Americans Got Sick of Waiting for Comcast, So They’re Building Their Own Internet

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Due to economic factors, much of Detroit has gone ignored by major telecommunications companies, leaving 40% of the city without any access to internet. As much as 70% of school-aged children do not have internet access at home and are desperately in need of this basic utility, according to the FCC. However, the citizens of Detroit have taken matters into their own hands, and with the help of a coalition of organizations, they have started working together to build their own internet.

The effort began over the summer when the Equitable Internet Initiative, a grassroots movement made up of community members and local non-profits, started training local residents from three neighborhoods to become “digital stewards.” Many of these stewards started out with little to no technical knowledge. Now experts after a 20-week-long training period, these digital stewards are able to install routers, pull fiber, maintain an entire network from end to end, troubleshoot, and even teach others how to do the same.

“We want to make sure that we’re not just installing all the equipment, but also educating the community,” said Rita Ramirez, one of the stewards working on the project in Detroit’s Southwest neighborhood, told MotherboardThe trained volunteers will use wireless access points to beam the wifi connection to homes from one of three main wifi hubs: Grace in Action in Southwest Detroit, WNUC 96.7 community radio station in the North End, and Church of the Messiah in Islandview. Each will service approximately 50 homes. The routers will also have a feature allowing all computers on the network access to secure communication via an internal intranet in the event that the internet goes down.

The Equitable Internet Initiative was made possible with the help of Detroit-based cutting-edge internet service provider Rocket Fiberand according to Model D Media, it was “largely financed by the New Economy Initiative (NEI), a business development organization with foundation support. The project was designed and implemented by the Detroit Community Technology Project, a sponsored project of Allied Media Projects (AMP).”

Because the funding will eventually run out, the volunteer digital stewards will have to work together with anchor organizations to develop business models that will ensure the long-term sustainability of the internet connections, according to Diane Nucera, director of the Detroit Community Technology Project. “These folks will be the ones organizing, building the infrastructure, and teaching others, hopefully to create a culture of collective ownership,” Nucera said.

Digital steward Monique Tate agrees, pointing out that residents are more likely to stay involved if they have a sense of ownership. “Your parents may have given you your first bicycle, but when you buy your own, you had much more appreciation and respect for it,” Tate says. “We need to make people feel like it’s theirs, then they’ll be compelled to want to take care of it.”

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  • elbustaroyjetspeekerson

    FUCK the FCC. No internet is the BEST possible scenario for these kids. SERIOUSLY. And FUCK YOU to all the naysayers, too.

  • Cynical Old Bastard

    “this basic utility”

    Go fuck yourself.

  • bustattmovec

    Some of these poor folks have less than 10Mbps internet speed, oh the horror. WTF???
    Did the local library quit providing internet to these folks. I guess having to get out of bed and go to the library is just too much of a hardship.
    Of course, per their presentation, Detroit’s decline is blamed on “racial inequality”. Never the Negros fault.

    • NonYo Business

      Do you realize how not having internet affects them in today’s world? Internet is a necessity if they are to function later in life when they are asked to do anything other than dig ditches or make sandwiches.

      • elbustaroyjetspeekerson

        Urine IDIOT. The commercial Digital Age (circa 1979) IS WHAT GOT US HERE IN THIS GIGANTIC MORASS OF BS&GARBAGE IN THE FIRST FUCKING PLACE. Did I mention URINE IDIOT??????????

        • NonYo Business

          I can tell that you are old because of your overuse of capital letters.

          • It is his limited vocabulary beyond Carlin’s that tipped me off.

          • darkhorse

            you hit a nerve here… the guy is limited in intelligence as can be seen by his use of scatalogical language

          • NonYo Business

            He retreated. All is good. Probably just pissed off that the internet exists and he is out of touch with the rest of humanity.

      • bustattmovec

        You forgot the /sarc. George Washington Carver, Fredrick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, MLK Jr., W.E.B. DuBois, Clarence Thomas, Jessie Jackson and many more did not have internet,, they seemed to do pretty well. Negros always looking for an excuse to be a failure.

    • Marilyn

      Google is paying 97$ per hour,with weekly payouts.You can also avail this.
      On tuesday I got a brand new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $11752 this last four weeks..with-out any doubt it’s the most-comfortable job I have ever done .. It Sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
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  • Underestimated

    “Now experts after a 20-week-long training period”. Hah! I’m a Network Engineer with 20 years experience. There is no training course that will make you an expert in 20 weeks. They have basic knowledge and probably a handful of how-to’s to follow. I know a lot about networks and I don’t even call myself an expert.

    • NonYo Business

      Too fkn bad they cant Google it, huh?

    • How long did it take you to learn to string cable through a suspended ceiling? Was the competition stiff with local elementary school kids that wired their homes?

  • Phil_Ossifer

    Watch…federal funding comes next; bet on it. After all, it’s Detroitistan and who are the overwhelming majority of inhabitants of that third-world city-state?

    • darkhorse

      oh … ouh….. duh……

  • NonYo Business

    I am glad to see people taking matters into their own hands like free minded people, not slaves.

    • It would be better to see them do it on their own dimes instead of corporatocracy money.

  • The Tuna Fairy

    Bet it gets declared illegal for some reason and removed.

  • Mystick

    There’s really not a whole lot to a modern ISP network. Virtually all the equipment is jelly-bean appliances that just require the infrastructure to connect them together – at the home, nodal distribution, and head-end levels. Follow the recipe and, for the most part, everything “talks” to what it needs to talk to and runs itself, with the exception of infrastructure breakdown… which is not a complex matter and is a fairly rudimentary set of skills required by the technicians.

  • SP_88

    “…create a culture of collective ownership”. Whenever I see “collective ownership” in a sentence, a red flag goes up.
    I think it’s great that these people have taken the initiative to get their internet working, but the “collective ownership” of it suggests something else is also going on. They did also say “a sense of ownership”, which is different, but it’s still something that would concern me.