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American Wireless Broadband Inc. page on DSLReports
No six month summary.
Closed to new reviews.

Reviews:
bullet 17 reviews

Review by kcblack See Profile

  • Location: Chicago,Cook,IL
  • Business customer Business customer
  • Cost Contract price not specified.
Good "None"
Bad "high install, bad service, no weekend, after hours support, policies change without notice."
Overall "Stay far away"

I've had awb.us for about a year. One of the reasons I went with them was so that I could bump up the bandwith with a phone call, and they they would let me re-sell.

I was just about to start my project and I had a machine that go hacked by the zombie virus and became an open mail relay. Rather than call me up and tell me there was a problem, they shut off my service completely. I couldn't get any information out of them and finally after 4 days they got me back up. I had to beg, plead to get service back. I asked why they didn't call me and they said people get mad at them when they accuse them of spamming. Normal procedure would have been to restrict access to the offending IP (I had 8 IP's) and only one was a problem. They accused me of being a spammer. I told them in no uncertain terms that if I was going to be a spammer, I would certainly find cheaper ways to do it ($300 to purchase the canopy radio that you have to sell back to them for $1 when you leave), plus the install fees.

Stay far away from these people. BAD COMPANY!

member for 13.8 years, 1809 visits, last login: 3 years ago
lodged 8.7 years ago

Comments:

Review by bsnook

  • Location: Chicago,Cook,IL
  • Cost: $25 per month (12 month contract)
Good "Fast Installation"
Bad "Long time to get it working, spotty on and off service, unreliable speeds"
Overall "Go traditional DSL or cable modem if you need reliable service"

I purchased the service as one of their early customers about a year
ago. It was difficult to get anything other than SBC DSL, and since I
had an alternative phone provider, no way to get SBC DSL.

Right off the bat the installation was a nightmare. I spent weeks trying
every brand and model of wireless router I could buy at Best Buy. None
of them would work, and AWB told me it was my problem. As long as the
wire in my utility closet worked, that was it. When I finally threatened
to cancel, they got on the phone with the manufacturer, and according to
them "changed one setting" and I was off and running.

Since then service, when it's on, is speedy in both directions. Problem
is, it goes off a lot, day and night. Lately, it's been going off in
little one minute blocks all day long. Suddenly email stops scanning and
you can't get to the next web page. You're supposed to power cycle the
antenna and your router, reboot your computer, and try again before
calling tech support. Try that 20 times a day.

I finally gave up today and called to cancel, only to find there's NO
WAY to reach the business office. The only published number is the
independent tech support office. They cannot give you a business
office/billing phone number. Neither can they transfer you to such an
office. All they can do is complete a service request and email it to
billing. They're supposed to call you within 24 hours.

So, the service doesn't work and if you need billing help, there is no
such place. I'll find some other way to get high speed.

(review was emailed from domain sbcglobal.net)
lodged 8.9 years ago

Comments:

Review by yrag2005 See Profile

  • Location: Glenview,Cook,IL
  • Cost: $24 per month (2 month contract)
  • Install: about 3 days
Good "Got it Fast"
Bad "Alot of downtime,bad speeds"
Overall "Realy not relibl get comcast"

I live in a high-rise, and the only thing I had before this was 56k. When I got this service I was happy—then a week went by, and they cut us off because I was using too much of their bandwidth (just a note, I was using it for a week straight uploading/downloading stuff, but come on, there is someting called capping the bandwidth, which they easily could have done instead of simply cutting service). We get more upload bandwith then download, over 100 kilobytes per second, and yet we got cut off for USING it... Does THAT tell you something? So now I got cut off again last night. I've been capping my uploads at 50 kilybytes per second, and only doing them part of the day. They said over the phone that I had overloaded their servers so much they died. Sounds like BS to me, but what can i say, that's how they are. The fact is they cut me off again for using even a good chunk of my available upload bandwidth. Not only that, but I think we share this American Wireless Broadband connection with all the residents in the high rise. So all I got to say in my last words is, DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME WITH THEM!!

member for 8.9 years, 0 visits, last login: 8.9 years ago
lodged 8.9 years ago

Comments:

Review by montesol See Profile

  • Location: Chicago,Cook,IL
  • Cost: $24 per month
  • Install: about 1 days
Good "Fast Install - Great because no wire companies involved!"
Bad "No weekend customer service. Shared bandwith. Somewhat high pings."
Overall "I seem to be the only one with ok speeds recently. How come the burbs get 10.0/10.0 speeds?"

