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Bruce County ISPs vs Bell Aliant: Part II

January 11th, 2010   News  

p2pnet news view Freedom | P2P:- Over the weekend we highlighted an item describing how Bell Canada’s Bell Aliant drop-kicked a group of small companies in Western Ontario who’d tried to turn five years of their own hard work into a high-speed net for underserviced areas.

Calling themselves Bruce County Communications Corporation, Nvisible Links of Wiarton, Packet-Tel (Kitchener), Grey Bruce Telecom (Allenford) and Maximum Isp (Sauble Beach) they’d tried to tap a million dollars in provincial funding.

Our story followed a dslreports forum post in which we quoted stacked deck as stating, “lol 1 million dollars and all they do is sell a stick for their decrepit over-sold slow as molasses wireless access”.

Wireless, eh?

In another dslreports post, “Actually I have LOTS of 900Mhz and 2.4 GHz out door stuff laying around my apartment and a storage locker full,” says  a1_Andy, going on >>>

I was operating a WISP in Trent Hills but when Northumberlamd decided to give 2mill to xplornet and ignored our Local ISP consortium application for the funding I got fed up. I knew from past dealings with xplornet that they would trample the entire free spectrum and put me out of business unless I switch to canopy. I couldn’t afford to switch everything, I wasn’t going to let my customers down and go bankrupt ether. I knew I couldn’t compete against 2 mill in free money under those circumstances. I did have a neighboring WISP that was bigger and 100x better than xplornet so I contacted Nexicom and sold them my towers and customers. Now at least the north half of Trent Hills has a choice, my old customers are happy and I walked away with something.

The caption to his pic (right) reads, “802.11 b/g up to 25km line of site circular polarized, goes through trees and houses. Point it out your apartment window and beat the cap, (don’t turn it on indoors or point it at people). Caution may cause headache’s. Edit; I dub thee the ‘RAY GUN’.”

Indeed. ;)

In yet another post, “I decided not to add fuel to that Bruce county fire,” says a1 Andy. “What I think would be best is for all of us who where screwed by this rural broadband funding program to get together and figger out a game plan.”

“Seriously… How much does that thing cost and does it need to be 100% line of sight?” – wonders cpsycho. “I need to know, I have an issue with a customer getting screwed on his net and yeah if I can do a point to point network it would be great.  Also where do I get one?”

Earlier, “Actually there used to be an Australian EX-ISP owner and AU-gov economist on p2pnet writing articles,” says Frequencey, going on, “In one of his articles he explained how to defeat the CRTC and Bell Canada (Similar to skynet and the radio they use) using certain frequencies to set up your own city wide ad-hock network.”

Frequencey was talking about Tom Koltai. So I got in touch and asked him what he thought and “Had a look at a couple of things about Bruce county – I’ll have a bash,” he said.

And his take “after looking at population density, (Map A) and the proposed broadband project area maps … (Map
B)” was “the council have cherry picked some areas and totally omitted others – claiming an area is 75% covered. They are talking about population and not area.”

Tom went on >>>

Overlaying map A with Map B shows the discrepancies and leaves about 1800 people that wont be getting any internet service at all.

Regardless to that, the residents of Bruce county would be well serviced with a tall transmitter tower at certain locations with specific frequencies like 3.6 GHz to get around hills and trees. Navini (now Cisco) used to make a nice little USB Ethernet cpe modem that would pluck the signal from a radio tower up to 35 miles away.

I haven’t seen either bid, however if the Bell Alliant bit is for the utilisation of licensed frequencies (in the 1.9 to 3.9 GHz range) and is utilising existing wireless radio towers then I would suggest that they could cover the entire peninsula for a million dollars and not just the target areas of Map B.

The transmitters are relatively cheap (about $USD 4,000 each) and I estimate that with antennas, each install would cost Bell Alliant approximately $35,000. A total of 12 installs would cover the entire peninsula leaving over half a million in the kitty for repeaters to be installed to cover possible dead spots.

However if Bell Alliant doesn’t own the frequencies required then they will have to lease those from the relevant licensee.

Having not seen the contents of the local internet company consortium’s bid, I can not comment on their technical solution beyond suggesting that a NOC is nice eye candy for visitors but is not essential for the maintenance of a large and distributed network, providing that the relevant scripts are running that advise engineers of problems as they arise.

(In this regard, the largest noc-less ISP I constructed was four continents and covered 11 million square miles), although we did have a NOC in the Internet exchange in Sacramento, which was dedicated to the server rooms in SAC._

Notwithstanding the above, Bruce county is perfectly set up (Map A) to utilise “squirrel ISP’s”. That is, individuals with an internet connection that share that connection with members of their community.

In RIAA – the Results are in – WiFi P2P Kiosks Win Internet War, an article I wrote earlier this year about wifi kiosks, I said that local communities would fight corporate pushback by building their own squirrel ISP local broadband communities.

I said: “802.11a/b/g grade WiFi connections are not known as the best methodology for connecting high speed networks suitable for viewing videos, however the new “n” and the new wimax  802.16e will change the viability of local community networks.

But even those using b/g can with the right antennas still obtain reception up to 88.7km (55.1 miles) WiFi and Bluetooth distance records smashed making WiFi (set-up by geeks) in the community an obvious next step in the propagation of sharing person to person.

At the very least home users who want to extend their b/g 802.11 range might consider this 9dBi Wireless Omni WIFI Antenna Range Extender (good for about 600-900 metres) or to connect to other WiFi networks, this (up to about 4 km but directional).

All in all, without viewing the submission by both tenderers, it is difficult to advise which was the most technically competent.

However, with the ownership of existing wireless towers, Bell Alliant has the advantage so to speak, in already knowing the dead spots on the cell network and being able to allow for those as it rolls out the wireless broadband.

On the reverse side of the coin, in 1994, I built an Australian wide frame relay network in six weeks when the incumbent Telco in Australia informed me that it would take 18 months.

Entrepreneurs can usually do things faster than the incumbents. Provide better local community service and the money would definitely have stayed in the community.

If I was hired as an arbiter, I would have suggested that 250K be paid to Bell Alliant for the use of their wireless towers (with power) and the rest be paid to the local guys to both set-up and manage the local community broadband service.

Unusual problems require unusual out of the square solutions.

After all, if you were a local in Bruce County, who would you rather deal with? The local who lives just down highway 6, or the nice lady from New Delhi after a 45 minute on hold in a customer service queue?

Do community wireless solutions work?

The city of Adelaide in Australia seem to think so. Membership is $50.00 per year and access is free.

Using a combination of Yagi, directional and omni-directional antennas, the community of Adelaide has managed to cover the city area including remote areas like Two Wells, Adelaide Hills and other previously unserviced populated (black hole) areas.

The people of Bruce County “should let their councilmen know at the next elections what they think about ‘not supporting local business’ and just maybe, to show their disdain for the councils decision, they should readup on community wireless @,” Tom adds.

Stay tuned.

Jon Newton – p2pnet

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First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Bell Aliant drop-kicked – Bruce County ISPs vs Bell Aliant, January 9, 2010

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