Friday, September 15, 2006
Still don't have broadband out there in the hinterlands of Vermont? Tom Evslin of Fractals of Change has a rural broadband success story. He got connected at his South Hero camp via wireless internet service provider GlobalNet.
Says Evslin (in tech speak):
Terrestrial WISPs like my new best friends at GlobalNet send a signal from a ground-based radio to a small radio on your premises. I’m getting a true 3meg both up and down with latency of well less than 100ms for $39.95/month. Installation was $99.00 and I signed a one-year contract. Old telecom nerds like me will note that the plan I’m on is giving me the equivalent of two T1s. There is also a $29.95 plan with 1.5meg down and 400Kps up. ...
GlobalNet’s solution for the east shore of Lake Champlain is clever. They rented colocation space on an tower on a hill across the lake in Plattsburgh, NY. There’s good line of sight to that from anywhere along the Vermont side of the lake. Even though I’m physically, over twelve miles from the GlobalNet repeater, I’m getting the full bandwidth they promised.
Note that this service is significantly better than most DSL and comparable to most cable. Also note that the service is symmetrical – same bandwidth for uploads as for downloads. Most of us still download much more than we upload but that is changing. Work-at-homers often have a lot to upload. More and more of us are uploading photos and videos. Home surveillance cameras accessible through the web are not uncommon. Just like phone lines, some day we’ll always expect as much bandwidth up as we have down.
Remember, Gov. Douglas wants 90% of Vermonters to have access to broadband by 2007. I found this article on the Vermont Broadband Council website that says the state is up to 83 percent of Vermonters with broadband access. Too bad there's no date on that article. Fortunately, I found this version from the Times Argus, from February 2006.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
In the Alley
Went for coffee this morning to the Alley, a new coffeehouse in Milton. They've got free wi-fi, though I didn't know that in time to include them in my wi-fi guide, alas. But they've got it. It works. No password. Free.
Don't be deterred by the Alley's odd facade, and location behind the McDonald's on Rt. 7. It's actually a pretty cozy place inside. I paid $3 for my single 12 oz. mocha and sat for an hour or so checking email and web stuff.
The place wasn't mobbed, but it wasn't dead, either. There's a group of women gathered in the back. The events calendar on the dry erase board lists a few singer-songwriters, and meetings for an artist guild, a business association, and a girl scout leadership group. So I guess the coffeehouse in Milton is doing ok.
There's also a drive-through. And they have breakfast and lunch. And jigsaw puzzles.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Bad News for Burlington Telecom
Looks like the Burlington School District, their 2nd biggest client, is switching Internet providers. Vermont Telephone offered a better deal.
UPDATE: Richard Donnelly, BT's Sales & Marketing Manager, responds via email:
The Free Press article gives the impression that Burlington Telecom “lost” a major customer when the School System changed its Internet supplier from BT to Vermont Telephone (VTel) . Nothing could be further from the truth.
BT provides the high-speed fiber connections that “power” the school telecom and information system. It also provides the voice telephone system. It will continue to do both.
In addition to the above services, BT has, in the past, purchased Internet Bandwidth from VTel and resold it, at no profit, to the Schools. However, VTel has decided to provide a special offer directly to schools around the state—and offer well below what it charges to normal residential and business customers (including BT). This heavily discounted Internet Bandwidth will still be transported to the Schools over BT’s fiber network.
Since BT never made any money on the Internet Bandwidth which it simply passed through to the Schools, it loses nothing by the switch. The Schools, however, gain a great deal.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Hotspots for customers only
Speeder and Earl's on Pine Street in Burlington, one of my favorite wi-fi-enabled cafes, has recently encrypted its network. The baristas keep the password, which changes daily. Only paying customers can now get access. So no more parking out front and checking your email.
I noticed this morning that Bill Simmon and friends at Candleblog are discussing the situation.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
How broad is the band?
From the AP:
Broadband adoption increased 59 percent from March last year to March 2006 among U.S. households with incomes between $30,000 and $50,000, according to a survey to be released Monday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.
It increased 40 percent in households making less than $30,000 a year. Among blacks, it increased 121 percent, according to the study...