Hi,

I signed up with AWB.us a few months ago based on the recommendation of a friend. He can't get DSL and doesn't have cable tv, so this was for him. I can get DSL, but was sick of paying the high prices with speakeasy. When he told me he was getting 2000+kbps DL/ 1000 kbps UL I was sold.
I called up and they installed that day. A little high pressure on the two year contract, but what the hell. It was something like 24.99 a month.
Everything was fine for the first few months. There was a timing out problem that my friend and I ragged on along with other customers until they fixed it.
Another problem I had for was that it was taking forever to resolve domain names. Even pinging from the command prompt would take a few seconds before it would even respond. However using the straight IP worked faster, and I was told that was a DNS problem. I tried different DNS but to no avail.

Then all my downloads were super slow. I used to regularly test and download at a good 250 KB/sec or at least 2000+kbps. Look at previous review for similar speed tests by other customers. All of a sudden, I was LUCKY if I got over 1000 kbps, and I would regularly test at under 500 kbps. Sometimes I will test at 1500kbps and then a few minutes later go down to about 500kbps. I've even noticed this in downloads that fluctuate in speeds from 40 KB/sec DL to 100KB/sec.

Latency times in games and DrPing went up too. But all my antenna settings were fine.

It got fixed for a little bit. I was back to my happy 3000/750 speeds!

Customer service could be better. All I receive is an answering service and I it took a few days to get a call back. I did get a call back from tech after a few days of calls and emails. Thankfully I got the call from Gunnar, who is actually a tech and seems to have his head on his shoulders. We fixed my speed problems... DRping is back to normal!
Of course I will keep an eye on my speeds, but everything is where I was when I signed up!

I'm always wary of high speed connections, since in America bandwith is almost as valuable as gold, but AWB.us has satisfied my severe jones for bandwith. I've had a couple teething problems, and customer support could be more responsive, but I did talk with them and we did solve my problems.

So as long as they can offer incredible speeds at incredible prices, I HIGHLY recommend them. If you are wary, go for the one year contract, but it might be a slightly more expensive monthly than you get with a two year contract.

-Sam

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 21, 2004

The above is my original review. Since that original problem, my speeds were problematic, but the last few weeks have been great! It seems things have been fixed.
I've been receiving very good download and upload speeds. I get around 1.5-3.0 for the download and a constant appx. 768 uploads. The line seems to be shared so your download speeds will vary. I've downloaded files at nearly 350 kb/sec, and my low is usually around 150-200 kb/sec.

However my Dr Ping scores are still high at around 145. This won't be a problem if you are not playing online games that are better with low pings. How much you are affected during gaming can change.

My bottom line: As long as AWB can provide the bandwith to offer their customers 1.5-3.0 for the prices they offer, I highly recommend them for broadband! If you are looking for low pings in online games, you might want to see how it is for you. If you are looking for great broadband for regular data use, AWB is perfect!

There are bound to be teething problems with most new services and technologies, and while I have experienced some with AWB, Gunnar and his group seem to tackle the problem in time.

If you are looking for broadband without the hassle of cable or phone companies, than AWB.US is an excellent choice!

-Sam



member for 12.6 years, 67 visits, last login: 8.8 years ago
updated 9.8 years ago

Comments:

Review by dudeirock See Profile

  • Location: Chicago,Cook,IL
  • Cost: $50 per month (12 month contract)
  • Install: about 2 days
Good "Gunner is nice and it was great when I was a new customer"
Bad "Out grew their bandwidth and now I get dial-up speeds"
Overall "A horrible dishonest group of people that lie and threaten"

