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Broadband Internet in Rural America (or a Lack Thereof)

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Todd Erwin, Mar 5, 2019.

  1. Todd Erwin

    Todd Erwin Producer
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  2. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    Todd, this was a fascinating and enlightening read - thanks for sharing your experiences!
     
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  3. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    New York State is currently trying to kick Charter/Spectrum out because the State's approval of the Charter/Time Warner merger was dependent of Charter/Spectrum's agreement to build out broadband service to rural areas that aren't nearly as profitable per mile of fiber. Charter says it met its build out requirements, but the State has indicated that Charter is counting new New York City subscribers in its total, not just new subscribers in the rural areas that were at the center of the agreement.

    And New York is one of the more densely populated geographically large states, so I can only imagine the challenges faced by states in the West, which are even larger but don't have a sliver of the population.
     
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  4. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    Service in NYC is terrible too - not objectively terrible compared to no rural access, but less than what they promised they would do when they came to town. And the costs are just outrageous. I wouldn't shed a tear if they were sent packing.
     
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  5. Adam Gregorich

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    Fascinating read, thanks Todd! I thing the cheapest solution is wireless 5G service. Verizon and T-Mobile are both planning on doing it. Bringing wireless the last mile is cheaper and faster than getting fiber there. Hopefully in the next few years rural America will finally have high speed Internet. It needs it to be part of the future economy.
     
  6. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    Todd, I understand what you are going through in rural America. My parents live in the middle of nowhere in northern Michigan, and getting them any type of Internet access has been a struggle for years. For the longest while, all I could get them was dial-up access for $20 per month, but as broadband became the norm websites stopped worrying about efficient website design and their dial-up service became useless. Trying to install Windows updates on my dad's PC would take all night, too. They are over a mile from a paved road, with no cable TV or DSL service available.

    I got them the Verizon wireless Jetpack you mentioned for a few years, as both Verizon and AT&T have decent LTE service at their home. The service was $50 per month for 5GB, which was usually enough for my dad as long as he didn't make any mistakes when installing computer updates. Once or twice he downloaded the same patches over and over as he got confused, which blew his limit that month.

    A couple of years ago their Jetpack began to get flaky, so I looked into other options for them. Since they were a DirecTV customer and AT&T now owned that company, I thought I may be able to leverage the two services. While that wasn't possible, AT&T did offer a combined home phone / wireless data service that would give them 250GB of data per month and unlimited calling. By switching to this offering and switching their home phone from Frontier I saved them about $50 per month.

    Getting the service up and running for them was an adventure, though. Their home phone service wasn't supposed to switch until the new wireless router arrived and was activated, but on the first of the month their home phone service with Frontier stopped working. Luckily the router arrived the next day, and I made the 2.75 hour drive to go install it for them. Activating the service went well, but the billing was screwed up, showing they had zero data available on the account. This was a new offering from AT&T, and it took me 1.5 days to get the issue resolved. I was transferred from one group within AT&T to another, and ended up right back where I started -- I think I was literally transferred around the world!

    The service will occasionally stop working if AT&T runs some sort of maintenance routine and it takes a phone call to customer service to get it back. I really hate dealing with AT&T -- I dealt with them professionally for 35 years in my roles in data and voice networking, and they are a pain in the ass to deal with. AT&T is not one company, but instead is a bunch of smaller companies that have been bought but never integrated into common support or billing services. They are a nightmare to deal with, but right now they are the only reasonable service offering for my elderly parents in rural northern Michigan.
     
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  7. Todd Erwin

    Todd Erwin Producer
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    I had a similar situation with the Verizon JetPack - I'm guessing that the salesman was so excited that he was able to sell one that he forgot to activate it before my mother in law left the store. We tried walking her through activating it over the phone per the instructions on Verizon's support page, even conference called support, and eventually she had to get a ride into Fallon to the Verizon store there to get the thing activated.
     
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  8. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Heck, there are some places here in rural VT where you cannot even get wireless/cell service, let alone any semblance of broadband unless it's via one of the satellite dish companies (and reliability is likely a concern).
     
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  9. Todd Erwin

    Todd Erwin Producer
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    I agree, as long as Verizon and T-Mobile don't play the data plan game. 4K streaming chews through a lot of data.
     
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  10. Osato

    Osato Producer

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    Great read! I recently read articles on this subject as part of my masters program. I had no idea and it was certainly eye opening!

    Thanks for the post!
     

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