Q: How do I choose an internet provider for my home?
A: The first question is "can I get service at my house?" If the answer is yes, then the next criteria is speed of the service. If you are happy with the performance, then the next criteria might be price. And, layered over all this is reliability.
Q: What service can I get at my house?
A: If you are in a rural area, you usually have two types of service from which to choose - private microwave service from InterMax and service from either one of two satellite service providers - HughesNet or Wild Blue. In the more densely populated areas like Coeur d'Alene, Hayden, Post Falls, or Rathdrum, you might be able to buy DSL service from the phone company (Verizon), or cable data service from the cable TV supplier (Time Warner).
Both DSL and the cable service are absolutely "location specific" to populated areas. Some cell phone companies are also promoting "broadband cards" for your laptop. This service runs on the cell phone network and offers at best the same reliability as your cell phone. Think about how you have come to tolerate dropped calls and service "holes" with your cell phone. That quality of service may not be suitable for your internet connection.
Satellite service - HughesNet and Wild Blue - this is a connection to a satellite 22,000 miles out in space much like a TV satellite connection. It is a satisfactory alternative for TV because the signal just comes down to your house in a stream and time delays caused by distance don't matter. In the internet use of this technology, the signal begins as an inquiry from your computer, goes up 22,000 miles to the satellite, is processed by the computers in the satellite, then goes down to earth another 22,000 miles with your inquiry. Then your inquiry goes over the earthbound internet system to get your answer, then back over the earth system to the outbound satellite system, then up 22,000 miles to the satellite, processed there again, then down 22,000 miles to your computer. Whew... are you tired yet? It is like driving to Spokane via Los Angeles. So while the service is slow, and is sometimes sporadic, it is faster than dialup and if it is all you can get, it becomes your best choice.
Read the rest of entry »