Finally back on the air

So when we were looking at houses, one of the primary things I was looking for was DSL access. With the house we finally ended up buying, I noticed that the owner had a DSL bridge up and running. Score! At closing, I asked him if he had DSL, and he said he did. Score! It’s smooth sailing from here on out, right? Wrong. Little did I know just how much of a broadband wasteland Frederick happens to be.

One might think, “But the last guy had DSL, so what’s the big deal?” The big deal is that Verizon really doesn’t care about the Frederick area at all. There’s one CO in the area. It happens to be at full DSL capacity. So as soon as the previous owner terminated his service, his DSL circuit was snapped up by someone else. So it wasn’t available to us. I really didn’t want to go with cable, because I’ve had it before and haven’t been overly impressed. For a while, I seriously considered SDSL, but at well over $100 a month, I convinced myself that wasn’t an option.

Then I found a local ISP that claimed to have ISDN. Now, this would be just as slow as SDSL, but for roughly $30-$40 a month, it’s much more reasonable. I was psyched to get the service, and just had a few questions. So I call the ISP to speak to their tech people. They couldn’t really answer any of my technical questions, such as whether I’d need another line, and despite being right down the street they couldn’t say whether Verizon would charge per-minute fees or anything above and beyond what I was paying them. I could have handled that, but the answer to my next question floored me. Their website specifically stated that they would provide the CPE, fully configured. The person I spoke to, when asked “Do you guys provide the CPE?” told me that no, they didn’t, and recommeded a specific model of ISDN CPE and suggested I find it on eBay. Um, yeah… So scratch ISDN.

By this point, you might be wondering what I finally went with, not having DSL, cable, SDSL, or ISDN. I’ll tell you… Satellite. Yes, slow, slightly faster than dialup if it’s a clear day, expensive satellite. We went with Dish Network, which resells WildBlue’s service. If I’d done some homework, I might have gone elsewhere, as the overall opinion seems to be rather negative. But, I didn’t. So we have it. Now. Because we ordered on June 26th, were told an install of August 4th. On the 3rd, we got rescheduled to the 5th for what I consider a valid reason. On the 5th we got rescheduled to the 12th, due to lack of the right length of ladder. On the 12th, we got rescheduled and the feces started to hit the rotating blades.

We were both sick and tired of being rescheduled, and this time we were told the 24th. You know, 2 months after we ordered the service. After several phone calls and being told there was nothing sooner, we called Dish Network to cancel all our service. We lucked out with someone who seemed to actually care, that looked into the ticket and then got pissed on our behalf. And then she got her supervisor, who also got pissed on our behalf. After collecting all our details for her supervisor, to be forwarded to the district managers, we had a promise of “this week, with at least 24 hours’ notice” or they’d completely release us from all their services without penalty.

Monday morning, we get a call, and set up a Tuesday morning install. Tuesday’s install completes with very little trouble, and we’re online by 1pm. Since then, I’ve learned about the Fair Access Policy, and have installed FapZilla to monitor usage. After 2 days and change, we’re at about 23% of our monthly download limit before we get cut to painfully slow speeds. Most of this is due to having 5 computers needing a 45 days’ updates, 4 of them Debian Unstable (2 i386, 2 amd64). We’ll need to see over the next month just how bad things get, but I’m getting the impression that this service is, at best, aimed at just websurfers. Urk.

So, where’s the blog now? I ordered a Linode, since I needed a solution for web, mail, dns, etc. They’re really awesomely responsive, dealing with requests usually within minutes. For root-level access and my choice of distro, with static IPs and an insane amount of bandwidth, the prices are incredibly reasonable as well. I highly recommend them if you need your own host somewhere.

And so, now we’re finally back on the air. Maybe not with the best access speeds for ourselves, but hopefully we’ll have more options once our contract with the satellite is up…

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  1. Pingback: Mobile Phone Wishlist – Mike's Place

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