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Author Topic: Kind of Off Topic: HugesNet Sat Internet Uplink ?  (Read 930 times)
K4GPS
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Posts: 23




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« on: July 05, 2007, 06:22:31 PM »

Somewhat off topic but not really since the PC is so intertwined into the shack now. Are there any hams out here that actually USE the HughesNet network for a internet connection?

I have read the threads at dslreports.com for several months now and it looks like 95% of the users there are VERY UNSATISFIED customers. I have NO options for any other high speed internet at a home we are building and moving into next month. I have tried finding a WiFi provider, ISDN, and of course DSL,Cable, and EVDO. We are out in the country and no one want's to service out that far.

I would like to hear from fellow hams on their expirience with the quality and speed of connection. It would be great if some of you were in my shoes and have used DSL and cable before and can give a A vs. B report. The big problems are that 1) The 1 year agreement 2)High startup costs vs. the 1 year agreement 3) terms of agreement not guaranteeing ANY service speed 4) Poor Customer service/call centers in India 5) terms of agreement which will drop you to something like 10kbps for 1 day if you download too much in a 24 hr period.

Once you sign the dotted line upon install you are stuck with your service for 1 year even if you can't use it! Needless to say I am being very carefull that this is what I want and if I have to I'll drive 20 miles to the closest WiFi spot and use that. It's just going to be tough to do upgrades on my XP desktops in the car! :-)
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W5GA
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« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2007, 10:15:52 AM »

I have been using a satellite service for 2 years now called WildBlue (www.wildblue.com) as my only other option is dialup.  I have used DSL, and have access to a T-1 at work, so am well versed in the pros and cons.

WildBlue is faster than dialup by a good bit most of the time, especially on file downloads.  It can be just as slow for page loads some times.  It is very reliable at maintaining a telnet packet cluster connection, which is important to me for contesting.

The "fair use" policy is pretty liberal.  They don't care what your 24hr use is, instead going by your use over a rolling 30 day period.  At the entry level I have, it allows 12GB of downloads over this 30 rolling day period.  Unless you have some sort of malware on your machine or someone piggybacking your connection, you won't ever come close to using it all in normal browsing or maintenance downloads.

I'm out of town right now, so I can't look at my contract to see what the download/upload speeds are at the base level I have are.  Faster speeds are more capacity are available.

The price was approx. $300 for the install and equipment combined, and $50/month for the service.

Hope this helps!

73, Doug
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K4GPS
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« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2007, 03:49:46 PM »

Yes Doug it does help. WildBlue has it's own complaints on www.dslreports.com but I have not looked at them very much. Quite often I have heard they max out some of the beams and they will ask you for your zip code. If you are in the wrong area you can not get service. Now what I ACTUALLY think is that they ask for your ZIP to see if they have an installation group willing to go to your home, I do not think their installation team is anywhere near as large as Hughes Net.

Since both systems have complaints maybe I should check out WildBlue also. How is their customer service? The #1 complaint about Hughes is sitting on hold for hours getting the run around and trying to speak to someone from India who has no idea what is going on and is just reading a script. The #2 complaint is slow speeds then finally this new FAP (Term of Agreement)really made people mad since they imposed it on existing customers who did not agree to it. The 24hr thing makes people mad since a new install of Windoze (upgrades/fixes)or trying to download a Linux distro will bring them to a screeching halt for 24 hours. They say it's just a slow down but when your speeds are about 10-20kb that is as good as stopped!
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W5GA
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« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2007, 08:33:16 PM »

When dealing with their customer service folks, you at least get someone that speaks english who is located I believe in Colorado.  You still get to deal with the scripted service, and have a hell of a time getting to any real intelligent life, but at least you can talk to them.  The longest wait I've had to get through was 5 minutes.

I've had to reinstall or install XP and its various updates on several computers recently, and as far as internet service goes it was completely transparent.  I haven't (yet) had an issue with them over selling bandwidth that I'm aware of.

Like satellite TV, reception can be WX dependent.  If you are getting snow/sleet/ice etc. the connection will go down...guaranteed.  Once it quits falling, all is well even though the clouds remain.

The one thing I'll warn you about...the dish is larger than a TV dish by about 30%, and as such requires a more robust mount.  Based on my installers recommendation I cut a 2' square piece of 5/8" plywood to go between it and my roof.

