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High Speed Internet for Rural Areas
By James Wise
posted April 2, 2009
TECH TIPS – My job requires that I have
high speed, reliable, and secure Internet access but I can’t get
traditional high speed access via DSL or Cable where I live. Luckily,
there are options such as cellular broadband.
For a while, I used dial-up Internet access at home and I had a second
phone line dedicated for this. Later, I tried satellite Internet
access. Satellite access had some advantages because I was able to drop
one phone line and it was faster (especially for large file downloads).
It was also easy to share this with other computers. Reliability seemed
to be an issue though and latency was high which meant it wasn’t great
for browsing and was pretty bad for some things I needed to do. Then I
tried Internet access via my cell phone’s data plan and I’ve been
pretty happy with this. This isn’t to say that I wouldn’t go with
DSL/Cable if I had the chance (I think either could be faster) but
cellular has been a good option for me personally with my limited
choices and seems to be reasonably fast.
Personally, I use Verizon Wireless. They have a good network in my
opinion and one big advantage for me is that they offer high speed
access in the Edgefield area. Their high speed or “3G” network type is
called “EVDO” (EVDO Revision A or “Rev A” is the fastest variation from
Verizon). Other companies also offer high speed networks but it doesn’t
seem like they cover as many areas as Verizon does (at least not with
their highest speed). You can checkout Verizon Wireless “Data Plans” at
any of their stores or online at http://www.verizonwireless.com.
Plans are typically around $60 per month. Typically, there is a 5
Gigabyte monthly limit (overages could be billed) but that is normally
enough for most users unless you are downloading a lot of movies or
Internet access is typically achieved using an “air card” which
now-a-days is often a USB device (looks like a thumb drive connected to
your computer). If you have a “smart phone” with a data plan (like a
Blackberry), you might also be able to add a “tethering” option to
connect to the Internet via your cell phone for just a small additional
fee (e.g. $15 a month). You might even be able to use your cell phone
data plan without an extra fee via special programs like
(if you have a Blackberry) but be advised that such programs may be
outside of what your cell phone provider allows and may be more
difficult to use or less reliable.
Another option to be aware of (which is especially nice if you have
more than one computer or want to have increased security) is “mobile
broadband routers.” A router can be used to share an Internet
connection with multiple computers in your house. Typically, these are
wireless devices and allow you to create a home network to share files
and printers inside your house as well. Routers also provide a hardware
“firewall” which can help secure your computer against attack over the
Internet. Many people use routers with DSL or Cable connections but
they are in fact also possible with Cellular solutions. I use a
CradlePoint MBR1000 router myself and love it. It couldn’t be more
simple to use. I just plug in my air card or tethered Blackberry to the
router and it pretty much does the rest (and provides wireless network
access for all my computers). It seems as if I have dsl/cable as far as
ease of use (the CradlePoint might even make it easier!).
CradlePoint has several models of routers as well if you are interested
in a lower cost one. I got mine from BestBuy but you can also get them
online at sites like the 3GStore (http://3gstore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=35&products_id=765).
Just make sure that whatever “air card” or smart phone you use is
supported by the router you choose.
I also recommend purchasing an air card with an external antenna jack.
This way you can always add an antenna and even an amplifier if you are
in week signal area.
Not only do cell phone Internet plans offer people high speed Internet
when they may not be able to have it otherwise, but cell phone plans
are also great for travelling. You can have the Internet with you
wherever you go. I even use it when camping. Even if you have another
Internet Service Provider you might want to consider cellular access as
a backup and/or option for travelling.
Recently, I saw an article online about another cellular broadband
option. Some key advantages to this were the fact that it was contract
free (so you could cancel at any time) and at $40 per month, it was a
bit cheaper than many options. You can check it out at: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2343675,00.asp.
Be advised though that I haven’t used this myself and only just read
about it. I don’t know what kind of speed it provides or how good
network access for this one is.
If you have a special case where you need high speed Internet access
and you have a laptop, consider going to a “Wi-Fi Hotspot”. There are
many “hotspots” and a large number of them are even free. Coffee shops
are often hotspots and many public libraries are as well including the
Edgefield Public Library. If you park close enough, you can even access
the Internet from your parked car 24 hours a day. Just be sure to
follow the rules for the hotspot and not steal Internet access from
somewhere that doesn’t intend to provide it. Also remember that free
hotspot providers are offering you a service so try to reward them when
practical. In other words, don’t go to the coffee shop and use their
free Internet access all day without ever buying a single cup of coffee.
Keep watching for future related tips including how to secure a
wireless network connection (from other people near you using it),
other ways to secure yourself online, and ways to keep your kids safe
and not going where they shouldn’t online.
Do you have a tech question you would like answered or a program you
would like to recommend? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For
computer questions, please include your operating system version (e.g.
Windows Vista) and sorry, but I don’t do Macs.
Disclaimer: Software, tips, and links provided are used at the risk of
© Copyright 2009
original material is property of
EdgefieldDaily.com and cannot be reproduced, rewritten or redistributed
without the expressed written permission of Edgefield Daily.com
JAM Straight Customs
We still need recipes for Cooking Section
WEBNEWS – Send in your favorite or
favorites. There is no limit to the number of recipes you can send in.
With the Editor’s wife being the driving force behind her own personal
section, help her create an exchange of local favorites, home cooking,
grilling, sauces, and deserts! Send in your submissions here.