Hmm. Although I've never been to Western MA and hence have no idea what
the telecom situation is like over there, I'm certainly aware of quite a
few places in "first world USA" where DSL is still a fantasy, let alone
As a local example, I have a friend in a rural area of Southern
California who can't get any kind of "high-speed Internet". I've run a
prequal on her address and it tells me she is 31 kft from the CO. The
CO in question has a Covad DSLAM in it, but at 31 kft those rural
residents' options are limited to either IDSL at 144 kbps (not much
point in that) or a T1 starting at ~$700/month. The latter figure is
typically well out of range for the kind of people who live in such
That got me thinking: ISDN/IDSL and T1 can be extended infinitely far
into the boondocks because those signal formats support repeaters. What
I'm wondering is how can we do the same thing with SDSL - and I mean
politically rather than technically. The technical part is easy: some
COs already have CLECs in them that serve G.shdsl (I've been told that
NEN does that) and for G.shdsl repeaters are part of the standard
(searching around shows a few vendors making them); in the case of
SDSL/2B1Q (Covad and DSL.net) there is no official support for repeaters
and hence no major vendors making such, but I can build such a repeater
The difficulty is with the political part, and that's where I'm seeking
the wisdom of this list. How would one go about sticking a mid-span
repeater into an ILEC-owned 31 kft rural loop? From what I understand
(someone please correct me if I'm wrong!), when a CLEC orders a loop
from an ILEC, if it's for a T1 or IDSL, the CLEC actually orders a T1 or
ISDN BRI transport from the ILEC rather than a dry pair, and any
mid-span repeaters or HDSLx converters or the like become the
responsibility of the ILEC rather than the CLEC, right?
So how could one extend this model to provide, say, repeatered G.shdsl
service to far-outlying rural subscribers? Is there some political
process (PUC/FCC/etc) by which an ILEC could be forced to allow a third
party to stick a repeater in the middle of their loop? Or would it have
to work by way of the ILEC providing a G.shdsl transport service to
CLECs, with the ILEC being responsible for the selection, procurement
and deployment of repeater hardware? And what if the ILEC is not
interested in providing such a service - any PUC/FCC/etc political
process via which they could be forced to cooperate?
Things get even more complicated in those locations where the CO has a
Covad DSLAM in it serving out SDSL/2B1Q, but no other CLEC serving
G.shdsl. Even if the ILEC were to provide a G.shdsl transport service
with repeaters, it wouldn't help with SDSL/2B1Q. My idea involves
building a gadget in the form factor of a standard mid-span repeater
that would function as a converter from SDSL/2B1Q to G.shdsl: if the
loop calls for one mid-span repeater, stick this gadget in as if it
were that repeater; if the loop calls for 2 or more repeaters, use my
gadget as the first "repeater" and then standard G.shdsl repeaters
after it. But of course this idea is totally dependent on the ability
of a third party to stick these devices in the middle of long rural
loops, perhaps in the place of loading coils which are likely present
on such loops.
Get dry loops from the ILEC and place repeaters at strategic points?
The Massachusetts Broadband Institute is currently working a middle mile
solution to help with some of the issues in western ma. Thing do sound
=46rom what I've read, they may well get higher bandwidth out to thetown centers on fiber. There has been little discussion of how todistribute from there. I suppose Verizon, the only company offeringanything out there, will take advantage and use the fiber to improvespeeds in the centers of towns. But there's no CATV in most of the hilltowns, and unless MBI intends to stretch fiber out to the neighborhoods,I remain skeptical.
Today, most of the town halls have public access wifi, and people driveup and sit in their cars and get their email that way. This isn't asolution.
I am in planning states for a new metro ethernet service here in the
springfield area. that will slowly extend to the town as I can get there.
I guess I need a little more education on how the process of ordering
dry pairs from an ILEC works. I thought it works like this:
1. You have to be colocated in the CO to begin with.
2. You give the ILEC the address of an end site and they run a dry pair
from your cage within their CO to that address.
3. You don't get access to any intermediate points.
As far as placing the repeaters at "strategic points", yeah, that's
exactly what I meant, but my point was that these "strategic points" are
owned by the ILEC, and I was/am wondering how to go about making it
possible for a third party to stick repeater equipment in there.
