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Dan Reynolds
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:42 pm    Post subject: Island Internet Reply with quote

Yes, I know this topic has been discussed innumerable times. Yes, I have reviewed the earlier discussion threads about it, many of which are now long outdated. So I beg your forgiveness in bringing it up again: how does a BBI part-timer go about getting a decent Internet connection these days?

Mind you, now that I finally have a laptop computer, I enjoy taking it with me and spending part of an afternoon at Hawk's, where Larry and Missy have generously (and wisely) set up wi-fi. But having it at my own place would be a major step forward.

My property is not equipped with a land line - yet. Based on my current assessment of available options for an Internet connection, it appears that the most viable, reliable and cost-effective option would be to get a land line installed.

I used to see TDI trucks on the Island. What's up with them? Are they now TDS? TDS currently has an Island phone number listed (231-634-9913), but their Web site does not indicate any coverage of BBI. I have not called the number to see who answers, because I don't yet know what I am after. Downstate, I have had DSL through a phone line and it works great, with few reliability or performance problems. My cell phone service works fine on the Island, so I don't need a land line for phone, but I'd be willing to consider putting one in if it's the best option for Internet.

Thanks for humoring me as I bring this topic to the table, once again.
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Familyman
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dan,
I have the verizon wireless card on my laptop. I only get 2 bars most of the time on the island and it is slow compared to my DSL at home, but I'm sure it's faster then dial-up. I keep hearing talk about broadband on the island but I doubt it will happen anytime soon.
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Conis
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dan... I would say sit tight.

There is a big push to get DSL on the island right now. A good thing, I guess, and wonderful for those with land lines and are willing to pay the DSL fees. It's better than satellite (netsat) but slower than cable broadband. But quite acceptable. Thats what I have here in BFE Blanchard but because its the only show in town. DSL, netsat, or go dial up. Take it or leave it

For now... Hawks is hosting wifi through their netsat subscript. I'd stick with that for your email, for now.

In the last year, Verizon has bought up Alltel. If you have either of those carriers, cell reception has improved big time on BBI. I am not sure why, exactly, more towers, more power or something. 2-3x reception over last year.

The distinction between cell phone and net coverage is becoming pretty blurry. Current tech is "3G" fringing on faster "4G" through cell carriers. It won't be long and the net will be national wireless coverage, even on BBI.

I know of some on BBI using cell for total net access. That's where it's going... soon...

Verizon/Alltel owns BBI. Get a card for your laptop and pay the fee. Net access anywhere in Michigan including the island.

Final comment: DSL is better than a poke in the eye for decent net access. There are gov't funds available to bring high speed net to rural areas and so TDS has jumped on it. Just like they did on Beaver Island and as I understand things, couldn't get enough year-yound subscribers to make it work = TDS DSL kaput on Beaver...= all done out there

I have been harping on the need to bring rock solid cell service to BBI for the last 3-4 years. This is where technology is at and where it is REALLY going in all communications including net access. In another couple of years. DSL will be about like dial up. Right now, if you can get 2 bars on your cell phone, you can probably get net access for way less than a land line and DSL fees. Pay per use/minute or subscription.

Sit tight for now. All it would take to fix this is to get Verizon/Alltel to put a mini relay cell tower on the island. No one seems to understand this? DSL is already obsolete. By 2011, the net will be totally wireless access, except, of course, for BBI, still using orange juice cans and strings cabin to cabin relay.
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theeislandgirl
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 12:33 am    Post subject: cell Reply with quote

John mom and I all had a better connection on the island this summer ...
we all had AT&T
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Dan Reynolds
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 7:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, FM and Conis. I will check into the Verizon card and see if that might offer a solution for the time being.

d.
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Conis
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When Verizon took over Alltel, Alltels technology (obsolete) was scrapped and although the subscribers my be still under Alltel, the technology is Verizons which is the same as many other carriers. Cell technology is becoming standardized and compatible between all the various carriers. which may explain why reception has improved on BBI in the last year.

Exceptions would be sprint/Nextel which still use their own technology, which works fine but is more saturated in urban areas.

Wireless net is being rapidly expanded, especially in rural areas. Thats what I am waiting for locally and when it comes, my land line and DSL are getting the ax.

Dan... Let me know what you come up with as far as verizon and a card for your laptop. Where I am at, I can get a solid 2 bars inside, 3 outside and could probably bump up to 4-5 bars by installing a wiex amplifier and outdoor antenna on the roof.
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Familyman
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Conis, could you fill me on this tech. How it works and where to get it.
wiex amplifier and outdoor antenna.
Thanks
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Conis
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wi-ex is a company that makes cell phone amplifier/boosters for home/car etc..

http://www.wi-ex.com read more here.

