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What are my high speed internet options?

I live in an area that’s not served by wired broadband providers such as DSL
or cable. Am I really stuck with only dialup? It’s so slow!

Surprisingly I can say this with all honesty:

I feel your pain.

OK, not the exact same pain, but my options are also limited, and it’s
frustrating.

Let me throw out the alternatives I’m aware of. Perhaps someone will chime
in with something new and exciting and we can both get a faster internet
fix.

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My neighborhood also has no cable. As a result, my only wired option is DSL
over the my phone line. Unfortunately, while I have a wonderfully strong
signal, the technology at the telephone company limits me to 768kbps down and
128kbps up. Once upon a time that was blazingly fast – today it doesn’t seem
so. Until they upgrade their end, it’s what I’m limited to.

So what options do we have?

Satellite

Satellite is what most people think of first. Companies like HughesNet
(formerly Direcway) and StarBand give you a satellite dish, and you’re on the
net. It makes sense for many, many people, but there are drawbacks:

  • Speed: StarBand quotes speeds around my DSL speeds – between 500 and
    1000kbps down and 100-256kbps up. That’s certainly not an improvement for me,
    but it might be good for many. HughesNet quotes similar speeds.

  • Capacity: you may not get the highest speeds, and in fact you might be
    speed-limited if you use too much. This varies, dramatically, based on how busy
    the service is, but you can be reduced to nearly dial-up speeds without
    warning.

  • Phone: Speaking of dial-up, some services use the satellite in conjunction
    with a dialup connection. You may still need a phone line in order to connect.
    Double check with the service to make sure it’s true “two way” satellite.

  • Latency: When you use a satellite the information is bounced off of that
    satellite 22,240 miles above the earth in what’s referred to as the “Clarke
    Belt” after science fiction author Aurther C. Clarke, who wrote about using
    satellites in this fashion. 22,240 miles is a long way … long enough that it
    takes about 1/4 of a second for the signal to make the 44,480 mile round trip.
    That doesn’t seem like a lot to you and me, but to computers it’s an eternity.
    In particular, certain communications protocols, often “ftp”, will have
    problems and become very slow because of that delay. Normal internet browsing
    and downloading is, apparently, not as severely impact by the delay.

“Satellite is what most people think of first.”

Satellite might be an option for you depending on your needs, and your
usage. It’s not for me.

Cellular

I’ve been quite surprised at how ubiquitous cellular coverage has become. As
I’ve mentioned before it’s my solution of choice for connectivity while
traveling, and it works well for me.

Once again, there are tradeoffs:

  • Speed: cellular data plans now connect at around 128kbps. That’s roughly
    twice quoted dialup speeds (54kbps), but more like 3 of four times more common
    actual dialup speeds of 28 or 33 kbps. There are new technologies in place such
    as EVDO that, if supported in your area, can take that up to something like
    800kbps – but what I’m hearing from users is that it rarely gets that high.
    Regardless of technology, the speed may vary dramatically based on location and
    the strength of the cellular signal. In any case, it’s once again no better
    than my basic DSL speeds.

  • Cost: most cellular providers give you two options for data: a small feed
    for a small amount of data (say $10/month for 10megabytes of data transfer), or
    an unlimited data plan. The “problem” here is that, particularly with newer
    technologies, I’m hearing reports that unlimited doesn’t always mean unlimited
    – even after signing up for an unlimited plan, people are getting charged
    additional if they go beyond a certain amount of data transfer. Now, I’ve not
    encountered that, but I only use my cell as my primary connectivity while
    traveling. The bottom line: question your cellular provider, and question them
    hard. Skip the sales people and go directly to customer support or billing to
    make sure you’re getting what you think.

  • Networking: most cell phones are designed to be plugged into a single
    computer. That’s great when you need connectivity for only that computer. If
    you’re attempting to set up a network, things get more complicated. The easiest
    approach is, probably, to leave that one computer on at all times, and use
    “internet connection sharing” to share the connection out its ethernet port to
    the rest of your network.

  • Dropped Calls: they happen in voice, and they happen in data. Depending on
    your phone, it’s likely that you’ll have to manually reestablish the
    connection if the call drops.

I love cellular – it’s saved my bacon several times, but again, while
traveling. Add to that the fact that my home is in a fairly cellular dead zone,
it’s not an option for me at home.

