Friday, August 24, 2012

The State of Broadband

The FCC recently released a new map outlining the wired broadband coverage of the US. It shows many things those of us in rural areas already know. Coverage sucks.

I zoomed into the county I live in (Brown in MN) and see a lot of green. On the face of it that is pretty good! Residents can subscribe to DSL in much of our area. Two problems though:
1) The DSL available is slow and expensive
2) Business class service is non existent.

If you need an MPLS connection between towns in our area I wish you good luck. Oh, you can get them but you're going to be bonding T1's until the cows come home. And a T1 ain't cheap. I've heard worse from other areas of the US (>$1k in some places), but it is still crazy expensive when you consider how much bandwidth it takes to run a business network today. 3-6Mb is pretty restricting.

I've done the math on connection costs and I'm wishing I knew someone in the fiber install business. Looking at what T1's cost over 5 years is a lot of cash. I wonder how far out the return is on running my own lines. If nothing else, 50km wireless equipment is very inexpensive these days...and I know I've got line of sight between at least one town.

Rural MN economic development will continue to stagnate with telecommunications as they continue to be. It's time for businesses to band together and do something about it.