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Open Spectrum Does Not Mean Free Internet

timothy posted about a year ago | from the floodgates-in-the-desert dept.

The Internet 60

CowboyRobot writes "FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski recently proposed making RF spectrum publicly available, and many in the media (including the Washington Post) have been mistakenly conflating open access to WiFi signal with free Internet access; anyone can put up a wireless access point but that doesn't give them access to the Internet. The proposal will probably mean more attempts at providing free Internet access to specific neighborhoods or municipalities, but as Larry Seltzer at NetworkComputing points out, these programs also usually forget that access to signal is not the same as access to the Internet. After getting the funding to wire a city, these isn't money left to pay for the actual bandwidth usage."

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lets just create an "offline" internet (1)

chris.alex.thomas (1718644) | about a year ago | (#42857851)

What if we created some kind of side-by-side internet meaning we use a completely separate top level domain in order to access those network resources without overlapping with the internet?

slashdot.darknet for example could on my network open slashdot, but without using any "internet access" at all, since all I need is a network of computers, of course, we'd have to work to make sure we don't collide with any real internet resources, but I think that the system was created in order to let this stuff work right?

so why not do that?

obviously it means we have problems with slashdot.org and slashdot.darknet having potentially different content, but what if I dont shadow a real internet website, but create a search engine which only indexes darknet content?

(I think I'm abusing the term darknet, but well, whatever, you guys know what I mean...)

Re:lets just create an "offline" internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42858007)

No, we don't know what you mean. There is no point in putting up a fake slashdot on your personal network.
The internet is not magic, the only reason it works is because of outside communications...your network won't do that on its own and no one will have access to it anyways.

Re:lets just create an "offline" internet (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#42858055)

So... what's the point? You're either limited to a LAN-sized network within a building or campus, or you're laying fiber yourself to create a WAN and you'll end up spending more than the bandwidth they can't afford anyway. At any rate, the point is people want access to Internet resources, which requires connection to an ISP at some point in the chain and therefore bandwidth charges.

Re:lets just create an "offline" internet (1)

Corwn of Amber (802933) | about a year ago | (#42858585)

You're an idiot. What ISP? The idea seems to be to make a full AS and THEN interface it with the other AS that make up Internet. Nothing is that has anything to do with the ludicrous scam that is the public-facing Internet access industry.

Re:lets just create an "offline" internet (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year ago | (#42860667)

Don't underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of floppy disks... though I suppose you kidz are too young to understand this thread.

Re:lets just create an "offline" internet (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#42858129)


oh wait....................

and if you really want access to such a "local net", just go to some parts of russia or just about any reasonable large university housing project anywhere.

however the article is a bit bullshit since bandwidth isn't _that_ expensive. you can buy 100mbit connections that you can pretty much rape with torrents if you want pretty cheaply. but it's the fcc guy so he's shelling for couple of big telecoms which like to create an artificial advantage for their own streaming etc services.. and bandwidth limiting is one way to do it(and a way to save a few pennies.. but most importantly a way to gouge more money - overage charges are pure bonus profit).

Re:lets just create an "offline" internet (2)

chris.alex.thomas (1718644) | about a year ago | (#42858321)

well, I was suggesting that people could just put servers that are only available on those "offline" locations, then people within that network can access it, then perhaps networks will overlap and be connectable then you can attach them together into a single larger network, an internet based entirely on wifi, completely controlled by people, not huge telecoms. one less reason to be bent over the barrel and asked by the telecom companies to like it.

I already know it's possible and I already know people have done it, I'm calling for that to be expanded.

with wifi, it's now possible to string together multiple locations into a larger darknet without touching the internet, it could be very interesting to put the internet back in the hands of the people instead of large companies cause it's almost a daily occurance to find an article somewhere which says that the internet is a controlled medium, well this way, it's not, at least without jamming the wifi.

