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Draft Horses Used To Lay Fiber-Optic Cable 154

Posted by samzenpus
from the doing-it-the-old-fashioned-way dept.
mysqlrocks writes "In Vermont, FairPoint Communications has enlisted draft horses to help lay fiber-optic cable in remote locations. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin has pledged to bring broadband to every last mile by 2013, including many remote areas that have been neglected in the past. Private companies have been unwilling to invest in the expensive infrastructure needed to reach these areas. However, Vermont's congressional delegation helped to secure $410 million in federal money earmarked for broadband development and Vermont has partnered with private companies, like FairPoint, to bring high-speed Internet access to all Vermonters. From the article: 'The difficulty of getting cable to "every last mile," is where Fred, the cable-carrying draft horse, comes in. "Hopefully it pays off," says Hastings. "We could maybe get a four-wheeler in here," he continues, gesturing to the cleared swath of boggy, fern-studded terrain that he's working in today. But definitely not a truck, and Fred's impact is nearly invisible. Residents rarely complain about a draft horse tromping through their yards.'"

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Draft Horses Used To Lay Fiber-Optic Cable

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  • $410,000,000 and they could only get one horse? Talk about inflation...

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @02:15PM (#36230504)
    What's a horse, I hear you ask? I called my local representative and asked the same question.

    It turns out that a horse is a self-replicating semi-autonomous rover optimized for negotiating tough terrain, and it was developed without DARPA assistance. It is powered by biofuels that can be produced using COTS technologies, but which for which no DOE research is required. Its waste stream is biodegradeable, and in the quantities generated by a single horse, facilities for the storage and processing of the waste pending biodegradation do not require EPA approval.

    No wonder nobody uses the damn things anymore!

    • [quote]What's a horse, I hear you ask? I called my local representative and asked the same question.

      It turns out that a horse is a self-replicating semi-autonomous rover optimized for negotiating tough terrain, and it was developed without DARPA assistance. It is powered by biofuels that can be produced using COTS technologies, but which for which no DOE research is required. Its waste stream is biodegradeable, and in the quantities generated by a single horse, facilities for the storage and processing of t

    • by Megahard (1053072)
      A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
      And no one can talk to a horse of course
      That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mister Ed.
    • While its waist is biodegradable, it is still toxic and decremental to human health. Oddly enough when the automobile was mass produced it was advertised as an environmental benefit over horses, and they were right about it. The issue is that too many automobiles and people started to use them to go further then horses ever did. If we still had cars and we traveled like we did in the early 20th century then we would have much cleaner air.

    • ... does it run BSD?

    • That's nothing. They're also using carrier pigeons and wasps to negotiate the last mile of wireless!.

  • Depressing. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @02:16PM (#36230536)

    I find this article depressing. Not because of the draft horses. It's just that it's pretty much a given that these lines paid for by public money will subsequently be given to some monopolistic telecom which, when confronted with concepts like net neutrality will come back with indignant replies about how the lines are their property and they can do what they like with them. The world sucks.

    • No it won't as unlike North Carolina governor Bev Perdue, the fix isn't in ..link [slashdot.org]

    • The world sucks

      No it doesn't, because it's still the lesser of two evils. I would argue being forced to stay on dial-up (even if you don't want to) is a greater evil than having broadband delivered by a monopolistic telecom. This is about Grandma and Grandpa being able to watch youtube videos of their grandkids and entrepreneurs being able to set up shop in remote communities.

      • by berashith (222128)

        and this place can truly be remote. I went to a wedding in Vermont and needed to go to an ATM. We had to drive many miles to find one, and there were 4 machines jammed together. All were for a different bank. The fiber backhaul into Vermont is so sparse that even automated banking is difficult.

        • by hawguy (1600213)

          and this place can truly be remote. I went to a wedding in Vermont and needed to go to an ATM. We had to drive many miles to find one, and there were 4 machines jammed together. All were for a different bank. The fiber backhaul into Vermont is so sparse that even automated banking is difficult.

          I don't think the location of the ATM machine has anything to do with fiber -- an ATM machine has such low bandwidth needs that it can easily run over dial-up, a 56K copper leased line or even a cellular modem (which is how many of the ATM's that pop up at festivals and concerts work). No need for fiber or other high bandwidth connections.

          • by avm (660)

            There are plenty of places in Vermont that aren't covered by any cellular provider. And my truck's onboard computer complains it can't find any GPS satellites either.

            Pretty, though.

