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Internet Summaries
Internet Access

Mountain Internet Access
by Vaughn Aubuchon

I recently moved from Comcast Cable Modem Internet access, to a remote mountain location. I had no idea what I was giving up. Comcast a perfect ISP. ALWAYS on, six megabyte speed 24/7, and never a glitch. I had no idea just how spoiled I was. If you are an Internet webmaster, think LONG and HARD about giving up your Comcast Internet Access Provider. I thought I would share my experience of trying to get Internet access at my new remote location, where there is NO DSL available, and NO CABLE available.

POSSIBLE OPTIONS
What are the actual options? According to all the reports I have read, none are totally foolproof. I may have to move again soon, because of this. I must have Internet.
I hope to save many others from the pitfalls of "mountain Internet access".
Nobody gave ME any advice! One must study the webmaster forums, and free online reports.

Cell Phone Wireless Internet Access
(Best positive/ negative comments ratio)

Satellite Internet Access
(Worst positive/ negative comments ratio)

Dialup Internet Access

-

100

140


.
Cell Phone
Internet Access Providers -
USB Modems

  Provider

Activate
Fee
Equip.
Fee
Monthly
Fee
Min.
Period
"Typ"
Down
Speed
"Typ"
Upload
Speed
"company sucks"

  Verizon Wireless

$ 20
$ 100
USB720
$ 60
2 years
450 kb
300 kb
1,240
$ 35
$ 80
1 year

NOTES
Cap =
5 Gig/ month
If exceeded, your account is cancelled.
Min. MAC = OS10.3.9

USB720.
This option uses the new Verizon USB720 Modem. It comes with a USB cable and CD Rom software.
PC or Mac (OS 10.3.9 minimum)
"If your Verizon cell phone works at the location, so will the 720 USB Modem."
An optional high-performance antenna is available for $20, which is not stocked, and must be mailed.
The unit is $100 retail, but currently an $50 rebate is offered, resulting in a $50 equipment charge.
UPDATE 11-05-07: I am now using this unit exclusively for internet access, with Mac OS 10.3.9. IF you have Verizon Tower Visibility, I suggest you try Verizon Wireless. Here is my review of the Verizon Wireless USB720.
.
.

Sprint Broad-band

$ 20
$ 280
U595
$ 60
2 years
512 kb
256 kb
5
$ 35
$ 80
1 year

NOTES
Cap = ?? Meg/ month

Min. MAC = 10.4.7 (Doesn't say on box!)
Laptops only!

U595 or 595U.
They can't decide upon a NAME! Sometimes, it's U595, sometimes it's 595U.
The fact that the minimum MAC OS system supported is NOT ON THE BOX is disturbing. YOU tell ME why!
This USB modem is made by
Sierra Wireless. Minimal MAC OS support. They refer you to "PC websites" for MAC firmware updates!
The unit is $280 retail, but currently an $200 rebate is offered, resulting in a $80 equipment charge.
Sprint is definitely more clueless than Verizon Wireless.
.

ATT Wireless

-

AC875U

-

-

70 kb
70 kb
190

-

-

-

NOTES
Cap = ?? Meg/ month

Min. MAC = 10.4.7 (Doesn't say on box!)
Laptops only!

Air Card 875U (AC875U).
HSDPA (High-speed Downlink Packet Access)
Want to see the coverage map? You MUST login. NOT!
This USB modem is made by
Sierra Wireless. Minimal MAC OS support. They refer you to "PC websites" for MAC firmware updates!
ATT Wireless is probably the most clueless of the 3 options listed here.
.

NOTES:
I haven't seen a can of worms like this for a while.
1. Sorting this out is incredibly difficult, confusing, and time-consuming.
2. You must have cell phone communication at your location, for this to work. For instance, if you are going with Verizon, then a Verizon cell phone MUST work at the location. If you are going with Sprint, then a Sprint cell phone MUST work at the lolcation. A friend switched from Sprint to Verizon, when her Sprint cell phone did NOT work at "the lake". Her friends' Verizon phones worked just fine. This was a strong determinant.
3. Different providers will tell you different stories - whatever you want to hear. Sift carefully. You must.
4. Download and upload speeds may be BS - you may get 2x dial-up speed, you may not. You pay the same.
5. MAC support is "Oh, yeah, we do Mac too." As an afterthought. Read the wireless support forums.

