Victorians and Fiber, Louisville’s Quest For Fast Internet

It was a dark and stormy afternoon, the kind you get on the east side of the country. I was drinking a coffee, sitting in a camping chair in front of my door, and watching like a hawk for the treacherous cable man to show up. This day there would be no escape. There would be no gently rapping the door with a supple sheepskin leather glove before scurrying away for another union mandated coffee break. I was waiting, I was kind of grumpy, and by God today would be the day. Today would be the day that after hours on hold, after three missed appointments, after they lost my records twice; I would get an answer on whether or not they could actually service internet to my apartment. If I was lucky, and the answer was yes, then approximately two to three thousand years later they would run a cable from the telephone pole to my house and I could stop commandeering WiFi from the pizza shop across from me.

It’s important to note that I was in the middle of the city. I wasn’t out in the boonies. Every house on the block but mine had cable. While this is dumb, it begins to make more sense when you dive into the history. Louisville, Kentucky is a strange place. It used to be the gateway to the west. Ships would crawl up its river until they reached the falls. Then porters would charge an exorbitant fee to carry all those goods down to the bottom of the falls where they would be loaded on a ship and be sent ever westward. Resulting in every rich merchant, captain, and manufacturer in the region having a nice house there. Ever wonder why the Derby is in Louisville and the Queen comes to visit sometimes? It probably has something to do with it having the highest concentration of Victorian buildings and mansions outside of New York City.

History Meets Modernity: Birth of the Franchise

This is a hardware store. [Public Domain via Wikipedia]
What this means from an infrastructure perspective is that the city is a horrible mess. Pedestrian streets were converted to roads. Cobbles were paved straight over with asphalt. The 1900’s water pumping station is still working (albeit with electric pumps instead of steam), and only recently have all of the wood water pipes been replaced. Also, every second building is a priceless and registered historical landmark, thankfully untouchable by the foul hand of modern architecture.

Internet in the United States is a comedy of good intentions gone bad. Before we get the pitchforks, It’s important to keep in mind, if you live in a smaller by landmass country, that America is ridiculously huge. It’s goddamn enormous and there just aren’t that many people. So, when the internet started to be a thing, people who wanted internet were quickly finding that no one was going to give it to them. Not unless they had a ton of money. Which, made sense. Who was going to spend 50 grand to run a cable line to grandma’s house for a 30 dollar a month service payment? In Japan you might hit five hundred customers for the same expense, in the US, you’d be lucky to make it halfway to the end of a street in a suburb.

To solve this issue lawmakers promised telecoms, tv providers, and ISPs endorsed monopolies if they serviced a whole region, as long as they serviced everyone in the whole area. Thus, the “franchise agreement” was born. This worked great, and everyone was mostly happy. That is, until we came up with a bunch of really really cool internet technologies and found that nobody had any incentive to spend money on the upgrade.

Who Doesn’t Want Fast Internet?

Louisville embarked on a quest to get really fast internet because who doesn’t like really fast internet? Plus, they were probably jealous of Chattanooga and their dirt cheap municipal fiber.  First it reached out to its existing infrastructure suppliers. At the time, these were Insight and AT&T. As far as I can tell their answer was, “why?”. From their perspective, they had a signed and stamped monopoly, and spending any money doing tedious things like customer service,  infrastructure maintenance, and even gaining new customers just didn’t appeal to them.

So Louisville put out a general call for, “please save us from our slow internet,” and a few companies responded. The problem came when the companies started costing out exactly how much it would cost to run fiber. For example, why not just run the fiber above ground on the telephone and power poles? One company discovered that, they couldn’t just run the cable on the pole. There was a vast history of meddling and pointless laws to overcome. No, they had to run the cable on the top slot of the pole. Unfortunately, that top slot and all the slots below it were occupied. Which meant that they had to pay to move all the other cables down. For each pole. This costs a lot.

