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The Cost Of Broadband In Every Rural Home

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the I-miss-real-internt dept.

The Almighty Buck 381

dave562 writes "In an analysis of the effectiveness of the the 2009 stimulus program (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 or ARRA), one of the programs that was investigated was the project to bring broadband access to rural America. Some real interesting numbers popped out. Quoting the article: 'Eisenach and Caves looked at three areas that received stimulus funds, in the form of loans and direct grants, to expand broadband access in Southwestern Montana, Northwestern Kansas, and Northeastern Minnesota. The median household income in these areas is between $40,100 and $50,900. The median home prices are between $94,400 and $189,000.' So how much did it cost per unserved household to get them broadband access? A whopping $349,234, or many multiples of household income, and significantly more than the cost of a home itself.'"

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Think harder... (2, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754132)


So how much did it cost per unserved household to get them broadband access? A whopping $349,234, or many multiples of household income, and significantly more than the cost of a home itself.

Why don't they just run a single line into the center of the trailer park and install a switch for distribution?

Re:Think even harder... (2, Insightful)

bunratty (545641) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754176)

Your idea will get broadband to trailer parks, but what about farmland where there are a few homes per square mile? I would think that satellite or other wireless access would be more cost effective than wired Internet access in sparsely populated areas.

Re:Think even harder... (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754438)

WiMax from water towers, silos, etc.

Re:Think even harder... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754824)

Plenty of spots in Upstate New York, Vermont, Maine, etc that have sufficient geography to kill WiMax on the top of anything manmade. And putting a WiMax tower on top of Mount Washington serves a bunch of deer, and little else.

It's the geography, stupid. Hills kill wireless. WiMax in Montana, maybe for some of it. For Kansas, maybe better, for Minnesota, maybe not so good either.

Just so we know this, if it were affordable, the telcos or cable cos or satellite guys would have already done it.

Re:Think even harder... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754558)

Farmers know how to move dirt. Let them do it. Broadband is a matter of digging a ditch, dropping a single mode fiber cable into it and putting the dirt back into the ditch. It is not rocket science.

Re:Think harder... (2, Insightful)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754242)

Because the telecoms don't get to stick their snouts in the pork barrel by thinking.

Re:Think harder... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754248)

Why don't they just run a single line into the center of the trailer park and install a switch for distribution?

because you'd flood it with bittorrent traffic, making your 6 dozen trailer-wife-neighbors unable to watch Hulu.

Re:Think harder... (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754342)

Nice stereotyping around the rural US, but in the areas they are talking about generally it's farm and ranch country very far from traditional telecom and railroad right of ways.

If the US hadn't let the regional freight railroad for the Great Plains fail in the 1970s, most likely it would have been much cheaper to get good data connections out there.

Example - I'm originally from north central South Dakota, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad began failing in 1964, was out of Montana and the Dakotas by 1977 with right of ways auctioned and tracks gone by 1985 for the most part. Now the town I am from is 90 miles from the nearest true broadband connections, trenching is very expensive and running lines above ground is problematic because poles fall during winter storms.

Re:Think harder... (1)

myth24601 (893486) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754444)

I suspect the high cost of stringing lines to rural homes now is a lot cheaper than it would have cost over the years to keep all the failing rail roads afloat.

Re:Think harder... (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754446)

running lines above ground is problematic because poles fall during winter storms.

Isn't it mostly farmland there? Then there's no need for poles, right? Just lay the cables beside the roads.

Re:Think harder... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754574)

A very old and boring story. City dwellers have been subsidizing rural folk since the start of the county. Think rural electrification, farm vehicle tax benefits, ethanol subsidies not to mention outrageous price supports for important foods such as milk and sugar. Alas these disparities are built into the basic structure of the country for each United States Senator has but a single vote no matter how many citizens he or she represents.

Re:Think harder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754720)

If the US hadn't let the regional freight railroad for the Great Plains fail in the 1970s, most likely it would have been much cheaper to get good data connections out there.

Agreed, although what actually happened was subsidized services (highway and, in that era, air travel) took a big chunk of business away from the railroads.

There are now railbanking and landbanking statutes in place, but these ROWs are still on the tax rolls, giving railroads a further disincentive from outright abandonment. Although railbanking/landbanking came 20 years too late in your case.

Re:Think harder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754810)

Do you have some scheme to transmit data down railway tracks? Aren't there gaps in rails to allow for expansion due to temperature changes?

Re:Think harder... (0)

sacridias (2322944) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754460)

Guess they should define broadband by, the most expensive way to get a high connection speed to stated location. As apposed to utilization of various technology in order to get information from point a to point b using the largest possible blocks of transmission per time unit. Yes, running cable would be expensive, especially with degradation of line signal over distance being very high, a repeater would need to be placed every half mile or mile to get any real speed. Utilizing wireless systems not as bad, sure that means Joe farmer requires satellite Internet that has packet bursts or similar technology, but it is likely better than what they currently have. The cost (much less). There are ways, it just means we must embrace technology as a collection of tools instead of looking at a single way of doing things.

