DBIUA Membership

It’s been quite a while since this site has been updated with new content, but that doesn’t mean that the DBIUA has closed up shop. We are just plodding along continuing to deliver internet connection to it’s members.

We continue to make adjustments to the network, both to software and hardware. On the software side we have switched over to mostly using Ubiquity UNMS to manage and monitor all our equipment (currently at 225 devices). For a short period of time we tried to use the CRM part of UNMS, but we had some billing issues with Stripe, and we rolled back to using the billing and financial software we were using before. On the hardware side we have been upgrading core backhaul radios to make sure there are as little bottlenecks as possible between members and our interent connection points. We have also added several redundant links so that if one radio goes down there is a secondary path to the internet. We also have maintained our upstream connections with both Startouch and Rockisland. If one or the other goes down, we automatically switch over to the other one.

People from all over the USA and the world continue to email from time to time asking for help or advice in setting up their own ISP like us, and I imagine there are a lot who just use what we have done and provided here to just get it done and stop waiting for some corporation to start caring and make their internet better.

The whole COVID pandemic made it abundantly clear how important a decent internet connection is for working and going to school remotely, and this brings me to the main subject of this post. Adding more members to the DBIUA.

A few years back, when Rockisland started to roll out their LTE wireless connections in the area, we stopped adding new members. You can read all about that here. But, truth be told, we have added new members since then, and the brutally honest criteria has been the following:

Are you in a location where one of our existing relay points can service you?

Creating a new relay point is a major undertaking, and sometimes it’s just not possible with the resources at our disposal. We have in the past placed relay points up in trees, but we are trying to avoid doing that because if something happens and we need to access that equipment, it’s a major time consuming PITA. Also, sometime the hills and tree cover in the area means getting a signal using the public low power frequencies we use are just not possible.

Are you not able to get a Rockisland LTE connection?

In some cases (due to the trees and hills), even the higher power LTE radios that Rockisland (actually T-Mobile) use can not reach certain locations, but we may have a relay point that can service you. But if you can use Rockisland, then you have an option. Adding more members does affect the speeds of our network for existing members, and it does cause more work for the volunteers running the system. Rockisland is larger company (supported financially by OPALCO), and so they have more resources to service people and provide a different level of service.

Do you understand that DBIUA is run by volunteers and that providing internet service is a complicated problem?

This last criteria really speaks to the partnership we have with our members. We try our hardest to keep the system running for everyone while keeping costs affordable and performance as fast as possible. If people are not able to understand that this is a two way partnership and are unreasonable with their expectations, either in asking for service or after getting service, then the partnership does not work. We have had to part ways with existing members due to these differences in views. I like to think about the golden rule. Treat others like you would like to be treated.

One last item, and this relates to membership transfers. We have had several people move away and sell their house. We will transfer the DBIUA internet connection to the new owners. It’s “contact free”. Meaning we just switch the billing over to the new owners. We have also had a few members move to a different part of Doe Bay. As long as we have a relay point in that new area, we will move your equipment to your new location.

So, that’s an update about the status of the DBIUA membership today, hopefully this clears up any confusion for those looking for internet options in the Doe Bay area of Orcas Island.