Blogs

A Brief History of Internet in Blacksburg (and the world)

  • Posted on: 12 June 2020
  • By: Lhuber

The evolution of electronic communications has repeatedly been marked by disruptive technologies. In the mid-eighties most electronic communications were made between monochrome terminals and mainframe computers. Crude modems were used to dial up and establish remote links to the mainframes.

In the early nineties forward thinking companies like Apple were getting on the Internet and ditching their mainframe communication systems. Around the same time in 1993, Blacksburg, Virginia, began a revolutionary experiment to connect everyone in town to the Internet. Their first efforts were with modem-to-modem communications and they quickly expanded to Ethernet connectivity. In 1993 someone could live in Blacksburg and have a way to connect to the Internet with Ethernet. It was revolutionary. People moved to Blacksburg specifically for the world class connectivity.

The first widely available modems were 300 baud (300 bits/second) devices. Faster smart modems which could automatically connect to a terminal session led to the rise of bulletin board systems (BBSs) that allowed users to dial in and communicate with each other. The first disruptive step was the creation of modem-accessible chat rooms, pioneered by AOL. While modems got faster and faster, most people outside of Blacksburg and university campuses were still dialing into a pool of modems to get to the Internet. In 1996, the average person with Internet access (there were only 20 million of them) spent less than 30 minutes a month surfing the web. Sometimes a web page took 30 seconds to load. Dialing on the phone for an internet connection required use of a phone line and patiently redialing to get past the busy signal.

It was something of a revolution when DSL and cable modems were introduced into the area. With their arrival, everyone else not connected with the university was able to be "always connected" to the Internet. It was the beginning of the end of "internet sessions" and "terminal sessions". This was truly the second disruptive step in the ladder to a more accessible Internet (World Wide Web). Many of the dial-up Internet companies shelved their rooms full of modems, and moved onto other services. True open access to the internet essentially ended at that time.

Today most people have DSL or cable modems which are hybrid systems using a combination of fiber for the backhaul and copper for the “last mile” to bring the electrical signals that they use to carry information to your home and business. While DSL is no longer considered fast enough for modern Internet connectivity, over time cable modem speeds have gotten better.

Seven years ago a good Internet cable modem connection had speeds of 33 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload. Today a good cable modem can have bursts of 500 Mbps download speeds. Unfortunately upload speeds have not improved as much over cable and rarely push up out of the 25 Mbps threshold . The download to upload ratios over copper wire today are a dismal twenty to one (20:1) at best.



Nothing comes close to the symmetric speeds the customer gets with fiber, and only fiber holds the promise of open access to the internet. Blacksburg residents will finally have access to Fiber Internet as WideOpen builds out the network throughout the town. We're aiming for the gold standard for Internet connectivity of fiber all the way to the user. That is true today and will be true well into the future.

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What are the True Benefits of Fiber to the Home (FTTH)?

  • Posted on: 12 February 2020
  • By: Lhuber

Fiber is the best alternative for working from home, gaming interactively, streaming video and music, uploading media, speaking with contacts across the globe, monitoring security systems, or running a business from a residential neighborhood. A fiber optic backbone will cover and exceed a family’s needs for Internet, TV and phone — and typically raises home values in connected neighborhoods. There has never been a better time to FutureProof the home.

A super fast, reliable Gigabit fiber network with resiliency and redundancy is what businesses and home users want and need. The WideOpen Concept keeps telecom, media and internet dollars in the community, which means more local jobs and a boom to the local economy. Because each community owns their fiber optic network, homeowners and businesses have true choice of multiple providers offering multiple services.

The WideOpen Concept translates to business class service anywhere the network is implemented.

Who wants Gigabit fiber?

  • Posted on: 11 October 2017
  • By: woadmin

We're getting ready to identify our next neighborhoods for Gigabit fiber expansion. If you live in Blacksburg or Christiansburg, fill out the survey (the link is on the home page) and let us know. Tell your neighbors, too--we are looking for neighborhoods with a high interest in getting connected.

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Fastest fiber in the New River Valley

  • Posted on: 3 August 2017
  • By: woadmin

Our first two neighborhoods are now online with super-fast fiber connections. Residents are paying $69.95/month for a Gigabit fiber connection and a 1000 Meg down/1000 Meg up Internet service. We are now going to be looking for more neighborhoods in Blacksburg to bring the world's best Internet service. Follow the link on our home page to fill out the "I want fiber" interest form. We'll be bringing fiber to the neighborhoods with the highest response rate to our form, so tell your neighbors to fill out the form too. The next two neighborhoods will be launched in Late Summer of 2020.

Gigabit fiber is here!

  • Posted on: 20 June 2017
  • By: woadmin

We are completing the final equipment configuration on the network in our first two Blacksburg area neighborhoods today, and expect to start connecting customers with super-fast Internet in the next couple of days.

What comes next?

We will be using data from our survey (have you filled it out to let us know you want Gig fiber?) to identify where to build next.

The picture below shows the first fiber to the home cabinet in the New River Valley.

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Why fiber?

  • Posted on: 28 May 2015
  • By: woadmin

One of the most common questions we get is, "Why do I want fiber?"

We've created a one page handout that may help answer that question. You can download it by clicking on the PDF icon.

Here is some of the reasons you want fiber:

  • Work from home--full time, part time, or nights/weekends. We give you the freedom to choose!
  • Run a business from home, or run a server from home.
  • Connect more TVs, laptops, computers, tablets, printers, and servers and have them all work at the speed of light!
  • Use all the bandwidth you want without worrying about slowdowns, overage charges, or data caps.
  • Watch TV, movies, sports,and video at the highest possible quality--a better entertainment experience!
  • Put home security cameras around your house and get notifications, live HD video, and sound right on your tablet or smartphone, wherever you are.
  • Connect to the Virginia Tech network or your company VPN as if you were sitting in your office at work.
  • Make full use of cloud services at blazing fast speed.
  • Seamlessly connect multiple business locations and offices.
  • Home-based employees can fully participate because videoconferencing works like it is supposed to with no stuttering, drop outs, or screen slowdowns.
  • Get an inexpensive home phone line that actually provides a high quality connection without annoying drops.
  • Fiber makes back up services like Carbonite, Amazon, and Mozy work the way they are supposed to with no waiting.

Click here to download a handout explaining the strengths of fiber.

http://www.wideopenblacksburg.net/sites/default/files/Blacksburg_why_fiber_v3.pdf

Fiber adds value to your home!

  • Posted on: 3 April 2015
  • By: woadmin

Fiber adds resale value to your home. A $3500 investment in fiber can increase your property value by more than $6,000--a 180% return on your investment! Fiber is the best home improvement you can make, as it is the only type of improvement that adds more value than what you spent. Typical upgrades like a remodeled master bath, granite countertops, or a new deck will add less that you spent. Attached is a screen shot from a Render Associates nationwide study on fiber, and here is the link to the presentation with all the data.

Here is another summary of a 2014 study on fiber value.

Here is a report on typical home improvements and estimates of your likely return...typically 60% to 90%.

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