Posts Tagged Texas

State Of The Internet, Fredericksburg, TX

Interesting stuff happening lately about internet service in this area:

  1. My mom saw a Verizon truck in the county fair parade today (I didn’t go; saw no need and was tired). The truck has “High Speed Internet coming soon!” or similar painted on te side. This is DSL, not FiOS (Verizon always refers to their fiber offering by its trademarked name). However from what I hear Verizon’s DSL release is just a ploy to drive up the sale cost of their system here; Fredericksburg isn’t a large metropolitan area, and there are too mayn bridged taps and other phone system anomaies here for DSL to reach beyond a small part of town. At least that’s what the scuttlebutt says. My prediction: Verizon offers some flavor of DSL to folks who can currently get Windstream DSL, then sells the system to whoever will take it, using the “we have DSL in our central office” argument to jack the price up slightly above what the system is worth.
  2. Bee Creek Communications, the local our-hands-are-tied-and-if-anyone-competes-with-us-we-lose wireless ISP, was in the parade today as well. They also have a third-of-a-page ad in the paper advertising free installation to new customers until September 15th. A few years ago an installation with similar equipment would have run you around $220. The problem here is that their network is already over capacity in some areas, they’re spread too thinly in terms of manpower and their speeds are the stuff of yesteryear, barely competitive with satellite internet (though their monthly transfer caps are higher). The service also requires a two-year contract with a $125 early termination fee. If you want a one-year agreement service will run you another $10 per month. In short, don’t buy. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Latest Look at Pocket

Last Saturday I grabbed a UTStarCom CDM7025 with a month of service for $39 plus tax, plus $5 in “Value Pocket” funds from Pocket Communications’ retail outlet in Boerne, TX. Today I returned the phone; reception on that particular handset was poor and there wasn’t a comparably-priced model in stock at my Fredericksburg HEB Pocket kiosk. In the interim though I learned a few things about the company, stuff that’s changed since I last used their service more than two years ago…

  1. Pocket can now “flash” phones at all of their locations, as long as their software is working correctly. The price: free. The upside: you can take your old name-your-CDMA-carrier phone and plunk it down on Pocket’s network without having to shell out for one of the company’s own phone models. The downside: you may not get data access on a non-Pocket phone, depending on the model.
  2. Pocket’s roaming option, available for 19ยข per minute or $5 per month for 50 minutes, mainly picks Verizon as the out-of-area provider. This hapens whenever the Pocket phone can’t pick up a “native” signal, not just if you’re out of Pocket’s licensed service area. This is a good thing in areas where Pocket doesn’t have towers, but at that point you’re limited by how good your phone is at receiving signals.
  3. The UTStarCom 7025, even with its pull-up antenna, was bested by my parents’ Nokia 2126i internal-antenna Tracfones in the reception department. So if you want a Pocket phone with good reception for $39, consider your options narrowed. Read the rest of this entry »

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As It Turns Out, HughesNet Is Horrible, Rest Stop Edition

I pity him, to think how, with no man to care for him, and seeing no companion’s face, suffering, lonely evermore, he is vexed by fierce disease satellite internet service, and bewildered by each want his ire as it arises. – Chorus, Philoctetes The Man With HughesNet, a Greek tragedy

Okay, so maybe not everyone using HughesNet is suffering, always lonely, is stuck on a deserted island and has a bunch of people in the background chanting about his doom. Still, the plight of someone on HughesNet these days can’t be overstated by much. Hence the excerpt from a play that I acted in my sophomore year in high school. Four years later, I had to Google it to make sure I got it word for word, but I was close enough to find the passage.

What does this have to do with my short, albeit rather painful, experience with HughesNet? Not much, other than the painful part. In fact, the rest stop west of Eden, TX, while remote, is quite different than a deserted island. For one thing, the structure on which the internet satellite dish was purched was well-maintained. Second, US-87 runs by said rest stop. Third, the Texas Department of Transportation instituted the free wireless hotspot as a public safety measure, seeing as how some carriers’ cell phones (ahem, Sprint…ever heard of roaming on Five Star Wireless in the Eden area?) just flat out don’t work around those parts. Of course, you can’t use any sort of voice communication technology over HughesNet, but I suppose that’s beside the point. Still better than a deserted island with vipers and no free public WiFi, right?

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