Arms Crossed and Not Budging

With the realization that the various contracts, maneuverings, and finagling done by the telecoms over the years actually added up to an impenetrable bastion of legal bullshit, companies pulled out and the people in Louisville got kind of desperate. Some organizations came in and proposed things like, running the fiber through the water or wastewater lines, but these didn’t pan out. The populace then turned to the one company that had the appropriate proportion of stupid and money. The one company that would look at the bureaucratic mountain and say, “we have lawyers for that.” The company that knows exactly what kind of engineering porn you watch and is now permitted to sell that information, Google.

It took a lot of petitioning, but Louisville managed to come in as one of the last cities to be embraced by the comforting, gigabit arms of Google Fiber before Google toddled away after the next shiny project, which is a balloon, satellite, or something equally odd.

Of course, it’s all still in the balance. Google is “very committed” to bringing internet to Louisville. This was apparently enough to encourage AT&T to suddenly admit that it did, in fact, have a department capable of installing fiber all along and they promptly started doing just that. A local company jumped on the bandwagon and ran fiber to the rich neighborhoods. The other stalwart, Insight, was swallowed up by Time Warner Cable. Which was  then swallowed by Charter. Which, for some reason, instantly rebranded themselves to “Spectrum” and redid their branding so they look like a shady Russian domain registrar, but to each their own.

As weird as this specific situation is, it’s a story that plays out all over the USA. Often it’s easiest to wail and gnash teeth at the evil telecoms, but when you get down to it, usually history and good intentions are at the true culprit behind the halt of progress. Which is why it’s important to remember that complaining about it on Facebook does nothing, and that usually town hall meetings are empty of citizens, even in big cities.  It look a lot of work from the local citizenry, hackerspace, businesses, and officials to get Louisville so far. They spent countless hours rallying, surveying, and generally participating in their government. Regardless, it will still be awhile before everyone in Louisville gets fancy internet. As for my quest to get internet, they never did show up to that apartment; not for the two years I lived there. Do you have your own local nightmare story?

48 thoughts on “Victorians and Fiber, Louisville’s Quest For Fast Internet

  1. We have fibre-over-air in South Africa precicesly because of the rubbish you described above.
    It’s not true fibre, but when it works (95%), it’s great.
    Monopolies are a terrible idea and discourages customer service.

  2. Franchises come up for renewal about once every ten years. Maybe these towns should simply stop renewing the franchises for these vendors. Instead they could offer (at a fair price) to buy the local last mile infrastructure from the incumbents? Of course they should give at least five years notice that the franchises will not be renewed.

    My view is that last mile IP connectivity should be a public, regulated utility back to interconnect points serving 10-20K homes. At these interconnect points subscribers could then buy Internet service, tv, etc – whatever you want. Companies like Google, Netflix, Comcast, Verizon would all run fibers to these interconnect points. So you’ll get two bills – one for the last mile connectivity to the interconnect point, and then another one for whatever you sign up for. This last mile connectivity won’t have any silly caps and bandwidth capacity will be whatever your community votes to pay for.

    Competing on stringing multiple sets of wires to everyone’s home is just silly.

    1. 2 bills? You should go back and look over the Bell System, One bill for your local calls (which at the time you paid for) and one bill for long distance, and you paid even if you didn’t use it. I think that the cities should say to these ISP’s your franchise is up in 5 years, either you start upgrading to fiber/fast internet or your franchise will not be renewed. If they say they won’t upgrade, the city doesn’t have to renew the franchise, and may be able to even
      build out their own network. Who knows? So many arcane laws and old agreements etc. ridiculous.

    2. This is actually what’s happening in Huntsville. Our local utility monopoly (yes, I know, but they’re mostly benevolent) is building out a fiber network including every single person it services so that it can install fancy new power meters that don’t require anyone come and check them. They’re renting the significant excess bandwidth to Google, AT&T, and all other comers for FTTH.

      1. Clarksville Tennessee did this a few years ago and it’s worked out great. Cheap, fast internet as well as internet TV possible at every house with a smart meter. All you have to do is sign up and give you a box that comes off the meter. I don’t currently live there, but have friends who do. It drastically reduced the power that the telecoms have in the city.