Another unpleasant experience I've had...I was in a situation a few months ago where I was exceeding WB's fair use policy.  My download quota was skyrocketing with no additional use by me.  I was totally unable to get ANY satisfactory help on this issue.  Finally had to have the tech folks at Symantec poke around inside my machine remotely.  Even they found nothing.  Ended up reinstalling XP to fix whatever it was.

If you do this, MAC address filtering is highly recommended!

Doug
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K4GPS
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« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2007, 06:16:59 AM »

Interesting they too have a FAP now...I'll have to look into that. It's a very sore subject with Hughes Customers. I don't know if WB has different equipment packages or not, Hughes does and I am willing to go all the way to the 2watt professional version with larger dish to reduce some of the rain/snow fade. I know it will not eliminate it but it will reduce it. I have done DSS for years both in Florida and even over on the islands for a customer. We bumped up the dish size which made it more difficult to align and also required a much more STABLE mount but it helped.

I can do a 4x4 pressure treated post in the ground then mount the bracket to that. It will not be easy to do with all the clay and rock we have but like everything else a "larger hammer" will do it. I need an excuse for a back hoe on the tractor or I'll just rent a mini-excavator and do that along with a 350ft trench to the gate for power/intercom and another 300ft trench to our yard for water. If I have time I have another 1K or so feet to 2 other spots where I would like to mount some CAT5 cameras for deer. ANYWAY... you get the point I got a LOT of work to do there. Headed over there now to run some PVC in the walls of the garage before the drywall guys show up next week!
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N1UK
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« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2007, 11:29:19 AM »

I have been with WB for about 1 1/2 years now and have been reasonably pleased with the service. I would advise you to deal with a coop rather than directly with wb. The coops appear to have better tech help and seem to be more user friendly. I think the WB FAP is easier to live with than than HughesNet

There is some interesting reading here

http://www.wildblue.cc/


A lot of problems are due to poor installs. You could well save money by putting in the mounting post yourself. I would recommend a metal post rather than wood. Wood may well twist and upset your dish alignment. My dish is bolted to the side of the house and has not given me any problems other some rain drops or dew on the TRIA plastic window (transmit receive module). I have a wooden stick woth a kitchen towel on it to remove the moisture. I would also seal the coax connections to the dish with coaxseal.


Mark N1UK G3ZZM
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K4GPS
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« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2007, 02:34:18 PM »

I checked out the FAP late last night, they do serve my zip code by what the web site shows but I have not spoken to a tech yet. Their speeds are a bit slower than what HN claims but then again if they claim actual speeds and not THEORETICAL speeds they offer something I can live with.

Of course Latency is a killer but for a long time I lived with DSL at 850k DL 150k UL then moved up to 1500K DL and 280k UL. For the past year I have had a cable modem with 3.5m down and 1.5m up so I have been spoiled but if I lived with slow DSL for 3 years, running a personal web server, echolink, APRS Gateway etc. I should be OK. The one thing I will miss is Vonage VoIP, and I don't know but echolink probably will be worthless also on Sat.


Some claim that alternate VoIP companies like Packet8 will work but I doubt it. I guess I'll just have to try it out.

Rich
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PHILIP_EX_KC7FWB
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Posts: 48




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« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2007, 09:23:19 AM »

This is off your topic of satellite Internet connections, but may be something worth considering:

I had a problem not being able to get a high speed Internet connection, and solved it by setting up a WiFi link to a remote location where DSL was available.

Now in my case that location is ~1 mile away, and line of sight, but I am pretty confident that I could push it out further, maybe much further by adding a 1W amplifier at each end.

You didn't say what your location is like, but if you have any views, it may be worth looking to see if you can see any areas where DSL might be available, then asking around to see if you can find someone willing to let you set up an antenna and use DSL on their phone line.

I had some initial teething problems, but this link has now been running 24/7 for about 4 years.

Take a look at the writeup I did about it: http://peakespages.com/wifi/
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KF7CG
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« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2007, 11:29:35 AM »

I have been using Hughes Net for about 10 months now. No problems other than some rather tricky network connection setups for the Windows boxes. Had to get down to the proxy server level to get the network stuff ironed out and the settings were different depending on the version of Windows. Speed is generally fine, but don't try music downloads, their security software doesn't like some of the things that come with that.

Hughes warns you about that up front and also about the latency that exists in satellite connections. No satellite connection does online gaming well. The two problems with their service were blessings for me they keep my two teenagers on-line time within reason!

