Rural Internet

Brooke Clarke 2014

Background
Terminology
Timeline
Title II of Communications act of 1934
CPUC (advertizing claims)
    CalSpeed
    CPUC Broadband Availability Data
    FIPS Data
The Problem with Census Tracts
What is Actually Available
Bits and Bites
Speed Test
Analog Dial Up
Digital Dial Up
2-Way Satellite
LAN Cabling
Cable Modem
802.11 WiFi
DSL
Wireless Broadband
Emergency Communications
Politics
Highway System
Community Anchor Institutions
Related Web Pages
Pacific.net Dial Up
Links

Background

When I last moved over 20 years ago (early 1990s) my internet connection was 28 kbps dial-up and so when choosing a house all were about the same since they all had phones.  But today that's no longer the case.  When choosing a house the lack of a greater than 6 Mbps connection would be a deal breaker.

A good internet connection is mandatory in today's world for doing business, for critical tasks in daily life such as applying for a job or getting care at a hospital or your children getting a decent education.

I'll describe the various methods I've used to access the internet (Wiki) in chronological order.  In addition talk about some internet related issues.

Terminology

These are some terms that haven't come up so far, but are related.

Adaption - Ratio of fixed service subscribers (CPUC term, FCC term connections) to households with access to broadband.
Backhaul - (Wiki) A cell tower or fixed wireless tower does not use magic to relay it's signal to the phone system or internet, but instead uses backhaul.
                If the backhaul is the wired telephone system then if the telephone system fails so does everyone connected to the tower.
                Some Fixed Wireless providers are using 5.8 GHz for backhaul, but that takes up spectrum that now can not be used by subscribers and
                requires Throttling (Wiki) users.  A better option might be to use higher frequency microwave that has wider bandwidth that available at 5.8 GHz.
Cencus Tract - reported on the CPUC broadband availability map for political jurisdictions
Cencus Block - much smaller than a tract and used for CPUC (& probably FCC) internet mapping.
CLEC -Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (Wiki)
CMRS - Commercial Mobil Radio Service
Colocation centre
(Carrier Hotel) (Wiki)
Dark Fibre - (Wiki) also see Railway Mania (Wiki) Internet exchange point (Wiki)
DOCSIS - (Wiki) Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (Cable TV provided internet)
DSL - Digital Subscriber Line (Wiki) allows for telephone and digital data on same phone pair with limitations (could be two different providers)
FCC Form 477 Broadband and Voice Service Data Filings (FCC) - Companies must use Year 2010 Census tract codes (WC Docket No. 07-38)
ISP - Internet Service Provider (Wiki)
Net neutrality (Wiki) also see Separate but equal (Wiki) - Regulatory capture (Wiki)
Optical Network Terminal (Wiki ONT) -
Passive Optical Netwrok (Wiki PON) -
ITU-T G.984 Gigabit-capable Passive Optical Networks (GPON) Peering (Wiki)
Penetration - Ratio of service subscribers subscribers (CPUC term, FCC term connections) to households in a census block
Ping Time - (Wiki)  10ms excellent, 1,000ms bad - Satellite has long ping time hence is not considered broadband internet
Title II Regulated Telecommunications Service
VOIP - Voice Over Internet Protocol (Wiki, my VOIP page) - requires low ping time.
WISP - Wireless Internet Service Provider (Wiki)

Timeline

When reading about Title II in order have context for the dates when various laws were passed I needed some idea of what the internet looked like at the time, hence this paragraph.
1934 -Communications Act of 1934 [Chapter 5 of Title 47 of the United States Code, 47 U.S.C. § 151 et seq.] (Wiki) - formed the FCC
Purpose: "regulating interstate and foreign commerce in communication by wire and radio so as to make available, so far as possible, to all the people of the United States a rapid, efficient, nationwide, and worldwide wire and radio communication service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges, for the purpose of the national defense, and for the purpose of securing a more effective execution of this policy by centralizing authority theretofore granted by law to several agencies and by granting additional authority with respect to interstate and foreign commerce in wire and radio communication, there is hereby created a commission to be known as the 'Federal Communications Commission', which shall be constituted as hereinafter provided, and which shall execute and enforce the provisions of this Act."
Title II Common Carriers
1972 United States v. Midwest Video Corp - FCC rules that cable providers with 3,500 or more subscribers to broadcast or otherwise make their facilities available for local public-access programming (Wiki).
1982 - In March 1982, the US Department of Defense declared TCP/IP as the standard for all military computer networking. (Wiki)
1984 - Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 (Wiki) adds Title VI to the 1934 act to cover Cable TV
1985 - IEEE 802.3 10Base-T, "broadband" coined, FDM (Wiki) for cable modems
1989 - World Wide Web based on hypertext  & TCP/IP (Wiki)
1984 - ISDN had a short life, replaced by cable modem and DSL (Wiki)
1988 - US Patent 4924492 for ADSL by AT&T
1992 - Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992 (Wiki) tried to fix problems of the 1984 act
1994 - Netscape Browser & Server software (Wiki: html, Netscape, Navigator) - dial up access at this time
1996 - Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Wiki) updates the 1934 act for the internet in light of the at&T breakup - a very poor law now, either because of corruption and/or lack of knowledge.
This was still a time when the most common access was via dial-up, Cable and DSL were just being started, but not yet popular.
Note this act is 128 pages vs. the 333 pages of the 1934 act as amended and the name of the Titles are different.
That's to say the 1996 act is not a change to the 1934 act, it stands by itself.
Title I, Telecommunications Service
Title II, Broadcast Services
Title III, "Cable Services"
Title IV Regulatory Reform
Title V Obscenity and Violence
Title VI Effect on Other Laws
Title VII Miscellaneous Provisions
    Sec. 706. Advanced telecommunications incentives
See my Issues web page.
2002 - FCC Cable Modem Declaratory Ruling (FCC-02-77A1.pdf). Poor decision by FCC removing cable delivery of internet from Title II regulation and calling it an "information service or cable service" thus not a utility.
2005 - FCC Wireline Broadband Order. Poor decision by FCC removing telephone (DSL)  internet delivery from Title II regulation. (Appropriate Framework for Broadband Access to the Internet over Wireline Facilities  CC Docket No. 02-33).  broadband is called an "information service" rather than a utility.  But we now know that it is a utility that everyone needs access to, rather than an optional business product.
2007 - Comcast Blocks Some Internet Traffic - Washington Post
2010 - D.of C. appeals court case FCC v. Comcast (Wiki) says FCC gave up on internet access providers in 2002 (cable) and 2005 (wireline) so can not compel Comcast to be neutral.
2010 - FCC Open Internet Order (Wiki) - does not and can not fix the problem, parts already overturned in 2014.
2014 - Verizon Communications Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission (Wiki) vacating portions of the FCC Open Internet Order of 2010
2014 - Net Neutrality (Wiki) movement.  Big law firms are making false claims, all of which are refuted in the COMMENTS OF FREE PRESS. (On Line copy, my copy with bookmarks)