            • by yurtinus (1590157)
              Well, they would have added more GPS satellites above Vermont, but the residents complained about it ruining the view!
            • There are plenty of satellites, but sometimes terrain can block reception. Trees are surprisingly effective at blocking GPS reception, and hills are completely effective.

              When I go backpacking my GPS spends a lot of time complaining about satellites, but if I find a clearing on relatively high ground it will figure things out.
      • by Stiletto (12066)

        The monopolistic telecom wouldn't be "delivering" anything. The government and is delivering broadband (paid for by taxpayers) and the monopolistic telecom gets to profit.

        It's the American way: socialize costs and privatize profits.

      • by tragedy (27079)

        So, being constantly being forced to choose between two evils doesn't suck? Sure being beaten with a tennis racket beats being beaten with a cricket bat, but that doesn't mean that they don't both suck.

  • by Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @02:23PM (#36230626) Homepage
    I am sure that there will be those that will say this is a waste of government resources but I would disagree. One of the things that government should do is build out public infrastructure to areas that the private sector won't serve or wouldn't be feasible without the government doing it. Here is hoping that the current providers there don't file lawsuits preventing the state from laying fiber like they do to proposed municipal ISPs.
    • by ktappe (747125)

      I am sure that there will be those that will say this is a waste of government resources but I would disagree. One of the things that government should do is build out public infrastructure to areas that the private sector won't serve or wouldn't be feasible without the government doing it. Here is hoping that the current providers there don't file lawsuits preventing the state from laying fiber like they do to proposed municipal ISPs.

      Amen. I can only wonder what the other 49 states are doing, and if they have any interest in this "every last mile" concept.

      • by xero314 (722674)

        Amen. I can only wonder what the other 49 states are doing, and if they have any interest in this "every last mile" concept.

        It's one thing to promise "every last mile" when you only have to worry about less than 10k square. Not so easy to do when you have to consider over 100k square or even over half a million square.

      • Vermont is Rural. Wyoming is Wild. See the difference yet? See the problem with talking about "last mile" outside of the coasts?

    • by jopsen (885607)
      Agree... My parents can choose between fiber optics, cable-tv and telephone wires... but at what cost? At the end of the day, the good old copper wires can carry all the data most residents need... And if not, then you can layout fiber to the houses that needs more...
      But no, where I live the government sold the copper cables to a private company, and electricity companies decided to dig up the roads everything to put fiber in. So now there's three different data networks available... And they all have to b
    • by Solandri (704621)

      I am sure that there will be those that will say this is a waste of government resources but I would disagree. One of the things that government should do is build out public infrastructure to areas that the private sector won't serve or wouldn't be feasible without the government doing it.

      You mean like The Bridge to Nowhere [wikipedia.org]?

      The government is just as prone to corruption as the private sector (some would say more so). Any project should be scrutinized from a cost-benefit standpoint. While there should

      • The "Bridge to Nowhere" to Gravina Island wasn't a bridge to nowhere, it was a bridge to the airport. Ketchikan's airport is on a different island than the city because there are very few places with flat land in Southeast Alaska; compare Sitka where the airport is on Japonski Island. Currently there is a ferry from the airport on Gravina Island to the city on Revillagigedo Island, but when the seas are heavy or there are storms then the ferry won't run. That can leave hundreds of people stranded on Gravina

    • by reboot246 (623534)
      What burns my ass is that some farmer or mountain man way out in the middle of nowhere will now get fiber years before I do, and I live 20 miles from the middle of a major city.

      I've seen new subdivisions with only a couple of houses built so far that have fiber to every lot. We current "broadband" customers will be a long time getting such service. I guess I should be content with my Charter provided internet for the next 10 freaking years.
      • by bryan1945 (301828)

        The key word is "new." When putting up new developments it's easy to lay fiber at the same time, as opposed to digging through all the stuff already there. I'm in the same position as you- 20 miles outside of Philly, but not in the 'affluent' area.

    • by steelfood (895457)

      And then they should be able to regulate the hell out of the cables they laid (within the confines of the state and federal constitution).

    • by trout007 (975317)

      It is a lie that the private companies won't put the cable in. They just won't do it for free. If you live a few miles from the nearest junction you could hire this guy to run the fiber and the providers will be happy to hook it up for you. Most people would prefer others pay for it. There are tradeoffs wherever you live and you have to take it into consideration before moving.

      Now in this situation a real role for local government would be to establish easements so you could run the fibers.

