the full voice band. But, there are also limitations on how much data can be carried in a given amount of spectrum using various modulation and encoding schemes.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      ISDN didn't fail. I'm using it now. Latency kicks ass as low as 16ms for the first hop and 150ms around the world. ISDN is pricey at $40/mo for the ISP and $37/mo for the line. Reliable 128kbit with no throttling policy beats satellite though.
      • by Achra ( 846023 )
        I loved ISDN when I lived in TN. It turns out that the big horror of dial-up isn't the bandwidth, it's the high latency. You cut that latency down to nil, and everything feels a lot faster. Plus, it's very nice to be able to use the phoneline and the connection simultaneously.
      • Some ISPs offer ISDN bonding, too, if you are interested in spending that much.
        • Afaict if you are getting 128K you are already bonding two channels (a BRI interface carries two ISDN channels).

          Some ISPs may well let you use more than two though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zappepcs ( 820751 )
      There is a missing item to consider. Much of the infrastructure that exists, even in rural USA is that there are more than one pair of copper to most homes. Ma Bell wanted to see you two phone lines at one time, so the possibility of DSL grade equipment that bridges two network connections could in fact provide a quite reasonable ride for your bits.

      In fact, if the RBOCs sold that bundled with VoIP, I'm certain that it would be bought up handily. I know that some of my family would do so if reasonably priced
    • Re:Much like ISDN... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Amouth ( 879122 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @12:13PM (#23518740)
      isdn BRI didn't fail do to technical or political reasons..

      it failed to become main stream because durring the time frame where it would have been the first broadband that could be delivered anywhere - the phone company priced it out of existance for nearly any home user.

      yes the first gen did have anissue of requiring f1 pairs.. (2 at that).. but they later changed it so it could use a single pair and also be routed accross fiber nodes..

      pricing is what killed it (well more of a still birth).. but functionaly it was great (i used one for many years)
    • IDSL is an ISDN-flavored DSL version. It uses the ISDN modulation to send bits over the wire, but with a full-time DSLAM connection as opposed to ISDN switched calling.
      It gets 144kbps - ISDN has two 64kbps B channels and a 16kbps D channel, and is typically used for a 128kbps bonded circuit.

      The big advantage of IDSL is distance - it typically gets about 30,000 feet, compared to about 18000 for most DSL flavors.

  • by eln ( 21727 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @11:54AM (#23518464)
    Seems silly to spend all that time and money trying to get the FCC to change its regulations when this situation seems tailor made for a good RFC 1149 [] implementation. Latency is still an issue with such a setup, but bandwidth can be virtually unlimited if you have the resources.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Dekortage ( 697532 )

      Unfortunately, in rural areas, RFC 1149 datagram carriers may be actively destroyed for human sustenance. This would further increase latency, and could pose a significant security hole. In such network regions, packet sniffers tend to be numerous and very active, working on four-pronged mobility structures, and may occasionally carry fleas.

      However, within this modality, the risk of VoIP being unscrupulously wiretapped is already very low, so I wouldn't worry about it too much.

  • Dream on... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jlindy ( 1028748 )
    Sounds nice but,try to get the telco's to implement it in areas that they deem unprofitable without an act of congress. The best solution for broadband in the boonies as I see it would be broadband over powerlines.
    • Powerlines? Have you looked into it? the hash this produces in the radio spectum is unbelievable. It disrupts communication...and...opens a security can of worms you have not even considered. Putting the net on power always struck me as similar to using the water line to carry the sewer waste; after all, sharring a pipe is not that difficult and it already goes into the home...then the FCC can sell the sewer pipe ....
  • by Endo13 ( 1000782 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @11:56AM (#23518500)
    It actually sounds like a good idea. Sure, it's not as fast as broadband, but it's still a good five times faster than dialup. And ten times faster than a lot of people get in those rural areas where no wired broadband is available.
  • but-- even when these lines were laid, weren't they laid in duplicate/quad sets to the homes?

    I know they have BUNDLES to boxes at endpoints.. why not use multiple lines for those who really need to be in the woods and need more speed?
  • Isn't the problem with rural DSL not so much signal strenght as much as that the telephone companies arn't terribly interested in putting down DSLAMs in the middle of nowhere? []

    Also I suspect that data has higher quality requirements then just voice, small differences in the frequencies won't affect what you hear much but I'll mess up your loss ratio for data.
  • Questions. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sexconker ( 1179573 )
    911 with VoiP?