    3. The last mile doesn’t need to be public. You just need a law that says that the owner of the last mile infrastructure must allow competitors to use a portion of the bandwidth for a reasonable price.

      1. Which works precisely up until they decide to lobby for the law to be overthrown so they can return to being a monopoly. That’s what happened to DSL service back in the day. Phone companies had to let competitors provide service over their lines, until they didn’t anymore.

    4. I’m with you except the two bill system. I had that arrangement at one apartment here in Japan. Often through issues with timing, mail, and just my forgetfulness, the service would be out. Call up the provider “nope everything is fine!” Oh it must be the utility. Dig dig dig oh damn here’s the bill. Pay bill. Call utility to inform them bill is paid. Service. Turns on. Then service turns off two weeks later because now the provider bill IS past due.
      Never happens with a consolidated bill. Let one of them forward money to the other, and manage the service.

      But yes last mile should be a utility. Depending on location and ‘newness’ of the building, at least one meter talks on the fiber. My gas meter calls home on it, though strangely the electric meter does not.

      Seems to me the smartest option for spacious USA. When building new structure or renovating, let the utilities subsidize the network install. The further out you are, the greater the benefit to the utilities. Less monthly driving to read meters. That’s man hours, gas, and a vehicle.

    5. I’ve seen that try to work – it quickly becomes a nightmare as basically a gaggle of companies all try to shoehorn their equipment into the same room whilst keeping the competitors / industrial spies out of their rack and their sticky fingers off their customers wires.

      Everyone wants their own uninterruptible power supply, air con, remote monitoring, fire detection, etc. and everyone wants everyone else to promise (to the tune of many millions of monies) that if their rack catches fire and burns the place down, they’re on the hook to fix it all, pay everyone’s customers all the compensation, all the disruption up the network, etc. etc. etc.

      It was worse than that in our case as the parent / host had (by law) unlimited public liability and (by law) universal service obligation etc. – so a queue of 100 small providers banging on the door quickly dissipated to 2 or 3 big players who had the depth of pocket (or brass balls) to cover the risk of (say) burning down a critical piece of national infrastructure for the sake of a few broadband lines.

      Even then, they only did it at prime locations for years – how may 10-20k subscriber “nodes” are there to cover the USA? How many can you afford to roll out a rack full of equipment to and your own fibre to for, say, 5% taking up a $30/mo contract? What happens if suddenly 50% of them want it? Etc. etc.

      Then stupid shit starts getting in the way – once 5 companies install identical racks of kit in the room, all <10% utilised, the local power supply starts sagging, the air con starts struggling, fights break out over the remaining floor space, contractors installing the 5th rack disturb the wiring for the 4th rack…

      So yeah, simple!

    6. That’s basically how it works in the UK. The entire phone/telecoms network used to be owned by a single, nationalised company (i.e. British Telecom / BT). Under competition laws, they were forced to allow other companies to “rent” space in the local telephone exchanges (i.e. the last mile) and provide consumers using the incumbent phone lines. This has created a huge competitive market that has seen data speeds reach ever upwards. My home town is relatively small (around 2,100 homes) but the speeds offered are now at 80mb/s.

  3. If you think that’s bad, compare the country area and population density with Canada. Sure most people live in concentrated areas, but it only means that it’s even worst for those that don’t.

    Imagine getting fast internet for a town of 10K people who live about 300km from the nearest town.

      1. Ok. Is your small town “300km from the nearest town.”?

        Also.. I think your definition of a small town is funny. 21k? I just looked up the town I grew up in. They are currently at almost exactly 1/10 of that!

  4. I have Comcast, I pay for a 3Mbps connection, (the fastest available in my rural area).

    If I use an online speed test tool, it will typically put me in the 200Kbps down, and 100Kbps up category. (It takes me 1 hour to upload 1 minute of video to YouTube).

    Complaining to Comcast about the speed, and they say they only trust the numbers from the Comcast speed test tool. And sure enough Comcast’s tool says I get slightly faster than 3Mbps down, and 1.5Mbps up. So they won’t do anything.