Title II of the Communications Act of 1934

26 Feb 2015 - FCC Adopts Strong, Sustainable Rules to Protect the Open Internet

The FCC has made some poor rulings (2002 & 2005 above) and created a problem.  The first example was the in the 2010 case FCC v. Comcast (Wiki).  Comcast was interfering with competing internet traffic, that's to say they were not neutral.  On appeal the district court ruled that the FCC had given up regulation of internet access and so could not compel Comcast to be fair, thus starting the Net Neutrality (Wiki) movement.  In 2010 the FCC responded to the court ruling by introducing the Open Internet Order (Wiki) but it's unworkable and not a solution.  The 2014 Verizon v. FCC case makes this very clear since the courts vacated parts of the 2010 FCC order.

One way to fix that problem is to classify internet access providers as Title II telecommunications companies.  But the FCC needs to also reverse a number of it's obsolete decisions in order to fix this problem.

A brief description of the problem and it's solution I've found so far is the article Getting to the Real Roots of the Net Neutrality Debate and the associated long paper:
COMMENTS OF FREE PRESS. (On Line copy, my copy with bookmarks and TOC links) gives an excellent description of what Congress intended and how the FCC messed up as well as how to correct the problem.

This relates to the Communications Act of 1934 as amended and I have added bookmarks to make it easier to read (my copy).  But this is a different document from the Communications Act of 1996 (FCC copy) which stands separate from the 1934 Communications act.  It's in the 1996 act you find section 706.

The troubling truth behind these anti-net neutrality op-ed writers - The media conceals the fact that the "expert" is being paid by companies like Verizon, Comcast, at&t, &Etc.

CPUC (Official web page, Map, Wiki)

My summary.  My experience researching the federal level regulatory capture (Wiki) problem leads me to believe that the same problem exists at the state level.  That's to say I believe the CPUC is more interested in protecting the profits of the corporations it's supposed to regulate than it is in regulating them or looking out for the voters in California.  The maps on their web page are optimistic to the point of being worthless in rural areas.

Q: What are the definitions of “Un-served” and “Under-served?”
A: On February 1, 2012 the Commission approved D.12-02-015, which changed the definition of
* an underserved area to be where broadband is available, but no wireline or wireless facilities-based provider offers service at advertised speeds of at least 6 megabits per second download and 1.5 megabits per second upload.
* “Un-served” areas are where the advertised speeds fall below combined 768 kilobits per second downstream and 200 kilobits per second upstream.

So I'm underserved.  Note satellite is excluded (requires wireline or wireless) because of the slow ping time of satellites.

CPUC Broadband Map - You can input your address and see a Google map with you house on the left and services on the right.
There's a vertical column of icons and when I click on the layers icon and try turning on the various coverage overlays, they all say I'm served and that's not the case at all.
There are tabs for:
Fixed: the at&t information is correct (3 to 6 Mbps dn, 200 to 768 kbps up), all the others are wrong as far as I can tell.
Mobil: all claims are wrong, no cell works for internet in my house, not even a decent phone call.
Satellite: maybe correct on up & dn speeds, but all have very long ping times so are not considered any type of broadband service.
Boundaries: Full Census Tract Code which is the basis for all addresses in that block. The CPUC web page says for rural areas they do not use blocks and instead use up to 300 foot sections of road, but I'm only seeing block number information so it looks like their web page is wrong or not yet implemented.

The list of California counties and their served, underserved, un-served status is I believe to be grossly wrong.