70 - 450

50

70

50

50

50

50

60


.
Satellite
Internet Access Providers

  Provider
  (by size)

Setup
Fee
*
Equip.
Fee
Monthly
Fee
Min.
Period
"Max"
Down
Speed
"Max"
Upload
Speed
"company sucks"
***

  Hughes-net

$ 400
$ 0
$ 60
24 months
700 k
128 k
309

The biggest, therefore the most negative complaints - FAP Issues -
Download Threshold = 5,000 MB/ month
(166 MB/ day)
It WAS 6,000 MB/ month (200 MB/ day).

  WildBlue

$ 80
$ 250
$ 50
12 months
512 k
128 k
139

FAP Issues
Download Threshold = 7,500 MB/ month

  Starband

??**
$ 299
$ 50
12 months
512 k
128 k
114

FAP Issues
Download Threshold =
NOT STATED!!!
One must assume the worst.

* = Rebates may be available, or may not
** = Determined by third-party contractor - as high as $1,000
*** = Google search

FAP - Fair Access Policy - If you download too many megabytes (~166) in a 24-hour period, your download speed is reduced to LESS-THAN-DIALUP speed ZERO for the next 24 hours. You are PUNISHED for using the service you paid for. Fun, eh? You are paying EXPENSIVE satellite prices, and getting WORSE-THAN-DIALUP speeds ZERO Internet access. Forget about downloading software applications, movies, peer-to-peer file sharing, webcam usage, and ANY OTHER high-bandwidth requirements. "Fair Access Policy" is a misnomer. It is not fair to anybody. It should be called "RAP" - Reduced Access Policy. RAPDTO


SUMMARY OF COMPLAINTS
1. Download speeds are reduced to ZERO, due to the
FAP penalty being imposed
2. No tech support - jump through all their hoops, and STILL no resolution or explanation
3. Poor installation, untrained installers, lack of adequate bracing, improper grounding, all resulting in rapid signal degradation
4. You will get NO signal if it is raining, or very cloudy, or very windy.
5. HUGE early cancellation fees apply - if the service sucks, you are out of luck - you MUST PAY dearly for nothing, just to make them go away. Actually, they suck it right out of your bank account. DO NOT sign-up for debit payment, unless you are stupid, or rich, or both.
6. Also, you must be aware that the "MAX" speeds are NEVER available - these speeds are theoretical marketing bull.
    Expect to experience FAR SLOWER speeds than advertised (see
Broadband Reports.com)
7. There are other providers, all of which are either far more expensive, OR extremely performance limited.
8. Security - Your activity can be received/ intercepted by very talented satellite hackers, with ill intent.

My
Hughesnet experience.

See
http://www.dand.net/satellite-internet.htm - Great commentary on the pitfalls!
.

70 - 450

60

60

50

60

50

50

60


.
Dial-Up
Internet Access Providers

  Provider
  (by size)

Setup
Fee
Equip.
Fee
Monthly
Fee
Min.
Period
"Max"
Down
Speed
"Max"
Upload
Speed
"company sucks"

AOL

-

You must have a 56k modem
$ 26
none
56k
56k
40,800

No way - Out of the question - I know too much about them. This is the option for the utterly clueless - the masses, who just aren't aware of how poor the service actually is. And the filters between you and the net.

Earthlink

-

same
$ 14*
$ 15
$ 22
1 year
1 year
none
56k
56k
1,200

This might be my second choice for dialup.

