Rural Internet Service -- A User Experience

dixontj93060

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I am posting this because it seems there are a number of TRF members I have seen that live in a rural setting, be it farm, forest, mountains, etc. Ever since I met my wife and accrued enough capital to purchase houses, we have lived on properties a good stretch from metro areas, again be it on a lake, in the mountains, or as now, on essentially a hunting preserve. This situation coupled with working in the high-tech industry most of my working career, has forced me to be a consumer of non-optimum Internet services since 1992. The fact is, given the high cost of burying fiber cable, the Internet options will, at least in my lifetime, be limited in rural areas (i.e., cable/xDSL options will never prove-in economically without government subsidies which are diminishing). Up to this point I have used satellite services from first DirecPC/HughesNet, and then most recently from WildBlue. These first and second generation services typically provide 3Mb download and 750Kb upload speeds which are woefully behind typical cable and DSL offerings, but worse, suffer from significant round-trip delay which crush streaming services of any kind. In addition, as those with satellite service have probably cursed at, you loose service during times of heavy cloud cover, often a time when you want the service the most. Now in the past three years third generation systems have come to market that up the speed to an advertised 10Mb to 12Mb download and 3Mb upload speeds, but according to folks I have spoken to, the issues with round-trip delay, and of course, cloud cover still exist.

Enough of the preamble... Even with the misgivings of third generation satellite services, about 6 months ago I started on a quest to upgrade my service. I tried to get installs completed with both HughesNet and Excede (ViaSat also owners of WildBlue). Even after going over in detail with the ordering rep and install technicians, there were a variety of missteps and snafus when the install order was handed off to the local subcontractor. Excuses such as we didn't bring a long enough ladder, to it is too windy to get that larger dish up to the install point, etc., etc. For those with satellite service, I'm sure you have heard some of those same excuses before, especially when I refused their standard install when I first built my house, i.e., plant a pole in the middle of my backyard and ruin the aesthetics of the whole landscape. Anyway after three or four attempts, I had pretty much given up for the last 6 months or so.

Finally a (potential) solution... So last week while in my local Verizon store upgrading my wife's phone, I asked some questions about their Internet service, branded HomeFusion. I had talked to them before when my daughter worked for Verizon as a district manager, but opted to not pursue it as Verizon only advertised 8Mb to 10Mb download and 2Mb upload and, at that time, I still had "faith" in the satellite upgrades plus 4GLTE service was nearly non-existent at my home. But now after the bumbling with the satellite installs and the continued frustration with "cloud" outages, I decided to try it, especially after a discussion of the antenna design (8 antennas with boosters inside a small can--see below). In any case Tuesday morning the installer came out. He was late as typical, but the signal testing and install went pretty smoothly. After the install was complete, we hooked up all the computers to the wireless router and began to perform speed tests (www.speedtest.net). I would have been happy with the 8Mb download and 2Mb upload, but what did I get? My service is at 25Mb download and 7Mb upload(!). This has been consistent for three days now. Certainly the jury is still out, and with the much faster service, we will now have to be cognizant of overall data usage, but my first impressions are very positive, thus my reason for sharing.


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WillMarchant

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Thanks for the summary. HomeFusion looks interesting, but I'd never willingly go back to a service with a monthly download allocation. That was just too painful on HughesNet.
 

dixontj93060

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Thanks for the summary. HomeFusion looks interesting, but I'd never willingly go back to a service with a monthly download allocation. That was just too painful on HughesNet.

Hmmm... I thought all plans had limits now. Even my Comcast Xfinity service at my office has a limit--I think it is high, like 200Gb/month, but there is a limit.
 

dward

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I have used both Verizon FIOS and Comcast since 2005. Neither of them imposed download limits, just throttles on the speed. I used both during my companies startup phase and downloaded something in the neighborhood of 12 TB per line per month (web crawlers). I dropped Comcast in 09, so can't say how they are since then.

Bill Gates invested heavily in rural internet access. Glad to hear it is improving. Maybe I can get Internet for my grandmother on her ranch in Texas, now.
 

dward

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Comments on Comcast rollout of data limits, and, looking at trends, it seems only a matter of time before all Internet access will be measured/billed.

https://gigaom.com/2013/11/08/looks...tly-pushing-a-300-gb-cap-and-overage-charges/
Great article. Thanks for sharing that. I think the 'stiffles innovation' point is a good one. A friend of mine started a car sharing service in Boston back in the 2000's. One of the key enabling technologies was that each car is connected to the internet. At the time, cell companies were very inflexible about this and she testified before congress about it during the 'net neutrality' debates.
I think the cable TV companies are going to screw themselves. When I was still living in the city (cambridge), a growing and popular trend was free internet using a mesh network. This combined with Netflix could put them out of business.
 

Brent

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I use Earthlink via Time Warner Cable. I have no monthly data limit. I am probably one of the few with Verizon that don't have a monthly data limit. I was grandfathered in from Alltel and have kept the same contract. The minute they change it I will go else ware.
 
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