How does our Broadband work?
If you have questions about your internet service, post your questions here and one of us will try and answer your questions. THE LIAS BOARD
Can you tell me who is the best person to contact in LIAS about the functioning and reliability of the high-speed network, please.
Basically, I want to express my concern that the cost of wireless internet on Lasqueti is about what I think Telus and Shaw charge on the other side, and yet service (at least for us, but not just for us) is not nearly as reliable as it should be.
The level of dependability that we have with the Lasqueti wireless system would not be acceptable from other service providers, and it seems important to me that reliability be greatly improved before the system is expanded, or the cost of subscribing should be reduced considerably.
What is the best way that I can get this idea expressed so that the board hears it and addresses my concern, which is shared by at least some other people on other parts of the island?
Thanks very much.
PS - these are not as important, but they seem to be a bit symptomatic: your telephone message on status of the system was over three months old recently, and the web site says to contact Rainie, and contains information about the upcoming AGM and dinner that took place in 2008, I think.
The best person to address these concerns to is Willy Clark, LIAS' Board president. Willy's email is willy [at] lasqueti [dot] ca (willy [at] lasqueti [dot] ca).
While I can understand your concerns about the functioning & reliability of the network, I must say, I am a little puzzled about the comparison to Shaw/Telus. It seems to me that you are suggesting that LIAS - a non-profit society providing high-speed internet to a remote community - should be able to be competitive, in service & price, with Shaw/Telus, et al. I can tell you, with regard to price, that LIAS does not profit in any of its transactions. For example, we buy the SL9 radios (client radios) for $321 and sell them for $325; the bandwidth (the internet signal) we purchase in bulk from Telus & sell it at a rate that is at least comparable with Telus/Shaw, and even competitive when compared with other remote communities. LIAS only makes enough money on the sale of bandwidth to pay Larry & my wages (I receive $800/ month), and to provide for the maintenance of the system (ie: purchase of transmitting radios, antennas, towers, solar panels, batteries, cable, generators, fuel, etc.).
I realize that internet service on Lasqueti is not problem-free, that on some days the system is down, other days it is slow; there are a number of factors at play here:
the initial set-up of the network was accomplished with a lot of "trial & error" (or rather "educated guess & opportunity to learn")
because we live in a remote community we are forced to deliver bandwidth using a system for which there is no Instruction Manual
because our Access Points* are on private property, we do not have free and unfettered access to many key points of the LIAS network. (*sites where internet signals are transmitted/received: your AP is at Guy Immega's)
our location & geography also make things challenging (tides & hilly, rocky terrain play havoc with radio signals)
When the internet is slow it is usually due to a large volume of users doing things like downloading movies, watching YouTube, or using Skype (Voice Over Internet Phone). The only way to remedy this is to buy more bandwidth from Telus, or to tell people what they can & cannot do on-line. One idea we have been discussing is to offer those users who require more bandwidth a higher fee. Believe me, we are working to address these things, Larry is here at least 60 hours/week tweaking the network (most of that volunteer time, by the way). And he has managed vast improvements (if you recall what things were like last fall). Unfortunately, with only 2 staff (both underpaid) and a limited number of volunteers (also stretched to the limit), there is only so much we can get accomplished in a given time frame. I do not say all this to deflect your concerns, merely to apprise you of the facts.
There are many other issues that impact internet service on Lasqueti, but hopefully this quick overview gives some more perspective. I will pass on your concerns to the Board of Directors, but feel free to contact Willy yourself.
Hello Willy, and Jamie,
I wrote to LIAS, c/o Jamie Booker, and he said you were the person I shoudl contact, as president of LIAS. Jamie said he'd pass on my concerns to the board, and I assume that he has done so. If the board has not been made aware of the concerns that I expressed, please let me know and I will forward a copy of my email to you.
I am writing now about the LIAS June newsletter I have just received. I have several concerns which I will briefly outline.
It seems that at least some of the Access Points will not be operable in the winter, as the solar power is only enough to run them when the sun is shining and the days are long. Unless something is done about this, not only will the APs stop working, but the batteries will be seriously discharged and quickly ruined. My guess is that this will occur in October, and perhaps early in the month, rather than in November.
The power situation at Guy's place has been a problem, and he has lots of panels and a back-up generator. I don't understand why there continue to be two Access Points there, using twice as much power as one. It would be simple to change everyone to one radio frequency, presumably the 900 one, and very much reduce this problem.