Once setup, Hughes Net also works well with Linux systems. I don't know it may even work well with them during setup, I didn't try. Just connected to the net with my Linux boxes without trouble, less problem than Windows XP, Windows ME, or Windows 98.

Disk is big, heavy. Weather performance is excellent. It outperforms Dish or Direct TV during stormy weather but does go down when conditions get really bad.

I have used DSL in two locations also. I prefer DSL to the satellite, but when you live out in the country there often isn't any choice. Where I live, dial-up on a second line isn't even a choice for a continuous connection. Phone company line monitoring equipment drops the connection and locks the line down for 24-48 hours if the modem stays connected too long and then you get the Telco song and dance about your equipment being bad because if you disconnect it for a while everything comes back OK.

Hughes Net is a good choice as well as WB. WB is overloaded in my area so it was Hughes or nothing.

KF7CG
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K4GPS
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« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2007, 04:20:31 PM »

Good input guys!

a) Yes I have thought about WiFi quite a bit for 2 reasons. I have 27.5 acres and I would like to saturate the property for CAT5 camera's 2)So I can use a WiFi phone while out on the property.I have tested just using a regular AP on a generator on the 2nd floor of the home, no windows at the time and I got about 1/4 of the property, good antennas and it should be great.

b) I thought the cable company could reach one end of the property with service and I could run power and mount an outdoor cabinet for the termination then WiFi back to the home even if I had to do it with high power and Amateur Radio Regulations. I was wrong, the Cable company will not service to any portion of the property AND they refuse to terminate UNLESS IT IS AT A HOME. Oh well.

Then I thought well maybe I can go further and pay someone for cable TV if they let me have a AP at the home. I asked the cable company where the closest customer with internet was and they gave me a few street numbers. I told them I see your cable drop, it's only 500ft away and they came back with some street numbers :-). I checked them out and the path would not work without some SERIOUS tower work. I don't know anyone in the area, high speed is sparse and we live in what was once ALL paper company timber land. I bought it from an investor who bought it from Georga Pacific so we have cut 2 acres out of 50-80ft pine trees. It was so dense when we bought it in Feb. I still have scars from the branches and thickets. My co-worker lives 5 miles away and has DSL but it's in a historic district. I am guessing 100ft towers on both ends would be necessary. I doubt that would ever happen both by the county and by the guy wires that would be required in their yard. WiFi is great on Line of Sight but there is not very much of that here unless you live on a mountian top. We looked at one but I could not afford to buy 110 acres to get the whole top of the hill.

It's good to hear some people are happy with Hughes and Wild Blue. I have read several forums for both carriers and it's VERY hard to find anyone with good things to say about it. I am not a game player so that does not bother me but the loss of VoIP and the ability to do Echolink/IRLP is going to be painful. I also hear that secure pages (httpS)are VERY slow to load and that concerns me since I do a bit of E-Bay and a LOT of on-line banking.

Still trying to get an answer back from ATT on ISDN and toying with the idea of installing a cellular repeater at the house, mounting an antenna on a tower then using EVDO. Latency is still poor for VoIP but Echolink/IRLP may work and secure sites are no problem. I work for a cell company and use EVDO all day long, it would do just fine.



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W5GA
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« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2007, 06:59:28 AM »

Rich, I do Ebay also and I don't find that the https pages load any slower than any other.  Page loads are a little slow no matter what, probably due to latency issues.  File downloads do move along at a reasonable clip once they get going however.

I've only used ISDN once, many years ago.  It doesn't do well in comparison to a satellite connection IMHO.

Any of these options will be MUCH better than any 56k dialup!!!

73, Doug
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K4GPS
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« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2007, 03:00:54 PM »

Hi Doug, that is interesting. I know that ISDN is a bit slower than an uplink signal but I was under the impression that the latency was so much better (almost 0) that the actual speeds were much more comparable and in some instances better.

My main thought of ISDN is so that my uplink speeds would be better for my home based web server but that is not REALLY important. It's a small photo server for family and friends along with a page that has the latest weather information from either a Peet or Davis unit along with Weather Display software. The other reason was for VoIP and Echolink/IRLP. I have Vonage now and it's great, not only the rates but also the quality. The other benifit is for my Mom, she ported over her 17 year old phone number to Vonage and no one even knows she lives in another state, it's great for friends and just staying in touch. If we switch over to a regular phone service she will lose that number. The $20 extra for unlimited calls is not a big deal but the number thing is.

I guess the best thing I need to do is try to find a friendly HN or WB user locally and try it out myself.

Rich
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