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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Convince an ISP To Bury Cable In Your Neighborhood? 324

EmagGeek writes "I live in a semi-rural micropolitan area that generally has good access choices for high speed Internet. However, there are holes in the coverage in our area, and I live in one of them. There is infrastructure nearby, but because our subdivision covenants require all utilities to be underground, telecoms won't even consider upgrading to modern technology. The result is that we're all stuck with legacy DSL (which AT&T has happily re-branded as U-Verse even though it isn't) as our only choice for wireline access. There is a competing cable company in the area, also with infrastructure nearby, but similarly they are reluctant to even discuss burying new cable in our 22-home subdivision. Has anyone been in this same predicament and been able to convince a nearby ISP to run new lines? If so, how did you do it? Our neighborhood association could really use some pointers on this because we hit a new brick wall with every new approach we try — stopping just short of burying our own cable and hoping they'll at least be willing to run a line to the pole at the end of the street and drop it into our box."
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Convince an ISP To Bury Cable In Your Neighborhood?

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  • Re:The basics... (Score:5, Informative)

    by aaronmd ( 314035 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @06:54PM (#46018917)

    Comcast in our area was willing to run the line to an office if we paid for the cost of running the line. At the time they needed a new distribution hub with it so the cost was $60k+. 2 years later they changed their tune and did it for free in return for a 2 or 3 year business class internet contract.

    Chances are good you'd need a hub in your subdivision so it isn't like running a single cable and daisychaining the houses will work. If you can get commitments from enough of the neighbors however, you may be able to get somewhere with the company. 10 homes wanting $100/mo cable+internet adds up to $1200/mo and $14,400/yr. That might get them interested. 5 of you wanting $40/mo Internet only isn't likely to get them interested.

  • It's expensive (Score:4, Informative)

    by NoKaOi ( 1415755 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @07:01PM (#46018983)

    It's really expensive to bury lines, something like 10x the cost of above ground lines in some cases. The only way you're gonna get them to do it is if your neighborhood ponies up the money. The other alternative is to change the C&Rs to allow above ground, and even then they'll only do it if they're gonna make more money than what it costs.

    stopping just short of burying our own cable and hoping they'll at least be willing to run a line to the pole at the end of the street and drop it into our box.

    Well, if you want it badly enough, then that may be pretty much what you have to do (or at least bear the cost of it). You're dealing with a for-profit company, not a charity, so from a business perspective why would they spend the money when they have no hope of making enough to cover it in the foreseeable future?

  • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @07:16PM (#46019123)

    This is actually a real solution. Internet access is important nowadays. People move for a lot less, like to appear to have better life to their family or get their children into what looks to be a better school.

    One would think that for someone who views reliable and fast internet access as an important factor in quality of life, moving to get better internet would be up with those reasons to move in terms of importance.

    (I live what I preach. I moved into the house that gets 21mbps connection on ADSL2+ which theoretically maxes out on 24mpbs back when adsl2+ was newest of the new in internet over POTS lines).

  • by linear a ( 584575 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @07:19PM (#46019153)
    DSL capability depends on distance to the nearest (hub/station/whatever). We tried that but were barely in DSL range (15,000 feet or so as the cable goes). It ran at 768 kbps max and was pretty bad. If you're closer the speeds etc gets better, if you're close enough to the closest station you can (I heard) get 25 mbps.
  • by rjune ( 123157 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @07:28PM (#46019249)

    Perhaps you could clarify about being restricted from putting up an antenna:

    http://www.arrl.org/restrictive-antenna-ordinances [arrl.org]

    Are you being prevented from putting up an antenna by ordinance or by covenants?

  • Re:So... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @07:41PM (#46019381) Homepage

    In the US covenants are almost always contractual conditions imposed by a private party that are signed as a (perpetual) condition of purchase or transfer. Generally this is where the developer builds a "subdivision" all at once, and forms a "neighborhood association" composed of some of the original owners. They come up with a list of things that can't (or have to be) done with the property; common ones in my area are restrictions on removing trees (without some sort of vote by the association), banning of manufactured homes, parking restrictions on private roads, stricter "quiet hours" than the municipal code provides, and in some cases even a ban on building a house from the same design as any existing house in the neighborhood.

