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(The Atlantic Cities)   Build a new national broadband internet system under the national highway system, proposes a columnist unfamiliar with the state of repair of our highways   (theatlanticcities.com) divider line 55
    More: Unlikely, fair prices, Google Fiber, rural america  
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1922 clicks; posted to Main » on 23 Aug 2013 at 6:38 AM (34 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-08-23 06:42:56 AM
How much faster would the internet be, if the NSA would just stop copying that floppy?
 
2013-08-23 06:43:54 AM
Isn't going to happen. Verizon and AT&T were guaranteed insane profits.
 
2013-08-23 06:45:01 AM
Could call it roadband, think of the savings that would make due to not having to use the letter B twice.
I think most word are at least one letter to long.
 
2013-08-23 06:47:44 AM
Because what we really need are major Internet outages every time a roadway shiats itself.
 
2013-08-23 06:49:32 AM
Wait, so the internet WOULD be like a series of trucks, then?
 
2013-08-23 07:00:07 AM
The people with the worst broadband(rural folks) are the same ones screaming about paying for it
 
mhd
2013-08-23 07:02:24 AM
"Why does this download take so frigging long? Jesus, now it stopped at 99% again!"
"Do a traceroute."
"Ah, okay, routed through NJ..."
 
2013-08-23 07:04:32 AM
So someone thinks that we are going to solve the problem of broadband availability in rural areas by creating new backbones?

How about this...
My LTE service has gotten to be about as fast as my cable modem service. How about we create a nation wide LTE data service? Towers have got to be cheaper than running that last mile(s) to the shack of every stout heart in North Dakota and every hick in the Ozarks.
 
2013-08-23 07:12:50 AM
Not everyone lives near a highway it's likely the rural residents would still have the same problem.
 
2013-08-23 07:14:06 AM
The issue isn't getting the fiber to within a few miles of people. I guarantee you we have a pole route just as close to these folks. And it's pretty cheap just to tack a cable up on a pole.

If anything, putting duct runs down with roadways is a decent concept for city and semi-urban areas but for the vast majority of rural users... it's a matter of the cost of the optical equipment for high speed internet. If you want to get them broadband, change the way tariffs, taxes, and regulations work to promote replacement and upgrade.
 
2013-08-23 07:15:09 AM
Why the sudden push to get the Internet Everywhere lately?? It's nt like it actually improves quality of life, just lets you outsource yor intelligence to the big machine. Which admittedly is convenient but it's certainly not a necessity.
 
2013-08-23 07:15:22 AM
Of course we can't afford our highways.  Tax rates are set by wealthy people who travel by private helicopter.
 
2013-08-23 07:15:46 AM

GameSprocket: So someone thinks that we are going to solve the problem of broadband availability in rural areas by creating new backbones?

How about this...
My LTE service has gotten to be about as fast as my cable modem service. How about we create a nation wide LTE data service? Towers have got to be cheaper than running that last mile(s) to the shack of every stout heart in North Dakota and every hick in the Ozarks.


If a cable is saturated, you can run another. If the airspace is saturated, we just have to slow everyone down.
 
2013-08-23 07:16:22 AM

DubtodaIll: Why the sudden push to get the Internet Everywhere lately?? It's nt like it actually improves quality of life, just lets you outsource yor intelligence to the big machine. Which admittedly is convenient but it's certainly not a necessity.


Uh huh.  And that push to get everyone to learn to read, is that necessary?
 
2013-08-23 07:20:30 AM

Alphax: DubtodaIll: Why the sudden push to get the Internet Everywhere lately?? It's nt like it actually improves quality of life, just lets you outsource yor intelligence to the big machine. Which admittedly is convenient but it's certainly not a necessity.

Uh huh.  And that push to get everyone to learn to read, is that necessary?


Necessity? Well no, again it's nice but not necessary for happiness or survival. But you're using a weak argument. The Internet, while unbelievably useful for gathering information, is hardly used for that purpose by the majority of users. The only thing you need broadband high bandwidth connections for is streaming video and gaming and downloading porn at the same time.
 
2013-08-23 07:21:00 AM

DubtodaIll: Why the sudden push to get the Internet Everywhere lately?? It's nt like it actually improves quality of life, just lets you outsource yor intelligence to the big machine. Which admittedly is convenient but it's certainly not a necessity.


