Fiber to the home

If last week was momentous in lighting up our home with solar power, this week felt even more momentous in lighting up our home with a fiber-optic Internet connection. We’ve finally entered the 21st century!

One of the longstanding challenges of rural living is the dearth of high-speed Internet service. I remember when we moved from our home in Lyme, NH to the middle of Bangalore, India, we were thrilled to leave behind our dial-up 28.8kbps modem and finally have “high-speed” DSL service; that was 2008. On return, we bought into a local one-man start-up company that provided fixed-wireless Internet service – a dish antenna on the side of our house, aimed at a small tower on the opposite of the river. After some upgrades, that brought us up to 1Mbps, and even 2Mbps. But when it snowed heavily, the signal would degrade. Cellular telephones barely work in our neighborhood and most of the town is a dead zone. There simply aren’t enough towers to cover this hilly terrain.

So I have been following for years, with great anticipation, the tireless efforts of a set of dedicated Lyme townspeople who have been striving to develop a town-wide fiber-optic network. The broadband market has essentially bypassed our little town – there is no cable television (let alone cable Internet), virtually no cellular telephone network, and even DSL is only available only to the handful of residences located in the center of town. No ISP has ever shown serious interest in building out the infrastructure needed to provide Internet service to every home, let alone high-speed Internet service.

Retired experts like Steve Campbell and Rich Brown, who once built and operated Dartmouth’s campus-wide network through the early days of AppleTalk and later Ethernet and Wi-Fi, and who now live in Lyme, worked through the complex state regulations, and the creation of innovative community-focused business plans that can finance a town-wide infrastructure that can serve everyone for the foreseeable future. We are indebted to their tenacity and creativity!

The result is uniquely interesting – a community-focused corporation, with its top priority being service to the community.

After years of anticipation, we were excited to see the fiber truck pulling cable along River Road, and then to install the ‘drop’ to our house.

This week, we were visited by another technician who installed another fiber-optic cable from that exterior box, through the wall and into our basement.

I helped him string the cable through my existing cable chase across the basement to our switchroom, where he terminated the fiber-optic cable at their (provided) Wi-Fi router. They even provide a UPS to keep the router powered during short power failures.

Shortly after he left, I ran a speedtest and was delighted to see, even over Wi-Fi, an impressive 300 Mbps up and down. (I could have paid for more.)

From that router, I connect into our existing home Ethernet network.

High-speed at last!

For more information about LymeFiber see their FAQ.

Internet service

Internet service is cheap and easy to get in the apartments here at IISc.

Although it took a few weeks, we finally have Internet service.  We get 2Mbps broadband service via DSL, which works quite nicely.   Internet service is cheap and easy to get in the apartments here at IISc.  It’s quite a contrast to the near absence of broadband Internet at home in Lyme.

The telephone man came one day with his assistants.  The telephone and cable lines enter the house in the living room, but I really wanted the Internet to arrive in the back bedroom, where I would place my Wi-Fi router. No problem, they said.

Ten minutes later I saw a cable dangling outside the back bedroom window.  They were on the roof – which is flat and which we use frequently because it has the clothesline – and they had cut a splice into the telephone wire and run a new cable across the roof and down the outside to the window.  Below, I show the job after adding some electrical tape over the bare copper; their motus operandi seems to be to leave the copper splices open to the elements.

Indeed, this is how all the telephone, Internet, and cable television wiring works; a jumble of ad hoc wires strung across the roof, dangling down the walls and into various apartment windows.  Below, Andy cuts some extraneous wire off the tangle – he loves to play with wiring.