But it could be for you.

ClearWire

ClearWire’s a cellular based ISP that attempts to address many of the issues
I’ve just listed. When you sign up with ClearWire, you get something that looks
more like a modem, into which you plug your computer or network. ClearWire then
uses the local cellular network to provide you your connection. No worrying
about dropped calls, limited data plans and the like.

And again, there are things to note:

  • Speed: 768 to 1500kbps download speeds are quoted. That’s, at best, 2 times
    basic DSL, but represents great speeds using a cellular based system.

  • Availability: ClearWire is available in limited areas. For example, it’s not
    currently available in the Seattle area.

If available in your area, ClearWire is worth a look.

WiMax

WiMax is another wireless technology that promises to provide high speed
connectivity, along the lines of basic DSL, or somewhat faster, to large areas.
I think of it as WiFi on steroids. (I’ll speak to WiFi in a second.)

There are two problems with WiMax that I’ve seen so far: availability and
price.

WiMax seems to be getting deployed slowly, and in limited, mostly
business-core areas. And when it is available, it’s prohibitively expensive for
the home, or even the small business user.

But it’s definitely a technology to keep an eye on.

WiFi (not)

WiFi, or the wireless connectivity that comes with many laptops today, is
not an option as a replacement for broadband connectivity, unless you happen to
live next door to an existing WiFi hotspot.

The problem here is simply that WiFi wasn’t designed for this. Wifi has a
limited range – roughly 300 feet unobstructed, less if there are things like
walls in the way. That implies that you’ve already brought internet into your
home through some other means, and use WiFi to simply connect your computers to
what’s already in your home.

Other?

With any of the solutions above, there are often ways to go custom or
extreme – fancy antennas to pull in a distant WiFi or cellular signals, custom
solutions from rural ISPs, and more. But those solutions typically require that
either you have the time and resources to figure out what will work for you,
and an ISP or other provider that will let you, or even help you,
connect.

There may be other solutions, and I’d love to hear about them. Both general
connectivity at that basic 768kbps DSL speed, and faster if at all possible,
for those of us who’ve run out of wired options.

And no, moving isn’t an option. 🙂

Do this:

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43 comments on “What are my high speed internet options?”

  1. I feel sorry for you… here in the UK we are a bit spoilt – Basic DSL is now at 2Mbps for most people, and many are even on 8Mbps. 24Mbps is just around the corner and the only obstruction is swapping out that ADSL equipment for ADSL2+.

    Reply
  2. In my experience, as a two-year satellite user, I had nothing but problems: day-to-day connection issues and recurring maintenance calls caused costs to skyrocket and made it absolutely not worthwhile in the end.

    Reply
  3. I live in a semi-rural area of Northern Virginia (near D.C.), with no cable or DSL. We were limited to dialup until just a couple years ago, but now use a “wireless DSL” service. The ISP installed a repeater antenna on the top of a neighbor’s house (the highest one in the subdivision). Each subscriber has a 1′ square panel antenna, about 2″ thick, which is mounted anywhere it has a line-of-sight shot at the repeater. Mine is tucked up under the eaves on the back of my house; others have them on a mounting pole on top of the house. The panel is a complete antenna and modem, with a simple CAT5 Ethernet cable that runs directly to your computer or router. There is a little power inserter in the line near the computer to power everything.

    I get at least 1.5m down and 768k up on my plan, but faster speeds are possible for more $$. The service is rock-solid with one minor outage in over a year. I have a static IP address and no restrictions whatsoever, consistent speeds and very low latency. Cost is $59/month, so not cheap but at least in line with alternatives. So if you have a service like this available, it’s a great alternative until something better (like Verizon FiOS) comes along.

    FYI, http://www.dslreports.com is a good site to find local broadband suppliers that also includes lots of user ratings for each service.

    Rob

    Reply
  4. It’s interesting to note people from other countries talking about getting speeds that we in the U.S. can only often drool about. Sadly, one thing that’s contributed to this, is the U.S.’s rush to adopt new telecommunications technologies during the 20th century.

    Because the U.S. glommed onto these new technologies quickly, the oldest population centers also have some of the oldest infrastructure in the developed world. They got wired first, and upgrading them is a much more difficult project than areas with newer wiring.

