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What To Do When Broadband is Not An Option? 577

Posted by Zonk
from the last-twenty-miles-problem dept.
professorguy writes "I've been on the internet since 1984 (back before email addresses had @'s). But it looks like we're coming to the end of an era. From my home, I have 26.4 kbps dial-up access to the internet (you read that right). Since I am a hospital network administrator, it would be nice to do some stuff remotely when I am on 24/7 call. However, no cable or DSL comes anywhere near my house and because of the particular topography of my property (I'm on a heavily-forested, north-facing hillside), satellite is also not available. Heck, cell phones didn't even work here until January. So far, the technical people I've asked all have the same advice for reasonable connectivity: move. Move out of the house my wife and I built and lived in for 20 years. Has it really come to this? Am I doomed to be an internet refugee? Is this really my only option? Do you have an alternative solution for me?"
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What To Do When Broadband is Not An Option?

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  • Cell? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LinuxGeek (6139) * <djand@nc.gmail@com> on Saturday September 22, 2007 @05:41PM (#20714133)
    If you now have a cell tower within range, wouldn't cell phone based broadband be a possibility? Not the fastest, but much better [timeatlas.com] than an analog modem.
    • Re:Cell? (Score:5, Informative)

      by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Saturday September 22, 2007 @05:46PM (#20714185) Homepage
      26.4 is the maginc number isn't it? They SAY 28.8 but you don't seem to actually be able to get it.

      I live in a fairly remote area, no cable or dsl. I used 26.4 for a decade and was finally able to get sat last xmas and now wireless is available and I'll probably switch to that - faster and cheaper.

      But, if I was still stuck in dialupland I'd get a, 2, or 3 more phone lines and bond them together. The latency will be no better but the throuput is better.

      I checked the (competant) ISPs around here support this. Yours might.

      If you're in Canada look at a "4 wire unloaded circuit" - it's about half the price of a regular phone line. Bell might say they don't have it, but it's a tarrifed item. They do, and must sell it by CRTC regulations.

      • by KC1P (907742)
        The same thought popped into my head -- at least I *think* it's the same thought, I don't know the terminology.

        Back in college in the mid 1980s I shared an off-campus apartment with a bunch of other geeks like me, and we looked into getting a connection to the school's computer system (which they were surprisingly friendly about). I won't say it was "the Internet" since it was in a lot of pieces back then (and the school seemed to be on everything *except* the ARPAnet until very late -- even Mailnet, which
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by v1 (525388)
        The lingo used here for that is a "LADS line". I have no idea what it stands for. Also referred to as "dry copper", or an "alarm circuit". They are used by alarm companies to run point to point monitoring, so it cannot be tampered with. (they can tell if the cable's been cut or tampered with) I had a "MVL modem" to my isp several years back, before my rural area had cable or DSL. Worked nice, though it was pricey. The line itself, since it had no dialtone, was something like $14/mo. Insane for what c
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by rs79 (71822)
          You can use Pairgain (sp?) Campus T1 units to shoot a T1 signal over a 4 wire unloaded circuit for about 11-14 kilometers. Works fine.

        • MVL (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Kadin2048 (468275) *
          Just in case anyone else was intrigued by "MVL Modems," I did a little searching and apparently they are a variation on DSL that's a bit more robust.

          This fairly ancient (1998) article [telephonyonline.com] claims 24,000 line-feet at 768kbps and gives the name of an equipment manufacturer who pioneered the technology. Given the sparse information available and the fact I've never heard of it until today, I'm going to guess it was kinda stillborn.

          Still might be cool in a pinch, though.

          One thing I've always wanted to find out is wh
    • Re:Cell? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Duhavid (677874) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @06:14PM (#20714473)
      Come on!

      Think outside the box.

      Buy the ISP local to you, then mandate service in your area.