If they were connected, that would be "online" (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year ago | (#42859235)

So you'd have a bunch over local wifi networks, interconnected to make one large network? Someone in one city could access something in another city by these "inter-network" links, right? That network of inter-network links could be called the "internetwork". Maybe shorten that to "internet". Seriously, you're proposing nothing more or less than rebuilding the internet over again. The only change you're really suggesting is to use wifi rather than fiber to connect between cities. There's actually a reason we use fiber, not wifi, to connect between cities, and between campae. Fiber is a lot better for that purpose than wifi is. Wifi is designed for, and good at, letting you walk around your house with a tablet. It's not designed for, and not good at, links more than 30-100 feet.

Re:If they were connected, that would be "online" (1)

chris.alex.thomas (1718644) | about a year ago | (#42859353)

thats awesome! so please describe to me what happens when the telco cuts the cable, or you can't afford the cable? or there is no cable in the first place?

there was a reason I typed what I typed, I didnt just do it for fun you know.

what you seem to be saying is, because you are able to use fibre, you should and that would negate my idea, but if you read through what I wrote, you might start to get the reasoning behind WHY i said it and WHY it could be useful in some scenarios...

so perhaps we can push the reset button on this and start over, this time, knowing the reasons behind what I said.

[pushes da button]

Re:If they were connected, that would be "online" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42860507)

Same thing as what happens when the water company cuts the water main, or shuts off your connection, or when the electric utility cuts the cable or turns off your access..

You don't pay for a service it gets removed.

Internet access isn't really that different. Someone has built an infrastructure to deliver something. that costs money and you're going to have to pay them for it for them to be willing to let you use it.

Re: If they were connected, that would be "online" (1)

hob42 (41735) | about a year ago | (#42861183)

Which was why he was suggesting replacing the expensive, monopoly controlled, centralized infrastructure with a decentralized, cheap, user-maintained system that doesn't require digging trenches and laying fiber.

Now, you can argue the merits of such a system with regards to bandwidth and long-distance links, but the concept is a valid one.

Re: If they were connected, that would be "online" (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#42861995)

It's a valid concept except for two issues:

1. Latency - All these little, cheap wifi networks are going to add up to huge latency before you make it out of your neighborhood, nevermind another city.
2. Assholes - There will always be a few guys who are an essential link connecting a neighborhood or street to the rest of the network that decide to turn their wifi off just to fuck with people.

Re: If they were connected, that would be "online" (1)

chris.alex.thomas (1718644) | about a year ago | (#42870855)

I suppose there are ways to know that and route around it if required, but all the equipment belongs to the assholes, so lets hope there are less assholes than we imagine in real life.

I suppose herd mentality would take over though, yes somebody might be an asshole, but being an asshole to a technology they themselves also rely on might make them think twice about being an asshole in that way and instead direct his rage at IRC channels instead, since it causes him less self-harm.

but again, just thinking aloud....

Re:lets just create an "offline" internet (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#42866771)

A city sized network should have no problem getting bandwidth to the internet at <$4/meg with a committed rate. A typical ISP these days might oversell that by a factor of 100, but they could provide excellent service by only overselling by a factor of 10.

That leaves not a free service, but at $4/month for 10Mbps symmetric service, or $40 if it's a 'business class' connection (where you get to run a heavily used server), it would be hard to beat.

Re:lets just create an "offline" internet (1)

chris.alex.thomas (1718644) | about a year ago | (#42870875)

ok, so basically we could have edge nodes all paid for by city taxes and available to everybody in the wifi "mesh" in the center.

that would bridge the darknet and internet together, but I still think that the darknet idea is a good one, we all control the hardware and depend on nobody to give those services, but as an addition you can gain access to other locations outside that network through the edge nodes.

Folks, we need COMMUNISM NOW! (1, Funny)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about a year ago | (#42857875)

The advanced productive forces that have grown up under capitalism are straining at the restraints of private property like so many fetters, and humanity is suffering catastrophe as a result. But capitalism has brought into a being a class that will be its gravedigger, the proletariat. The fetters will be burst asunder. The expropriators will be expropriated. All power to the working class!

Re:Folks, we need COMMUNISM NOW! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42858137)

How's Laura? You haven't mentioned her in ages

Update on Laura (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about a year ago | (#42858405)

Thank you for asking, Slashdort poster "Anonymous Coward"!