    So, while the telcos and cablecos bleat about their newest technologies, it’s taking years to roll them out and it often seems the last ones to get phones and cable are the first ones to get the new broadband features because they have the newest and easiest-to-upgrade infrastructure.

    In the 90s, I lived in West Toluca Lake, a densely populated San Fernando Valley suburb, a stone’s throw from the freeway and two major surface streets. I could drive surface streets to Disney’s studio lot, Warner Brothers studio lot, a CBS satellite studio lot, or NBC’s Burbank headquarters in 10-15 minutes. It got cable TV service in the 1970s.

    My father, 40 miles to the south, in a tiny little beach community that didn’t get cable until the early-80s, with a population of 12k, had consumer broadband via cable modem over a year before DSL rolled out in my area, and 2+ years before cable modems became available.

    Even now, Verizon’s first FIOS installation in Washington is following that pattern.

    http://newscenter.verizon.com/proactive/newsroom/release.vtml?id=93018

    By the end of 2006, they’ll be able to offer FIOS to 60,000 homes and small businesses in Washington. According to the 2000 Census, there were 2.2 million households in Washington State. Based on population growth estimates, around 2% of the population of Washington will have FIOS available by the end of this year. And that population will be out in less densely populated suburbs, dozens of miles from Seattle.

    Now, it’s possible that my neck of the woods could be in the early 2007 plans because we’re just on the border of the areas where they’re laying fiber in 2006. Of course, they could also leave my area neglected for 3-5 years.

    Luckily, I’m in a housing development that was built within the last 3 years and have 8 megabit cable through Comcast, so I’m not going to die while waiting for 25 megabit fiber from Verizon. But the pattern of infrastructure upgrades is interesting.

    Reply
  5. Hi, I live in downtown, Toronto, Canada. With $25 a month I get basic high speed (‘ultra-lite’ is what they call it). I was wondering, all those options mentioned above, is it any cheaper than what I’m paying right now? Surely the speed seems a lot faster than what I’m getting.

    Reply
  6. I also live in an area that borders optical fiber service, but like Mr. Bulmash stated, I don’t want to wait years for the telcos to decide if it is cost effective to hook up my small rural community. My production is kept at a 52k dial-up crawl. I am to far from a Central Office to use DSL (15 miles one way, 20 the other). How can one lobby the telcos or legislatures to have broadband service installed? Any answers out there.

    Reply
  7. I have a wireless internet dsl connection.
    There is a yagi antenna on my roof pointed toward a site that is 10 miles away. There, it connects with a strong dsl line by wire. I rreally dont know what my speed is but it is good enough for me. All signals are encrypted to prevent use by someone tapping into the 900 mHz signal. It goes thru an encrypted firewall on the other end also. This works for me. Does not tie up my phone line or cable line. I lease the radio and antenna. My cost is 40 US$ a month.

    Reply
  8. I’m a beginner. I havn’t seen anyone meantion the “cable” option. Is that because it’s the obvious choice if you neighborhood has it?

    John

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  9. You’ll note that the article begins with “My neighborhood also has no cable.”. Cable and DSL are the default types of broadband, and this article is about options when you don’t have either.

    Reply
  10. I am having an interesting experience trying to get AT&T highspeed here in Texas. I am already an AT&T customer and my rep told me today that it will be Dec. 15 before my account can be changed over for the service. I told him I would expect that in 1965 but this is 2006 and I thought you could swipe a crdit card and punch a few keys and get just about anything in a few hours. Makes you wonder who is running this show. If their service is not any better than their sign up speed then I probably don’t want it anyway. Am I the only one who has experienced this?

    Reply
  11. I have one way cable internet, downloads at @2100kbps upload is at @76kbps, I work from home with voip, obviously my voice breaks up, is there any way to speed up my uploads? This is the best option where I live which is CRAZY, since just 5 minutes down the road there is 2 way cable internet.

    Reply
  12. I am one of the poor souls stuck with dial up. I live waaaayyy out in the country, with nothing but stinkin chickens and cows. No cable, no cell phone signal, notta. It sucks. Is it really 2007, cause I feel as if I have been abandoned in the 1980’s. Somebody out there outta be coming up with a afforable solution to my problem, cause I know that I am not alone.

