Need to Build, Support Infrastructure

Thanks to Jamie for sending me the following article: WiMAX Blog US Telecom infrastructure “deficient”, too

It’s an interesting look at the need to invest in infrastructure. It starts with comparing broadband infrastructure to road repair – or really to the 35W Bridge collapse a few weeks ago.

I live a couple of miles from the 35W Bridge. I used to drive under it every day to get to and from work. I am fortunate in that I didn’t know anyone on the bridge when it went down.

Here’s the obvious statement of the day – bridges shouldn’t go down. We have the technology. The reports have indicated that the bridge was known to be “structurally deficient”. And yet, not enough was done to repair or rebuild it. (Now maybe time will tell that nothing more could have been done – but right now it doesn’t really look that way.)

It seems, as article above outlines, that broadband infrastructure is no more stable in most communities.

“Almost all cities and towns across the nation rely on one hub or Central Office (CO), meaning that if that hub were to be destroyed, that city would lose all land line telephone connectivity with the outside world.”

I worked for MRNet in the 1995, when a fire under the Washington Bridge (very near the 35W bridge) essentially took out the link from Minnesota to the rest of the world. It was a huge pain the rear – but I’d venture to say that an outage like that now would be much more costly and destructive.

This article touts WiMAX as an answer. And it may be. But more than anything I enjoyed the article as a wake up call to start looking into investment in infrastructure. Reports show that the US technology rank is slipping. We have the technology (several technologies) to leap frog us back into the game, we just need to recognize the need for investment.

This entry was posted in MN, Wireless by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

11 thoughts on “Need to Build, Support Infrastructure

  1. During the past few years with some of the storms that has hit regions we have seen how our infrastructure can be taken to task and be destroyed by mother natures forces.I was lucky enough to be able to help reestablish services to the hurricane hit regions using actually at the time mobile satelite.Which is wireless.We where able to establish services within hours instead on months .
    now with that said,i was in international falls over the weekend and i was able to find the building i needed to be able to start placing our data center with two OC 3 pipes to power our services.

  2. ann the auction date for the 700 spectrum has been set for mid january.And they are expecting a 10 billion dollar influx into the fcc coffers.Amazingly this is to offer wireless wimax services .

  3. ann we lost a well known person in the computer field in the past couple of weeks , here is his write up.He lived in minnesota also.

    Joybubbles (the legal name of the former Joe Engressia since 1991), a
    blind genius with perfect pitch who accidentally found he could make
    free phone calls by whistling tones and went on to play a pivotal role
    in the 1970s subculture of phone phreaks, died on Aug. 8 in Minneapolis.

    He was 58, though he had chosen in 1988 to remain 5 forever, and had the
    toys and teddy bears to prove it. The cause of death has not been
    determined, said Steven Gibb, a friend and the executor of the
    Joybubbles estate.

    Joybubbles, who was blind at birth, was a famous part of what began as a
    scattered, socially awkward group of precocious teens and post-teens
    fascinated with exploring the phone system. It could then be seen as the
    worlds biggest, most complex, most interesting computer, and foiling the
    phone system passed for high-tech high jinks in the 70s.

    It was the only game in town if you wanted to play with a computer, said
    Phil Lapsley, who is writing a book on the phone phreaks. Later, other
    blind whistlers appeared, but in 1957, Joybubbles may have been the
    first person to whistle his way into the heart of Ma Bell.

    Phreaks were precursors of todays computer hackers, and, like some of
    them, Joybubbles ran afoul of the law. Not a few phreaks were computer
    pioneers, including Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, founders of Apple.

    Joybubbles felt that being abused at a school for the blind and being
    pushed by his mother to live up to his 172 I.Q. had robbed him of
    childhood. So he amassed piles of toys, Jack and Jill magazines and
    imaginary friends, and he took a name he said made people smile.

    But he never lost his ardor for phones, and old phone phreaks and
    younger would-have-beens kept calling. Joybubbles loved the phone
    company, reported problems he had illegally discovered and even said he
    had planned his own arrest on fraud charges to get a phone job. And so
    he did, twice.

    Well before the mid-1970s, when digitalization ended the tone-based
    system, Joybubbles had stopped stealing calls. But he was already a
    legend: he had phoned around the world, talking into one phone and
    listening to himself on another.

    In an article in Esquire in 1971, the writer Ron Rosenbaum called
    Joybubbles the catalyst uniting disparate phreaks. Particularly after
    news accounts of his suspension from college in 1968 and conviction in
    1971 for phone violations, he became a nerve center of the movement.

    Every night he sits like a sightless spider in his little apartment
    receiving messages from every tendril of its web, Mr. Rosenbaum wrote.

    Josef Carl Engressia Jr. was born May 25, 1949, and moved often because
    his father was a school-picture photographer. At 4 or 5, he learned to
    dial by using the hookswitch like a telegraph key. Four years later, he
    discovered that he could disconnect a call by whistling. He found this
    out when he imitated a sound in the background on a long-distance call
    and the line cut off. It turned out that his whistle precisely
    replicated a crucial phone company signal, a 2,600-cycles-per-second

    Joybubbles’s parents had no phone for five years because of their sons
    obsession. Later, his mother encouraged it by reading him technical
    books. His high school yearbook photo showed him in a phone booth.

    By the time he was a student at the University of South Florida,
    Joybubbles was dialing toll-free or nonworking numbers to reach a
    distant switching point. Unbeknownst to telephone operators, he could
    use sounds to dial another number, free. He could then jump anywhere in
    the phone system. He was disconnected from college after being caught
    making calls for friends at $1 a call. In 1971, he moved to Memphis,
    where he was convicted of phone fraud. In Millington, Tenn., he was
    hired to clean phones, a job he hated. In 1975, he moved to Denver to
    ferret out problems in Mountain Bells network.

    He tired of that and moved to Minneapolis on June 12, 1982, partly
    because that dates numerical representation of 6-12 is the same as the
    citys area code. He advertised for people yearning to discuss things
    telephonic and weaved a web of phone lines to accommodate them. He lived
    on Social Security disability payments and part-time jobs like letting
    university agriculture researchers use his superb sense of smell to
    investigate how to control the odor of hog excrement.

    Joybubbles is survived by his mother, Esther Engressia, and his sister,
    Toni Engressia, both of Homestead, Fla.

    His second life as a youngster included becoming a minister in his own
    Church of Eternal Childhood and collecting tapes of every Mr. Rogers
    episode. When asked why Mr. Rogers mattered, he said: When youre playing
    and youre just you, powerful things happen.

  4. well ann i have to place this write up just because i know its close to your last day .
    The Road To WiMAX
    How Intel’s Sean Maloney shepherded through the technology that’s poised to rewrite the rules of wireless

    he $90 billion gardening bill was a deal killer. Intel corp. (INTC ) Executive Vice-President Sean M. Maloney sat in stunned silence after a telephone company executive told him it would cost $1,100 per home just to replace landscaping and sidewalks if the industry installed fiber-optic cabling and brought superfast broadband Internet access to every single-family home in America…

  5. Pingback: Internet Outages Across the Middle East « Blandin on Broadband

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