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Communications The Internet Technology

Rural America Is Building Its Own Internet Because No One Else Will (vice.com) 246

New submitter bumblebaetuna writes: In many cases, it's not financially viable for big internet service providers like Comcast and CharterSpectrum to expand into rural communities: They're not densely populated, and running fiber optic cable into rocky Appalachian soil isn't cheap. Even with federal grants designed to make these expansions more affordable, there are hundreds of communities across the US that are essentially internet deserts -- so many are building it themselves. But in true heartland, bootstrap fashion, these towns, hollows -- small rural communities located in the valleys between Appalachia hills -- and stretches of farmland have banded together to bring internet to their doors. They cobble together innovative and creative solutions to get around the financial, technological, and topological barriers to widespread internet.
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Rural America Is Building Its Own Internet Because No One Else Will

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  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday August 29, 2017 @04:30PM (#55106055)

    Rural communities helping themselves? Not to be allowed in todays Corporate America [arstechnica.com].

    Yet another reason to support smaller government whenever possible, and not allow a centralized monster to take over that can be controlled by any remote faction of people...

    • Why do assume smaller government is the answer? It is usually the smaller communities, with less knowledge and resources which are easier to co-opt than larger entities.

      • It is usually the smaller communities, with less knowledge and resources which are easier to co-opt than larger entities.

        Perhaps. But if you don't like the government, it is easier to move to a different town than a different country.

        • by imgod2u ( 812837 ) on Tuesday August 29, 2017 @05:04PM (#55106241) Homepage

          It's funny. In Europe, people trust the government more than corporations. So it's usually the government screwing them over.

          In the US, people trust companies more than governments. And it's usually the companies screwing them over.

          Just because it's not a "government" doesn't mean it can't get big and centralized enough to become abusive. Especially when it provides what, in the first world, has become a near-essential good/service. See, for example, Comcast.

          • It's funny. In Europe, people trust the government more than corporations.

            I'm an American, and I trust the government more than corporations. Not that either of them are all that trustworthy, of course.

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            In Europe people see the government as their agent, not some external force that they have no ability to influence. Politics isn't quite as fucked in Europe as it is in the US yet, although the UK is trying really really hard to get there.

            Anyway, when you look objectively as European governments, or at least the more progressive ones and the EU, they tend to look out for individuals and protect them from corporations. Consumer law and human rights are much stronger than in the US, largely thanks to the EU a

          • by houghi ( 78078 )

            The difference is that if a company screw me over in Europe, I can go to the government and they will sort it out for me. Laws are put into place to give me more power so the playing field is even.
            If a government screws me over in the US and I go to a company, they will look what is good for them and take action. In fact they do not even wait to see if I get screwed over, they just lobby already.

            Concerning providers, I always had several companies I can select from. In Belgium there need to be at least 3 ce

    • by Dutchmaan ( 442553 ) on Tuesday August 29, 2017 @04:40PM (#55106101) Homepage
      So ironic that you are confusing regulation and lobbying... it's the regulation that PREVENTS the very thing you're whining about. Companies like to strong arm small communities as presented in the article you linked to... that's not the government doing that.. it's the private sector. So you think that weakening the government and strengthening the private sector (who is doing the strong arming) is the solution????
      • If the government did not have the power to grant and enforce a monopoly... Government gets that power when it gets the power to overregulate. If a government only had the power to punish a corporation for unfair business practices (like hiring hired killers to entice ranchers to give up rights of way to railroads if we want to go that far back in history for the abuses) and didn't have the power to grant the railroad exclusive access into an area in the first place...

        • by imgod2u ( 812837 ) on Tuesday August 29, 2017 @05:07PM (#55106265) Homepage

          Think that one through. We'd be without:

          1. Non-cluttered public streets.
          2. National parks.
          3. Non-cluttered, no-charge freeways.
          4. Patents.
          5. Copyrights.
          6. Cell phones and radios that work 10% of the time.

          Say what you want about how poorly they're implemented in the US, those things have uses in a modern society. You can look to some areas of India to see what a cluster-fuck letting anybody build anything they want on shared public land will do.