    Reply
  13. I live with in a mile of several wifi hotspots , but none close enough for me to connect. Is there an antenna that will bring in the singal? who ? how much? thanks

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  14. The best option I’ve found is WISP but the companies offering it stink at advertising and getting ranking on the web so when searching it can be a nightmare. Since I VPN to work from home it must offer the ability to do so without consistent downtime or, as mentioned, latency issues like Satellite…check out my blog entries on the subject as they help point you in the direction of finding a company that services your area. Here’s one to get you started: http://citytocountryjourney.blogspot.com/2007/03/rural-high-speed-internet.html

    BTW good job at covering most of the technologies so even a redneck can understand them 🙂

    Reply
  15. I found your comments on the options for high speed access in rual areas most informative.
    I too am stuck out in the rural areas of Texas and really have no options, other than dial-up. Now with the price increase that A.T.&T. has decided they “have” to have, I am really looking into other means of service.
    You seem to really know where the info is and how to go about it…Thanks for the lesson in on all the different ways to access the internet!

    Reply
  16. I live in rural Texas – tall trees, deep rivers. ClearWire is not available in my area. Are there any other cellular based ISP’s that may offer service here. My cell phone has fair reception. There is an old antenna that reaches quite high that could possibly be utilized. zip 75839 – but too far out for DSL or broadband thru our land line phone service.

    Reply
  17. I am so frustrated! At&T said DSL was available in my area, I knew this because every single one of my neighbors have it. My closest neighbor is about 300 feet away. AT&T then said I was too far away from the “center” and that I couldn’t have it. Yet my neighbor is NOT too far away. CAn I buy something wireless that will go the distance between our homes and then we can share the DSL? My only other options at this point are dialup (junk) and Satellite, which is $50.00 a month minimum…..and it won’t be used enough to pay $50.00 a month. Any suggestions? The neighbor is way willing to do it if we can figure it out. I have a desktop and my daughter has a laptop
    Thanks!
    Kerrie

    Reply
  18. if you have decent service on your cell phone then ur not completely lost!!!! ask ur provider (Sprint, ATT/Cingular, Verizon, T-mobile, ect.)for unlimited internet for your phone. for sprint it is only 15 bucks a mounth. then go to fry’s or some electronics shop and buy a USB bluetooth adapter for your computer. i bought a 25 dollar Belkin one and its amazing. install the drivers for it with your disk that came with it. ok, now go to the bluetooth center, and connect with your cell phone from your computer. your almost there!!!! now go to internet explorer. click tools, internet options, then connections. remove all the current connections. then click Add. click on dial up to private network. then next. then uncheck everything. yes i said UNcheck. then check the bluetooth device. then next. put in your 10 digit mobile phone # (the one that has the internet on it) WITHOUT THE 1 BEFORE THE AREA CODE. press next, finnish. now ok. now u should be back to the connection screen. click on Always dial my default. then click Apply and then ok. now close internet explorer, open it again. go to the blue tooth control center and poke around ur device till u find something that said Dial up or something about it. u should be able to figue it out from there.

    NOTE: i am not responsible for any extra charges from your cell phone company. I tried this with a Sprint Moto V3M Razr with a Belkin bluetooth device and it works better than i thought it would. the actual download speed is about 400 kbps, which isnt bad. hell of a lot better then dial up. and cheaper 2 if u have AOL lol. i hope this helped all of yall and it worked for yall good luck to every1 and if yall have any questions about it email me at bwerner81@gmail.com

    oh yeah, and i heard that ATT is going to extend DSL to every ATT home phone customer by the end of this year… but thats just what i heard

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  19. I live in an industrial place where only Att dsl is offered but the customer service is terrible. 3 weeks and still no service.

    I have Att iPhone. can I Bluetooth it to get Internet on my PC?

    Reply
  20. I live in the country in SW Michigan, work from home, absolutely need high speed and so I have Hughes Net Satellite….for most of the 2 years I have had it, worked ok, at least for working. Some searching the internet is slow, some sites upload slowly – during peak hours – but the very worst, since December 2008, I lose ability to work from 4-5 pm until midnight !! Have been TALKING to their high tech engineers since December at least twice a week and THEY “cannot figure it out”..nice enough to talk to but NO HELP! Like right now….am doing this because I cannot work for a living because of satellite. I do reports from hospitals and since 5 pm have gotten in 4 to 5 minutes and could do 2 to 3 reports then have to reboot again. BUT at midnight, 12:01 a.m. I will have lightening speed and no problems until about 4 p.m. tomorrow….Now YOU tell ME what the heck is going on. They have to know. It is like a light switch….every night at midnight – pops right in….For $80 a month I am really getting SCREWED!! And I am really, really mad. Have lots mucho grande money…..I just want to WORK !!!!!!!!! help !

