Surf Like it’s 1999

August 9th, 2017

Rural Internet Speeds in my Future

I am finally confronting the one big landmine of moving to a rural area: Internet service.

It’s 2017, right? Internet service is great everywhere. Nothing to worry about.


Here is what I discovered. The list of conventional Internet providers who serve my new address consists of one entry. That’s right. One. There are also three satellite providers. Fine. Four choices, right? Not really.

The only conventional Internet provider proudly offers me 1.5 MBPS, and that’s download, which means it’s the fastest figure they have. Upload is always way slower. That means that if I made and uploaded a Youtube video, an upload starting right now would end about an hour after the sun burns out. Youtube videos are huge. Several GB. It takes an eternity to upload them where I am now, and I’m in a suburb with relatively good service. On the farm, with conventional service, uploading would be, in practical terms, impossible.

That leaves satellite service. Great! Problem solved! Maybe.

Satellite Internet is screwed up. The download speeds are good (if posted figures are true, which is almost certainly not the case). The upload speeds are…adequate. Hughesnet, the hot provider at the moment, claims 3 MBPS, so let’s say 2 MBPS. I can live with that, but I’m sure it will seem painfully slow in three or four years, because data usage creeps or leaps upward as years pass. I don’t think Hughesnet will send a new multi-billion-dollar satellite every year just to make me happy. Maybe the farm will have a real phone line in a few years, though, and that would fix everything.

Another problem: satellite providers choke your speed if you go over your data limit, and the data limits are pretty low. I would have to spend a lot on a hefty plan to avoid this.

TV is easier to deal with. I can get AT&T or DirecTV. I don’t care about this, because I barely watch TV, but my dad is elderly, and old people watch the crap out of TV.

Phones should be simple, but they’re not. I want a land line, because I hate cell phones. They drop calls, the batteries crap out, and the phones are uncomfortable to use. On top of that, even when they work, they screw with the timing of speech so you keep interrupting the person you’re talking to. It looks like I would have to get a land line from my Internet provider, if I want the best deal.

I tried to find out who runs the phone system in Marion County, assuming it would be AT&T, but I can’t get an AT&T line there. I know there are little piddly companies that do land lines, but I assumed AT&T would be in there somewhere. It’s not.

If it were up to me, I’d dump TV entirely and put the savings into a big satellite Internet account. TV sucks the life out of people. You’re born, someone puts you in front of a TV, and then suddenly you’re old. You die, and they pry the remote out of your hand and bury you. At least the Internet isn’t passive and completely useless. You can turn on the Internet and learn skills. You can become an engineer. You can learn languages. TV is just man’s way of telling God he resents being given a long lifespan.

Satellite is looking tempting. The latency will probably annoy me, but at least I would be able to interact with humanity instead of trying to view the web through a constricted keyhole.

There is no point in whining about it, apart from the tremendous satisfaction I get from whining. I hate Miami, and I can’t wait to move north, so I will make it work.

Funny thing; I called a rigging company today about moving my machines to Ocala. My dad used to be their attorney, so we know them. I told the boss about the move, and I could actually hear him grinning as he said, “I can’t BELIEVE you’re leaving MIAMI.” Everyone hates this place! In fact, that’s how I responded. I said, “EVERYONE hates this place!”

It’s almost 86 degrees here right now, after ten p.m. In Ocala, it’s 77. And you can go outside and see the stars.

Maybe after I move, I’ll be able to blog from one of the porches and watch the Hughesnet satellite fly past. But I guess they’re geosynchronous? Well. I’m sure I’ll see something.

17 Responses to “Surf Like it’s 1999”

  1. Steve G. Says:

    A few years ago I had a friend who moved out into what was then a pretty rural town, and he got better internet access through a tethered cell than he could get through any of the local ISPs. Not sure how the cell providers treat that sort of signal on their networks now, but maybe it’s worth checking.

  2. Heather P Says:

    Don’t know if it’s available in your area, but our AT&T is offering, the cellular service, Direct TV, and internet as a package. So that may be something you want to check into.

  3. Ken Says:

    I got on the net in ’99. Dial up for 10 years because I was in the sticks.

    Then I found cell phone ISP’s. Currently pay $35 a month for 6gb from Tmobile. No cost effective options in most of the low population areas; not worth it hard wire.

