SLR Koffee Klatch 06/15/2010 Internet Addendum
This Koffee Klatch Addendum contains a written recap of the presentation presented at Koffee Klatch on Monday 06/15/2010 covering the Wireless Internet situation in Saddlebag.
The following contains a recap of the main issues. At the end of this document is a link to a recording that was made of this presentation. It should only be accessed by people with high speed internet and will not be viewable on dialup.
1. I met with a representative from Bright House Communications last week. He stated that it would cost Bright House $1,200,000 to wire our Resort so they could provide fiber based internet, telephone and television services. After a lengthy discussion we learned that approximately $500,000 of this cost would be incurred outside of Saddlebag and $700,000 inside. His proposal to Saddlebag was that every homeowner pay $500 so we could contribute $400,000 toward the project. I explained that the concept of getting 100% of Saddlebagers to agree to anything was impossible and suggested that he already knew that before his proposal. Conversation turned to a more practical way to meet their needs and our goals. Bright House presently has 43 customers inside Saddlebag and we discussed that this was because of their antique analog TV system. I suggested that we prepare a questionnaire for interested parties to complete which would indicate their interest in receiving a fiber based internet, telephone and TV suite of products. We discussed that if approximately 422 people indicated a desire for service that would change their "mathematical model" 's recommendation from not practical to practical. But the timing is not immediate and will offer no chance of solving the internet availability problem this fall. If fact it will probably take two years. So, I have put this project on the back burner for a few weeks and I am concentrating on other ways of solving the current internet crisis.
2. Last week Ken Spooner received a phone call from Mr. Carl Fish who announced that he had purchased the assets of Lake Wales Wireless and he could turn our internet system back on in three days if we signed a contract to pay $4,600 per month for 12 months. Mr Spooner called me and I have had several conversations with Mr. Fish during the last week. At yesterday's Koffee Klatch I explained that the proposed "deal" cost more than $50,000 and was out of the question for Board action before the next election. I also was very concerned with the legality of Mr. Fish's purchase and was concerned that if we started to use the old LWW WiFi distribution system a Bankruptcy filing by LWW might put our whole recovery plan in limbo, and at a time when we had no alternatives. I told everyone that I did not think Mr. Fish's plan had a chance of solving our problem.
Subsequent Change: I talked to Mr. Fish again today (Tuesday) in an attempt to get him to offer a more short term solution and one that the Board might be able to afford. It was then, that I learned that he HAD NOT purchased Lake Wales Wireless and that he was just looking at the possible purchase. So, Mr. Fish's offer was never real and offers no chance of solving our problem.
3. We have very little time to act if we are going to solve this problem this fall. I have completed a design of a new distribution system which would not involve using any of the old LWW system hardware except for the towers which belong to SLOA. Parts and installation of a new dual Wi-Fi and Wimax distribution system would cost just under $20,000 and would work with the antennas presently located at 153 homes inside the Resort. The new system would place only antennas on the towers and all electronics would be at eye level on the ground, protected by lightning arrestors and could be repaired without climbing the towers. This system would be robust enough to feed internet to every home in the Resort (if they purchase a receiving antenna) and would be MUCH easier to maintain. I am willing to fund the purchase of the internet feed to the system, charge users approximately $40.00 per month on a 12 month per year contract or $42.00 per month on a 6 month contract. Download and upload speeds would be approximately 3000 kb. There would be no billing statements and payments would be made via credit card on a web site I presently operate. The $20,000 equipment cost includes a supply of spare parts so the mean time to repair should be kept to a minimum in the event of storm damage. (except for damage to the towers). The new system would support VOIP telephones so those who use Vonage, Voipo or Skype would get good performance. Any hesitations would come from the external internet not from in the Resort equipment.
If the Bright House project is ultimately not feasible, an additional performance upgrade could be installed next year with the addition of a higher speed internet feed from T3 Communications. Such a feed is not possible this year because it will take 6 months to install due to political issues with the City of Lake Wales needing to approve installation of antennas on a water tower downtown to act as an intermediate hop between Winter Haven and Saddlebag.
4. At the Koffee Klatch I explained that I had asked Mr. Lewis to pass on to the Board my request for a $20,000 grant from the Board to cover the needed hardware and installation. I said that I would repay the $20,000 over the next two seasons out of "profits" from the monthly payments received from users. I explained that I regard Mr. Lewis as a friend and, as friends do, Ken advised me that he really did not believe there was support on the Board for getting involved in solving the internet problem. He suggested that he thought the Board sentiment was to purchase a T1 internet feed for the office (for about $650/mo) and to leave everyone else fend for themselves. I hope he was wrong because I believe that is a terribly short sighted view of our needs.
I reminded folks of how it was years ago when there were only a couple of pay phones in the Resort and how it took homeowner demands to cause the Board to do something to resolve the problem and get phone service at every home. I suggest that those who feel that it is time for Saddlebag to have a Resort wide internet system to contact the Board and let their feelings be known. I am willing to design, install, maintain, and run such a system in a professional manner. But I do want the Board to provide more than lip service to the project. And, I want Saddlebagers to let the level of their need for internet be known before proceeding with the project. If there is going to be Resort wide internet available this October, we need to order the radio equipment and internet feed circuits by July 15, 2010. The internet feed circuits are from Qwest Wholesale and the "local loop" from downtown to the Resort is installed by Verizon Communications and takes 45 to 60 days after order. We need to make up our minds very soon.
For those who think I am proposing this action to put myself into the internet business I assure you it was my last desire. If this problem is going to be solved, many of us are going to have to do some things we would prefer not to do. This includes me who would prefer not to work on this project, the Board who would prefer not to spend any money, and the many users who would prefer to only pay for internet for 3 months a year not 6. Those who would prefer to "borrow" a signal form a neighbor are just just going to have to pay like everyone else. The numbers require the above outlined plan to make it work. The Saddlebag Office, SLR Maintenance Dept, and CHUG need to become paying subscribers to the system. I see no reason why the past CHUG free internet feed to short term CHUG members who take their laptops to the annex or pool area cannot be maintained. AND, with the new system design, good speed internet should be available 99.9% of the time to users who help pay to defer the cost. The only other alternative is to have everybody buy Verizon Air Cards and have the load of 200+ Air Cards hit the Verizon Tower this fall. For those who remember when the load of 80 customers hit the LWW system in October of 2007 (also designed to support 25 users at the time ) the result was not pretty.
I'll do my part to see we all have good internet service if you do your part to make it happen..
Bob Staib (Jr)
The following link will stream a copy of the Monday 6/14/2010 Koffee Klatch to your computer
Koffee Klatch 6/14/2010