It's mighty nice being out there all by your lonesome, if that's the kind of thing that appeals to you. Whether it's on a mountaintop, out on the lone prairie or on the rocky coast of Maine, the solitary life appeals to many.
There's one big drawback, though: no broadband Internet service. Cities and suburbs may be noisy, dirty and crowded but at least you can jump on Netflix and catch up with "Breaking Bad," right?
Well, that may finally be about to change. After decades of disappointment with satellite Internet services, rural dwellers will soon get another chance. Dish Network is launching a nationwide broadband service Monday under the brand name dishNet -- and it swears this one will work the way consumers want it to.
dishNET still won't match the 305 Mbps you can get from FiOS but thanks to new satellite technology, Dish says it will deliver 4G-level service of about 10 Mbps; that's markedly better than the dismal 1.5 Mbps which has been about the best any of the current services have been able to achieve.Â
Ah, but here's the catch: there will be data limits. This is wireless service, after all, so dishNET will be offering tiered service, which is a fancy way of saying the more you use, the more you pay.
The cheapest service -- starting at $39.99 per month -- offers five gigabytes a month of "anytime" service and five "offpeak" gigabytes that must be used between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. Five gigabytes is roughly enough to stream three high-def movies, so you'll still have plenty of time to get out there and milk the cows, run the nets or whatever it is that lured you to the sticks in the first place.
DISH's CEO Joseph Clayton unveiled dishNET Thursday at the flagship Cowboy Maloney's Electric City retail store in Jackson, Miss., the historic retail launch site of digital satellite TV and satellite radio services.
"Today, we are launching a revolutionary consumer broadband service that delivers high-speed Internet available in metropolitan areas to rural markets nationwide," Clayton said. "With nearly one-in-four rural residents lacking a high-speed connection, reaching these underserved markets is vital. Our mission is to provide broadband at an outstanding value with fast speeds and large data plans."
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimates there are 19 million Americans without access to high-speed Internet. It has been wringing its hands and conducting studies for decades with about as much success as you'd expect. Namely none.
In rural and outlying suburban regions nationwide, dishNET satellite broadband starts at $39.99 per month (plus equipment fees) for 5 Mbps download/1 Mbps upload speeds and data plans of 10 GB, when bundled with DISH's America's Top 120 or higher programming packages and with a two-year agreement.
Combining dishNET with DISH TV saves $10 per month. Most satellite customers can upgrade to a 10 Mbps /1 Mbps plan available with 20 GB of data for $49.99 per month.
Say what you will, dishNET has to be better than WildBlue, which Dish has been selling for the last few years.
"First of all, I hate Wild Blue!" said Annie of Escondido, Calif., in a recent ConsumerAffairs posting. "Unfortunately, I must use satellite because I live and work in a rural area. San Diego county! Yes, one of the most progressive cities in the world. I live on the outskirts and have to use the awful satellite service. On my 4th year now and have always had problems with all of it."
Joy of Fort Lupton, Colo., agrees: "I had Wild Blue for almost five years and the service was horrible the entire time."
About the only consolation for WildBlue has been that customers of competing Hughes Network are even madder, or maybe there are just more of them.
"Do not get Hughes Internet, the worst internet service I have ever seen," said Jim of Washington State. "They have no connection, horrible installation crew. They literally ran out of the house so they wouldn't have to help me get my computer running. Bad, bad, bad. ... You could walk to Europe and deliver a letter faster than you could email your neighbor."