Review by jameswade
Good "DSL speeds in the boonies"
- Location: Hot Springs,Madison,NC
- Cost: $58 per month (24 month contract)
Bad "5 Gbyte usage cap"
Overall "If you can't get DSL, cable, or WISP this may work for you"
|Pre Sales Information:|
Value for money:
Update 11/26/2010: Still working pretty well, but they seem to turn off the local cell tower for a while around midnight most nights. Real bad if you need to make a 911 call. Annoying if you're online at the time.
What's getting to be a real problem is knowing how much data you've used so far in a month. The desktop software sort of provides this, but it looks like you have to add up each session's use manually to find out where you're at. And this information doesn't seem to travel with the card so it's very tricky if you move the card between PCs. And forget it if you're plugging the card into a router.
What's amazing is that US Cellular doesn't really know how much you've used either, their information is delayed by around 24 hours.
So you've got a 5 GByte cap with overages of 50 cents a MByte, and you can't really tell how much you've used.
US Cellular support has been telling me for a year and a half that this is a very difficult technical problem to solve (maybe for US Cellular) and that other carriers have the same issue. (they don't)
Update 8/10/2009: Starting August 3rd, 2009 US Cellular lowered the price of their 5 GByte-capped data service to $49.95 per month. After a drive to the store and informing their people about the new price they lowered my monthly bill to the new price.
They still don't do EVDO roaming and can't seem to come up with a consistent story about when or even if they will allow EVDO roaming in the future.
Original review: Here in the mountains of Western North Carolina we don't have many choices. Verizon dialup has so much hum, pops, and clicks on the line that we cannot connect much of the time. When we can connect it's usually at 21 kbps or 33 kbps. Our neighbors have the same problems and Verizon doesn't really seem to care - they just won't put in the effort to fix the problems. In our are the lines get hit by lightening often and they don't seem to have done any lightening damage abatement work.
Satellite has so many problems with support and poor throughput that we thought that we'd just forgo that headache. We have several neighbors that just see it as a big pain and money pit.
Next choice is a Verizon Wireless data card. Unfortunately we are in an area that can only barely pick up Verizon and roams on the local US Cellular site. Our only useful service is US Cellular. Unfortunately again US Cellular only offered 1XRTT, which can be worse than dialup at times. So we installed a large high gain antenna on the roof and coupled that with a cell amplifier and were able to barely get EVDO at about 300 kbps down and about 60 kbps up. When this worked we were pretty happy, even though we were paying $60 per month with a 5 Gbyte usage cap. Unfortunately (again) sometimes for no apparent weather or season related reason this would quit working. Hours and frustration on the phone with Verizon offered no relief, then it would start working again... Their final solution was to offer to let us out of our contract since the service had worked then stopped working.
We just heard that US Cellular had finally gotten wind of the whole data thing and finally got EVDO working in their local site. We went to the store and picked up a data card. It wouldn't do EVDO at first so I called support. They said that there was no EVDO in our area. ??? Called the store, they said that there was EVDO, just update the PRL using the software. I had tried that, but it failed. I tried it again, it worked, and we had EVDO! 1.3 Mbits down, 667 kbits up! I then took Verizon up on their offer to let us out of the contract.
I've noticed that US Cellular's wireless card seems to be much less sensitive than the Verizon card that we had. They are both made by Pantech. I've taken the card to several neighbors and it wouldn't connect until I hooked up an external antenna even though my Verizon card would. This is with one or even two bars on a cell phone. The Verizon card would roam on the US Cellular site (at 1XRTT) without an external antenna. The antenna with a cable and adapter is well under $100.
I haven't tried traveling with this card, I know that US Cellular doesn't have the best coverage. But they do have Alltel and Verizon as roaming partners. We still don't get EVDO on our Verizon cell phones when roaming on US Cellular, but US Cellular says that reciprocal roaming agreements are in place and its just a matter of distributing some codes and should be working by the end of July 2009.
The real down side to this is the 5 Gbyte per month cap. This limits many of the things that we'd like to do - distance learning, streaming audio and video, etc. It's a little pricey too for what it is. US Cellular doesn't seem to be a leader at all and just followed Verizon's pricing and terms of service. And their internal communications are very poor. But at least we now have a fast reliable Internet connection.
member for 12.2 years, 2717 visits, last login: 1.1 years ago
updated 3.2 years ago