      Simple, no?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        You are modded "funny", but that is precisely what a Libertarian (or better yet Objectivist) convert would tell you, with a straight face, probably thinking that he/she is giving you a life-changing, priceless advice. That or suggest you "start one" in your basement to "compete" with an existing one (usually some multi-billion per year in revenue, monopolistic affair with several hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure accumulated over 150 years, or so, with half of the local financial nobility on
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Wordsmith (183749)
          Um, no. A libertarian wouldn't suggest that's a realistic option, because they're not morons. But if the conversation moved to discussion over whether government should help out, they're note that no one has an inherent right to decent internet access, and question why government should get involved. They'd probably concede you're shit out of luck, and leave it at that.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          No - we'd just tell you it isn't your right to use the goverment's monopoly on the use of force to mandate that someone else's company spend millions because you don't feel like moving.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cusco (717999)
      There are a number of radio networking systems out there, some of which are reasonably priced and very good. This is a solution that one of our customers uses to transmit security camera video. It was installed and works perfectly by one of our hardware techs who knows nothing about networking sitting down and reading the manual.

      http://www.trangobroadband.com/technology/point_to_point.shtml [trangobroadband.com]

      I know of a local ISP which uses this same company's equipment to feed clusters of users in office buildings up

  • Fixed wireless? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @05:42PM (#20714153) Homepage
    If the problem is simply getting around a hill, maybe you can set up some kind of fixed-position high speed wireless that will relay a satellite link from somewhere with a clear vantage. It doesn't sound easy to set up, but if it's a choice between that and moving...
    • Re:Fixed wireless? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by XgD (578260) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @05:44PM (#20714173)
      Or a high-speed wireless to a "neighbour" (who may be some distance away) that does have broadband. Pringle's cans are pretty magic.
      • Re:Fixed wireless? (Score:5, Informative)

        by arivanov (12034) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @06:05PM (#20714391) Homepage
        Why pringle cans? If you need it for real work you might as well go for the full monty. These guys http://www.rad.com/ [rad.com] have anything up to Gigabit range and some of their gear in the MB range is relatively cheap. There are a couple of other companies who offer similar gear. We used to use them in the days when I worked in an ex-soviet block country and when 26.4 was the magic number for the whole country, not just a single place on a north facing hill. From there on all you need is a neighbour who will allow you to put a SAT or share a DSL line.
        • Re:Fixed wireless? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2007 @10:25PM (#20716141)
          Another vote for checking into fixed wireless. Search for WISP. I started a business about 18 months ago and have about 20 houses connected now. (I haven't really focused on hooking up more, the waiting list is about 40 more)

          A year ago I was 80' up in a man-basket (hooked to a crane), "re-modeling" a farmer's silo. I wanted to take off the metal cap and put in a catwalk. That connected 9.5 miles to a water tower, where I have a dsl connection. Since then I have learned that grain legs are easier to work from. I'm developing POPs on two of those, and have several more lined up. Once I get above the trees, I can link two grain legs at several miles distance.

          I would suggest looking at www.staros.com (software and hardware). Another source of hardware I like is www.wlanparts.com (Pasadena wireless). I started with Trango 900MHz radios, but the StarOS ones are faster, cheaper and have more features. My TrangoLink10 has been very reliable, basically non-stop for about 10 months now. It did start to fade for 30 minutes once, but the signal was never dropped (not sure if it was the snowstorm, or another WISP testing equipment on that water tower)

          You might be able to mount the radios in a tree and avoid the cost of a tower. (if you don't use 900MHz, which might go thru the trees) Look at the StarOS forums for some info on that.

          Oh, you might check into sharing a T1 with neighbors. That way you would only need to setup an AP and connect them. But a T1 for me was $600/month, I didn't want to commit to that. I think I paid for my wireless backhaul in 3 months, compared to a T1.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      ditto. Read the Cringely column (pbs.org/cringely) about his adventures with wireless. Two gems are putting a passive repeater in a tree on top of a mountain (says he knows it's on shaky legal ground but not a lawyer in CA that could find it) and buying DSL for someone he had a line of sight to (people don't like to hear you found their house through a telescope)
  • Do you mean GSM cellphones? You might be able to get GPRS in that case. (EDGE would be even better!) That should be between 60kbps and 80kbps, which is equivalent or faster than ISDN. It will be more expensive, but since it's for work, you might be able to offset the costs to your employer. Also, did you look into ISDN offerings? Back in the early nineties, we switched to ISDN and it was a different world from dial-up. Frankly... I know some people do not see ISDN as broadband because of the speed, bu