This ISP was the best when I first signed on last year. They gave me 3mb down and 1mb up for only $50 a month. Gunner (new owner now) was great at tech support and was always there to help me when things went wrong. Soon after this I started to notice routine outages and speeds as slow as dial-up. About 2 months ago this started happening every day. Now it has gotten to the point where I almost never have use of the internet due to outages or dial-up like speeds. It is so bad that I have had to share a connection with my Comcast neighbor through his 802.11b while I still pay for AWB. While this is going on I have been calling them at least once a day where they tell lies about how I am the only one experiencing this problem. Then they tell me they will fix it over the weekend. For so long I believed these lies until I was lucky enough to find this forum. It turns out many if not all of you have had exact problems like mine. When I finally called them to confront them about what I had seen on this forum, they gave me the same lines that they gave all other AWB members on this forum. "You are using over 4gigs a day." This soon turns into threats about the FBI and serving movies, even though I work with large mpeg files that I UPLOAD, not download. I feel like they are now trying to bully me into another year of service even though I want out. There is nothing worse then feeling like you are being taken advantage of, and this is what AWB has done. I only hope they will let me out of this contract without losing the $300 deposit that they make you pay them to start. Not to mention it cost me $200 just to install the service! I really hate giving companies a bad review, but this is just too much. I think everyone should know what they are getting into when they sign with these people. We all need to remember that if it sounds too good to be true then it most likely is. In this case, I have spent over $50 a month speed of 12k down and 2k up. They have made no attempt to refund my money or solve the problem. I feel the only option I have left it to worn others about them or try let new customers know about their business practices. RUN AWAY!

member for 9.8 years, 9 visits, last login: 9.6 years ago
lodged 9.8 years ago

Comments:

Review by webbah See Profile

  • Location: Chicago,Cook,IL
  • Cost: $81 per month (12 month contract)
  • Install: about 2 days
Good "Quick Install"
Bad "Inconsistent speeds!! Backhauls cannot support advertised speed for subscriber base. Complains about heavy users!!!"
Overall "If you are a heavy user (1GB of traffic a day) STAY AWAY!!!!! They do not want your business..."

I've been an AWB subscriber for almost 1.5 years now, and at first was a very big advocate of their service. I have 2 AWB accounts, one for our office on Michigan Avenue and another at my residence in the West Loop. I was VERY upfront and honest with them at the beginning that I am a HEAVY bandwidth user due to my line of business. We deal with MPEG2 video streams and transferring 1-3GB a day can be a normal occurence. Their "verbal" reassurance at the beginning was enough for me to sign up.

The initial speeds for the first year were excellent. I averaged 2-3Mbps down and 1Mbps upstream. I could handle the large files with ease and was very pleased!

Fast forward 1.5 years...

Unfortunately, it appears that their subscriber base has outgrown their ability to plan capacity for their backhauls. My residence is using Throop Street Tower, which backhauls to Ashland/Division. During the last 2 months the download speeds have been very poor and inconsistent, averaging 350-600Kbps. Interestingly, during speedtests the uploads remained at 1Mbps. It seems to me they have reached a saturation point on the downstream.

I posted several complaints to their support and attached 5 speedtests and a screenshot of my Canopy Jitter/RSSI settings (which were nearly perfect at 2 Jitter and 1200 RSSI). They tried for several days to resolve the issue and then the unthinkable happened. Although I am a subscriber that has advocated their service and referred many other customers (they know this) they complained about my usage and had the arrogance to BLAME ME! They mentioned that I had transferred 2GB of files in the last 1.5 days which, to them, is unnacceptable. What??? Didn't we have a verbal agreement in the beginning a year and a half ago? My usage patterns have not changed at all!!!

So, I performed some tests with Gunner on the phone. I connected my laptop directly to the antenna and WITH NO TRAFFIC from my side ran some tests. SAME RESULT!!! 512Kbps down and 1Mbps up. He mentioned he'd get back to me in a day or so.

I then get a call from Vic who again tells me that my usage is too high, and he implies that I am one of the root causes of EVERYONE elses problems on the network. What he failed to realize, is that my traffic is mostly UPSTREAM at 300Kbps. The downstream is the problem. Upstream is fine! Lastly, I mentione that Gunner and I tested it with me generating NO traffic of any kind and the speed tests were still the same! Of course he tried to be polite about this, but common.... They get $400 a month from me ($321 for business and $81 for home) and I pay more for my monthly service than most AWB customers...

I've decided to switch to speakeasy.net's 6Mbps/768Kbps service. It's a real shame. They are losing one of their most outspoken and positive customers. If anyone asks me about AWB in the future I will surely tell them to STAY AWAY.

They are a small business and still don't seem to understand that the customer expects what they pay for. Blaming the customer is the WRONG way to do business. They could have handled it more professionaly for sure.