Provider Information near Near 3425 Deerwood Dr, Ukiah, California, 95482
DBA Max Adv Dn Speed Max Adv Up Speed Technology Type Contact County Name Zip Code Full Census Tract Code Full FIPS/Census Block Code State Senate District Number State Assembly District Number Congressional District Number
AT&T Mobility LLC >= 10 mbps and less than 25 mbps >=3 mbps and less than 6 mbps Terrestrial Mobile Wireless http://www.att.com/shop/wireless MENDOCINO 95482 06045011700 060450117002034 02 02 02
VerizonWireless >= 10 mbps and less than 25 mbps >=3 mbps and less than 6 mbps Terrestrial Mobile Wireless http://www.verizonwireless.com MENDOCINO 95482 06045011700 060450117002034 02 02 02
Hughes.net >= 10 mbps and less than 25 mbps >=1.5 mbps and less than 3 mbps Satellite http://www.hughesnet.com MENDOCINO 95482 06045011700 060450117002034 02 02 02
ViaSat Communications >= 10 mbps and less than 25 mbps >=3 mbps and less than 6 mbps Satellite http://www.viasat.com MENDOCINO 95482 06045011700 060450117002034 02 02 02
North Coast Internet >=  10 mbps and less than 25 mbps >=1.5 mbps and less than 3 mbps Terrestrial Fixed Wireless - Unlicensed http://www.northcoastnet.com MENDOCINO 95482 06045011700 060450117002034 02 02 02
Skycasters, LLC >= 6 mbps and less than 10 mbps >=1.5 mbps and less than 3 mbps Satellite http://www.skycasters.com MENDOCINO 95482 06045011700 060450117002034 02 02 02
DigitalPath, Inc. >= 6 mbps and less than 10 mbps >=768 kbps and less than 1.5 mbps Terrestrial Fixed Wireless - Unlicensed http://www.digitalpath.net MENDOCINO 95482 06045011700 060450117002034 02 02 02
AT&T California >= 3 mbps and less than 6 mbps >200 kbps and less than 768 kbps Asymmetric xDSL http://www.att.com MENDOCINO 95482 06045011700 060450117002034 02 02 02
U.S. Cellular >= 3 mbps and less than 6 mbps >=1.5 mbps and less than 3 mbps Terrestrial Mobile Wireless http://www.uscellular.com MENDOCINO 95482 06045011700 060450117002034 02 02 02
Starband >= 768 kbps and less than 1.5 mbps >200 kbps and less than 768 kbps Satellite http://www.starband.com MENDOCINO 95482 06045011700 060450117002034 02 02 02


The providers shown in bold above are the only ones that are "Broadband".
North Coast Internet and DigitalPath do not have a signal at my house.  One said they would send a tree climber, but that did not happen.
at&t is showing 3 to 6 Mbps (AT&T High Speed Internet Elite) but when I phone and ask for that service they say I can not get it.
I do have AT&T High Speed Internet Pro which is  1.56 Mbps - 3.0 Mbps advertized, and while the actual service is in that range it never more than about 2.8 Mbps down.
The at&t DSL modem web page (http://192.168.1.254) always shows "Downstream Rate 3008 Kbps"  and that number has never changed in years, i.e. it's a constant value rather than a measurement.  When I measure my DSL speed with the Harris TS-1000 test set two reading a couple of minutes apart are almost always different.

CalSpeed for Android

CPUC Press Release - "CalSPEED’s results are also sent automatically to the CPUC for mapping and analysis, and for display on the CPUC’s interactive California Broadband Availability Map."

Google Play Store : CalSpeed results 8 Nov 2014 (indoors using my WiFi connection which ties to my DSL line).
Upload Speed: 536 kbps (0.5 Mbps)
Download Speed: 1163 kbps (1.1 Mbps)
Delay: 128 ms
Delay Variation: 12 ms

Now, after turning off the smart phone Wifi, i.e. using the U.S. Cellular network:
The test makes two tries and the second one is shown after the comma.

Upload Speed: 26 kbps, 119 kbps (0.1 Mbps)
Download Speed: Download Incomplete, 105 kbps (0.1 Mbps)
Delay: 901 ms, 796 ms (extremely long)
Delay Variation: 11 ms

repeating test on 26 Nov 2014 (WiFi turned off)
Validating Results... (running tests again)....
Upload Speed   197 kbps
Download Speed  227 kbps
Delay                     353 ms
Delay Variation      30 ms

Fig 1 Screen after entering address at the top
CalSpeed for
                  Android
Fig 2 after pressing & holding on location
Next tap on address box.
CalSpeed for
                  Android
Fig 3 Advertized Fixed Internet services
Scroll left - right to see all 4 headers
CalSpeed for
                  Android
Fig 4 Advertized Mobil Internet services
CalSpeed for
                  Android

Fig 5 Estimated Mobil Internet Services
CalSpeed for
                  Android
Fig 6 Sdvertized Satellite Internet Service
CalSpeed for
                  Android
Fig 7 Results
Top result (most current) is U.S. Cell internet connection
      119 kbps up, 105 kbps dn, 796ms, 11ms

Bottom result (first test) using home WiFi via at&t DSL
      536 kbps up, 1163 kbps dn, 128 ms, 12 ms
CalSpeed for
                  Android


Now what's needed is a version of CalSpeed that runs on a PC/Mac that can be used to report DSL speeds.

CPUC Broadband Availability Data

This is paragraph 5.2 from CALIFORNIA BROADBAND REPORT, A Summary of Broadband Availability and Adoption in California as of June 30, 2011
In my opinion the below methods of determining availability is NOT valid for rural areas.  What's important is how many households that want broadband service can get it. The CPUC thinking seems to be if at least half the houses in an area can get broadband then they consider that all households in that area can get broadband.

5.2 CPUC Broadband Availability Data
Broadband service is considered available to a census block if a service provider is able to provision a minimum of combined service of 768 kilobits per second downstream and 200 kilobits per second upstream within 10 business days. In most Census Blocks, this means that fixed broadband service is considered available to the block if it is already being provided to at least one other household in the block. In Census Blocks larger than 2 square miles, fixed service availability is determined using a ratio of service line length to total roadway length: if the sum of the length of all service lines in a Census Block is equal to at least fifty percent of the sum of the length of all roadways in a Census Block, the block is considered to have broadband available.

In addition, fixed wireless and mobile wireless broadband service availability depends on whether the geographical center (centroid) of the Census Block falls within a provider’s reported coverage area. 

FIPS Data

The census data is available on line.  As of Feb 2015 the most current data files that include population data are for 2010.

For Mendocino County:
STATEFP10: 6
COUNTYFP10: 045
Here is a table of the tracts in Mendocino county with data for 2010

By Tract No.

