Wireless Internet Providers service areas outside the reach of Cable and DSL Internet providers. Many of us couldn’t imagine living somewhere that we didn’t have Cable TV and High Speed Internet service. Just like traditional broadcast and Satellite TV service, homeowners that live in more rural settings have had the ability to take their Internet service wireless and approach the broadband speeds others take for granted.
There are a number of companies servicing the more rural areas of the country, so let’s take a look at what going wireless entails and some of their offerings.
Wireless Internet Providers
Satellite-based wireless Internet access was the first wireless way to reach the Internet, but it was only to download, suffered from terrible lag, and required a landline telephone and modem to function.
Rural customers can now look to fixed wireless Internet providers for their Broadband Internet access.Fixed wireless communicates with a base station on the ground instead of a satellite in the sky, fixing the latency issue. It is also two-way, meaning no telephone line is required, just an antenna somewhere near the house. In locations with a strong signal, customers have been known to use wireless for gaming and VoIP solutions.
However, fixed wireless Internet access, as it is today, isn’t the silver bullet that fixes every problem. The wireless connection is easily degraded by weather, and can even be blocked by trees. Most providers also charge based upon how much data is sent over your connection, instead of a flat-rate for unlimited bandwidth. Additionally, with some wireless Internet providers the number of computers and devices that can access the Internet is limited to one fixed point of access.
Image via Flickr
Who are Some Wireless Internet Providers?
Typically, there is one wireless provider for each small, ultra-rural community, where there are a large number of properties outside of the main portion of town where wireless Internet is the only way to enjoy speeds approaching Broadband. Some companies are growing and expanding to cover larger contiguous tracts of land, sometimes crossing state lines, but often times covering multiple communities throughout a large area of one state.
CLEAR High Speed Internet
CLEAR is one of the newer players in the home wireless Internet market. They offer a 4G solution that has a built-in Wi-Fi router. This router works just like a typical router, allowing more than 200 computers and devices to share the single Internet connection. CLEAR also offers combined fixed and mobile Internet solutions, offering you both to enable your mobile life. CLEAR provides service to a number of communities. The form at the bottom of the page will help you find out if they service where you live.
DesertGate is a smaller provider of wireless Internet services that serves a network in and around Las Vegas and New Mexico. DesertGate also offers two types of wireless service, fixed with a line-of-sight antenna on your building for those outside of town, and mobile hotspots in town. If you live outside of town and have a line of sight on Porkchop Hill, you’re in the service area covered by DesertGate.
DataJack covers most of the country. Except for parts of northern Nevada and most of Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas, and western Nebraska, DataJack covers much of the United States. The company offers single device mobile broadband access and mobile hotspots offering access to multiple devices. Prices for DataJack start with the modems with the single device modem being $70 and the mobile hotspot device running $90. Service is based upon usage, with plans running $10 a month for 200 MB up to $50 for five Gigabytes. If you want to sign up for Netflix and watch more than a movie a week, you’re going to be paying overage charges.
I can remember going through the checkout at grocery stores and Kmart and seeing the FREE NetZero CDs. Depending on where the store was, sometimes these CDs flew out the door with customers, while at others they gathered dust. The NetZero name first gained prominence in offering free and low cost Internet access through a dial-up telephone modem and account. NetZero still offers low cost Internet access solutions, but they also offer wireless Internet solutions with 3G and 4G products available within their service area. NetZero’s basic plan is 200 MB of data transfer per month for free, with the most expensive plan being four Gigabytes of data for $50 a month. NetZero also offers both single device access and hotspots.
Of course, the major cellular carriers can also be considered wireless Internet providers, with mobile broadband Internet access. Customers can choose between a USB device for a single computer and mobile hotspots for multiple devices.
Photo Credit: Krzysztof Nowakowski