High speed internet in the sticks?
December 10, 2008 5:21 PM   Subscribe

How can I get DSL in Barre, Vermont? Alternately: is satellite internet really that bad?

So, my boyfriend and I are moving to an apartment just south of town in Barre, VT and the lease says that Verizon services the place. The Verizon website disagrees. Is there something I'm missing? Is there another provider I should be looking for?

If we can't get DSL... I've heard bad things about satellite speeds. Is it still that bad? We mostly just use the internet for surfing, general youtube watching, some TV streaming, XBOX/Wii playing, etc. Will it choke?
posted by youcancallmeal to Technology (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The website is probably wrong. You should call and talk to an actual person. You can also check here for providers. Not to mention you can get internet from your cable provider.

I dont think you can do any gaming with satellite because the latencies are so high.
posted by damn dirty ape at 5:34 PM on December 10, 2008

Check with Comcast Cable, that's what my Dad uses in Bethel, VT
posted by saffry at 5:45 PM on December 10, 2008

The problem with satellites isn't bandwidth, it's latency.

Bandwidth == number of bits per second. Latency == amount of time between when the source originates the packet and when the target receives it.

Improvements in equipment and technology can improve bandwidth for satellite internet, but latency will always be bad because of the speed of light. The satellites are in geostationary orbit, 36,000 kilometers above the equator. The signal has to travel that distance twice at 300,000 kilometers per second. And if you're not at the equator, the distance to the satellite is further. Figure an up-and-down distance of 80,000 kilometers, and it takes a quarter of a second just for that -- and it's physically impossible for it to get any faster. (Einstein would roll over in his grave.)

So the round trip latency (your packet to the remote server, and the response comes back) must always take at least half a second even if everything else is infinitely fast. For some people that doesn't matter, but it's death for online gamers.
posted by Class Goat at 5:47 PM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Verizon land lines in VT are now operated by FairPoint Communications.

Barre is more populated than most Vermont towns, so there is a reasonable chance that you'll be covered by DSL or Cable.
posted by wuntu at 6:08 PM on December 10, 2008

We had a similar issue with our place near Rochester: Verizon (now Fairpoint) had sent us something in the mail indicating that we could get DSL, but inputting our zip code on their website said it wasn't available. We called them directly, and they it was available, and we got the hookup. Moral of the story: the website is often wrong. Call them.
posted by googly at 7:13 PM on December 10, 2008

If you find you must get satellite, do not under any circumstances get Starband. Other satellite providers are said to be better but in my experience Starband is worse than dialup. They are ovesubscribed, I think, so the link is saturated and traffic is v-e-r-y slow. Starband was not so bad a few years ago but now is unusable.

When Starband was working well it was OK - a lot better than dialup. As noted above the latency sucks with satellite IP but that isn't too noticeable for web browsing, email and other non-gaming use.
posted by anadem at 8:44 PM on December 10, 2008

Sover.net for DSL (CLEC provider on Fairpoints cable - my parents have it in Barre - it is reasonably priced), or Adelphia Cable for a Cable Modem.

FairPoint claims to be having service in the next x months, where x is more than tomorrow.
posted by SirStan at 9:22 PM on December 10, 2008

Avoid satelite like the plague. Its ONLY an option when NOTHING else is an option. Even then, it isnt a "good" option, merely overpriced, slow (120k/s?), latent (so no gaming), (they bandwidth cap you -- so no streaming TV), unreliable, moody and unnecessary.

Verizon Wireless EVDO is a much better option IMHO. I have a PCMCIA card and a USB adapter and would be more than happy to demo it in Barre for a cup of coffee.

posted by SirStan at 9:24 PM on December 10, 2008

I'm on satellite (HughesNet, nee DirecWay). It's barely acceptable for general web browsing and youtube watching, but the latency will rule out your XBox, and the bandwidth caps rule out streaming TV. I still have to maintain a dialup account, because it's faster for certain tasks (I have to access a VPN for work occasionally, which is murder on a high-latency connection.)

So, yeah, it's a last resort.
posted by ook at 2:56 AM on December 11, 2008

I'd vote for EVDO as well.
Check here to see what it's like in your area.
posted by tybeet at 5:33 AM on December 11, 2008

Everyone else has it right, except SirStan. ;)

We are fine with our satellite Internet, have fast speeds, no problem with video, etc. We rarely, if ever, lose connection, and mostly see download speeds of 1.5 MBps (150kbps up). However, we don't game, we don't video chat* and we don't watch many youtube videos. If you do these things (you indicate you game) then it probably isn't for you.

Ultimate if you can get DSL/cable, then do it. Call Fairpoint, as googly said (hi dude!) the website is probably wrong. Zip codes and or phone exchanges aren't exact. Heck, we have issues getting online stores to deliver to our house because their websites say we don't have a valid postal address. We do, their websites just can't understand that while our house is in Tunbridge, we have a Royalton telephone exchange and our town has an agreement to have Bethel deliver our mail.

We do run multiple webcams, keep IM and IRC open for hours on end, listen to VPR streaming, etc.

And I also must disagree with my friend Stan on sover.net. Well, at least with telephone service they are much more expensive than Fairpoint. I haven't priced DSL because it isn't available where I am (near Bethel)

I am also mostly kidding with Stan. He has it mostly right and he is a great source of information on technical things in Vermont.

* we have recently found that we can use Google's video chat.
posted by terrapin at 5:10 PM on December 11, 2008

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