Internet Option in Round Valley, and surrounding areas (v2)

There are many beautiful things about living in our area. The stars were beautiful last night, and I probably saw 5-10 vehicles on my drive home last night. Among the many, many reasons that bring people to our community broadband Internet is not one of them. It is a trade off we make for living where we do. In 2016 I updated my previous list of options, and wanted to refresh it for a new look based on what the last three years has given us.

I’m going to provide a bit of background information first, but feel free to scroll down to skip to my recommendation..

The FCC updated their definition of the word broadband, and how funding is allocated to areas based on what can be provided in those areas. The new baseline is 25Mbps download and 3Mbps per second upload. A few defitions for you:

  • Download is the speed at which data comes to you.
  • Upload is the speed in which you can send information to the Internet.
  • Mbps or Megabits per second is a measurement of data. For example, Netflix recommends that your download speed be at least 5Mbps to maintain HD quality downloading.
    • Further explanation: A megabit is different from a Megabyte by a factor of 8. When we talk about Internet speeds it is measured in bits per second, and when we discuss storage it is measured in bytes. Knowing the difference also factors in when you have a plan with bandwidth caps or limitations (Satellite and Cellular) as these limits will be calculated in GigaBYTES of overall usage. Confused yet?! Netflix provides an estimate to their customers for an average of data consumption based on the setting the users chooses for their video quality.

Back to our options and my recommendation!

I wanted to update my list of the options we have in our area for Internet connectivity with a recommendation for what I believe is the best, all-around option for the typical, residential household. Here they are, in the order I would recommend them to a residential customer. There are obviously caveats based on the needs of the user, and specific limitations of each service. Please feel free to contact me with questions about what option is best for you and your home/business.

Recommendation – AirMax (CellularONE)

Bronze Plan – up to 6Mbps download and 2Mbps upload – $40/month

Silver Plan – up to 10Mbps download and 4Mbps upload – $55/month

  • Public IP addressing, if needed for port forwarding or remote services, is available in most areas.
  • Unlimited Data – no cap or throttling based on usage.
  • Service is based upon line of sight to one of the towers in your area.
  • Best upload speeds available. This means sending photos and data to the Internet occurs much quicker. If you perform backups (Carbonite) then this product will be appealing to you.
  • $80 installation fee & a two-year agreement

Most customers choose the Silver plan because the additional speed for $15/month is appealing when multiple devices and children are present in the home.

AirMax topped the previous list, and I still feel it holds it’s place at the top. In full disclosure, I am the local representative for this product, but I remain that representative because I feel like it is the best overall option for us. AirMax provides Internet via a wireless signal from a number of towers in our communities. There are currently two towers in Round Valley, one in St Johns, and one in Concho. There are also towers in Show Low, Snowflake, and Taylor for those a bit farther from Springerville and Eagar. This product is supported by a team out of Show Low, and I feel this helps reduce response time for outages and concerns. They are a smaller business, in the context of Internet Service Providers, so that can manifest itself also.

Alternative – Cellular (Verizon Wireless)

Verizon Wireless provides the greatest availability to bandwidth of all the options, but the service is capped. Your traffic is either deprioritized (on mobile devices) or throttled to 600Kbps up and down (routers, jetpacks, tethering). This impact is not felt as much on mobile devices, but completely changes things on devices meant to power computers and other wireless devices. Prices vary based on your need and the plan you currently have. I leverage this almost daily while I am away from my home to get my mobile devices online, but the data caps and cost keep it from being my primary Internet Connection. If you do not stream a lot, and only need minimal access to the Internet on your computers throughout the month then this is a good option to consider.

Alternative – aDSL (Frontier Communications)

Cable in the ground is what we all look for in an ISP. Reliability is increased and latency is typically decreased when we are hard-wired to our connection. Frontier has many limitations that hinder it as the best option in our area. While the service has no data caps, there are a number of caveats:

  • Limited upload speed ~400Kbps upload on most plans,which makes it hard to send large amounts of information to the internet.
    • This service is also an aDSL or asynchronous connection. Due to this your traffic down hurts your upload speeds, and your uploading hurts your download speeds. This cripples your connection when you try to send large amounts of information to the cloud or web services online.
  • Lack of availability to speeds higher than 6Mbps
    • Residents in Springerville have access to different plans based on their physical location. These users can get 12Mbps aDSL services, which make it a more enticing option. You call their local office for availability and pricing based on your physical address.
  • Lack of availability to new users. I hear from many residents that Frontier will not provision new services to their addresses. They have limited availability on their equipment for customers.
  • Pricing is all over the place for the same plan.

Alternative – Wireless (Wi-Power/TWN Comm.)

This service functions similarly to the recommended AirMax solution, but their pricing structure is different. I recommend Wi-Power under other options because similar speeds are more expensive with Wi-Power. They do not publish their pricing online, but when I spoke with them last they provided similar plans to AirMax for $10-45/month more based on your area and line-of-sight to certain towers in the area. While this is better than Frontier’s aDSL option, you can get more bandwidth up and down for less month with AirMax. Agreement lengths and installation fees vary based on current promotions.

Alternative – Satellite (Various Providers)

Satellite brings broadband speeds to areas with not other options. There are many different vendors who all provide similar plans and pricing. These plans all have low data caps where you either pay more money to “boost” your speeds back up, or are throttled to slower speeds until the end of your billing cycle. There is also an inherent latency issues with satellite because of the distance the data must travel to get to you. Pricing is not comparable to the other services listed above. For those with no other access to the options above, this is your only real option for connectivity.

