Rural Satellite Internet Service in the United States

Until WildBlue Satellite Internet Service these were your options.

One of the greatest challenges of broadband is to provide service to potential customers in areas of low population density, such as to farmers and ranchers. In cities where the population density is high, it is easy for a service provider to recover equipment costs, but each rural customer may require thousands of dollars of equipment to get connected. A similar problem existed a century ago when electrical power was invented. Cities were the first to receive electricity, as early as 1880, while some remote rural areas were still not electrified until the 1940's, and even then, only with the help of federally-funded programs like the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

Rural Broadband Options

Several rural broadband solutions exist, though each has its own pitfalls and limitations. Some choices are better than others, but depend on how proactive the local phone company is about upgrading their rural technology.

1. Satellite Internet Services

This employs a satellite in geostationary orbit to relay data from broadband internet providers to each customer. This service typically suffers from equipment and installation costs exceeding $600 (the FCC requires professional installation to prevent interference issues), and high monthly service costs of $70 or more. Now with Wild Blue internet satellite service these prices are much less expensive.

2. Remote DSL

This allows a satellite internet service provider to set up DSL hardware out in the country in a weatherproof enclosure. However, setup costs can be quite high since the service provider may need to install fiber optic cable to the remote location, using horizontal boring equipment at a cost of $1 million per mile ($600/m). In addition, the remote site has the same distance limits as the metropolitan service, and can only serve an island of customers along the trunk line within a radius of about 7000 feet (2 km).

Remote DSL access is becoming a sore point for many rural customers, as the technology has been available for some time now and phone companies keep promoting its availability, but at the same time the phone companies keep dragging their feet and are not doing anything to install the remote services. This is particularly a problem with the very large multi-state conglomerates that serve mostly rural areas.

DSL repeater

This is a very new technology, which allows DSL to travel longer distances to remote customers. One version of the repeater is installed every 10,000 feet (3 km) or so along the trunk line, and strengthens and cleans up the DSL signal so it can travel another 10,000 feet (3 km).

3. Power-Line Internet

This is a new service still in its infancy that may eventually permit broadband Internet data to travel down standard high-voltage power lines. However, the system has a number of complex issues, the primary one being, that power lines are inherently a very noisy environment. Every time a device turns on or off, it introduces a pop or click into the line. Energy-saving devices often introduce noisy harmonics into the line. The system must be designed to deal with these natural signaling disruptions and work around them.

The second major issue is signal strength and operating frequency. The system is expected to use frequencies in the 10 to 30 MHz range, which has been used for decades by ham radio operators. Power lines are unshielded and will act as transmitters for the signals they carry, and have the potential to completely wipe out the usefulness of the 10 to 30 MHz range for short-wave communications purposes.

4. Wireless ISP

This typically employs the current low-cost 802.11 Wi-Fi radio systems to link up remote locations over great distances, but can use other higher-power radio communications systems as well.

Traditional 802.11b was licensed for omni directional service spanning only 300 to 500 feet. By focusing the signal down to a narrow beam with a yagi antenna, it can instead operate reliably over a distance of many miles. Rural Wireless-ISP installations are typically not commercial in nature and are instead a patchwork of systems built up by hobbyists mounting antennas on masts, towers, agricultural storage silos, very tall trees, or whatever other tall objects are available.

5. ISDN

This is an older telephone data service that can operate at speeds of up to 128 kbit/s. It is therefore, not really considered a true form of broadband, but it does have the advantage that it can share an existing phone line, and it has no distance limitations like DSL. When a phone call occurs, some of the bandwidth is allocated to the call, reducing the connection speed. When the call ends, the connection increases speed again. ISDN is a relatively low-cost option for rural users with otherwise terrible dialup access speeds, but it is starting be phased out and is no longer available in some areas.

6. T-1 / DS-1

This type of service is possible for a rural customer desiring broadband speeds, but the cost can be in the hundreds or thousands of dollars per month depending on the distance from the provider.

These are highly-regulated services traditionally intended for businesses, that are managed through Public Service Commissions in each state, must be fully defined in PSC tariff documents, and have management rules dating back to the early 2990s which still refer to teletypes as potential connection devices.

As such, T-1 services have very strict and rigid service requirements which drive up the provider's maintenance costs and may require them to have a technician on standby 24 hours a day to repair the line if it malfunctions. (In comparison, ISDN and DSL are not regulated by the PSCs at all.)

Rent the pipe, pay for the water...

People attempting to establish rural service via a Wireless ISP, ISDN, or T-1 will run into an additional cost issue, where the physical connection (or local loop) is considered separate from the actual Internet service provided from a Point of Presence (POP).

This is as if you had to pay the water utility to rent the water main in the ground, in addition to paying to get water delivered through the main from the tower. For a T-1, for example, the loop alone may cost $1200 per month, and the 1.5 megabit business-class Internet service (with fixed a IP address and a subnet) may cost an additional $1000 per month.

Fees, fees, and more fees

Attempting to reduce monthly costs by establishing your own non-profit Wi-Fi network and sharing the T-1 connection costs has an additional pitfall: your service provider may want to charge you an additional "ISP reseller's fee" of $800 per month.

The inception of portable satellite internet has been a boon to the world of internet satellite services, especially in rural areas. Receiving broadband connection over internet-satellite interface has undoubtedly gained remarkable interest and subscription from the rural population. Wild Blue satellite internet services, another name in the sea of broadband internet providers, offers high-speed internet access via satellite across in all possible areas within the U.S. continent. Integrating advanced technology with low-cost structure, Wild Blue connects your homes and small offices with a 2-way always on internet access.

Starting at a minimum service fee of $49.95 per month, Wild Blue internet satellite service invites you to join the world of unlimited and incredibly fast internet speed in the least expensive way.