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The Internet Wireless Networking Technology

WISPS Mean Cable and DSL Aren't the Only Choices 256

Posted by timothy
from the ephemeral-connection dept.
Brett Glass writes "Feel like you're stuck with a no-win choice between expensive cable modem service and slow DSL for Internet? Currently using satellite, with long latencies that make it impossible to do VoIP or interactive gaming? One of America's best kept secrets, so it seems, is the wide coverage of WISPs — terrestrial (not satellite or cellular) wireless broadband Internet providers. The linked article gives an overview of WISPs and provides a handy map showing their nationwide coverage (more than 750,000 square miles of the continental US — and only about one third of the WISPs in the US are on the map so far). Most WISPs are small, independent, consumer-friendly, and tech savvy, making them a better choice than big, corporate ISPs who can't even tell a penny from a dollar."
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WISPS Mean Cable and DSL Aren't the Only Choices

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  • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Friday February 06, 2009 @08:37AM (#26750419) Homepage
    ..are pretty good alternatives except the "burst speed" thing. Its like they never heard of CISR or simply oversell bandwidth like every other ISP.
  • by wiredog (43288) on Friday February 06, 2009 @08:48AM (#26750475) Journal

    From these guys [infowest.com]. It's purely line of sight [infowest.com], of course, but most of the town is line of sight to the tower. Works very well even in heavy snow, which Cedar gets quite a bit of. An average storm in Cedar would be apocalyptic in London,England.

  • Price and Speed suck (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jackiesaurus (1147839) on Friday February 06, 2009 @09:02AM (#26750567)

    Yeah, WISPS are great aside from the high prices and slow speed. We have a few carriers around here, installation is generally around $150, plus $60/month for a 512/512 or $100 for a 3M/3M.

    My $45/month cable modem for 15M/1M starts to sound pretty good after that.

    I've looked at starting my own in another area a while ago but unfortunately the high equipment prices, insanely high bandwidth prices (which you usually need to buy from your competitors), and limitations of the equipment relative to going wired means that to stay afloat you really need to charge high prices like I mentioned for a relatively slim amount of bandwidth. I've also read stories where the plot goes something like "people want broadband, WISP sets up and prospers, cable company sees success of WISP, cable company sets up broadband for half the monthly rate, WISP dies". It's scary stuff considering how much the WISP equipment costs and how long it would take to actually payoff.

    All in all, I don't see how a WISP can really survive against the traditional competition. Personally I'm a big fan of municipal fiber, but that's a rant for another day.

  • Re:google cache here (Score:1, Informative)

    by liquidpele (663430) on Friday February 06, 2009 @09:03AM (#26750573) Journal
    Don't link to that site - If you read the posts, it's politically oriented and just happened to have an article on Wisps, where it even stole the image being used from here:
    http://www.wirelessmapping.com/National%20Map.htm [wirelessmapping.com]

    To find a WISP in your area, a quick google search found this: http://www.bbwexchange.com/wisps/ [bbwexchange.com]
  • Astroturfing? (Score:5, Informative)

    by lseltzer (311306) on Friday February 06, 2009 @09:07AM (#26750599)

    Perhaps the post is informative and useful, but y'all should know that Brett Glass [is] a sole proprietor doing business as LARIAT, a wireless Internet service provider in Albany County, Wyoming, [brettglass.com]

  • by lazarus (2879) on Friday February 06, 2009 @09:54AM (#26750915) Journal

    My experience has been quite the opposite of the story summary. I've been on a line-of-sight wireless connection for two and a half years now, with two different providers and two different frequencies (900 MHz and 2.4 GHz). I have found the service to be slow and unreliable, and I live on farmland (no trees, mountains, large buildings, etc. To get in the way). The most I can say about my current provider is the service sucks less than the first one. In that case it was so bad I was able to get out of a 3yr contract.

    The speed (as mentioned in a previous post) is very slow - VPN access to the office is *just* do-able, but don't try to do anything else at the same time. You can play on-line games such as WoW and Eve without much trouble from a latency standpoint, but having your link go down is not fun.