The same situation exists in False Bay and at Laurences. Is there any advantage to running two radio antennas instead of one at these points? At least there are lots of users of the False Bay AP. The seven users at Laurences could all use one, and save half the power.
It seems that the board has decided that the users will maintain the Access Points. I don't think this is a good idea or that it will work. It certainly isn't something that we agreed to when we joined LIAS and signed up for broadband service from LIAS. We did understand that the system would be, as far as possible, set up, run and maintained by volunteers, but that is not the same as making everyone responsible for maintenance of their own AP.
Lias changes $40 per month for service that will soon be limited to 10GB/month. Even if people pay $400 per year, that comes to $33.33 per month. With the 119 people shown on the Excel file (which I assume includes the people at Cook Bay and on other areas of Texada, but I'm not sure), at the discount price of $33.33 per month, LIAS would have monthly income of $4,000. Surely this would allow for payment for reasonable maintenance of Access Points by someone responsible and trained and/or knowlegeable.
I have no intention of climbing up my tree to photograph my radio installation. When and if there is a problem, I will probably take a camera up when I do, but it's not worth doing on its own.
Finally, it seems like LIAS must be having difficulty providing service, even with well over 100 subscribers. When the system was first proposed, it was presented as easy and trouble-free, though it wouldn't reach everywhere on Lasqueti for some time, and might not ever reach some places.
Perhaps I am not understanding something, but it seems to me that broadband service for Lasqueti is not as simple as was presented, and is not as reliable, and is more expensive.
I'm sorry if this seems like too much complaining. The news in the LIAS newsletter contains several surprises to me, and not happy ones.
Thanks for reading this, and letting me know if there is anything I can do to help. Peter
Peter; Thanks for your letter. Jamie mentioned that you emailed earlier and that he responded, but his email does not appear to have answered your questions completely. We understood that the June letter would bring up lots of issues for our members. We are hoping to create more dialogue and understanding about this community asset we call LIAS. I would like to give you a quick response today, to let you know that we are hearing your concerns, and a more detailed response once the board and tech. committee can add some depth to my response.
The access points must be maintained by generator in the winter which keeps them operable year round. This means that someone must have the job of maintaining the charging system. At most access points one or two of the users of that access point are doing this. At other access points, like your own, we must pay someone to do this. The LIAS board is in the process of looking for someone who would be willing to take on this job. The power situation at Guy's has been the most problematic, but we have gone a long way to improving the power situation there this spring ( more later). The 900 radios are only good for certain situations and are not good for everyone; therefore, we must have different radios for different users. For example, to receive a signal directly from Quality Foods, a 900 would not work. The same goes for the Cook bay Access point.
The Issue of user maintenance is again a new idea which will be discussed at the General Meeting in the winter. At this time I simply would like to get people thinking about this. Basically, user maintenance would probably mean charging in the winter and communication between users on the same access point. I am not sure what you agreed to when you joined the access society so I can not respond to that. I would be very interested to know what you " agreed to when you joined LIAS and signed up for broadband service", If you could communicate that to me then I will be better able to respond to your concerns.
As to money. Lets work on the principal that we have 100 users paying $400 a year. Though we have more signed up, that number fluctuates and not all are paying on a yearly basis. The cost of maintaining the system: paying our two employees; paying for bandwidth (there is more used every month); payments to Gillies Bay; construction and hardware costs; and fuel and incidental costs uses almost all of the $3333.00 per month that is supposed to come in each month. This income has not yet allowed LIAS to put any money aside for; emergencies, more solar panels, increasing the wage of our underpaid employees, or hiring someone to maintain the access points. By the way, what do you think a fair wage would be for the maintenance of the 12 access points? We have been trying to determine this and have not figured it out yet.
As to photos we can only expect to get what is easy to do. For a radio in a tree( like mine) a photo from the ground at the back and at the front is all we expect.
In regard to the statement that "LIAS must be having difficulty providing service" yes it is difficult for a board of three, a tech. committee of two and two employees to do everything and keep everybody happy especially when many do not pay for their service. But then again LIAS is not a board of three, a tech. committee of two and two employees it is every one of you who want to make this work. LIAS is not a service! LIAS is a cooperative society.
More later Willy