My one true love, Laura, is currently away, location unknown, on a secret super important mission in her capacity as the President For Life of the Campaign for a Free Internet. The time apart from her has been extremely trying but I know that she will return coverd with glory and my love for her is like a rock, a really big heavy rock that doesn't move or erode except maybe if it was in like super strong acid or something but even then it would be super solid.

Dear single women of Slashdort, I know you all secretly lust after me but do not even think of seducing me because I only love Laura.

"The Internet is Down" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42857885)

these people are stupid.

More attempts at providing free internet (1)

DFurno2003 (739807) | about a year ago | (#42857891)

If someone puts up a secure wireless access point in my neighborhood, I would be delighted to foot my share of the bill for bandwidth usage (given that it is cost competitive to my current provider)

Re:More attempts at providing free internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42858093)

I'll be happy to put up fake hotspots and try some MitM shenanigans. I'm paying for the connection to the internet, and I'll let you use it for free, all I want is to sniff your packets for marketing information. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Re:More attempts at providing free internet (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#42858989)

You have fun with that. Those SSL/TLS packets (that you don't have keys for) will be very informative. Very.

Unsurprising, unfortunately... (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#42857893)

I suppose we nerds need to step up and take some of the blame:

We've been so industrious about our networking duties that when the noobs see an ethernet jack or an SSID they just go and assume that it will lead them to the bounteous lolcats and porn of the internet...

All jokes(but not all jokers, alas) aside, WTF is wrong with these 'journalists'? Reporting 'FCC proposes additional wifi spectrum' as 'FCC proposes free internets for the masses!' is about as conceptually confused as reporting 'Staples offers 2-for-the-price-of-1 sale on copier paper' as 'Staples, Amazon, New York Times take sides over plan to slash print media prices by half!'.

Seriously, I'm not expecting these guys to not fuck up something actually tricky, just to make the basic conceptual distinction between the price and availability of a transmission channel and the price and availability of what is transmitted over the channel...

Re:Unsurprising, unfortunately... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42858415)

I'm going to be the odd one out and claim that free spectrum does indeed mean more free internet. Besides private and highly localized wireless LANs, providing free internet access is the only rational use of public spectrum. You can't really build a business on providing something over a public resource, because without exclusive access to the resource, there's no guarantee that it's going to be available to you. That's why Wifi access is always on an "if it works, it's free and you can use it" basis. So yes, more public spectrum means more and better free Internet access.

The difference between fantasy and reality (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#42857907)

Used to live in a city with "free wifi". It was horrendously slow because everybody used it and most still paid a normal provider.

Re:The difference between fantasy and reality (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#42857937)

Used to live in a city with "free wifi". It was horrendously slow because everybody used it and most still paid a normal provider.

Given that use of the relevant ISM bands is minimally restricted, and not charged for or sold exclusively, in most of the US(sorry, suckers [nrao.edu]), every city has 'free wifi' in the sense that the FCC is actually proposing to expand... It's just that a few of them also decided to put up APs and then connect them to something.

Re:The difference between fantasy and reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42858123)

... in most of the US(sorry, suckers [nrao.edu]), every city has 'free wifi' in the sense that the FCC is actually proposing to expand... It's just that a few of them also decided to put up APs and then connect them to something.

That's the same as saying that every person is a great writer, it's just that few of them have also decided to put things down on paper. As for me, I'm honing my craft right here on /.

Re:The difference between fantasy and reality (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#42858257)

It's more akin to saying that anybody can write if they want to(subject only to some limits on broadcast power); but that getting published is your own problem.

Aim for "low cost" instead of "free" (1)

hessian (467078) | about a year ago | (#42858013)

Used to live in a city with "free wifi". It was horrendously slow because everybody used it and most still paid a normal provider.

If you make a public resource, you have what economists call a "free rider" problem: most people aren't obligated to pay in to it, so they simply take advantage of it without paying in.

This causes the quality of service to decline. It is related to the "Tragedy of the Commons" [garretthardinsociety.org] where overconsumption of a public resource results in its depletion.

A better option to "free" internet might be aiming to lower costs and improve performance, and then allow local residents to use additional bandwidth to provide free local hotspots.