Re:Think harder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754568)

As apposed to utilization of various technology in order to get information from point a to point b using the largest possible blocks of transmission per time unit.

For instance, squeeze the whole connection through a 56k modem line by locally caching Fox News and a variety of "OBAMA IS A NIGGER" emails...

Re:Think harder... (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754914)

Yes, running cable would be expensive, especially with degradation of line signal over distance being very high, a repeater would need to be placed every half mile or mile to get any real speed

I think not.

I've been out of the telcom engineering dept for several years, but back then our OC-192 SONET rings needed a repeater or a ADM every 50 miles or so, and single mode 10Gig fiber ethernet ran 5 or 10 miles without a repeater. You can buy cheapie 10G fiber transmitters that only go 500 feet or whatever at low power, if you want, but that doesn't mean the 10 mile model isn't "off the shelf". I'm sure they can go faster and further now.

Maybe you're thinking of ancient AMI/B8ZS T1 physical 4-wire lines, that had repeater huts every 6kft, which is still longer than you claim? Some kind of weird DSL? I thought DSL was pretty much dead, like "ethernet over powerline" technology is dead.

Re:Think harder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754534)

So how much did it cost per unserved household to get them broadband access? A whopping $349,234, or many multiples of household income, and significantly more than the cost of a home itself.

Why don't they just run a single line into the center of the trailer park and install a switch for distribution?

*sigh* Yes, we know your entire idea is "if there's anyone important and worthy enough out in the great state of West I-Don't-Give-A-Fuck, they'll move out somewhere worthwhile, like where I live". But until you start hiring them so they can get out of there, you can take your smartass remarks and go fuck yourself.

Re:Think harder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754722)

Micro DSLAMs already exists are are used in many places to get higher speeds. That does however not help in low density areas where theres miles between each home.

Re:Think harder... (2)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754812)

Yeah, but I would at least wonder about the methodology. Did they pick the most remote houses, difficult to lay infrastructure to, and then figure out what it would cost to lay a 100Mbps fiber line from the nearest facility? Or did they actually analyze the expenditures that have happened and determined what was actually spent? Even if there was $349,234 spent per household in some instance, is that representative of what was spent throughout the project, or is that an outlier?

It also might not be entirely fair to analyze these things based on the average income and house price. There might be other conditions, like running an Internet backbone to a particular town might enable that town to grow and become more prosperous. It might make it cheaper to run broadband to surrounding areas in the future.

Warning, not exactly objective research here (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754156)

Keep in mind that this study was conducted by Jeffrey Eisenach (former head of Newt Gingrich's political action committee and longtime conservative activist) and Kevin Caves of Navigant Economics (a bunch of professional "experts" who spend most of their time testifying in favor of various pro-big oil, pro-energy concerns). The article that cites it is by Nick Schulz, of the conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute.

And it also includes some data that I'm highly skeptical of, to say the least--like asserting that all but 1.5% of users in Montana had wired broadband access and all but 7 households in the whole state had access to 3G broadband prior to this funding. Those numbers are better than my own state, and we're not nearly as rural or mountainous as Montana.

Re:Warning, not exactly objective research here (1)

bananaquackmoo (1204116) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754204)

My sentiments exactly. Where do those numbers come from? I sincerely doubt they're real...

Re:Warning, not exactly objective research here (4, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754278)

Question from a lazy person: does anyone have any idea what was said about the TVA back in the day. Getting rural broadband to me seems to have a lot in common with rural electrification... including all the people saying that it isn't a necessity, people who crying about "market forces" and all that.

I know everyone seems to have their biases, but it seems like every study that has come out over the last 2 years is two biased to consider no matter what "side" it supports.

Re:Warning, not exactly objective research here (1)

bananaquackmoo (1204116) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754368)

That isn't a bad point. Costs are never as simple as they appear. What would the cost be to NOT give them rural broadband? Think of how many people these days make their living either on or via the Internet! There's plenty of capable people in the middle of nowhere who could use the internet to contribute to our economy on it.

Re:Warning, not exactly objective research here (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754586)

"What would the cost be to NOT give them rural broadband?"

Who knows... but I shouldn't be forced to pay for their net access. Just like I don't expect them to pay for my flood or fire insurance. If they have marketable skills they can either move to where people want to consume their offered service or to a place with access... or pay for access to come to them. People move for jobs all the time.

Re:Warning, not exactly objective research here (2)

coolgeek (140561) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754816)

That's just a silly argument. The comparison would be, do you expect them to pay for your roads, and of course, the answer is they already have.

Re:Warning, not exactly objective research here (3, Insightful)

iceaxe (18903) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754380)

I think the problem is there in your last sentence: "every study that has come out"

Where "come out" means reported on by various popular media, with varying degrees of selectivity and 'spin'.