    • by the unbeliever (201915) <chris+slashdot@@@atlgeek...com> on Saturday September 22, 2007 @05:47PM (#20714205) Homepage
      Satellite requires a clear view of the southern sky. All the satellites I'm aware of are in geosynchronous orbit around the equator, thus the southern facing requirement. Submitter goes into detail regarding his northern facing hillside dwelling.
      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @06:07PM (#20714405) Journal
        For internet access, you don't want to be using a geostationary satellite, due to latency problems. You want LEO, which typically means a polar orbit and a cloud of satellites which you switch between every few minutes. For TV, latency is not an issue, so most TV satellites are geostationary, which reduces the number you need.
        • by Rakishi (759894) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @07:05PM (#20714849)
          I don't know of any consumer satellite internet that DOESN'T use geostationary sats. The complexity an cost of having to track the satellites, your dish needs to be aimed at them and they are a moving target, makes it far from worthwhile.

          Also the latency while high is not unusable for everyday usage and only games are really affected. Also a number of satellite providers use dial up for outbound traffic to mediate the problem.

          The biggest problem with satellite internet isn't the latency but the relatively low bandwidth and indecently low download/upload caps.
    • Satellite Reception (Score:4, Informative)

      by Cheech Wizard (698728) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @05:55PM (#20714305)
      "Finally, you say sattelite is not available... How is that possible? Sattelites are are accessible as long as you can position your dish correctly."

      I have 5 dishes including one from the 'dark ages' of the 1980's (I still have my old 'BUG' dish). I've been playing with satellite reception for quite a few years. If he lives on the north side of a hill or mountain, the signals would have to travel through the hill, which they don't.

      My girl friend tried to get satellite where she lives. It actually does have a southern 'view', but a neighbor's tree is in the way. It's a big tree, but none the less it's enough to block reception. While it is possible that in the winter when the leaves are off the tree she might be able to get decent reception, in the summer there is no way she could get the signal through the leaves on that tree.

      It is not simply a matter of aiming a dish. You have to have a clear, unobstructed line of sight to the satellite (which are all equatorial, so in N America you have to have a southern view). This is more problematic the further north one is. The dish has to be aimed lower to catch th satellites so obstructions are more of a problem than in the south.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kjella (173770)
        The dish has to be aimed lower to catch th satellites so obstructions are more of a problem than in the south.

        If you want an reasonable estimate, look how high the sun is in the sky at equinox (around March 20 and September 22, that is now), which is when the sun is directly over the equator. An estimate using math is 90deg - latitude. Even if you're at 60 degrees north you have 30 degrees to go on, which is damn steep over any distance. The problem is usually just that hillside you're in, and if you can st
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by full_path (1148975)

        I live on the north side of a heavily-wooded slope, too. When I invited a Dish Network installer out, he took one quick look, said "no way", and left.

        It took me a while to find a solution. In my case, parts of the property do have narrow views through trees that, while not due South, proved to be adequate. I figured out what orbital slots a network of dishes would need to "see" in order to serve my needs, and used this French guy's magic calculator [gjullien.fr] to figure out at exactly what time and date the sun wou

  • by Zymergy (803632) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @05:43PM (#20714161)
    Strange, I just posted this earlier today! : http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=305523&cid=20712265 [slashdot.org] As an Oklahoma resident, feel lucky if you even get DSL. Until Real Competition occurs, there will be no decent high-speed Internet in most areas outside medium cities. If a small town/rural Oklahoma region has even slow DSL, it is probably because the Law States they must have it order to be the telco monopoly in that area, etc... Though the phone company may claim service is available in my RURAL area, bridge-taps galore and 1970's equipment/wiring make this a non-reality. So.... I got a HAM Radio license, Bought 2 towers and 2 TR-6000 radios (http://www.tranzeo.com/products/radios/TR-6000-Series) with 2 high-gain directional dish antennas and 2 bi-directional amplifiers. Thanks to a strategically purchased rental property IN TOWN ON A HILL, I bridge the connection from its DSL to my home. Normally, the Amps are extreme overkill, but I live in the middle of the Greenbelt of Oklahoma (think dense 30-40ft. Oak Trees) and the Fresnel Zones (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fresnel_zone) are a real bitch with tree leaves. Works like a champ. Why not Satellite, AWFUL Latency and VERY HIGH Prices!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Umm. I'm a ham. It's Amateur Radio - not commercial. You're not supposed to set up links like this that connect into a commercial network. And, unlike CB radio, where enforcement is nearly non-existent, the FCC and hams can and do police the ham radio bands.

