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Networking The Internet

vTel Deploying Gigabit Internet In Vermont At $35/Month 146

symbolset writes "Up to 17,500 rural Vermont subscribers of vTel, a legacy copper telephone company, stand to get gigabit fiber to the home. Funded by a $95 million U.S. grant and $55 million in coinvestment from a utility for smart meters, the 1,200 mile fiber network will cost $8,500 per home — if every subscriber takes the gigabit Internet. Currently the company is doing its best to convince people this is a product they need, but have seen only 600 takers so far. The federal grant is part of $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus funds that seem to have accomplished very little."
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vTel Deploying Gigabit Internet In Vermont At $35/Month

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  • At least we'll be able to watch Nero fiddle faster.

    There is money for this which is good since our roads are crumbling and we won't be able to drive to work.

    • Re:Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @01:57PM (#43568489)

      There is money for this which is good since our roads are crumbling and we won't be able to drive to work.

      Maybe in your state. In my state, the road I drive on every day got a new layer of asphalt last summer. The extension and expansion project for the highway I drive on every day was finished late last year, with brand new concrete. The bridge I use to cross a river every day is less than 5 years old. The bridge the other 1/3rd of the metro area uses to cross the same river every day is being replaced as I write this. Replaced, not repaired. One entire span was torn down last year and the brand new replacement is making rapid progress this year, despite the weather. When it's done, they'll tear down and replace the other span.

      In the past 3 1/2 years, 802 bridges in this state were repaired or replaced. The schedule called for 5 years.

      Crumbling bridges and highways are problems in mismanaged states. In states with competent road planners and honest contractors, the jobs get planned, started, and finished, on budget, under the projected schedule, and to high quality. The new bridges even have substantial earthquake resistance built in, because there's a fault near enough to be a problem. It hasn't tripped in over 100 years, but every time it does, it's massive.

      Where am I? In the heartland of America, in a state with one Republican Senator and one Democratic Senator and a Democratic governor. Red or blue, the representatives in this state know what government is FOR. The ancient Romans and ancient Chinese knew this: if there is one and only one thing government is for, it's road construction. Why other people don't get what's been known for literally thousands of years, I'm sure I don't know. Missouri knows though.

      And Missouri too is using federal grant money and state matching to build rural fiber. I bet ours gets done and works.

  • Governement should not subsidise anything. Ensuring proper regulation and competition is enough.

    Am I the only one appalled by such counterproductive use of tax dollars?
    Don't get me wrong, I like fibre and hate the usual suspects (TWC, Comcast, ...). But seriously? $8,500 per home and that's if the home actually subscribes to the service?
    • Yes but if only 1000 people subscribe then that's 150,000$ per home. It would raise the price of my home by $150,000

      • No, it just means that few people will benefit. The price of the home won't be materially affected. The cost of the service will depend mostly on demand. Homeowners aren't likely to pay $150,000 for the service.
        • The cost of the service will depend mostly on demand. Homeowners aren't likely to pay $150,000 for the service.

          But a business would.

        • The standard argument against public transportation always forgets that the capability scales up easily and provides a lower cost ultimately. Most of the first objections against public transportation take the full cost of the service and instead of amortizing it over multiple years and a larger populace served says "why only 4000 people will ride the bus! Instead of spending 80 million on 4 thousand people, we could just give each of them 20 thousand to buy their own car and we'd be better off!! We don't
          • The standard argument against public transportation always forgets that the capability scales up easily and provides a lower cost ultimately. Most of the first objections against public transportation take the full cost of the service and instead of amortizing it over multiple years and a larger populace served says "why only 4000 people will ride the bus! Instead of spending 80 million on 4 thousand people, we could just give each of them 20 thousand to buy their own car and we'd be better off!! We don't need bus service!". But giving those people cars won't solve anything when another 30 thousand people want to use the bus later. But building the bus system with available excess capacity will help out in the longer term . It's the same way with building out and deploying this high speed network access. The cost is amortized over multiple years. Why is it that when the gov't pays for it directly, people get riled up but when the government sneaks it out as a subsidy or a give-away of public right of way access to monopolies provided by private corporations, no one realizes the actual cost of what is being given away?

