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GCN Broadband Service

High-speed Internet access for Gustavus homes and businesses

Broadband Plan

In July, 2011 the State of Alaska awarded a grant to the City of Gustavus to plan and design a model last-mile community broadband network. For details and to get involved, see the planning web site.

Gustavus Community Broadband Network

GCN network diagram

Broadband means a fast, always-on connection, as opposed to a narrowband dial-up connection using analog modems over regular phone lines. Broadband connections are typically at least 10 times faster than dial-up connections, they do not keep a phone line busy, and you are always on-line. The exact definition of broadband (how fast it is) varies depending on who is using the term and when you ask them.

Some in Gustavus have their own broadband connections to the Internet. The school and National Park Service lease special circuits from AT&T-Alascom at great expense. Some residences and businesses have their own satellite dishes, though these generally do not qualify as broadband due to their slow upload speeds.

The Gustavus Community Network has a broadband connection to the Internet but the challenge is to extend the great connection at the library through the "last mile" to homes and businesses throughout the community. Our low population density, small customer base, heavy forests, high telecommunication costs, and flat topography with no convenient overlooking hills pose grave challenges to building an economical community-wide broadband network, but we have a detailed funding-ready plan and have begun building parts of it already.

Available Now!

As of September, 2010, GCN offers the following broadband service options. Both deliver our basic broadband and broadband plus service (see the pricing page).

Wireless

Open-Mesh Wireless NetworkA wireless wi-fi mesh network is currently available in the lower Salmon River area. Generally, you must be able to see one of the mesh nodes to connect to the network, though it may be worth trying even if there are some buildings and foliage in the way, especially if you are close. The nodes are shown in a map on the Cloudtrax dashboard. The satellite or hybrid views will help determine exact locations and obstacles. Coverage is also available in the Gustavus Public Library, NPS housing at Bartlett Cove, and soon at the airport.

Cost

For recurring monthly costs of Internet service, see the pricing page.

The cost of equipment and installation will be covered by a loan from the Gustavus Endowment Fund if and when Ballot Measure 1 passes. The earliest that would become available would probably be in June, 2011. For those who are willing to pay to get service earlier, the outdoor radios cost $82.63 with a patch cable. Outdoor UV-rated CAT-5 cable carrying both power and data to the radio costs $2 plus $0.30/ft and can run up to 300 feet. You can do the installation yourself or pay Corvid Computing $100/hour to do it. Some installations take less than an hour, some take more than three, depending on the difficulty locating a signal, mounting the radio, and running the cable.

SHDSL

This service is available in most of Gustavus but requires leasing a special circuit from ACS at considerable expense. Unless you demand the best service available, or share the connection among your neighbors, this option is probably not competitive with getting your own satellite dish (i.e. StarBand).

SHDSL Service Costs Setup (one-time) Recurring (Monthly)
ACS Circuit Install $630  
SHDSL Modems $250
 
Modem Installation $160
 
GCN Setup $50  
Total Setup $1,090  
     
ACS Circuit Lease   $84
Internet Access   $44 or more depending on use; see Pricing page.
Total Monthly   $128 or more depending on use

Network DrawingFuture Plans

We are actively planning for a community-wide broadband network. Meanwhile, we are building certain parts of the system using GCN and city reserves, namely the Falls Creek communication facility and the first neighborhood Open-Mesh network.

For the latest news, and to get involved, visit the Gustavus Broadband workgroup. Community participation is welcome and encouraged!

Current Gustavus Internet Options

For the convenience of Gustavus residents, we have compiled a list of all known current and near-term methods for connecting to the Internet, with the exception of very expensive leased circuits to Juneau ($1,500/month for a T1 circuit).

  GCN Wireless GCN SHDSL StarBand (HughesNet is comparable)
ACS Wireless
AT&T Wireless
Technology used 802.11b/g (Wi-Fi) SHDSL over leased lines VSAT satellite 3G
Cellular CDMA (1xRTT).
Available where? Now: Selected areas including Salmon River meadow, 4 Corners, Beartrack Mercantile area, library area, Bartlett Cove NPS housing, Gustavus airport.

2015: Community-wide

Most of Gustavus but not Bartlett Cove Anywhere with a view of the southern sky Anywhere with cellular coverage. Depending on equipment, range may be better than for cell phones.
Anywhere with cellular coverage. Depending on equipment, range may be better than for cell phones.
Available when? Now: selected areas. 2015: community-wide Now Now Now Now
Cost: Setup $0 to $400 depending on whether you need equipment at your premises and whether you wait for grant funding to cover the cost
$1,090 Normally ~$1,000, but StarBand basic installation may be covered by a federal broadband stimulus grant award
Depends on equipment and length of contract.

Cost: Monthly
$44 (year-round) or $59 (seasonal) for 1,000MB. $.01 each additional MB. See pricing. $128 for 1,000 MB. $.01 each additional MB. $50-$70 for residential service; $110-$130 for telecommuter; $140-$160 small office $30 to $90 depending on data plan and whether it is bundled with voice.
Internet performance 500-800 Kbps down and up, higher speeds available. Low latency (no satellite delay)
500-800 Kbps down and up, higher speeds available. Low latency (no satellite delay) Residential: up to 500 Kbps down/28-128 Kbps up
Small office: up to 1,000 Kbps down/28-256 Kbps up
Up to 800 Kbps down, typically 500 Kbps.
Not really broadband: 60 to 80 Kbps up and down with bursts to 120 Kbps. 2-4 times the speed of dial-up, 10% as fast as GCN Basic Broadband.
Mobile/roaming Limited to hotspots or fixed locations in Gustavus No. No. Yes, anywhere with cellular coverage Yes, anywhere with cellular coverage
Pros Best performance. Cheapest for many users. Never any "throttling." Very high-speed access to community network. Choice of pricing plans. Local administration and support.
Fastest broadband service available to most of Gustavus (except extremely expensive leased circuit options)
Better than dial-up. Best high-speed value for customers outside GCN Wireless coverage area. Extensive coverage and nationwide roaming. Should be easy to set up. Among the fastest services available now. Low latency. Available now. Affordable.
Extensive coverage and nationwide roaming. Should be easy to set up. Low latency. Available now. Affordable.
Cons Limited coverage.
Expensive and difficult to set up. Some areas such as Bartlett Cove cannot be served due to distance limitations. System operations and maintenance are done on a volunteer basis (to be professionalized when community-wide broadband network is built). Expensive and difficult installation. High latency, inconsistent performance, very slow uploads, weather outages, "throttling" of heavy users, difficulty getting on-site service.
No coverage in many parts of Gustavus. Heavy users subject to "throttling."
Only 2-4 times as fast as dial-up, or worse when the network is congested. No coverage in many parts of Gustavus.
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