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Old 11-04-2019, 06:15 AM
saje is offline
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Internet for those in rural/underserved areas - Unlimitedville? Verizon Jetpack? Hotspots?


So we are moving to the middle of nowhere - at least as far as cable/cell/internet are concerned. It's actually about 20 mi from Augusta and a thriving area with a huge winter population and a growing year 'round one, but it's nearly a desert for anything to do with connectivity.

The current options are satellite - HughesNet, Viasat, or using one of the cell carriers and a mobile hotspot of some kind. We currently have AT&T for cell service and it's ok at the new house, spotty in the surrounding area. Verizon is better in the local area (but still not great) and not great at the house. We currently don't have cable at the house we're leaving, just internet and AppleTV.

I came across something yesterday called Unlimitedville, basically a service that provides routers or hotspots for all the major carriers and claims to provide fast internet without throtttling. The plans aren't cheap, but if it really works it might be worth it. Has anyone here used it?

If anyone tech-savvy has any suggestions I'd welcome them! This is the only downside to this move, otherwise I'm really looking forward to being in the new place.

Oh, the zip code is 29853, it's on the outskirts of Aiken, SC.
  #2  
Old 11-04-2019, 06:45 AM
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I was in the same situation in one of the properties I owned and I ended up with Hughesnet and Dish Tv combo.

It worked, but with a lot of latency.

Only major problems are that anytime it rains, you lose television AND internet until the sky clears. And there are data caps which are infuriating. If you're a streamer then you're most likely going to go over your data allowance and get throttled.

Hughesnet is 50 GB a month @ like 20mbps speed if I remember correctly.

Most of the cellular carriers are something like 20 or 25 GB per month then you get throttled. Even when they say they are 'unlimited' they almost all have a cap mentioned in the fine print.
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Old 11-04-2019, 09:02 AM
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This idea many be a long-shot, but I know it can work at least in one area.

Try to find a local wireless carrier and tell them your plight. There is a company near me that will put up mini-towers to cover marginal areas. They are willing to tailor the installation to fit the needs and interest, but they won't build a tower until the need is shown.

For example, if a homeowner can rally some neighbors to join (even one or two), the cost of the tower can be shared and the reoccurring costs spread.

Local companies like this are often more sympathetic and will take on challenges the big boys won't. The major players don't want to mess with small accounts and neighborhoods; they are only interested in large, concentrated customer areas.
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Old 11-04-2019, 10:24 AM
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Hughesnet is garbage if you do anything else besides occasionally peruse the Dope and other text sites. We blew through the data cap on the first day of the month watching streaming videos, and then the throttled speed was so terrible you couldn't watch anything else the rest of the month. We ended up having to pay $350 to cancel our contract because it was so bad.
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Old 11-04-2019, 11:37 AM
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Satellite sucks, sucks, sucks. I don't care how many ways they try to polish it, it's a turd.

I'd go with the Verizon mobile hotspot out of what you listed, but I would think the transfer limits would be pretty hard to deal with.

But yeah if there is a local wireless carrier that is your best bet.

Also, Comcast. If you can justify spending ~$130 a month for a Comcast Business connection, they may run a line to you.
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Old 11-04-2019, 11:44 AM
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What company offers land line telephone service? What company provides electricity?

In rural areas, both those answers will have impacts on current and future service.
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Old 11-04-2019, 11:55 AM
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"Terrible" throttling is a relative thing:Hughesnet throttles you down to 1 megabit per second after hitting your cap, so merely 20 times faster than the fastest analog modem I ever owned, and faster than the first cable internet service I had, which was 768 kb/s. That allows you to download more than 300 MB per hour. Including the throttling, you get around 300 GB per month download. So too slow for high-def streaming, but good enough for downloading.

Last edited by Darren Garrison; 11-04-2019 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 11-04-2019, 12:02 PM
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My Hughesnet is great. Nothing else can touch us out here. When my power was down for 3 days I found my cars hotspot work fairly well.
When you're accustomed to nothing a little is fairly good. YMMV
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Old 11-04-2019, 12:21 PM
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I've been using the mobile hotspot on my Verizon phone whenever the Frontier DSL goes down, which is fairly often.

The DSL is by modern standards very slow; many videos are unusable, though some will play. The Verizon isn't much better at the best of times; and, during high traffic times if Frontier is down (and, I suspect, a lot of other people are using their hotspots instead), it's even slower; sometimes to the point of near un-usability even for things like this message board.

I have a neighbor who tried a satellite dish, but she said it went down every time it rained, even in a drizzle. Rains a lot around here.

Some areas just plain don't have good service.
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Old 11-04-2019, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post
"Terrible" throttling is a relative thing:Hughesnet throttles you down to 1 megabit per second after hitting your cap, so merely 20 times faster than the fastest analog modem I ever owned, and faster than the first cable internet service I had, which was 768 kb/s. That allows you to download more than 300 MB per hour. Including the throttling, you get around 300 GB per month download. So too slow for high-def streaming, but good enough for downloading.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beckdawrek View Post
My Hughesnet is great. Nothing else can touch us out here. When my power was down for 3 days I found my cars hotspot work fairly well.
When you're accustomed to nothing a little is fairly good. YMMV
https://broadbandnow.com/HughesNet-reviews

Only use HughesNet as a last resort.
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Old 11-04-2019, 12:37 PM
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Using it at this very second as I send this reply.
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Old 11-04-2019, 12:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
https://broadbandnow.com/HughesNet-reviews

Only use HughesNet as a last resort.
No choice but satellite. And Hughes 5g with as much data allowance as they sell works fine for my Wife and I. Now I don't (well rarely) watch Netflix or others.