            TFA states a cost to users of $35 / month, or $420/year/subscriber. If there are 11,000 subscribers, which would mean every household in the served area subscribing, that's $4.62M per year in revenue. It will take 20 years to amortize the cost from ratepayers.

            when you consider the possibility of future expansion, consider this is rural Vermont we're talking about. Population expansion is slow in rural Vermont.

            Next question: who gets that money? This isn't a direct subsidy to Vermont homeowners. It's

            • It's a subsidy to the company that will provide the service for a fee.

              .... who otherwise wouldnt provide the service.

              The problem isnt that the subsidies are going to a company, its that the whole idea is a bad one from start to finish. By the time the costs are recouped, the technology will have changed / become cheaper, and its not a sure thing that even in 20 years gigabit-to-the-house will be terribly useful for most people.

              If the LOCAL government wanted to do this as a way of pulling in business, sure, maybe there'd be some merit to the idea, but the federal government

          • Public transit (in the modern sense of buses and trains) is a complete failure in any place less dense than Manhattan, and will always be so because of its technical limitations: it works great if you have lots of people wanting to go from point A to point B, but it completely falls apart if you have 1 million people wanting to move between 1 million different points in a grid. And finally, buses are extremely slow, once you factor in the fact that they only run every so often (usually 15 or 30 minutes, ma

            • Boston (and, to a lesser extent), San Francisco and a little bit of the surrounding areas are not as densely populated as Manhattan but are decent examples of the success of public transportation. I've visted SF more than Boston, but I was very impressed by how easily you could get around Boston on the T and then walk to most places from the stations. The suburbs could use more buses, but you could also take trains to Providence or Hartford or Yale (New Haven?) or to New York city and even to Washington D
              • Trains between cities can be helpful, but you still wind up with the problem of needing to rent a car when you get there if the public transit isn't up to snuff. There aren't many cities where it is. I was planning to attend a trade show in Boston earlier this month, and did a little searching on Google maps to see where I could stay in a nearby hotel and use public transit to get to the convention center, and figured out it was pointless, that I was better off just driving to the convention center and st

                • re:haven't been to SanFran yet (only to places like Mountain View and San Jose
                  I like the train stations in Mountain View and Palo Alto. The Palo Alto stop on California avenue has great easy access to many restaurants, and is a short walk from the south-east corner of Stanford University. (I hope to make use of that station frequently if I get into Stanford someday). It's easy to take the train from the suburbs up to San Francisco that way, or to the SFO airport, and then connect on BART from SF
      • No, it would raise the cost of your home by $150,000.
    • Re:This is why (Score:4, Interesting)

      by currently_awake ( 1248758 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @10:35AM (#43567147)
      By your logic government should not pay for public roads. It should all be privately owned toll roads. And get rid of the public fire department, you can pay for that if you need it (or they can buy your house when it catches fire- it worked in ancient Rome). The purpose of government is to act as the collective will of the people, and having public roads/sewer/water/police/internet is the best way to do it.
      • By your logic government should not pay for public roads

        It should all be privately owned toll roads.

        As opposed to the no-competition toll roads that my taxpayer dollars just paid for around I-495? After 5 years of construction and untold millions of tax dollars, I now have the privilege of paying $5 to a state-granted monopoly to use the new road that I paid for. Thats TOTALLY better than what a private solution might have been, right?

    • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
      I think we should get rid of all government funded services, like police, education, road, power, water, you know, society.
      • Theres a massive difference between federal and local government investing in things.

        Theres also a massive difference between basic utilities-- which these rural areas already have-- and gigabit internet, which basically noone residential needs nor can use right now.

    • So how is it that you flaot every where?
  • Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hedwards ( 940851 )

    Why are we funding this kind of service in rural areas when the much cheaper to wire urban areas still don't have this sort of service? What's more, urban areas always seem to get the shaft on things like this where we're paying to subsidize other people's wasteful lifestyles, even as our infrastructure is crumbling.