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  21. ADDENDUM TO MY RANTE ABOVE: I have LOST mucho grande money…from not being able to work…..have tried cell reception, not strong enough, cannot do dial up…..soooo frustrated.

    Reply
  22. Just to give my updated two cents worth on WiFi, I’ve been working with it extensively in a dense urban area for nearly four years now.

    The positive development is that WiFi equipment has come down substantially in price. Deployed on the extreme local level, it works very well. I have used both Meraki.Com equipment and Open-Mesh.Com, with success.

    Since I like Open-Mesh’s prices and business model a lot better than Meraki’s, I am going with them exclusively. This may not be a ‘get rich’ opportunity, but I think it does open the door for small entrepreneurs to do a good deed for their neighborhood, and, at least, be able to make half a living.

    Reply
  23. Actually I live in the UK and have a similar problem. I used to be able to get 1mb connection through ADSL, but this continually dropped DSL connection in peak hours. My ISP was unable to solve it. I’ve changed to a new provide with an ‘unbundled’ exchange and can only get 512kb now. It’s very frustrating.

    Reply
  24. dial up is so slow especially for downloading the games and loading the games from online are slow and one fine day suddenly my dialup went to slow from 56kbps to 18kbps… i was ultimately sank… there is no solution for this..many internet download manager are speed up download but is not enough.

    Reply
  25. I too have been told that AT&T would have DSL in by the end of 07 then it was 08! I think they’re full of it. My neighbor used to be a big wig there and he’s retired now. He’s called and bugged them to death regarding getting DSL in our area. A friend of mine has it and she lives about 3 miles away. The last time my neighbor called his “big boss” at at&t, he basically was told HA HA HA we’re not spending anymore money in rural areas on DSL! So who knows what to believe. I have a Verizon broadband card with a 5g limit per month. I was told there were no more unlimited plans. I think it’s RIDICULOUS that here we are about to enter 2010 and that there are people still with dial up and that’s all they can get. I go over almost every month on my card because of my photography business. SO AGGRAVATING. I hope someone helps soon!

    Reply
  26. My family just moved to a VERY rural area. We’ll probably be leaving the country in the summer (oh happy days!), but until then… we’re stuck with Wild Blue (or whatever it’s called) through DirecTV.

    Unfortunately this presents two problems, the first one being that my father is retired stock broker & short term investor. This means quick buys & sells…every day. He can’t do that with Wild Blue since it’s so slow. It’d be fine if he was a long term investor, but with short term investing you have to sell exactly at a certain time to get the right price.

    The second problem is that there are not (that we know of) any good phone service providers up here. So we’re trying to use Vonage (right now we’re using Google Voice) which is a voip…hence, we need internet. Fast internet, or there’ll be a delay in our conversations or broken up pieces of words.

    We tried speeding the internet up, but with no luck. The phones still didn’t work & the difference in the internet speed was barely noticeable, even though we spent an extra $30/month (on top of the $60/month) to upgrade.
    We had internet twice as fast for only $20 back in the city. Needless to say, we cancelled the Wild Blue upgrade within the first day.

    There’s no cell phone coverage up here, and no wireless broadband. So that eliminates two other possibilities. If anybody has any suggestions PLEASE say so!!!

    This whole being away from civilization thing is starting to tick me off….. 😀

    Reply
  27. HI leo, just a word of advice. I spoke to datajack customer serice and was told by them that they are moving to another carrier. They as of right now are using t-mobile. They say within the next 2weeks they should have this complete this is why they don’t show coverage areas on there site map. Also keep in mind i was told after i asked this question that they are also making a new USB device that may be able to use Cradlepoints wireless router, To say the least this is yet to be seen. Unlimited bandwidth??? hmm caution to the wind. However i may point out that for $39.99 a month for having highspeed without a contract and no limits is one good deal if all is said to be true. Cancel without penalties is the key. That,s a great feature and if you cancel within the 1st 14 days you lose just a $15 restocking handling fee. Not bad at all. Leo, thank you for your site, i can appreciate it since i retired from the computer business and oh also to be said, I started back with DOS 1.1 🙂 keep up the good work. I might add that i have Starband as we speak also had Wildblue, and slow is the word. latency is the major killer.

