Losing high-speed Internet
March 22, 2005 10:34 AM   Subscribe

Losing high-speed Internet. We're moving from Austin to an area of rural Texas, and I am trying to find any last option for having high-speed Internet.

The phone company that owns the lines (Valor Telecom) confirmed that we qualified for DSL when we set up our account, and we ordered it. Even dslreports.com had given a "yes!" answer to the DSL question. Then a few days before the install date Valor called and said "we're sorry, you're too far away to get DSL". WTF?

So what are our options out in a rural area? Has satellite Internet improved any from the days of Hughes Direct and its requirement for a landline connection and the obnoxious bandwidth throttling? Are those stratospheric WiFi plans just a bunch of hot air? Is wireless cable w/ cablemodem a possibility?

We are 2.4 miles from a main road, so I think we're near a trunk, and we'd certainly pay hundreds of dollars to have a spur extended our way. It also occurred to me I could beg a neighbor closer to the spur to get DSL/WiFi then we'd pay them to leech off their WiFi connection.

I'm sure T1 is out of the question. I was actually considering that for my home business a few years ago, and the rate quote was only good for an insane laugh.

Blech, back to the stone age.
posted by shannymara to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Satellite (I've used "Direcway") is now two way and the bandwidth isn't bad once you get going, but the latency is awful and will never get better. You somewhat get used to it but it's certainly not optimal. We're talking "ping times" of 2 seconds minimum. Interactive ssh sessions are a nightmare. There's also some issues with non-standard internet apps not being compatible with their 'accelerating' filters, which you can't turn off.
posted by neustile at 10:41 AM on March 22, 2005

You can get two way satellite internet now, usually about 40 kbps up and around 2 mbps down.

Hughes Direct is now DirecWay / DirecPC and their bandwidth trottling has been nicknamed "FAPping". It's worse than ever.

If you can avoid them, though, you're generally doing ok, since all the other companies are used to dealing with disgruntled heavily FAPped customers.

Note the latency makes satellite internet suck for many things, especially internet gaming. It works well for large downloads, and isn't bad for web surfing (but not great, either).

Usage charges are through the roof, though (I've seen as high as $100 per GB -- most charge about $10 per GB). This is why the FAP exists on DirecPC, so they can charge a flat rate and limit people rather than charging them for usage.

Dumb providers use systems that aren't standard, meaning you can only use their equipment with their service. Smart providers offer DVB compliant streams that work on any equipment and aren't tied to just one OS (like windows), but those are few and far between.

If you have other questions on satellite internet, ask away. I used it for about 3 years... :)
posted by shepd at 10:48 AM on March 22, 2005

You might ask Valor to try setting up a DSL modem on your premises, even if it is nominally too far. What's the worst that could happen?

If that doesn't work, and depending on the distances, you might be able to find someone who does have high-speed and will set up a yagi antenna to let you piggyback off of their connection via wifi.
posted by adamrice at 11:31 AM on March 22, 2005

If you've got a friend at an ISP, you could always go the "Dry Line" method. I've only seen this in action, once, when I contracted for an ISP years ago. It worked extremely well.
posted by thanotopsis at 11:47 AM on March 22, 2005

Definitely do your best to avoid satellite.

I think pushing them to try and install DSL and see if it works is probably your best bet.

You might look at a frame relay T1 again, prices have come down some, at least where there is some competition, which doesn't sound like your neighborhood, but you never know.

I like the wireless idea. You should see if anyone is already offering it in the area, if not, see if you can work something out with a neighbor. Do you have a big piece of property, like is it possible that the edge of the property is within DSL range?

If you are SOL, there is still some hope as WiMax may spur wider-spread deployment of fixed wireless internet.
posted by Good Brain at 9:04 PM on March 22, 2005

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