Have a look at their website. Can you find any "Acceptable Usage Policy?" Or "Terms of Service?" Nope... They don't have one posted. I relied on their verbal contract in the beginning. Gunner is very polite on the phone, but it's clear that even he despises any customer that consistently utilizes their connection. It's not even just P2P programs that bother him. Even legitimate business use if it utilizes too much bandwidth!! Did I miss something?

If you are considering a business account, as them if they can give you an SLA. You will be told NO.

Maybe they will get their act together before all of their loyal customers perform a mass exodus to other ISP's... The future will only tell...

*****************************************************************
Update August 23, 2004

I ran some speed tests again today after returning from a 7 day vacation. With no traffic from my side the speeds were still very poor. Results: 360Kbps down and 160Kbps upstream. I phoned Gunner and he quickly checked my antenna and noticed that I had moved to a different antenna at the access point. He made a few changes and the speeds improved to 800Kbps downstream. I will test it again tonight and post the results tomorrow.

Another issue is with their support ticketing system. I "had" 2 support tickets open with them for these issues. Those tickets were closed last friday with "status closed successful" when clearly the issue still remains. In addition, the email that notifies you of the status change doesn't provide any useful information. It gives you a link to click, but that redirects you to a website that requires a username and password. I don't have a username and password and there is no method to create one. Basically, I have a closed ticket with no ability to check the notes of the case. Gunner is going to look into this, although I've already explained this to Laurie W a month ago when this happened the first time. Quite frustrating. More updates to come.

To anyone from AWB that might read these posts... Please understand that I am posting honest facts here so that consumers can make wise decisions. The updates posted here will reflect any facts as they change both good and bad. This is the whole point of these forums after all...

*************************************

Update August 23, 2004 7PM CST

I've just returned home and have run 6 speed tests over the past hour to get a decent average. Things are better now, but still a lot to be desired. Results:

761Kbps to 1016Kbps downstream / 300Kbps upstream

I can only suspect that there is some traffic shaping they have placed on subscribers at this point. The results were very consistent. Will post more results over the next few days.

************************************

Update August 24, 2004 6PM

I'd like to post my latest speed test results over the past few days. The results are still quite dissapointing. Test today at 6PM resulted in pathetic performance of 274/399Kbps!

2004-08-24 19:11:56
Speed test @ dslr-west1.megapath.net
274/399 kbps

2004-08-24 03:55:42
Speed test @ dslreports-west1.speakeas
755/384 kbps

2004-08-24 00:34:37
Speed test @ chi.speakeasy.net
930/305 kbps

2004-08-24 00:18:11
Speed test @ chi.speakeasy.net
719/415 kbps

2004-08-24 00:15:48
Speed test @ chi.speakeasy.net
971/428 kbps

2004-08-24 00:14:17
Speed test @ chi.speakeasy.net
829/397 kbps

2004-08-24 00:12:57
Speed test @ chi.speakeasy.net
954/487 kbps

2004-08-24 00:10:50
Speed test @ chi.speakeasy.net
1021/455 kbps

2004-08-23 22:59:33
Speed test @ chi.speakeasy.net
1166/374 kbps

***************************************
Update 9/05/2004

My migration to Speakeasy's Onelink 6000/768 is now complete. I am TRULY happy I made the switch! The throughput rates are simply amazing! I've never seen this type of bandwidth using American Wireless. My current speedtest results using chi.speakeasy.net:

chi.speakeasy.net 2004-09-05 12:22:46 4896/629 kilobits per second down/up
chi.speakeasy.net 2004-09-05 12:55:18 4891/636 kilobits per second down/up
chi.speakeasy.net 2004-09-05 13:57:27 4930/637 kilobits per second down/up
chi.speakeasy.net 2004-09-05 14:42:08 4941/637 kilobits per second down/up
chi.speakeasy.net 2004-09-05 14:53:25 4907/634 kilobits per second down/up
chi.speakeasy.net 2004-09-05 15:18:10 4945/634 kilobits per second down/up

I was paying $81 a month to AWB. My cost with Speakeasy is less! I pay $75.95 (Onelink does not require a phone line which saves $30 a month over traditional DSL) and have 5 IP's versus the 2 that AWB gave me. I highly urge people to consider alternatives to AWB. My decision was difficult to make as migrations are never easy when you run servers. I'm extreemly pleased that this nightmare is over!