It's because Congress (and, by extension, the FCC) is pushing to get television stations to turn off their transmitters and sell the channels back, so they can be "repurposed" for other wireless services, at auction (and, by extension, a profit).  They expect the TV stations to distribute their signals via cable or Internet.
 
2013-08-23 07:21:23 AM
I have a 3G connection for my main internet at my house.  I live maybe about 2 miles away from the cable cut-off (about 10 miles from the nearest town as the crow flies).  It is unreliable, has a cap of 5GB a month, and is slow.  Sometimes it picks up a 4G signal (if I am lucky, it reminds me of back in the day when we had an antenna for TV and were lucky enough to pick up FOX on a good day).

But, this is one of the sacrifices I have to make to live the lifestyle I want to live.  It sucks for gaming, especially since I prefer my PC over my 360, but that is life.  I monitor my internet usage and I rarely go over.

The only reason I would want to see something of an REA program implemented is because of the way the world works, you pretty much need internet for everything.  Job hunting, education (a lot of primary education has an online requirement anymore).  Now, do they need super high speeds for that and unlimited bandwidth?  Not really.  But, some kind of national infrastructure for a cheap low end connection would be nice to see.

What I would like to see is some sort of initiative by a private company to actually look into ways to reach into the rural market.  But, as far as I know, that is cost prohibitive at this moment with current technology (I have tinkered with the idea of looking into it, but I lack money and time to do so).
 
2013-08-23 07:26:31 AM
Ma-bell would never have connected phone service to rural households if the government hadn't forced them to.
 
2013-08-23 07:27:43 AM

DubtodaIll: Alphax: DubtodaIll: Why the sudden push to get the Internet Everywhere lately?? It's nt like it actually improves quality of life, just lets you outsource yor intelligence to the big machine. Which admittedly is convenient but it's certainly not a necessity.

Uh huh.  And that push to get everyone to learn to read, is that necessary?

Necessity? Well no, again it's nice but not necessary for happiness or survival. But you're using a weak argument. The Internet, while unbelievably useful for gathering information, is hardly used for that purpose by the majority of users. The only thing you need broadband high bandwidth connections for is streaming video and gaming and downloading porn at the same time.


It should be a utility, like water, electricity, and sewer service.  You can do so much more with an Internet connection than without one.
 
2013-08-23 07:27:44 AM
@Mrbogey is pretty much on target here.  Getting fiber to the nearest town is fairly cheap.  Odds are it's already there.

It's the customer edge that is insanely expensive, not just in capital expenditures (CMTSes and cablemodems, OLT and ONTs/ONUs are expensive), but the operational costs are nuts.  Squirrels, drunk drivers, falling trees, storms...  the list goes on and on.  The outside plant guys have a formidable task in front of them.  Look at any cable company's employee breakdown and note what percentage of them wear hard hats and climb ladders.

Everyone likes to hate on their local MSO and gripe about their customer service...  but don't want to pay more money on their bill or cough up per-incident so that better/smarter people can be retained/trained/etc.  Folks want flat-rate Internet and then wonder why things are slow (the kid next door who is a top ranked bittorrent sharer understands tragedy of the commons firsthand).  I'm sorry but you can't have a Lincoln for the price of a Focus.

/live in the country, 10 acres, 50/25 FIOS only cuz I'm cheap
 
2013-08-23 07:27:53 AM
Sounds like a shovel ready job to me
 
2013-08-23 07:27:57 AM

GameSprocket: So someone thinks that we are going to solve the problem of broadband availability in rural areas by creating new backbones?

How about this...
My LTE service has gotten to be about as fast as my cable modem service. How about we create a nation wide LTE data service? Towers have got to be cheaper than running that last mile(s) to the shack of every stout heart in North Dakota and every hick in the Ozarks.


That would undermine the guise that mobile broadband has to be expensive.
 
2013-08-23 07:28:49 AM
I wonder where <b>subby</b> lives. The highways around me that aren't currentlly being rebuilt are in great shape. Even the temporary lanes of the ones under construction are well done.

DubtodaIll: Why the sudden push to get the Internet Everywhere lately?? It's nt like it actually improves quality of life, just lets you outsource yor intelligence to the big machine. Which admittedly is convenient but it's certainly not a necessity.


And THIS. You want all the conveniences of living in a city, live in a city.
 
2013-08-23 07:28:57 AM

Alphax: Of course we can't afford our highways.  Tax rates are set by wealthy people who travel by private helicopter.