There's actually quite a lot of good research going on in the world. You just don't have it thrust in front of you unless it can be twisted or abused to support someone's political or financial agenda.

Re:Warning, not exactly objective research here (4, Insightful)

coolgeek (140561) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754770)

I don't care if the numbers are real or not. It costs between $1,000,000-$9,000,000 per lane mile of highway out to those rural homes. If we're talking 2-4 homes/mile, the road costs many more times than the cost of the homes too. And $350K to give them broadband is pretty cheap by comparison. Broadband deployment should be viewed as a similar infrastructure to homes, power lines, etc.

Re:Warning, not exactly objective research here (1)

slapout (93640) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754912)

I doubt those roads just go up to the home and stop. And I don't think many people build a home that isn't next to a road thinking "someday, someone will build a road right here." More likely, the road was already there and those cost are for maintaining a road that already existed.

Re:Warning, not exactly objective research here (0)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754320)

Even if the data is completely true, it's not like a liberal group would ever publish it. I'm surprised to even see this as a Slashdot article.

Re:Warning, not exactly objective research here (3, Insightful)

Vario (120611) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754366)

This is clearly a study that is not worth much without the raw data open and accessible for everyone.

Maybe a single household near a mountaintop would cost several million dollar to connect but quite a few others could be done for a thousand. So before someone can make any political conclusions it is definitely worth to look at the actual data behind this.

Of course it does not increase trust, that the website (Social science research network [ssrn.com]) is currently down.

Re:Warning, not exactly objective research here (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754372)

There is no way you can get 3G across Montana, even on the I-90 corridor its very spotty outside of cities to even get decent EDGE data.

Re:Warning, not exactly objective research here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754904)

If you are on Verizon, you get great 3G coverage along almost all of I-90. I've crossed the state many times and listened to internet radio over 3G 90% of the way.

Re:Warning, not exactly objective research here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754408)

Maybe I'm just too quick to comment on this, but this was the only comment thread I saw that questioned the reporting and the numbers, but that should have been any critical-thinking person's first response. "Who is spouting this and where did they get their data?"

Re:Warning, not exactly objective research here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754440)

The hope for the plan is to give big telecom money to expand their networks to rural areas and create jobs. The fact of the matter is the telecom did not use the money to expand or improve their networks or even hire new employees. If you live outside of a major city you still don't have 3G. I live 70 miles outside of Dallas and we got 3G about four mounths ago in a few spots. The only way I can get broad band speeds at my hous is line of site or satelite. With the caps on satelite and how extermly high it is each month its not really a good option. Line of site broad band cost about the same as Verizon High Speed per month but your speed does not stay constant. I am no fan of Verizon but if they offered thier servce in my area I would take it. There are enough people in the area that would use their product if it was offered. They could make money if only they wanted to.

Re:Warning, not exactly objective research here (1)

brit74 (831798) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754510)

Shhhhhhhhh! This is part of the Republican 2012 election plan - the old story of painting Democrats as wasteful of tax dollars, and you should TOTALLY elect them to office. Strangely, other sources say that there's lots of people saying they either don't have broadband access or that there's no broadband service available.

Article from last year:

In a survey of more than 100,000 people in more than 50,000 households across the U.S., 40 percent reported no broadband or high-speed access to the Internet, while 30 percent said they have no Internet access at all.

Sponsored by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and conducted by the Census Bureau, the survey found that most of those interviewed said they either don't need broadband or find it too expensive. Some said they have no computer, but many of those in rural areas reported that broadband is simply not available.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-10454133-94.html [cnet.com]

Re:Warning, not exactly objective research here (4, Interesting)

hjf (703092) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754668)

In a modern capitalist world, the role of the state is making sure that minorities (not in the racial sense, but in the economical sense) have access to the same tools and benefits the "majority" has. The problem with corporate thinking is that it tends to concentrate its resouces in developments that will offer an assured AND short-term return of investment. While this is an efficient policy for corporate, it leaves outside the game to basically everyone not living in a big city. Mid-sized are second, and small cities and towns are often ignored - but can easily be served by a small individual with enough capital.

But rural areas are vast extensions of nothing. Long range WiFi access has been a blessing to many of these communietes - all over the world. These are often working with "lower" grade equipment. Sometimes MikroTik or many other economical wifi solutions (NanoStation), others run on off the shelf hardware. Very few run in true long-range outdoors solutions like WiMAX or Motorola Canopy, because the initial cost is too high for individuals to afford. And this is where "stimulus" funds should go.

The growth (explosive growth) of the internet was ONLY due to the ease of access available through simple phone lines. It was an already-installed network, across the nation. HIGHLY REGULATED, which resulted in a service that was available in even the most remote locations. Broadband was never regulated that way, and as a result of that, there is a huge breach between people with access to broadband, and people still on dialup.