    Reply
  28. An option that almost everyone overlooks (because of the price) is getting a T1 line at their home–but it is a very real option for rural families if you have the money, you have a home business/work from home, or were thinking about getting some extra phone lines–and provides you with some of the most reliable internet & phone service available anywhere.

    First off, T1 lines can be drug about three times as far from the central office as DSL. Service is 1.5 megs, but that speed is both on the up and downlink, is guaranteed. In addition, the latency is VERY low, which makes a T1 line very snappy for surfing. You also get a “Service Level Agreement”–which means if your internet speed drops, or your phone lines go out, you don’t pay for the downtime (so thus T1 & above customers always get their service back up before everyone else!)

    You’ll be looking at around $200-$500 per month for the service, depending on your local phone company–BUT many T1 plans include numerous (5-10) phone lines as part of the monthly fee, so this replaces your land line phone service as well, and can take a little bit of the sting out of it. (T1 lines work by splitting up 24 56k channels–you can have up to 22 phone lines–usually the first 5-10 are included with the plan for no charge… and as you pick up the phone your internet bandwidth is reduced by 56k. As soon as you hang up, that bandwidth gets added back into the internet immediately! — these are also real landlines, not VOIP service like Vonage)

    Lastly, there are MANY T1 providers/ISPs out there… they all contract with the phone company for the physical line–but have their own included services/bundles, so the price varies widely. It’s nice because you have a lot of choice of providers… The one I have is called CBeyond–they are designed for small businesses, but they include 8 phone lines (not that I need that many… but they are there), cell phone services w/ 2 Blackberries with unlimited plans, full voicemail, web hosting w/ Exchange e-mail, and pretty much every feature that Qwest would nickel and dime for a bit over $400 per month.

    –James

    I have a T-1, as it’s my own option that’s both fast and reliable enough to run a business. Another benefit for spending that money for a business level service is that when something goes wrong technicians show up. Quickly, on time and any time.

    Leo
    03-May-2010

    Reply
  29. I live in a semi rural area, there is tons of house, it’s just down a dirt road 1 mile (there is Cable 1 mile away), I’m limited, I use wireless broadband, but honestly, it’s useful about 3% of the time, also I’m limited to 5 gb of data a month, which is completely stupid.

    I have tried Wild Blue and after 3 years discontinued the service, I was always in what they call peak hours, even months when I didn’t use the 17GB allowed, I was told I did, maybe it was the company just limiting everyone’s service, I now use the wireless broadband with 5gb of usage, and stay under it monthly, doing the same things I did on the Wild Blue, nothing has changed, except Wild Blue told me I used 23Gb a month, and didn’t reset monthly.

    I had Dial up for about 2 years, useless.

    I can’t use the internet as much as I’d like, or really do much, just simple things get me to 3 Gb, the rural areas are too limited. It seems like it would cost nothing to put something even dsl here, my max speed with the Wild Blue was 140kbs on a 1.5mbs plan, with the Wireless broadband, 135 kbs has been my top, but the chart always says 1.3mbs, I pay for 1.5 Mbs.

    I’m stuck in the area, I guess it’s a nice little wake up of living in a boring Alabama town, I think our government wants more people on the streets mixed up with drugs and such than anything at all, or else they’d help get some more options in rural areas, where 99.9% of the worst things you can think of happen becuse of none the less than boredom.

    Reply
  30. I have a radio internet service @ 756kb for about 50 bucks a month if I had a little extra cash could get 1.5mb for 100 bucks a month, internet occasionally drops because of weather. Too slow for what I want but my only option

    Reply
  31. kk so basicly i have found the best deal and company in the world but this is just for people in CAnada who is in a rural spot anyway its called high speed everywhere look it up on google and then go on the site …its unlimited and it costes 56 dollars a month for a…fast modem like very fast its satelite but its extremely good bad weather slows it down but i do recomend it …>http://www.highspeedeverwhere.com