Re:Aim for "low cost" instead of "free" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42858099)

In regards to actual costs, what would actual costs behind bandwidth be, if purchased on a massive scale? Municipalities and public institutions, I'd imagine, would have the capability of negotiating on terms much more favorable than whatever the citizens would be able to get on our own, simply due to economies of scale, right?

Re:Aim for "low cost" instead of "free" (3, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#42858173)

With wifi systems, there are really two different problems, because of the two major choke-points:

1. The speeds that available technology let you wring out of the slices of RF spectrum you are allowed.

2. The speed of whatever internet connection(s) you've purchased to connect the thing to.

Problem 1 is the really fundamentally nasty one. Physics gives you some hard limits, silicon vendors give you some rather tighter soft limits(but at least they raise them every few years) and whiny TV broadcasters and cellular telcos keep you from expanding your slices of spectrum.

Problem 2, unless you are really in the sticks, is much more amenable to pricing-based solutions: it isn't horribly difficult to throttle bandwidth per-device, or do captive-portal authentication, so you can make fairly granular decisions about how much of your cake you want to have, and how much you want to eat. Have you determined that some amount of 'free' internet access is good for local business/a human right/a public convenience that local taxpayers want, just like having the grass mowed at the local park/whatever? Ok, provide unauthenticated access to that amount of bandwidth per device. Do you find that some users of your free service would prefer to use it much more heavily(to the exclusion of a home ISP, say, rather than just at the coffee shop or in the park)? Sounds like you need an authenticated non-free tier that charges more in order to buy more bandwidth to provide to paying customers.

If you are over-subscribed at the RF level, you are pretty much doomed, at least until better silicon or more spectrum become available; but over-subscription at the ISP pipe level is much more fundamentally solvable.

Re:Aim for "low cost" instead of "free" (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42858177)

Its fun to mashup this interpretation vs public parks and public libraries. This brings up the next issue that where I live the parks and library are really nice places to visit, but areas run by some other subcultures turn into dumps you'd never dare to visit. I could imagine areas where the wifi actually works vs areas mostly populated with MITM attack systems.

One interesting contrast is a commons has no theoretical demand limit... If I make $200 annual profit off each cow, there's no reason to limit myself to 100, 1000 or even 1e6 of my cows on the commons. However with current technology its not possible for a person to use more than a couple dozen megs for a uncompressed 3D hdtv stream. On average, most will use dramatically less. So its pretty trivial to set a very hard upper budget limit for wifi on what it'll cost per person served. The public park analogy is I'd have a hard time using more than a couple sq feet on a picnic blanket, most people don't use the parks they just want to live in a place that has nice parks, and by paying in bulk its not terribly difficult to provide 1e6 sq feet for 1e5 citizens, that's only 22 acres which is about 5% the total acreage of our local city parks.

Re:Aim for "low cost" instead of "free" (1)

dkf (304284) | about a year ago | (#42858351)

However with current technology its not possible for a person to use more than a couple dozen megs for a uncompressed 3D hdtv stream. On average, most will use dramatically less.

Yes, but people keep coming up with more demanding applications. I remember when very few people could use as much as a 56k modem, but hardware got better and new applications came along. That's been the way for a long time, ever since people started hooking computers up to telecommunications equipment...

Re:Aim for "low cost" instead of "free" (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42858467)

Disagree. Back when I used my first 300 baud modem around 1981ish I had no problem thinking about "looking at still pictures" or "hearing sound" or, although it seemed kinda far out, sound and live video. Easily imagined, this stuff was all over sci-fi books and movies however unrealistic/magical it appeared at the time. Now its here.

But what can be imagined that anyone wants that takes bandwidth beyond high res 3-d surround sound video? Touchy-feely stuff is actually pretty low bandwidth. Smell and taste, aside from "do not want" is ultra low BW. We're running outta senses here...

I guess if executables were grotesquely larger, like if "web pages" were actually executables.. we tried that, called it "flash" it sucked and is dying off and never used as much bandwidth as pictures or worst case cruddy quality video.

