So, long story short: I have satellite internet. I have no other options for internet. My ISP provides neither service nor internet. What (legally, etc.) can I do?
posted by byanyothername to Computers & Internet (26 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'm going to preface this by saying that it took me about 30 seconds to load the AskMe submission page, and the AskMe front page did not load at all. Please think about that for 30 seconds, keeping MeFi's lo-fi design in mind.
Now, long story longer: about four years ago, owing to not having much income or any realistic hope of changing that, I moved to the sticks with family. I knew coming in that satellite (and 26k dial-up) via Hughesnet was the only available internet option, and I was fine with that. I understood vaguely that satellite would have certain limitations terrestrial internet wouldn't. I had no idea.
The first few days seemed fine--it was slower than I was used to, but it was going to and coming from outer space! Then it died, randomly, completely, with no warning. After much frustrated investigating and confusing phone calls with actually hostile customer support, I learned about the Fair Access Policy. This is the daily bandwidth allotted per user per day--I think it was 200 MB then, but it's since been upped to 250 MB with a recently added safety net of another 250 MB (which, unintuitively, comes out to "250ish MB" of daily bandwidth, instead of 500 MB). Exceeding this limit results in disabling the user's connection for 24 hours, beginning at the time the limit was exceeded.
(That's not strictly true, but I see no need to phrase it any more nicely. Limiting the user's connection to 2 Kbps is equivalent to just pulling the plug, in my book.)
Anyway, this was a source of much frustration, but I gradually became something of an internet ascetic, and I've coped. There have been many downs and no real ups since then, but I have adjusted to the service and find it bearable when it works. However, it often simply doesn't.
The service is very overloaded, and continually getting worse. Peak hours are a game of Russian roulette. Sometimes everything is fine; slow enough that anyone accustomed to broadband would complain about major slowdown, but nothing I blink at anymore. Sometimes, however, we enter the magical land of Congestion--which is sandwiched somewhere between the hours of 5 and 10 PM--where five to thirteen minutes latency is the average. I have no idea what my actual download/upload speeds are during these periods, because Hughesnet's official speed tests are much more suspiciously optimistic than others, and many web based speed tests will simply time out during the peak hour--I'm at a loss for an appropriate adjective, because "crawl" still implies some movement.
So. I'm tired of this. I'm tired of dealing with this every single day, and going to bed sad and resigned that I cannot use the internet during the only parts of the day in which I ordinarily really have time to use the internet. I am tired of sending emails complaining about the poor service, and tired of receiving replies from robots telling me nothing except that an actual human being did not even read what I wrote. I am tired of calling customer service, and speaking with someone in India whose job is to read from a script at upset Americans for two to three hours and be their emotional punching bad until they've vented enough to calm down and just hang up. I am tired of paying a company who--when I can even contact anyone who isn't a robot or a scapegoat--tell me that their inability to provide the service they sell is not their problem.
If I ever pepper my complaints with specific examples, such as the connection being so bad and so unstable that instant messengers, Second Life and Gmail will simply log me out and refuse to reconnect sometimes during peak hours, I am told not to use those things. "Your service is so terrible that I can't even do basic webmail!" warrants the reply of, "So don't do basic webmail."
I'm half venting at this point, but I do have a sincere question. Given that no other options for internet access exist where I live (no DSL, no wireless, and there's never going to be any), and deal with this every day, and will have to deal with this for several more years at least, there must be some recourse. What is it?
I plan to file a BBB complaint, and expect that to amount to nothing. I pinned all my stupid hope on the recent rural broadband initiative, but Hughesnet has only been soaking that money up. There must be something effective I can do. I am paying for a service that is not being provided. There are bigger evils in the world for sure, but this still isn't right.