I’ve made some headway with a local fixed wireless internet provider, 123Net (http://www.123.net). This is not the same type of wireless service as cellular wireless (Verizon/AT&T/Sprint) or satellite. Although not the high speeds of cable, it is better suited to residential use. It doesn’t have the data caps/limits and is also a little cheaper and a somewhat faster than satellite/cellular wireless.

More importantly, 123Net wants to work with us and develop a plan to bring service to our neighborhood, which is very encouraging. Their cooperative attitude resulted in part from our web site and seeing the commitment of all of you. Thanks everyone for your support!

I have provided 123Net with a listing of possible antenna locations as well as information about local towers that are visible from our area. Surprisingly, there are 3 visible towers within 4 miles. It will take them some time to digest the information and respond with alternatives. At that point, we’ll probably meet with them as a group.

If 123Net does decide they can provide service, they offer 2 plans:

Type Monthly Cost Install Cost Download Speed Upload Speed
Base $49.95 $200 2 Mbps 0.5 Mbps
Upgrade $89.95 $200 6 Mbps 1 Mbps

Speedwise, the base plan is about 30% to 100% faster than typical 3G and satellite plans (1.3x to 2x faster). I don’t have personal experience with their services, but from a technical standpoint their technology should offer a higher quality more consistent connection than 3G wireless or satellite. Did I mention it doesn’t have the ridiculously low data caps that other providers have?

Their service works by installing a transmitting antenna in a location able to “cover” the neighborhood. It broadcasts a broadband signal (they describe their technology as 4G). The base plan does not require line of site to their antenna. I assume this means it can operate through some tree cover or partially obstructed locations. The upgrade plan requires line of sight to the 123Net antenna. I suspect this means the Base plan operates in the 900 Mhz band and the Upgrade plan in the 5.8 Ghz band.

While progress on these things is never as fast as one hopes, I will continue following through with them until we have a plan.

6 Comments

    • Deb
    • Posted April 7, 2011 at 7:17 am
    • Permalink

    Chris, thanks for all your hard work. This is great news. Will keep watching for updates. Let us know if there is anything we can do to help keep this moving forward. I do have one question…since there are no caps on this service, can it be used to watch Netflix or to use a phone service like Vonage?

    • Chris Leonello
    • Posted April 7, 2011 at 4:43 pm
    • Permalink

    Let me first stress that I don’t have many details and I’m sure 123Net has an acceptable use policy like any provider. My guess, from a technical standpoint, is that Vonage should not be a problem and Netflix would probably work acceptably under their “Upgrade” plan. The “Base” plan would probably stream a lower quality video from Netflix but may still work. Lower quality video found typically on news web sites and YouTube shouldn’t be an issue.

    These are good questions and I think it’s important that people understand what the service can and cannot do. If 123Net does agree to proceed with a build out, I will set up a meeting with where we can get all our questions answered.

    • Gary LaForest
    • Posted April 13, 2011 at 3:37 pm
    • Permalink

    Chris, thanks for contacting these people. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I would go for the fastest plan they have, but since I’m basically surrounded by trees, I’m worried about line-of-site. Where exactly are the three possible towers you mentioned? I’d like to find out if I would be able to “see” them.

      • Chris Leonello
      • Posted April 13, 2011 at 6:53 pm
      • Permalink

      One tower is on Peach Mountain, about 4 miles directly west. It is owned by U of M. Another is on Barker rd., just west of 23. The third is just east of 23 a little north of Barker. I can see the U of M tower from my front yard. I can see the other two from my back yard.

      I don’t know if they would use these towers, they had simply asked me for a list of possible antenna sites and nearby towers. Again, I can’t say that they will or won’t be able to provide service, this is just part of the process.

    • Jeff Dohner
    • Posted April 15, 2011 at 10:27 am
    • Permalink

    Chris, this looks like it might be a pretty good solution. My concern about wireless though is how well they will manage it. If they allow the network to become overloaded, and speeds crawl every night at 6 pm (like my current wireless), that’s not good enough for me.

    I just finished following up with the Charter Cable folks. Larry (nice enough guy), basically said there were 77 houses in the Scully Rd area and it’s just not worth it to build out to them. He suggested they would have to put a new node out here, and run the fibre to get there. The number he gave me was 246k. He also said each house gets a $600 ‘pass’, which means our neighborhood only reduces that 246k by $46,200 – just from existing. Personally, I would be willing to pay my 1/77 fraction of that remaining 200k (Cheaper then the $400 T1 I got a quote for), but I’m sure that others would not. Maybe there is some bargaining room there, I don’t know.

    Regardless, I’m glad this 123net WiMax is being pursued as well. As long as the network is managed well, and there are no caps, this seems like it might work out.

    Does anybody know what the build-out costs for a DSL provider would be?

      • Chris Leonello
      • Posted April 16, 2011 at 10:02 am
      • Permalink

      I have the same concern about the slowdowns at peak usage times. We’ll have to see what they propose. I have some ideas about how much backhaul bandwidth they should have for a given number of users.

      Interesting about your followup with Charter. I haven’t heard back from them yet, but these numbers are right in line with the general per mile numbers they had told me. I am hoping to get more detail from them on the costs.

      I too am willing to pay my share of the build out costs, wether it is cable, wireless or whatever. Everyone should see how our options stack up and determine what we can do.

      I’ve tried to get a hold of AT&T a couple of times with no luck yet. I’ll keep trying.

      Thanks for the info!