    DSL is not available in my area… My only alternative is to switch to 4g LTE (which is “super fast” because I have line of site to the cell tower), but you can’t get unlimited data, since all the plans limit “tethering” to a few gigs a month.

    I really want to drop Comcast.

    1. I suspect that your connection to Comcast is fine, but they don’t have enough bandwidth out to the internet to handle as many customers as are sharing it. A friend had a similar situation with AT&T.

      1. actually no. you are completely reversed on what’s going on behind the scenes.

        dsl sevice is limited at the last mile side not the internet connection side

        dsl service is limited by the quality of the copper wire and the connectors, the distance traveled, and the amount and intensity of emf next to the lines that bring the service. other slowdowns will be caused by bad house wiring and cable runs that cause reflections (this is where you run a line off an existing wall jack and extend the phone line to a new jack or do the same from one box to another or splice a line with 2 unequal length destinations). on top of all that there are older existing technologies that the phone companies will not remove or upgrade, digital service to large buildings with muxing so they could run one cable, and t1 or t3 lines in the nearby cable bundles.

        the t1 lines cause massive emf interference that is at the same bandwidth used by adsl making the modems not able to discern signal because the noise level is so high. the digital muxed single cable run will allow dsl, just not at any higher bandwidth than a 33k modem of old because the signaling only has that much bandwidth per line on the customer side after demuxing on that end and the telco end.

        and cable internet is never oversold at the internet connection side, it’s oversold at the local neighborhood end. you share the available cable bandwidth with everyone on the same node as you. cable companies will often not upgrade or install new nodes and just oversell the connections on last mile nodes, and then implement “data caps to stop bandwidth hogs”. your cel phone company does the same crap, they want to not spend any money upgrading the last mile and just cap you when they oversell their network because that makes them a whole lot more money to the tune of ~600% profit margins. they do public campaigns about data hogs, and then turn around and advertise the speed of your connection in speed/seconds but then limit you to only use that maxspeed for less than 6 hours before they send letters saying your a hog for using what they advertised what you’re paying for…

      2. Backbone in the US is almost as bad (in terms of being legacy gear and not up to the speed demands) as the last mile is.

        I get faster speeds from Tokyo to LA than my brother in Arizona to the same destination.

        Very quickly, supposed ‘third world’s countries will have faster connectivity and better coverage than the US, due to “starting at the top’. Skipping the 1990s. Going from nothing to modern in one step.

    2. I can pay Comcast $15K to run the 1.5km to my house. Then I can pay them for crappy service. DSL here is also a joke. I like the “good intentions gone bad” but it is also politicians watching the shiny new thing.

    3. Do what I did, think outside the box abit. I actually read the TARIFF for each franchises etc. In my (now former) VERY remote part of California in a former GTE territory owned by Verizon I could not even get dial up to work reliably!

      First the background,
      Former GTE property with no investment other than to go digital around the 90’s. The batteries in the CO were from the 80’s !
      Used a 4 watt transmitter to hit a passive microwave relay and travel nearly 70 miles to the CO out near the coast!
      Had a forest fire in front of the reflector, 7db gain due to foliage reduction!
      Every summer fade would cause the entire town to go dark about 3000 times a month between Jun-Aug.
      FCC said they had better things to do, likewise with the State AG and anyone else I could contact. when I got a kiss off letters for my clinic from the AG that had 911 fail to work for a car crash victim, that was it.

      In the end I did the only thing an IT guy can do.
      https://xkcd.com/705/

      I opened up the 800 (ok was like 450) page bible of goods Verizon sells in the various parts of the state of California. I asked for “bare metal” I asked for an “Alarm Line” – nada… Nope my salvation to my bandwith was buried DEEP. So deep in fact they tried to claim I could not order it!.

