Friday, December 12, 2008

Sacramento Bee: Internet access still a wish for many in rural areas

The Sacramento Bee is out with a story today that's likely to be familiar to folks all over the United States and not just in the Bee's Northern California circulation area. Your blogger is featured. Click here for the story. As for my recommendations re this issue to the incoming Obama administration, click here.

The difficulty getting good solid broadband Internet access isn't by definition a rural issue given that U.S. residential development isn't confined to only urban and rural areas. For much of Northern California, it's far more "granular" as demographers would say when the exurbs and quasi-rural areas are taken into account. Most of the Sacramento Bee's circulation area is considered part of the Sacramento metropolitan area.

It's also worth noting that some of those who have posted comments on the Bee's Web site at the online version of the story are located relatively close in, including one from Silicon Valley. Broadband black holes like their physical counterparts in space can be found anywhere. See also Silicon Valley’s shameful secret: lousy broadband at MuniWireless.

BTW, the article didn't include the name of my WISP (Wireless Internet Service Provider). For you El Dorado County and Amador County residents looking for service, it's Remotely Located.


Anonymous said...

The same holds true for wireless laptop cards. They work very nicely, and have progressed to USB connection with plug-and-play software which makes them easy to install and use in multiple computers. However, AT&T has been saying they are expanding the faster HSDPA network into El Dorado county any time now. Since 2005.

Anonymous said...

I think easier access to the Internet is a great idea for America. I've been glued to the net a lot recently because I'm constantly checking for jobs, my email account and learning about new ways to market myself. Nationwide Wi-Fi would make my life a lot easier. Companies, such as Portland-based Clear, ( are already allowing users easier access around the city without scouring the streets for hot spots. I can't wait for the change!

MoreMobile said...

The lack of Broadband is greatly exaggerated, as most are just not aware of all the options. I would estimate that 80% or more of El Dorado County is covered by Broadband from Verizon. Most people just don't realize this is a viable option. However, it can be used for a home or office network, as well as work almost anywhere in the USA. Check the Verizon coverage map here: All you need is a USB card for one computer, or a special router to make it work with multiple computers at the same time. For a bunch of videos on how this works see this: I hope this sheds some light on another solution for people that feel left out.

Fred Pilot said...

Re MoreMobile's Verizon Wireless Broadband comment: As your name indicates, this service is intended to provide mobile and not fixed premises broadband that was the topic of the Sacramento Bee story. It suffers some of the same weaknesses of satellite: high latency that makes for a less than satisfactory online experience and bandwidth usage caps.

A superior interim premises broadband alternative is fixed terrestrial wireless provided by one of several local Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs).

Anonymous said...

Fred, I've been getting your emails, blog entries and article excerpts since I signed your online petition a couple of years back. You are usually pretty accurate in your descriptions but your response to MoreMobile is largely incorrect.

I am a(fairly recent)user of the Verizon Wireless modem and to simply suggest that since it is on a mobile network it wasn't intended for fixed use needs to be corrected, but moreso your contention that it is a high latency connection is an outright error.

I use the Verizon service and it rivals any wired connection I've have ever had in both up/down speed but more importantly with regard to latency. I am a Bay Area native who has worked at a dozen internet and game companies, I know how latency affects internet traffic and applications.

On my Verizon service I am consistently getting pings in the 100-150ms range and I can play online games (twitch or otherwise), I can VPN to work and run remote desktop at my Garden Valley home as if I am sitting at my desk in Silicon Valley and easily engage in real time chat and other real time apps with no noticeable effect from latency.

You point about usage caps is well taken but many of the wired, "always on" service providers are moving to a metered model anyways so this is going to be less of a unique issue for these wireless services as the playing field is leveled although you can expect the data thresholds to remain lower than a wired service.

I absolutely love my Verizon service, I ordered WildBlue and had it installed a couple of weeks before I was turned on to the wireless option and I was so impressed with it that I got it anyways since it was cheaper, faster and more convenient to set up and I'm just waiting for my Wildblue contract to expire as I don't need any other services with this new service and for being a power user I don't even come close to reaching my monthly maximums but then again I was over you tube 2 or 3 years ago. :)

Fred Pilot said...

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree re the latency issue. I've personally experienced Verizon Wireless Broadband used as a neighbor's premises broadband connection and the latency was double the figures you've given and quite noticeable.

I believe this kind of latency is an acceptable tradeoff for mobile and occasional use -- particularly given the 5GB bandwidth cap -- but is not and should not be an acceptable standard for regular fixed premises use.

For fixed premises broadband connections, I tend to agree with a survey this year sponsored by Cisco Systems that a good Internet experience today should feature latency not exceeding 95 milliseconds and not more then 60 milliseconds in the next 3 to 5 years.

Anonymous said...

If you're only argument is that you've used it at your neighbors house and you've read an article citing Cisco's optimistic estimates (who have a vested interest in pushing newer product families out to ISP's and consumers) of a average sub-100 ms response coming soon to an ISP near you and fail to provide any real world benchmarks for home users, then I'll have to leave your opinion at the door.

A fast (low latency) response time can still result in a slow loading page if your download speed happens to be slow. That's why download speed and latency are separate measurements. Just because the initial signal gets to its destination quicker (latency), it doesn't necessarily mean you get back pages, music, video fully loaded and displayed faster (download), it just means the server gets your request for the download faster. Usually your download time ultimately determines the bulk of your total load time.

I don't intend to change Fred's mind but for all of you out there reading this, let me just reiterate, I am a demanding internet gaming professional who largely works from home and uses this wireless service almost DAILY in an area with mountains and valleys and that is heavily wooded (not at my neighbors home every once in awhile) to do many intensive applications in many different ways.

I have intimate working knowledge of latency issues and the associated bottlenecks of online connectivity. Short of running a wire to every home in El Dorado county, which Fred has clearly advocated for (and I support) this wireless service is absolutely your best alternative with proper reception. Admittedly the location of the antenna can affect both latency and download speed separately but even a ping of 300ms (double what I cited) for an average user is completely acceptable for basic web browsing and you shouldn't believe marketing hype which suggests it isn't.

I personally play World of Warcraft, Battlefiled 2142, Team Fortress 2, Half Life 2, Facebook connected games and other apps and have had my nephews hook up their Xbox 360 to this connection and it played beautifully. If you want to do these things too but are stifled by your Satellite or dial up connection, you need to seriously consider this option. VPN and remote desktop applications also run very well with this type of connection.

For reference, a 5 gig a month cap is equivalent to 166 Megabytes of download per day, every day for a 30 day month. Now I download a lot of junk but for petes sake, how is this a limiting factor for the average user? Even as an intensive user I don't even get close to exceeding my monthly cap although I will admit this was a major concern for me when I got the service. Having built up a consistent usage history I realize that I am no where near exceeding that threshold and it is no longer a concern for me. Food for thought.

Fred Pilot said...

Interesting you post as anonymous. So I'll give you a name: Verizon Wireless sales representative.

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