Brian Capouch

Saint Joseph's College

Rural Voices: Indiana Farm Net
20 minutes, 9.2mb, recorded 2006-01-25
Brian Capouch

Brian Capouch grew up in rural Indiana and returned after college to the area where his roots are strongest. He loves the rural life but he doesn't believe that this means he must forego internet access. Early in this talk, he describes the moment when he first connected using a wireless network and realized there was potential here to bring connectivity to his friends and neighbors in Indiana.

With an area of 1,500 square miles to cover and a population density so low that 3,000 customers will signal a saturated market, the costs of providing internet access are potentially high. On top of that, the nature of the customers means that they are very sensitive to price.

Capouch relates how he has driven down the cost per installation of his service by buying his CPEs (customer premises equipment) in bulk from eBay and hacking them, using radio cards and duct tape. The combination of new radio cards, a version of Linux (Open WRT), and Asterisk has allowed Capouch to set up what he terms a "telephone club" over and above the initial intention of a rural ISP. This latest breakthrough is threatened, however, by legislation introduced by the telcos, who are seeking to prevent the success of such small-scale ventures.

Brian Capouch is an assistant professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science at Saint Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana. He also operates a small wireless ISP. He has taught two college classes and done presentations on VOIP and Asterisk. He is restoring a 152-year-old railroad hotel.




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