      No my fellow geeks. There in black and white was the “Telegraph Line” I can truly say I am most likely the last person to ever order a telegraph line in any of Verizon’s location. They filed a new TARIFF after my order. But the description was that it was “groomed” point to point circuit devoid of all dialtone, load coils and other crap that prevents DSL from working. So I ordered up service between my office and the edge of the community where another ISP/Telco presence was. Then I put a pair of point to point DSL modems and lit it up at 10mbps over a 4 wire “telegraph” line to the more friendly ISP. And by strict definition the service is a telegraph of sorts. I was then able to get service in the town and then start sharing it as I ordered several for the properties that I needed service. I knew that it was likely a one shot deal. I had to threaten to send the lawyers and I’ll be damned if they didn’t back down because in the end they told the state they would provide xyz service and I had them on tape refusing to provide service and told them as much.

      Cost ended up being about $100 install, $40 a month for a 4 wire service. So I purchased 3 and had service from one side of town to the other. Still had to get a service from the other company as well but at least it was service (Siskiyou Telephone out of Etna!, great folks)

      In the end if you can’t get a company to do it one way then perhaps you can do something yourself. Check companies that have LTE roaming agreements with the services feed from that tower. Maybe another provider has bandwidth with a local only plan or something.

      Or if you know of a few friends that need service and can find a friendly place to put it, look at the “whitespace” radios
      some of the better ones are:
      http://www.carlsonwireless.com/ruralconnect/
      They can toss a signal pretty far and at much better rates than most crap wire lines that haven’t been fixed in years, however the equipment isn’t cheap, a few thousand for the base and a few hundred per client but it’s a point to multipoint network and does not need line of site! But up to 70mbps shared over a 100-300 square mile area and you still have to find that 70mbps at a rate you can afford.

      But that beats my office line here in Alaska (>$10,000 a month for 80mbps) while my home is only $200-300 for 1gig but has a 1TB cap! don’t ask why but it’s that lopsided for services up here.

  5. We recently bought a new house in the Netherlands. We have (relatively) fantastic internet almost everywhere. Key word almost. We live in the north where there is quite a lot of farming and is not as densely populated. Some villages have 100mbit vdsl AND 300 mbit cable available for every house. Others have only 1,5 mbit adsl as an option.
    There are good online postal code checkers to check before you buy. To the frustration of my wife I have rejected a dozen of great houses purely because of internet connectivity.
    30mbit was the lower bound for me.
    In one week we will get the key’s for our new home with both 35Mbit vdsl and 200 mbit cable as an option. Fiber will take a deacade or more before being available.

  6. I live in an area with pockets of Google, Time Warner, AT&T and Comcast.

    Residential speeds sucked until Google came to town, then All all the other providers got serious about higher-bandwidth offerings real quick. Now TimeWarner has rebranded and their radio spots are just as shady as the name change and all the other dubious practices of their previous incarnation.

    Now it appears that Google is pulling back a bit in their push to roll out their own form of fiber. Been waiting patiently for *years* while they installed in the suburbs all around me. Comcast has a very strong presence in my town and I genuinely believe they got in to a couple council members pockets in exchange for not /helping/ Google.

  7. > America is ridiculously huge. It’s goddamn enormous and there just aren’t that many people.

    Hello from Australia, with our 3.3 people/km2 (USA has 33). Our situation is predictably worse, although in slightly different ways. We had a national plan to roll out fibre, but the project was badly behind schedule and has been meddled with so now we’re going to get a hodge-podge of different technologies. Eventually.

    1. lol

      here in Adelaide, some suburbs still have 1930’s, cotton insulated phone lines, so you can’t even get ADSL!

      I continually cop shit for using my expensive wireless “broadband”, $10/gig, it’s a tad “flaky” at times, but I have seen speeds of 5M/sec.

      The best thing is it’s prepaid, I’m not locked into a contract and I can use it in the scrub.

    2. Agreed. I live in a fairly large town (Ipswich, QLD), and had to lie about my address to get connected. Dispite clearly seeing the cable line running to my house, my ISP reported they could connect my neighbour but not me. Ended up giving my neighbour’s address and camping out on the deck waiting for them. My reward? 100Mbps – when no-one else in the suburb is online. Glad I pay top dollar!