    Reply
  32. We went down the T1 route when we first moved to rural SW MO. AT&T were contracted and proved to be useless as a provider. The line would constantly fail necessitating a service call to AT&T for restoration. This involved a long process of computerized testing that often reported the line as working even though the “smart jack” lights were completely off. The local carrier was Windstream and their service techs are the best around, usually fixing the problem within an hour of getting the trouble ticket from AT&T: However it sometimes took AT&T days to get that far due to their stupid, inflexible, process of “trouble escalation” through a series of bureaucratic layers that were completely unresponsive to customer complaints or suggestions. Once, after a 2 day outage I threatened a lawsuit for breech of contract and after that AT&T treated us with kid gloves.
    As the end of the 2 year contract approached I found out that Windstream were offering a rural broadband connection based on the Actelis Networks Ethernet Access devices. They provided a symmetric 3 Mbs connection for 66% ($300) of the AT&T T1. So far, it has proved to be reliable and free from the troubles of the T1. It can be upgraded to higher speed connections but at a cost that cannot be justified by our usage requirements. My wife, the primary user, is a programmer and she needed a secure, reliable real-time connection to her mainframe computer on the east coast. She also has VoIP based, east coast phone line as she is in constant conference calls with her team as they maintain the database of a large healthcare insurance provider.
    I wish that a more affordable alternative were available where we live but this Windstream service is the best we can find currently and we are thankful to have it.

    Reply
  33. I find it really sad that this article was written in 2006, and we still have the same problems we had then. I live in a subdivision less than 3 miles from the closest cable or dsl internet connection, yet no one seems to be expanding their coverage area. We are still stuck using satellite service which is expensive and unrealistically limited. A single youtube video (4min.) uses up 1/5 of our daily allowance. Now the government has developed an “internet assistance program” for low income families with children in certain areas, because they say “everyone deserves affordable internet access”….Apparently everyone except those of us in rural or semi-rural areas!

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  34. It is not always the rural areas that have the problem. Less than three miles from two major interstates and are unable to get DSL or cable even though the house right across the road from us has cable. Both AT&T and Time Warner refuse to service us and there are not any other viable options for us.

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  35. Satellite seems to be the only option for many of us in rural locations. I was told that at&t was to have dsl available in my area within two years after moving into my home. Needless to say that was 6 years ago. Dsl was made available within a mile of my home in that time, but no further than that. 3G through verizon or any other such provider is out of the question, since I seem to be in a square mile deadzone for such service, the same is said for the providers of internet through radio signal. Cable options are much the same as dsl. No cable and they refuse to run it to our lowly subdivision of 20 or so residents. It is really sad that there are so many of us with few and poor options for service. As well, I read an article some time back that said according to a poll taken only about half of those within the cities and towns that have broadband access actually use it, while those of us in rural areas want it and can’t get it. I have written my share of complaint letters and had the usual apologetic replies, so I suppose there is nothing else I can do but wait and hope someone will eventually deliver a service to those of us who have waited for so long. A word of advice if you go the satellite route. I would not use Hughes Net by any means, unless it is your only available provider. The daily download limit is terrible, 200MB…and that is easily exceeded if you do anything beyond a little simple browsing and checking your email. I suggest you find a provider that offers a monthly limit such as WildBlue. I am much more satisfied with them so far at least, though I am a gamer and sat net and gaming are a horrible mix. You can expect an average of 2k latency if you like to game. Hope someone finds this bit of info useful.

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  36. I have many of same issues as everyone else here. Cable actually runs along the road I live on BUT on the opposite side. I was told that it would cost at least 1700 dollars (not a typo) to bring it across to us. They said that they can’t run it overheard to the pole at the end of our drive. Of course, lines cross the road everywhere, just can’t do it in front of ours, I guess. The phone company doesn’t offer DSL although Frontier says that they are expanding everyday. Who hasn’t heard that one. There is a wireless company out here but when I had them check for service they said the neighbors trees kept us from getting a signal. My son has the same service and his receiver faces straight into a 10 acre wooded area. The tress are about double the height of his receiver as well. This company recently purchased another and acquired another tower that is much closer to us. I haven’ called them yet but plan to do so. Just tired of getting the runaround. We’re only a mile from the city limits and there are plenty of options for city residents. I did read where the presidents wants to make the internet available to everyone. Maybe we arn’t “everyone”, no children and not considered low income.

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