TRACTCE10 Population sq mi
people/sq mi
Locations
10100 2587 778.4155 3
Covelo
10200 4155 740.0028 5
Laytonville, Leggett, Branscomb, Westport
10300 4272 184.3135 23
MacKerricher
10400 3467 2.7518 1260
Fort Bragg
10500 4439 1.4448 3072
Noyo
10600 6917 286.6061 24
Longvale, Brooktrails
10700 6203 10.309 602
Willits
10801 5915 70.4974 84
Redwood Valley
10802 1785 120.3264 15
Potter Valley,
10900 4332 134.6918 32
Orr Springs Rd
11001 1952 77.7935 25
Alibon, Elk
11002 5364 98.7386 54
Mendocino
11102 3915 321.5494 12
Manchester, Gualala, Point Arena
11200 3293 251.2801 13
Boonville, Philo, Comptche
11300 5972 101.7846 59
Ukiah Western Hills
11400 4469 4.2711 1046
Ukiah, West of Dora
11500 6739 2.0325 3316
Ukiah, North of Henry
11600 5802 1.4766 3929
Ukiah downtown
11700 4181 69.9841 60
Ukiah, East foothills, Talmage
11800 2082 253.7245 8
Hopland
990100 0


 total =
87841 3511.994
25



 
By Area

TRACTCE10 Population sq mi people
/sq mi
Locations
10500 4439 1.4448 3072 Noyo
11600 5802 1.4766 3929 Ukiah downtown
11500 6739 2.0325 3316 Ukiah, North of Henry
10400 3467 2.7518 1260 Fort Bragg
11400 4469 4.2711 1046 Ukiah, West of Dora
10700 6203 10.309 602 Willits
11700 4181 69.9841 60 Ukiah, East foothills, Talmage
10801 5915 70.4974 84 Redwood Valley
11001 1952 77.7935 25 Alibon, Elk
11002 5364 98.7386 54 Mendocino
11300 5972 101.7846 59 Ukiah Western Hills
10802 1785 120.3264 15 Potter Valley,
10900 4332 134.6918 32 Orr Springs Rd
10300 4272 184.3135 23 MacKerricher
11200 3293 251.2801 13 Boonville, Philo, Comptche
11800 2082 253.7245 8 Hopland
 ------------------------80% of population is above here ---------------
10600 6917 286.6061 24 Longvale, Brooktrails
11102 3915 321.5494 12 Manchester, Gualala, Point Arena
10200 4155 740.0028 5 Laytonville, Leggett, Branscomb, Westport
10100 2587 778.4155 3 Covelo


My guess is that those census tracts that are small (probably because they have high population densities) have good broadband internet connections and that the quality of the internet connections goes down as the tract size goes up.

The Problem with Census Tracts

Update:  although the CPUC map reports in census tracts, the FCC form 477 reports in census blocks which are much smaller.

Comment submitted to FCC 4 Nov 2016 at: FCC Submit Help Request
Tracking Number HD0000002873611
"Hi:  Comcast shows up at my house location on the CPUC broadband availability map, but they do not have any coax near me.  Maybe their Form 477 filing for census block 060450117002034 is in error?  Is there a way to check that?"

The FCC form 477 (FCC) requires companies to report using the current census tract.  If a company provides service to one household in a census block they report that block on form 477. In the instructions for filing the 447 (FCC Instructions for filing form 477) they define broadband to mean either the upload or download speed is greater than 200 kbps.

It may be the case that the companies report the number of subscribers in each census block, but that does not get at coverage.  In a city where everyone in the census block has a cable then even if only a few people are subscribers the coverage may be 100%.  But in a rural area where the cable only is near a small percent of the households the coverage might be only ten percent.  But it's my understanding that if they have one subscription in a census block they can claim one hundred percent coverage.

Here's a letter I sent to the form 477 part of the FCC:

Subject: Problem with Census Tracts
Hi Ellen & 477info:

I live in Mendocino county California and my census tract covers 70 square miles.  Your form 447 uses these tracts as a way for companies to report their coverage.
But in rural areas this does not work.  For example Comcast does have cable in my census tract and sends me advertizements in via USPS and email but when I try to sign up they refuse to serve me.

The practical problem is that the coverage maps, by either the FCC or the CPUC, list many providers and fantastic speeds, but in my case only one of them will even offer service (at&t) and then the best speed is 3.008 Mbps.  What the CPUC calls under served.  Anyone who believes the CPUC map list of providers is in for many days of wasted time trying to get service and either being turned down or not getting any response at all.

It took me three years to get at&t DSL service.  The first two times after they sent the box and I installed it, they failed to make it work and it was returned.  I offered a bribe to an at&t technician if he could make DSL work for me and he said if they advertized it they should make it work.  (That may be an at&t policy, but does not seem to be the case with Comcast).  So on the third attempt and after many days of back and forth, I now have DSL with a speed of 3.008 Mbps.

A solution to this problem might be to require the company to say what percentage of households in each census tract they would cover if asked.
For example my tract has Approx 4,624 people and maybe half that number of households.  I expect that the number of households that Comcast can serve is maybe half that number.

So, instead of my census tract being 90% covered it's more like 45% covered.  This is a huge difference.

CPUC - State Broadband Mapping Program -

What is Actually Available

The purpose of the above CPUC web site and CalSpeed android app is to let people know what choices they have for internet connection.  I suspect if  you live in a big city it's a great way to shop for the best speed or price, but if you live in a rural area it's a way to waste a lot of time asking for service and being turned down.  For example I've signed an agreement (so they would do a "survey") with Comcast who sends me USPS mail advertizements, and posts many Google ads on pages when I'm net surfing, but told me that I can not get their service (they said "maybe someday in the future").  See: Fig 3 Advertized Fixed Internet services where the CPUC says I can get 25 - 50 Mbps up and 100 to 1000 Mbps dn, but the reality is that I can not get any speed from Comcast because there's no cable here.
Google Maps shows that the nearest Comcast cable is just under a mile as the crow flies, so there is Comcast provided internet in my census tract.  But that
does not mean I can get it.

