- Copper wire DSL as a last mile technology to provide broadband in the Doe Bay area is not worth pursuing.
- Connecting last mile via fiber is cost prohibitive.
- Connecting last mile via cell phone wireless technology is either not fast enough, or is not available to everyone, and has bandwidth caps, so affordability is an issue.
- Connecting last mile via Satellite has high latency, is not a symmetrical connection, has bandwidth caps, so affordability is an issue.
Given all of the above, connecting last mile via public wireless frequencies is what DBIUA is exploring.
Public wireless frequencies and equipment available (more commenly know as wifi) fall into 3 general categories.
- 2.4Ghz – This is what you probably have in your house. There are a limited number of channels. This goes through walls OK, but does not have great range without good line of site.
- 5Ghz – This is starting to become more available in home devices. It has less ability to go through walls and trees than 2.4Ghz, but there are a lot more available channels to use.
- 900Mhz – This is not very common, but was used more in cordless phones in the past. It goes through walls and trees very well, but is subject to interference more than 5Ggz or 2.4Ghz. Like 2.4Ghz it has limited channels. Also antennas and equipment for 900Mhz is quite a bit larger than 5Ghz or 2.4Ghz.
The Doe Bay area is challenged by lots of hills and trees, which makes a wireless solution difficult. Putting up towers in San Juan county is also not easy. Putting equipment in trees is a possibility, but trees fall down.
Even though there are difficulties using public wireless as a broadband solution, we think it is still possible when looked at from a member owned perspective vs a for profit company perspective.
Since 2.4Ghz is already in use by most homes, DBIUA will not try and use this for last mile. Instead, it will use 5Ghz whenever possible, and try and be creative with view lines between homes to establish connections, sometimes even hoping from house to house a few times before going out the main upstream link.
Where needed 900Mhz can be used in challenging areas with trees.
Connecting to OPALCO fiber for an upstream connection is not possible because it is not currently in the area. Also OPALCO internet rates and policies currently are a mess.
Connecting via the towers on Mt. Constitution is not possible because we are in the shadow of the mountain.
Startouch wireless provides business wifi connections as well as dedicated licensed microwave connections, and has tower locations on the mainland that are accessible via some locations in Doe Bay. Those who can see Mt. Erie in Anacortes (Pioneer Hill/Rhoel’s Hill), and those who can see into Burlington (SeaAcres), have this ability.
Generally wireless backhaul to the mainland in Doe Bay is blocked by Cypress, and Lumi islands.
A Startouch business wireless connection costs around $600 to setup, and a 5mb/s symmetrical connection cost $149/month with a 2 year contract. This includes 100Gb of data transfer. This connection may be able to achieve speeds of 20mb/s.
Startouch can also provide a licensed microwave connection, that costs around $11,000 to install, and 50mb/s symmetrical connections with no data caps costs $1,300/month. This same connection can go as fast as 350mb/s for $4,000/month.
Currently the Doe Bay area DSL customers share about 24mb/s of upstream throughput.
A typical NetFlix movie requires between 2 and 4 mb/s of throughput, but will still work with a consistent 1mb/s.
There are probably more than 100 DSL customers currently sharing this 24mb/s of upstream throughput.