          • by Khyber ( 864651 )

            " Non-cluttered, no-charge freeways."

            I can tell you don't live any where near a metropolitan area.

            "Non-cluttered public streets."

            See above.

            "Patents."

            Good. Get fucking rid of the abused things.

            "Copyrights."

            Good. Get rid of it.

            "Cell phones and radios that work 10% of the time."

            Good, give me one that works 100% of the time.

            The only real negative out of that entire list of yours is the national parks. Let's try making a better list to prove your point, eh?

          • National Parks have become one of the most blatant thefts of private property imaginable.
            The federal government should own no property other than military bases.
      • Actually, it is collusion between government and businesses that are causing the problem. BIGCORP lobbies congress for protection from competition, paying huge campaign donations, and getting laws that prevent small cooperatives from ever forming.

        No, the problem isn't where you think it is, because a free economy has no artificial barriers. Think about it, the Franchise agreements between cable companies and municipalities are government/business ventures that prevent actual competition.

        • Actually, it is collusion between government and businesses that are causing the problem.

          Bingo.

      • Companies like to strong arm small communities as presented in the article you linked to...

        That is not what the article says. It describes STATE governments placing restrictions on local governments.

        that's not the government doing that..

        Yes it is.

        it's the private sector.

        The corporations are only able to do this because the government is too big and too centralized.

        So you think that weakening the government and strengthening the private sector ...

        Power to make broadband decisions should be at the local level, not the state level. States that leave the decisions up to local jurisdictions have better coverage and lower prices.

      • What do you lobbying leads to?

        Regulatons are not formed in a vaccum. The smaller government is, the less lobbying matters to ANYONE.

        • by dryeo ( 100693 )

          How does small government help when the corporations just write the law. You can have a one person legislature, rubber stamping the corporate (or trust or other large private organization if we get rid of corporations) written law. We can shrink the government down to one judge. If that judge is corrupt and always rules in the favour of whoever pays him off, how is that better. History already shows that one corrupt judge can empower private, non-government police forces (Pinkertons) to act just as bad as a

    • This has nothing to do with the size of government. It has EVERYTHING to do with corrupt governments full of corporate cronies prioritizing the rights of big business over the rights and needs of citizens. Corporations like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast/Xfinity should not be allowed to exclude people from doing precisely what these people are doing -- which is exactly what will happen, just as soon as one of them decides they're an untapped revenue stream. Most likely they'll wait until they have installed
    • by Duhavid ( 677874 )

      That might be an argument for smaller government. It is an even better reason to completely disallow corporate influence over government at any size.

  • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Tuesday August 29, 2017 @04:34PM (#55106077)

    We're going go build our own Internet, with blackjack and hookers! In fact, forget the blackjack!

  • Internet access should be treated like a utility. Everybody in the US should have access to affordable, reliable Internet access.

    If the red state rubes want to keep voting against their best interests, then fuck 'em. Let them pay for their own Internet access.
    • Everybody in the US should have access to affordable, reliable Internet access.
      ... then fuck 'em. Let them pay for their own Internet access.

      These two sentences express opposite views.

      • by DogDude ( 805747 )
        Everybody in the US has access to reliable, affordable electricity, no matter where they are. Internet access should be the same.
        • Everybody in the US has access to reliable, affordable electricity, no matter where they are.

          That statement is demonstrably false to the point of being silly..

        • Everybody in the US has access to reliable, affordable electricity, no matter where they are.

          No they don't. Nor should they. If you choose to live on a remote Aleutian island, that is YOUR choice, and nobody else should be forced to subsidize you.

  • I would be interested in wireless internet myself. There are some condos near my house that have gigabit but I "only" get 250mbps/10mbps internet. (Honestly upload is the only thing that still bothers me with the internet). I would happily pay someone to put a small 7" antenna in their window for a wireless gateway and pay them like $10 a month or something for the window lease.

    There should be a craigslist section for connecting people with gigabit to those who want it.

    • Would ten bucks a month, plus collection hassle, be enough for your trouble if the positions were reversed?

      There's your problem. Offer them half and they might start to consider it.

      • True, but I was assuming I would pay the $100/month for their bandwidth too.

