Networking Rural Internet Tech

How to get rural internet access in Texas.

Probably my biggest obstacle to tackle here in the woods is the task of internet access. As you can imagine there are not many options and at the moment it looks like it is going to be 4G wireless. There are several towers within 5 miles with both T-Mobile and Verizon access. No fixed wireless providers service this area, DSL may be an option but is still under investigation — I do not have high hopes. The previous owner had Huges satellite internet service, but it kept his kids glued to their screens so they turned it off to try and get them to go outside.

For the moment I have joined the Calyx Institute to get ahold of one of their unlimited 4G hot spots. I am uncertain if this will work off of the towers as the device I ordered will only work on post merger T-Mobile service, at worse I am out $150 for the first 4 months of service. If this works then I will pay out the rest of the membership and keep that going ($500/yr paid annually). While visiting the property for inspections and what not I did test with my Mint phone and was able to get about 6Mbit down and 0.5Mbit up with varying latency. These were just spot checks from the porch and just in front of the property. I will spend more time finding the best spot to lay that 4G hot spot.

Speaking of that 4G hot spot, it would not be a very geeky blog post if I didn’t at least go into some detail about how I plan on getting that to work. When you join Calyx you are given two options of devices you can order. Sadly neither of them have antenna connectors so you end up with either getting a device that can be tethered or a device that cannot be tethered. For my use a tethered device would be great since I can connect it directly to my router as a USB modem and use it that way. The non-tethering option could still work, but I would have to use the router to connect to it via WiFi as a bridge and then connect my other WiFi router to that to provide service to the rest of my devices. To be honest I am not sure why you would get the other device at all. You just have a better device all around by getting the tethering option.

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