Some argue if there should be stimulus funds at all. Leaving aside that most big companies receive money from the govenrment one way or another (tax breaks to money from their military/aerospace branches, to subsidies), there shouldn't be a discussion IF people in remote locations want or need broadband. They might not want it now, but they surely need it - or will, eventually.

This is an online world. For most people in cities, Internet is a part of their lives, just like electricity and phone service. Do we want people from rural areas coming to the Big City for a better life, because we couldn't provide them with a good life where they lived? Do we want mom and pop farms to disappear because their kids and grandkids got fed up with the country lifestyle? Do we want all farms to be property of Monsanto? Because that's where we're heading.

Disclaimer: I'm not american but here in Argentina we have the same problems. Big cities have good internet and phone service, while smaller cities often have 1 ISP, and small towns either don't have anything or have a single 1mbit connection (that cost $500 a month, really) shared between 100 people over wifi. Local farms either have been bought by corporations, or their owners have been pushed to plant only soybean (which isn't consumed in the country, but exported to China) instead of wheat (which, because of our italian roots, is heavily consumed: bread - which the chinese don't seem to eat), which is missing in supermarkets. Bread price has gone up considerably, and there are days when you just can't get flour.

Pay no attentiont to anti-government conservatives. They all want what's good for companies - not for people. You have the right to bear arms, the civil rights, why can't you have "the right to broadband access" too? Oh yes, because it's the government spending money. We better spend it in warfare, right? Cause the US doesn't really have a big enough budget for "security" and military.

Re:Warning, not exactly objective research here (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754814)

These are not the facts you're looking for.

(These are not the facts we're looking for.)

Move along.

(Move along.)

Re:Warning, not exactly objective research here (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754854)

The warning is very appropriate. Not only is the research not objective, it is narrow-focused and incomplete enough that even if objective its results would be pointless.

Among points not included are comparison to rural electrification, in costs and potential public benefits.

Comparison to costs of building other infrastructure, such as the interstate highway system, or even a local bridge (bridge building costs are more than ferry building costs and more than local homes and median incomes)

And ... wasn't there a provision in an appropriations bill, or a permit to raise rates and fees, allowed to the telecom industry a few years ago that was provided with specific agreement by the telecoms that they would build the rural broadband infrastructure the study complains about government stimulus funds going to in 2009, about 20 years after the infrastructure was supposed to be in?

Perhaps someone should be taking action to recapture the funds collected by, or given to, the private enerprises who agreed to do the job and kept the money given them to. I think there should also be penalties for non-performance per the then made agreements, plus capture of the extra costs inflation added between when it was supposed to be done and 2009.

I think we're overthinking this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754170)

If you live in a rural place like that, you don't WANT to be contacted by anyone. You don't WANT to have that Internet gettin' in your life.

Re:I think we're overthinking this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754294)

That's just not true. I love the rural, mountainous parts of Montana, and if I could get decent internet there, I probably WOULD move there.

Re:I think we're overthinking this (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754354)

Exactly. I know there were a lot non-tech people who didn't see Internet expansion as a stimulus, but you can't have any decent sized business without having decent Internet today. Hell, you can't have most SMALL businesses. It basically limits everyone there to advertising by flyers for lawn-mowing businesses.

Re:I think we're overthinking this (1)

coolgeek (140561) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754830)

You'd be crying about driving 150 miles round trip just to get to Target in about 3 weeks.

Re:I think we're overthinking this (3, Informative)

dbc (135354) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754312)

Hang on city boy, that's not true at all. My brother has been paying high fees for a satellite feed out on the farm so that he can get weather and market reports and trade commodity futures in a timely fashion. An internet connect is as important to progressive farmers as it is to any other business these days. The sad thing is that his satellite feed out in an area with less that one family per square mile is a better connection than my DSL connection here in the middle of Silicon Valley in an area of $1M+ homes.

Re:I think we're overthinking this (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754456)

Out of general curiosity, can those tasks be performed over dialup internet?

(Yes, they have phone lines and dial up ISPs in Montana. My grandparents in Livingston did have share party line until the mid 80's, though.)

Re:I think we're overthinking this (5, Insightful)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754594)

How do you think they got those phone lines out there? It wasn't the invisible hand.

There were probably people saying "Can't those things be done through the mail?" when they got wired up for phone service.

Re:I think we're overthinking this (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754782)

Dunno, but there are parts of Mississippi where you can not get a phone line that you can hear people over the static, Much less broadband or even dialup.

Re:I think we're overthinking this (1)

liquiddark (719647) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754544)

You forget those who moved to rural places to conduct activities that more or less require the internet. You know. Raising a militia. Burying bodies. Honest, clean living folks.

Is this a part of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754202)

Shared responsibility / Shared Suffering that we need to do per the administration's latest whims?

Well better on this than some sort of healthcare-for-all-scheme that our debt ceiling can't afford.

