Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wireless Internet Access For Farms

There are many advantages to living and working on a farm, but one of the disadvantages is that broadband Internet access is harder to come by. No, DSL and Cable broadband probably aren’t in your future. But there are options available at reasonable prices right now.

Fixed wireless offers cost and performance advantages for rural broadband...It’s true that DSL and Cable are popular with independent professionals, small businesses and home-based occupations. You get a decent amount of bandwidth at a reasonable cost. The one hitch is that these services are distance limited. DSL signals decrease rapidly as you get a mile to two from the telephone company central office. Cable is a wired service that goes only where the Cable company has decided that there is enough population density to justify stringing the coaxial cable. Unfortunately, those factors keep Cable and DSL within or close to the city limits.

What you really want are either line services that don’t have distance restrictions or wireless services that don’t require stringing or burying cable of any type. There are several options that meet this description.

First is T1. This is a telco digital line service first used between telephone company switching centers. The beauty of T1 is that it is designed to be provisioned on two pair of ordinary telephone wires, available just about everywhere. The second advantage is that it was designed to work with regenerator boxes that clean up and boost the signal so that it can go another mile. You can generally get T1 line service miles from the nearest town, although it gets more expensive as you get farther out in the country.

Second is satellite. Satellite broadband service comes from above and needs no wires. All it requires is AC power that can even come from a gas generator or solar panels and an inverter. Disadvantages include the need to get a professionally installed two-way satellite dish installed on your roof and a half-second or so of latency due to the long path up to the stationary satellite. For many email and Web uses, this slight delay from issuing a command to getting data back is no big deal.

A third option is wireless terrestrial Internet service. Many communities have WISPs or Wireless Internet Service Providers. These tend to be locally owned and have a very limited service area. More often than not, WISPs target rural subdivisions and small towns to get enough customers to justify the cost of the equipment and bandwidth.

One of the most exciting new services is fixed wireless or cellular broadband. This service uses the data channels that every cell phone carrier has available for mobile phones and laptop computers. Accel Networks is a leader in this field and has contracts with the major carriers (AT&T, Verizon and Sprint) to connect with their broadband data channels. By combining the coverage areas of multiple carriers, Accel can pretty much blanket the nation except for mountainous and remote areas of the West where there is no cell phone coverage. If you can get a decent cell phone signal, you can probably get fixed wireless service.

The way this works is that Accel Networks customizes their standard interface box and antenna to optimize the signal strength for your particular location. That gives you a really good chance of getting a solid signal that will deliver decent bandwidth. How much bandwidth? This service is competitive with T1 lines with a minimum rate of 750 Kbps download and 250 Kbps upload, bursting up to 1 Mbps on downloads. This is more than adequate for most farm uses, such as getting agriculture reports, using email, general Web surfing and even watching video clips. It’s not intended for high intensity usage like downloading HD movies or running a server.

What makes fixed wireless broadband service so popular in rural areas is that it is readily available and costs half the price of a T1 line or less. Is this the right service for your farm, ranch or rural business? Get pricing, availability and complete details on fixed wireless broadband now. Installation is fast, often within a matter of days.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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