castle frostbite needs new internets (again).

Our wireless Intertubes service is much better than satellite…when it works.  Lately, it hasn’t been working so well, especially in the evenings.  (I suspect our provider has oversold their network capacity.)  Our latency in WoW is stellar in the mornings, so-so during the day, and atrocious at night.  There are also frequent lag spikes that will disconnect us from the server on a regular basis.

Right now, we’re not too keen on the idea of paying them past our pre-paid 12-month period that ends in January.  Since dial-up is out of the question, and we don’t want to go back to Hughesnet, I’ve investigated EVDO, particularly Verizon’s 3G data network.  They now make MiFi intelligent mobile hotspots that connect up to five devices to the 3G data network via WiFi, and one of those would be just the ticket.  The data plan is $80 for 10GB/month, but that’s in the same ballpark as our old Hughesnet connection, and actually gives more of a data allowance than satellite did.

Verizon’s data coverage map shows us as having 3G coverage.  We both have Verizon phones, and the signal at the house is a bit spotty.  Anyone with any 3G data or EVDO experience care to make a prediction as to viability for switching the Intertubes at Castle Frostbite to Verizon’s EVDO?  I don’t think I can take the hardware home, and then return it to get the 2-year contract canceled if our connection turns out too spotty for reliable data traffic.

23 thoughts on “castle frostbite needs new internets (again).

  1. Justin Buist says:

    You could have a friend with a data enabled Verizon home stop on by and test the local performance for you. There’s a few speed tests apps out there on Android that I’d want to run before I committed to a two year deal.

  2. George says:

    It’s strange, but the Verizon Data signal at my house is always very strong yet the normal voice cell signal is very weak.

  3. Velcro8ball says:

    We have a mi-fi connection and even when it shows no bars it performs. We do not do any gaming, however we download videos which run well. We have been using this for a year in the house in Ohio and we will be continuing the service.

  4. abnormalist says:

    Do you have any family/friends in line of sight?

    Reason I ask is you could always get a managed T1 to your house and sublet internet out. In many parts of the world a managed T is down to about 3-400 a month, but if you split it with a few other households via wireless it gets quite reasonable. I know several folks in areas that dont have other options take this as a workable route.

    A bit of an investment true, but it makes a long term workable solution

  5. Ian Argent says:

    Test service by enabling tethering on one of your phones. This is a bolt-on to your existing data plan. Contact me offline for more info.

  6. ILTim says:

    I know nearly nothing about Verizon, but I’ll relate my AT&T knowledge. With at&t you CAN return anything and everything within 30 days and cancel all contracts, for any or no reason at all.

    I have an iPhone, 3G is pretty good and unless its flaking out I rarely notice speed. When I’m on the Edge network signal strength plays a very noticeable role in speed, going from slow to holy crap just stop and tell me it wont work.

    With the mifi you’d have an unusual advantage of being able to put the dang thing in the area of best reception (upstairs, attic, by a window) so long as you stay within wifi range of your computer.

    There are a ton of wireless internet providers in norther Illinois. You put a fixed antenna on your roof and can get 1.5mbps-15mbps service at various levels, so long as you have line of sight to one of their towers. Its especially popular in rural areas, but that may be because its so flat around here. These are all smaller local providers, maybe dslreports.com would show some local to you.

    • Marko Kloos says:

      We *are* with a local wireless internet provider right now, but the quality of their service has degraded in the last few months.

      I just checked with Verizon…they offer a 30-day “worry-free” guarantee. We’ll pick up the gear and see how it works…and if it doesn’t, we can return it and cancel the contract without penalty.

      • Jeff says:

        Yeah, all of the cell carriers do that, well the big 4 anyway.

      • ILTim says:

        I see, and from your description the problem isnt the connection, but the overselling of the backhaul.

        Your probably out of luck with them unless they offer dedicated bandwidth packages instead of your shared setup, but then that’ll cost you.

        I’m pretty skeptical about 3g for primary internet connections. Even if it does work quite well now, the networks seem more susceptible to change and capacity issues with the way smart phones are spreading like wildfire. After your 30 days, your stuck for 2 years, which excaberates the issue.

  7. Jason says:

    We used a 3G stick in the police car. We have an external antenna, and that helps alot in the crappy areas. Our hardware provider also provisions the provincial Fish and Wildlife vehicles, and they use a booster as well as the external antenna. We were going to go with a booster as well, but upgraded to a toughbook, which has an internal aircard, but you need a docking port to attatch an antenna, so that’s on hold (the aircard in the toughbook cf30’s is extremely sensitive) until we get the dock. But I’d definitely suggest getting an aircard with an external antenna port.