Netzero

*
same
$ 10
none
56k
56k
385

Now United Online

Juno

*
same
$ 10
none
56k
56k
255

Now United Online

PeoplePC

*
same
$ 11
$ 16
none
56k
56k
187

Another contender

Got.net

$ 25
same
$ 20
none
56k
56k
0

Although in Santa Cruz, provides 408 numbers - This would be my first choice, if I had a phone line.

70 - 450

50

60

50

50

50

50

60

Notes to
Dial-Up Internet Access Providers

NOTES:
AOL = Fugitaboutit - See a Google Search for AOL Sucks
EarthLink = * You must prepay for one year. You really should try the service first!
            Offers 5 methods of payment.
Netzero = * $ 2 per minute for tech support
            There are
27 billing FAQs, NOT ONE OF WHICH is "What are my billing options?"
            EACH FAQ is a different page, which must be read individually - too many for me.
            Firefox is NOT supported - only Netscape 7 and the ancient IE 5.2.
            Information is ONLY PROVIDED for the computer you are CURRENTLY using -
            very frustrating.
Juno = * $ 2 per minute for tech support
            You can NOT see billing details until AFTER you sign up. The
FAQs are inadequate.
            "Help" only applies to current members.
            "Juno reserves the right to impose hourly usage limitations." This is presented as a GRAPHIC,
            so the Internet CAN'T index it. This is ALWAYS a deceptive practice, frequently used by
            drug manufacturers and others.
PeoplePC = * $ 2 per minute for tech support - FAQs
            Macintosh NOT supported
            
Credit card or debit - NO checks. No billing - automatic deduction only.

Other:
All prices rounded off to the nearest dollar - I HATE .95, .98, and .99. It's all BS.
So-called "special offers" are not included - too complicated and obfuscating for me.

-

MORE NOTES:
1. YOU MUST HAVE A WORKING PHONE LINE, with no noise.
2. There is NO SUCH THING as HIGH-SPEED DIALUP. The very definition of oxymoron - a contradiction in terms.
    It doesn't exist. In spite of what the BS ads tell you.
    There is slow (56K), slower, and unbelievably slow. (For example,
    Comcast cable modem, at 6 MHz., is 107 TIMES FASTER than the BEST dialup (6,000,000÷56,000), yet only costs 3 times as much.)

3. One should be aware that a much higher number of UNHAPPY campers report their experience, than HAPPY campers who are not so motivated to report their experience. Use this data for RELATIVE comparisons only.

4. All of the DIALUP options assume that I GET A PHONE LINE, which isn't going to happen. Verizon has proved that they have NO INTENTION of EVER installing a phone line at my location.

400 - 450

140

How It All Started
(They Don't Do Wires)

Verizon Landline Hell
My first attempt at Internet access was with Verizon - it was hopeless beyond belief. Verizon landline is the local phone service provider for Los Gatos, CA. I tried the online signup procedure. Never do this. It is a circular horror from hell.

ONLINE SIGNUP HORROR
- Jacks. I have three. So I clicked "no". Big mistake #1. The question should have been, "Do you have a jack that is CONNECTED to the phone line drop?" Most people cannot determine this. NONE of my 3 jacks were connected. So there can be no "automatic phone activation" at the central office, which is what they prefer, and apparently, the only thing they know how to do. Since the wires had been ripped out, I needed to sign up for the $100 jack installation, which is ACTUALLY the responsibility of the landlord. But there is NO WAY to go back, and change my order with "whitefence.com". Cast in cement, and sunk to the bottom.

- Changes. Nothing can be changed, once you enter your info into "whitefence.com", or "connectmyphone.com, or whatever URL they redirect you to. It is cast in stone, and there is no going back. When I called later, "Oh, you should have done that when you signed up." Yeah. Right. Catch 22. "You are screwed now."

- Status. When I checked my status, it said "pending" for a week. Then, it canceled the WHOLE order, INCLUDING the basic phone connection, because DSL is not available. And/ or the satellite TV is "not available".

- DSL. The software will tell you that DSL is available, when it is not. I am 10 miles from the Central Office (CO) - DSL only goes 3 miles maximum. Their totally inept software cannot discern this simple fact. They give you hope, string you along for days and days, then discard your whole order forthwith, out of hand, like a used Kleenex. Idiots!