So, what's needed is an honest version of the CPUC web page telling it like it is, rather than advertizing claims.  This is possible for each type of service.

Fixed Wireless

This is done based on 2-way radio communications from a tower located on high ground to your house.  It requires an antenna aimed at the tower.  These towers are licensed by the FCC and are at known longitude, latitude and elevations and so can be pinpointed on Google Earth.  There are software add-on programs that will show where on a map the signal from the tower can reach based on Line Of Sight (Wiki LOS) or a more advanced a Fresnel zone (Wiki) analysis.  So far these seem to require the purchase of Google Earth Pro and the purchase of the Fresnel zone software.

This type of analysis applies to all Line-Of-Sight radio including cellular and WiFi and so can be used to get coverage maps based on Fresnel zone analysis rather than marketing claims.  The coverage will be the same with time unless there's been some change in the infrastructure, like installing a new tower.

Wire-line

DSL is excellent if you are very close to the source and the speed degrades as the distance increases until you get so far that it quits working altogether.   The correct way to measure that distance is to measure the wire pair that's carrying the DSL signal.  But you can bound the coverage area by assuming a pair that goes in a straight line from the source to you house.  The actual coverage will be less than that because the wire is far from straight.

So concentric circles can be drawn centered on the source of the DSL where different speeds can be shown, such as more than 6 Mbps and more than 3 Mbps.

Satellite

This works as long as you can see the geostationary satellite, but will always have a long ping time and is not considered "broadband" because it's always going to be much slower than those services with shorter ping times.  But is still a big step up from dial-up.

Bits and Bites

A bit (Wiki) can be in one of two states, sometimes called 1 or 0, or in a Teletype Model 33 (Wiki) current flowing or not flowing, or in TTL logic (Wiki) zero or +5 Volts.
Since the speed of a Teletype is very much related to the speed that mechanical components can move bits per second (bps) or BAUD (Wiki) was the common unit to measure the speed of data transmission. 

When using ASCII characters (Wiki) over the RS-232 protocol (Wiki), which I've been told is an agreement to not have a standard, it usually (8N1) takes one start bit, 8 data bits (no parity bit) and a stop bit to send one character or Byte, i.e 10 bits per Byte.  So when expressing a speed in Bytes per second (Bps) it's different by a factor of 10 from bits per second.  For example 300 BAUD = 300 bps = 30 Bps.  The minimum DSL speed for Netflix is 3 MBps.

Hertz (Hz) or bps
kilo Hertz (kHz) or kbps (1,000 Hz)
Mega Hertz (MHz) or Mbps (1,000,000 Hz)

When people are making claims for the speed of their system they typically use bits per second because that makes the number look larger.  Pay attention to the speed units.

Speed Test

You can test the speed of you internet connection.
Served is greater than 6 Mbps.
Underserved is between 3 Mbps and 6 Mbps.
Anything less is not considered "broadband".  Satellite is not "broadband".

Web Pages

Google for "Speed Test", for example:
http://www.speedtest.net/

Apps

Android or Apple

Hardware

There's a web page associated with DSL or cable modems that can usually be accessed at URL:  http://192.168.1.254/
By navigating this web page hosted inside your modem you can see technical details of the modem including it's up and down load speeds.

There are test sets, like the Harris TS1000 ADSL Test Set that can be used by unplugging the cable feeding the DSL modem and plugging it into the test set.  For me the answer from the test set and the hardware web page agree.

Analog Dial Up

There were a number of dial up connections that I've used starting with an acoustic modem (Wiki).  This was during the time when AT&T was a monopoly and had strict prohibitions on direct connection to the phone lines, so using a acoustic coupler was a way to avoid problems, but they were very slow.

My neighbor was Reed Anderson (Verbatim Corporation History) and Anderson Jacobson Inc had a popular acoustic coupler.

3543172 Digital frequency discriminator, Anderson Jacobson Inc, Nov 24, 1970, 329/301, 375/328, 375/324, 329/303, 327/40 - a digital filter (no inductors) to separate the tones of 2025 and 2225 Hz (Wiki: Bell 103 modem).  These modems had a very good reputation compared to the older analog type, but the speed was 300 BAUD or bits per second.  Painfully slow, although a Model 33 Teletype machine, like I used for my first computer ran at 50 bits per second.

Later, direct connect telephone modems, ran at 14.4, 28.8 and finally 56 k bps which was state of the art when I moved to Ukiah.

Digital Dial Up

A major improvement was ISDN (Wiki).  This required running a new 6 pair telephone cable from the pole to my house (I already had a home wire line phone (no cell phones then) and a FAX which used up the two phone lines that came with the house).  There was a buried empty conduit that was to be used if Cable TV came this far out, but it still hasn't, and that's where we pulled the new 6 pair telephone line.  Now there were lines for: home phone, FAX, 2 lines for ISDN.  The speed of ISDN was 144k bps, more that twice as fast as the prior analog modem.  This system was part of my telecommuting to HP in Santa Rosa and was disconnected when that job ended.

2-Way Satellite

As soon as Starband (Wiki) started offering their 2-way satellite service I signed up.  There were other satellite services, for example Hughes Net that then used a telephone line for uplink and satellite for downlink.  But at that time Starband seemed to be the best, mainly because they were a spinoff of Gilat Satellite Networks (Wiki) that was selling these systems to gas stations so that a credit card could be used at the pump.  Over time Starband changed the in house box and I upgraded my service whenever they came out with a new service.  So the first modem was their model 180 and later that was traded in for the model 360 modem.

