I’m back online – w00t!!!

I’ve been offline for quite a while. Much of it has to do with my workload at the University but the other part is that where I live in rural New Hampshire, high-speed Internet access is mostly a sweet dream. Trying to maintain a digital identity with a dial-up connection that maxes out at 22kbps was simply an exercise in frustration. Well even that came to an end last week when our phone line suddenly went dead. Turns out that frost heaves pushed up our buried phone cable (which apparently was poorly buried by whoever installed it) and it was promptly cut when our plow guy cleaned our driveway during the last snowstorm.

That led to a decision point: do we continue to pay for a landline when both my wife and I have cell phones with excellent service here at home? Is it worth it just to suffer through on a questionable dial-up connection? Turns out that neither one of us believed it was. So begins our experiment with disconnecting from the physical and going ethereal (ok, wireless). For the cost of our landline at about $50-60/month and the cost of our dial-up connection via PeoplePC at about $10/month, we could get set up with Verizon’s Broadband Access wireless Internet service at $60/month.

I had reservations about how the service would fare at our home but I figured I’d give it a shot. I tried to swing by our local computer guy but his office is closed on the weekend. So I traveled down to another Verizon store and purchased a USB720 wireless adapter and service.

Novatel USB720 Wireless Adapter

Interestingly, each connector is assigned its own phone number. I wondered how they managed to keep track of service and it turns out they do key it to a phone number. It strikes me as a bit limiting in that it would almost make more sense to attach an IPv6 number instead but I know little about the infrastructure that comprises their network.I was concerned about signing on to a contract but Verizon does have a 15-day return policy and I figured that would be plenty of time to test the typical use cases I would be employing. So now it came down to testing the device. Installation was a snap. Drop in the CD, run the configuration app wizard, attach the device and connect to the Verizon network. In less than 5 minutes I was online and connecting at 684 Kbps download/480 Kbps upload. Now this isn’t great compared to the possible connect speed of the Broadband Access service (600 Kbps – 1.4 Mbps download/500 Kbps – 800 Kbps upload), but considering that we are on the fringes of the deployment of this service and compared to my old connection speed of 22 kbps, I ain’t complaining!

SpeedTest Results – Round 1
Speed Test Results – Round 2

I was even able to install the VZAccess software on my wife’s laptop and our home desktop so that they could use it as well. So far, so good, as all three connected successfully. The only caveat to the plan is that they have a cap of 5 GB per month:

“If usage exceeds 5 GB per line during any billing period, we reserve the right to reduce throughput speeds of any application that would otherwise exceed such speed to a maximum of approximately 200 Kbps. These speeds are subject to change, in our reasonable discretion, in order to address network issues.”

It will be interesting to see how much bandwidth I consume on a monthly basis and the VZAccess software should allow me to track this.

[tags]verizon, wireless, internet, isp, online, usb720[/tags]

3 thoughts on “I’m back online – w00t!!!

  1. Thanks Jeff! It’s amazing how disconnected I feel from my network when I couldn’t connect at a speed that made it worth getting online. This should be a huge leap forward for us.

    Cheers,
    John

  2. Thanks for the info. Are you using Skype? How is that working? Can you have conference calls? How about streaming? Have you tried?

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