      In fact, your announcing this in a public forum may make hams local to where you live rather suspicious. They, and the ARRL, may be on your case sooner than you think.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Cheesey (70139)
      Cool. And you can rightly claim to have learned the Morse Code in order to get a decent Internet connection :).
  • If you have cell phone service, does this mean you have full service, as in 3G connectivity? If you have this, you can get an unlimited data plan on your phone and use it to connect to the Internet at something approaching acceptable speeds.
  • How close are you to the top of the ridge? How much money do you want to spend? How friendly are you with your neighbors? If you have line of sight to someone else who has line of site to someone else who has HSIPC (high-speed IP connectivity), or even direct line of sight to someone, then you can probably setup a 802.11[bgn] link.

  • by the unbeliever (201915) <chris+slashdot@@@atlgeek...com> on Saturday September 22, 2007 @05:44PM (#20714177) Homepage
    Well, you can always get a PCMCIA card from one of the big cell companies (I'm a big fan of Verizon's data network, but ymmv) and just buy an unlimited data plan. If your employer is at all halfway decent, they will be willing to cover half this cost.

    If you don't want to do that, you can pay out the nose and have a cable company or telco run out dedicated data lines. They may say they're not willing to do this, but if there's enough technophiles in your area, then you may be able to get them motivated to wire up your area for free, or you can get your neighbors to chip in.

    Or perhaps your employer could run a private link to your house and let you use that. Depends on how much they like you and what their IT budget is.
    • What is the latency (ping, lag) like for these Cell services. Is it sufficient for low-latency applications, such as SSH sessions, online gaming, etc.

      I recently used a Satellite internet connection, and while the speed was fine (4-600Kbps), the latency was easily 400-1000ms. Typical ping for my home DSL connection is under 100ms.
      • Well, the ping on satellite is going to suck. You're guaranteed 400+ms pings since the round trip is so far.

        The latency on the cellular connection depends on many factors, including signal strength. I find myself able to do my job (linux sysadmin) remotely, but I couldn't see gaming.
    • by ShaggyZet (74769)
      I have a Sprint EV-DO (er, sorry PowerVision!) phone as a modem plan (really good deal, since it actually replaces the data plan, so the bump isn't that much), which is the same service a data card (except you can't talk on your phone while it's in use). Bandwidth is good, comparable with DSL, but latency is typically in the 300-400ms range. Not terrible, and usable for SSH, but not really enjoyable.

      Of course I'm spoiled, by some fluke I get 10-12ms to my data center over Comcast cable.
  • Packet Radio (Score:2, Informative)

    by ookabooka (731013)
    Get a ham license and set up 2 packet radio [wikipedia.org] stations, one with access to broadband and the other at your home. The range is insane. As far as speed goes you'd probably have to do a little research as the standard speeds aren't much better than dialup. Failing that a large wifi link (you can bump up the power a crap-ton once you have a ham license) could also work.
    • I don't think this is a practical solution for three reasons. One, packet radio is very slow, so there isn't much benefit to it. Two, anybody could eavesdrop on your Internet connection, so you have virtually no privacy. Three, Amateur Radio licensees are forbidden from using Ham radio for conducting business. So Amazon, eBay, or any site where you're buying or selling is verboten.

      Oh yeah, and you have to keep it G-rated on Ham radio, so porn is out too.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Oh, and the statement

        Failing that a large wifi link (you can bump up the power a crap-ton once you have a ham license) could also work.

        is incorrect as well. A ham radio license will only allow you to operate on the ham bands, under the terms of that license. Regardless of the license you hold, bumping up the power on wi-fi equipment (which doesn't operate on the ham band) is illegal, because there are power limits for those frequencies that are quite low, and because it is illegal to use unlicensed or modified equipment on non-amateur bands.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Cyberax (705495)
          Wi-fi equipment band partially intersects the HAM band, so it's possible and have been done several times.
  • Without knowing the details of where you are it's hard to be specific.