    Seriously, most of the tax revenue comes from the developed portions of the country, but most of the spending is done in less developed areas of the country.

    • Hi do you eat food, drink water, heat your home, or breath air? Then you need to realize that all those people laboring in the "undeveloped" open spaces are have to exist for any "developed" area to every come into existence. You are subsidizing yourself when you make it nice for people to live in those areas.

      • Your point being? These people aren't giving away the food and whatnot for free, I pay for that.

        Again, I ask, why am I forced to subsidize them because they don't know how to pay for the services that they use.

      • I think the government should subsidize 72" TVs for all of the folks in rural vermont.

        * Its about $5000 / household cheaper than this gigabit idea
        * Its useful now (unlike the gigabit internet, which you cannot effectively use right now)
        * The folks in rural vermont would get a great deal more enjoyment out of a 72" TV than getting youtube / netflix / remote work done at exactly the same speed / quality as a basic cable connection
        * Why the hell not, government is supp

    • by Kalvos ( 137750 )
      Why? Because in Vermont we know how to demo these things. I've had broadband since 1999 because a small local company with 300 customers showed how entrepreneurship works and installed it. With its tough weather and geography, Vermont has been a test bed for a lot of advanced projects. We'll discover how it's done most effectively, then you can apply it to the urban infrastructure.
    • To raise our average bandwidth numbers

    • Why are we funding this kind of service in rural areas when the much cheaper to wire urban areas still don't have this sort of service?

      "Dig We Must."

      The rural Telco doesn't have to snake its way inch by inch through 150-200 years of existing urban infrastructure below ground and above --- which is what you'll find in the Northeast.

      Seriously, most of the tax revenue comes from the developed portions of the country, but most of the spending is done in less developed areas of the country.


      Unless you chose to count the cost of importing water, food and power into cities like New York and Los Angeles.

    • Um you do know that the USAs system favours rural states over the urban ones? the founders where big landowners after all.
  • $8500 a home? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @09:54AM (#43566867)

    Sounds like a giant waste of money to me. What else could you supply for $8500/home?

    • street repairs?
    • free water service?
    • a used car for each household?
    • a new roof for everybody?
    • Government-funded maid service?
    • What else could you supply for $8500/home?

      The Vermont politicians who arranged this just bought themselves 600 re-election votes . . .

      . . . and it didn't even cost them a single cent!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If you look closely at the grant details, much of the funds also are for a nearly state-wide 4G/LTE network... So $8500/home would be something closer to $250/home considering the population of Vermont?

      • by Svartalf ( 2997 )

        The only problem with the LTE stuff is that while it's fast and rocks for mobile applications, it's still not te same thing as wireline/fiber solutions in latency, etc. It has maybe up to 20-ish down and 7-ish up for max realistic service speeds. This doesn't compare to the 40/20 speeds I'm using right now. Worse, you'll pay nearly the same amount per month for the privilege of the LTE system, be capped at 10Gb or so of use, or be charged something like $10 per Gb of usage either direction.

        Simply put,

    • Government funded TV, which people would actually appreciate / realize they had, as opposed to gbit internet.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Tell that to my parents, brother and the two rural Michigan communities they live in. They've seen increased competition in their markets where no one was willing to bring broadband previously.

    They used to have cable lines that literally ran right past their house - albeit about 100-200 meters away from the premises. They tried to pay the cable company to hook them up and were repeatedly turned down, even with an offer of $1500 for installation. (Heh, they were desperate for anything better than 56k dialup,

  • by mapkinase ( 958129 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @09:57AM (#43566887) Homepage Journal

    ...dividing 8,500 by 35.

    More than 10 years

  • by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @10:02AM (#43566913)

    Seriously, maybe the spending IS the problem. Let's just take this hundred million we have to borrow and spend it on a bunch of people who will never appreciate the value of what they are getting because they don't fucking need it and couldn't imagine paying for it if they had the money burning a hole in their pockets.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I bet you'd have opposed rural electrification in the thirties, too.

      You make two arguments: The government shouldn't be borrowing, and Vermonters (and rural people in general) don't 'deserve' good internet.

