If you heard about the government stimulus package that plans to spend over 7 billion to get broadband in rural areas, don’t get too excited. This is the government we’re talking about afterall.
Here’s a few things we need to keep in mind.
- The current halt on afforable broadband service to rural areas is due to lack of interest for companies and for customers. Basically, it costs way too much money to get broadband way out to the boonies when not everyone wants to pay for it even if they did!
- Anytime the government hands out money, it has to jump so many hurdles and run through so much legislation that by the time they get around to it, we could probably have done it faster on our own with a big garage sale! Ok, ok… slight exaggeration. Anyway.
- There are a lot of big companies involved that will all be lobbying for their interests, and a lot of them are more concerned about their pockets than a few rural farmers waving their arms for a broadband bailout.
Here’s some of the things we dial-up users in the sticks have to look forward to:
So anyway… The FCC has been given until February to (get this!) define “broadband” so the government can properly dole out the funds. Yes February. As in next year. If you can’t guess, it’s going to take at least several years for this promised broadband to reach your rural little computer.
Why do we need to define broadband? Well because all these “high-speed” companies are giving customers such low-quality service that it’s hardly fast enough to be considered fast in today’s age. Check this out:
*Satellite services can drop your connection speed to that equivalent to dial-up as a penalty for using the service excessively.
*Wireless can become so overcrowded with users that it is actually slower and more unreliable than dial-up.
*Many ”low-cost” DSL plans have connection speeds that are no more than 10 times faster than dial-up (keep in mind that advertised speeds are not guaranteed actual speeds).
You might as well just stay with dial-up at that rate! Oh and get this!
*Our fastest connection speeds here in the U.S. is much slower than the normal connection speed in other countries. So much for being an advanced country!
So now the FCC is asking some of these Internet services providers to help them decide how fast broadband should be (or how else to determine what makes broadband what it is–long story), and phone companies like AT&T are trying their hardest to keep the standards low. They want broadband to be defined as being able to achieve basic tasks (like web page loading) and not even including video streaming and gaming capabilites!
Guess what? That, my friends, is dial-up. And we already have that. Yes, this is going to take a while. Looks like I’m going to keep going to the library to get videos… But I’m ok with that. I never had my hopes up from day one anyway.
The increasing popularity of and demand for broadband Internet propels the goal of providing it to the entire U.S. Many rural homes across the country, however, have little or no access to DSL and cable. Both of these popular broadband services require costly upgrades or wiring and is not considered worthwhile for many rural homes—some for now, others, maybe always. Until then, two types of Internet are often available for these areas: dial-up and satellite.
Dial-up Internet varies greatly from satellite Internet. One obvious difference, and often the deciding factor for many, is the price. The total monthly cost of dial-up is between 10-20 dollars a month and usually the set up is free—assuming you have a dial-up modem and a local access number. Satellite internet, on the other hand, has a monthly fee of 40-350 dollars a month (depending on the speed/download allowance you want). The total cost includes the price of leasing or buying the equipment (dish, router, etc.), installation, and other fees, such as repair plans, technical support, or contract fees. Even if you get the cheapest, slowest plan, you will have to pay at least $100 up front to get started.
Even a far stretch of the possible expenses you’ll have with dial-up will not come near the price of satellite. A dial-up modem, for example, is typically between 20 and 50 dollars, but is usually already installed on the computer. If you don’t have a land line phone service, you can consider that into your monthly costs.
Another difference in these Internet services is the connection speed. Satellite is many times faster than dial-up, which is the only reason people are willing to pay so much more. Dial-up can usually not be connected constantly, and downloads are painfully slow. However, many satellite plans have download limits and your connection can be restricted to dial-up speeds as a penalty for exceeding those limits.
Connectivity can be an issue for both satellite and dial-up. Dial-up can have trouble connecting if the phone lines to your house are old or a considerable distance from the phone company’s central office. Static or other line noise can cause slow connections and frequent disconnects. Since satellite signals from the sky, inclement weather can cause disrupted or slow connectivity, which can be a problem for areas with frequent stormy weather. You can only get satellite if you own your home (renters must have permission to install a dish) and have a clear view of the southern sky. Just like with cell phones, you may not be able to get a good connection with satellite if you live in a wooded or mountainous area.
Getting started with dial-up is often as simple as a phone call and a configuration of settings on the computer, unless you order a disk to set up software. Dial-up can be set up on multiple computers and just needs a phone cord plugged into the back to get started. This means you can use dial-up while you’re traveling or on vacation. Setting up satellite could take several weeks with ordering, shipping and installing equipment. The time and cost of installing equipment and setting up the connection on satellite is clearly greater than dial-up.
Satellite Internet is a viable option if you require a broadband connection for your needs and can’t get DSL or cable, providing the pre-qualifications are met and no major weather obstructions occur too frequently. Dial-up Internet is a easy and affordable option for you if you don’t spend much time online and don’t want to bothered with fees and contracts, providing you have quality land lines and a working dial-up modem.