  8. ….outskirts of Lafayette, Indiana (far east side)-
    Comcast monopoly, EXPENSEEEVEEEEEE!!! (like $130/mo for a triple-play setup…grrrr)
    Frontier just pulled fiber last mile drops this last summer…
    Waiting to see what happens next…

    1. Frontier or Metro net (fiber)? Metro net gaining users over Comcast, I know two. Frontier has taken over GTE-Verizon landlines. And then there is Wintek, first with fiber. Choices for sure in Laff,In.

  9. It seems like US law makers almost always end up doing the wrong thing and things might have turned out been better if they did nothing at all.
    Instead of guaranteed monopolies the US government should have back companies offering Internet service with low to medium orbit comsats such as Teledesic which ironically is now what being proposed by companies like OneWeb and Spacex.

  10. I’ve spent the last decade in the telco/broadband industry, starting in customer service to now working for equipment manufacturers. I may be able to shed some further light as to how both sides of the American political spectrum has failed consumers, innovation, and broadband deployment.

    My first day of training took place the day of the New York Times revelations in 2006 that the NSA was collecting metadata on every phone call & email going in and out of the United States. I still remember my supervisor, an avid right-wing tv network watcher, who quoted their motto – “We report, you decide” – giving us legal scripts to calm irate customers, which in light of the Snowden and other later whistle blower revelations, were lies – it was much worse. At the time it did not sit well with me and I got to understand many bad decisions which management had taken and how they affected the market.

    There are probably many older and more experienced people who can talk about deregulation and the breakup of Ma-bell, but I want to highlight the failure of MCI-Worldcom in 2002. This had long-lasting effects on American workers that most people don’t realize. Once transpacific fiber optic cables were available for pennies on the dollar, tens of thousands of jobs could be transferred overseas since the price of communications plummeted. Thank you, Wall Street. Yet, around the same time, most grey-haired decision makers in upper management made bad bets, thinking the Internet was just a fad. They chose not to install Internet-capable DSL equipment (or even fiber) and instead opted for crap which supported Call Waiting, Call Forwarding, and 3 way calling. By 2006, the copper voice land-line loss rates were enormous. Every month tens of thousands of land lines were being canceled. Cellular service was cannibalizing land lines which resulted in hundreds of central offices filled with equipment which had been purchased using accounting models which put their break-even points still years in the future. Tens of millions of dollars were being lost.

    So there we were in customer service, confronted with huge losses, and being given large incentives to sell which included lavish trips, cash, and prizes. Every service call had to be turned into a sales call. Call in to report service problems? – Try to sell them satellite TV service. To make matters worse unlimited calling, crappy satellite tv, and crappy 7 Mbps at best DSL, was all we could offer; FTTH/FTTN rollout had just begun. Recently, Wells Fargo got into big trouble for opening fraudulent accounts, which reminds me of the huge number of irate callers I dealt with due to my coworkers signing people up for services they didn’t agree to. This sucked and unfortunately management and the union protected these people. The metrics demanded it – you had to make the quota or you were out of a job. The boss’s, who should have been in the union – like how Germany’s are structured, bonus’s depended on these fraudulent sales.

    Which brings me to, my interactions with the union. I was fresh out of university and in great health. Our contract renewal vote did not inspire me with a lot of confidence. The union negotiated us a new pair of eyeglasses every two years. Most of my fellow union members were in their 40s and 50s and apparently didn’t know you could get eyeglasses over the Internet for a fraction of the price from overseas. Meanwhile, the cellular divisions of telecoms were non-union and cheaper, not that it mattered that much from my perspective since the union didn’t help to try and bring some sense into the metrics or have any say in management decisions.

