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Oakwood, MT, is a planned future independent, off-grid community in the style of a small 1950s town, located on several square miles of land in rural Montana, complete with electromechanical telephone switches in the central office! The town caters to telephone hobbyists, environmental activists, and those who are just plain fed up with the detritus of modern life and want to return to the "good 'ole days".
As we get further and further into the twenty-first century, more and more people are growing increasingly disgruntled with the way things are heading, in most every respect. Oakwood will offer people the chance to return an era where many of today's problems were of lesser magnitude or nonexistent, while also avoiding the problems that did exist then and don't anymore.
A primary focus of the town is to keep analog switches alive on the PSTN. Vintage telecom equipment will be the norm, rather than the exception, in Oakwood.
Furthermore, the amount of electrosmog present in the 21st century has skyrocketed tremendously. This is radiation that peer-reviewed independent science has shown is dangerous. The government has not demonstrated that it is interested in prioritizing people's basic rights to being healthy over corporate and private interests. While unofficial radio quiet zones like Green Bank, West Virginia exist, they are there for the sake of scientific research, not protecting people's health. Oakwood, MT would be the first town of its kind specifically designed with people's environmental health and safety in mind, bringing a truly holistic approach to healthy living that permeates all aspects of the town, with minimal RF radiation, low chemical presence, and locally grown produce.
Montana has several things going for it. To begin with, Montana as a whole has an extremely low population density. Only two U.S. states have a lower population density (only one of which is in the continental U.S.). In order to truly be independent, a rural and sparsely populated location is vital. The effects of nearby communities will be much more successfully mitigated if the town of Oakwood is situated in a remote part of the country, far away from any urban areas. The effects of chemicals and radiation, particularly the latter, can be felt a long way from the source from which they originate. In order to be out of range of cellular towers, a rural location is required, as the town is to have no cellular coverage and no mobile connectivity. While we can prevent antennas from being erected in the town, lack of control over the town's surroundings means either a buffer of land is required or the setting must already be relatively desolate to begin with. As a whole, urban areas today are extremely toxic, and rural areas at present and in the future are going to be the only safe places to live. The "small town" of Oakwood will still be a part of the rural landscape.
Because much of Montana is uninhabited, land in "Big Sky Country" is also relatively cheaper — in fact, land in Montana is cheaper than almost anywhere else in the country. Estimates on this statistic vary by source, and land in the eastern part of the state is generally cheaper than land in the (more mountainous) west. Since Oakwood will require a lot of land — as much as reasonably possible — even a small difference in the cost of land per acre will make a huge difference in the overall upfront costs of the town as well as future ongoing property taxes for residents.
As an added bonus, Montana is relatively safe. Think about it — what natural disasters are prevalent in Montana? If you can't think of any, you're in good company. TIME has ranked Montana to be the safest place in the U.S. to live — in fact, 7 out of the top 15 safest counties in the U.S. are located in Montana (nearly half)! This includes the (#1) safest county, Sweet Grass County!
Rankings by Safety & Density
Here is a map showing all of Montana's counties with their safety indicies (out of all 3,114 counties in the United States):
Here is a ranking of the 30 least densely populated counties in Montana. For reference, Waukesha County (WI) is ~550 square miles (with density of 709). Compare the populations with the areas and you will see that Montana is chock full of ideal counties.
Download a list of all Montana counties by safety.
Download full spreadsheet containing safety indices and population densities. You can sort this one appropriately to obtain a full list of counties sorted by density if you desire.
Ideally, we would like to situate Oakwood in a county that is both extremely safe (one of the top 100 safest counties in the country) as well as sparsely populated. Considering that most Montanan counties have a very low population density compared to the average U.S. county, any of the counties in the chart above would work perfectly, as they all have an average density of under 3 people per square mile.