I envision the following picture:
* There is a CO in a town, and there is a Covad DSLAM in that CO,
serving those folks who are located in the town itself.
* There is a winding mountain road going out of town into the
countryside, and there are phone wires running alongside that road,
several miles long.
* There gotta be a bunch of cyan-colored cross-connect boxes on the side
of the road, manholes and other places where the ILEC has mid-span
access to those loooong loops. They also very likely have loading
coils on loops like that, and although I confess that I've never seen
one of those coils with my own eyes, I've heard that they are rather
bulky in terms of physical dimensions, probably bigger than a repeater
The problem is that these mid-span access points are property of the
ILEC along with the rest of the loop plant, and although there probably
exists an ILEC-internal procedure for installing mid-span repeaters for
T1s and maybe ISDN BRI, that is most certainly done by the ILEC itself,
not by any third parties. Making it possible for a third party to
access those intermediate points to install repeater equipment which the
ILEC won't understand (handling Covad's non-standard flavor of
SDSL/2B1Q) is the problem I'm trying to solve.
I had good luck getting my dad some form of broadband access in rural
Oregon using a 3g router (Cradlepoint), a Wilson Electronics signal amp
(model 811211), and an outdoor mount high gain antenna. It's not great,
but considering the alternatives (33.6k dialup for $60/mo or satellite
broadband for $150-$200/mo) it wasn't a bad deal for my dad when you
consider that the dialup ISP dedicated POTS line cost about as much as
the 5GB 3G data plan does.
Speed is somewhere between dialup and Uverse or FIOS. I get the sense
that it is somewhere in the range of 256 - 512 kbps with high latency
(Dad's not one for much in the way of network performance testing).
As we all know it's expensive building out any landline network. Rural ares just get over looked.
Check out this tech coming out of Motorola and to a Verizon/ATT tower nearyou soon.
100 Mbps possible off cellular signals. Looks like they will throttle it t 20 Mbps and less though.
I think a lot of people often forget that ISPs are actually businesses
trying to turn a profit. At my last job we built out a fiber to the home
ILEC in relatively rural Louisiana. This means that we had quite a number of
customers that didn't meet the density requirements for deployment. Using
made-up numbers for the sake of discussion, lets assume that a customer
provides $1/month for service. If you can place deployment in a highly-dense
area you'll make a lot more of those $1's per month with that investment.
When you start deploying further to the edge you really slide into the
"we're not even breaking even on this" market. Obviously anyone that has a
job for profit knows that this is a no-no.
As telcos deploy high-density technologies (fiber, metroE, etc) they can
pull the legacy technology (xDSL, T1, etc) and push that to the edge.
Unfortunately the edge is always going to get the hand-me-downs but it's
better than nothing. My wife is from a tiny town in central PA (the vortex
between Pittsburgh and Philly) and her parents have had dialup until last
year, when the local telco finally pushed DSL to their location. They only
draw 1.5meg but it's better than the 56k they were paying for.
As they say in vegas, "It's just business, baby."
Paul H Bosworth
GCFW, CCNP, CCIP, CCDP
There are alternatives though, if the need exists and folks are able:
I'm very familiar with those folks of course, they've been an inspiration
to me for a long time.
However, my needs are different. RRIC's model basically involves a
specific community with a well-defined boundary: bring the bandwidth
into the community via a bulk feed, then sublet inside the community.
But I don't have a specific community in mind - I'm trying to develop a
more generic solution. (The case of my friend who is at 31 kft from a
Covad-enabled CO is only an example and nothing more.) Again, consider
a town with a Covad-enabled CO plus an outlying countryside. The people
in the town proper already have Covad xDSL available to them, and if we
could stick my SDSL/2B1Q repeater in the middle of some longer loops, it
would enable the people in the countryside to get *exactly the same*
Covad (or ISP-X-via-Covad) services as those in the town proper.
My repeater approach would also allow me to stay out of ISP or ISP-like
business which I really don't want to get into - I would rather just
make hardware and let someone else operate it. A repeater is totally
unlike a router, it is not IP-aware, it just makes the loop seem shorter,
allowing farther-outlying users to connect to *existing* ISPs with an
already established business structure.