Can you think of a better, more objective group to set tax rates than those who aren't subject to taxation?
 
2013-08-23 07:29:03 AM

DubtodaIll: Necessity? Well no, again it's nice but not necessary for happiness or survival. But you're using a weak argument. The Internet, while unbelievably useful for gathering information, is hardly used for that purpose by the majority of users. The only thing you need broadband high bandwidth connections for is streaming video and gaming and downloading porn at the same time.


Like I said above, the only reason I could see people needing something of a "good" internet package would be school children.  Teachers might require online video watching or some sort of streaming.  If you are just looking up text on websites, fine, but there has been talk of using online component for children who can't make it to school (sick or a snow day) and real time streaming would be an issue.
 
2013-08-23 07:33:19 AM
Article's writer rather misses that it isn't the fiber that's expensive, it's the equipment one either end of that long stretch of fiber, with cheap repeating amplifiers.

Put it this way:  Just because the 850 mile long, million volt Pacific DC Intertie runs by your house on the way from the state of Washington to Los Angeles doesn't mean you can tap into it for power.
 
2013-08-23 07:56:03 AM
Seems like our society always needs something to spend outrageous amounts of money on. If not war, then a space program or highway system. Maybe we should all rally the country around paying it's bills this time around - then give everyone high speed as a reward when we do.

As a former microwave tower installer who lost a lot of work due to fiber - I have to tell you the major fiber lines are already buried next to highways. Like said, it's the last mile that's the problem, and by last mile I mean however far it is to your place out in the boonies. If only there companies that specialized in running wires to peoples homes no matter how rural. They could change their specialty to running fiber. People are dropping red/green yellow/black for cell phone all the time though, so I doubt that would interest them.

Then again, the land line system was one of the original monopoly games between business and government. We had this crappy phone system, so they put up microwave towers all over the country and hooked up copper wires to everyone's home. Before that it was electrical power. Then again, that was back when we could pay our bills.
 
2013-08-23 08:01:22 AM

DubtodaIll: Why the sudden push to get the Internet Everywhere lately?? It's nt like it actually improves quality of life, just lets you outsource yor intelligence to the big machine. Which admittedly is convenient but it's certainly not a necessity.


Are you often in the habit of answering your own questions?  You're not outsourcing your intelligence to the internet though, just to "government intelligence"
 
2013-08-23 08:03:11 AM

Person: Because what we really need are major Internet outages every time a roadway shiats itself.


So we can look forward to the default 404 page changing to this every Spring and Summer when the road crews go out?

www.adelaardidam.nl
 
2013-08-23 08:08:53 AM
Hmm we find out that the Nsa is spying on people over the internet. Now the Government has a cenvenient plan to try and make sure every citizen has internet available. 2+2 and all that.
 
2013-08-23 08:10:27 AM

Ficoce: Seems like our society always needs something to spend outrageous amounts of money on. If not war, then a space program or highway system.


Are you trying to make a NEGATIVE comparison to the Space Program and Highway System? Those both worked out pretty well.
 
2013-08-23 08:17:12 AM

mdeesnuts: I wonder where <b>subby</b> lives. The highways around me that aren't currentlly being rebuilt are in great shape. Even the temporary lanes of the ones under construction are well done.

DubtodaIll: Why the sudden push to get the Internet Everywhere lately?? It's nt like it actually improves quality of life, just lets you outsource yor intelligence to the big machine. Which admittedly is convenient but it's certainly not a necessity.

And THIS. You want all the conveniences of living in a city, live in a city.


MA Big Dig: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Dig_ceiling_collapse


That plan will never fly in MA. It'd probably work in NH - when they actually do construction on their roads, It's done quickly and correctly.
 
2013-08-23 08:18:25 AM
I would like it if US internet was more like South Korea in this regard.
 
2013-08-23 08:26:56 AM

LasersHurt: Ficoce: Seems like our society always needs something to spend outrageous amounts of money on. If not war, then a space program or highway system.

Are you trying to make a NEGATIVE comparison to the Space Program and Highway System? Those both worked out pretty well.


I know some kooks out there haven't forgiven Eisenhower for the interstate highway system.  Lets other people get close to them, or something.
 
2013-08-23 08:34:15 AM
The interstate and other major roads in Kansas are in pretty good condition.  Presumably to help people drive as quickly as possible through the state.
 
