How A Group of Residents Created Their Own Internet Service Provider


DBIUA-internet-tower-washington-4Short Bytes: After a long list of unresolved complaints regarding bad internet services, the residents of Orcas Island in Washington state decided to create their own internet service by forming an organization named DBIUA. Read this article to know how they achieved this and what were the obstacles faced by them.

Just like the basic amenities of food and health, a good internet service has become everybody’s requirement. If you live in some remote area, getting a reliable internet access is something to be thankful for.

But, what to do if all those complaints about that unreliable internet access go unanswered? The residents of Orcas Island in Washington state were facing troubled internet with CenturyLink’s service. Instead of choosing the option of doing nothing, they decided to build their own internet service.

Covering this interesting story, Ars Technica writes that the residents just got fed up with CenturyLink and decided to rescue themselves. This initiative was materialized in the form of nonprofit organization Doe Bay Internet Users Association (DBIUA) founded by Chris Sutton, Chris Brems, and others. The DBIUA is now a wireless network provider on a portion of the island.

Everyone was asking, “what can we do?'” resident Chris Brems recalls. “Then [Chris] Sutton stands up and says, ‘Well, we can do it ourselves.”


This wireless network works with radios installed on trees and houses in the Doe Bay portion of Orcas Island. A microwave tower across the water in Mount Vemon (Washington) sends signals to radios installed on the top of a water tower on the island, which further transmits the signal to the radios on trees. DBIUA paid StarTouch Broadband Services about $11,000 for getting this microwave link to the water tower.

Also read: Your WiFi Router Has a Superpower You Didn’t Know

Sutton is a software developer and he’s amazed how rare such projects are as “it wasn’t that hard.”

In 2013, the troublesome CenturyLink service was supposed to provide download speeds up to 1.5Mbps. The network failed to deliver that and the service was totally oversubscribed. Well, now the things are changed as BIUA delivers 30-40Mbps and it has never been below 20-25Mbps.


And here’s the best thing about the service, unlike your data provider, there’s no data cap for DBIUA users.

To measure the obstacles that could hinder the wireless signals, DBIUA used a drone to determine “whether a radio on a treetop could reach other points of the network”.


The homes have a radio on the roof or some other place that points to one of the 10 relay points that send the internet signals. For the users, it’s just like the signals come to their tree and then to the house.

All over the area, there are about 200 radios spread and each household has a Wi-Fi router in the home to access the internet.

With inputs from Ars

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Also read: How to Protect Your Wi-Fi Router From Hacking Using Simple Tricks

Adarsh Verma

Adarsh Verma

Fossbytes co-founder and an aspiring entrepreneur who keeps a close eye on open source, tech giants, and security. Get in touch with him by sending an email — [email protected]
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