Re:Is this a part of... (1)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754632)

So it better for people who have Health Care to pay for the ones who don't though HIGHER bills? The Doctors and Hospitals will get their money from somewhere. I know I had to go see a Doctor before I had health care and he told me he had to charge higher prices to those who had health care so people who didn't could get health care...

Re:Is this a part of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754876)

Firstly, I am opposed to publicly funded health care for the sole reason that when I needed some help from society (e.g. cut out the bullying in school, at least to the point where I wasn't suicidal and had some social acceptance) I was basically told to go fuck myself. And this is a progressive state!

There are a few other things at play that make public health actually work:

1. Have you tried dealing with health insurance companies? Government isn't going to do better, but honestly it won't do much worse.

2. Arguably as national development moves forward, more and more will be able to pull their own weight. At the same time, government will be forced to dive in with both feet into R&D to keep medical costs down. With $$$$$ pouring into the United States medical research establishment, you bet costs will go down.

All of these are good reasons why some people would want to make that sacrifice. But for the aforementioned reason, I refuse to make that sacrifice.

Why? (2)

Normal Dan (1053064) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754228)

Is it really that necessary? Really?

Because it didn't happen. (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754508)

If you heard Anne Coulter or one of her ken say this, you wouldn't give it moments thought. Schultz is hitching on the crazy train, perhaps hoping for a job at Fox.

4 out of 5 dentists would recommend Crest - even if it were true, it isn't really in your dentists best interests to lessen your dental bills. But it also isn't true because it lacks any sort of rigour whatsoever. By avoid hard statements of fact, which Schultz does with the flair of a security software salesperson, he neatly gets to create any outrageous scenario he can imagine.

Chuckle, move on, and wait for him to appear as Rush's economic expert soon.

Unnecessarily expensive (2)

ichthus (72442) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754244)

This is what happens when you send a government to do a man's (or woman's, or group of private citizens') job. We could stand to learn something from the successful, small WISPs and other small-time broadband providers (one of which I am a happy subscriber to).

Check this out [engadget.com] for more information about how it's getting done Europe.

As someone who is looking at rural homes.. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754274)

I live in Canada, but we also have this same sort of pledge to bring high speed internet (not broadband specifically) to rural areas. I've been looking at rural homes, and to be honest, it's a real pain.

As someone who torrents heavily, games a lot, and generally uses about 300gb/month at least in traffic, I need a fast connection. There is literally nothing in most parts of rural Ontario that exceed 3mbps down / 1mbps up, and with unlimited (or at least, overage charges that won't make you go broke) caps. If you go the 3G/4G route (which I would love to), many areas don't actually have coverage even if they claim they do, and the caps are 5gb if you're lucky. If you go satellite.. well, it sucks. Latency is awful. And if you go Xplornet or something (wireless antenna), they all block torrents, are known to be highly unreliable, have low caps, and the speed is 3/1 at best.

It's kind of sad, because I don't want to live in the city, yet there's no real options out there either.

Re:As someone who is looking at rural homes.. (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754698)

Sasktel's wireless broadband is semi-close. It's basically a neat hack of DOCSIS using dish antennas and some extra equipment bolted onto cell towers.

It's not exactly fast (2Mb/256Kb, or 3Mb/384Kb if you pay the big bucks for the 4-hour-QoS-agreement business connection.) or cheap ($250 to buy the equipment, then $60/month, or $300/month for the business option), but it works well, and no caps, and therefore just blows the competition out the water.

Worth It (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754348)

And it would be worth every penny.

What is the cost of satellite or fixed-wireless? (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754396)

Satellite latency is inherently terrible but low-end-DSL-equivalent bandwidth is doable over satellite.

If we plan for it now, future satellite systems can offer more bandwidth for those customers willing to pay for it.

Another option for some is fixed-wireless - basically putting a transmitter/receiver on the nearest tall radio or cellular tower for each customer and using a very-tight-beam transmission path. That's not exactly cheap but it's a lot less than the cost of a house in most cases.

What, you are so far out there is no tall tower nearby that gives you line-of-sight? Well, you might have to settle for satellite then.

BS from the AEI & Company (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754402)

The cost per unserved household has a big weasel word - "unserved." Considering the source, I'm surprised that they didn't declare that there were no "unserved" households in the state at all, which would drive that cost to infinity. They may have thought that an infinite cost wouldn't be as believable.

What about power? (1)

FunkyELF (609131) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754404)

This seems perfect for the application of that broadband over power lines idea.
They're getting power aren't they?.... if not..... then why would they need interwebs?

Re:What about power? (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754448)

IIRC in the US not everyone is on the same grid. Small towns might have their own independent powerplant.

Re:What about power? (2)

FunkyELF (609131) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754714)

So... then you get interwebs to that 1 power plant (if it doesn't have it already) and leverage the existing power transmission system.
Then you're not running wire for every address that you want to deliver to.
You need to connect 500 houses.... you can run 500 wires, or 1 wire.

