Monday, July 5, 2021

A hidden cost of rural broadband

Back in January '09, I was creeping down the information superhighway at 28.8kbps before "upgrading" to 1.5Mbps DSL in 2010. Over a decade later, in late April of this year, our local electric cooperative's Freedom Fiber broadband venture finally made it to our farm in all of its 100Mbps glory. And we could get up to a Gig if we needed it.


Unfortunately though, we have discovered a hidden cost of having rural broadband on the farm.

Because our fiber network has been installed by our electric co-op, the lines are suspended beneath existing electrical lines rather than buried. That's not really a problem until they run too low across your fields.

A couple of tractors pulling hay equipment confirmed today what our eyes have been telling us for the past several weeks: there are two fiber lines crossing one of our hay fields that aren't high enough for all of our equipment to pass under. Thankfully, the equipment we had in the field today did just clear the lines, but we'll be out of luck if something doesn't change by the time Spring silage harvest rolls around.

these fiber internet lines are a few feet higher than my truck...but only a few inches higher than a tractor

The good thing about these lines belonging to our local electrical co-op rather than a big national company is that they'll work with you to solve the problem. I reached out to them this afternoon and have been told a crew will be coming to look at options within the next few days. Hopefully we can find a solution that doesn't involve having a pole sunk in the middle of the field, but we can deal with it if that's what it takes. Losing a few square yards of  hay or silage production around a utility pole is much better than losing a ten-foot swath the whole width of the field due to low hanging lines, and it's a price worth paying if that's what it takes to keep the broadband we've waited so long for.

UPDATE: The problem was fixed (without adding a pole!) less than 24 hours after I reported it. As I mentioned, that’s the benefit of doing business with a local company.

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