How First Nations kids built their own internet infrastructure
November 9, 2015 7:13 AM   Subscribe

Three years ago, the people living in the Ochiichagwe'Babigo'Ining Ojibway Nation in Ontario would crowd in each other’s homes and outside the band office to access what little internet the community had. There was dial-up, there was expensive cellular data, and there was some service from an internet provider in a neighboring town; when the network went down, it would sometimes take weeks for a technician to come and fix the issue. The community’s kids—itching to get their gaming systems online and scroll through Facebook on their phones—weren’t having it.

The Ochiichagwe'Babigo'Ining Ojibway Nation isn't alone in its lack of Internet access--or in its community-organized solution to First Nations communities going without service. The First Mile Project celebrates these community-driven projects by helping communities share stories about developing their own ISPs and by lobbying for more inclusive Canadian federal policy. This is not just a problem in Canadian indigenous communities. First Nations communities in the USA are working on new ways to improve Internet access, too.
posted by sciatrix (8 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
This is great! More power to them! (literally, figuratively, and politically)
posted by Wretch729 at 7:31 AM on November 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Thanks... Harper?
posted by clawsoon at 8:06 AM on November 9, 2015

Ars Technica also ran a feature recently with some more technical detail on a rural community implementing its own broadband service
posted by indubitable at 9:17 AM on November 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Good on those kids.

It was only a month ago my building in Chicago got internet faster than 2.5 Mbps for less that $175/month (some sort of exclusive provider contract expired and 5 Comcast reps came piling in).

They might want to keep it on the downlow though because otherwise the Canadian broadband duopoly will find a way to crush them.

Thanks... Harper?

They applied for and received funding from their own Band Council so that's a big nope on thanking Harper.
posted by srboisvert at 9:44 AM on November 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is not unlike how the first cable networks were established by tinkerers who lived in small mountain communities not served by broadcast television.
posted by rockindata at 11:02 AM on November 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

So this is an article about Canadians building their own broadband solutions, and it cites frustration with COMCAST?!? Someone's ignorance is showing.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:18 PM on November 9, 2015

So this is an article about Canadians building their own broadband solutions, and it cites frustration with COMCAST?!? Someone's ignorance is showing.

"The difference between most municipal broadband projects—where cities start up their own ISPs—and those that take place in First Nations communities, McMahon said, is that the latter are often products of necessity. While a city starting its own gigabit fiber network may have simply had it with Comcast, some indigenous communities may have never had the opportunity to be so irate."

What are you on about? That paragraph makes perfect sense.
posted by srboisvert at 12:27 PM on November 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

The paragraph makes sense only if you're an American reading this or you're a Canadian who is familiar enough with American telcos. If you're a Canadian reading about a Canadian project you're suddenly pulled out of the article and then forced to figure out a) what he's talking about or b) why he's suddenly having to view Canada through an American lens. If you're neither Canadian nor American, then you have to know enough to understand what Comcast is and where it operates. If you don't know either of those two facts, then too bad for you, unless you fire up your favourite search engine of choice.
posted by sardonyx at 1:13 PM on November 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

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