Re:Aim for "low cost" instead of "free" (1)

crdotson (224356) | about a year ago | (#42868329)

True -- but if you add up, say, the bandwidth needed for a wall-sized display at 600ppi and 80fps I think you'll be surprised at how much bandwidth is required. We have a ways to go.

Re:Aim for "low cost" instead of "free" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42858409)

Well for that we just need the Obamacare solution. Levy a tax (call it a "mandate") on everybody who actually works for a living to pay for the free riders.

Re:Aim for "low cost" instead of "free" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42866713)

Same goes for Obamacare...

Re:The difference between fantasy and reality (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#42858261)

free wifi is good for torrenting, porn and anything else to save your bandwidth and use up the free stuff

timothy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42857909)

these isn't the editors you are looking for . . .

do ur damn job timothy lord !

Open Spectrum Doesn't Mean Open Either (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42857911)

It's only a proposal for the spectrum to be open. Much more likely (nearly certain) is that the spectrum will be deemed far to valuable to simply open. It will be reallocated to a new license class for wireless broadband operators, like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, who will be the only ones with pockets deep enough to afford it. The "new" spectrum will be auctioned off for millions of dollars and the public WILL PAY!

I really can't believe that people thought, for even a second, that there was going to be a free nationwide WiFi system. Do these idiots have any idea how expensive it is to run a Wireless ISP? Upstream bandwidth, towers, equipment, maintenance and more. It costs a lot of money, who do they think was going to do all the work for free?

Sad (2)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year ago | (#42857947)

It's sad that no one seems to know the difference. Wifi operates on a subset of frequencies within the RF spectrum, knowing that, how can anyone confuse Open RF with Free Internet? That would be like saying "Were opening part of the energy spectrum" and then telling people "That means we now get free TV", it's not true.

Re:Sad (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#42858037)

I suspect that they don't know that and are, instead, approaching the problem through some sort of horrible caricature of naive Bayesian induction:

"The whole system is a magical black box that I don't understand. However, I have connected to 'the wifi' at home, work, starbucks, and the airport, on numerous occasions and in numerous locations. Almost every time I connect to 'the wifi', I obtain internet access. Therefore, 'the wifi' must provide internet access, and an FCC proposal to 'expand the wifi' must be a proposal to provide internet access!"

The same reasoning could also be used to demonstrate that you can obtain free potable water just by connecting a pipe to a sink and then shoving it into the ground(but, conveniently, also obtain access to a sewage line by connecting a pipe to a toilet and shoving it into the ground. How do they not get mixed up? Magic!); but so it goes...

Re:Sad (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year ago | (#42858189)

Your right and this is what we need to stop! If someone willfully insulted the writings and work of Shakespeare you would have 50 thousand english and play nuts ready to kill the offender, however when someone makes a completely wrong statement about computer / electronics, most of us sit back and do nothing.

Silly comparison maybe, but it's more for the point that other groups who defend knowledge take it seriously and yet most "knowledgeable" electronic geeks smile, nod and just move on without doing anything at all.

Re:Sad (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year ago | (#42858755)

Your right and this is what we need to stop! If someone willfully insulted the writings and work of Shakespeare you would have 50 thousand english and play nuts ready to kill the offender, however when someone makes a completely wrong statement about computer / electronics, most of us sit back and do nothing.

  Silly comparison maybe, but it's more for the point that other groups who defend knowledge take it seriously and yet most "knowledgeable" electronic geeks smile, nod and just move on without doing anything at all.

They consider it much ado about nothing?

Re:Sad (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42858243)

then telling people "That means we now get free TV", it's not true.

Thats the funny part, is the average drone thinks TV comes out of a $100/month satellite dish or coaxial cable, but there's a large fraction of the population that thinks they're smarter than the average bear because they know they can connect an antenna and actually get free over the air HDTV from the major (and many minor) networks. Then you add the crowd that thinks they're 'leet because they read a gawker article online about somebody making a pringles can wifi antenna... Combine the two and you get proles thinking if they stick a bigger antenna on their wifi and the govt gets out of its own way, they'll surely get "free internet".

Connecting Communities (1, Interesting)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year ago | (#42858057)

If the goal is to connect together people then access to "the Internet" is not necessary. Communities could roll their own network, their own servers and address space. All you need is a DNS server to bind it all together (or a P2P system). There would be many benefits to this. However it would not be the same as accessing the Internet.