The product you would be looking at is called Z-BOOST. It is an indoor amplifier connected to an outdoor antenna, that will boost signal gain from 20-100%. The amplifier unit can be placed central in your residence and is wireless to your cell phone.

Assuming you can get a signal outside, this will catch it, amplify it and bring it inside. The trick is to get the antenna as high as possible (roof top). If you want to go all out, and I would on BBI, go the extra few bucks for a high gain directional "yagi" antenna that can be aimed directly at the closest-strongest tower. You can install this yourself. Pretty simple and straightforward. If you can get 1-2 bars outside, whatever you can get will be likely doubled, inside.

This equipment really works and has gotten high marks in consumer reviews. Been around for a while.

I use it and it works great. Several others around here in BFE are also using it with sucessful results.

I was granted a dealership and thought I might sell these systems on BBI, at my cost, but never pursued it. I suppose because I thought that BBI would soon do something about pathetic cell reception and this equipment wouldn't be necessary.

The equipment has to be matched to your cell carrier technology. They support all tech's except sprint/nextel. You can find the info on line. If you get stuck, get back to me.
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Familyman
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Conis. If I can get 4 bars I can watch my sons hockey games on the B2 network. If I can get 5 I can watch without it freezing up every 20 seconds.
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Dan Reynolds
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A good friend of mine just picked up an iPhone (with AT&T wireless account). It does a pretty decent job of getting Internet access, and it apparently has "Internet tethering" capability - which means you can feed it into a laptop computer.

Has anyone tried this? Better yet, tried it on the Island?
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mikewhite
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Talk to Barb Schlund. I think she does something like that. She previously had Wildblue satellite, but switched to a gadget that plugs into the computer. I have heard no complaints, and that is saying something. Ha! Razz
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Conis
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eric mentioned he was using a phone connected to his laptop and it worked well enough to load and buffer video.

From where Barb/Erics house is, it is about line of sight to Cheboygan... which I am sure makes a difference.
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Kacy_Martin
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dan Reynolds wrote:
A good friend of mine just picked up an iPhone (with AT&T wireless account). It does a pretty decent job of getting Internet access, and it apparently has "Internet tethering" capability - which means you can feed it into a laptop computer.

Has anyone tried this? Better yet, tried it on the Island?


You'll have to download the newest iPhone OS (3.0) to enable tethering but they haven't made it easy to enable. You can also tether Windows Mobile and Android phones (with a data plan of course). These work identically to the CDMA and 3G cards you can buy for your laptop (without the extra data plan on top of your phone's data plan). Some phones also disable the calling and text messaging features while it's tethered.
I've used my Windows Mobile phone to tether my laptop when on the road and it works great. Speeds are reduced when your signal is weak, or when you're moving (in a car), but still pretty usable.
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hoverusa
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

very interesting Kacy

You would think that my working for AT&T and owning an iPhone I would be all over tethering,......

the actuality of it is the forum is the first I read of it!

however, you can be assured by the time I get to the island in a couple of weeks, i'll know!
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hoverusa
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

of course I had to know,

at this point tethering is an "unsupported" feature of an iPhone,
yet soon to change,
when it is supported, it will be just like the AT&T or Verizon laptop connect plan which is a card directly into a usb port on your laptop
that has a $60 / mo data plan

AT&T will add $30 to your $30 iPhone data plan

sound familiar?

about all I can say at this point
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Kacy_Martin
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hoverusa wrote:
of course I had to know,

at this point tethering is an "unsupported" feature of an iPhone,
yet soon to change,
when it is supported, it will be just like the AT&T or Verizon laptop connect plan which is a card directly into a usb port on your laptop
that has a $60 / mo data plan

AT&T will add $30 to your $30 iPhone data plan

sound familiar?

about all I can say at this point


If you want to Jailbreak your iPhone you can try this method which is a bit of a pain.

Last I heard AT&T currently does not support tethering the iPhone (paying extra would really suck since AT&T's iPhone data plan is a raping already). If you have a 3Gs iPhone there is a workaround to get it to tether.

The Verizon (or AT&T, or Sprint, or whoever else offers it) USB or PCMCIA cards are a pretty good option if you can't tether your phone. They basically work the same way. They have a cellular data connection that the laptop uses to get online. The downside is that you usually pay extra for that data connection (and you have to pay for the service).

Another really good option is the MiFi device. It has been highly reviewed and works really well. It basically is an CDMA modem that also broadcasts an 802.11 signal (WiFi) you can then connect up to 5 devices to the MiFi to share the connection. This works great with multiple devices, or if your phone also has wifi. The device is available on Verizon as well as Sprint you can read about them at those last 2 links.
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