WiFi Access in Miles City
Posted by James Shaw (+37) 17 years ago
I'm still into the idea of offering WiFi Broadband to several users in and around (approx. 20Mi) Miles City.

So far, I haven't heard much input from people. The new standard, WiMax, can offer up to a 30Mi radius, and the equipment will be rather inexpensive. The main costs is the backbone, which I can use DSL or Cable instead of the rather expensive T1 and T3 lines.

The main advantage of offering Wireless access is people OUTSIDE of the Miles City area. People who currently get 21.6kbps Dial-up connections out in the country, most between 10-15mi away from Miles City. WiFi would offer broadband connectivity, but without the massive costs (and restrictions) of satellite internet.

I do need information from the residents (and businessman and women) of Miles City. That way I can know who's interested, and what they'd utilize the service for. I would also like to know if there's any Business loans or grants so I can get this up quicker.
Top
Posted by J. Dyba (+1343) 17 years ago
WiFi is just now getting popular in larger metropolitan areas. The trickle down effect to MC that has been in place for many years puts MC having any WiFi type of service to sometime around 2018.

The type of service range you are talking about would not be a low-cost project as it appears you think it is. Something along the lines of a low range wifi internet/coffee cafe is something that is pretty affordable and *could* be done with a Cable backbone. DSL unless you quad line it, and even then maybe, would be to bogged down if you had very many users accessing it at the same time. You also have to take into account server stability, wifi security issues, local demand etc etc.

If it is not economically feasible for a place like Cincinnati (and I have seen cost projections for a project in that area for just such an undertaking) then it is most definitely not feasible in Custer County as a money-making business.

Now if you had a large fund to cover the cost of operations I think that it would greatly speed up that technologies intergration into the community as word spreads. That however would take a huge out of pocket expense and would be some time before expenses were recouped.

It would be a great way to write off some taxes for a wealthier individual!

Sorry to rain on your parade. It's people like you with bigger then normal ideas that Miles City really needs; but somethings are just not going to work in that area... yet!
Top
supporter
Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4457) 17 years ago
I think in order to not lose money on the deal, you'd have to have a plan to make your money in the first couple of years and then have a plan to get out. Wimax is an easy technology to deploy, which is a double edged sword. It's easy for you to quickly create a WAN to give access to many in a short period of time. Unfortunately, its just as easy for others to set up as well, and in the long run I think it would be tough to compete with the likes of Midrivers on your front-end bandwidth cost, which is what I'm sure the majority of your expense would be.

You'd probably start to pull some of their dialup customers away, until they decided to deploy wimax, and then you'd be in a competition I don't think you could win. Plus you'd have the disadvantage of early adoption. Wimax equipment is going to be much more expensive at first. You'd have to make up alot of money in a short amount of time, because when others join in down the road, they will have paid less for their equipment than you. But if you can make a profit in the short run, it might be worth doing, and would give a nice technological kick in the pants to those who would otherwise be behind the curve. Good luck in your endeavor.

Hopefully Wimax will be cheap enough in the next few years that we'll be able to have an open, non-commercial network in Miles City that will be able to do all sorts of fun things for the community.
Top
supporter
Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+17663) 17 years ago
When I want to access my WiFi, I usually say something along the lines of, "Hey WiFi poo...can I blow off the day and go fishing with Wapiti Bob?"

(sorry, that was lame).
Top
Posted by James Shaw (+37) 17 years ago
- WiFi is just now getting popular in larger metropolitan areas.
- The trickle down effect to MC that has been in place for many
- years puts MC having any WiFi type of service to sometime around
- 2018.

Why not? I lived in a place called Maquoketa, IA for a few months and they've got it fully deployed over there. The town isn't much bigger than Miles City. They've got a T1 dedicated to it, though. I'm looking towards a dual 7mbit/1mbit DSL link from Qwest.

- The type of service range you are talking about would not be a low-
- cost project as it appears you think it is. Something along the
- lines of a low range wifi internet/coffee cafe is something that
- is pretty affordable and *could* be done with a Cable backbone.
- DSL unless you quad line it, and even then maybe, would be to
- bogged down if you had very many users accessing it at the same
- time. You also have to take into account server stability, wifi
- security issues, local demand etc etc.

Um.. Don't you think I haven't looked into this already? I've checked the costs and the configurations, and currently looking into putting a couple of antennas on the VA's Watertower.

As for a "Backbone", a think a 14mbit link (2x 7mbit dl from Qwest) should do it. Unless you're doing some serious uploading (2x 1mbit up). The only reason it would bog down is several people running P2P, and I kinda doubt it. I would offer the full speed of the connection to the customers, but would also tell them that the speeds could fluctuate, but it depends on the load.