      Economically speaking, government spending is precisely what is needed right now. I could use phrases like 'zero lower bound' and 'effective negative interest rate, when adjusted for inflation' but instead I'll just say that when there economy is stuck because people still don't have any money to spend, a

      • The benefit of gigabit internet approaches zero for 99.999% of residential customers, and most non-tech businesses as well.

        Additionally, gigabit internet is really only useful for massive file transfers and streaming very-hi-def movies, which arent really in the same class as "education in the thirties".

        If you have satellite or WiFi internet-- which can be deployed without spending ludicrous amounts of money-- you already have access to the most important parts of the internet with no degradation. If you h

        • by Svartalf ( 2997 )

          Satellite? Have you ever tried it?

          WiFi Internet? Have you ever tried it?

          If you've not tried either, you can't say they're solutions.

          In the large, they're poor substitutes for LTE, WiMax, or similar solutions unless you're blindingly lucky. (Moreover, they're subsidizing that stuff with Government money (WildBlue's got a government program going that makes it CHEAP to "get online"- too bad it's satellite fraudband...) as well...) Satellite's got utilization issues- there's a reason the people that ha

      • No I wouldn't. Rural electrification is not the same as giving a handful of people blazing fast ethernet service, nor is it an efficient way to improve their internet service to a level similar to what's available in cities.

    • People used to think electricity was useless too.

      • Good point. I think the Fed should launch an initiative to ensure that each household in rural vermont has access to 500amps of electricity. You know, to spur demand and growth. Im sure they will find a use for it.

        Do you see how absurd this argument is?

        • They're trying to invest in basic infrastructure. We don't have any obvious use for this stuff yet...but how could we, when we it doesn't really exist yet? I mean I'm not saying it's the best use of money in the world, but you've gotta be pretty dense to not understand why they're doing it. If nobody ever spent money on seemingly useless things, we wouldn't have electricity or tv or radio or ANY remotely modern technology, even back further than those.

          I'm reminded of a story of is said he gave

          • "Gigabit internet" is not "basic utilities", and if I had to guess it wont be this century. The most valuable parts about the internet also use astonishingly little bandwidth; on 2mbps you can use video chat, view reams of historical texts, and watch instructional videos @ 480p.

            The need for gigabit basically boils down to 1) watching ridiculously hi-def video, 2) transferring large files or large numbers of files, or 3) providing tunnels, proxying, or routing for huge numbers of people, or people doing 1 a

  • by charles05663 ( 675485 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @10:09AM (#43566961) Homepage
    I had VTel install fiber to my home in November, 2012 and was one the first in the area. There has been some pains in the deployment and it took 2 long years to get it. I finally got it when I saw the installers working on a neighbor's house (her sister works for VTel and is in charge of scheduling the deployment). Talked to the installers and they were at my house later that day :) Depending on where you do a Speedtest.Net, I have seen 680 down and 750 up.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I live in Vermont. I get so sick of hearing that investing in infrastructure is a waste of money. Investing in America's infrastructure with why we all pay taxes. The 8500 per household is this years cost. Gigabit internet service will be in service for at least 30 years. While the rest of the nation has moved on to faster service i am certain Vermont will still be using this service. Thats the nature of rural America.

    • The issue isn't investing in infrastructure, the issue is how that investment is being done. Rather than spending that same money in more densely populated areas, it's being used to provide high speeds to a much smaller number of people.

      What's more astonishing is that bridges collapse from lack of maintenance funds and we're investing in giving a small number of rural voters faster speeds than what's generally available anywhere else.

      In short, it's not the infrastructure investment that's a waste, it's the

      • But ultimately rural residents chose to live there, and one of the downsides to living in the middle of nowhere is that things like this are harder to provide economically.

        And this is precisely why government must get involved. Because for-profit companies, the way they're run today, refuse. Because of whiny short-sighted stockholders who sound exactly like you.

        Is it impossible to provide rural fiber service economically? No, it's not. It just has a long payback period. Longer than one quarter. Hence for-profit companies won't even try, even though it could be done, and done profitably. Does it take time? Yes. Can it pay for itself, even if government builds and runs

    • Some infrastructure is a good idea. If they launched an initiative to provide 4 lane roads to each neighborhood in rural vermont, thats "infrastructure", and its also "absurd waste".