Re:What about power? (2)

coolgeek (140561) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754864)

Maybe someone could invent some kind of a routing box that would take traffic from one broadband network and send it on to another one, and vice-versa.

the circle of pork (4, Insightful)

CrAlt (3208) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754406)

1) Comcast/ATT/Cablevision/COX/etc all get their lobbyists push for this in the bill.
2) The Gub-ment pays these mega corps billions to build out in the mountains.
3) The people in these areas now have "access" to broadband... for only $79/month.
4) They don't sign up... Comcast/ATT/cablevision/etc don't care. They already made $300K per house passed in the build out already.
5) PROFIT!

Do not call it Broadband (1)

bobs666 (146801) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754414)

Broadband is a way of sending data. Broadband does not describe the amount of data. not the bandwidth or latency. We need'ed to establish at least a minimum delivery rate.

I have DSL, its the best I can get, just 3 miles from a brick and mortar Verzion switch. My data rate is mostly below 500 Kilo bits/sec. This is to slow to watch a video at 240p with out a lot of time wait time to fill the input buffer. Sometimes my line degrades down to 300kbs. I am sure there are things that are Broadband at much slower speeds.

Having broadband does not necessarily imply a adequate access. We need better standards. Before we even staart talking about this. Like perhaps. at least 1 megs bit/sec. let alone 10mbs or even 100 mbs.

Re:Do not call it Broadband (2)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754532)

Broadband does describe the bandwidth. However, I'm pretty sure congressional lobbying has changed the meaning a few times.

Re:Do not call it Broadband (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754786)

India requires any internet connection being called broadband to meet certain conditions, such as
i) Always On
ii)Minimum speed of 256kbps

Arent there similar conditions in US??

Re:Do not call it Broadband (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754848)

you think government controls corporations in the united states?

very funny,

Well worth the cost (1)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754418)

They are using pure gold internet cabling with pure platinum connectors. That way your internet pictures, audio and video will have the highest quality without degrading over those long rural lines. Not to mention the sparkling clarity of your email messages! They're wiring rural America using genuine Monster(tm) brand cabling.

Damn inefficient government. (0, Flamebait)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754432)

Damn inefficient government. This should have been contracted out to the free market and it would have cost much less because companies are so much more efficient than the government. It was done by the government, right? right???

Re:Damn inefficient government. (1)

smerdyakova (2368004) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754652)

The work was all/will all be done by corporate entities through contracts assigned. The GAO issued a report indicating that they have an unfunded gap in providing for evaluation of monies spent. see: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-371T [gao.gov]. The very idea of providing services to rural areas (c.f. roads, electricity, gas/electric, mail) has nothing whatever to do with efficiency. If efficiency were a goal the government would have to mandate that all of you live in the city. This type of redistribution of wealth from urban to rural areas is what allows myopic ideas about taxation to thrive in the very areas that benefit the most: rural areas. If you want to hate the government for wasting your tax dollars then you should also want to communicate your distaste to your elected representatives. The problem is that said elected representatives aren't elected by you, but rather by the interest groups (see the private contractors being hired) who can afford to lobby for riders on legislation.

Re:Damn inefficient government. (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754736)

The work was probably contracted out to private business, but there probably wasn't any competition within bids. I wouldn't be surprised if the money was given directly to established ISPs, who got to retain ownership and control of the lines and were pretty much given blank checks and minimal accountability.

Fake numbers (0)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754464)

The median household income in these areas is between $40,100 and $50,900. The median home prices are between $94,400 and $189,000.'

First of all they're dirt poor and not going to pay for broadband or own a computer. The critical part is the ratio of income to house price. Somewhere around 1:2 is OK but not ideal, 1:4 means extreme poverty, like 99% of your legally declared income must be going toward the house and you never eat anything but ramen, at least until the inevitable foreclosure and bankruptcy. Even commissioned cheerleaders for the home sales/building industry don't have the guts to ask for more than a ratio of 1:3. Personally I live around 1:1.5 and live a pleasant luxurious mostly carefree lifestyle, including broadband, although I am not rich enough that I can totally ignore budgeting and planning. So paying any amount of money at all to provide service is useless if economic conditions are such that they can't afford to own a PC or pay for the now-available service.

The next problem is, from being in the telco industry, most of the $349,234 is going to executive bonuses, scams, overhead, etc. They need a tower to put the wireless ISP gateway on, and the CEO's brother happens to own a company providing that at merely 5 times going market rate. To get a monopoly license from the city, the city would like a $1M tax/donation/fee, but don't worry the customers will pay for it... etc.

Finally the cost of providing telecom services is at least 100:1 from multi-zillion pair buried single mode 10 gig ethernet fiber, down to wireless using 802.11 gear and fancy antennas. Since they're pimping the high cost, assume they're talking about an absolutely gold plated fiber to the house 10 gig using all Cisco brand gear and as many subcontractors as politically possible. But realize a small hungry WISP could probably provide service for a capital cost of maybe $3492.34/customer not $349234/customer. That wouldn't fit with whatever political conclusion they're trying to draw, so...

