Villagers dig 15 miles of trenches in the name of faster Internet

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/06/27/villagers-dig-15-miles-of-tren.html

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Not to sound like a dick, but my experience with rural living is that most people with acreage have a tractor with a backhoe. These days, mini-excavators seem to be making some big inroads too. While the only photo suggests hand digging, there is just no way that happened. Trenching 15 miles with a backhoe is a lot of work and quite admirable but not some Herculean task.

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Hell, I’d dig 50 miles of trench if someone paid me in gaming-level computers upon completion, though.

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Y’see? They’re not all too busy fucking sheep and/or close relations. Good for them.

Ha! My post was flagged? Guess I should have wrapped it in sarcasm tags. For those who flagged it, a bit of context…

My comment was a reaction to several welsh jokes I’ve seen in the past so therefore, your honour, I believe this post should still stand. Would’ve been nice to see those jokes flagged but of course they weren’t so go fucking figure.

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I love all the articles that mention, with horror, the internet speed of some poor deprived rural people, and it’s higher than what I get in urban California… 4Mbps, I should be so lucky.

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I think the illusion here is that it was a single 15 mile trench, instead of hundreds of smaller trenches of only twenty metres or so, from street to house. And sure, I expect that one of the villagers had one of those little excavators that he lent to his neighbours. The point is that they did a lot of work themselves instead of hiring a construction company, and it’s actually a model that rural Americans once followed to get telephone lines up to farms — forming coops and doing the “last mile” themselves, that is.

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Yes; as fnordius said, it wasn’t a 15 mi trench across wild moorland (Michaelston-y-Fedw is only ~500 m from the M4 and 6.8 mi from the very centre of Cardiff!) but a total of 15 mi of short trenches from houses to the edges of their plots.

Here’s the equivalent for my local area: B4RN, which has grown into an impressive undertaking. Pity it’s necesssary, though.

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Unfortunately this is common for all utilities cost-wise. The labor for trenching (and sometimes boring under stuff) accounts for 80-90% of the cost of install. Materials are relatively cheap in comparison…

I occasionally recommend customers that really want to keep costs down to hire someone to do trenching instead of having my company’s crew do it. It doesn’t come up often but in special cases it can cut half or more of the cost. The other big money sink is removing and restoring concrete & asphalt. (I work for a gas utility).

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I couldn’t help laughing when I read “…shitty internet, with speeds as slow as 4Mbps”. So, nearly three times faster than my 1.5.
Honestly, I don’t feel that put out by my slow connection. It supports two low-quality or one decent video stream. If I buy a video game, I usually have to wait a few days for the download but many of my neighbors are stuck with dial-up or satellite so I still count myself lucky.

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To be honest, without context your original post looked similar to strategy frequently used by far right, where racist statements are never said directly, only as a “joke” or “sarcasm”. Now it’s obvious that it’s not what you had on mind.

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Start digging.

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I cringe every time I hear about someone with sewer problems paying the plumber to dig up the lines instead of just to fix the lines after cheaper labor dug the trench.

Yeah anything that involves a customer offering to trench something to dig up an existing asset is a hard no because they will 100% damage a line, and there’s regulations/protocol that needs to be followed (at least for gas lines). But if someone offers to dig a trench and we’re putting in a line they can do so as long as its all on private property or they have permits to dig in the right of way, and they’ve done locates for other utilities.

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I read the article and did a speed test, getting 1.2Mbps. Which, granted, is a lot slower than what it’s supposed to be, but I rarely get what I’m supposed to get, which isn’t much better than 4Mbps. All sorts of weather seems to impact it, but when it gets warm (which, you know, never happens here in California) the speed plummets - something about the wires between here and where the fiber actually is. When the neighbor first got the combined phone/internet/television package (which is presumably all run off the internet), it would all go down during the summer on a regular basis - the connection speed simply couldn’t support any of the services.

I would definitely dig a trench on my property for faster internet. Or slow internet, really. I’d be out there with a shovel in a heartbeat. Sadly, I apparently have the opposite situation from that of the villagers - the phone company can’t be arsed to get their lines anywhere near my neighborhood, so it doesn’t matter what I do.

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If you sell goods and services over the internet (particularly anything that relies on streaming video), it’s nice to have a baseline. For 4K video streaming, 25 Mb/s is useful. For 1080p, 10 Mb/s is useful. More efficient codecs help-- but that requires more recent hardware.

If your customer has really slow internet, things like software updates become problematic.

Yes, I’m perpetually behind the curve in this regard. Since I’ve been on the internet, my connection has always been slower than what software vendors and website designers assume it to be. I feel that developers push out non-optional multi-megabyte patches without a second thought putting me out of commission for the twenty minutes or even hours it takes for me to download them.

I remember downloading 750 MB updates over halfrate DSL. Apple was sort of a pioneer in this regard.
I now have 50/50 internet, which suits my needs nicely,

Oh yeah not for gas. That could get you dead. A sewer line, not so much.

I wouldn’t want a customer hitting a sewer line or other utilities either :stuck_out_tongue: but hitting a sewer line is probably quite an experience.

Not really. They (old ones) are pretty tough clay or cast iron. They aren’t under pressure. And there isn’t typically much waste or water in them even if horribly clogged. Plus the odor isn’t that bad.

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