How to get internet service for an office in a location without wired broadband capability?
March 3, 2009 9:41 AM   Subscribe

What is the best way to get broadband internet to a warehouse with offices that isn't capable of it via landlines?

My dad bought a building for his company to relocate to (in Northern Virginia) and while it's a great building in a great location, internet is difficult to obtain there. Verizon is the phone company and the only form of internet they provide is a T1 line, no DSL or Fios. The T1 line is a fortune (not to mention overkill) and my dad's not looking at spending 4 times more than he is with Cox at his current location. Been speaking with Cox and they want into the new building's area badly, since they'd pull in all of Verizon's T1 customers, but the permits are constantly being upheld since it's an I-5 zoning with dangerous things.

Is it possible/feasible to get a Sprint Broadband card and connect it to an office router for use of 6 computers? The only internet used is e-mail, the Nextel website to send texts out to the technicians, and the GPS website to determine location of vehicles. The office network is self-sufficient so the important stuff is on the server in the building. However, it does back itself up via the internet nightly but that can be done in house.

My dad's desperate to move in the next two weeks. Verizon went back and forth saying they had DSL and didn't and Cox was hoping to but not able to provide at the moment. Frankly, he can't stand Verizon and the run around they give on the phone and they're telling him he has to get a T1 line and it'll be a month before they install it.

Satellite has been brought up, but the guy that deals with his IT isn't a fan of reliability.

Or, does someone have a better suggestion?
posted by Outis to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
 
There is a service that does this. (might be WiMax?) It's not satellite. And it's not a direct to the PC service like the cellular broadband cards are. It is the service where businesses have those small towers with square grey antennas on their roof. Uses some kind of microwave propagation, and "connects" to a centrally loacated antenna on a radio tower somewhere nearby. It is designed for just your scenario. That's all I know about it.
posted by gjc at 9:50 AM on March 3, 2009


T1 isnt really overkill for 6 computers and an onsite server. Its 1.5mbps up/down and the uptime, latency, and quality is much, much better than cellular broadband.

Lets say you put an EVDO card there and someone sends you a 5 meg attachment. Your real world EVDO speed is something between 200-600kbps with peaks around 1mbps. So it may take 2 or 3 minutes just to get that one email. Replying back with the attachment? Same thing. In the meantime the web browser and gps stuff will probably time out.

However, it does back itself up via the internet nightly but that can be done in house.

Id be surprised if you could backup over cellular broadband without a lot of problems, time outs, excessive dropped packets, etc. Cellular modem upstream speeds are heavily gimped.

Satellite has been brought up, but the guy that deals with his IT isn't a fan of reliability.

Cellular broadband is going to be worse in some respects, unless youre in a spot with great reception that doesnt go to crap at 5pm when everyone gets off work. Sat will probably be more expensive for a business and your upstream bandwidth will be crappy.

Yes, a broadband card is just another network device. You can get an unlimited EVDO plan from Sprint. The computer it is running off of can act as your internet gateway. Be sure that the unlimited plan actually means unlimited. You dont want to hit a 2gb cap.

Or, does someone have a better suggestion?

Id go with the T1. Its what 400 hundred a month now? Whats your loss if the internet goes down for hours or if it lags out sporadically all day? Is it worth saving 200 or 300 hundred dollars a month? The stinginess of small business has always shocked me, especially when it comes to important infrastructure.

Feel free to test out an EVDO or 3G modem and see if it works for you, it might, but its a risk to run an office off wireless. It might work today but not tomorrow or when they decide to mess with the towers, etc.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:01 AM on March 3, 2009


Oh youre not getting a real SLA with a cell modem. "We'll fix it when we fix it" is the cell company attitude.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:01 AM on March 3, 2009


It's called a WISP, "Wireless Internet Service Provider", here is a start:
google
posted by raildr at 10:04 AM on March 3, 2009


Wi-Max, definitely. But it's expensive -- maybe equal to the cost of a T1, but don't quote me on that. Only Wi-Max company I can think of off the top of my head is Towerstream.
posted by jrchaplin at 10:05 AM on March 3, 2009


We ran a 7-person office off a Sprint wireless card for a couple weeks, and it worked surprisingly well. There are also routers specifically made for EVDO data cards. I'd consider it an option of last resort only, though. Try to see if you can get service from a WISP first.
posted by zsazsa at 10:18 AM on March 3, 2009


Cellular wireless split 6 ways for an office setting? That's just asking for unreliable service and a significant loss of productivity. Even if you are just talking email and the occasional web search you are going to run into significant issues. If you actually have significant data transfers (such as backing up data to an offsite server, hosting a local webserver, etc) you should definitely look at a more reliable service plan.

