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.


  1. Let's try this again ...

    It is disheartening to see this when the local paper is filled with vitriol about horses and water towers. There is an extreme lack of telecommunications infrastructure in place in rural communities to push ahead into the future. We're not going to need less bandwidth.

    Wireless might do it, but wired it what is needed to get things off of the ground (the bits need to get to the tower somehow). Municipalities should band together to get some fiber lines run and really start to put some pressure on local firms to be innovative on top of it. Charge modest fees and you'll start spurring some real growth in areas you can't even imagine.

    1. So true Bob. Wireless is a stopgap measure and we need real communications infrastructure. I preach to anyone who will listen that Brown County needs a fiber initiative. Sibley and Redwood already do. Every one here seems to be waiting for NUtel to put in the infrastructure. I'm not sure they ever will.