    And before someone says it - a lot of rural people don't depend on 911 anyway, I know (because of distance), but a lot of people us city folk would consider "rural" DO depend on 911.

    And how do you IMPLEMENT this?
    get every phone line set up for VoiP and train people, and then flick a switch one day? Do you stagger it so you move a chunk of people over to data, cap their speeds, and then move some more people? There WILL be holdouts - medical equipment, old credit card / check readers should w
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Locklin ( 1074657 )
      911 works on VOIP -they call it e911. It works as long as your provider has your address. Many providers have it, including Acanac ( [] )
      • 911 works on VOIP -they call it e911. It works as long as your provider has your address

        The "as long as your provider has your address" is the catch: a kid died recently in Alberta after the parents called 911 [] via a VOIP line and the company didn't have their most recent address on file.

        While I'm prepared to believe that the parents ought to have made sure their address with the VOIP company was current, I'm guessing there must have been some paperwork to fill out when they moved, for billing purposes at le
        • Yeah, because this sort of thing never [] happens [] on land [] lines [].

          Your provider can screw up your address no matter who it is. Don't think that just because you're with a provider who gives you physical service at a location that they can't possibly screw it up.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by FamineMonk ( 877465 )
      Couldn't you just make a special model voip phone that could force the line to switch back to some kind of basic phone service?

      It might be a little hard to set up but it would a pretty good back up.
      • There are VoiP boxes with analog phone jacks. You could even make the network access box on the side of the house a cheap router with an analog jack and Ethernet jacks for the customer's PCs. The problem there is cost.
        • I would think an access box with a port for the phone line and then phone and ethernet ports for the costomers equipment would be the obvious way to do it. Maybe add a panel with some punchdown blocks so it can be hardwired if desired.

          This service sounds like it would need a custom modem anyway. I can't imagine building a voip analog adaptor into that box would be too expensive.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Belial6 ( 794905 )
      100% of the 911 scare was generated by the incumbent phone carriers. They have fought tooth and nail for the privilege of making 911 fail on VOIP phones. In some places they have won, and have been allowed to cripple 911. In other places they have lost, and they are not allowed to cripple 911. Besides, the whole 911 fear mongering is lame anyway. Most people spend HUGE amounts of time in places that have no better 911 capabilities than what are available in the places that the incumbent phone companies
      • Not to mention that the incumbents don't do a really great job with 911. We've been paying extra for E911 for years, and it still doesn't work. And then there's all the horror stories about busy signals. That's not the carrier's fault, of course, but it points to 911 not being as critical as people say.
        • by Tacvek ( 948259 )

          Which E911 are you talking about? There are 3 different E911 Systems.

          My understanding is that wireline E911 has been fully operation in most of the country for many years. There may be a small number of rural PSAPs that are not properly equipped, but I'm actually doubting even that.

          Wireless E911 is newer and should probably be working just fine in all major metropolitan areas. How well it is actually working elsewhere I am not certain. This usually uses either Assisted GPS (allegedly phone captures raw G

          • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
            Nope. While you CAN take the VIOP device to a new location. When you sign up with at least Vonage, you register the location of the device. Vonage knows where my phone is just as well as AT&T knows where my neighbors phone is.
            • by Tacvek ( 948259 )
              You plug your POTS telephone into your neighbor's phone jack and your PSAP will see your neighbors address. AT&T knows the address based on the endpoint of the copper wire. You plug your Vonage device into your neighbor's internet connection and dial 911, and your PSAP will see *your* address. Vonage depends upon you registering your phone's location, which is a step beyond what is needed on POTs. That is very much a technical difference with special challenges. That is not to say they are difficult ch
              • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
                If I take my POTS phone and plug it into my neighbors VIOP box, Vonage sees me at my neighbors house. The same phone moved whether it is running over POTS lines or VOIP lines works the same for identifying location. Which is to say, the phone simply has no mechanism to do that. When you use standard AT&T phone service, you have a phone jack that you plug your telephone into. The location of this jack is registered with the phone company. When you use Vonage, you have a phone jack that you plug your
    • 911 with VoiP?
      Assuming the VOIP soloution is part of the package and not a third party service I don't see why this should be a problem. The biggest problem with VOIP and 911 is when the voip is seperate from the line there is no way to tell if the user has moved the VOIP equipment without telling the provider.

      You won't be able to utilize the full bandwidth of that frequency range until you get everyone switched over.

