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Old 06-15-2008, 10:12 AM   #1
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Comments about Satellite Internet

I haven't tried on the road satellite systems, but we had it for almost 2 years at our house in Reed City. I had HughesNet and installed their better line of units with a 1M dish (too big for AS mounting).

First, it is pricey. The download performance is pretty good but sometimes varies a lot. It was still much better than dial up, our only other option.

With the big dish and 2W transmitter, weather usually didn't bother it too much except when the dish got 2 inches or more snow on it, then it quit. We also had to make sure the trees didn't block its view of the sky.

With the satellite, there is a good 1.2 second delay in packets reaching their destination and getting back (600 mS each way). Phone systems such as Skype work OK. TMobile with its Blackberry WiFi connection works but there is the delay issue which is real weird when you think you are talking to someone normally on a cell phone, you tend to talk over each other.

There are several vendors that sell mobile satellite systems but Hughes does not appear to directly support that configuration. I was enough dissatisfied with the fixed system not to explore the mobile version.

With the data capabilities of Cell phones and the AirCards, I don't recommend it except for people spending extended periods too far from a cell tower. Although for anyone that far out of touch, I would highly recommend getting your ham license and running WinLink 2000 to get your email. It would also provide backup communication if there were an emergency.

Tom Bray
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Old 06-15-2008, 03:16 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Bray View Post
. Although for anyone that far out of touch, I would highly recommend getting your ham license and running WinLink 2000 to get your email. It would also provide backup communication if there were an emergency.

Tom Bray
Interesting Idea Tom, Thanks for the pointer. I am trying to work out what to do for next summer. I can tell you that the cell card just isnt getting it done for me on the road this summer. I hope to be working as I travel so internet is a requirement.
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Old 06-15-2008, 08:26 PM   #3
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Unfortunately, ham radio and revenue generating activities don't go together. For the normal family status and keeping in touch, amateur radio is great. Also if you get in trouble the radio is a great way to get help.

If you are making money (or at least attempting to), you need to use one of the commercial systems. Hams and the government get real upset if they catch you using Ham Radio for business purposes.

Satellite isn't cheap but it does work with its limitations. Using it in a business setting should allow writing off the expense should help. I wouldn't host a conference call over satellite.

My daughter had one of those Blackberry Curves that found the household WiFi that was connected through the satellite. The audio quality was normal cell phone, but there was the 1 second time lag between us when we were talking. Once I realized what was going on, I could deal with it but the general public would probably have no idea what to do.

Another option is that truckers have systems that allow them limited internet capability on the road including email but it doesn't include conventional web browsing.

You may want to see if there is a satellite enabled phone that you can plug the computer into.

If you are at all near civilization, you could try one of those wired amplifiers that you plug your phone into and have an antenna on the roof. I think Wilson has products that do that along with several other companies. It gives you essentially the same capability as the old bag cell phones that put out several watts.

At our house in Michigan I had a cell phone repeater that went to a yagi antenna outside. That got the signal through the dense trees to the cell tower but it required pointing the antenna fairly accurately. The system I had only repeated the 800 MHz signals, Nextel and the Sprint / Cingular systems didn't go through the system. Newer repeaters deal with all of the different systems.

I have found that just having an outside antenna plugged into the phone really helps coverage, but it isn't magical. The low power of a standard hand held phone really limits its range.

Hopefully this helps. I am sure there are others out there that can offer other options.

Tom Bray
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Old 06-15-2008, 11:34 PM   #4
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Sometimes we are surprised by the cell service we get in some of the most out of the way places.

A Verizon or other Air Card might be your solution. We have friends who live too far out to get DSL, too far out for cable, so got a Verizon air card. They use it when in their motor home as well as at home.
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Old 06-16-2008, 06:26 AM   #5
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Internet usage/access

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Bray View Post
I haven't tried on the road satellite systems, but we had it for almost 2 years at our house in Reed City. I had HughesNet and installed their better line of units with a 1M dish (too big for AS mounting).

First, it is pricey. The download performance is pretty good but sometimes varies a lot. It was still much better than dial up, our only other option.

With the big dish and 2W transmitter, weather usually didn't bother it too much except when the dish got 2 inches or more snow on it, then it quit. We also had to make sure the trees didn't block its view of the sky.

With the satellite, there is a good 1.2 second delay in packets reaching their destination and getting back (600 mS each way). Phone systems such as Skype work OK. TMobile with its Blackberry WiFi connection works but there is the delay issue which is real weird when you think you are talking to someone normally on a cell phone, you tend to talk over each other.

There are several vendors that sell mobile satellite systems but Hughes does not appear to directly support that configuration. I was enough dissatisfied with the fixed system not to explore the mobile version.

With the data capabilities of Cell phones and the AirCards, I don't recommend it except for people spending extended periods too far from a cell tower. Although for anyone that far out of touch, I would highly recommend getting your ham license and running WinLink 2000 to get your email. It would also provide backup communication if there were an emergency.