    If you have cell access, do you have access to any cellular data service? Line of sight radio (to an ISP, or to someone who can get DSL service) ? ISDN?

  • You may be on a north-facing hillside, but perhaps you have a neighbor that has the appropriate aspect to pick up satellite, in line-of-sight to you, by way of which you could pay for satellite to his location (for the use of his property/power he gets to share your broadband), and then construct a wireless bridge to your location?
  • You might try installing a satellite dish at the top of the hill, then running a line down to your house. Of course, if you don't own the whole hill, or the hill is too big, that wouldn't be an option. Alternately, I think you can pay to have cable lines run to your house from wherever the nearest junction is. But that would probably be too expensive. On another extreme, you could build a small tower, and mount a satellite dish on top of that. My grandfather was a ham and had an antenna that was essent
  • Buy a faster modem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JustNiz (692889) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @05:47PM (#20714197)
    If my memory serves me right the fastest ones are able to do 56kb. Its hardly blazingly fast but its double what you currently have.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ossifer (703813)
      No one has ever gotten 56kb in the US, due to bureaucratic rate limitations on analog lines... But many, many people don't get close to that because of line quality, which also degrades with distance...
    • by nicolaiplum (169077) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @06:03PM (#20714369)
      Buy a better modem. The older (flat, black) USR Courier series are still the best modems made for talking to other modems [1], but you'll have to find one secondhand now.

      [1] The Telebit Trailblazer can still do better over a very bad phone line than the Courier but to do so requires you to use the Telebit PEP mode, so there has to be a Trailblazer on the other end.

    • by daddymac (244954)
      Some phone lines won't support anything over the theoretical 28.8, as they split the bandwidth between you an one of your neighbors. This is probably why DSL is not an option.
  • by victorvodka (597971) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @05:47PM (#20714201) Homepage
    If you have line of sight to someone with broadband (even if it's from your roof or high in a tree) you can get a good WiFi signal with a 24 dB dish (~$60) - I've used them to easily get SSIDs on consumer-grade routers in stranger's houses two miles away (I assume there were a few walls in the way). One assumes the connection could be made much better if both sides of it uses these dishes. These dishes will even work through a little foliage if it's not too thick. You just need to get to know any line-of-sight neighbors so a connection with their network can be on the up and up. You can even agree to install broadband at a suitable site in exchange for access.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @05:48PM (#20714211) Homepage
    Please read here:

    http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc1149.html [faqs.org]

    For more information. This is a method that can be used pretty much anywhere though some special conditions apply.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dsgrntlxmply (610492)
      *MEOW* *swipe* [connection timed out]
  • in my email address... I had another address with '!' too...
  • What my uncle did (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2007 @05:52PM (#20714255)
    My uncle and a business partner live about 10 miles north of Springfield, MO in a "dead zone" of any sort of high speed internet access outside of satellite (and satellite is a tradeoff due to its enormous ping times). So what he did was get a T1 installed and then erect a 100ft tower to broadcast a 900 MHz signal to the area and then started asking his neighbors if they'd pay $60/mo or whatever for internet access.

    They now has 25 subscribers, which should pay off the tower and cover the T1 price in less than 2 years.

    The rule to this stuff always is... if you want it and can't get it, chances are that other people want it and can't get it, either. Provide the service, and they'll come.

    Of course, if 3G is available (NOT the 2.5G 100 kbps 500+ ms ping junk), then just go with that.
    • Re:What my uncle did (Score:5, Informative)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @06:34PM (#20714623)
      So they're sharing a 1.5 mb/sec T1 among themselves and twenty-five other people? Let's see, figuring a total of 27 users (your uncle, his partner, and the 25 subscribers) if divided equally that means each gets .. 55 kbits/sec. I guess it qualifies as broadband but not by much. Good as a single-channel DSL line anyway. Of course, with a decent router they can allocate bandwidth more intelligently than that, and if it came down to a choice between that and dial-up, I'd go for it in a heartbeat.