2013-08-23 08:41:52 AM

eyeq360: The interstate and other major roads in Kansas are in pretty good condition.  Presumably to help people drive as quickly as possible through the state.


You can thank Johnson county for all the nice roads in KS
 
2013-08-23 08:42:14 AM
Screw the interwebs.
Just plant corn in the median strips.
It will cut down on oncoming headlamp glare, and you get free venison with every windshield change.
 
2013-08-23 08:49:00 AM

libranoelrose: eyeq360: The interstate and other major roads in Kansas are in pretty good condition.  Presumably to help people drive as quickly as possible through the state.

You can thank Johnson county for all the nice roads in KS


I live in Lawrence.  Though the people in charge of Kansas seem to think that Lawrence and Johnson County are dark spiritual areas that need help.  I'm not sure why.
 
2013-08-23 08:49:57 AM

vudukungfu: Screw the interwebs.
Just plant corn in the median strips.
It will cut down on oncoming headlamp glare, and you get free venison with every windshield change.


Also, it makes it easier for the staties to hide.
 
2013-08-23 08:55:35 AM
The problem with this idea isn't that running the fiber and/or equipment is expensive (it definitely can be) it's that AFTER you have your fancy fiber hook up in your town, you then have to run it to everyone's homes. That will, most likely, be over copper.

Know what goes missing in a lot of rural areas in a roughly 50-mile band outside the major metro areas? Phone and power lines made of copper. All we'll do is give a new revenue to meth heads and constant source of maintenance and/or security costs to those little rural towns that have just enough money to turn the lights on in their town hall from 9-5.

Plus, a LOT of that rural space is farmland and farmhouses way outside of highways. Look at this map. See all that land that's not only is no where near highways but has a population density of 1-10 per square mile? How are you going to run reliable service to 2 farmhouses in a square mile (est 5 people per family)?

drjekel_mrhyde: The people with the worst broadband(rural folks) are the same ones screaming about paying for it


Yeah....try paying for any sort of broadband when you live in the sticks. They scream because to get 64kbps they basically have to sell their children....each month. Hm. Maybe that's why bigamy is so popular in the deserts of Utah. They just want to watch PornHub.
 
2013-08-23 09:00:07 AM

AtomicPlayboy: Everyone likes to hate on their local MSO and gripe about their customer service...  but don't want to pay more money on their bill or cough up per-incident so that better/smarter people can be retained/trained/etc.  Folks want flat-rate Internet and then wonder why things are slow


I want it because I CAN get that quality of service, as long as I'm not using one of the large mono/duopolies in the USA.

Case in point:  At work we have a legit 100Mbps/100Mbps connection, burstable to 130Mbps/130Mbps, with redundant links and multiple routing options.  The provider charges us $100/mo.  If I need anything, I pick up the phone/email/text them and get a real human being.  No phone trees, no offshore support.  90% of the time I'm actually talking with the real net admin.

Unlike the local cable/telco, our internet connection was up & running the whole time during and after the hurricanes of 2004/2005.   We were seeing a little bit of packet loss (~1-2%) at the peak of the hurricane, but not bad when you've got a Cat3/4 blowing outside.  FWIW, the local telco/cableco were down for up to 6 weeks in some areas.  My ISP has a total staff of about 5 people.  How many thousands of employees and outside contractors do these large companies have at their disposal?
 
2013-08-23 09:16:42 AM
The Feds don't allow parallel utility line within interstate right of way, and especially underneath the pavement of the interstates. They know what happens when utilities are under roads, after all. Now, running a fiber optic cable 100' or more off the edge of the interstate is an idea; most rural interstates have R/W that wide on both sides of the road. The problem comes up during widening projects, though; who is responsible for moving the cable if the new road will cover (or dig) it up?

Back in the 2000's I had several projects widening interstates and freeways in NC. We had a "smart road" unit that was really big on getting ductwork and cable conduits added to projects for future electronic signage, smart road upgrades, etc. The costs were never large, and we put the ductwork in the center of the median offset a bit from any drainage system there. Of course, this was just the pipes; the wiring and signage and control systems cost a lot, lot more and often weren't added for many years later.
 
2013-08-23 09:33:50 AM

Sean M: At work we have a legit 100Mbps/100Mbps connection, burstable to 130Mbps/130Mbps, with redundant links and multiple routing options.  The provider charges us $100/mo.


