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August 15, 2008 5:59 AM   Subscribe

Wireless Internet Woe - I recently switched from the horrific Verizon wireless to Alltel wireless. I need to boot my signal in a home with 6 computers, desperate times calls for desperate questions...

After 5 months of watching how much data I and the 8 other people in my home had to use per month (5 gigs by the way) from Verizon, we have had it finally.
So yesterday I switched to AllTel, with, well, no limits on bandwidth per month. Now, I live in a very rual area (23047) and knowing this, when I moved from San Diego, I got prepared. I have a wireless mobile router and an appropriate large external antenne that is compatable with the card I have, UTStarcom and plugs right into the back.
So, my real question is, after calling Alltel I was told my signal would increase, but in fact it is a bit worse than when I had Verizon.
We really need to get this going if for nothing else than we need and unlimited amount of data...we do work, games and a fair amount of downloading. Broadband internet service is NOT offered in my area so I am at the mercy of the airwaves.
What can I do here? How can I solve this huge dilemma.
I know this isnt technical at all, but when we had the Verizon connected we would get 2 sometimes 3 bars, with Alltel we are getting 1....and thats it.
Would really appreciate helpful comments and no bashing of one company over another. We dont have an option for the money and the data other than Alltel and again like I said, we dont have many/any other options...just check out my zipcode if you think I am fooling friends.
posted by TeachTheDead to Technology (9 answers total)
Response by poster: ...yeah, that should say boost....
posted by TeachTheDead at 6:00 AM on August 15, 2008

I know you excluded this as an option, but can you switch back to the Verizon card that works? The Verizon Wireless 5GB/month limit used to be implicit, and I suspect Alltel will similarly invoke its right to reduce/terminate your service if you go over 5GB/month. Even if Alltel won't do that today, it's reasonable to expect Verizon will if the merger goes through.
posted by backupjesus at 6:32 AM on August 15, 2008

I assume that you know that Verizon is acquiring Alltel, so with those two not matter which way you go the decision will be made for you over time.
posted by zeikka at 6:38 AM on August 15, 2008

I'm in the exact same situation as use and we use Verizon currently (however it's just me and my wife and we save the large downloads for when we are at work so we tend to be ok with the 5gb). There's probably little you can do if the signal is not picking up well in your area simply because it is dependent on where the cell tower is and where your house is along with any obstacles in the way.

Where is the antenna currently? We have what looks almost exactly like that modem with a window antenna and we have the modem hooked up in the upper floor with the antenna connected to a window. Placement is everything with a cellular signal and if you're not near a window that could make all the difference.

I'd echo the sentiment that your "unlimited" Alltel plan is not exactly going to be the goldmine you think it will be. Have you specifically spoken with a rep that told you this? Can you get it on record for if when they cut your plan for overuse of the network?
posted by genial at 6:56 AM on August 15, 2008

Oh wow, you actually are only a few hours from me. Just to make sure, you called all the local phone companies to make sure that DSL wasn't available in your area? I've heard many people say they couldn't get broadband when in fact something like ISDN or DSL was available, just not the cable/highspeed stuff that the larger cities had. I even spoke with a gentleman once that petitioned a whole neighborhood to write signatures that they would sign up for DSL if the phone company would put a box out there and it worked. If you know a large group of people that are interested in fixing the issue this could work for you. DSL relies only on being close enough to a phone box with the proper hookup so even somewhat out-of-the-way locations can get it.

One other thing I forgot to mention that I believe killed us the first month on Verizon before I realized what was happening was that I remember I had the FasterFox extension installed to get faster speeds back when we had no cap but slow browsing rates. Anything like that installed and it will be pulling it probably ~5x more bandwidth than you are actually using as it downloads pages and info in the background. Once I got rid of that I realized we use a lot less than 5gb a month. But of course as I said, we are pushing all large downloads to the work hours where we both have high speed internet.
posted by genial at 7:03 AM on August 15, 2008

You might be able to get a directional antenna, and point it at the nearest tower. Otherwise, yeah, try moving the antenna to an attic window and see if that helps.
posted by reptile at 7:38 AM on August 15, 2008

Response by poster: Right, some good suggestions here:

Our external expensive antenna is mounted to our roof, 3 stories up. Honestly, we dont get cell phone signal from any company out where we live.

DSL I believe is like dial-up and we have to pay so many stupid fees JUST to get a phone line from any company to use. And of course, the primary provider is....Verizon.

Alltel's unlimited wireless is exactly that, unlimited with no cap.

Its monumentaly frustrating because we can deal with Verizon speeds (barely) but getting charged 600$ for using 6gigs a month is totally wreckless. I honestly struggle to see why any one with moderate to heavy usage would tolerate the ludicrous fee's Verizon charges.

Yesterday, at Alltel, the saleswoman and I talked about the Verizon/Alltel merger and she said it was her understanding that before this happended Alltel required that Verizon NOT change their wireless plans and she showed me a memo of sorts from Verizon to Alltel vaugely stating this as well....though admittadly kinda cryptic. Who knows, all I know is I am willing to almost break the bank to fix this crap...
posted by TeachTheDead at 12:13 PM on August 15, 2008

I honestly struggle to see why any one with moderate to heavy usage would tolerate the ludicrous fee's Verizon charges.

Data point: I've had a Verizon Wireless data card for four years and use it for 90% of my Internet access. My plan is $20/month cheaper than when I first signed up, which makes it difficult to get worked up about the cost. While I consider myself a heavy user, my maximum-usage month was roughly 1GB -- I got nervous when the overage charge was introduced, so I checked my records.
posted by backupjesus at 1:05 PM on August 15, 2008

Response by poster: I hear you...

When we monitor the usage for everyone in the home per month and we are strict, we typically exceed the 5gig by 1 gig....absolutely unacceptable to me honestly. And at the price, for 10 bucks cheaper, Alltel has unlimited so, its a no brainer here.
posted by TeachTheDead at 5:22 PM on August 15, 2008

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