The current Starband top of the line system is advertized at 1.5 MBps which is half of my current DSL download speed and is priced higher than the DSL account.

There are some problems associated with 2-way satellite service.

My Starband VSAT web page.

Latency (Wiki)

Because of the physics related to the Speed of Light (Wiki: 186,000 mi/sec) and the height of a Geostationary orbit (Wiki: 22,236 mi) it takes a signal 120 ms to go from your antenna up to the satellite, then 120 ms to come back to the system ground station and some ping time (Wiki) for the signal path between the ground station and the internet provider whose web page you want to see, then another 120 ms to go up to the satellite and then another 120 ms to come back to your computer.  So the total ping time as seen by your computer is about 1/2 second plus the actual internet ping time.  For a typical web page were there's a lot of internet packets the page load time can become very slow.  This is why today (2014) 2-way satellite is not classified as a "broadband internet" connection method.

AFAICR this was a problem for using 2-way satellite for VOIP telephone.

Sun Outage (Wiki)

Twice a year the Sun and a Geostationary satellite are in the same place and the radio noise coming from the Sun overwhelms the satellite receiver causing the loss of signal for a few minutes.  A ceiling Sun Dial can be marked to show when this occurs.  Note this applies to all geostationary satellites like the current Ku-band television satellites and the Free To Air TV satellite systems.

Throttling (Wiki)

I was allowed to move no more than about 1 GB in any 7 day period.  If that was exceeded they would turn down the up and down load speeds without notifying me.
This made for a huge problem because it looked like the system was no longer working properly.

LAN Cabling 

When Local Area Networks (Wiki) were getting started there were a number of different ways to wire them up, such as the IBM Token Ring (Wiki) or coaxial cable (Wiki) both of which were very expensive since a company would need to pull these cables wherever they wanted a network connection.  AFAICR HP developed 10Base-T (Wiki - HP reference needed) that allowed using the existing unshielded twisted pair (UTP) phone lines for carrying network traffic at the then fantastic speed of 10 Mbps speed.

This is important because prior to that time phone lines had only carried 144k bps ISDN signal and this was almost a 10X speed improvement.

Related web pages:
Brooke's Network 101 Basics
Panasonic KX-TA824 Telephone System - same installation methods as for LAN

Cable Modem

The idea is to use the existing cable TV (Wiki) outside plant to provide internet service my means of a cable modem (Wiki).  Since there's no Cable TV on the street where I live, even though Comcast sends my many advertizements, I can't get it.  The speed is on the order of 12 Mbps (4X faster than my DSL) and with a low ping time so VOIP works.  A big advantage of cable modems is that the distance from the head end is not a factor like it is with DSL  That's because cable TV systems use 2-way line amplifiers.
See my telephone pole web page Fig 13 showing a cable TV amplifier.

I can not get a cable modem, there's no cable TV here.

802.11 WiFi (Wiki)

There are a couple of flavors of this wireless protocol.  The common one is for home networking where instead of running LAN cable you use a short range 802.11 network.  Modern computers, printers, cell phones, etc. have built-in 802.11 transceivers for network connection.

WiFi (Wiki) is the name for a longer range version used to provide internet service.  Both of these operate in the 2.4 GHz unlicensed ISM frequency band (Wiki) which is the same band used my most microwave ovens (this should not be a problem because the ovens are well shielded).

My local internet service provider (Wiki: ISP) offers WiFi as a connection option and has a number of towers for this purpose, but because I live in a mountain canyon I can not see any of those towers so that point to point microwave service is not available to me.

I can take my laptop computer to any number of places in town and get a free 802.11 internet connection, just not where I live.  At times I've given serious consideration to renting a motel room just so I could get a decent connection.

I can not get WiFi internet connection here, I'm in a mountain canyon.

DSL (Wiki)

If premises telephone UTP wiring was capable of carrying 10Base-T LAN traffic there was development of ways for telephone outside plant (Wiki) to carry high speed internet.  The need is mainly for high speed download from a central location to the user's computer.  The required upload speed for most users is fairly low bandwidth, so the concept of Asymmetric DSL (Wiki ADSL) was worked on with many flavors of ADSL developed, but today it's all called DSL.

A big problem with DSL is that it's carried over plain old fashioned telephone lines without any amplifiers and so has a line distance limitation that shows up as slower speed as the distance along the line increases to a point at about 17,000 feet from the source where you can no longer get DSL service.  I'm the last house on my street that can get DSL because of this limitation.  It took three years and two tried at signing up, having the DSL box delivered and finding it did not work and returning it because of my distance from the DSLAM (Wiki).
See DSLAM on my telephone poles Fig 11.

DSL range extenders (Wiki) can only provide a very small distance increase by trading much slower speed so they typically are not used.

My at&t DSL web page.  Note:  The web page reported from inside the at&t modem always reports 3008 kbps, but my Harris TS-1000 ADSL tester says it's more like 2700 kbps.

There's a way to access a "home page" for the DSL modem, just as you could do with the Starband 2-way satellite modem to see it's status including up and down load speeds.  The The web page for the modem (http://192.168.1.254) says download is 3008 kbps and upload 512 Kbps  
Note:  If you click on the link above and have a DSL (or maybe even a Cable) modem, you will see your modem web page, not mine.

During Nov 2014 while on the phone to at&t on another matter I asked if I could upgrade my service (now at Pro) to something faster and after he put me on hold for awhile, said yes, but I would need to call back Mon to Fri at the plans & services number.  When I did that and worked my way through the menu system and finally talked to a human they said "no" I can't get anything faster.  So still underserved by the CPUC definition.