Technology is amazing. I remember paying $1600 a month for 1.54Mbps back in the mid-90s
 
2013-08-23 09:54:56 AM
Don't invest in this - ever.  I took the pipe on a company using this concept.  There's more here than just a "good idea".  There's the human greed and intrigue angle that never shows up in 10k filings.  That's because you don't know the principals involved or their history.  There's no place for it in P/E listings or Price to Book ratios.
Stand on the sidelines and cheer them on but never put your toe in the water.
 
2013-08-23 10:01:06 AM

libranoelrose: eyeq360: The interstate and other major roads in Kansas are in pretty good condition.  Presumably to help people drive as quickly as possible through the state.

You can thank Johnson county for all the nice roads in KS


SW KS here.  While the state highways are in good shape, there's a few county roads out here in pretty bad need of repair.

I've had a couple of buddies tell me about this 'genius' Broadband/Solar Power roadway they've been talking about for years.  No matter how many times I point out the inherent problems with the logistics, every time I see them they're still spouting the same old plan.  I agree that it would amazing if it were something that could ever get off the ground.  Broadband and solar panels in the roadways, carrying internet and electricity to where ever the road went.  Good idea in theory, but time, money and corporate assassins that don't want you cutting into their profits would really put a damper on it pretty quick.
 
2013-08-23 10:10:12 AM

DubtodaIll: Necessity? Well no, again it's nice but not necessary for happiness or survival. But you're using a weak argument. The Internet, while unbelievably useful for gathering information, is hardly used for that purpose by the majority of users. The only thing you need broadband high bandwidth connections for is streaming video and gaming and downloading porn at the same time.


There's a ton of online learning that goes on these days via streaming video, teleconferencing, and large, image-laden websites too. I was in undergrad between 2004-2010 and grad school between then and now, and I would say that the majority of my science and engineering classes had a significant online component. This is to say nothing of just random education-related googling. Streaming video in particular has to be high quality, because it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to videotape a lecture if the picture is too fuzzy to see the blackboard.

A lot of this learning is free nowadays. Kids who grow up without broadband internet are simply disadvantaged compared to those who do.
 
2013-08-23 10:13:49 AM

Fubini: DubtodaIll: Necessity? Well no, again it's nice but not necessary for happiness or survival. But you're using a weak argument. The Internet, while unbelievably useful for gathering information, is hardly used for that purpose by the majority of users. The only thing you need broadband high bandwidth connections for is streaming video and gaming and downloading porn at the same time.

There's a ton of online learning that goes on these days via streaming video, teleconferencing, and large, image-laden websites too. I was in undergrad between 2004-2010 and grad school between then and now, and I would say that the majority of my science and engineering classes had a significant online component. This is to say nothing of just random education-related googling. Streaming video in particular has to be high quality, because it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to videotape a lecture if the picture is too fuzzy to see the blackboard.

A lot of this learning is free nowadays. Kids who grow up without broadband internet are simply disadvantaged compared to those who do.


And somehow, over TWENTY years ago, people were still able to become just as smart as they are today.
 
2013-08-23 10:14:48 AM

Burr: vudukungfu: Screw the interwebs.
Just plant corn in the median strips.
It will cut down on oncoming headlamp glare, and you get free venison with every windshield change.

Also, it makes it easier for the staties to hide.


Also could help on the track of pushing us all onto E85, even if manufacturers say it will ruin older engines.
 
2013-08-23 10:19:35 AM
@Sean M - Something does not add up here.  Your ISP is facilities-based (i.e. owns their own infrastructure from their POP to your place) and has a staff of 5 people?  Are their offices in the same building as you so it's just ethernet in a conduit?  Additional details please.

You've got a sweet deal at work, but it's luck of the draw and has nothing to do with whether there is a monopoly/duopoly/whatever for residential broadband.  I have free bandwidth in a datacenter (multiple gigabit handoffs) because I have friends.  Going from either of our situations to assume that bandwidth should be super cheap or free in the middle of nowhere is a great example of  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy_of_composition
 
2013-08-23 11:04:10 AM
If they're looking for a place to bury more fiber, why haven't they considered the land under high-voltage power lines?  Those are about as common as interstates, head to every community as well, and usually have more dig-friendly land (assuming they don't hang the wires on the towers).  As an added bonus, there won't be any traffic snafus during the installation process either.
 
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