OTOH a few communities could peer up, then a few more, etc etc. until everyone was connected. The problem would be interconnects. It would be slow without dedicated fibre and switches to route traffic from eg Atlanta to LA. So you end up needing the same infrastructure we have today. May as well just nationalize it all at that point (would amount to the same thing).

A hybrid approach could work. Community MLANs for local stuff, local caches of a ton of content and individual access plans to get out of the MLAN. ISPs go away but the big pipes are still private utilities. Content cartels would still be in power but would only control access to their content rather than everything. People and businesses could host their own content/services or collocate at the local cacheing data center. The cacheing (a la Akamai) would allow the self hosting to work (make it fast even if the origin is a desktop PC) and would be peered, so synced with other community caches. This all would require a lot of work. Could take a decade to reach critical mass (or could only take a few years if adoption was coordinated and fully budgeted).

Last Mile (1)

grumling (94709) | about a year ago | (#42858095)

So why couldn't an ISP set up a tower with a GigE connection and tell customers they have to set up a directional antenna pointed to my tower, but my prices are a fraction of what a wired or totally managed (cellular provider) ISP would have to charge. After all, we keep hearing that the reason we don't have a massive buildout of fiber to the home is because the last mile is extremely expensive. If the customer is paying for the equipment to connect, along with open white space spectrum (or whatever is being proposed), someone could actually break the duopoly. It actually follows the retail model instead of the utility model, where a business has you come to their retail outlet, instead of delivering to your driveway.

If they see success the ISP would have to build more towers, but it's much easier to expand and grow incrementally than it is to have to build out all the infrastructure at once, which is what happens with low power/low range wifi. Ideally, spectrum users would have to be licensed (and possibly tested, similar to a drivers test to legally use pubic roads), to monitor congestion and allow for more transmitter power.

Re:Last Mile (3, Informative)

jimbouse (2425428) | about a year ago | (#42858399)

You are referring to a (w)ISP.

I own one and it is exactly how you postulate. I started with one tower 12 miles from the nearest Fiber POP. Now I have 7 towers covering 34 square miles in less than 1 year.

I provide a good service for a reasonable price. No caps, no filters, just the "speed limit" that your tier of service is set to.

Re:Last Mile (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42858403)

You seem to have a very optimistic view of tower cost / rental.

For a good laugh talk to the ham radio guys about what a decent 150 foot tower would cost in total, not just the tower but the installation, base, guying, etc.

Now don't get fooled by people who don't know what they're doin... all that "a section of Rohn45G is $300 delivered, so 15 of em is only $4500 ... well you're forgetting that 45G is "ham grade" and can only self support to 40 feet or so... You want something 150 foot rated (and here we need icing high wind rated not that "60 mph no ice" BS that some towers are advertised at). On the good side I assure you a decent installed tower will always be cheaper than a similar height mini-skyscraper, so figure a small 15 story building would be a couple million bucks installed, I assure you a 150 foot tower will be substantially less.

Its interesting in ham radio how the "1500 watt limit" has gotten much closer to affordable over the generations but the "less than 200 feet AGL and the FAA doesn't (usually) care" limit is just as unaffordable today as it was when I was a kid.

As for rental vs buying, realize you've now got two middlemen who want to make a fat profit, the tower operator AND the bank who made the loan. On the other hand the financial advantages of sharing the cost are huge, so pretty much either you're renting to someone or you're renting from someone else.

Also unless you're in supersprawl forget a municipality demanding free wifi for a tower permit. All our city public service is on the county trunk system and via the luck of the draw there are no county system trunk towers in my city (about 4 surrounding it, sure...) so you can't force public access for a city as a permit issue or you'll just end up in another city or having to force county wide public access etc. Of course out east some counties (and some states) are smaller than our cities making it even more complicated.

