Eleven days ago I wrote about the great digital divide. Today, I rant about the cost of bridging that divide.

I’ve done a fair bit to try to secure better internet up here. For one, I bugged Spectrum, the big ISP around here, into giving me a quote on a service install. A lot more on that later. I also got a Visible SIM card, giving us a three-tiered solution for the time being. I ordered a T-Mobile hotspot that was supposed to arrive today but it did not so I’m sad, and I contacted a bunch of WISPs for service and they all told me to either move or cut down forests.

The Visible SIM gives us a source of unlimited but de-prioritized data on the Verizon network capped at 5Mbps. That cap is a total non-issue, because I’ve never seen the service get above 2Mbps here. The upload speed is a very respectable 10Mbps, and the latency is low. This gives us an OK middle tier for service - the top tier is a standard Verizon LTE hotspot at ~7Mbps down ~10Mbps upload but capped at 100GB/mo to be used for higher priority downloads, work calls, and other important activities, the Visible middle tier is for downloads we want a bit of speed for, or for uploads, and general web browsing and streaming, and the DSL bottom tier is for everything else + really low priority downloads.

Speaking of DSL, our provider, TDS, just ignored my complain to the FCC. Very bold. My in-laws were promised higher speeds years ago (and some packages at higher speeds even existed, though they didn’t actually deliver any higher bandwidth), but now they’re saying the 1Mbps down 300Kbps up plan they’re on now is the best they can get. Oof.

Anyway, this week Spectrum called me with news that made me sick to my stomach much in the same way being accepted into UMass’ masters program when I applied to their PhD program did - it almost seems worse than a rejection since you have to consider it. The Spectrum representative told me that they can service the house, for the low, low price of $58,000. But they will contribute $3000 towards it. The Spectrum rep confirmed that if we get any neighbors on-board, they’ll knock $3000 off for them too. I’m not sure how much they will add for the neighbors, but I figure with a list of addresses of interest maybe I can get another quote, one that doesn’t make me feel like puking.

So, we drafted up a flier and plan on going door to door asking for contact details for anyone interested. I have absolutely no idea how that will go. Assuming the price doesn’t drop much, I think the only options we will be left with are wait for Starlink, form our own WISP, or be located somewhere else. Oh, maybe the T-Mobile hotspot will blow me away with something crazy like 30Mbps down and 10Mbps up, that would actually be pretty cool and actionable.

Tags: Rural
Part of a series on Fixing stuff.

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