      For the most part phone lines should be seperate channels. There may be a little big of cro
  • Just use ISDN (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @12:11PM (#23518714) Homepage

    This is what ISDN is good for. It's not very demanding of loop quality, and you get uncompressed digital voice, plus modest data capability.

    ISDN voice handsets are common in Europe. The Swiss PTT likes them. European practice is to power them from the central office, so you don't need power at the subscriber end. US practice is to power ISDN gear from the subscriber end, which makes them unreliable as a primary phone connection. There's no fundamental reason, though, why central office power for ISDN can't be used in the US. The gear is available.

    The problem is that many rural lines have analog repeaters out on poles somewhere, and those are't compatible with DSL, ISDN, or much of anything else. See Rural Telephony Workshop Report. [].

    • by Achra ( 846023 )
      As a former ISDN user, I'd like to agree.. Except for the reliability statements. ISDN powered at the subscriber side is no different than my current Fios setup, which is also powered at my side. The Real reason that ISDN isn't more popular in the rural areas is that most of the time it is priced in a really silly price-range. $200 install costs and more than $100/month are not uncommon at all.
      • by Animats ( 122034 )

        The Real reason that ISDN isn't more popular in the rural areas is that most of the time it is priced in a really silly price-range.

        I know. US Telcos really blew ISDN. (The guy who writes Dilbert used to be in the ISDN department at PacBell.) In Switzerland, ISDN and analog phone lines are the same price.

        ISDN has better sound quality than almost everything else in residential telephony. End to end digital, uncompressed, with no lags.

    • European practice is to power them from the central office

      Not the case in the UK I'm afraid - ISDN2e (BRI 2 channels) has no CO power.

      • Actually - let me qualify that: No power is provided to premises equipment (phones etc.)
      • BT used to offer a service called BT home highway/BT buiseness highway which had a BT supplied box on the wall providing you with ISDN ports and a couple of analog ports. I think that box was exchange powered but I don't remember for sure.

        Unfortunately it seems they recently dropped that product.
        • It came with its own PSU although one channel would supply power for an ISDN phone during power fail conditions ISTR.

          The highway products are finally finally being retired on 30th June 2008.
  • This could provide some competition to the cable and telco companies. It would give the little man an alternative when they try to bend us over.
    • by jonwil ( 467024 )
      No, this is not competition for the telcos. This is a way for the telcos to provide something better than dialup to customers who cant get anything else (DSL, cable etc)
  • Sounds like IDSL (Score:3, Informative)

    by rickkas7 ( 983760 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @12:18PM (#23518818)
    This sounds pretty much like IDSL. The problem has never been technological - the problem is getting your telephone company to implement it at a price that's reasonable. Instead of breaking up the low frequencies into two 64 Kbit/sec ISDN BRI channels and one 16 Kbits/sec D channel for signaling, IDSL just uses all 144 Kbits/sec (symmetric) for data. The suggestion is asymmetric ISDN based broadband, but that's a minor difference. ISDN goes much longer distances than ADSL or SDSL due to the lower frequencies. In the early 1990s I had ISDN and it worked fine, except the phone company charged $ 250 a month for unlimited 128 Kbits/sec. Great technology (at the time), but insane pricing.
  • I always thought the bandwith for dialup was stuck at 28.8kbs and the 58.6kbs modem speed was do to hardware/software compression built in the modem. Thus reaching an estimate peak speed of 58.6kbs.
    Now if we took these lines and gave people parallel connection then we may get some speed performance.
  • so ... (Score:4, Funny)

    by B3ryllium ( 571199 ) on Friday May 23, 2008 @12:23PM (#23518886) Homepage
    It's going to be Voice over IP over Voice? VoIPoV?
  • by billsf ( 34378 ) <> on Friday May 23, 2008 @12:41PM (#23519140) Homepage Journal
    There isn't too much information in the article, particularly what problems may be encountered. The amount of data that can be delivered will vary greatly due to certain technical considerations. Politically, giving everyone in rural areas the 'same lousy service' is a minefield.

    The outside cable plant and distance to the central office is everything:

    * "Wires on poles" can degrade bandwidth 10x or more, particularly if there is industrial or broadcast interference. Modern underground cable plant can provide several Mbit/s up to 30km or so.

    * Loading coils, commonly used in the past to maintain 600 or 900 ohm line impedance, limit the bandwidth of the lines to not mush more than 4kHz. They must be removed which is allot of tedious labour. Once removed, POTS may not work properly. Since some lines will need them and others definitely not, this gives a great excuse to 'take forever' to install the service.