      Maybe once he gets that T1 installation paid off he can put in another one.
      • by cnettel (836611) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @06:55PM (#20714771)
        Welcome to the world of over-subscription. Exactly how is this different from most DSL providers? (Maybe a tad extreme, but I would bet that the service is good enough most of the time, and most importantly: possibly significantly better latency than dial-up.)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by carlivar (119811)
        So in other words it is exactly like a cablemodem?
      • Re:What my uncle did (Score:5, Informative)

        by mr_mischief (456295) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @09:01PM (#20715695) Journal
        I've been out of the ISP scene for around 3 or 4 years. Things may have changed quite a bit.

        Most dial-up ISPs could run a town with 500 subscribers off of one DS-1 circuit and a bank of 64 or so DSP cards in the access concentrator. Not everyone was online at the same time, and not all of them were using all of their bandwidth when they were. 6 customers to a modem was considered extravagant over-building by many in the days of dial-up. In fact, the BRI or channelized DS-1 lines that customers dialed into were often more expensive than the backhaul lines, since one can fit more than 2.5 DS-1s worth of call terminations into one DS-1 worth of bandwidth.

        Now, things might have changed a bit with more people being somewhat Internet savvy and with broadband penetration having risen, but the users probably haven't changed _that_ much since the days of dial-up, especially those that are still jsut coming from dial-up.

        Yes, 1.544 Mbps divided by 64 is about 2.9 kbps. No, the customers would not generally notice a thing, because only about 1/6th of dial-up users were requesting anything at any given time. If half were, it was still 49kbps. It used to be quite safe to oversell bandwidth by at least 3 to 1 and often 4 to 1 or slightly higher even on fixed DS-1, SDSL, or frame relay. So 1.544 Mbps / ( 25 / 4 ) is kind of like 1.544 Mbps / 6.25, or about 252k per person average. 27 users is about 232 kbps. That might not be as accurate these days as it was when I was in the ISP field, though.

        Even if you about half your oversell, 1.544 Mbps / 13 is 121 kbps or so, which is much better than the 26.4kbps to 41kbps most people end up getting for rural dial-up.

        That's all your oversell to the ISP. You can generally "over apportion" internally between your NOC and those POPs if you run central bandwidth lines and have a star-pattern network of backhauls. Not all ISPs did this, because it's often cheaper in a particular area to have a local loop with bandwidth than to have a point-to-point between towns plus the extra bandwidth centrally. In those star-shaped, centralized uplink situations, though, you could save bandwidth lots of ways besides just plain overselling.

        You often had P2P among your customers (some amount of this helps the local bandwidth plan, too, but only if the P2P never leaves the POP). You have the users connecting to your mail server a lot and the ISP's web site some. You can cache DNS lookups, which cuts down a little bit of traffic lots of times over. Mail that never leaves your domains need never leave your network, and lots of mail is sent to people your customers know locally. If the sender and recipient are both customers, you never route that mail outside your network. If you do web hosting besides just connectivity, anyone using the websites you host from your network never hits the public Internet. In crunch times for bandwidth upgrades, some ISPs were even known to give big price breaks on hosting the websites of popular local businesses, as bringing popular sites in-network saved on lots of bandwidth. Some found that being a mirror site for TUCOWS or such actually saved money, because the mirror updated during slow traffic and the end-user downloads then hit the local server. ISP-sponsored chat servers and ISP-run gaming servers were sometimes used both to better serve the customers and to keep the traffic local, but the extra maintenance required often outweighed bandwidth concerns. All of this adds up to many ISPs using far less bandwidth to the public network than what they sell to customers.

        For one example, I once had a star-shaped network with more than 30 DS-1 equivalents (coming from DS-1s, PRIs, Frame Relays, frac DS-1s, BRIs, dialup POP in that NOC, etc.) of bandwidth fed into a NOC using a burstable DS-3 for main bandwidth. We paid for up to 6 Mbps all the time, and paid extra for 95th percentile usage over 6 Mbps. We rarely hit over 10 Mbps, and we rarely hit over 6 Mbps outside of the 3 PM to 11 PM window. I don't think we ever hit over 15 Mbps o
  • Here in Vermont there are a number of startups using wireless for remote localtions. Here's a random sample [unstrung.com]. Here's another [muniwireless.com]. There are more. It's the sort of thing that self-styled entrepreneurs can do for not much investment, and that often gets good support from local governments that see it as key to economic development. So find some kids with a little bit of money to play with, who'd like to run their own business and build their resume for bigger things later, and encourage them to get entrepreneurial
  • Just a wild thought, but would it be possible to set up a dish on the top of the mountain and either set up a repeater or run a cable down to the house?