    What really hurt was trying to get basic phone service for people on the boundaries between monopolies. I had one customer who moved into a farm out the country which had never had phone service before. They’d called both carriers in the area and gotten incredibly frustrated. I called up our planning office, which finally picked up after about 30 rings and discovered that they were in our territory and therefore we were obligated to bring them service, but the lazy bastard on the other end said he was on his lunch break and couldn’t give me a date when they would be able to install the service and finally after threatening to report him for not doing his job, suggested that it might take years. The more I interacted with my coworkers in other departments, the more I found they didn’t want to work. I guess they didn’t see how much could be computerized or could be shipped overseas. Then there would be more people calling up every month asking if DSL was available yet, but unfortunately, the DSLAMs were full in a lot of urban areas.

    I saw the writing on the wall. Either join management or get out. So I decided to leave. Shortly afterward, Joseph Nacchio, CEO of Qwest went to jail on insider trading charges – or more likely because he didn’t play ball with the NSA. A year later Obama came into office and decided to give immunity to the telecoms for their part in the NSA debacle. Then the economy collapsed because the whole thing was fake and further rollout of high-speed Internet was stalled again as promises were broken and companies spun off.

    And that’s what happened: poor investments, poor management, everybody trying to make a buck this quarter – long term profits be damned, crappy workers, outdated unions, and bad policy. I can only speculate now that the loss rate of video services due to Netflix and others is resulting in even more losses due to video cancellations – with warehouses full of set-top boxes and video headends which will never pay for themselves. Some have speculated that this is probably going to result in massive changes to sports contracts in America since they are no longer subsidized by cable/telco/satellite package tv bundles. But, realistically, rather than deal with these problems, the corporations have decided to change the laws by killing net neutrality in order to charge video streaming services access to their networks.

    Maybe by 2030 American telcos will sell you a simple 1 Gbps data line, but it will probably come with a carrier locked router programmed by Chinese CS101 dropouts getting paid 5 USD/hour who understand the code base just enough to add stupid Internet of Shit cloud features higher ups in management demand, but have no idea how to design the system to keep malware/botnet writers from hijacking it, leaving you with the same 5 Mbps you had in 2005.

    I wish I could leave you, the reader, with some optimism, but I left the USA for Asia where I have 100+ Mbit high-speed Internet and unlimited mobile 4G for less than $40/month combined. Oh, and the health care is miles beyond the USA’s.

    1. I expect up coming services by companies such as OneWeb and Spacex to eventually force the traditional US ISPs to evolve or go extinct.
      Since the sats are LEO and communicate with each other the latency problem with traditional GEO sats doesn’t exist.

    2. Great points. But productive discussion spends more time considering how to fix things rather than solely what got us here.

      Chatanooga, TN municipal service can be a model for the country. Or at least more than is being served now by apathetic monopolies.

      If the USA had privatized the Interstates the way it has privatized the Internet, you can bet your ass that the highway system would have been tracks up each of the coasts, and maybe just maybe a 2 or 4 lane connector between them.

      The market doesn’t care about rural quality of life, just short-term profits. And as more economically mobile young adults flee rural areas, the problem is exacerbated.

  11. About 15-20 years ago (I didn’t live here back then) this house got a 10Mbps fiber, 10 years ago they uppdated it to 100Mbps, and 5years ago they upgraded again to 1Gbps.

    Where do I live? Manhattan? New York? London? Paris?

    Nope, in the least populated half of Sweden, population density 4.8 people / km2.

    But surely in a big city? Nope.

    I live 10km outside a city with a population of 100k.

    But surely they had to pay a lot to get the fiber here? Nope, everyone was supposed to do the digging from property line to house themself, or paying for it, but to this house they didn’t even charge for the 30-60feet of digging (not sure how it is routed) as a thank you for having the machine parked here over night..

    Monthly fee total is $16 to the ISP that has the best uptime (99.9%) and there is cheaper ISP’s too.
    (no maximum data limit or other crap)

    I hardly ever use the 60Gb/month data I get with my cellphone subscription other then when I go camping and shares wifi from my phone to my laptop to watch netflix.

    The goverment decided that fast internet is an key part of the infrastructure, and even more important in rural areas where people need it to be able to work from home.
    We had the second fastest internet in the world (only beaten by South Korea) in 2015, and it is even better now.

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