    * COTS DSL-modem/routers, common in many areas, may not work on large runs. Slightly modified units can put out greater signal and have better echo cancellation. This looks like a lock-in and higher prices. Higher transmission levels, lower received levels and longer runs invite crosstalk in a big way. It may be that many systems start out really good, but quickly degrade as more subscribers are added.

    * Some rural cable-plant is "hollow-sounding" with voice and will simply not work with DSL. I'm no expert on US rural phone systems, but its fair to say most will get the pitiful 256kbit/s rate. This is what can be achieved with above-ground cable-plant at 30km in a city environment. The actual case I use example is Buenos Aries.

    Any cable-plant that doesn't support 25kHz should be recycled! Otherwise, most will probably do much better, so limiting service to below 256kbit/s is deceptive. All told, there are a number of technical hurdles, which can be overcome, but the politics will go on forever.

    This isn't a nice comparison to make, but in England there is more 'broadband' (there is a somewhat higher standard to the definition there) in the country than the city. Of course, like most of Europe, all wires are underground.

    • This isn't a nice comparison to make, but in England there is more 'broadband' (there is a somewhat higher standard to the definition there) in the country than the city. Of course, like most of Europe, all wires are underground.
      Not true, in many urban/suburban areas of england the final drop to the house is overhead and in some rural areas phone lines run overheaf for miles..
  • Until recently moving off to college, I have lived in a rural area. For the four years of living in this area, I used ISDN for data only, while also having two separate landlines for voice-only use. Let me tell you, for the price of the line installation, monthly line fees, monthly per-dial fees, and shoddy service with a very low cap, ISDN is not worth it. It exceeded $100 per month. I've just recently switched to Sprint EVDO for data service, and the quality is amazing. In spite of having virtually n
  • I think he's overestimating the quality of our rural landlines quite a a bit.. Where I grew up in Maine for instance, to this day, the best you can get out of dial up is 24.4kbit, and we don't have cable.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't your line have to be AT LEAST capable of 56k (or 53333, whatever) in order to handle DSL? Something about the distance to a central office or something? Wouldn't that affect most of rural America?
    My little podunk town can't be the only one out there with no broad
    • Actually, running fiber to the pedestal alongside your road and making sure the copper to your house has no repeaters is probably cheaper than testing this for every home and rolling the same trucks to fix rural copper loops back to town for every two-lane blacktop and gravel road and maintaining the signal quality on that new copper plant. If you're going to trench, plan ahead.
  • Power goes out. Landlines still work. Weather gets crappy. Landlines still work. Not much that can fail on the user's end. Start tossing VoIP in the picture and you're adding a whole bunch of equipment that has lot of ways to fail.
    • Power goes out. Landlines still work. Weather gets crappy. Landlines still work. Not much that can fail on the user's end.

      In the northeast, going wireless is still rare.

      There are other numbers in the survey worth looking at:

      The prevalence of binge drinking among wireless-only adults (37.3%) was twice as high as the prevalence among adults living in landline households (17.7%)

      Wireless-only adults were more likely to report that their health status was excellent or very good, and they were more likely to

  • Modems already use the voice frequency range. They max out at about 64 kbps - and I was under the impression that this was pretty much the theoretical maximum using the 0-4kHz band.

    Now, the author seems to be talking about pulling in the 4-25kHz band as well, but given that many modems can't manage to connect at even 28.8k in rural areas (I have personal experience with this) - this shows that even the 0-4kHz range is being heavily attenuated and distorted - why does he thing the 4-25KHz band will be any
    • DSL is inherently distance-limited. Wider ranges of frequencies means the same signal quality can give better data throughput.

      It'd be digital in both directions on both ends instead of digital from the ISP to the CO then analog on your end for your downloads and analog from you to the CO then digital from the CO to the ISP for your uploads.

      The packet delivery management of TCP/IP could be used instead of the error correction built into your grandmas's $4 Winmodem's driver.

      That said, it still sounds like the
  • 0-55Kbps: low-speed
    56-144Kbps: standard-speed, mobile web
    145-768Kbps: enhanced-speed, mobile internet
    769-2047Kbps: basic broadband, mobile high-speed
    2048-4999Kbps: [*] high-speed
    5000-14400Kbps: [*] super high-speed
    14401-51200Kbps: [*] advanced high-speed
    51200-99999Kbps: [*] ultra high-speed
    100-1000Mbps: [*] network-speed

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter