Moving and changing my telecommunications provider – rhymes with hell…

Posted: October 4, 2006 in hardware
Tags: , ,


I’ve been going through the horrendous ordeal of moving to a rural location – getting away from the big city, if only by a few miles. It’s been a big change, mostly for good with a few drawbacks, one of which is the change from cable television to satellite TV.
I won’t name any names, but suffice to say my satellite TV provider rhymes with hell, and that is exactly what i went through to get it hooked up and working being as they somehow screwed up the date that it was supposed to be installed. After a dozen or so conversations with various customer service people over the period of a couple of days, being disconnected, transferred, telling the same story over and over again, etc., I eventually found out the root of the problem (someone typed in an incorrect moving date) and managed to arrange for an installer to come to our house and install the satellite dish and program the receivers. Part one of my little personal horror story is over, aside from the lousy reception whenever it storms, but hey, on the bright side more time for family when the boob-tube is off.

Part two begins with transferring my highspeed account to the new house – or at least trying to transfer it. When I first decided to move I checked into the availability of highspeed at the new house and was informed it was available and scheduled the connection and subsequent disconnection of my current service. The trouble is apparently I was misinformed, and in fact highspeed through the phone line is not available at my new house. After another bout of transferring and jumping through hoops, I found out I may be able to use the latest internet service called Unplugged. A wireless modem based on cell-phone type signals. The supposed cut-off point though, is seemingly on the edge of my property and we are just a little outside of the coverage area, but it seemed like my only hope of getting any kind of service other than dial-up so I ordered a modem with the understanding i may be sending it back if the signal strength sucked.

I got the modem the next day after ordering it, so 5 stars for promptness and as soon as i got it home i hurriedly unpacked the modem and wandered around the house plugging it in to see what kind of signal strength i could get in various places. The dining room window seemed to be the best place, so i connected my laptop with the included ethernet cable and viola, i had an internet connection. after a simple online setup to confirm the service and contract i was surfing and collecting my mail. The signal strength kinda sucked so i continued wandering around the house checking for more bars. I also noticed that i was getting a lousy throughput when the modem was connected to my wireless dlink router. It seemed to increase dramatically when i was just using the modem directly connected to the laptop or if a separated the modem from the router instead of having them side by side. On a speedtest i got approx 400 kbs for download when directly connected and only 78 kbs when through the wireless router. This was strange as I have never seen such degrading of a signal when using my router before.

In the second floor window in my loft above the garage, the signal for my wireless modem is 3 to 4 out of a possible 5 bars. sucks. because the wireless router is not strong enough to reach the house from here. damn brick houses. they block the signals too much. i can stand in the driveway and i get a good connection from the modem/router in the loft, but as soon as i go in the house – nothing. and i wasn’t too thrilled with it either being as it was in direct sunlight, and the modem would get very warm. When i did a speedtest in the loft i was getting 1900 kbs with or without the wireless modem, so it seems that the wireless modem is only an issue when you get a poor signal.

I found another “sweet spot” in the house – up above the kitchen cupboards, and with the way the cupboards are constructed there was even a small chase between them to drop the electrical wires through, so it is basically hidden. i’m only getting two out of 5 possible bars, but it is consistent, so that is pretty good. i’ve also separated the modem from the router by about 5 feet which seems to work better, less interference. I’m living with it there for a while to see how things go, at least it is visually a good place for it, rather than sitting on the window ledge.

So all in all my experience with the wireless modem is inconclusive at best. As i stated, i’m a little outside of the coverage area, but with good elevation i can get a decent signal. the range is a problem with the wireless router, not the modem. there are different routers now which may work better and i also heard the new macbooks have better antennas so they might pick up a signal better than my ibook would, but it’s an expensive “might” and i’d rather not buy a $1800 laptop right now just to test it out.


  1. […] Well, we knew it was coming, although not for long due to Bell’s incompetence and the shitty way they are handling this “discontinuation of service”.  I was going to title this post “Bell, you suck“, but that title has been used way too often. (even in some variations by me, see here, and here.) […]


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