As for Account Server Stability, our servers to begin with, I don't trust Windows at all. All servers will be running FreeBSD. Also, as for WiFi Security, ever heard of WPA or AES (NOT WEP)? WEP is crackable. WPA and AES is more difficult. I'm not saying they can't be cracked (anything is crackable). Plus, if you use a solid key, it makes it even more difficult to crack, especially if you constantly shift keys.

- If it is not economically feasible for a place like Cincinnati
- (and I have seen cost projections for a project in that area for
- just such an undertaking) then it is most definitely not feasible
- in Custer County as a money-making business.

I see it as a possibility. If you don't try it, how will you know? Is that the reason we just NOW got Broadband a year ago since it's been available for 7? I mean, really. AT&T could've brought broadband cable years ago, but they didn't. Amazing that when Bresnan took over, Cable Internet was available in months.

- Now if you had a large fund to cover the cost of operations I
- think that it would greatly speed up that technologies
- intergration into the community as word spreads. That however
- would take a huge out of pocket expense and would be some time
- before expenses were recouped.

Depends. But of course, I'm looking into the long run. Ever seen the prices for Satellite Internet? Made me just about hurl. Any business when you start up is a huge out-of-pocket expense. That's why I'm looking into business grants and loans.

- Sorry to rain on your parade. It's people like you with bigger
- then normal ideas that Miles City really needs; but somethings are
- just not going to work in that area... yet!

So, what you're saying is that you want to keep us in the stone age and not advance like the rest of the world? It's not a "Bigger than normal" idea until you actually have it available. Then you'd probably subscribe to it and think the opposite.

I remember when people said "56k was fast enough". Hmm.. How times have changed. Now imagine you're out in the country on a 56k modem connecting at 21.6k. This is one way to bridge that broadband gap for people who really want it, but can't get it and don't want to be stuck with Satellite with their restrictions and their massive prices for equipment.

- You'd probably start to pull some of their dialup customers away,
- until they decided to deploy wimax, and then you'd be in a
- competition I don't think you could win. Plus you'd have the
- disadvantage of early adoption.
- Wimax equipment is going to be much more expensive at first. You'd
- have to make up alot of money in a short amount of time, because
- when others join in down the road, they will have paid less for
- their equipment than you. But if you can make a profit in the
- short run, it might be worth doing, and would give a nice
- technological kick in the pants to those who would otherwise be
- behind the curve. Good luck in your endeavor.

It could be. I don't disagree that newer technologies is cheaper. Also, early adoption is better now-a-days with Upgradable Firmware, newer encryption, and modular accessibility. If a new firmware is available for the access point, I just point-and-click and the Wimax access point is upgraded.
As for "Dial-Up Customers", Dial-Up is getting taken over my broadband rather quickly. Being locked at 56k is really tiring, and with the costs of broadband dropping, alot more people are switching.
..and as for available WiFi access points, you can drive to almost any city (or town) and find a freely available access point to check your e-mail, or surf the 'net. I found 20 here in Miles City.

I do admit that we're quite behind in "Technilogical Advances". Being stationed in San Diego has shown me this. But even if we were a little more advanced in the SE corner, than more people (and companies) would take notice and offer other services. Heck, just sitting in the park enjoying the fresh air with a laptop chatting with an old friend half across the world would be an advantage.

Even a relay to Broadus (or some other small towns) would be an improvement. The entire town is still on Dialup with no hopes of Broadband just yet.

..and if MidRivers wants to put up a WiMax tower, let them. I'd rather work together with them instead of against them, though (switching DSL pipes from Qwest to MidRivers). That way I can resell their service in a different way (DSL -> WiMax).

Thanks to Rick for at least a little support in this possibility.
Top
Posted by J. Dyba (+1343) 17 years ago
Answering questions like the one you asked is one of the things I do for a living. I don't just make up answers out of thin air and I am sorry if you feel that everything I said was incorrect.

James Shaw wrote:
"Why not? I lived in a place called Maquoketa, IA for a few months and they've got it fully deployed over there. The town isn't much bigger than Miles City. They've got a T1 dedicated to it, though. I'm looking towards a dual 7mbit/1mbit DSL link from Qwest."

Yes, but this Maquoketa is not Miles City. The same people do not live there. Is it a former cowtown who's roots are still heavily sunk in agriculture and ranching? The dynamic of these two places are polar opposites.

Want a blaring example of what I am talking about?

Here is the CoC link for Maquoketa:
http://www.maquoketachamber.com/

And here is the link for Miles City CoC:
http://www.milescitymt.org/index.html

Different things are important to each community. As far as technology goes, Miles City has had and will have for quite a few more years a 6-10 year trickle affect before something catches on. Hell, 6 years ago the only place you could get a cell phone in Miles City was from Coast to Coast and even then it was a humongous bag phone. Drive 5 hours west to Bozeman and 1 out of 5 had a small handheld cell phone. Go 10 more hours to Seattle and 4 out of 10 had a cell phone. I have never looked for one during my trips home but I would be surpised if there is a dedicated cell phone service provider in Miles City yet that isn't situated inside Wal-Mart.