    No high speed internet is by far the biggest disadvantage to living where nobody else does.

  4. Stephen McAteer Says:

    I used to use satellite broadband here in Scotland. Speeds were reasonable (Can’t remember what they were exactly but better than the 2 or 3 MBPS you mention – I’m wondering why yours is so slow…) I found the service to be pretty good other than the latency problem but you got used to that. I even used it for Skype calls a few times and it was okay. (It does slow to an unusable crawl if you go over your data limit though.)

  5. JayNola Says:

    Look into cellular hotspots. Not sure what kind of coverage you’ll have but you can get ones with directional antenna that will push a decent amount of pipe.

  6. Jason Says:

    Once you get out to the country see if you can spot Iridium Satellites, when they pass over and tilt towards the sun they become incredibly bright for a few seconds. Also, you will be able to catch the International Space Station a few times a month as it flies overhead.

  7. Elizabeth Says:

    I have DirecTV. It’s okay (the only problem I have that it doesn’t like hard rainstorms and will drop the link occasionally), but the other two choices I have, Fios and Xfinity (Comcast, which I hate with the fire of a thousand suns), are to my mind way overpriced for what you get. DirecTV do have bundle deals and are owned by AT&T. Since you will be more rural, doesn’t hurt to check and see.

  8. Steve H. Says:

    It looks like I will need over 100 gigs of data per month, and the wireless people only offer 22. Not good.

  9. Ruth H Says:

    After living in the wilderness for 17 years I can offer you some advice on this. We had all sorts of services starting with dial up, what a pain. Then we had satellite. It was a big step up. I know it is much better now, but it is pricey. I would also suggest you use Direct TV with the satellite service bundle.

    We used Dish Network and got used to it so I cannot give you any advice on the Direct TV service. I can tell that for some reason when the clouds obscured the TV signal we could often still get the internet. Notice I say often, not always.

    Finally we got really good and fast service with a local service. Look for something like this to come your way. Check it out and watch for something like it.

    Now that we are in town we are bundled with expensive phone, TV, internet for a big bundle of money.

  10. John Bowen Says:

    That’s not exactly true. The wireless folks offer you 22, after which (depending on carrier) they either put you to the back of the line for 4G access or they throttle you down to 3G speed, which is still a heck of an improvement over dialup.

    Before you consider Hughesnet, you really really REALLY need to read feedback on what passes for customer service in that company. I did the research a few years ago and I’m so very glad I did. I think most people would rather have bladder cancer than Hughesnet. I know I would.

  11. Steve H. Says:

    The problem with checking the ratings of ISP’s is that they all get one star out of five, so it’s hard to tell which single star is the worst. Hughesnet must be a real jewel to stand out in that crowd.

  12. lateniteguy Says:

    At the risk of seeming even more like the crazy old guy screaming at pigeons in the park, is ISDN an option? It’s still very much around — you just have to ask because they don’t like to provision it — and I was good to go with 128k for years, and dead nuts reliable. You will need to batch work, but an old physics guy can work with with Powershell, I am sure.

  13. Steve H. Says:

    I don’t know what Powershell is! I’m one of the few physics people who are not in love with computers.

  14. Jonathan Says:

    I would like to know how to get decent Internet service in Miami.

  15. Rick C Says:

    You can spot Iridium flares and the ISS even in a city during daylight. I watched ISS traverse almost the entire sky once in Boston around 2000.

  16. Aaron's cc: Says:

    Bandwidth is as essential to me as potable water and functioning A/C. Bad bandwidth isn’t inconvenient. It’s a dealbreaker.

    During my youngest’s senior year in HS, I’ll be searching to buy a downsized home gaining me access to as many of my kids and grandkids here or in Israel, if that’s where they end.

    Hoping LA real estate stays crazy through 2022 or so. I could use the equity.

    In India and elsewhere, Big Brother is installing balloons for bandwidth. Once proven, I suspect that the surveillance state will want to hover their balloons higher than your firearms can hit. Two edged sword… faster Internet, and they’ll be able to use your wifi router to know precisely where you are sitting and eating Cheetos.

  17. Steve H. Says:

    Big Brother already knows where you and I are, unless you’re not using a smartphone. Privacy is not disappearing. It’s gone.