Re: Shared community internet service
From: Jim Snyder-Grant (
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2014 11:40:16 -0700 (PDT)
Here's the internet story at New View (Acton, MA).

When we built in 1994 we specified that our builder put conduits to all
houses, via a hub & spoke arrangement (hubs are 4 of the basements; the
rest of us have conduits directly or indirectly to those hubs; to make it
reasonable, we also put some access boxes on site, clustered near the
utility and cable box clusters). The cable &  phone & electric folks put in
their own cables & conduits.  We started with cat 5 cable and nylon
pull-ropes. (never forget the pullropes!). Over the years, we've upgraded
wires & routers.  We've had a few different providers of business service
to one of the houses (the head hub). We always make sure the terms of
service allow sharing.

At first, we charged individual households a share of the monthly cost. As
adoption approached 100% percent, we rolled it in to the condo fee. There
are a handful of folks who are often-to-sometimes  available to solve
individual household issues, and to resolve net issues. We've become known
as the 'nerdview commitee' or 'nerds at newview', although we rarely meet
in person. We come up with a proposed budget each year, to cover service,
website registration and hosting, and a bit of hardware upgrade or
replacement each year.

We've always told people that if they absolutely must have reliable
internet, for example, if they work at home and need it to be available
24/7, they should have their own line. More and more households have done
that, but we keep the service costs in the budget anyway. The ones who are
opting out of the shared service aren't doing it to save money.

We used to have servers here to deal with our email and website, until we
calculated that the poor person with this machine in their basement was
spending more on electricity than it would cost to outsource it. We paid
him for the back-electric bill & switched away to a remote host; and to
google for our email.

Our main internet bandwidth issues used to come when the college age kids
came home & used up all of our supply of inbound and outbound connections
doing peer-to-peer sharing via bitTorrent etc. We've educated them on how
to be kind to our resources, and we've beefed up our main firewall/router.
Things are good these days. We can even support a reasonable level of TV
and phone over internet. We've got 100 mbps between the hubs, and 10 mbps
to each house. Not super fast by modern standards, but plenty fast enough
so far. The main connection to the head house is now fiber, but so far the
cost of the tools to connect and test have kept us from doing fibre between
the hubs or to houses.

Some day, the toasters will insist on fiber, but so far, we're OK.


Jim Snyder-Grant
Home: 978 266-9409
Cell: 508 572-2985
18 Half Moon Hill
Acton MA 01720

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