I didn't say you couldn't do it. I said it would take a large amount of start up capital and patience to allow for the technology to sink into the area. It would also be some time before it became a money making venture.

Some professional advice for you. When you specifically request input from a community about something, it is wise to suspect that not everyone is going to agree with your ideas. You were not personally attacked in my post and no criticism took place. I offered simple and clear opinions on my take of your current situation as pertains to your targeted economic locale.

Also, since you seem to be intent on broudband speeds I would ask that you provide some links to wide range WiFi antenna dealers and prices that use 802.11a and have a larger LoS at 5GHz then 300 feet. I am interested to see what equipment you have chosen to utilize.

THIS:
http://www.5gwireless.com..._point.htm

is a link to one of the most cost efficient WiFi wider range "kits" on the market at this point in time. It has an aproximate 8 mile footprint for non los and los users up to around 3k users. Call this company and get a quote for this system with 5GHz wireless and I'm betting it's a tad more expensive then you are thinking. I apologize if this is an incorrect assumption. Remember that with 11b your looking at highly reliable 14bps and 11a somewhere around 54.

Wanted to add this for you in case you have never been here.

http://www.wi-fihotspotlist.com/

A good spot for lots of information on this subject.


[This message has been edited by J. Dyba (edited 9/1/2004).]
Top
Posted by Bryan Garrett (+21) 17 years ago
I think you should go for it. there are people in miles city that do not want growth or change. Forget these people there are plenty more that would like to be and up to date city. Who wouldn't love to si in the park and chat to freinds half way around the globe. Should you only be able to do this in big cities? Technology is not only fun but is very good for business. The more technilogicly advanced your city is the more growth there is. I think if miles city ever hits a big growth spurt your business would be well founded by then and you would already have the trust of your customers. I say go for it my freind. I don't think an internet cafe is a bad idea either. When I was a kid growing up in miles city there was nothing to do. So naturaly I would hang out with my freinds at riverside park and the police would chase us off. There was nothing to do in miles city. Maybe you could incorperate a coffee shop/books/magezine/comics into your cafe and really attract diversity. I hope it works for you and if it doesn't there are still a million ideas for your town and most of them are big money makers.

Bryan Garrett
Top
supporter
Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4457) 17 years ago
J. He's talking about Wimax (802.16), not Wifi (802.11 a,b,g). It will have an adequate range to cover all of Miles City and then some, but as far as I know it is not quite available commercially (at least not under a ratified standard) The range is billed to be around 30 miles. Throughput is advertised as 70mbps. I'm sure that's all under utopian conditions, but it is definitely an interesting alternative to building a wired metropolitan network.

James, I was just guessing as far as dial-up customers coming your way, that your first group of customers would probably be people who wanted broadband, but didn't have it available (rural customers). I get the feeling that people who feel the need for broadband, and have access to it, probably already switched. Maybe you're planning to compete on price with wired services. Personally I don't think that's the way to go, but if you have a business plan that says you could make it, more power to you.

There's also a few niche markets you could hit... mostly people that need ultra portability, or people that want light access that can't justify the cost of a dedicated data line. Someday, I'm sure IP phones will be running over wimax-style data networks. And I'm guessing cell providers will get in on that action as well. My big concern for you is to keep your business model profitable in the short term. Things in networking, and particularly wireless networking change so fast that you could easily get caught with your pants down. (easy, Gunnar, I'm still a hetero Republican )
Top
Posted by J. Dyba (+1343) 17 years ago
Oh I apologize. For a moment I thought he was wanting to discuss something he would like to implement sometime soon. Not the potential for future technologies still being developed and not even available militarily yet.

At this point in time, even with WiMax, they are considering using the technology more to connect WiFI hot spots then to be an independent blanket of service. And again, when it does go commercial, at least at first, it will be expensive.

I will agree that if they make WiMax work as they intend, and they probably will after a few years, it will change the face of internet in places like Miles City more readily then what is currently available.
Top
Posted by James Shaw (+37) 17 years ago
It is true that I'm also looking at WiFi (mostly 802.11b/g). It's the most compatible and widely used standard available. I'm also looking into WPA more for security than WEP.

I'm also looking into an Internet Cafe. I've been wanting to start one for years, but finding a decent building that can house a few servers and several workstations is difficult. I was looking into the old Video Rental place (next to the high school), but they're looking to sell it for a rather extreme price.

As for "Nothing to do in Miles City", that is the main reason I wanted to start up the Internet Cafe. That way they can play multiplayer games with each other, or anyone from around the world. We can have tournaments and see who's the best at a particular game. I know there's alot of gamers in this town.