Anyway, I just saw a post on NANOG about an area deprived of "high-speed
Internet" services and thought I would post my idea in the hope that
someone would have some ideas that would actually be *helpful* to what
I'm trying to do. If not - oh well, I'll just put the idea back on the
dusty shelf in the back of my mind until I'm ready to try presenting it
to the folks who own the CO-colocated DSLAMs it would have to work with
- gotta finish a few other things before I open that can of worms in the
Hopefully someone will bother to cover the rural areas with cell serviceeventually.
Much of western Massachusetts (by which I mean the Berkshires, more thanI mean the Pioneer Valley) is not covered by cell service. Where thereis cell service, most cell sites have only minimal data speeds. Vermontis far worse, as is much of Maine. If there were 3G cellular, it'd be abig step up. But I expect the inner cities will all be running LTE foryears before more rural areas even get voice service.
That sums it up pretty well. In a previous life I operated an ISP in a
small town. When I entered the arena there was one other competitor,
another independent ISP deploying 2.4GHz wireless. The RBOC and cable
company weren't even considering rolling out high speed service but
there was a definite demand, especially from the business community. I
ended up having some measure of success deploying a mix of 2.4GHz and
900MHz wireless with DSL to fill in a few gaps. Before I sold the
business my main competitor folded and the RBOC pushed out DSL. I think
the local cable company joined the fray a couple years ago, too.
My achilles heel wasn't having to compete with a goliath RBOC, it was
all of the marketing. People would see ads on TV and in newspapers from
providers who didn't even serve the area. When they were told "sorry,
no broadband for you" from one of these national providers they would
often accept that as a final answer. Folks often confused my wireless
service with cellular or satellite access. They would have a hard time
understanding why I could not provide them service well out of range of
my POP where they could get "four bars" on their cell phone. Toward the
end I floated the idea of a co-op but local politics prevailed over
common sense and I quietly exited the business.
Things are slightly better today but the areas that were underserved
four years ago are still underserved. Population density will keep it
that way for some time but I think people have better options today than
a few years ago. My parents still only have 384k DSL but they are quite
satisfied with it. Broadband co-ops will help in areas where local
That's my two cents, feel free to give change.
Bearing in mind that the facilities that exist in much of the rural
united states are actually there because we collectively payed for them
rather than simply:
waiting for the right set of economic incentives to exist
or leaving people to suffer.
It not unlikely in some cases that the economic incentive for universal
service may never exist may never exist in some reasons which doesn't
mean that we shouldn't do something about it.
I'm finding a fair number (about 40%+) of the tech-savvy
"must-have-for-business-emails" users here in very rural UK out of reach
of RA-ADSL) are using/have used Lynx as their browser and Mutt as email
client, in some cases even when 3G (fringe reception only, possibly with
tropopausal involvement*) is sometimes reachable.
This only came to my attention last week when I noticed a strange
Mailer: header and kinda shocked me at first, so I quizzed the sender
further. They say that WAP-enabled sites are a non-starter for "daily"
Worth looking into if the end-user can handle it in these situations.
Rural DSL for them usually means Damn Small Linux - their joke not mine.
(* I'm not convinced about this - it fits their anecdotes, but I'm not
sure about the timing/latency issues of the RF-side )
Explain to me again how pig's bladders may be employed to prevent
How do you think we feel in Alaska. Until mid last year, most cellular
BTS were backhauled via DS1. Only Within the last 12 months have we
(insert obligatory "I work for a GSM and CDMA cellular provider serving
most of Alaska") even migrated from Local copper to fiber or air
interfaces (ds1/ds3 microwave).
I've always been curious as to why the people who aren't being served
with "broadband" type of services haven't made a larger fuss about this.
The idea of running a copper pair to a home should have died long ago,
IMHO. As an RF Engineer, I see everyone turning to fiber and dry loops
when it's just not necessary or even cost effective. Put up the
*LICENSED* loop and call it a day.. Or a 5.8 RAD shot when you feel like
rolling the deice. Either way, cellular isn't the drop dead answer to
solving a sparsely covered area.
About 95% of my state is not covered by cellular, but we've had no
problems deploying the largest cellular (rural obviously) provider in
the United States - just look up. It's not as expensive as you would
GCI Communication Corp.