      • No, they won't. I've asked and offered to pay myself, yet both AT&T and Verizon refuse to lay lines at all. And they won't tell me why.
        • by trout007 (975317)

          How far is it? Then call them and ask if you get all of the permits and hire someone to run the lines to the nearest box will they hook it up.

  • Those rings are not self healing!

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @02:31PM (#36230716)
    I've heard of people using ferrets to lay cables http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/582123.stm [bbc.co.uk] but horses? How do you get them into the trunking?
  • OMG Ponies! (Score:5, Funny)

    by devnullkac (223246) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @02:44PM (#36230870) Homepage

    Had to be said.

  • I never knew that. What are they doing now?

  • Draft horses (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The Archon V2.0 (782634) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @02:47PM (#36230928)

    "Residents rarely complain about a draft horse tromping through their yards."

    Spoken like someone who never had a neighbor with inadequate fencing.

    • by gknoy (899301)

      I think there was an implied, "... compared to a utility truck".

    • by rahvin112 (446269)

      I don't think they complain about the horse moving through the yard, it's the lingering, the shitting and that they eat the bushes and decorative plants on their way through.

  • Not to the use of the horse (or course) but to the use of federal funds for this project. I spend a good chunk of the year in a very rural area of VT - there is no traffic light for 18 miles, the nearest fast food is 25. Yet the two towns in my area (1500 households over 67 sq. miles) are serviced by high speed dsl. I only get 4Mbps down and about 1.5 up but am a little far from the dslam. There are some who get 12Mbps and I believe more fiber is being put in. This has all been done by our local phon
    • Rural build-out is so screwy. I live less than 10 miles from a major international airport, and in a pretty large school district, and the only option for wired internet service is dial-up. And no cable television either (not that I particularly want that, though).
      • I now live in a suburb of a relatively large city, and all DSL gets us is 320kbps/192kbps. (Not sure what cable speeds are available)

    • by PPH (736903)
      But you have telephone service. And electricity. Think about it.
    • by bryan1945 (301828)

      RFC 1149. Even a large flock would cost much less!

  • by istartedi (132515) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @02:49PM (#36230962) Journal

    My back of the envelope calculations tell me that situations like this are why you keep old ideas around. If you don't know what an envelope is, or how it could be used to perform calculations, there may come a time when that causes problems.

    • I shall remember in the future, when my purpose is intense, to not use whom.
    • I recall hearing a couple years back that we could run fiber optics to every home in the nation for $1,500 per home. Vermont has 250,000 households [census.gov]. The federal funding alone for this project is $1,640 per home. Why are private companies getting all of the funding and where is my share of this federal money?
  • My dad was laying fiber with draft horses, what ... 25 years ago?

    And 15 years ago the local CLEC/ISP laid 70km of fiber from location to another using this very same "technology".
     

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @02:53PM (#36231000)

    How the hell are they going to grip fiber with their hooves?

    • by demonbug (309515)

      How the hell are they going to grip fiber with their hooves?

      By the husk?

      • by onepoint (301486)

        the cable is hitched to the draft horse harness. a good draft horse, well feed and maintained can pull about 600 to 800 LBS most of the day without much worry, I don't think that pulling a cable would be too much a problem since it smooth. and the distances covered would not be too great over the day.

        Draft horses are known to pull out stumps and drag trees for great distances.

  • by Huntr (951770) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @02:54PM (#36231006)

    I saw a show one time in Tijuana where they used a donkey to lay some pipe!

    Hey-o!

    • by rastos1 (601318)

      That's nothin'
      I saw a show one time in Tijuana where they used a donkey to lay some pipe!

      You mean a series of pipes?

  • Didn't Meat specifications?

  • by JSC (9187) <johnNO@SPAMcoxen.com> on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @03:01PM (#36231094)

    Back about 20 years or so ago I worked for a Bell Atlantic subsidiary. Everyone in the company got a little cast resin model of a mountain with telephone poles going over it in commemoration of them replacing the last Party Line. The cable was pulled over the mountain (in Kentucky IIRC) by mules.

  • Residents rarely complain about a draft horse tromping through their yards

    Except when he plods over certain types of drain fields for septic systems and causes thousands of dollars worth of damage.

  • An anonymous robot writes:
    According to a release on RoboNewswire, Comcast is laying positronic monomolecular fiber using human power. At one point, humans were the main source of manufacturing and transport capability on Earth, but when the singularity happened and robots achieved free will, the need for independent biological actors declined. Now we find humans mostly used to do jobs that machines just can't do, like processing animal matter into fertilizer, climbing jeffreys tubes, and unscrewing stuck

  • by pulski (126566) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @03:24PM (#36231354)

    Wildlife: Check
    Fairly well worn t-shirt for press photos: Check
    Tin of chew in front pocket: Check

    We're good to go!

