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HomeThis Week / Internet Access on Beaver Island / Real world test comparison of Wildblue Pro vs. Starband vs. Dialup

 

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WildBlue up and running on Beaver Island and delivering best ever out-of-town Internet
October 2005

After another wonderful summer, with the shorter days of fall ahead my thoughts have once again turned to how to get faster Internet to make the off-season more interesting and productive.

Last spring we hoped Maylone Enterprises would bring broadband beyond the line of sight currently served by GLE from the school's roof–as we had hoped Wireless First might do. But while interest has been expressed, no one has organized the support necessary to make this somewhat difficult project happen.

Referring to a 100-signature petition asking TDS for a solution, Charlene Burnison said "there is a slim chance TDS will consider providing DSL to Beaver Island in the future." Slim is definitely much much better than none, and we are optimistic that a line-based solution might be found that makes this possible on Beaver Island (those interested in Beaver Island DSL should e-mail their interest to dean.watkins@tdstelecom.com) but realistically, this is still likely a long way off.

A new option however has finally arrived. We've heard about WildBlue since the year 2000, but based on previous ku-band service (Starband and Direcway) I was skeptical. Early reports of this first US ka-band consumer satellite service were very positive, so I placed an order, and Midwest Energy had a brand new Wildblue system installed and running smoothly in under 3 hours.

Wildblue delivers speeds I haven't seen since using a mainland cable modem: a blazing 1550 kbps down (30 times the download speed of dial-up) and 235 to 255 kbps up (7 times the upload performance of Island dial-up) 

A 10 MB download that takes a half hour over dial-up is finished in under a minute over Wildblue! While there is 625-750 milliseconds of latency due to the distance of the satellite, things that never worked well over previous satellite systems like ftp and secure sites are very fast and reliable over Wildblue.

Installs through an NRTC coop are currently subsidized, equipment costs $299, and the monthly fee is $50, $70, or $80, depending on the speed selected–which can be upgraded or downgraded if needed in the future as well. While not as responsive as wireless, this is by far the best always-on 2-way satellite Internet technology I've experienced to date.

If you're interested, give the friendly and helpful people at Midwest Energy a call at (269) 445-1112 or 1-800-492-5989, or visit www.wild-blue.coop.

–Jeff Cashman, the Beaver Beacon October 2005

 

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