Tom Bray
Tom,
I don't know if this is going to be any help to you, but I use the new internet card from Verizon, It firsts connects by cell service, if not available it then looks for WiFi connection. I have used this in all my travels and have never had a problem with connection even out in the remote areas, However I have not had the chance to use it my AS yet. Verizon has the best service of all services and I have all them and always come back to Verizon, As far as the AS I was recently watching an episode of RV TV (rvtv.com) and they discussed this issue and showed a new system through wilson that increases your cell signal and gives you an outside antenna to help, and then partners with a wireless router so you are unplugged and I am going to be investing in one of these to put in my AS for next year.
As for the various cell services, I can tell you this for a fact, with all the recent buy outs of different companies Verizon has the largest antenna coverage, Verizon has taken the Cell internet access to the next level, Cingular/AT&T has the best programs as far as roll over minutes etc, Sprint/nextell/Embarq have been named the worst of all and everybody I know has dropped them.
Hope I have given you some info that helps

Sarge
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Old 06-16-2008, 11:50 PM   #6
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I haven't needed a real mobile solution yet, although I am trying to get work to pay for a mobile solution for me.

It seems that we manage to find either a fast food place or a coffee shop with internet so we can check our email. Plus the truck, at least for another year, has OnStar in addition to amateur radio equipment. The AS will also have a radios installed so if I get disparate I can talk to someone, even if they are on the other side of the country.

For cell service, we currently have Alltel. It was the only choice where we lived in Michigan if we wanted anything approaching reasonable service (although I noticed that the OnStar phone in the truck always seemed to work).

Where we live now, Alltel again is the only one with reliable service at the house. The other popular provider here is TMobile and it isn't on any near by tower.

Sometime this summer I need to get a new phone and I will make sure that at a minimum I can plug my computer into it. I may also pick up a new repeater to put in the AS so the phone doesn't have to be tethered to an antenna.

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Old 06-17-2008, 07:25 AM   #7
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Air Card

I tried the AT&T air card and the results were less that satisfactory.
Web browsing was not possible as pages timed out before completely down loading. Salesman said it would get better when G3 is rolled out everywhere. I cancelled the service.
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Old 06-17-2008, 10:11 AM   #8
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This post is about satellite internet, not cell air cards.
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Old 06-17-2008, 10:51 AM   #9
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I need someting like that at my place in the hills of ohio,my option is take computer about 2 miles down the road to the top of a hill to use it ,then it is sooo slow.Maybe some kind of an antenna I could mount in a tree ,on top of one of my hills.At least while I was waiting for something to happen,I could have a cool one,and not worry about Ohio`s finest. Dave
PS Didn`t Verizon buy Alltel ?
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:26 AM   #10
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Any reason not to?

In looking at the material that Maxwell satellite puts out and from checking around, it appears to me that of the $1650 they charge for equipment, about $400 of it is the cost of a one location system and the rest is for mobility. Again, as far as I can tell, the mobility comes down to the tripod, the aluminum arm, and aiming device. As I understand it, there is freeware aiming software out there. So here is my question: what is the argument against having the aluminum arm fabricated and getting ones own tripod then getting service direct from Direcway (the same provider you would have anyway)?
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Old 06-19-2008, 03:37 PM   #11
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...With the data capabilities of...AirCards...
hi tom

the aircard, booster and antenna approach makes even remote or fringe usage possible...

and this view is from a user who does NOT carry a cell phone, just the air-card...

and it is SO MUCH quicker to use than satellite, not to mention available while IN MOTION...

altel was recently purchased by verzion, so the borg expands.

yes there are regions still off the cell grid,

but IF camping in those spots,

u will still likely need to go get water and food occasionally...

and access may exist when getting provisions, or a local library or senior center or dry good merchant may have access...

i was recently in a very remote/hidden from cell towers spot and still go a weak connection.

and the local 400 sq ft 100 yr old 'store' had free wifi...

right next to the dried buffalo jerky, shovels and expired dried beans....

i am SO glad not to have purchased ANY of the obsolete out of the box sat systems...

cheers
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Old 06-19-2008, 05:53 PM   #12
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This post is about satellite internet, not cell air cards.
lol
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Old 06-19-2008, 06:44 PM   #13
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Somehow I knew when I started this thread that it would evolve into a different discussion.

What I was hoping for was that someone would come up with some other suggestions related to using satellites that I hadn't found.

I also find it amazing just how important the internet has become. For us, the Internet is far more important than TV. We found we could easily live with 2 or 3 over the air network TV stations and be happy (especially when we found out we could get HDTV better than traditional signals). Dial up was driving us nuts.

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Old 06-19-2008, 06:58 PM   #14
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There's a great book by Airstreamer Rich Charpentier (member name "gadgetat") called The Digital RV that will answer many of your questions and give you alternatives...to anything having t do with getting "digitally wired" while one the road. It's a great book written for an easy read that just about anyone can understand the technology he discusses... You can get it at his blog site ( Gadget's Airstream Chronicles - Documenting my Airstream Safari and what I do with it! ), at Airstream Life magazine shop ( Airstream Life magazine store - Books and CDs )..as well as other places...
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