Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Satellite Internet

On our side of the valley down which Red Creek flows, we're lucky to have electricity. We had to run a new electrical line more than 2,500' up the side of the valley and then up a hollow through a very steep clear-cut. This cost about $1K in an initial payment, and then $22.50/month/5 years. I think we could get a land-line by the same route, and DSL through the land-line, but that would be useless.

Until recently, getting internet via a satellite was expensive ($70/month) and the service was very, very slow (1 Mbps). Recently, Wild Blue, one of the major providers of satellite internet service launched a new service called Exede that is much faster (≥ 12 Mbps), about the same as our service in Columbus, and significantly less expensive ($50/month).

Up until now, our "internet" service was provided with our iPhones and the cell phone tower in nearby Harman. The phone signal was decent 3 of 5 bars and was moderately reliable, but the internet service was Edge (E). Slow. They don't measure this speed with Mbps, but rather Kbps, and even then it's fractional Kbps, as in 0.1 Kbps. Email worked, you could boot up a website to get the weather (3-10 minutes), you could get scores of football and basketball games, and the phone worked reliably and with a clear signal. The caveat, however, was that the phone had to be positioned precisely in one window to obtain a steady signal. That meant that you had to stand in front of that window to talk on the phone or read email. It worked.

Two weeks ago, we had an Exede satellite dish installed on the house. The installation took about an hour, and after a few minutes of set-up, we finally had high-speed internet access. This past weekend, I wired a permanent electrical plug, set-up my Apple Airport base-station, and we now had wireless internet. Needless to say, this was about a million-fold improvement over Edge network speeds, and best of all, the wireless signal was so strong, I could even get it in the barn (125' from the house). Nice.

Next up will be a new weather station with an internet up-link so that we can see weather at the WV house from anywhere via our iPhones. Best of all, Dogs Run Farm will become a station on Wunderground. More on that when I get it to work.

Now I can write posts for this blog sitting in the comfort of my reading chair, I can do on-line banking and pay bills, easily check the weather, text message reliably, and best of all use Face Time with Cathy when she is in Columbus. This worked surprisingly well given the significant delay in sending satellite internet signals (2-3 sec).

We are over half a mile from our nearest neighbor, but we have state-of-the-art internet via satellite. Welcome to the 20th century.

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