    I have an unlimited cellular data plan I keep as a backup and I am working with my local council to get better broadband penetration in my area.

  • by necro81 (917438) on Friday February 06, 2009 @09:55AM (#26750933) Journal
    I'm going to put in my grumpy old man dentures and rant on for a moment:

    For f$ck's sake, if you are submitting an article with an acronym in it, expand it the first time so that everyone knows what the hell you are talking about. This goes not only for slashdot, but for articles in all technical venues. In some tight technical circles, some assumed knowledge and common language can be expected, but /. is a broad audience, and not everyone knows at first glance what a WISP is. This is specially true when used in the context of an article that is probably introducing it to people for the first time.
  • TekSavvy (Score:4, Informative)

    by mrops (927562) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:01AM (#26751001)

    TekSavvy, THE best ISP I have had in a long time. Everything is upfront, they do not throttle (though those on slashdot may have heard that Bell is throttling all ISP that go over their lines, bitches). You can get their 200GB/mn or unlimited (true unlimited). Static IP addresses for 3$/mn, MLPPP. Love their tech support, one of the few companies where using "tech" is justified.

    If you can't get DSL, tough luck. TekSavvy does provide WISP in certain areas.

  • by Gramie2 (411713) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:08AM (#26751057)

    There is a WISP in my area, but their service guy said that he couldn't get a clear enough signal from my roof. If I put up a 40-foot tower, I *might* be able to get it (people down the road do). Aside from the tower, that would be about $300 installation and $60/month, with a maximum speed of about 3Mbps download.

    Turns out that I can get on the Rogers cell phone 3G network. The bandwidth is limited (1GB/month for $30, 3GB/month for $60), but I can live with that. There was no installation fee (wireless USB stick was free with 1-year contract) either.

  • by Huntr (951770) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:14AM (#26751129)
    That blurb in the summary about showing their "nationwide coverage" makes this seem a lot more widely available than it really is. As the image in the linked article show, 750k sq mi isn't shit, particularly when the primary areas this purports to service, those who live out in the boonies, are barely covered at all. Good to know you can get this kind of service in such remote areas as Sacramento, Ca, Dallas, Tx, Atlanta, Ga, and Chicago, Il. Further, as stated above, the submitter and article author owns a fricking ISP that provides WiFi in Wyoming. This is the worst kind of misleading advertising masquerading as news on Slashdot.
  • Do your research (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tinfoil (109794) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:22AM (#26751197) Homepage Journal

    Depending on the technology, there are many things to consider before jumping into bed with a WISP. I get my service from an ISP with a wireless division, though it's not their core business. From my understanding, the technology used is a mix of 900Mhz and 2.4Ghz, depending on distance & line of site. The closer and clearer the LoS, the more likely they will put up a 2.4Ghz antenna. Otherwise, it's 900Mhz. Often it requires mounting on an antenna tower, unless it's cellular based.

    Problems I've had with it are mostly related to bandwidth saturation. Quite often these wireless PoPs will be piggybacking on one another to a central location, so unless it's properly provisioned, be prepared to be frustrated. Also, many times the WISP will put their tower on a pre-existing structure and depending on security situations, they may not be allowed to go on-site unless the owners of the property are also on-site. Think places like central grain storage co-ops and the like.

    My connection is a pretty poor value. I pay roughly CDN$70 for a connection that is, at most, 1Mbit. The upside is that it is synchro, so while my downstream is pretty low, my upstream is better than most. Ping times are all over the place, but that is more a function of an over-subscribed service than anything else.

    Cellular based technologies are available here, but the caps are dangerously low with overages being charged at a pretty obscene rate. And it doesn't work with my pre-existing router, which is a big negative for me. Rogers Wireless is I think $25 a month, but that's for only 500MB if memory serves. I can't verify this at present since the Rogers website sucks hairy arse.

  • Re:Astroturfing? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:24AM (#26751229)

    It's worse than that. He's a notorious anti-NN, pro-DPI astroturfer.

    If you love your "hacker tools" (ssh, p2p, etc), he's the bad guys.

  • by Dekortage (697532) on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:50AM (#26751537) Homepage
    This [part-15.org] seemed useful...

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