    no, i don't know of an existing system that does this, but i do know of others with a similar problem.

    maybe i should apply for a patent on the concept so when someone does i can get rich! (jk)
  • We would have to know more about your property and your neighbours.
    String a cable up the hillside and mount a dish up there.
    Work out a deal with whomever owns that property so that you can put a dish up on their land and share the Internet access.
  • by Kostya (1146) on Saturday September 22, 2007 @05:53PM (#20714277) Homepage Journal
    ISDN is what you need. It sucks, it is expensive, but it is much, much better than 26k dialup. I moved to an area with no DSL or broadband and made do with ISDN and then iDSL (DSL protocols over a bonded ISDN circuit) for 4 years. Sure, you aren't doing YouTube a lot or download ISO images, but you are connected well enough for remote work, including SSH. RDC is doable, but pretty awful in my experience.

    The problem is finding decent ISDN equipment. I just threw out my old ISDN modem (I'm moving and I have DSL now). It took me forever to find it, but it was really useful. Little 3COM router with auto-dialing of the second line on demand. I used it for my voice and data for the first 2 years and then realized it was pointless and went with iDSL. It was pretty expensive, but got me even more bandwidth (144 up and down instead of 128 if I remember right).

    If you really are as remote as you say, there's going to be a telco engineer somewhere who knows how to help you. You just have to find him.

    *If* you have enough neighbors, you can start petitioning your telco for DSL. I live 5 miles up a road leading to a national park, well outside the range of DSL. They put some "magic box" in at the end of the road to serve me an my 20 neighbors. I get 1.5/768 now. Life is so much better ;-)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      ISDN worked for me her ~4km from the local exchange. Our big monopoly telco refused to provision my line for DSL for years. ISDN was the only option. It's faster than dialup, latency is better and because it's digital there are less dropouts. Having an ISDN card in the machine was neat for 2 reasons; not the least of which was I had two lines, 3 incoming numbers and could make the whole lot talk to asterisk to do voice and fax from my PBX as well.

      Now that ADSL2+ is an option with a non-monopoly carrier
  • Note: I'm assuming you and all your neighbors are in the same boat.

    Well, I know this is a less than optimal solution. But if you (or people you know in the area) have sufficient technical knowledge, you could try putting together some type of bandwidth cooperative and run a T1 (or fractional T3) into the area.

    If it's just your PARTICULAR location in the community that's making high bandwidth impossible, ask around for neighbors who DO have high bandwidth and see if you can come to some sort of agreement (p
  • Suicide (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2007 @05:55PM (#20714297)
    I would rather commit suicide than be without high speed internet!
  • To name a few other options to pursue w/ your local telco. Not cheap, but possible if copper is accessible to your area. If you go with something like a T1, and if there's a market in your neighborhood, you could offer local wireless service to cover some of your costs.

    I once lived in a good-sized city, worked at a large university as a sysadmin, and had my pick of broadband options. Then, I moved to a very rural town 150 miles away and telecommuted via 56k dial-up for 2 years until DSL became availab

  • Get N phone lines, N modems, and some kind of hardware that will bond multiple lines into a single higher-speed connection. You'd probably have to have special arrangements with your ISP (install the same hardware and dedicated lines), but I'm sure it's possible...
  • Can you get a T1? (Score:2, Informative)

    I had to do this twice (different houses, neither with cable or DSL broadband). The prices have come down drastically, but you will still pay at least $200-$300/month; maybe you can get your employer to subsidize it. The nice thing about a T1 is that it's a monitored line, which means if anything goes wrong the service provider jumps to get it fixed RIGHT NOW. Once I was moving my UPS around and unplugged it. Before I got it plugged back in to the outlet across the room the phone rang - it was my servic
  • Remote access (Score:3, Informative)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Saturday September 22, 2007 @06:06PM (#20714399) Journal
    If you want remote access for administration, unless you can do it all over ssh (which if 28.8k is insufficient, I suspect not), sorry - you're gonna have to either spend buckets of money or move. Latency is important for GUI-based remote access, otherwise it's just awful - even if the throughput is higher, a high latency 2 meg link can be worse than a low latency 28.8k link for gui access.