We get lot's and lot's of snow. Other than having to brush snow off the dish, there has been zero problems with downtime.
__________________
I don't live in the middle of nowhere, but I can see it from here.
  #13  
Old 11-04-2019, 01:13 PM
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I always think it is funny driving around in very sparsely populated areas--including half-way up Appalachian mountains--and seeing a tiny house or single-wide trailer in the trees off a dirt road with a pair of satellite dishes bolted to it.
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Old 11-04-2019, 01:25 PM
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To the OP, I've had friends in a far-west suburb of St. Louis (less than 30 miles from the Arch) struggling with getting broadband for at least the last 10 years. The city's latest report on Internet access notes there are about 13,000 homes scattered throughout 400 street miles who can't get broadband from either the phone or cable companies.

These customers have been using two local companies who offer wireless. (There are two because neither company can afford to cover the whole area.) Their basic charge are $39.99/mo for 3 megabytes, up to $89.99 for 15 megs - where available.

The city's latest report (Sept. of this year) estimates to run fiber to those 13,000 homes will cost >$59 million. ( the total population of the city is 35,000). Even the cost of just laying a backbone without the "last mile" connections to homes (what they call "middle mile') would be >$4 million, and someone else would still have to take care of the buildout to neighborhoods and homes.

On top of that, the people in the more "wired" parts of town are not real happy about sharing the costs with others who decided to build a house at the end of what used to be a fire trail, with a hill on one side and a creek on the other.

No solutions here, except to advise you that you'd better be happy with the broadband you can get, because it may be a long time before you can get the broadband you want.

Last edited by Kent Clark; 11-04-2019 at 01:27 PM.
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Old 11-04-2019, 02:00 PM
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Check out all these options:
https://broadbandnow.com/South-Carol...ston?zip=29853

Some will have coverage in your specific area; others won't.
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Old 11-04-2019, 02:03 PM
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This Reddit thread seems useful for Unlimitedville. In short, it appears that, while they don't have throttling, you will still get deprioritized like any normal cell phone on the network. So, if there's not enough bandwidth in the area, they'll throttle you down.

I'll also note that, when there have been problems, my DSL has wound up below 1Mbps, and YouTube still worked at 360p to 480p. What actually sucked was looking at web comics, as the images would take a while to download.
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Old 11-04-2019, 02:09 PM
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Since you have AT&T available you might check out the AT&T iPad plan (which lots of people use for a mobile hotspot instead):
https://www.reddit.com/r/NoContract/...ot_megathread/

Last edited by PastTense; 11-04-2019 at 02:10 PM.
  #18  
Old 11-04-2019, 03:10 PM
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No DSL from your local telephone company?
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Old 11-04-2019, 03:19 PM
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Some of the rural kin swear by Verizon

Nobody I've ever met IRL can stand HughesNet.
  #20  
Old 11-05-2019, 10:14 PM
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I looked at the map of rural fiber optic internet providers (link below) and saw that South Carolina is nearly a fiber wasteland. That sucks. I used to be in that same boat, but the rural telephone cooperative where I live started offering DSL about 15 years ago, and upgraded me to fiber optic about 5 years ago. They offer up to 1000 megabits per second with no cap and no throttling. They recently finished upgrading the entire local network to 100% fiber optic, and started marketing their business model to other small rural providers. The big corporate telephone providers don't have much interest in rural fiber because they don't see enough profit in it. Some of South Carolina's neighboring states have counties with rural fiber, but you would have to relocate to get it. You could see if there are any rural phone cooperatives near you that plan to work toward providing fiber, but it is a slow process.

https://muninetworks.org/sites/www.m...map-2019-2.png
  #21  
Old 11-07-2019, 06:37 PM
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One of the providers listed at Broadband now, which PastTense mentioned above, is Atlantic Broadband. Their service map (link below) shows they offer fiber optic service up to 1000 mbps in the Aiken/Williston area.

https://atlanticbb.com/business/carr...twork-coverage
  #22  
Old 11-08-2019, 11:33 AM
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I recently switched to service from OTRMobile.com. AT&T 4G hotspot with unlimited usage for $60/month. I'm getting speeds of 40+ Mb/s. In rural Northern CA. There aren't even any phone lines in the immediate area. Nice thing was that AT&T set up a generator next to the local tower, so I still had internet even when the power company turned us off recently.
  #23  
Old 11-08-2019, 12:13 PM
saje is offline
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Thanks all, this is very helpful.

Atlantic Broadband's map is unfortunately pretty optimistic. Unless you are on one of the main roads you still can't get service, even though they say they serve that zip code.

I'm guessing there will be a bit of trial and error (and $$) before we get it figured out.
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