High-Speed Internet Access in Rural Areas

How do people in very rural areas get high-speed internet access? What does it cost? What are the limitations? Are there any benefits?

I’m in the sticks, and my only HSIA option is satellite. I have WildBlue’s cheapest plan for $50/month. I’m not a big downloader, so I never come near the bandwidth limits. I’m self-employed, so for me it’s a business expense, and lately a necessity to be able to exchange large files with clients.

Downsides for me have been lack of access during heavy rain, snowstorms, etc. But I have a backup dialup account just in case.

Benefits? Well, I have been watching a lot more YouTube clips. :smiley: Streaming media works a lot better than on dialup (ya think?). Software downloads are lightning fast; normal surfing and mail downloads seem about the same. I don’t think I’ve had any unexplained disconnects, like I used to get on dialup. I’m online pretty much all day, so that got annoying.

Overall I’m happy with satellite, but I’ll be happier when my cost goes down if DSL finally makes out here in the boonies. (Not holding my breath, though.)

The limitations are usually about cost. It has to be profitable enough for someone. And that doesn’t mean “just” make money, it has to make enough money for someone to come in and assume the risks for taking that venture.

For instance, in my youth I lived on an a barrier island in Florida. There were about 100 people on it. The cable company said even if everyone signed up for cable it wasn’t worth it to them to wire the island, so until the dishes came on these scene no one had access to “cable” TV.

Another Wildblue user here, blazing along at 26.4k on dial up due to rain. :slight_smile:

A friend of mine is starting up a business where he installs Motorola Canopy microwave transceivers on the clients’ houses, pointed at a big access point which he has erected atop a radio tower on a nearby mountain. The microwave link provides bidirectional 3mb/s. He’s already got several customers lined up.

A guy I work with lives about 50k outside Edmonton, and has some wireless thing similar to what friedo describes.

It was quite flaky for the first year he had it, and even now the speed can’t touch what you’d get in the city. IIRC, rain and snow haven’t been problems, but sometimes when it’s windy things go down for him.

Around here they upgraded the city to city connection with optical cable. They added the cost as a surcharge for a couple years to the land line rural customers. They offered high speed internet to the city, and the rural housholds that payed the surcharge got taken. You still only can have a modem connection.

The only high speed option in most rural settings is satelite. You used to have to have a modem to send requests by land line to the company, and they send the requested page or data trough the fast satelite link. I’m sure I ran across a totaly satelite system for up and down loading. Your best hope may be that with all the cell phone towers something becomes available in wireless.

We don’t have it. Why do we need it?

My parents live about an hour away from me, across the river in Arkansas. The nearest town is Wynne about ten miles away where high speed access is available. Not so at my parent’s place. I tried to convince them to get Satellite, but my dad got hooked on the idea of connecting using their cell phones so that’s what they’re using. For the limited amount they use it, it’s probably fine. It’s faster than dialup, but slower than my cable modem.

In Sullivan County, NY, we have Time-Warner Cable, with RoadRunner and Earthlink service available.

I moved out into the “sticks” about a year ago and was pretty disgusted with the dial-up service. The only satellite provider was/is Directnet (or something similar) for $60/mo plus a $560 equipment cost. I stumbled across a wireless provider in my area. $40/mo for 768kbps and no equipment costs. For another $10/mo, I could have 1.5 mbps. It’s not as good as the cable I was used to, but it beats dial-up to a quivering pulp.

I tried a wireless card with a PCIA adapter card for the desktop. It didn’t run nearly that fast, and I couldn’t share it with other PCs, so I went to Wildblue.

I’m pretty rural, yet 10 years ago they ran cable TV thru the area, and about 6 years ago, added cable modem. All to serve 2 villages with a combined population of 5,000 people and a surrounding rural area with about 1500 more, all in 43 square miles.

Go figure.

Had Verizon not had a regional lock out on the nearest town’s telephone provider, I could have had high speed. They ran to a point half a mile from my house and would have given our little housing cluster a connection. Verizon prevented that, and the didn’t offer it. So much for deregulation helping, they have to allow choice of provider via their lines, but they don’t have to allow high speed internet into their area, when they don’t feel like providing. Rules that allow this suck.

Anyone using 802.16 “WiMax” wireless networking? This is similar to the well-known 802.11 “WiFi” wireless networking, but is intended for town-sized areas instead of coffeeshops. I understand that the ISPs in rural Ontario have started to offer it in smaller towns, but I don’t know anyone who has used it. I’m planning in the long term to move north, but availability of high-speed internet access will definitely be a factor in where I choose to relocate.

Another Wildblue user here.

I only lose it to rain when the storms are BIG. About an hour a month so far. Spring storms will up that some.

Will never have cable or DSL here. Can get anything with enough $$$ but being in the real world, the 'wireless guy went broke, the new guy can only provide 256 down if you can hit his antenna. We are on the top of a flat mountain in a depression with tall pines around us. I would need to build a 150 antenna to get to the wireless.

We have the premium plan with Wildblue and even with 2 computers on line at once, we go pretty fast.

It is the best option for us IMO.


*:: If you are in an ‘addition’, you are not out in the boondocks. ::: *

Gus, have I seen you on the Wild Blue Uncensored board?

The only option out here would be satellite. Cable and the like will be here when hell freezes over and you can’t even get a good cell phone signal here most of the time.

So we rock along on 26.4 kbps dialup. Several times a day we get disconnected for no apparent reason and have to re-connect. Broadband via satellite would be nice but there’s no way to justify the expense.

On the other hand, we’re two miles from the nearest neighbor and a paved road, so there’s lots of stuff we don’t have to put up with. I wouldn’t want to move somewhere else just to get broadband.

Those of you with the Wildblue satellite setup: How much is the initial cost for equipment and setup? $50 per month sounds ok, but most of the satellite systems I’ve looked into cost over $600 to get started.

As web sites got larger, and more and more things got available I went to satellite too. Wasn’t hard to convince as my dial up dropped down to 9k.

I’m pretty happy with it. I use it for my DirecWay TV too as their in no cable where I live either.

The internet service is $60. I just did a speed test and I’m getting 896k download, but only 14k upload. It varies. Download speeds are generally 10 times faster than upload.

The initial install and setup was around $400. And there is more stuff to maintain. Also, weather can affect it. If you can get good DSL I generally tell people to avoid it. No real point.

But for us poor suckers out in the sticks, it’s a godsend.