      Not all "investment" is a good investment.

  • by charles05663 ( 675485 ) on Saturday April 27, 2013 @10:21AM (#43567059) Homepage
    They are by far the best phone company I have every dealt with. They answer the phone on the first ring and will make changes to your phone service while on the phone. I dropped MCI for my long distance after they pissed me off to no end and went to VoIP. I called VTel and had them drop MCI from my account and she made the change while on the phone. I called MCI and told them to drop my account. The lady at MCI asked when I contacted my telephone company and I informed her I just got off the phone with VTel and the did it while on the phone. She argued with me that was impossible. I said then call them. A few minutes later the MCI lady called back and told me she has never seen service like this and I should and I should stick with them. I did as they are very customer oriented and the only other option in town is Comcast.
  • I'm beginning to suspect that Plymouth Notch, Vt. isn't an actual location. The zip code locator can't find it, neither can Zillow. I'd be happy to move to a little hole in the wall in Vermont, if I could get gigabit internet.
    • Hi. I have a house there. It's not a zipcode location, but to the locals, it's quite real enough.

      BTW, I'm another VTEL fan. My current DSL line is not quite fast enough to stream video, but otherwise is smokin' powerful. I'm going to get fiber as soon as the truck rolls up the hill.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There needs to be more municipal fiber in usa. The "free market" hasn't worked.

    • the free market would work great, if we had one.

      what you see is the failure of state capitalism

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Regardless of whether it is a good use of money or not, it will be interesting to see the long term effects of putting Gigabit internet access into a rural area.

    It will make the area in question far more attractive for tech workers operating from home. An influx of new residents could drive up house and land prices, and benefit the local economy. Of course this might not happen, but it will be interesting to find out if it does.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Having recently added a sewer to my home and spending about $4000 in the process ($3000 for the hookup fees + $1000 for connecting to the city sewer), $8500 for running fiber to a house and hooking up to most likely a line on the utility pole seems awful steep.

    With the sewer line, the city had to tear up the street, run a line down the middle, connect to another line about a mile away, and charged $3000 for that. The cost for running the sewer from the house to the street involved digging up my yard with

    • by eWarz ( 610883 )
      It's not the fiber. it's the utilities. Here in NJ we wanted to get a cable line run to our office. Our local telco (centurylink) apparently owns the poles and wants to charge more than $25,000 per pole for make ready work before the cable company is allowed to run their line. This steep fee effectively ensures that the cable company will never service the offices near our location.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You've made a really stupid comparison.

      You would need to compare it with the cost of running sewage pipes from every home back to the sewage works, then dividing the total cost by the number of properties.

    • Not to defend the number, but to explain it - that is the complete cost for the infrastructure from the head office to the neighborhood to the street to the house. Your sewer hook-up (I assume) entailed laying pipe from your house to an existing sewer pipe that runs down your street - AKA an existing sewage plant.

      Imagine if you calculated the price of a new sewage treatment plant, a sewer system AND your personal hook-up, that's what's being priced here.

      • by Svartalf ( 2997 )

        That's because they don't have the treatment plant in hand and have to have a certain threshold for the Fed funds to kick in to be able to build one- to use your analogy a bit further...

    • Sewers don't have cabs and plant installed in the central office like telcos do they? Sewers are really dumb devices mostly working by gravity and jointing pipes is a lot simpler than working with fibre.
  • Why not toss more federal money at Detroit and off absolutely free gigabit Ethernet to every taxpayer in the city.

    Think that might help turn Detroit around?

  • The source news article got this wrong and created an error in the Slashdot article. I've consulted on the design of the system and know it well

    1) The $95M also covers LTE across the sate of Vermont including extreme rural areas as well as dedicated connections to many schools, libraries, clinics and other"community anchor institutions" across the state. It is far more than the 17,500 homes. It was very expensive to run fiber to rural homes, but the real figure for that part was about half the $8,500 quot

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