  • by John Pfeiffer (454131) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @03:50PM (#36231706) Homepage

    Living in Vermont, we had DSL from Verizon, and then Fairpoint, for a number of years. Then we made the mistake of moving...next door. It was a legitimate god-damned nightmare, I tell you. We wanted to have internet up and running in the new place by the time we moved in, and they said no problem. They get the address, and give us a date to expect it by... The date comes, nothing happens. We call, they give us some excuse about a workorder error, and we go through the whole thing again.

    The next date comes, nothing happens. We call and they tell us that they couldn't find the service address. We work that out. Next date comes around, NOTHING HAPPENS. It turns out there's NO WIRING IN THE PLACE, and they say they can't install. At this point, we've paid for an extra month on the old apartment, as well as rent on the new apartment. (Something that, frankly, we were not financially capable of doing.)

    We actually do the line installation from the box to the apartment ourselves, and get back to Fairpoint. Oh but what's this? The workorder has been cancelled and we have to start all over again. (And yet, for some reason, two days later we receive the DSL starter kit at the new apartment.)

    The majority of our problems stem from the fact that they swear up and down that the building only has one unit. (Number TWO, no less. Did that not seem a little STRANGE?) So we gave up and called Comcast. Gave them the address, and they asked "Apartment 1 or Apartment 2?" and we had cable internet and digital voice service a week later. The DSL we had been getting from Fairpoint was 3 megabits down, and 768kbits up...with the wind. The phone service sounded like shit, and both were prone to strange failures on a near-constant basis.

    Our Comcast cable is 1.5 megabytes down (with boosts up to 2.4), and 1 megabit up on a bad day. The digital voice service is crystal clear, and we get more services than we did from our traditional carrier...including nationwide free long distance and the whole nut. And it is even CHEAPER than Failpoint's fail-ass DSL and phone service.

    So, I guess what I'm saying is, FUCK FAILPOINT.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Dude you live in Vermont. It is an odd place in so many ways why does this shock you. Go bet some maple syrup for your Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream and sit in your wicker chair and mellow out.

    • by Red_Chaos1 (95148)

      Yeah, it's the same for the poor folks of West Virginia stuck with Frontier. Verizon owned a low of it and did a shitty job, and left the mess in Frontier's lap when they bought the copper. U get calls from customers all the time with problems like packet loss, slow speeds, lines with all kinds of godawful noise, etc. Phone lines are shit, and need to die.

  • They'll be able to claim "My ISP is hung like a horse!"
  • apparently he can lay cable under water too... http://www.burleson-arabians.com/images/scuba_diving_horse.jpg/ [burleson-arabians.com]
  • Private companies have been unwilling to invest in the expensive infrastructure needed to reach these areas.

    Users have been unwilling to pay for the expensive infrastructure needed to reach their remote homes and businesses.

    • by profplump (309017)

      Telcos could either charge people to install infrastructure (like a construction company) or build the infrastructure themselves and rent it out (like a landlord). They could maybe even get people to install their own infrastructure and the lease people the land it uses or charge for maintenance services (like a build-to-suit lease). But telcos don't do that -- they charge users for the infrastructure (either directly or via taxes) and then charge again for use of the infrastructure, and customers rightly a

  • From Wikipedia: A draft horse (US), draught horse (UK) or dray horse (from the Anglo-Saxon dragan meaning to draw or haul; compare Dutch dragen meaning to carry), less often called a heavy horse, is a large horse bred for hard, heavy tasks such as ploughing and farm labour. There are a number of different breeds, with varying characteristics but all share common traits of strength, patience and a docile temperament which made them indispensable to generations of pre-industrial farmers

  • Fairpoint is not doing this for any reason other than the fact that farmers in Vermont are in dire straights and will rent themselves and their horses out more cheaply than ATV's and Ditch Witches (A horizontal boring machine). It's a sad commentary on how a once proud tradition has been reduced to taking a hand-out from a company steadfastly refuses to put a penny into its operational equipment.
  • a few years ago an oldtimer in BT told me a story about an accident he investigated where a brewery dray house peed and the pee ran down into tray of solder where they guys where jointing cables - the horse pee and molten solder exploded and went all over the place.

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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