Bob's Personal Rant
How It All Started
October/2007: A bit of an update. Read this in the context it was written. I'm now on a wireless connection with the Wynndel Internet group. I'm still convinced that a lot of the stuff below is true and relevant.
I'm just an ordinary guy living in the unincorporated rural community of Wynndel, BC. We're located about 10 kM north of Creston, BC (Canada). Our population is around 900 people. The major occupations are agriculture and forestry, but a number of our residents are professionals pursuing careers in various government paths, self-employed in a variety of occupations, and an increasing number of retirees.
We have access to the internet though dialup modems (56k) though 3 different ISP providers. All offer competitive and reasonably reliable services. But, one thing is for sure: existing ISPs are not going to bring us broadband anytime soon.
Dialup is nice, we want more. Broadband is more. And it is more desirable. Not only just because it is faster. But, a number of modern services just don't work with slow modems. And broadband is something that folks "just expect" to have these days. According to local real estate people, sales are lost in our area because there is no broadband. Believe it or not, I spoke to fellow the other day who had just bought a house here and was putting back on the market so he could move to a location with broadband (sounds like a expensive solution to me, but emotions usually have high costs).
Our government has made several announcements this year (2004) about their commitment to see that broadband is available in rural areas. Important: This is the government's initiative, not mine. I think they are sincere. I also think that when they made the initial announcements they really had no idea how difficult the "last mile" problems would be. In April/2005 our same government has made a big announcment reaffirming their commitment, including a new deal with Telus and startup funding.
Will communities like the rural parts of Creston and Wynndel get broadband? Probably. When? Well, that depends on a number of issues: government support, commercial realities, and local initiatives. As I continue to spend time on this issue I am beginning to think that there is a chance for our community to do some creative things which will bring us affordable broadband in the end of 2005.
This is a bit of a diary of the ongoing adventure. Please visit the other pages on this site to get a feel for how much work all this has been (and continues to be). We're having some success! If anyone has an update, more information, suggestions, or just want to tell me what a jerk I am to deal with ... send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
DISCLAIMER: I'm responsible for the content on this page. I'm not trying to be nasty to anyone, just present an honest representation of my journey. If I've offended you, sorry, but life's like that. If I've misrepresented something you've told me, send me mail so I can correct it. If I'm sharing a rumor or secret that I shouldn't be, let me know and I'll take it off the site.
So, What's Happening?
Lot's of things happening ... and not happening. You might want to have a look at the separate pages here detailing our relations with governments and publically funded agencies, our potential partners and suppliers. Have fun!
You might want to read over the report of the workshop. In my opinion, we really are finding many more questions than answers. Oh well.
If you've read this far you're probably starting to think I'm a pretty negative fellow. Well, no. I'm trying very hard to be a booster, a "community champion", and a realist. It's the last part that is the problem.
My business experience and hard-assed outlook on life tells me that broadband in a community like Wynndel will come, eventually. It might be developed by a community initiative ... but the ideal solution would be a commercial one. Is there enough money in this for a successful commercial solution? Probably not.
Is this the end then? Nope. With some of the contacts we are now developing, help from the BC Government and more and more local support we might be closer than we think. Here's my simple suggestion: Follow though with the third party consultant process. After that we can start with the formation of a community steering committee, public discussion, etc.
We're making some progress. I think the biggest realization we've had to date is that we need a Creston Valley solution, not just a Wynndel solution ... unfortunately, due to the manner in which Telus and the government have structured the current program we are really limited at this time to providing service to Wynndel only. Sorry about that. I can only hope that we'll be able to expand to the rest of our beautiful valley at a later date.
I also suggest we continue to keep the government's "feet to the fire." After all, it's their promise.
Funding for capital will be a problem. The recent annoucement will be a great aid. It's probably not too early to explore other potential funding, including commercial partners, other goverment agencies, and anyone else with a checkbook. In addition we need to follow up with a business plan listing costs, coverage, subscriber numbers, etc. We really don't have many facts at the time.
Finally, we should work with folks like NetworkBC, BC3, CMON and the RDCK. I've been hard on them, and, for the most part, they deserve it. But, they are there and should be working for us. So, let's put some pressure on them.
Just a bit of an aside. If we can do this in the Wynndel we'll be one of the first (and only?) to do so. Without execption, every other broadband solution I've found has been:
- Provided by a cable or telcom company,
- Or is a local initative provided by:
- a heavily subsidized (via local or national governments) organization, or
- built on an existing infrastructure or revenue stream (dialup co-ops and cable TV groups), or
- an "enthusiast's toy" (not a criticism, just a statement of fact), usually in urban areas and an adjunct to commerical solutions.
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