********************

member for 12.6 years, 42 visits, last login: 8.5 years ago
updated 9.8 years ago

Comments:

Review by chicagoan7 See Profile

  • Location: Chicago,Cook,IL
  • Cost: $48 per month (24 month contract)
  • Install: about 5 days
Good "Eye-appealing fast service promise with an affordable price $24.95/mo"
Bad "More upfront costs and high potential for radiowave/microwave disruption!"
Overall "Look for something else with a stable connection and affordable!"

A letter from an AWB Representative:
To answer your first question, the upfront costs for our Broadband Basic Package are $250. It is $100 for the installation, $100 for the equipment (plus $8.75 sales tax) and $50 for the activation. We do offer packages with no upfront costs as you can see from the attached file. For instance if you look at our Broadband Pro Package, you can see that on a one year contract it is $39.95/month and $250 up front (installation, equipment and activation) for speeds faster than DSL. That same package on a two year agreement is either $39.95/month and $150 up front or no money up front $47.95/month.

Best regards,

Laurie Westbrooks
American Wireless Broadband
226 West Ontario, 4th Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60610
312-951-9600

My response:
Upon knowing the facts that the upfront costs are very disappointing. I want to subscribe to a Broadband Service without having to buy all the equipment, and paying additional installation and activation fees.

I may choose to use SBC or Earthlink DSL which is simpler and less costly.

The Wireless Antenna connection can be easily interrupted because I live in an area where the buildings are in close proximity with interferences from Television or Microwave electromagnetic radiation.

Had there not been any high upfront costs, I would subcribe for $24.95/month. As a result of understanding the facts described to me by the AWB Sales Representative, I decided to cancel my interest in AWB.


member for 10 years, 21 visits, last login: 6.9 years ago
lodged 10 years ago

Comments:

Review by peghede See Profile

  • Location: Chicago,Cook,IL
  • Cost: $50 per month (12 month contract)
  • Install: about 4 days
Good "THIS ISP IS A FRAUD !!!THIS ISP IS A FRAUD !!!"
Bad "this isp is shit ,Bait and Switch Speeds"
Overall "walk away for this isp or u will regrete later. This ISP got no bandwith .Line goes down every day i can hardly use my internet"

Paid 300$ deposit and 200$ for the installation.(total was some how 516$)
Every thing was nice and good for about 30 days .
After the 30 days the dish came down from the roof later,they came back 3 weeks later to fix it ,they could not do it so i decide to install it myself.
Btw i was told im going to get 1month free service for dat ,i never got it.
I was setup for 4.0 mb down and 1000 up.
Speeds never stay stable ,Droping signals,antena for some reason reboots every couple hrs or so.
-----------------------------------------------------UPDATE Jan-28-2004

Use the US Postal Service instead. It will be more dependable and faster than this American Wireless Broadband Inc. crap.
SLOW speeds ..crap man this ISP needs to invest more in buying bandwith and then add more users.
SLOW SLOW SLOW

-----------------------------------------------------UPDATE Mar-13-2004

Line still goes allot , i can hardly use my internet , when surfing the web my line goes down...(what is this crap)

This happens every single day some time every hour specially in mornings time ,some times this goes down every 4 to 8 hrs.

this is a terrible ISP and their support people are the worst tech support i ever known, from trying to fool people to not giving the service they charge you for.

I tot that they one day see all this negative stuff about them and maybe they will fix their problems i guess not, i guess they are blind or something all they do is look for people to sign up their contract and then not care about them is longer this ISP get their money)

Stay away from this ISP, go with Comcast even SBc DSL ,or even dialup.

This ISP doesn't have the bandwidth to support more than 50 people.
Again my experience with this ISP awb is the worst i ever had.

-----------------------------------------------------UPDATE Mar-14-2004

Today my line is down ,every 5 min my line goes down for about 4 min and then back up for about 5 min again and again.this isp is garbage ,i sent 7emails ,and no response,i even call today in the morning some guy by name jeff came over look at my antena and say to me is not my conection is this bullshit ISP whos playing with my internet conection.

