Potential Partners and Suppliers
Not everyone in this game is bad, evil or a total pain to deal with. Most of the business people (and even some from the government) I've talked to have been quite useful and candid.
No particular logic to this list's order or who is included.
Uniserve are a major ISP. I've some pleasant chats with them. I had hoped that they would be interested in cooperating with us as a wholesaler or as a hardware provider ... it appears from recent conversations that this will not fit into their corporate mix. }
A local internet provider, Kootenay Internet Services, have been quite helpful in openly discussing the pitfalls. In a nutshell, they think that a wireless solution is marginally doable. But warn that the day after we write the check to the wireless supplier, Telus can open shop and put us out of business with better service and lower rates.
Since this all started, they are no longer in business.
Motorola and Kootenay Communications
Motorola and Kootenay Communications. Haven't really mentioned this much so far, but I think the only possible solution is wireless. This would involve having a "head" unit somewhere close the T1 line termination point and then "wireless modems" for each subscriber. Motorola just happen to have a system available. But, my back of the envelope figures show a hardware cost of $30,000 to $40,000 (Canadian) for 30 subscribers. And I think, considering the rapid changes to this technology, one would have no choice but to amortize this cost over 24 months. Once you add in the ongoing costs of providing mail, the T1 line, etc. you are looking at a monthly cost nearing $75 to $100 per subscriber. Now, remember, we're already able to get 24/7 modem connections for about $50 per month (I'm including the cost of a dedicated phone line here). So, does $100/month seem doable?
However, the good guys at Kootenay Communications have promised to look at some alternate ideas and get back to me. Stay tuned for updates.
Bit of an update here. I had a chat with the Kootenay Communications folk on a trip to Cranbrook. They suggest that my numbers are low by half. They have promised to spend some time on this and do an initial proposal, but the numbers they are looking at suggest that it's going to be very expensive. One of the biggest problems is that we have a lot of trees which would interfere with cheaper LOS systems ... higher frequency wireless can help all this, but the cost goes up.
One (of many) companies offering connection over a Motorola system is Canopy Canada in Southeast Alberta.
Glentel Wireless is another wireless equipment provider. I've talked to Joe Henry there and he is promising a proposal. Joe sounds quite informed and is sourcing out some hardware solutions and potential ISP partners.
Parasun Technologies is a cable provider/ISP wholesaler. They, being in the cable business, suggest that we have a serious look at retrofiting our existing cable plant. They not an equipment vendor (other than supply of a Management Server) nor are they a company that participates in financing the process we'd need to bring the plant into the 20th or even 21th century. We have received a nice proposal from them covering their services and our initial hardware costs. My contact there, Ken Mason, is a nice fellow and is willing to do what he can to help.
He's also put us into contact with Steve Savola of Conuma Cable. Steve is available as a cable consultant should we wish to use him. He also has lines on good used equipment.
A commercial company in northern BC is in this game already. BCWireless is run by Peter Lunn. I've had some email with Peter and he figures that it is a doable thing here in Wynndel. He's not interested in setting up shop here, but wishes us well.
Have a look at his rates and coverage if you want. You'll find that the service is not cheap. And, Peter tells me that "for a company to operate a wireless feed into a community needs at least 40 subs to cover the cost and of course 50 would be better. Remember that these prices only work if you have line of sight. Non line of sight you would need over 100 subs."
The BC Wireless Project
Yet another solution waiting for us is "home brew wireless". I've been in contact with Matthew Asham, a volunteer with The BC Wireless Project. This group is attempting (and having success) in setting up cheap, volunteer run, wireless networks. They use lots of "free stuff" including labor and hardware. It's a neat idea ... and with the right people (and lots of motivation) it might even work here.
Another "free wireless" project is Seattle Wireless, "a not-for-profit effort to develop a wireless broadband community network in Seattle", WA.
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