    High latency is pretty terrible for command-line access too, but not quite as bad. Your solutions:

    GPRS (cell phone) - 64K, but generally very poor latency. SSH is barely tolerable over GPRS. Forget GUI access.
    3G (cell phone) - megabit speeds possible, but still with ghastly latency. SSH is tolerable. GUI access is probably frustratingly laggy. Exhorbitant unless you can get an unlimited data plan (and these typically are pretend unlimited).
    Satellite (which you've already said you can't get) - latency is so bad that remote access either GUI or SSH based is impractical. Good job you can't get it or you may have spent a wodge of cash coming to this unhappy realisation.

    You may be in with a chance if you can cobble together some "cantenna" style wireless access (or spend a lot of money on a microwave link).

    Or you can spend lots of money on a T1. That will give you proper, solid broadband speeds not just downstream but upstream too, low latency, will work very well for remote access, and you'll have an SLA so if it breaks they should fix it quickly, instead of "when we get around to it" as for DSL. But I bet the setup fees are some thousands, and monthly charges are $hundreds. (Would your employer chip in?)

    Perhaps ISDN? You can get 128kbps if your ISP supports bonding the two 64K channels. Not high speed, but low latency and it may be tolerable for GUI remote access.
  • broadband can be run over electrical lines.

    the technology already works perfectly.

    see if your local power co-op or conglomerate can help.
  • by Chapter80 (926879) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @06:34AM (#20717957)

    So far, the technical people I've asked all have the same advice for reasonable connectivity: move. Move out of the house my wife and I built and lived in for 20 years. ... Do you have an alternative solution for me?"
    Move the hill.
  • Web browsing (Score:3, Informative)

    by myxiplx (906307) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @06:49AM (#20718017)
    Also, if you're just using web browsing over a slow connection you might want to look at onspeed (www.onspeed.com). They install a small client on your PC and compress everything that's sent to you. If you ramp the compression right up graphics look pretty crap, but websites load much faster.
  • isdn bri (Score:3, Informative)

    by capsteve (4595) * on Sunday September 23, 2007 @10:05PM (#20723787) Homepage Journal
    use isdn; get two lines if you can afford it. you should be able to trunk/bond them together for a fatter pipe, and smaller isp's should have special deals available to isdn customers with multipler dail-ups to the same account. depending on your location to the dial-up connection, if you're on the same intralata as your isp, and the cost to dial-in can be a single call charge despite the length of the call(provided it's not considered an intralata long distance call)... but YMMV, it's been years since i had to do this.
  • Easy solution (Score:3, Informative)

    by macdaddy (38372) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @10:08PM (#20723807) Homepage Journal
    Call up your local ILEC and request a dry pair, aka a dry pair. Get it connected to a remote site that does have access to cable or DSL within a 17.5k foot distance from your home. If you've lived in the area for 20 years you surely have a friend closer to town that you can call on. Terminate the dry pair at his house. Equipment for setting a small scale point-to-point DSL network across the dry pair between the sites can be had in a online for about $200-300 per end. You can also pick up long-range Ethernet (LRE) equipment for even less and possible have more throughput. Now you just have to get Internet access to your friend's house. In all likelyhood they already have Internet access. You could pay for a second connection. You could also just pay to bump up the speed of their existing service. I've seen this method used before successfully. Do not tell the phone company that you're using this for anything other than alarm service or they will charge you out the ass.
  • Options (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Sunday September 23, 2007 @10:32PM (#20723951) Homepage Journal
    1) Pay to have the wire laid.
    2) rent a small office in a nearby town you can drive to in an emergency.
    3) suck it up.

    to answer your question:
    If broadband isn't an option, then you can't get broadband. You kinda answered your own question.

    The LAST thing I would do is move.

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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