Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Desperately seeking: High Speed Internet

I've been philosophical about our lack of high speed internet. We get this great view, this minimally trafficked road, and a reminder to slow down as we wait for a page to load or our bandwidth allowance to refresh.

But I'm over it.
I'm ready for high speed internet! We've got 4 grownups who depend on the internet (it's embarrassing in ways) for work, for play, for information gathering, for networking.
There is argument that internet - high speed internet - is like electricity of the 30's. It's a utility and needs to be available nationally - no matter how rural your dwelling.

Our town has a contract with Charter to be the sole cable provider. In exchange Charter promises to provide cable when a certain population density is met. That's the deal. Two issues: 1.) it's a fight to force Charter to hold up their end of the bargain. 2.) We will never have close enough neighbors to reach the population density.

There is funding for the rural North Country in NY ... but little to none for our county. There is more talk of broadband access in rural communities in our area here. But again, not actually here.

Living with so many internet-users as well as children that are growing older by the day and are homeschooled (do you know how many online resources there are for homeschoolers?!) in addition to running two businesses, and a grownup that telecommutes ... we're feeling frustrated.

I contacted Verizon to ask what it would take to get dsl to our address - or fios, I'm not picky! From my understanding DSL needs a repeater box every mile. There is a "shack" with "Verizon" written on the building about 4 miles away. How much will it cost to put in the next box? And then the one after that? I called Verizon on 3 different occasions and was told that they would get back to me within 48 hours. When I hadn't heard back within 72 hours or more, I would call again. Finally someone explained that dsl doesn't have repeater boxes (oh really?) and that it is impossible to get high speed internet to our house at this time. We could try using our cell phone as a 4G hotspot.

We've looked into that too. We don't get 4G in our area (never mind Verizon service at all!).

We currently use Hughes Net (satellite). It's slow, for sure. But useable (as long as you're not interested in streaming). The biggest issue is that there is a use cap. You are only allotted a certain amount of bandwidth per day. If you go over this cap, your speed drops dramatically while it refreshes OR you can pay $8 to refresh your bandwidth allotment immediately. We are already paying about 4x's the amount the typical high-speed internet user is paying - adding the cap to the frustration of slow internet and then charging more is outrageous.

There is an alternative, reportedly faster satellite option called "Exede" but it concerns us because the data cap is a monthly rate, not a daily rate. Given the frequent need for us to refresh our data (at least once a week), we're worried that we'll be overusing our monthly limit too frequently.

Suggestions? Is there an option we haven't thought of? Who should I be contacting (in a political office, maybe?) about implementing highspeed nationwide (and then what is that? DSL? Fiber? Cable? Something else?)?

No comments: