Living Last Mile

I apologize for any cursing I do, this is an issue I fight with daily, and it’s a ridiculous one.

I live in semi-rural WV, but I also live without adequate access to information, at a nominal rate. In order to get an internet connection, where I live it costs roughly $50 on top of a phone bill for 768kbps ADSL. There is also no means of getting television, besides paying for satellite service, which also doesn’t come with local channels f or some absurd reason. Ever since the Analog-to-Digital transition in June ’09, the reception which is known to be bad in mountainous areas, dropped completely off the map, because it became an all or nothing signal.

What you end up with is exorbitant costs for minimal service, even though people within a mile, have no such issues; cable is provided along the main road on the backside of the property, but it’s about 3/10th’s of a mile. Currently, the two bills are $80 for TV, for mid-range satellite service, that isn’t 2/3 Christian broadcast, receiver rental, and 2 broadcast station feeds, that should be locally provided, and $65 for Phone & Internet. It pisses me off to know that just because we live just outside, the service area of the cable companies, we are charged out the ass.

If our house was moved less than half a mile, we would have a more stable internet connection that is 10x as fast, basic enough tv with local stations, we really only need broadcast stations. For about half the price. This needs to be addressed, as well as anti-competitiveness in areas, companies trade off in areas and create virtual monopolies on local markets. I’m just frustrated at how close, and yet how far the access to information is, and I also know that I’m not the only one in the area that feels this way.

Our nation, has turned its back on those that live last mile, and the infrastructure required to provide its citizens decent access to information. We are solidly driving forward, in improvements, but those improvements are generally within the large metro areas, where they see maybe a 2x increase ever 3-4 years, while those living last mile slip further behind. I understand it’s not feasible for the companies to create the infrastructure, that they won’t see a return on any time soon, but there has to be a way to improve our nations information infrastructure(IPv6 should be included).

Super WiFi is probably the only decent technology for this area, considering everyone is stretched rather thin, the infrastructure costs would be lower, but that’s not a likely roll-out option for at least 4-5 years, if not a decade. That’s how slow progress is, when you’re living last mile. It’s infuriating to see improvements so close, and simultaneously know that it will be held right in front of your face, but out of your grasp.

  • Anonymous

    I feel your pain. We looked into these issues when we heard NetFlix was going to cut out mailing DVD’s over the next two years. There may be some links of interest to you in our article: http://www.moosicorn.com/2011/02/delving-into-netflix-hurt-my-brain/

  • Thanks Scott, I remember reading that at least partially a few weeks ago. It’s just kind of ridiculous how messed up the system is particularly with the virtual monopolies, the companies have managed to create and maintain, along with government assistance in doing so.

  • Couldn’t agree more, Jimminy. While we don’t suffer the same issues you have with television service (DirecTV actually works extremely well – with local channels – in our area), we have no Internet service options.

    As a person that makes my living on the Web, dial-up isn’t even something I could begin to consider. That left me using satellite service for about two and a half years (which cost about $350 up-front to purchase the dish – there was no rental option – plus $80/month for the service, which offered speeds around 1.5mbps with ~2000 millisecond latency). Then, I picked up a mifi device, letting me get 3G speeds (slightly slower than the satellite, but with much, much less latency) at half the price of my satellite coverage (without the bandwidth cap that was forcibly enforced by my satellite provider).

    Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Cloud Player, etc. are all completely useless to me, just as they are for you.

    To make matters worse, we’re not even in the “last mile”; we’re in the “last 100 yards”. Cable actually runs all the way to our driveway, but Comcast refuses to run the cable down our driveway to our house.

  • Curtiss, we finally got the local channels about a month ago, they had to replace the dish, and the main receiver, but the only reason we got upgraded is they had us on an outmoded dish, and they were having to send a tech out every week.

    Yeah, after being in Morgantown and having a 10mbps connection, during my most active hours, I couldn’t go back to dial-up.  I don’t think I could deal with a satellite connection’s latency. Around here, the 3G service is iffy, especially with all the weather recently, but I do like the mifi service.

    I’m also a huge Hulu user, and it streams okay if I turn it down to the 288kbps(low) stream, at least they’re buffering system is useful. Netfilx on the otherhand is useless when it comes to streaming, as are services like Bitgravity, because of their buffering protocols.

    I would probably see if I could work out a deal for them to extend it out if it’s just a 100 yards. That would really suck, and is pretty stupid.

  • Believe me, we tried to work out a deal. I even have a friend who worked as one of their linemen (the guys that actually run the cable) for 15 years; and asked if I could have him run the cable for me. They told me they wouldn’t allow it.