Also, there IS Wireless Internet Access through Cellular One (and Verizon), but they charge around $80/month for it and the maximum speed is 144kbps. Look up 1XRTT.

Thanks on some of the input. I know it's going to be awhile before we catch up to the curve, but we'll eventually get there.
Top
supporter
Posted by Buck Showalter (+4454) 17 years ago
I've seen a couple of bars that have a bunch of xbox's hooked up on LAN or XBOX live depending on how folks want to play. They have monstrous tournaments with games like Madden on the LAN and give away stuff like trips to Bronco's games or whatever. It's not quite an internet cafe, but it's kind of a start.
Top
Posted by J. Dyba (+1343) 17 years ago
James,

I think you are on the right track with the internet cafe idea. If you could get a decent clientele running then they could sell the idea of wireless to their parents. Once you get the cafe running and making you some money then you have an alternate source of income to help get a wider range WiFi off the ground. You could intergrate a small snack counter perhaps and PC/repair upgrade services. I have seen some places keep a nicely stocked workbench with a good set of PC tools and let kids use the space to work on their case mods or PC hardware for a small hourly fee. There are quite a few options available. Heck, you could start a cafe team and enter yourself in some LAN events in the Northwest USA and maybe win yourself some cash! Sky's the limit.

It would also be a HELL of a lot easier to get some federal grant money to start up something like a cafe as compared to a larger structured company like a wireless ISP provider. Way less things to be accountable for.

Changes in MIles City have always been accomplished by younger people. By wrangling in the wallets of the young computer users in MC you're getting a head start on taking a piece of that consumer market once they graduate.

Don't use the old MC video building either; I think that place is cursed! Every business that has opened there since MC video closed down has failed rather quickly. As sad as it is to say, if you want brisk walk-through business, you're going to have to be somewhere near the commerce area by Wal-mart.

If you do happen to get a cafe open I'd love to stop in and check it out the next time I was in town!
Top
founder
supporter
Posted by Amorette Allison (+11902) 17 years ago
Nobody walks out on Haynes Ave. besides a few lost tourists, some folks with their dogs and me and few other oddballs who don't drive. You don't get "walk through" traffic on a strip.

Amorette
Top
supporter
Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4457) 17 years ago
I'd agree on that. The market for the kind of establishment you're talking about would be looking for a little trendier spot than next to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart's traffic generation helps certain kinds of businesses, I just don't think it helps places that need customers to relax and stay awhile to make any money. I think downtown is definitely the place in your situation. But it's gotta be very nicely done; trendy, yet professional. Its a huge commitment, but being the kind of business that it is, if it doesn't ooze class right off the bat, it will most likely fail.
Top
Posted by J. Dyba (+1343) 17 years ago
Commercially speaking walk-through traffic is referring to customers that only enter the establishment from outside your local consumer base, not literally customers that are walking by your store I.E. this means all those out of towners! Kids staying in hotels for sports tournaments to someone who's Van is broken down and they are waiting on a repair. None of that traffic is going anywhere near downtown from what I have seen in threads on this website. From what I have read this traffic spends most of its time in Miles City in the South haynes area of town unfortunately.

I don't believe MC has enough local population to support a cafe. he would need at least a 20 percentage from outside sources to keep afloat until it takes off. Rick is definetely on the right track as far as environment goes. Can't be to hoighty tighty though or you will intimidate some of the potential customers native to MC. Leave the turtlenecks at home!!

I agree downtown would be the ideal location; but I don't see it as feasible to attract the customers that he needs to get a cafe off the ground.

After further thought I would add that if you want both the relaxed crowd and the gaming crowd you would definitely need a location where you can keep the two seperated because from what an associate has told me; the two crowds do not mix well.

[This message has been edited by J. Dyba (edited 9/8/2004).]
Top
Posted by James Shaw (+37) 17 years ago
I'll probably do that.

I'm also still looking into delivering Broadband to some of the rural customers out in the country.

I'm finding some very interesting websites, and I'm going to ask MidRivers if they'd be interested in a project. What the project consists of is re-using old satellite dishes (Primestar, DirecTV, Dish Network, etc.) and using them for Long-Distance WiFi Antennas for the families that are out in the country.

http://www.trevormarshall.com/biquad.htm
http://www.wwc.edu/~frohro/Airport/Primestar/Primestar.html

If the customer already has an old dish laying around, it'd be cheaper and easier. If they already have an Access Point, a Dish, and some cable; all they'd have to pay is the Internet Access.

There's more sites about this. Just do a "Google" search for "DirecTV WiFi Antenna" or "Dish WiFi Antenna".

I can outfit some of these with a Cantenna [http://www.cantenna.com] and it'd look alot better.

[This message has been edited by James Shaw (edited 10/3/2004).]
Top