        Modem -> EdgeRouter -> PTP Wifi & local AP -> PTP Wifi -> AP.

  • Really?! I wonder if they'll continue to use TCP/IP as the protocol for this new Internet that they're building.

  • ...amazing what can be done if a bunch of smart people are willing to donate time worth enormous amounts of money. See, for example, GNU/Linux...
  • but the mega corps. I remember reading of a small town implementing municipal wifi and how lawyers were parachuted in to wreck it. Far as I know that town never did get reliable Internet. Point is, you can't allow municipal broadband to exist anywhere because once the cat's out of the bag on how cheap and effective it is everyone will want it and AT&T, Cox, Comcast and the whole she-bang will be out of cush job.
  • ... into rocky Appalachian soil

    Ummm. Run it overhead?

    With the power lines. On the same poles.

  • A good friend of mine was outside of broadband territory (well, he could get DSL, but it was expensive, very unreliable, and barely faster than a 56k modem), so we set up a "micro-ISP" with a microwave link relayed into the nearest town.

    It wasn't exactly cheap -- I think he spent around $10k all in -- but he got his neighbors in on it to share costs. Now, there's a group of about 20 people who went from effectively no broadband to better broadband than most people in the city are getting.

    • Question: Were they able to get service without being forced to give all their equipment to an existing ISP in the nearby town?

      I ask because other, similar, efforts, that I am familiar with, by groups of private citizens were refused service unless they agreed to give the system they built (and paid for) to an existing ISP.

      • The common scenario is that either you establish yourself as an ISP, or you are forced to pay the equipment cost. Most communities are better off with the latter approach, as running an ISP is a pain without scale.

      • Question: Were they able to get service without being forced to give all their equipment to an existing ISP in the nearby town?

        I ask because other, similar, efforts, that I am familiar with, by groups of private citizens were refused service unless they agreed to give the system they built (and paid for) to an existing ISP.

        There are three providers in the area that can supply internet over a microwave link. None of them required that they own any of the equipment, but all of them had specific requirements for the portion of the equipment that had to be on their site (and, obviously, some of the equipment has to be on their site -- and they are the ones who operate that part).

        We went with the one that worked the best for the sightlines we had. We also had to install a repeater on the roof of a private residence in order to mak

  • by rbrander ( 73222 ) on Tuesday August 29, 2017 @08:00PM (#55107173) Homepage

    "We have crappy Internet provision because of Big Government!"

    "Yeah! Let's make our government even less like those in France, Germany, and Scandinavia where the Internet access is several times as good."

    And to fend off the inevitable "But we have it harder because the US is less dense than Europe!"

    1) You are not less dense than Canada and Australia
    2) US Internet provision sucks in US cities, too, and they are quite dense

    You do not have crappy Internet because of "corrupt Clinton-style government". You have it because of not-technically-corrupt government that is *influenced* by large corporations that have an oligopoly on service provision. This influence is bipartisan, with a slight preference for Republican. (Until Trump, whose level of revolving-door state/corporate appointments has hit a new level.)

  • Haven't we been paying that fee that's supposed to cover building out internet to rural areas. Does that mean the telecos and Comcast have been pocketing the fee and not actually doing the work?

    Actually, that would kinda figure, wouldn't it?

  • Romania shows up in top 10 broadband speed constantly and it's not even a developed nation like South Korea. How did they do it?

    They were called "neighbourhood networks". People decided to go against common sense and deployed office-rated Cat5 and office-rated switches wherever they could, without asking for permission from anybody. They spanned local city areas and helped jumpstart the speedy broadband revolution. If it were left to the national telecom company Romania would still be on expensive dial-up.

    T

  • Who ELSE'S responsibility is it to build something for rural America?

    If you don't want to live in one of the sweltering crapholes we call American cities, one of the "costs" is that you don't have as easy access to a host of services, internet broadband being one of them.

    They want it, they can pay to build it. And I say this as someone from rural MN where the best broad band we could get until couple of years ago was 10/1 adsl.

    • Until some asshole big ISP that doesn't want to give you service sends a lawsuit your way stopping you from doing just that. Can't have someone threatening their monopoly.

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