Out for a hike in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, USA. Photo taken April 19, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Osgoode, Ontario, Canada. Just south of Ottawa.

And where are they going next? We leave November 1st for a six week trip to Romania and Moldova.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Satellite internet now costs less

And it's faster, and you're allowed more data.

We're stuck in a valley here at the park, and while our cellular internet works...it doesn't work very well. And it's slow, and we're limited by how much we use because it's expensive for what you get.

So while most of you are at home with unlimited high speed data plans watching videos and using skype to talk to your grandchildren...we are here for five months with none of that.

And we're frustrated by not being able to be online like most Canadians are.

The only other option for us is satellite internet, but I hadn't even looked into it because I thought it was not much faster than what we've got, and it's expensive as well.

But things have changed!

Right now, we are paying around $120 a month for 15 GB of data usage. Between the two of us, that's not very much. Yes, we could just use more, but then we would pay more. It's just too expensive, so we limit our usage.

Also, it's slow. I did a couple of speed tests over the last few days and we're averaging 0.9 MB/s (megabytes per second). Occasionally it spikes up to 2.0, and down to 0.6.

In this day and age, a minimum high speed connection is 5.0 MB/s, and most of you are using connection speeds between 10.0 and 50.0.

You can check your connection speed at www.speedtest.net

They put a 4G internet satellite up that gives speeds of either 5.0 or 10.0 MB/s and with decent data plans. I'm going to find out more about it today.

Apparently we can now buy 30 GB of data at 10.0 MB/s for around $105.

But there's a business plan for 80 GB of data at 5.0 MB/s for not much more money. The park would have to pay for that because it seems like it's only available for businesses, so maybe it will become part of our negotiations for next year.

But of course there are also some one time setup and equipment fees so I'll research that today.

Hopefully when we arrive here next May, we'll have real internet for a change!

Thanks for remembering to come back here to do any of your Amazon shopping. We get a small commission, and you pay the same price you would anyhow. It helps us pay for our expensive internet!

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  1. It's changing so fast, it might even be better and cheaper next year!

  2. I think you're mixing MB/s with Mbps (megabits per second). They differ by a factor of eight. While your fastest hardwired readers may be enjoying 10-50MB/s (80-400Mbps), most readers are likely just 10-50Mbps, including those with good 4G connections. Speedtest also uses Mbps as does SaskTel satellite in their plans.

  3. Who is "they put an Internet satellite up"? Company name pls, thank you!

    1. It turns out that what I was reading as "new" was actually old information. The 4g satellite was launched by Viasat in 2012. Their package is sold by Xplornet here in Canada. Viasat is launching another satellite in 2016. More info here....


  4. Exciting news. Can't wait to hear what you discover.

    1. The board is definitely looking into it so we will see what happens with this when we arrive back next year.

  5. The biggest snag will probably be suspending the satellite service for the seven months of the year during which no one is at the park. Unless you're willing to be there during the winter, too ;)

    1. If you're not on a contract (a $550 upfront fee), you can suspend and start again whenever you like. If you are on a contract, I think it's $20 a month to keep the service running with nobody there.

  6. Eastlink allows for a 7-month off, 5-month on service. We're pleased with the service and there is NO FEE to be paid during the off months. Might be worth checking out.

    1. Eastlink is cable and we can't get cable here plus they don't supply to Saskatchewan anyways but thanks for the suggestion, Dianne.

  7. Have you actually used satellite internet? It looks really good on paper, but in practice, it's an absolute disaster. Lag time means no streaming or Skype and there are daily bandwidth limits. I know what plan you're looking at; SaskTel is pushing it for my area instead of giving us REAL high speed internet. Neighbours on it rage against it. Yeah, 80GB sounds like a good deal, but you're limited to a couple of GB per day; what if you have a ton of downloads to do one day? My old crappy cellular connection I had before I got my new booster was better than what my neighbours on satellite I have. My new amazing cellular connection I have with my new booster, even when I'm throttled, is so far beyond anything satellite offers that I guess the only reason people still consider satellite is because they've never used it.