RF Network Engineering
one of the wireless technologies. Someone on the thread mentioned LTE (whih should
be coming out in a couple years time), and to that we can add WiMAX and
even the 3G/3.5G HSPDA type wireless. The prices will not be USD19.99 but or
less than USD70/month it is quite possible to get reasonable high speed Inernet
access. Will it be as fast as GigE to the house? No. But it will certainlysupport
most web apps. The only challenge is that some of these wireless technologes still have
much higher latency when compared to the wired DSL/cable modem links.
Some of the WISP hardware is getting "cheap". It's no longer $500 NIUs,you can get something that can go a fair distance at high speeds for~$80.
You can find used microwave (unlicensed & licensed) equipment "cheap" aswell. ($1-2k per pair/hop).
The FTTH equipment is ~$600 for 20km reach @ 1Gb/s.
Life is getting interesting these days.. I'm seeing interest in solvingthis last mile issue, but I suspect some networks will eventually beforced to abandon their DSL strategy (ATT, Qwest) before too long. Theyare going to start to lose out to the competitors. Verizon seems to bethe only (large) US based provider with a decent strategy.
I'm expecting regulatory intervention in the next few years to actuallyrequire universal broadband access from the iLECs, and the only way toreach these further distances is with FTTH gear (cost effectively).
I have wondered, how many POTS lines do I need to order to get them tobuild fiber/access to me. Anyone have guesses/data?
Hmm... unless I'm completely off, 1,080. About enough for a DS3. Maybe half of a
DS3.. as long as it overreaches their T1 or HDSL capacity. It seems that while
DS3 is a copper product, it's typically delivered to the site broken off of a
fiber node. Wouldn't want to see the installation bill of that, though. That's
been my experience of AT&T here in California.
point-to-point and ptmp 802.11phy derived tdm gear has been
outperforming cellular access layers on the throughput and cost
equations for a number of years. The choice of frequencies and licensed
vs unlicensed operation continues to proliferate as the radios get more
flexible and cheaper...
see for one ptp backkhul example:
It is now possible to put together a passable community or wisp network
for what essentially is microcap money. Unlike rural electrification or
rural ftfth the prospects of doing such a deployment for the low
hundreds of dollars per household in aggregate are not hard to imagine.
As far as I'm concerned someone else with capital can solve the mobility
problem, the fixed wireless problem can be addressed in many cases with
sound engineering, sweat equitity, community involvement and a little
If a technology can connect a bunch of ngo's in haiti or connect
transponder sites for hf radio relays in New Guinea it ought to work in
the less developed parts of the developed world.
Yep. There was a cool experiment in Venuzella with a 237 mile link.
The tdm firmware is really interesting stuff. More at http://tier.cs.berkeley.edu/wiki/Wireless
The choice of frequencies and licensed
I love the ubnt stuff. It's simply amazing.
Unlike rural electrification or
Exactly. Yay for unlicensed ISM bands.
Way to many folks focused on celluar as a solution. *peers over at my 16
node openwrt mesh testing lab*
In my opinion, last mile access is a very mature area, with well
understood operational models etc. Granted all sorts of interesting wifi
related issues pop up on the WISPA list, but so does BGP issues on Nanog
or weird cisco bugs on c-nsp.
The biggest problem is middle mile. That is where the money needs to go.
You need something to back haul to the interwebz. There is a lot of
fiber in the ground already, but there are numerous layer 8 issues with
getting to it most of the time. Solving those is an exercise left for
Charles N Wyble
Linux Systems Engineer
You wouldn't. The ILECs have resisted doing that sort of thing tooth
and nail. They may not want to sell you service yet but they don't
want anyone else to get a foot in the door while they get around to
However, if it really is a 31kft copper loop all the way back to the
CO and not to a closer vault (try driving the wire path to find out)
you may be able to knock on a few doors in the middle around the 15kft
point, make a new friend, order a DSL in the middle, order an "alarm
circuit" or "dry copper pair" from the 15kft point to you and run your
own signal over the alarm circuit.
Your terrain may also be a factor. Rolling hills and 3-story trees
make wireless hard but if you can see rooftops near the CO with
binoculars from your rooftop, amplifying an 802.11 signal for a 6-mile
transmission is a walk in the park. Probably not helpful in western
Mass, but possible in southern CA.