To obtain a list of the best locations for Oakwood, rankings by safety and by density are taken into account. Another important factor to look at is price — essentially cost per acre/sq. mi., which may not correlate perfectly with density. Another factor is population change over time, such as that depicted by the picture below:
Factoring natural disaster safety, population density, and population change statistics into account, here are our top choices for counties. Because all the population densities are relatively low, and are only averages, safety was given the highest weighting.
- Golden Valley
- Sweet Grass
- Judith Basin
We are currently locating ideal properties in each of these counties. If you know of any properties that are relatively cheap (less than $1,000 per acre) and are decently sized (at least 100 acres), please let us know!
Oakwood, MT, will be a chartered suburban town subject to certain rules, including a ban on newer vehicles and any equipment that emits radiofrequency radiation (without express permission from the town charter or the town council), including microwave ovens, cordless phones, cellular phones, digital/AMI/AMR/"smart" meters, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cordless baby monitors, etc. The goal is to provide a vintage lifestyle experience for everyone and a lifestyle free from the health and societal implications of such technologies. Several AM antennas and TV antennas will be located outside the town so residents can choose from multiple free, terrestrial AM radio channels and analog TV channels. Due to the remoteness of the town, local power will be generated locally using sustainable methods. All the amentities of 1950s suburban life, such as daily newspaper delivery, daily milk delivery, daily egg delivery, etc. would be available to all residents on a per-cost basis. These services would not be offered by the town of Oakwood itself, but would rather be provided by local companies.
In the summer of 2021, a road trip is planned amongst several telephone collectors to relocate several electromechanical switches to Montana. They will first be relocated to the present headquarters of Mountain Pacific Telephone Company in Butte, Montana, and will later be relocated to the town of Oakwood itself (to the town's central office, which will be near the new headquarters of Mountain Pacific Telephone Company).
Estimated startup costs are $120,000. We are hoping to get a Kickstarter started soon.
The Land (About $69k + Tax)
CLEC Fees (About $800)
Moving Costs ($1k?)
SxS switch ($10k)
We are always seeking donations and funding! At this time, there is no online campaign set up. Feel free to drop us a check if you'd like to contribute a few bucks please make checks payable to "Mountain Pacific Telephone Company" with "Oakwood" as the MEMO. Our mailing address is at the bottom of this page.
Property taxes dependent on the size of your property and buildings (house, office, etc.) will cover the cost of living in Oakwood. In addition, a number of both white and blue collar workers will be needed to operate the town, e.g. telephone operators, central office technicians, mailmen, newspaper deliverers, telegram deliverers, milkmen, delivery men, plumbers, electricians, postal clerks, sanitary workers, lawn and maintenance workers, etc. You may also work in town at the grocery, deli, meat market, butcher, etc.
The Oakwood Post Office will handle mail for the town of Oakwood. A mail courier will deliver mail six days a week (excepting federal holidays) right to your door or secretary!
The Oakwood Railway Station will be right downtown, with a number of steam locomotive and diesel lines daily! Get in and out of town fast on the Oakwood Line!
All residents of Oakwood will enjoy access to affordable telegram services. simply visit the telephone company business office or call the telegram office (a special code for Oakwood subscribers) to send a telegram. All local telegrams will be immediately dispatched by messenger, 24/7, at no extra charge. Telegrams are charged by the word, at $5 + $0.10 per word. We can negotiate a special rate for bulk telegram orders.
Oakwood Computer Cooperative
The Oakwood Computer Cooperative will help maintain aging computer infrastructure so we can keep it in place, such as the Windows 9x and Windows 2000 operating systems! Older computer hardware will also be supported. Homes, schools, and businesses will be able to rely on the OCC for computer support and sales.
EMF Refugee Retreat
Oakwood would also function as an EMF retreat for those who are too sensitive to RF radiation to live elsewhere. The entire town, essentially, would function as a retreat, allowing those sensitive to radiation to live and work a "normal" lifestyle. There will also be a more natural retreat located outside the town with cabins and a main building with its own PBX (a small step-by-step PBX), with tie lines to nearby collectors' telephone switches and trunks to the Oakwood central office's step-by-step switch.
