Locations with no good Internet (was ISP in Johannesburg)

Greg Bur pizon at linux-advocacy.org
Sat Feb 27 02:57:55 UTC 2010

On Fri, 2010-02-26 at 18:10 -0500, Paul Bosworth wrote:
> I think a lot of people often forget that ISPs are actually businesses
> trying to turn a profit.

That sums it up pretty well.  In a previous life I operated an ISP in a
small town.  When I entered the arena there was one other competitor,
another independent ISP deploying 2.4GHz wireless.  The RBOC and cable
company weren't even considering rolling out high speed service but
there was a definite demand, especially from the business community.  I
ended up having some measure of success deploying a mix of 2.4GHz and
900MHz wireless with DSL to fill in a few gaps.  Before I sold the
business my main competitor folded and the RBOC pushed out DSL.  I think
the local cable company joined the fray a couple years ago, too.

My achilles heel wasn't having to compete with a goliath RBOC, it was
all of the marketing.  People would see ads on TV and in newspapers from
providers who didn't even serve the area.  When they were told "sorry,
no broadband for you" from one of these national providers they would
often accept that as a final answer.  Folks often confused my wireless
service with cellular or satellite access.  They would have a hard time
understanding why I could not provide them service well out of range of
my POP where they could get "four bars" on their cell phone.  Toward the
end I floated the idea of a co-op but local politics prevailed over
common sense and I quietly exited the business.

Things are slightly better today but the areas that were underserved
four years ago are still underserved.  Population density will keep it
that way for some time but I think people have better options today than
a few years ago.  My parents still only have 384k DSL but they are quite
satisfied with it.  Broadband co-ops will help in areas where local
politics don't get in the way, but otherwise it is like Paul said, it's
just business.

That's my two cents, feel free to give change.

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