Not much has changed (1)

tehfeer (1088105) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754478)

I currently live in Montana and not much has changed in the past 5 years. I have cable internet at home and they are horribly oversold. I get a fraction of the advertised speed. Qwest DSL is even slower. The options for connectivity have not changed at all at any of my branch locations throughout Montana. I have a feeling they just pocketed the cash and perhaps updated some equipment in 1-2 COs somewhere in Montana.

Make them pay more! (2)

imemyself (757318) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754498)

I'm moderately liberal, but ultimately, why shouldn't people who want to live in rural areas have to pay more for services? It costs more to provide services to them.

If people choose to live out in the sticks, they should be forced the understand and pay for their services. The reality is that it's a hell of a lot more efficient and less expensive to provide services (water, power, Internet, phone, cable, etc) to people in high density urban areas. That's what we need to be moving towards - not making it easier for people to live out in the middle of nowhere and subsidizing their services to prevent them from knowing the true costs of living out there. Country people talk about how expensive cities are - well living out in the sticks would be more expensive as well if they had to pay the true costs of obtaining phone and other services.

Thank you for volunteering (2)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754796)

We all appreciate your offer to raise your share of food for your neighborhood, but right now we have a more pressing need for minerals. Please let us know when your quota of copper ore is ready for shipment to the smelter.

What was the trillion dollar stimulus spent on? (5, Interesting)

xzvf (924443) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754514)

While the source of this data is obviously biased, I wonder where the stimulus money was actually spent. Think what a trillion dollars actually is. A new aircraft carrier costs ~10 billion dollars, planes double that cost, meaning that the country could have purchased 50 with the stimulus (we currently have 11). In todays dollars the Apollo program cost 150 billion meaning that we could duplicate it six times with a trillion dollars. A highway bridge near where I live is being replaced for a cost of 300 million, thus a trillion dollars could have replaced that bridge 3000 times. It could have paid the 14 million unemployed, $35000 a year for two years. Where did it go, and what did it do?

Re:What was the trillion dollar stimulus spent on? (1, Informative)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754672)

While the source of this data is obviously biased, I wonder where the stimulus money was actually spent. Think what a trillion dollars actually is. A new aircraft carrier costs ~10 billion dollars, planes double that cost, meaning that the country could have purchased 50 with the stimulus (we currently have 11). In todays dollars the Apollo program cost 150 billion meaning that we could duplicate it six times with a trillion dollars. A highway bridge near where I live is being replaced for a cost of 300 million, thus a trillion dollars could have replaced that bridge 3000 times. It could have paid the 14 million unemployed, $35000 a year for two years. Where did it go, and what did it do?

There wasn't a trillion dollars "Dedicated to stimulus of the economy through government spending", so starting with this is severely begging the question.

Most of the money those who criticize government spending call "stimulus" was spent on issuing loans or buying equity in banks and other institutions, or on tax cuts, or on extensions of things like unemployment benefits (covering some of those 14 million your heart bleeds for.)

Of the $200 billion spent or so spent on "spending", yes most of it was probably wasted. But hey, at least those damn Saudis didn't get it... Or did they?

Re:What was the trillion dollar stimulus spent on? (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754792)

Or did they?

Only if they're building HOV lanes on all the freeways in my town, because that's been going on since last year. Every freeway intersection is getting a new set of curves in its stack, and miles of new lanes are being laid down. So on a busy weekend I'm probably eyeballing $3-4 billion of that total.

Like most organizations, (1)

davide marney (231845) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754730)

The most expensive line item is salaries and benefits. The stimulus went to prop up the HR costs of state governments. You may have noticed that most public sector jobs were not lost during 2008 and 2009. That's where the money went.

It's a different picture now. The private sector shed 8 million jobs. There's no more support for another bailout/"stimulus", so expect to see a wave of contraction in public sector jobs.

Re:What was the trillion dollar stimulus spent on? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754750)

Finance and transport. Bailing out the auto manufacturers and airlines and banks, and rebuilding at least a small part of our literally crumbling roads and bridges. Funding new-tech ideas, even if the average slashdotter thinks their ideas are potty.

The fact that you aren't seeing it in your pocket means someone else is, which is probably a good thing.

Re:What was the trillion dollar stimulus spent on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754852)

The stimulus that was passed was $787 billion, not a trillion. Of that, almost 40% was tax cuts. Another 20% was in aid to states who can't deficit spend - probably kept a lot of state workers from being laid off. A good chunk went to pay for the higher costs of unemployment payments, COBRA support and food assistance support for all the unemployed people. If you want a full breakdown, you can go here: http://projects.nytimes.com/44th_president/stimulus

Re:What was the trillion dollar stimulus spent on? (1)

Reverberant (303566) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754858)

Keep in mind that 1) almost $300 billion of the $787 billion stimulus [wikipedia.org] (not $1 trillion) went to tax cuts, and 2) a good chunk of the stimulus (about $100 billion) hasn't been spent or (or is in the process of being spent).

