Off Grid Internet
September 19, 2009 11:22 PM   Subscribe

What is the best way to get internet when I am living off-grid?

I will be moving north of Hilo (Big Island, Hawaii) in a few weeks, and I want to set something up so I can access internet while I am out there.

I know Verizon has a USB plug-in for $60 a month - which is pretty steep, and I just heard there is a (1GB?) monthly data transfer limit before they start charging extra. I will be doing a virtual-PC thing from my netbook (over the internet, I use GoToMyPC), which I imagine takes up quite a bit of bandwidth.

The guy down the road has cable internet. He has something set up like a sattelite dish aimed at someone down the hill, who agreed to share their connection with him. I wonder if I could then beam his connection over to me? He's about a half mile to a mile away from where I will be, and I don't think there is a straight visible path - nor how to set up something like that.

I'm just looking for ideas and options to look into.

Oh - also - multiple computer capability would be very ideal. I don't know if Verizon can do that.
posted by Jsn7821 to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm pretty sure that the Mifi (Verizon's wireless hotspot) service is $60 for 5GB transfer per month, not 1GB.

Oceanic Time Warner doesn't service where you are?
posted by inturnaround at 11:47 PM on September 19, 2009

AT&T has a wireless broadband package $60, and I've heard from a couple family friends who visit there that they've had good network coverage... I believe they're capped at 5GB, also.
posted by setanor at 12:50 AM on September 20, 2009

The guy down the road has cable internet. He has something set up like a sattelite dish aimed at someone down the hill [...]
It sure is possible, with or without a visible path. But my guess would be that the hardware will cost you a multiple of the monthly fee. Ask the guy how much it cost him.

Do also check whether the wireless plan is available (technically) in the area and with what speed. Most probably you will need to try yourself to be sure, nevertheless.
posted by oxit at 3:53 AM on September 20, 2009

Is this something you need to setup long-term?

I was recently living out of range of the cable/DSL provider (see my old question here)

What you can do, is get a Verizon phone which has an unlimited data plan under the VCast Vpak, for $15/month . These phones have unlimited data plans because they aren't smart phones - and using mobile web is so painful they know you won't eat up much bandwidth. But, if the phone is also capable of being tethered to a laptop and doubling as a modem, there are [very simple] ways of configuring things in such a way that you essentially have unlimited mobile broadband on your laptop for $15/month.

I'm sure this is something you wouldn't want Verizon to know it's probably not recommended if you think you're usage is going to be more than several gigs/month. But for daily email & light browsing I imagine it'd work fine.

The other, more legal option is to get a phone which you can tether with, then subscribe to the 5gb/month plan for $60. By tethering on an existing phone plan, you don't need to sign on to a 2 year contract, and you can add/drop the mobile broadband whenever you want.

Also, yes the Verizon mobile broadband, whether using the dedicated USB dongle-thing, or a tethered phone, can be used on multiple computers.
posted by pilibeen at 6:21 AM on September 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

Verizon isn't the only company that offers data plans - Sprint just got the MiFi as well, so you might check them, and you can do similar things with AT&T and T-Mobile and/or whatever regional carriers you might have there. (the MiFi is neat because it doesn't hook into your computer - it's essentially a self-contained wireless base station that happens to hook into the cellular network rather than cable/DSL.) you can also look into satellite internet. there's HughesNet and WildBlue and a few others. satellite is expensive and somewhat slow/laggy, but it'll work as long as you can see the sky.
posted by mrg at 10:27 AM on September 20, 2009

I only get Verizon service where I will be.

Long-term: ideally, yes.

Does anyone know if a virtual PC connection uses up a considerable amount of bandwidth? Would I be pushing 5GB a month using GoToMyPC?
posted by Jsn7821 at 10:07 PM on September 20, 2009

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