Wireless Broadband (Wiki)

This is an application of Fixed Wireless (Wiki) communications. Technically this is very much like point-to-point Wifi (see above) but uses different frequencies so your laptop or cell phone will not pick this up.  It requires a directional antenna pointed at a tower and a special wireless modem.  Most of these systems in my area operate at 5.8 GHz.  The people who provide this service are called Wireless Internet Service Providers (Wiki: Wisp). 

Note that the gain of an antenna relates to the size of the antenna measured in terms of the wavelength of the signal.  So the higher the signal frequency the higher the antenna gain for a given size antenna or the smaller the antenna for a given gain, so there's a motivation to use the highest frequency possible.  The bandwidth of a system expressed as a percentage of the center frequency gets wider as the center frequency goes up thus lowering the cost of the system.

Customer-premises equipment (Wiki: CPE) is the name for the equipment at your house.

As of Nov 2014 I'm waiting for a man to climb a 120' foot tall fir tree to see if from there he can see with his eyes "Spanish Ridge" and if so then I might be able to get a wireless broadband connection.  So I do not have a wireless broadband connection.  It looks like no tree climbing is going to happen, not a word from them.

Emergency Communications

One thing that makes me think about emergency communications is a big earthquake.  For example the book Full-Rip 9.0: The Next Big Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest by Sandi Doughton makes the case that "the big one" is overdue on the Cascadia subduction zone (Wiki) since they occur about every 300 to 500 years and the last one was in 1700 (Wiki).  The area involved is from Mendocino to the Canadian border.  One effect is to destroy existing infrastructure.

The advice is to be able to provide for yourself for a couple of weeks before help from outside will be available.

This is also covered in the books (I haven't read these yet):
 The Orphan Tsunami of 1700: Japanese Clues to a Parent Earthquake in North America by Brian F. Atwater(Wiki).
Cascadia's Fault: The Coming Earthquake and Tsunami that Could Devastate North America by Jerry Thompson (2011)
The Next Tsunami: Living on a Restless Coast by Bonnie Henderson
The above books are making the case the plate tectonics (Wiki) are the cause of the upcoming earthquakes, but it seems to me that also means volcanoes (Wiki) on the Ring of Fire (Wiki) may also become active.

Internet

I'm including emergency communications on this page because a part of it relates to the internet in two ways.

First, rural hospitals do not have all the specialists that you would find at a major hospital so for some emergencies, like someone who comes into the ER with a stroke (Wiki) and it's a life or death decision is based on if the cause of the stroke.  If it's a blockage then blood thinning medicine is called for or if bleeding then clotting meds are called for.  In order to make this decision in rural ERs data is sent to a nearby large hospital where experts make that call and let the ER know which treatment is correct.  If the wrong treatment is done the patient will die.  When a rural hospital's internet goes dark lives are at stake, not just for this example for for many similar cases where a quick consultation is vital.  So loss of internet connection has public safety consequences.

Second, when there's a phone outage the internet may be a backup method of communication.  For example about ten years ago a backhoe operator cut a fiber optic cable an hour's drive South of Ukiah and since we are not part of a grid, but rather are a limb of the telecommunications system we lost all phones (wireline and cell) and all wired internet and all fixed wireless internet that used the phone system for it's back-haul.  But 2-way satellite continued to work as did satellite telephones.

This says to me that for emergency communications both land and satellite methods of communications need to both be used in such a way that either can be used at a moment's notice.  Satellite methods include fixed antenna systems like are used for 2-way internet as well as satellite phones and distress radiobeacons (Wiki).

NVIS & ALE Radio

Because of the mountains in this area radio communications above 30 MHz are very restricted because they travel in a Line Of Sight (Wiki LOS) path.  One way around that problem is to use repeaters (Wiki) located on mountain tops.  The repeater may or may not work in an emergency.  There are countless reasons for a repeater to fail such as mechanical problems like wind damage, loss of power from the grid with no backup generator, the backup generator does not start, the backup generator runs out of fuel, mechanical damage to the fuel tank, &Etc.

One solution is to use radio frequencies below 30 MHz called High Frequency (Wiki).  HF radio does not work as well as higher frequencies for LOS because the shorter wavelength of VHF & UHF signals allows them to go straight whereas HF waves get bent.  But HF waves can be reflected from the upper layers of the ionosphere (Wiki) and bounce back allowing transmission around the world or when the wave goes nearly straight up (Wiki: NVIS) and bounced back down solid coverage out about 400 miles.

The properties of the ionosphere vary with the location of the transmitter and receiver, the sunspot cycle (Wiki), time of  year and time of day.  In the past a skilled radio operator was needed to know which frequency would be "open" to a specific destination.  But today Automatic Link Establishment (Wiki ALE) constantly monitors a list of assigned radio frequencies and all the radios with ALE send short data packets on a schedule so that when an operator wants to talk to any station on the list the radio chooses the best frequency.

So the combination of an HF radio that has embedded ALE capability and an antenna that has a vertical main lobe at low frequencies will provide reliable voice and low speed data communications for hundreds of miles over all terrains.

Other Radios

For house to house communication in a neighborhood radios can be used, but the LOS limitation comes into play if VHF or UHF radios are used.  A solution for neighborhood communications needs to be worked out that operates in the mountains.

Cell Phones

My smart cell phone is not capable of making a voice call at my house and it's my understanding that they are pretty much worthless in this type of terrain.  Since they rely on the fiber optic cable that's the back haul for our wire line telephone system I expect cell phones to be worthless in any major disaster.

Politics

California District 2 Senate
Mike McGuire has broadband on his list of six priorities.