As for where the money went, check the wiki article I linked. I will not that a few thousand dollars of the stimulus went to my bottom line for a couple of wind turbine projects, which I promptly spent on buying equipment and services to expand my business.

Broadband is infrastructure, so stop complaining (3, Insightful)

Quantum_Infinity (2038086) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754540)

Broadband should be considered as an infrastructure and not as a luxury. Good infrastructure leads to economic development. The cost of providing infrastructure might be high initially but in the long run it has tremendous benefits for the economy of the area where that infrastructure was provided. Providing broadband in rural areas will attact outside businesses, help local businesses grow, make easier to provide education. The benefit will far outweigh the cost in the long run. Oh and what about steaming HD pr0n? Don't people in rural areas have needs?

It's infrastructure (5, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754542)

So, how did the roads get built? How is the mail delivered? How is power transmitted? How about Plain Old Telephone Service? There used to be some bonafide investment in infrastructure in the US, so where did all that go?

Granted, I understand that water and sewer isn't too common in rural areas, but it's not like it's a backpacking adventure through the rainforest we're talking about.

Re:It's infrastructure (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754804)

so where did all that go?

China.

All we build in America are Wal-Marts and container docks.

Because those help us sell the stuff we import from China.

Re:It's infrastructure (1)

Lugae (88858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754844)

Another thing to think about is which households to divide the cost per household among. While I have broadband in my area, maybe, as a taxpayer, I'd like it available in my parents area for when I visit. Maybe, I'd like the opportunity to live in a rural area with broadband. Without that opportunity, I may not do such. So, yes, if you take a really high number, and divide it by the number of houses in a sparsely populated area, it looks really expensive.

New! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754606)

From the same folks that brought you Obama's trip to India costing $200 million/day comes, $340k/house Internet!

It's just absurd.

Sweet sweet cherries (1)

sakonofie (979872) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754664)

The debate over whether stimulus worked or didn’t is too abstract to be of much help. It’s a better use of time to look at some specific stimulus programs and projects and see how they did.

Yes. Always cherry pick first before trying to get a broader perspective [bea.gov]. This is the best way to get off on politics rage. This is why we are talking about this right? Right?

Also, the article's source [ssrn.com] seems to be down so I don't even figure out how in world they are claiming "$7 million for each additional household served".

Oh please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36754836)

Does anyone honestly believe that running WIRE to a home, even if you had to dig a trench (which millions of homes who have sewer and water do everyday) costs more than the freaking home?

Who the hell are they kidding? Strange how you can build a home with a huge amount of labor and material for $150k in 4 months, but they wanted more than double that for internet connectivity.

1 year of the average income is enough to pay for both the wire, the labor, and the poles for some 5 miles of direct line. The reason the costs seem high is because the studied is skewed, and they are likely paying full "industry" prices by the wage, probably on the order of several hundred dollars an hour to drive in telephone poles. And those industry prices are jacked because of the excessive monopoly these companies have. It doesn't cost that much. They're full of it.

And they just shot themselves in the foot--any study by this group is going to be criticized because of this piss poor "study."

This reminds me when I wanted to connect 2 nearby properties that I had--could have easily simply run wire up the pole on one with a long trench (since that property was newer, everything was underground) to the other. Any geek wanting to run a then 100mbit ethernet line shielded could have done it for $400 in wire across the property and to the poles. Add in labor, 100 yard trench, pole connections, insurance, the job easily could be done for under $1,500 in 4 hours. Of course, I was told that I had to get the telephone company or some private line company, and I was quoted $15,000, lead time of 3 months.

What is the cost of Newt Gingrich? (-1, Flamebait)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754892)

Gingrich's trolls cooked up this nonsense.

Just how much has that miserable fuck cost this country in the past half-century?

I'm sure it'd cost $trillions to make it as good as it would have been if he hadn't been fighting against us all this time.

Yes, expensive, and no it's not worth it. (1)

alta (1263) | more than 2 years ago | (#36754900)

The market will bear this out. I'm currently in Alabama, not even in a particularly rural area (western Mobile), but there's not cable or DSL on my road. Very frustrating to use 3G internet for internet, but I don't think it's the goverment's job to drop me a line, or for them to force comcast or ATT to do it. I'll wait. 4G is available, but I'm grandfathered in a 3G unlimited plan which I will loose if I get a 4G card. I'm currently using 7GB/month on 3G, as soon as we get 4G we'll start streaming like crazy and probably do 10GB every 5 days.

Do I want better internet? Yes.
Do I want someone else to have to pay for it? No.

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