Road by road business case

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Sometimes fiber optic builds require a road by road business case exhaustively summarizing every penny a company can make coming down each rural road. Examples of such analyses abound but very complete ones are rare, like this list of spreadsheet columns from Nova Scotia that was an attempt to discover the full impact of poor Internet.

short vs long form[edit]

Since asking people to fill out such extensive data rarely gets uniform compliance, and since self-selected data will tend to reflect the most desperate, a typical survey should ask some of the more intrusive questions (perhaps a random few) of only a subset (say 10%) of those surveyed.

Then the data can be considered reflective of the actual average impact, and a few outlier "sob story" cases to motivate political action identified for more detailed probity. If these are at least discovered by a random process initially, it's easier to argue they're more typical of undiscovered hardships. In other words, what follows is a long form (as that term is used in a census) as opposed to a short form everyone is expected to fill out completely.

It may be difficult to convince volunteers to gather such stories, but there are very good reasons to attach extensive free-form notes to data gathering.

social network effect[edit]

The social capital impact of better Internet is harder to assess than its financial impact, but is just as much part of the case politically or in social/community terms. To support a "sob story" it is important to document how social bonds are made or broken by such things as

  • Children refusing or unable to visit home from post-secondary schools due to poor Internet connections.
  • Personal time wasted travelling to sites with better Internet, which is lost to community or family.
  • Loss of youth leading to breakdown of social cohesion, including churches or schools unable to continue.

The fields labelled "notes" below are especially important because they illustrate exactly these issues, and can be assessed later for their financial impact.

high impact low probability positive events (upside & downside)[edit]

Any high impact low probability event is controversial to include in any analysis, and by no means should all such events be considered or elaborated. However, including at least those that have at least unanimity minus one levels of support (one objector to inclusion) and restricting the probability of all such scenarios combined to below 5% per year, so as to represent the extreme outlier cases, has a sound basis in scenario analysis, as most statistics are gathered to a 95% confidence interval. When analyzing service gaps it may be appropriate to "lean negatively" and list a total of 4% "dystopia" or "threat" and 1% "utopia" or "visionary" scenarios. Nonetheless it is still necessary to consider at least one low probability positive event such as

  • attracting a major investor who only wants to live in an area that presently has poor internet.
  • attracting a business to revive an entire village or community, but which relies on wired Internet to function
  • a community thriving & attracting young families to the degree that a new rural school is built

downside: losses, costs & conditions[edit]