THIS ISP is garbage ,the worst i ever had..im thinking to have my money back ,all 516$.
before i will make this ISP looking like crap all over the net ,,,this ISP is fraud!!!taking the money from you and not giving you the service they charge you for!!!!

-----------------------------------------------------UPDATE Apr-6-2004
THIS AWB.US ISP IS BULLSHIT ,now the give me 1.1 down and 400 upload.
FROM 4000 DOWNLOAD AND 1000 UPLOAD.

THIS AWB.US ISP IS A FRAUD , THE GARBAGE OF CHICAGO ,STAY AWAY FROM THIS LAME ISP , THIS ISP IS A JOKE

THIS American Wireless Broadband ISP IS A FRAUD!!!!

-----------------------------------------------------UPDATE MAY-14-2004

Today i got this e-mail from this pigs @ awb:

We made a decision to terminate your service. This is the best solution. I feel sorry that we are unable to fulfill your expectations.



Sincerely,



Henryk A. Kowalczyk

American Wireless Broadband

what about my deposit??? i pay you pigs 500$ . this isp is shit ,from peter to guner ,from guner to the rest ...

-----------------------------------------------------UPDATE MAY-15-2004

THIS ISP NO GOOD

THIS ISP "SHIT"

THIS ISP IS A FRAUD !!!

member for 11.1 years, 290 visits, last login: 2.3 years ago
updated 10.2 years ago

Comments:

Review by KSUJace See Profile

  • Location: Chicago,Cook,IL
  • Cost: $50 per month (12 month contract)
  • Install: about 2 days
  • Telco party Focal
  • CLEC party: Focal
Good "Fast install | Small Antenna | Super Fast Speeds"
Bad "Start up costs"
Overall "Incredible speeds without wires at very reasonable monthly cost"

Update 12/15/03: Service is still awesome, no problems at all and speeds are still 2-3mbps down 1mbps up. I had to move units in the building and AWB really helped me out moving the service. They sent two installers that took about 10 minutes for them to move the line. THANKS FOR THE AWESOME ISP YOU ARE AWB!

Update 11/1/03: Service is still incredible, I'm still seeing amazing speeds and have not yet experienced any downtime with this provider.

American Wireless Broadband (AWB) is expanding its Chicago area rapidly; I've been waiting about 6 months for the access point to go live that would cover Wrigleyville area. The AP is finally live and from the inquiry phone call to the time the installers were out was within 48 hours. The install went quick and it the equipment they use (Motorola Canopy) is very inconspicuous from the exterior. The installer seemed very knowledgeable and performed a very clean install on the rear of my building.

About the connection:

I'm average speeds from the chi.speakeasy.net test site of 2.8/1. I can ping my gateway at about 10ms. Pings to chi.speakeasy.net average about 22ms. Latency is very impressive for Canopy wireless connection.

2003-06-06 07:36:56 Speed test (chi.speakeasy.net) 2919/960 kbps
2003-06-06 07:31:44 Speed test (chi.speakeasy.net) 2661/998 kbps

AWB is using Focal Communications as their backhaul carrier. Focal has backhauls into AT&T, UUNet, and SBC. Routings seem very good and your 2 hops away from the first tier provider.

I highly recommend this provider if they are available in your area. The only downside is the startup costs and equipment deposit, but you can justify it by the quality of service and amazing speeds.

As a side note….
AWB also offers email service which I chose not use as I use Yahoo! Mail as my primary email provider. According to the managing partner for the AWB they also plan to offer VoIP in the near future.

I'll update this review in one month with more thoughts on the overall connection speeds and reliability.

member for 12.6 years, 2834 visits, last login: 2 days ago
updated 10.5 years ago

Comments:

Review by sdsmith1 See Profile

  • Location: Chicago,Cook,IL
  • Cost: $49 per month (12 month contract)
  • Install: about 4 days
Good "Incredible speeds, and no SBC to deal with!"
Bad "$300.00 antenna deposit and $200.00 install, line of sight required to node"
Overall "Great speeds for the price, if you live in their service area."

After Allegience (previously Hosting.com, previously Interaccess, previously MCS net) unceremoniously dumped all their residential DSL customers in March, I decided to wait awhile before choosing my next ISP, in the hopes that I could find a company that could stay in business for a year or more.