Re:Last Mile (1)

grumling (94709) | about a year ago | (#42863035)

Tower costs are still FAR cheaper than stringing fiber to every customer. Try $7-12 PER FOOT for underground construction. $7 is nice and easy, just trenching in the right of way, while the $12 range is for road bores and other "tricky" jobs. That's just for getting the fiber in the ground, not for the glass or lighting it up. Hope you pass a lot of customers along the way. If not, that guy at the end is going to take a long time to pay back.

And you have to pay pole rental if you want to run aerial, along with paying for an engineering certification (which will end up with you paying for replacement of at least some of the poles you want to attach to), and in some cases you'll pay your competition, who went ahead and rented all the communications space from the power company years ago.

Who says we want internet access? (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#42858357)

We want free, unfettered, networking ability. The internets dieing a slow death of a thousand DMCA request paper cuts. Give me a free alternative any day. If my local municipality setup their own local network, I'd hook up. We've all got this idea that "The Internet" is the only network to connect to, but I think an alternative is the only solution to the corporate nonsense that's been going on over the past 10 years. Maybe this time we can build it smarter, knowing ahead of time what these jerks are going to try and do.

Re:Who says we want internet access? (1)

BitterOak (537666) | about a year ago | (#42863619)

We want free, unfettered, networking ability. The internets dieing a slow death of a thousand DMCA request paper cuts. Give me a free alternative any day.

What makes you think the DMCA wouldn't apply to your alternate "internet" as well? If you read the language of the DMCA, or other copyright laws which pertain to sharing of files on a network, you won't see the term "Internet" anywhere. The laws are all crafted generically, referring to networks and the like, but no specific reference to THE Internet.

these isn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42858723)

These isn't enough money left over for proper grammar either! :-(

Cost of Bandwidth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42858783)

What does "Bandwidth" actually cost? Hasn't it become some random number that the plant owners come up with together?

Power consumption / gear / and maintenance... I think the dollars on the physical plant are the only true costs.... I mean really how much does a gig of traffic "cost" vs. what is charged?

Fleeced again

This could be useful but won't be (4, Informative)

fadethepolice (689344) | about a year ago | (#42858819)

IF local businesses used it to advertise and sell directly to consurmers through it. This would basically allow the traditional (city net) we used to see in matrix style hacking videos / books in the eighties and early nineties. If there is a critical mass of businesses offering services over a local wireless mesh network then the 'internet' will want to access that market. Make a peering deal and you could enable internet access to / between these citywide wireless nodes. The main issue at this point is making sure everyone has access to personal ipv6 addresses. It is possible, but not likely, as the general public has no knowledge of the benefits of having a free access local mesh network.

This might resolve the net neutrality problem (1)

rocket rancher (447670) | about a year ago | (#42860517)

The internet is a tool for moving information around. Keeping the internet functional means that all information riding around on it has to be treated the same way; that is the nature of a packet-switched protocol. The protocol has to be pretty much blind to the constraints imposed on the information. The net neutrality problem is that information with a value (for what ever definition of value that you want to use) riding on the internet means content providers have to armor their information to keep that value from leaking away as it transits the internet -- that armor invalidates the idea of the neutral nature of the information, and therefore compromises the usefulness of the internet for the content providers. I'm pretty sure that having open spectrum that content providers can grab up and use as their distribution channel will fix this problem. A distribution channel that they own and control means that they can armor their information in whatever way they want to, and to brick any device on the network (including the end-points) while only minimally compromising their ability to deliver content, which is what their business is supposed to profit by. They cannot control the internet in this way, and that's why I see them grabbing up the spectrum and setting up their own networks. NB: This is not a bad thing for people who value the free flow of information that the internet makes possible.

Open Spectrum is.. (1)

snadrus (930168) | about a year ago | (#42863157)

Open Spectrum is required for the dream of unencumbered global networking. The Internet (in the US) doesn't work this way & is primarily a monopoly or oligopoly with all players wanting great controls, user access limits, etc. Mesh networking would overstep the costs & regulations required in laying fiber that currently ensure this monopoly. Spectrum that can travel for miles reduces latency. And everyone would want involvement: If you want mesh network access, you'd need to buy a repeater-type device (or no one would peer with you). Even if a high-powered repeater could increase your electric bill by $50 a month, it's a better deal than the Internet monopoly.
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