Overall, 42 percent of adult Americans, or 84 million people, have broadband, compared to 30 percent a year ago.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Burlington Telecom opening today
Burlington Telecom, the Queen City's very own, municipally owned fiber-to-the-home network, will be holding its grand opening today from 4-6 p.m. in Contois Auditorium at Burlington City Hall. A bunch of folks will be on hand to speechify, and Bill and the Candleblog gang will be recording a podcast.
Channel 17 will apparently be broadcasting the thing live on their BTV-only live channel.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Saving the Internet
The blogs are abuzz this week with a movement to preserve net neutrality. The Save the Internet coalition explains it better than I can, so go there if you don't know what I'm talking about. Better yet, watch this short video.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Fletcher Free Wifi update
While I was gone on maternity leave, guest blogger Meghan Dewald wrote about the new wifi network at Burlington's Fletcher Free Library. The post drew a flurry of comments about the library's filtering software.
In case you missed it, Systems Librarian Robert Coleburn commented again this morning:
The library has decided to temporarily disable the content filter on its wireless network. It will remain disabled until I can figure out how to configure it to be less obtrusive.
To put it simply, the filter was blocking too many legitimate sites.
Again, I appreciate the comments and feedback from the group.
Thanks, everybody, for commenting.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Browsing in the stacks
For all of you laptop-toting Burlingtonians looking for free Internet access downtown, the Fletcher Free Library has just made its entire building into a wi-fi hotspot.
This is really cool, because there aren't many institutions within easy walking distance of City Hall that offer free wireless. There are, of course, several cafés and eateries downtown that offer it for patrons, and I'm usually happy to support businesses that have it, but being able to surf sans the obligation to buy something certainly has its merits.
Actually, you don't have to live within city limits to use the 12 desktop machines in the Fletcher Free's Computer Center — you just need to apply for a free Computer Center User card, which lets you log on but doesn't include the ability to check out library materials. No word on whether you need one of these dealies to actually get on the wireless network, but the press release seems to indicate that anyone who has a wireless-enabled laptop is welcome. You just need to establish a free account with your e-mail address and a password of your choosing. One thing to be aware of, though, is that unlike the hardwired terminals, which are monitored visually by reference librarians, the wireless network is subject to a filter program. For details, see the Fletcher Free's wi-fi access agreement and its general policy on Internet use.
Adelphia donated the library's internet connection. I wonder how much heat, if any, they're feeling from Burlington Telecom's launch?
UPDATE: Jessamyn noted that the wi-fi network's been up for a while, so I called Systems Librarian Robert Coleburn to get details. He said they've actually had it up and running for about 3 months, but after taking some time to work out bugs, etc. (hopefully including some of the filter issues Jessamyn mentioned in her comment), they're just now getting around to really promoting it. Hence the press release.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Online, off wires
Many congrats to Cathy and Ann-Elise on Graham's arrival. He's certainly quite the cutie!
I'll do my best to hold down the fort while Cathy's away, though I can't promise quite the same level of scintillating web-savviness. Comments are welcome! If you'd prefer to send e-mail instead, my address is meghan(at)sevendaysvt.com.
While trying to get a sense of how Vermont's various municipal (or not-so-municipal, but community-based) wireless & broadband projects are progressing, I noticed that the Vermont Rural Broadband Project's list of groups working for Internet access doesn't give any info as to when it was last updated. I'm not sure how old this list is, but I wonder whether any of these projects will show up on town meeting agendas on March 7? If anyone from Calais, Glover, Tunbridge, Marshfield or any of the other towns listed happens to know, I'd love to hear about it.
I also recently discovered MuniWireless, a clearinghouse of info on municipal wireless projects worldwide. (Esme Vos, its founder and main author, was profiled in the Wall Street Journal's Technology Report on Monday.) Apparently county-wide wireless hot spots are nothing new; parts of Michigan and New Mexico already have high-speed networks spanning hundreds of square miles. But now the trend is coming East. The most recent locale to join the large-scale wi-fi fold? Suffolk County, New York — i.e., Long Island. Cawfee tawk via Skype? Who'd've thunk it?