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Rick Kunze of ColusaNet and Marlon Schafer of Odessa Office Equipment & Wireles

“Build for 20 years out. If you build for 10 years out, technology will overtake you.”

Rick Kunze: 10 gig to the home sounds great, but I have customers whose computers can’t handle 1 gig. It’s sexy, but not realistic. There’s little out there that can feed you data at higher speeds. People are buying the cheapest computers they can find. If you understand what you are shopping for you buy higher quality. If you don’t understand the technology you buy the cheapest. So people buy cheap computers and then wonder why it doesn’t work and doesn’t move the Internet very fast.

10 years ago folks in Colusa had no idea what they might do with the Internet. Those same folks are now dependent on the Internet. No one knows wha they will be doing on the Network in 10 years, but they know now their lives will be further entwined with it.

Rick tells the story of volunteering, along with other wireless providers to set up a wifi network at an air force base full of storm vicitms. They were prevented from getting on the base while SBC layed land lines.

Marlon Schafer: Small local providers can set up a wireless network in a municipal area quickly and very inexpensively. They are going to talk about how to get started: Here’s their checklist:

  • Why do you need it
  • How much will construction costs be
  • How much will operational costs be
  • Where are the customers
  • How many will there likely be
  • What are the geographic limitations
  • Are there any spectral limitations

Building a hybrid network: A little fiber here, a little fiber there, then let the wireless people fan it out. Wifi equipment is cheap and perfectly adequate for most people and businesses.

Several people voice their concerns in areas that are underserved: Weott, Eastern Humboldt. Rick and Marlon offer several possible solutions. This really sounds more like what will happen in tomorrows hands on sessions.

Security: There is no security on the Internet. There are devices that can track traffic, wired or wireless. Encryption shouldn’t be on the network. It’s on the end users, software based.

Operational costs: S*** happens. What will it cost to maintain/repair the network? Where will the money come from to cover it?

More questions from the audience: How do you deal with extreme conditions? What about security issues with towers in terms of vandalism?

A: No problems with security. Hardware stands up to extremes. It’s also cheap enough to replace if it breaks.

How do you build a muni wireless?

A: Don’t. Marlon’s opinion. It will create a nightmare of frequency interferences. Maybe not now. But in a few years there will be a rat’s nest of competing networks. Build a network above the town. Then put hotspots within the buildings where needed.

Taking a break. When we come back they will try and finish their presentation which has gotten a little bogged down in technical details raised by audience quesitons.