  8. ZerCool says:

    Our internet is provided through Verizon. Not the MiFi, but “mobile hotspot” on a Palm Pre. We live in an area where voice coverage is essentially nil, and to get data, you have to stand in *just* the right spot.

    When it works at 3G speeds, it’s tolerable for browsing and chat, but I wouldn’t consider playing WoW on it. When it drops down to 1x speed, it’s slower than a decent dial-up connection.

    A LOT of experimentation found the spot in the house where I can get 3G about 75% of the time; the phone now resides there when I’m home.

    It’s better than satellite, but not much.

  9. Sigivald says:

    If you have a “try it with no risk” opportunity, go for it.

    If the signal is weak, you can evidently boost it with a repeater.

    (Things like this are one reason I’m really glad to be suburban rather than rural…)

  10. hecate says:

    I live in rural Nebraska, and use a Wi-Ex repeater very successfully with Verizon air cards. My older air card was an Alltel device originally, and it and the repeater transitioned seamlessly over to Verizon. Plus the old card still has its grandfathered unlimited data plan.

    I don’t do online gaming, but it’s fast enough to allow me to stream video and telecommute to work (network engineer) when I get snowed in.

  11. John Murphy says:

    Let me know how this experiment works out — I know other people in your neck of the woods who would be be interested in the results.

  12. PhillipC says:

    I have a client that switched from HughesNet straight to Sprint’s wireless data using a router and a standard USB data card, and they’re happy as clams with it. They’re still looking forward to getting DSL some day, but it’s the best choice they have right now.

    I second the motion of having someone with the service you’re looking at stop by and test the data connection onsite. Cell signal quality can vary amazingly.

  13. guy says:

    “There are also frequent lag spikes that will disconnect us from the server on a regular basis.”

    That might be entirely your ISPs fault. After the latest patch I’ve been getting randomly booted too. My nephew who has a rock solid connection gets random disconnects as well.

  14. Andrey says:

    I’m using Verizon data plan for over 3 years now. Speed is unpredictable, varies a lot, latency is pretty high. It’s OK for web/e-mail/ssh, but WoW might be a problem. Here is some results –

    — 4.2.2.2 ping statistics —

    101 packets transmitted, 101 packets received, 0.0% packet loss

    round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 58.623/102.378/274.322/40.601 ms

    — 4.2.2.2 ping statistics —

    51 packets transmitted, 51 packets received, 0.0% packet loss

    round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 145.872/286.074/1122.579/159.566 ms

    Latency difference tells me that upstream is pretty close to 64Kbps.

  15. Rick says:

    Locate the nearest verizon tower.

    Find a window in the house that faces the tower.

    Place the mifi adaptor in a one-foot cubic aluminum foil covered corner reflector six inches from each side held up on a plastic fork or something cobbled into it with duct tape.

    Point the point of the corner reflector exactly away from the tower and level with the ground.

    You should get a 1 to 3 bar signal improvement.

  16. Medicman says:

    I use the Mifi for home internet. It works pretty well but I also have a tower 2 miles down the road.

    One thing to note: the Mifi is not a regular wifi router. They say it has a 30 ft range. I get a little longer than that but certainly not a far as an -n or even a -g router.

    Ping for me is usually 80-120 ms range on speedtest.net

  17. Steve says:

    Hey Marko,

    I’m in another corner of our broadband challenged state but travel and work in most parts of it. I have a Verizon EvDO card for work, it performs well in most places where VZW claims it will. Practically speaking, it kicks butt in Lebanon and Hanover and is still good over to Norwich. South of Leb along 89 is spotty between Grantham and exit 18. I point this out because along the Interstates there is no shortage of towers, and between Leb and Burlington is pretty solid along 89.

    I’ve been using 3G at home (Monadnock area) for 6 years or so, it’s gotten better as VZW expands coverage, even tethering a droid to a laptop is acceptable for the most part, but I wouldn’t say it’s fully baked for gaming.

    I’ve been looking at the myfi hotspots too, my hangup is the lack of an external antenna port. Using an ext ant can make a difference during peak periods or crappy weather

  18. Andy Kimbrough says:

    I replaced my ATT land line, DSL, & Cell with a Verizon Palm Cell. That unit has a built in wireless router. a Belkin wireless adapter module plugged into the Desktops USB Port gives me internet access at speeds comparable to the DSL. You will need to plug the Palm into the charger or extended secessions will run the battery dry in a couple of hours. Saved me about $70/month too.

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