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Wildblue Satellite Internet Service offers better service for rural Vermonter

Towards the end of 2005, I came across a new satellite internet service being offered to Vermonters. Wildblue is a newcomer to the business. As with any new business, you can often get excellent service at the outset and Wildblue is no exception. Wildblue is bent on building a customer base throughout the country and is being careful to provide good equipment and good installations. You still have to sign a contract and in most cases, buy the equipment. It will wind up costing you about the same as DirecWay (about $600 for a two-way system), but the FAP (Fair Access Policy) rules are not quite as severe and the actual cost of the monthly service is less. In addition, you can get three levels of service which offer successively higher download speeds and higher monthly traffic allowances. Customer service is 24-7 and your Wildblue sign-up includes up to five e-mail boxes. Wildblue's highest cost business service is about $80.00 per month. For that you get twice or three times the download speeds offered by Direct PC, DirecWay and Sykcaster's VSAT and at lower cost.

"A good satellite installation is the key - Do it right the first time”

So says Sean O'Connor of OC-Satellite.Com in St. Johnsbury.

"Sean O'Connor of OC-Satellite installing Wildblue Satellite Internet dishIf you want a reliable connection, even during snowstorms and high winds, you need to have your satellite installation done properly," says Mr. O'Connor who installs Willdblue Internet Satellite systems throughout Northern Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. Vermont experiences some rough weather. Wildblue requires its installers to take courses on internet satellite technology, then tests them with real installations before certifying them as being Wildblue certified. There are less than half a dozen Wildblue certified installers in the northeast.

OC-Satellite provides a professional installation. Sean O'Connor doesn't take any short cuts, uses the best coaxial connectors and wiring, loops and roots the Wildblue antenna cables precisely as specified by Wildblue, and verifies the signal before he leaves.

There has been downtime with my Wildblue system and there is still the problem of latency. (Web browsing can be problematical, particularly with today's prevalent webdesign which calls for many small files to be downloaded to make up a page rather than a few larger ones. The reason is the latency for the request to go out and return. Frequently it takes longer for the request to make the round trip than to download the actual file.) If you want to play online games, don’t bother, the ping times and latency makes satellite virtually useless for it and don't even think about internet phone services like Vonage.

But on the plus side, I haven't been FAPED and I have not been forced to go out in the middle of a snowstorm and brush the snow off the dish, nor has the Wildblue connection failed because of weather conditions. Download speeds with a business connection are in excess of what the average broadband user experiences.

Timothy Palmer-Benson November, 2005

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