To wrap things up..

We all wish for more bandwidth today in a world of streaming everything. I have found a balance of services that work best for my family and work needs, but each need and family is different. Drop me a text or call today at (928) 251-0005, and we can discuss which option will help you the most.

AirMax | Refer a Friend for a tablet!

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  • Referrals based upon successful installation of AirMax at the residence/business.
  • You may enter yourself as the referral for your own activation if there is no other referrer.
  • One entry per AirMax activation.
  • Referrers may be entered multiple times for the same tablet drawing. Each referral is another entry for the drawing.
  • Each tablet will be drawn from a group of 10 referrals.
  • Referrals not winning a tablet will be held for additional drawings to be held at a later date.
  • Tablet referral program effective until April 1st, 2016. Referral program may be changed, or prize may be changed at that time. Don’t worry, it won’t go away, we just may want to make it better!

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Internet options in the Round Valley Area

Updated list with new information found on my latest post.  CLICK HERE!

Updated: February 21st, 2016.  

Your current Internet options in the Round Valley area: (new recommendation of AirMax.  Scroll down to see why).

1 – AirMax (Microwave) – AirMax offers a number of plans that cater to different groups of Internet users.  Most common plans are $40 per month (6Mbps down/2Mbps up) and $55 per month (10Mbps down/4Mbps up).  This technology relies on line-of-sight to the tower.  The link provided above has a map of locations of towers in our area, and the AirMax team continues to build out the network to provide more coverage to more addresses.  I have performed extensive testing on this service since September of 2015, and have been satisfied with the over-all service levels in various weather conditions.  My concerns about it being a wireless technology, and having latency has been minimized the longer I have the service running.  Streaming content as well as on-demand needs such as online gaming are not hindered over this Internet connection.

  • For the gamers reading, NAT level 2 is provided for this connection.  This allows you to host games from your Internet connection.
  • As of 2/21/2016, the updated date of this post, there is no public IP/static IP option with this ISP.  It is the only big caveat I have found with the service that makes it limiting.  I have found workarounds for my own needs, but have also engaged AirMax to begin conversations in expanding their service to provide this as an option for their customers.  It would enable more businesses to make AirMax their primary Internet connection if they have hosted services at their location.

2 – Verizon LTE (3G/LTE) –  I’ve seen ~50Mbps down and ~15Mbps up. The obvious downside to this is that unless you have a grandfathered “unlimited” plan, you will find your data cap rather quickly.  Since the upgrade to LTE, I have seen these speed be consistent.  I also use Verizon’s data services through my iPhone or iPad when traveling.  It is a much safer option while traveling when your other option is the Hotel’s free/pay wireless Internet.  Public WiFi in general is a great way to contract a virus or malware.  It is ZNET’s recommendation to avoid public WiFi when transmitting personal information of any kind.

3 – Frontier Communications (aDSL) – My provisioned 6Mpbs connection usually runs in the 3.5Mbps range with a constant .36Mbps up. It is aDSL so you upload speeds will be affected by the amount of your current downloads. The service appears to be oversold and saturated in local markets, which cause speed issues or total unavailability of service to certain areas.  Frontier has also placed a new WAN link between the Springerville C.O. and Show Low.  This was anticipated to increase and stabilize existing provisioned speeds for aDSL users.

  • Frontier Communications offers dry-loop or “naked” DSL for those not wanting a “home” phone service coupled with their aDSL connection.
  • Frontier Communications offers dedicated circuits as well, but these are not covered in this post as they are not a typical solution for most residential/business users.

4 – Wi-Power (Microwave) –

Wi-power now offers a “media” plan offering a 10Mbps bursted service with dedicated speeds of 5Mbps if you have line of sight to that particular tower.  Pricing is ~$100 per month as of late 2015 for the media plan.

I have called and spoken with their local and regional staff. They will sell “bursted” data, but will only guarante 1.5Mbps up and down.  While discussing my options with Wi-Power they asked what I used the Internet for and how many devices I had.  At the end of our conversation they recommend I stay with my current ISP because they couldn’t guarantee the speeds I was requesting.

5 – DishNET (Satellite) – Offering allowance-based Internet similar to Verizon and other cellular data plans.  The difference is, once you download/upload your allowance your speeds are “significantly reduced for that data allotment period for the remainder of the billing cycle.”  When I installed HughesNET in the early 2000s, this equated to around dialup speeds.  This is also not a good option for any real-time data needs such as stocks and online gaming.  The sheer distance the data is traveling causes latency.

6 – CellularONE (3G/4G being built out). Cellular Data Plan similar to Verizon LTE. Pricing available per GB of traffic.  CellularONE is currently working to build out their 4G network.

7 – Various dial-up services. Do we really need to discuss these? Synchronous 56Kbps connections dependent upon the quality of the cable ran between the C.O. and your computer.

UPDATED Recommendation:  The all-around best choice is AirMax.  I have always looked for a faster, more reliable option for my Internet connection.  I rely on it professionally for work as well as personally for media streaming.  Finding AirMax, meeting their team, and beginning to use it in Q3 of 2015 resulted in me dropping my previous ISP.  I have also became the direct reselling agent for AirMax in our area.  It is both the product I have in my home, and the product I recommend for almost every residential and business Internet need.