Yes T1s can be pricey in comparison to a cable modem or DSL but the technology is extremely robust and you shouldn't have any problems taking care of the data needs for 6 employees. Hell I'd go with a T1 line and investigate moving to IP phones in order to reduce the financial hit that a T1 would incur.
posted by vuron at 10:24 AM on March 3, 2009


Thanks damn dirty page, that's quite a bit of information. The T1 thing still seems a bit overkill to me but will keep it in mind. It's not out of stinginess that the T1 is trying to be avoided, it's the thought that my parents house gets internet much faster than that at a fraction of the cost, and Verizon hasn't shown any desire to provide prompt or pleasant service on the business end.

This isn't a place that gets too much e-mail, much less large attachments. A plumbing company isn't the sort of place people e-mail often.

I don't see that Wi-Max is available having called around, but thanks for suggesting it everyone. I couldn't recall what it was called.
posted by Outis at 10:29 AM on March 3, 2009


...it's the thought that my parents house gets internet much faster than that at a fraction of the cost...

T1's can't really be compared on bandwidth capability alone, however. That, and you're always going to get higher prices from business-level services of all kinds.
posted by odinsdream at 11:44 AM on March 3, 2009


it's the thought that my parents house gets internet much faster than that at a fraction of the cost

Thats always going to be true. Businesses need uptime, quick repairs, SLAs, etc. Residential users are at the bottom of the bandwidth barrel. A residential outage can last days. When a T1 goes down I can be talking to level 3 support at the phone company in 5 minutes.

Another thing to remember is that residential connections have limited upstream speeds. Thats terrible for any business application. Youre also getting some kind of guarantee for bandwidth with a T1. In residential you may only see a fration of your bandwidth or it varies throughout the day.

Essentially, youre paying for uptime and quality, even if you get less overall bandwidth. Its more than worth it.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:49 AM on March 3, 2009


Tower-to-tower is okay. I've had that. The downside is the same downside you get with satellite TV: death by rain, trees, pigeons ... maybe it has improved.
posted by adipocere at 11:58 AM on March 3, 2009


Given the needs, GPS tracking, SMS, email -do you really need office wide Internet access? I think you can do all that with Blackberrys or iPhones. Granted, Blackberry X 6 may cost as much as T1 these days, but if you are determined to avoid the T1 it might be an option.
posted by COD at 12:28 PM on March 3, 2009


Does Clearwire offer services in the area?
posted by wongcorgi at 1:20 PM on March 3, 2009


Nthing the part where paying out for a T1 isn't overkill when it's a critical business function. If you cannot track trucks, you cannot dispatch calls, and if you cannot dispatch calls, you have no business.

If the T1 is what's available, put in the order now and keep looking for alternatives.

If other people in the area are getting hosed for connection, your dad can open his T1 over wifi and rent to the neighbours, recouping his costs.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:09 PM on March 3, 2009


Youre also getting some kind of guarantee for bandwidth with a T1. In residential you may only see a fration of your bandwidth or it varies throughout the day.

This makes a lot of difference. Residential DSL is often heavily contended and you have no guarantees to the upstream bandwidth beyond the exchange. Where you are situated on the bigger (inter) network can have a big effect. A rack at a colo facility might have a smaller connection than a DSL line if you just look at the figures but being close to the backbone counts.
posted by tallus at 2:26 PM on March 3, 2009


Wow, so much information. This website is so helpful. I'm grateful for all the responses, so is my dad.

Since right now it's all about the timeline he's now looking into mobile wifi and if he can pay another nearby business to get use of their wireless access.
posted by Outis at 6:47 PM on March 4, 2009


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