Mountain Pacific Telephone Company
The Mountain Pacific Telephone Company (a CLEC) will consist of a downtown business office located near the central office, which would contain step-by-step switching equipment for local subscribers and a #4 crossbar switching system (or Stromberg-Carlson XY) for long-distance calls. You may buy your own telephone or rent it from the telephone company. Free operator assistance, information, repair service, and directory assistance is available to all Oakwood subscribers. Free dial-up Internet access will also be available through our central office by dialing a special code only Oakwood customers can access. If you would like to save on your monthly telephone bill, you may opt for a party line (either 2-party or 4-party) instead of a private line, which you will share with adjoining party line subscribers. We can also deliver an analog ground-start DID trunk to your business if you require the service. You will be billed for # of trunks and for range of DID numbers, which must be consecutive.
There will be two step-by-step exchanges. To save on equipment, the first selector will be digit-absorbing if the first digit on that exchange is dialed, meaning that the levels 1, 2, and 3, and 0 on each exchange cannot be used, and 9 will also be a reserved level (i.e. ringback via 958, and echo test, loop around, silent termination, milliwatt, on other 9xx numbers), allowing for a maximum 5,000 numbers per exchange or 10,000 numbers between the two. You may make a call on your exchange by simply dialing the last 5 digits of the telephone number. To call an exchange elsewhere in Montana, dial the full telephone number (7 digits). Interstate calls elsewhere in Montana are local calls and are included in your monthly phone bill at no extra charge. To dial a long-distance call, you must dial 1 + the area code + the number. The charge will appear on your bill. If you make a high volume of long-distance calls you may opt for our "flat-rate" long-distance package which is an additional $30/month and allows unlimited long-distance calls within the United States. International telephone calls must be placed through the long distance operator, whom you can reach by dialing 0 and asking for the long-distance operator or by dialing her directly at 112. Complimentary access is provided to the VoIP switching networks C*NET (Collectors' Network) and NPSTN. Competitive long-distance carriers can be accessed using Feature Groups B and D. 10-10-xxx codes are available by dialing 10-xxx (10-10-xxx codes used to be 10-xxx before we ran out). You may also use Feature Group B codes by dialing 950-xxxx. See Feature Groups for more info on competitive long-distance. You are responsible for ensuring you do not get scammed — we highly recommend the use of regular 1+ long distance which will complete over our analog L-carrier trunks (coaxial cable).
The toll switch will either be a Stromberg-Carlson XY or a Crossbar switch of some kind. However, the tandem interfacing with the "modern PSTN" will be the No. 1 DSS (Number 1 Digital Switching System), which is currently in development. The No. 1 DSS is a soft-switch that will sit between the rest of the PSTN and the phone equipment located in Oakwood.
Special codes, such as 0 and 11x/11xx/10xxx will function normally. You may dial vertical service codes as 11xx. You must dial 113 for information instead of 411; likewise, you must dial 114 for repair, not 611, and you may dial 112 for the long distance operator. If you are on a party line, you can ring other parties on your line by dialing 118x, and you can get the time by dialing 119. In an emergency, dial 0 and tell the operator there is an emergency; tell the operator your address and telephone number and she will relay it to an available dispatcher. All operators are trained to handle emergencies and the operator switchboards are always staffed, both at cordboards (dial 0) and TSPS positions (112 long distance operator). Do not dial 911 in an emergency; if you do, you will get a recording reminding you that you may not dial 911 and to hang up and dial your operator. You may also request a complimentary sticker for your telephone reminding callers to dial 0 in an emergency.
Or, perhaps, dialing 0 will allow access to local emergency responders while 911 will go to the county PSAP. Either way, dialing 0 is recommended over dialing 911 and will result in a faster — more local — response.
Due to the lack of pulse to tone converters, only rotary telephones will be allowed for dialing although customer-owned TouchTone telephones may be used to navigate IVR menus. There will be no additional charge for extra telephones on your line.