  • Who and how to contact
  • Area code - exchange - number (land line if any)
  • Contact number (may be different)
  • Family/subscriber typically from phone listing or property ownership record
  • civic address/ PID / street number
  • pole number and trans_hops = what pole number are they at, and how many poles/hops to the transformer that serves the house? (0 if they are right on the road with the transformer there on the road too)
  • mastN mastW = where exactly is their antenna/mast location in N and W coordinates of latitude and longitude?
  • MONTHLY COST OF services subscribed to
    • satellite TV
    • satellite Internet
    • dialup (!)
    • DSL or cable service
    • home use of LTE/4G/cell data
    • fixed wireless, e.g. Eastlink Rural Connect
    • land line
    • home long distance
    • home security and/or vulnerable person monitoring
    • other service cost that would be folded into >100mbps Internet, e.g. DVD rental reduced by watching Netflix, etc.
    • other expenses that would be removed or reduced by better Internet, e.g. cost of trips to library to do homework (cash only not the time cost)
  • Bandwidth
    • Bandwith and latency of best service (cost not considered)
    • Bandwidth and latency of best affordable service
    • both with variation range plus or minus, and reliability/outage
  • Occupancy effect of poor service
    • monthly rental_months (usually 0, the number of months the residence is rented outside family uses)
    • occupied_months (by owner, usually 12)
    • additional_months (extra rental or use months with better Internet)
    • number of students grade 12 or less living in the home,
    • number of students who intended to stay on graduation
    • number of occupants (total) who said they would stay if they had better Internet comparable to the towns
  • estimate of lost real estate value per lot times number of divisible lots (development unlikely without Internet)
    • if there was an appraisal citing this, say so
    • if the property was recently for sale
      • for how many days until it sold,
      • how much was value depressed
      • how many buyers refused due to poor Internet
  • business revenue earned out of home dependent on Internet
    • estimate of lost business revenue (50% chance at 30% increase = 15% lost, etc) stated in absolute dollars/year
  • frequency of power-outs in hours per year
  • source (of information, e.g. in-person interview at home, facebook response, etc)
  • email
  • facebook URL (or more than one)
  • LinkedIn URL (if business)
  • petition signed or group joined, if any
  • public meetings attended or politicians contacted, if any
  • willingness to sign up for services in advance
    • contingent on improvement to 20mbps or better unlimited (in months of pre-commitment)
    • contingent on improvement to 100mbps or better unlimited (in months of pre-commitment)
    • conditions of pre-commitment, e.g. only if gigabit, only if cable, only if unlimited use, etc.
  • notes on unusually arrogant, inappropriate or dismissive behaviour by cellcos, telcos, ISPs, TV providers, etc., regarding service complaints or issues. e/g
    • "I was subjected to finger-pointing as Bell pointed at NSP, and NSP at Bell, for who was responsible for a 60Hz buzz that reduced my dialup service throughput to 21kbps or worse from the usual 56kbps. This problem was never solved and even after cutting off the service for non-performance and disputing the bill for it, Bell never admitted they even had a problem. Though they had trucks in the islands repeatedly from others with similar complaints. And this is minor compared to others' stories of being laughed at on the phone by Bell, or fed obviously bogus stories by Eastlink re service extension refusals, or gouged for cell data they did not intend to use when Wi-Fi failed during a service outage, etc." - Craig Hubley
    • For examples see six unusual gripes to CRTC
  • notes about residents (see below, especially neighbours who left due to bad Internet, or other people to ask, per social network effects)
  • notes about businesses
    • any that have left or refused to locate in the area due to Internet problems? numbers of jobs lost?
    • if any refused to move in or relocate to the location.
  • migrant notes (anything, especially re social network effects & immigrant investor scenarios per above).

in prose[edit]

Basically we need to know how the Internet problems affect finances and occupancy and prospects for the family.

How much do they spend every month on communications services and including TV, home security, vulnerable person monitoring & home phone? Break it down as much as you can and include any satellite or cell data use at home. <-- It's invasive maybe but do you want service or not? We can't build the business case unless we can prove we're already spending hundreds per month. If anyone is using multiple networks & combining, like cell and Canopy, we really want to know that.

Are there students who rely on the Internet for education at home? How often (times per week) do they have to go to somewhere else to do work? How far is it and how long in hours do they have to spend there typically, and who else has to go? Has anyone in the family expressed desire to leave? If you have grade 12 students this is especially important, and so is finding out how many others in their class feel that way about staying home.

Are there businesses operating out of home? Again, how often is it necessary to go somewhere else to do work? Is there any estimate of the lost business or likely lost opportunity cost due to not having good 'net? Like a 30% change of 100% increase, plus a 50% chance of a 50% increase in income = could be 30%+25% = 55% more income.

Are you aware of any estimate or appraisal from real estate pros that tries to calculate the lost value of the home, or of extra building lots you may have attached to it, per lot, of not having wired low latency Internet? i.e. cable or fibre at 20mbps or up - DSL users will suffer a bit here also.

Fibre To The Home Council study showing that real estate values go up by about 3.1% when fibre to the home is delivered.

Vermont article on real estate values and broadband.

Slow broadband wipes 20% off house prices

Are there neighbours you are aware of who can't get service at all, or have totally given up, and can't read this? What are their phone numbers and would they be willing to state publicly out load what their problems have been? [We really don't have a good handle on how many have just given up or stayed on dialup, Bell is not releasing lists of all dialup users and you can't tell that from the poles or calling them, so it's hard to find].

Do you know of any businesses that have left or refused to locate in the area due to Internet problems? Can you calculate this in # of jobs lost?