Comparison of Interim Connection Solutions

Fed up with Dial up? Interim Solutions

There are interim solutions for those who are fed up with slow dial up data transfer speeds of about 56kbps and need something faster. Such technologies, like DSL, WiFi (3G/4G wireless), or satellite may be available in your area. Below is a quick comparison of what they can provide:

DSL: DSL is a technology provided over your existing telephone lines. It is only available in a 2-3 mile radius from a point where AT&T or other carrier has deployed the service. Check with your local provider to see if your phone system has been upgraded to DSL. MCN offers this service to some locales on the coast and their website is: www.mcn.org. DSL speeds and prices vary from 384kbps to 3Mbps depending on the availability, package selected, and distance from the central office. Surfing the web and checking email can be done with 384kbps. For viewing videos or playing games online plus access to new services like NetFlix online one needs the higher rates. A few communities (Ukiah & Willits) in our county are already receiving a new upgraded version of DSL called ADSL2+ which is broadband quality and will reach speeds of 20Mbps.

WIRELESS: There are various companies within Mendocino County who can provide “direct wireless” which is residential and business DSL without the copper wires required for landline DSL. This can be done using a variety of antennas aimed at the service provider’s node on select hilltops which relay the signal. Technologies used are WiFi, WiMax, proprietary 900Mghz radios and even microwave antennas. Wireless solutions are typically more costly than landline DSL or Cable Modems, but provide similar performance for those who happen to be out of reach or not yet serviced by a major carrier.

CELLULAR MODEMS: Accessing high speed Internet connection through a cellular phone connection is yet another solution. US Cellular, AT&T, T-mobile, and Verizon offer a 3G Internet service in some areas, and other companies may as well. Marginal cell phone reception can be improved significantly by amplifiers and larger antennas designed to support cellular technology. Local offices will offer equipment recommendations and let you test to find out if there is enough signal strength for data access before needing to make the investment. There are also individuals and businesses in the area that specialize in providing cellular connections to homes & businesses. Look at the Using Your Cell Phone for Broadband in your Home page to get the particulars on how to do this from one person who did it successfully.

SATELLITE: Access to the Internet via satellite is another solution available if there is a clear view of the southern horizon where the satellite is. It does have a latency issue which means there is a delay in accessing information due to its travel 46,000 miles up and down to the satellite. This is typically less than one second and acceptable to most people browsing the Internet. Satellite is still advertised as 10 times faster than dial up even though it is not up to the National Broadband Plan standards. Satellite is traditionally somewhat pricey so one word of caution is to check on satellite caps or limits on how much can be used in a day. Heavy Internet users can incur significant cost penalties if they go over the limit so read the terms and conditions carefully.

The Broadband Alliance is offering these ideas to ease the pain of dial up for the short term with no guarantee that anything will work for an individual location but it is a place to start.

Please contact the Alliance at info@mendocinobroadband.org if you want to help the county-wide effort or if you are thinking of starting something locally in order to coordinate local and county efforts for mutual benefit.