Each house will have two copper pairs run to it — one connected to an electromechanical switch and used for voice calls and one connected directly to the No. 1 DSS. This second line is specifically designed for use with modems, so that inter-computer communication does not impede the ability to make and receive telephone calls. Since a copper pair supports two lines, this means that with the basic wiring configuration installed when a house is built, the ability to have 2 voice lines and 2 modem lines already exists. Further lines will require additional drops by the telephone company. By default, only 1 line is provisioned on each pair. While local calls on both pairs are free, the data pair is only designed for use with modems and is not designed for use with telephone sets. The long-distance plan that applies to the data pair is the same plan that applies to the voice pair.
The charge for the data pair will be $1 per month for residents who already have an analog pair for voice (i.e. it functions as a bundled services). A phone number is assigned to each data line so that modems can be called back (i.e. modems can receive incoming calls) from other modems in Oakwood and the "outside world".
The Mountain Pacific Telephone Company has already been formulated. It will eventually serve as Oakwood's primary incumbent telephone provider.
- 4,000-line step-by-step switch, complete with city ring/tone plant
- 1 SoftSwitch (A #1DSS) and One Stromberg-Carlson XY With a total line capacity of 3,000 with 24 talk paths (24 calls at once, Pretty good considering most likely the people living here will be under 100 at least for now.) Why do we need a Soft Switch? Well you can't just plug a Stromberg-Carlson XY to the PSTN Anymore, It's been modernized, We might be served off a Tandem that does not support Traditional MF/SF or DP! And even if we are, that wouldn't last for very long!
- The Soft Switch will go in between the XY and the PSTN acting as a Long Distance and Intra-Office Tandem. It will support SF/MF & DP and will convert all that (secretly in the background) To SS7 or other Modern Protocols the PSTN uses!
- The Modern T-Carrier lines from the local Tandem we are served off of terminate to the Soft Switch, The Soft Switch on an incoming call finds an idle trunk path to the XY (If none are available it plays an All Circuits Busy Message). Once it finds and Idle path it Dial Pulses into the XY and connects the call!
- Future expansion plans: SxS switch and L-carrier trunks
- On an outgoing call (outside of the XY Switch) The XY will use It's long distance equipment to MF to the Soft Switch over an idle Long Distance trunk (There will be about maybe 25ish). After the XY MFs the number dialed and sends ANI the Soft Switch hunts for an idle circuit to the PSTN Tandem we are served off of and connected the call over an SS7 T-Carrier connection.
Local calls on this switch will be 7 digits — (Number)
Calls outside this switch to local 406 numbers with be 8 digits (1+Number)
Calls outside 406 area code (1+Area Code+Number)
Calls to international numbers (011+Country Code+Number)
According to NANPA these are the only available (NNX) Office codes in the 406 NPA:
997 (WYandotte, WYman, WYndown)
990 (WYandotte, WYman, WYndown)
955 (Cannot be used, No Telephone Exchange name)
341 (DIamond, DIckens, FIeldbrook, FIeldstone, FIllmore, FIrestone)
So our Central Office will be FIeldbrook1-XXXX (341-XXXX).
We will also reserve 997 and 990 for future use so we will have:
FIeldbrook 1-XXXX (XY Switch)
WYman 0-XXXX (Future Use)
WYman 7-XXXX (Future Use)
So here is the dial plan once more:
Local Calls: FIeldbrook 1-XXXX, WYman 0-XXXX, WYman 7-XXXX (normal)
Calls outside of Oakwood: 1+Number (was common in the 50s, 60s, 70s, etc...)
Calls outside of Montana: 1+Area Code+Number (Normal)
International Calls: 011+Number (Normal) or 0 (operator assistance required)
This is getting the most out of the XY switch we already have.
If you have any further questions or comments, feel free to drop us a line! The official number to reach the Oakwood Planning Commission is (407) 564-4171. A representative from Mountain Pacific Telephone Company will answer during regular business hours; after hours you may leave a message on our answering machine. Don't forget you can also join our Oakwood mailing list!