After looking into DSL in my area, I came to the conclusion that the line distance to the local CO (over 10,500 ft) would prevent me from ever having a reliable connection at speeds much over 416 kb. It was around this time that I ran across an interesting review of wireless service by a Internet cafe in my neighborhood (Wicker Park). The owner raved about the speed and reliability of the service they were getting from AWB (American Wireless Broadband), so I stopped by to check it out. After a few tests, I was pleased to find speeds in excess of 1.0mb/up and 1.6mb/down. This was as good or better than the T1 service we had at our office, at a fraction of the cost. So I decided to take the plunge.

Not having used a wireless provider before, I had some concerns about the reliability of the service, as well as the backgound and experience of the provider. Here's what I know as of the date of this review:

The Company:

AWB is a Chicago based company who has been in business since 2001. They appear to be privately held. According to the tech who installed my service, they are planning on expanding into other market areas soon. Currently, their coverage area is limited to small geographic area centered on downtown Chicago, but they plan to add sites to expand local coverage. While it is apparent that AWB is a small company (which may be of some concern regarding their longevity), the fact that they are locally based is a big plus. (I got really tired of calling my previous ISP's, talking to someone in Texas or somewhere else, who didn't have a clue as to what was going on at my local facility). Not knowing anything about the financial resources of the firm, we can only wait and see how they handle their growth strategy.

Ordering and Install:

I placed a call to AWB for service on Monday, October 6th. They said they could have a tech out the next day (wow!). Due to my schedule, however, I had to wait until Thursday of that week. (When I checked a couple of the better rated DSL providers in my area, they quoted me two to three weeks). The only downside was that they couldn't tell me whether or not I could actually get service until they could verify if the antenna could be mounted in a position which was line-of-site to the nearest node. Fortunately, I already had a antenna mast on my roof which provided enough height for reliable transmission, plus making the task of the install much easier. Time of arrival to service: one hour.

The lead tech was very courteous and knowledgable. When was the last time you ever got service like this from the phone company? My only complaint (a minor one), was that there was some confusion about the installation order, which delayed the arrival of the techs for a couple hours. Considering that the phone company could make you wait all day, without anyone ever showing up, I can live with this.

While they did not provide a static IP, it would seem that this would be an option if I wanted it.

The service:

The first day of service was rather disappointing (under 1.0mb), due to some work taking place at the local node. Recent tests, however, have given me speeds up 1710kb/down and 1040kb/up. Not bad! Only time will tell if they can keep speeds like this as they add subscribers.

The system:

AWB uses the Motorola Canopy system, which is a two way (duplex) technology originally developed for the military (glad to know that all that military spending is actually going for something I can use). This technology apparently languished for awhile after the military replaced it with systems having longer range capability. The system operates at 1.6 GHz, requiring just a small antenna on the subscriber end. The range is good for about 5 miles. While the application of this technology for commercial Internet service is rather recent, the fact that it was originally developed for military use should make it fairly reliable. Chicago winters can be fairly rough, and I have some reservations about how the equipment will perform when covered with ice, but the tech assured me that there would be no problems (we'll see in a couple of months!).

The system can be monitored via an IP address, from which the operating status can be confirmed.

Bottom line:

I am extremely impressed by this technology, with speeds that one can only dream of unless you can afford a T1 line, or live very close to a telco CO. My only complaint is that the antenna deposit and install is a little stiff compared to residential DSL service. Considering the monthly cost for the speed, however, I think it's a worthwhile tradeoff.

The fact that AWB is locally based is, in my mind, a big plus. Having lived through a number of buyouts and mergers of previous providers, I can only hope that they can maintain their independent status, without having to resort to a merger.

Obviously, as of this writing, I cannot comment on the reliability of the connection, or their tech support. I will update this review after I have more experience with the service.

If you live within their service area, you definately owe it to yourself to check them out.

Update on 12/17/2003:

I decided to wait a few weeks before posting any further updates, as AWB was doing some system upgrades which affected the speed. Based on the tests run today, I have to report that the download speeds have been stunning, but the upload is still on the slow side (under 1000 mbps). I also must give the staff of AWB high marks for helping sort out a problem with a flaky router. Although it may take a couple of phone calls to reach someone, thay have always been extremely helpful. This is the type of service I would never get from my previous ISP. At this point, my only complaint is the rather slow upload speed.





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updated 10.6 years ago

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