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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Broadband Internet in South Park

When I moved to Fairplay a year and a half ago, one of my major concerns about living here was the lack of broadband. The only options at the time were two I weren't willing to accept: satellite service from WildBlue and HughesNet. It's not that the service they offer is all that horrible, but the service agreements and contracts (you know, all that fine-print stuff most people don't want to read) were just plain ugly to me. So ugly, in fact, that I went with dialup, something I never thought I'd ever have to do again.

Fortunately, another Fairplay resident named Jerry Wilson with the same distaste for satellite, similar broadband needs, and greater entrepreneurial spirit decided to take matters into his own hands. He bought a T1, put up a big antenna, and resold wireless broadband to people around town. The service is called Parkspeed, and as you can see from the website, it's pretty low-key and still a way for Jerry to satisfy his gaming habits. Despite some intermittent packet-loss problems early on, I've been a happy customer, mostly because Jerry has been so quick to try to resolve any problem I've had, including replacing equipment at no cost.

While Qwest still seems to have to plans to bring in DSL, we've recently gotten two more options here in Fairplay. One, WhisperTel, is another wireless provider who is expanding their operations by placing an antenna on Hoosier Pass. While they offer more speed for less money, hidden a click or two below the service is a mandatory $10/month equipment rental fee, along with service agreements that are more-or-less agreeable. For now I'll stick with Jerry and Parkspeed, and await what competition does to the local market.

The most recent player to market I just noticed today (and thus the impetus for this post): my Verizon wireless phone is now reporting that it receives an EVDO signal. This is probably the one option least known about by the average broadband seeker, but it isn't limited to making your mobile data service much faster. There are adapters available to use the EVDO network on computers, and users should report speeds between 500-700kbps, faster than my current service. Unfortunately, the service agreements are perhaps the worst of all, defining limits for monthly upload/download and apparently the types of connections and content allowed. Ugh.

Not exactly fiber to the home, but progress nonetheless. Happy downloading!

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