Help--our internet is stuck in the 90's!
November 10, 2017 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Our business is located in a zone that cannot be hooked up to a cable internet without running cable underground and paying for construction. There must be a better way! (In Los Angeles, btw)

We have had DSL for the past 15 years that we've been at our location. It's incredibly slow. Every year, we investigate a way to get faster internet but there never seems to be a good solution. This year, we had someone from Spectrum Cable come out and they explained that since all of our cables and phone wires are underground, they would need to run the cable underground to our building from the closest hub, which is costly and requires going through a parking structure, drilling through the floor, the landlord's permission etc. We're looking to upgrade to 100/10M if possible. Any ideas out there? Creative solutions welcome!
posted by biscuits to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How large is your business? How many people/what sort of usage?

Can you get a few hotspots and use those for internet?
posted by hydra77 at 11:41 AM on November 10, 2017

If you are entirely against/unable to run anything new, I would think there has to be a wireless/wifi type plan available, though it may not have the speeds you are looking for.
posted by k5.user at 11:44 AM on November 10, 2017

Are there no other businesses in the area with the same problem? You could split the cost of running cable.
posted by Obscure Reference at 11:49 AM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

We had a similar problem, Comcast wouldn't string cable into our industrial area. We eventually moved but at one point considered microwave broadband.

Have you looked into local providers like Vectus?
posted by JoeZydeco at 12:05 PM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Try calling the two companies listed here that do "Fixed Wireless". They may be able to provide you with a point to point wireless internet connection that will be a good bit faster than DSL.

You might look at a pfSense appliance.
You can connect multiple internet connections to the device and have the device load balance across all of the connections.

A little bit more of a long shot, but AT&T has a bunch of fiber run all around the country, you might be able to tap into one of their business fiber plans. These tend to be for connecting offices together, but you can get the fiber connected to a local ISP and buy internet from them, but get the fiber from AT&T.
posted by gregr at 12:14 PM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

For years we had a point-to-point wireless network connection, via a local corporate technology company (not a phone/cable company); we had about 10MB/sec, both up and down, which isn't amazing but was pretty good for the work we do. There was an antenna installed on our roof and pointed in the direction of the company providing the service. Maybe ask some non-telecommunications companies in your area and see if they can offer suggestions.

However, I think to get 100mbps, you're definitely going to need a cable to run to somebody, wireless at those speeds may not be as great as it sounds (lag, dropped packets due to interference, etc.)

(In our story, eventually fiber was run on our street and we changed ISPs)
posted by AzraelBrown at 1:07 PM on November 10, 2017

Really need to know more information. Is your business in your basement and things are underground because of a nice neighborhood or are you in a strip-mall or in an industrial park? Are there other tenants in the same general space? Is your building ancient?

I can't imagine underground services that aren't in conduit and that there's not a vault of sorts somewhere where all the phones and power meet up. You actually want internet service to that location (where all the phones and power come in) and then you want to pull a line from there through the conduit to your physical location.

My knee-jerk reaction is that the Spectrum technician who came out didn't know how to do anything but connect the cable that's already there and thought "we have to dig a hole from our box to their office."

I come from a large university network administrator background and don't know some of the nitty-gritty physical layer details. So ...

Stuff I'd think about trying.... Spectrum or AT&T or whatnot to the vault and pull fiber to the individual locations. Cable to the top of the parking structure and a wireless point-to-point link to the location, Sharing internet with a business across the street (share their easier cable cost and set up wireless point-to-point to your office). Or the other wireless provider suggestions already given.... It all really depends on your actual situation.

Anyway, you probably need to talk to your landlord and get a grasp of your location and maybe not directly rely on the wisdom of the Spectrum tech. Digging and drilling just sounds wrong unless you are really just a building on the wrong side of a parking structure. Which may be the actual case.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:59 PM on November 10, 2017

You could take a laptop and walk around your immediate neighborhood and look for buildings that has a line-of-sight to the business property, and look to see if they have better internet. Offer to pay for part (or all!) of their service, and install an outdoor rated "Professional" point-to-point wifi link for taking it to your property.

These items are popular with facilities that have dispersed campuses. You might talk to local universities, high schools, or hotels and see if they have a wifi contractor they use. If that fails, show up at the local 2600 meeting and they will most likely know someone.
posted by nickggully at 5:43 PM on November 10, 2017

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