    You are much, much, much better off going to SaskTel's unlimited data plan, even if they throttle you after 15GB. RIght now, they still offer a free iPhone 5C for switching to them and which can be used as a hot spot.

    1. At 80 GB per month, it would be an average of 2.7 GB per day. We have never ever used that much so that part wouldn't be an issue for us. In fact, it would be FAR better than what we have.

      I don't want to do any streaming, so that's not an issue either.

      If it doesn't work with Skype, I would be disappointed.

      If I read correctly, your "new amazing cellular connection" cost around $1,200 and I can't justify that. And I'm most certainly not going to ask my readers to pay for it.

      One lady I know near here did a speed test this morning with her Xplornet connection and she's getting a very respectable 9.6 Mb/s. Hardly a "disaster".

      How much do you pay for your unlimited plan? And how much do you pay for it when you're not in Canada?

    2. Oh, and Xplornet offers a 30 day complete money back guarantee if you're not happy. Sounds worth a try to me.

  8. I live in an exceptional area where I needed a booster. You don't. You get SaskTel service. I would get my current level of service at your RV park if you're getting boosterless service with your Mifi.

    A speed test reflects a single moment in time and means absolutely nothing over long-term internet usage.

    I pay $80 a month for my plan, but I'm grandfathered in. The plan is now $100 a month, which also includes voice and data, and you get throttled after 15GB rather than 10GB. So my entire communications bill every month right now is $80 per month, but if you wanted the same plan, it would be $100 per month.

    I can suspend service for three months out of every 12. So it costs me $240 over the winter to keep my plan. I could cancel it, but then I'd have to go to a newer, more expensive version of the plan. Considering that SaskTel is the only telecom still offering an unlimited plan, I'm not canceling anything in case they do away with unlimited plans altogether.

    I knew this information would be of absolutely no value to you, but I thought your readers might be interested. Good luck with Xplorenet.

  9. If you do three or four speedtests over a week, you get a pretty good idea of what you're dealing with. I'd say that means a lot more than "absolutely nothing" over the long term. I'd be curious as to what yours says when you're being throttled.

    My cellular connection typically gives me 0.9 Mbps. Although I did one this morning that was an unusually fast 2.1 Mbps.

  10. When throttled, it's ridiculously slow, of course, about 300kbps, as per the fair use policy. I'm not throttled right now and I'm getting just under 2MBps, which is average for being unthrottled. I'm never at less than 1.2Mbps and sometimes over 2MBps. But I'm not in LTE land, which I believe you might be in since Swift Current now has the service. In LTE land, I get speeds of over 5MBps. Whatever you're getting with your Mifi is what you'd get by switching to SaskTel, only you'd get unlimited data.

    If you're in a valley and still getting very usable internet service with your cellular, then you have a decent line of sight to a tower. So a much more inexpensive booster than mine would likely beef that up for you. I'd start with a car car cradle (used to be the Wilson Sleek, not sure what it is called now), which can be used both when you're at the park in SK and on the road. I still have my Sleek and it's really great when you're traveling through areas were cell service is spotty. It was less than $100 when I got one three summers ago, and then I added a Yagi and cable because I needed a stronger antenna. I doubt that will be needed in your case.

    If I can live on the throttled speeds doing the job that I do, which involves so much downloading, I imagine you'd have no issues with it. Remember that you would get the unthrottled 15GB first. From the usage you describe, it sounds like that could actually last you a good chunk of the month.

    Voice-only Skype is perfectly usable on my throttled connection and I can stream (sometimes have to let longer videos load before hitting play). I tried Skype on my neighbour's satellite connection and it didn't work well. It was like trying to call another planet in that I'd speak, there would be a delay for the other person to hear my response, then a delay for me to hear the other response. It didn't feel like an immediate connection at all and it was very frustrating because sometimes we'd think the other person was gone and our voices would overlap.


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