California District 2 Assembly
Jim also sees broadband as something that needs to be worked.

Highway System parallel to Internet System

I see a strong parallel between the system of roads in the U.S. and the internet.  In 1956 while Dwight D. Eisenhower (Wiki) was president the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways was started (Wiki: Interstate Highway System).  These were highways that interconnected all the states.  The system did not include intrastate and local roads.  In addition there are state funded and maintained highways as well as county and city roads.  Although "defense" was used in title of the bill for the federal interstate highways the effect was to put in place something that had a direct impact on the economic viability of the country.

In a similar manner access to the internet has a strong correlation not only with economic well being of an area, but also with health, education, emergency services and the general well being of people.

There are many proposals for ways to provide internet service but as far as I can tell they only work for a small number of people.  That's to say the overall bandwidth needed if everyone in the country (state, county, city) is going to have a connection that meets the CPUC or FCC definition of "broadband" there is not enough back haul capacity to support all the connections.

Hence the need for a government furnished and maintained back haul system that other can build on, just like the interstate highway system.

Note that this system must be a network to provide redundancy so that if a link is severed, like happens when a storm or car crash takes down a pole, the system will continue to work.  At present I'm on a "branch" and when there's a problem our area looses not only internet but also all phone service (wireline and cell) because a single fiber optic cable carries them all.

Community Anchor Institutions

CAI coverage is one of the boxes on the NTIA forms relating to grants.
http://www2.ntia.doc.gov/
http://www.ntia.doc.gov/legacy/broadbandgrants/guidance/Glossary_01-29-10_v6.pdf
The above seems to say Senior Centers and Public Computer Centers are CAIs

Here is what Oregon has with categories:
http://www.oregon.gov/broadband/Pages/community_anchor_institution.aspx

Category 1 - Schools K-12

Category 2 - Libraries

Category 3 - Medical / Healthcare
    Urban Hospitals, Rural Hospitals, Federal Qualified Health Centers, Rural Health Clinics

Category 4 - Public Safety
    Fire, Police, Sheriff, State Police, CHP, Public Health
Where does an ambulance either ground based on helicopter fit into this?  All First Responders (Wiki)?

Category 5 - Universities / Colleges
    Community Colleges and Branches, Private Colleges and Universities, State Colleges & Universities

Category 6 - Other:  Government
    City Halls, County Seat, Tribes

Category 7 - Other:  Non-Government
   
Economic Development Centers, Senior Centers, Public Computer Centers

Related Web Pages

Brooke's Computer Network 101 Basics
Ceiling Sun Dial showing satellite internet sun outage dates & times
Computers - Some notes on my early computer activity
Cell Phones -
Free To Air TV satellite systems that do not require monthly fees
Harris TS1000 ADSL Test Set
Panasonic KX-TA824 Telephone System - same installation methods as for LAN
Phones  civilian and military phones & related
at&T DSL
Starband VSAT - 2-way satellite internet connection - replaced with at&t DSL
Telephone Poles - Different voltages, Cable TV, Telephone & related
VOIP telephone - Voice Over Internet Protocol telephone, free to U.S. and a penny a minute to the rest of the world.

Pacific.net Dial Up

About 2:30 pm Thursday 29 Jan 2015 could not send email, noticed that the at&t 7550 model has a blinking "Broadband"red light.
Called (877) 722-3755 and talked to internet support who confirmed that I don't have internet and connected me to the telephone part of at&t.
I told them that there's no dial tone on that line.  But the earliest service appointment available 8 to 12 o'clock the morning of Tuesday 3 Feb, so I needed to relearn dial-up.

On WIN XP go to Start -> Control Panel -> Network Connections and at the top is Dial Up.
In my case the user name and password were stored.  The only hiccup was needing to run a line from the computer to a phone jack and adding the correct prefix number for the telephone system to get a working outside line.  It works for email, haven't yet tried a browser.  26.4 kbps speed.

Pacific Internet Technical Support (707) 463-8214 or (800) 844-2226.

Links

The Broadband Alliance of Mendocino County - Facebook -  is part of the North Bay/North Coast Broadband Consortium (NBNCBC) consisting of Sonoma, Marin, Napa and Mendocino counties. - The Map Problem

TURN - Telecom Giants Drag Their Feet On Broadband For The Whole Country - they have already collected the money to wire the whole U.S. but now don't want to do that.

Calix (Petaluma)- Extended Reach GPON Optical Interface Module - supports 24 mile long fiber

FCC - Community Anchor Institutions - reported in FCC mapping data because... "The Commission has a statutory obligation to ensure that schools, libraries, and health care providers have access to advanced telecommunications and information services."

California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) -
California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) promotes deployment of high-quality advanced communications services to all Californians. 
Funding is allocated to four CASF accounts (please go to the linked page for a description of the account):

US Census: American Community Survey - Internet Access

                                            millions
With Internet subscription:  86.5
    Dial-up:                                1.1
    DSL                                   18.0
    Cable modem:                    42.0
    Fiber Optic:                          5.9
    Satellite:                                2.8
    Two or more types:             10.2
    Mobil                                   6.3
Access w/o sub:                 4.9
No access:                        24.9
-----------------------------------
Total


Web Map Service (Wiki) -

WRI Wireless Calculators - Fresnel Zones - single Obstacl

esri - ARCGIS - $100/year for home use version from esri - my WIN home edition XP SP3 & CPU do not meet the minimum system requirements.

Consumerist - New Homeowner Has To Sell House Because Of Comcast’s Incompetence, Lack Of Competition - the lack of service is very common in these parts.

Back to Brooke's: PRC68, Alphanumeric Index of Web Pages, Contact, Products for Sale web pages.
Web page created 8 Nov 2014