    Sometimes even the allowed colors of homes are controlled. It is almost unrestricted. Here in the US, there is actually very limited things that the local government can do with regards to property restrictions. Arbitrary restrictions are generally thrown out by the courts, as are things that restrict your freedom of speech. However, a neighborhood association is not a government, and since the restrictions are contractual in nature, you can include a wide variety of severe, arbitrary, and speech-related restrictions.

  • by jsm300 ( 669719 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @07:51PM (#46019475)
    RIght. That nearest hub/station/whatever is called a DSLAM. A DSLAM can be installed near or in your neighborhood and fed by fiber. I have a fiber fed DSLAM in my neighborhood and I subscribe to a 40 Mbit VDSL2 service. I'm less than 1000 feet from the DSLAM, as are most of the people in our neighborhood. The generic "DSL" covers a wide range of service. The fact is that many people can only get 1.5 Mbit (or even only 256 Kbit) service, so they assume that (or 5-7 Mbit, which is the next tier typically available) is the best that DSL can offer.
  • Re:The basics... (Score:4, Informative)

    by icebike ( 68054 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @07:55PM (#46019511)

    It depends on who owns the underground infrastructure.

    In many places who ever did the subdivision originally, deeded all of that underground wire or piping to the city, or to the home owners association (if there is one) or to who ever they contracted for putting tin the original DSL. (AT&T apparently). If those owners won't allow use of the in ground infrastructure for a new purpose, you have to build new parallel plumbing.

    In that event, the cost of permitting, call before you dig, trenching, tunneling under driveways, etc can be so expensive they would never get payback, and the risk of destroying everything already in the ground is significant Everything from street lamp wiring, gardens, sprinkler systems, water pipes, etc.

    I've seen it done, but there usually has to be a city wide project to get this to happen. Enough work to make it worth employing a professional crew and providing months of work.

    You might have better luck getting all 22 homeowners to go on on a private conduit installation, with a bigger than needed conduit (or maybe just armored fiber) to each premises, all terminating at some common (and accessible) location. You'd have to pay for the trenching and materials, but it isn't that expensive, especially if you cover the liability aspects.

    All it takes is one hold-out to prevent a complete plan.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2014 @08:00PM (#46019543)

    No, just no. I had Clearwire for a while in downtown Seattle. While the speed was great since it was nearly 50 times faster than CenturyLink (formerly Qwest) DSL, it was actually slower in practice because of the horrific latency and packet loss. I know it's hard to believe, but the typical Seattle less than 1 Mbps DSL line was more pleasant to use than the Clearwire connection that was fifty times faster on paper. Wired is just that much better than wireless.

  • Re:The basics... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2014 @08:16PM (#46019655)

    Covenants are there to restrict what you can do with land you... long-term lease from the neighborhood association under the guise of land ownership.

    If you don't like the restrictions... don't like on snooty restricted land. If you're not rich enough to just bring your own fiber in underground, why are you living in wannabe snootyville?

    Because, 95% of all homes built in my area come with deed restrictions and an HOA with Nazis on the board. The other 5% are more expensive or located a LONG way from work.

  • Re:The basics... (Score:5, Informative)

    by reboot246 ( 623534 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @08:41PM (#46019853) Homepage
    Look up "directional boring" and "plowing" and forget that torpedo idea. With directional boring you can have the bore hole come out right where you want it. With plowing there's no need to "look" for the cable (or pipe or whatever) - it's there.

    Contractors are required by law to have all underground utilities located before they start. Hitting a water line or gas line can cost them a bunch of time and money. They're a lot more careful nowadays, though sometimes the utility companies miss on their locations.
  • Re:The basics... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2014 @09:33PM (#46020219)

    Have you ever worked in this field? I currently work in construction for a certain ISP and you are only talking about the one off situations. That type of stuff does happen, but it's not something that construction crews try to do. Before any work is done, locates have to be called in. The "torpedo" that you are talking about is not the only way of doing underground cable (and by cable, I'm referring to coax/fiber/or copper phone). Boring, trenching, or plowing are used for underground construction as well. The "torpedo" is only really used for short distances. As for the suggestion to pull fiber, I totally agree as long as you have a provider that can/will use the existing fiber.

  • Re:The basics... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Zebai ( 979227 ) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @12:30AM (#46021403)

    I work for a cable company and sat near the Commercial Dev agents for several years it was not uncommon for them to negotiate deals to lay new construction. Many communities opted for bulk agreements as part of the deal that required some basic level of service for all members for a number of years resulting in the cable company willing to cover a larger portion of the construction cost, sometimes all of it.

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