David Rodeback's Blog

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Monday, September 26, 2005
American Fork's Broadband Internet Revisited

When I blogged last month about the American Fork Community Network (AFCNet), American Fork's broadband system, I said, among other things:

When I talk to business people in the city, here's what I typically find: They are aware that the system exists, but it has not been extended to their business - or if it has, the City hasn't managed to communicate that. There are rumors afoot of some businesses being connected, at the low residential rate (about $40).

As it turns out, I was partly right and partly wrong. Mea culpa. (Loosely translated, that's Latin for "oops.")

I work for a small software company on the west side of American Fork, in the office park at the intersection of Main Street and West State Road. My company pays over $700 per month for a dedicated T1, which is more bandwidth than we really need, at present. (Our demand is actually decreasing, too, as we move servers off-site.) When the contract runs out in a few months, we would happily switch to something a lot cheaper, such as AFCNet. We could probably renegotiate our T1 contact with Sprint, for somewhere between $375 and $500 - but we'd happily pay $300 per month or less for AFCNet.

We have about ten computers - several workstations and several servers - so the cost would be about $100 per month for AFCNet, at current rates, not the $40 I mentioned before. For that, we can get about two-thirds of the speed we get now from our T1, which would be just fine. For some unspecified larger amount, we can get the City to run fiber-optic cable right to our office, for much better speed. (Apparently, some businesses in town already have this, and more are getting it.)

At least that's the theory. Whether we can really get it is still in question. I called AFCNet the other day and asked about rates and availability. They could tell me the rates, but not the availability - and I gave them the address! They were willing to come out and check to see if the system has been extended to that office park, but why would that be necessary, in a properly organized operation? They said there are businesses connected already, but when I asked where in the city those businesses are located, they dodged the question.

For what it's worth, by comparison, before ComCast came to my neighborhood, there were flyers at my door at least twice, announcing that their high-speed Internet service would be available in a certain number of weeks. I still think that if the City would approach this whole situation more professionally, the system would have more customers and a better bottom line.

Speaking of the bottom line, sources at the City say that a deal is now in the works that will put the system in the black. It involves leasing some of our surplus bandwidth. (We currently use about one-seventh of our available fiber.) News is expected within a week or so, I hear.

One more related note: Tonight I have been transferring (uploading) several gigabytes of data to a server elsewhere in the county. Upload speed was phenomenal -- by which I mean 10 to 12 times as fast as usual. The usual speed is excellent, but this was nearly a megabyte per second. Usually, as I mentioned, AFCNet gets me about two-thirds the upload speed I get at work with a dedicated T1, but tonight it left that T1 in the dust. Wow! (I checked and double-checked the math. The numbers are legitimate.) I have to do the same thing again next week; I can hardly wait to see if it happens again.

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