- Satellite TV bundling. "Do you have an unobstructed view of the southern sky?" Absolutely not, there are 200 foot high redwood trees. I typed in "no." Big mistake #2. "You CANNOT receive satellite TV". The huge disconnect? EVERYBODY else around me gets satellite TV JUST FINE, pointing directly at those same redwood trees. The software is idiotic, and rejects everyone with no qualification or discussion whatsoever.

- Go Away. Verizon declined EVERYTHING, including a simple phone line. Mind-boggling.
They said they were coming out on Monday Aug. 6. Nobody showed up.
They said they were coming out on Wednes. Aug. 8. Nobody showed up.
That's the LAST time I ever wait around for these clowns.
.

-

PHONE NUMBERS - WORTHLESS
It doesn't matter which number you call, you will still end up in la-la land.
1-877-213-1039, 1-877-213-1053, 1-877-213-1057, 1-800-483-4455

I was given a "Whitefence.com Order ID".
I was given an "Account Number".
I was given a "Confirmation Number".
I was given a "Phone Number".
None of this matters. No phone - no phone line - no connection - no visit.

- Two individuals said they would call me back. Neither ever did.

- Any person you talk to, will refer you to a person who knows less. After you think you are getting close, you get a question like, "What state are you in?" Apparently, they are all in Oz, Kansas, and have no clue about anything, except reading off of the worthless flow chart, which is designed to keep you moving, NOT to solve your problems.

- Each person will tell you a different story. SIX people, in my case. You CANNOT EVER talk to the SAME person twice, because this would create a "responsibility", and accountability. This trick/ technique is used by many of the large monopolies' call centers, to avoid ever being "pinned down". This ensures that nothing ever gets resolved, just moved around, until you give up in frustration. Problem solved!

- Every person will tell you "the computer is down" - this is standard, according to one employee - if they don't know what to do, they just say "the computer is down", or "we are having computer issues". "Try again later." NOT. The same bull, over and over. Certifiable hopelessness.
.

OBNOXIOUS TORTURE
- In addition, you must suffer the obnoxious broadband commercials 100 times (which are NOT an option for you), while you are on hold. Talk about adding insult to injury. I asked one employee if people ever complained about the on-hold commercials, which BEAT YOU senseless. She took a deep breath and said, "I have been screamed at, cussed at, yelled at, and everything else (about those commercials). They are LOUD, OBNOXIOUS, and CEASELESS. When the suits are running the show, and the techies are pushed aside, this is what you get - hell on earth. Marketing idiots screaming in your face, with options that you CAN'T get. Wonderful. And, of course, no service whatsoever. No troubleshooters, no fixers, just quicksand.

UTTERLY CLUELESS
- Verizon is the MOST CLUELESS of ANY company I have ever dealt with - the actual technical, installation side is TOTALLY divorced from the management "signup" side - nobody knows what the other is doing. Or cares. Big business monopoly at its finest - 100% dysfunctional. When there is NO competition, they don't have to do ANYTHING right. Just fumble around, until you go away. It works for them.

The One Plus - One guy was really nice - he even gave me my new phone number - 408-353-xxxx. Whether or not it ever gets connected is a different matter entirely. No wires. No way to get wires.

***Update: I have figured it all out. Since Verizon Wireless is the major cell phone option, they want to FORCE you to buy a cell phone, which is less hassle for them (more hassle for you), and it makes them more money than a static landline. They are a monopoly. There is nothing you can do. So I caved in, and bought a cell phone. Problem solved. Now I get to enjoy microwave brain irradiation every day. Oh, boy! Join the modern age, grandpa.

Eventually, there will be no more Verizon "Land Line" service.



DISCLAIMER
If you can't find the data, you can't compare it.
Any ERRORS found on this page may be a result of -
1. Lack of a company specification
2. Purposeful obfuscation by the companies involved

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