William D. Herrin ................ herrin*******
3005 Crane Dr. ...................... Web: < http://bill.herrin.us/> >
Falls Church, VA 22042-3004
Another possible way to solve the middle mile issue would again be to
use the copper plant that's already in the ground. Unlike fiber, the
copper plant is *ubiquitous*: I don't know of any place in the 1st or
2nd worlds that doesn't have copper pairs going to it. Also AFAIK T1s
are available everywhere too: if you order a T1, they'll deliver it to
you regardless of how deep you are in the middle of nowhere, although I
suppose there likely are extra surcharges involved.
Granted, a T1 at 1.5 Mbps may not be much for backhaul, but what about
bonded T1s? Bond 4 of them to get 6 Mbps symmetric - not too bad in my
book for a rural community.
And again using SDSL instead of T1 offers a cost reduction opportunity.
One could get that 6 Mbps symmetric for much cheaper by bonding 4 SDSL
circuits running at 1.5 Mbps each instead of T1s. There is a Covad
DSLAM with SDSL capability in virtually every CO in the country, but
they serve out a whacky flavor of SDSL/2B1Q. I have good reason to
suspect that I may be the last person alive on Earth who knows how to
make CPE for this flavor *and* who cares about such things.
Layer 8? Assuming that layers 8, 9 and 10 are management, financial and
political, respectively, the issues that keep me from being able to
build that Covad-compatible bonded NxSDSL CPE device lie at Layer 9.
Anyone interested in helping me solve those issues?
Pardon me if attribution is screwed up ...
Isn't this really an issue (political) with tariffed T1 prices rather
than a technical problem?
I was told that most T1s are provisioned over a DSLAM these days
anyways, and that the key difference between T1 and DSL was the SLA
(99.99% guarantee vs. "when we get it fixed").
And T3/DS3 can run over what, 4 copper pairs? Yet how much is the
typical tariffed rate for that?
I don't know about anything other than Qwest-land in Arizona, but we are
seeing the few T1s that are still in service provisioned as you
described: a 2-wire DSL connection, although not out of a local DSLAM.
I think it depends on your definition of the box that's being used for
connections as a DSLAM. It's certainly not the same traffic engineering
as DSL, because DSL circuits are muxed at the DSLAM (at least in
Qwest-land) and may or may not be subject to congestion when leaving the
neighborhood remote terminal DSLAM. We for sure NEVER see any
congestion on the T1s that are being provisioned using DSL technology.
Now, whether that's the same chassis with engineering over an uplink, or
two separate chassis in the same road-side wart for the two different
services, that's a deployment issue.
In other words, I think you're right about the technology involved
(DSL-ish 2 wire circuits) being used to deliver, but there's more to it
than repair time SLA when it comes to selling the same 2 wires as DSL
for $39.95 and T1 for $399.95. (again, at least out here in the Wild West)
something well known to everyone in this business: the cost to a Telco
to provide T1 service is not 10x the cost to provide DSL service at
similar speeds, and when there is that much additional marginal revenue
being generated, they are going to fight with politics, tariffs, and any
other tool at their disposal to keep the additional revenue coming in as
long as possible.
Joel M Snyder, 1404 East Lind Road, Tucson, AZ, 85719
Senior Partner, Opus One Phone: +1 520 324 0494
For a T1 it's a "smart jack" on each end (and often repeaters in the
middle) that have been engineered to run an HDSL signal between them
and a classic T1 signal "outward" from each end. One independent set
per T1; they aren't aggregated until after they're converted back to a
classic T1 signal.
The major difference between using HDSL smart jacks and classic smart
jacks is that the HDSL ones don't need wire that's in quite as good
shape and they don't need repeaters between you and the CO as often.
They're still very much a T1 service.
William D. Herrin ................ herrin*******
3005 Crane Dr. ...................... Web: < http://bill.herrin.us/> >
Falls Church, VA 22042-3004
Here in Maine, they use HDSL (two pair) to supply T1. They put
repeaters down the line or work it out of a SLICK. The bridge taps and
side taps are removed from the loops (conditioned) and then there's the
SLA. I learned to always have a spare CSU/DSU on site.