Rural broadband (or the lack thereof)

I’ve had this domain for a while and recently decided I might as well get off my ass and start using it.

So yeah. I live in what might be classified as “rural” California. In reality, I live a few miles outside of an actual city, and unfortunately in my neck of the woods that means I’m out of luck when it comes to broadband.

Charter is nearby in Redding, with 60-100 Mbps products, but they aren’t allowed into my town because of outdated rural territory restrictions or something like that. Our local ISP (Frontier) basically has an unchecked monopoly in the area. Thanks to this lack of competition, they offer a whopping “up to 6 Mbps” DSL product here, which is actually provisioned, at least for me, at 1.3 Mbps. I try to talk to some of the reps every time we have a town festival, where there’s usually a Frontier booth. Every time, I’m told they aren’t planning to do any upgrades, fiber is under the main road but won’t be brought out to subdivisions, etc. Basically they’re content to offer crap service and be done with it.

This is really irritating because, frankly, it’s 2016. The FCC has reclassified broadband as 25+ Mbps, which means we’re living in the dark ages here.

Over the last few years I’ve tried various options, including a solid local WISP, but settled on a Verizon grandfathered unlimited data plan (UDP). When Verizon purchased their 700 MHz spectrum, the FCC mandated they allow any activated SIM to work on any approved device. The practical upshot of this is that an activated UDP SIM will work in a USB modem or hotspot. Of course, you’re stuck paying for minutes and texts you most likely won’t be using (or have access to), but given the alternatives, it’s a pretty compelling solution. So compelling that I’ve been using one for two years now, with (mostly) great results.

If I get around to it, I’ll try to post some more about the various setups I’ve tried, upgrades I’m considering, and probably stuff about my home network setup as well.

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