johnny November 7th, 2008
On 2008/10/25 at 12:11 PM, Brent wrote:
Currently working my way through your all your postings. My wife and I are in the “can we really do this” stage of making the same change that you two have. Very much enjoying reading through your process.
Much like you two, we both work in technology and are somewhat dependent on the Internet. Add to that, the need for research / blogging / and potentially some work while traveling and connectivity gets to be one of our important decisions. So I’m curious, how are you feeling about the cell network decision versus satellite? Working out as you had planned?
Well, Brent, I’d have to say I don’t like any of the choices available. I’m pretty happy with the performance of EVDO, but I’m extremely upset with Sprint changing the contract midstream so that it no longer remotely resembles the class of service that we originally purchased. I have already ranted about this particular event once, so I’ll try and stay on subject…
For in-motion internet access, I don’t think you can beat EVDO in the US. EVDO also trumps satellite systems for setup times as there is no setup at all, or in our case, we roll up the television antenna to get a bit more height from the cellular antenna once we’re parked. There is no trying to make sure your dish has an unobscured line of sight, etc. EVDO is also superior to satellite internet in terms of bandwidth and latency. You just can’t get around the speed of light time lag when you’re acknowledging a packet… the further the physical distance, the longer it takes.
Now, satellite has a few nice things going for it as well. You don’t need to be near a cell tower for starters. You can also get a clear line of sight to the sky when mountains would otherwise block cell towers. If you have money to spare, then a motosat installation would take a lot of the headaches out of setting up your satellite dish. Just flip it on and let the machinery lock onto a bird.
If you’re going to be in really remote areas and can’t be without Internet access for extended periods, then satellite is pretty much your only choice. If you can handle being offline for the occasional two week period and hauling a laptop into town to look for wifi hotspots, then EVDO is a pretty good choice with a much lower startup cost and lower monthly fees (I think!).
In a perfect world, I’d opt for an EVDO router as well as a satellite system. I’d settle for a standard satellite system as I’d only be setting it up when we were going to be parked for a week or so without cellular access. However, in the real world, I’m not about to pay for two different kinds of internet service just in case.
Now, back to my favorite rant… metered bandwidth. You can’t get away from it. The satellite companies do it as well as all the EVDO carriers. 5GB seems to be the gold standard for EVDO currently. Yes, that’s slightly more than a 14.4kbps dialup circa 1990. I’m not sure what kind of bandwidth the satellite folks are being allowed to enjoy, but I haven’t heard of any satellite companies charging overage fees. The last I heard, Verizon, AT&T and Sprint are all charging overages on new contracts. To the best of my knowledge, they are all pretty exorbitant… just as with cellular minutes.
Ten years ago, it was the web hosting companies that charged exorbitant overage rates and sky high pricing for a trickle of storage and bandwidth. The ISPs of the day all charged a flat rate whether you checked your mail once a month or spent the entire time downloading movies. These days, server space and bandwidth cost pennies, but end-user ISPs are limiting bandwidth, connection time and even charging overages. Funny, huh?