- Fast and Reliable (compared to DSL)
- The Data Cap is filled quicker than you think
Living in a rural area means that fast and reliable internet service is something we’ve hoped for and never had until now. I’ve written about how our DSL line goes out for the weather, and sometimes cow related events; so when we got a flier in the mail that fixed wireless was available I called immediately.
AT&T fixed wireless internet for rural areas is not the same as a hotspot add-on for your cell service. It is an outdoor cellular antenna that connects to an indoor wireless router/modem with an ethernet cable. While you are getting internet service from a nearby cellular tower, it works on a different frequency than your cell phone.
Installation was fast. I called on a Friday and an AT&T DirectTV installer arrived on Monday. Finding the right spot for the antenna to connect to the tower was the hardest part, and took a couple hours.
Only the ethernet cable needed to be brought into the house to connect to the router. The total installation was very similiar to having a satelite tv service added to your house.
With DSL our internet download speed topped out at around 2.60mps and uploads at .3mps. Now we average 12mps down and 10mps up. Sometimes it may go upwards to 20-25mps. I am close to the furthest distance from the tower that is allowed, but those that are closer should have an even faster connection.
The main caveat is the data cap of 170 GB per month. With five people in the house, and everyone wanting to stream video on various apps, we reached the cap quickly the first month. AT&T will email you notices on your usage, and you can also log into your account for daily summary.
We already had a Disney Circle that manages time limits for every device on the network, and I had to tweak some of those settings to keep the kids from downloading too much data. For example, the Circle can put time limits on data hogs like YouTube, or on overall video streaming. While Netflix allows you to manage streaming quality for bandwidth caps, I could not find a similar feature for Amazon video that would save us some data.
Fixed wireless is an improvement over the sattelite internet we used several years ago. The biggest difference other than speed, is that it does not fail during rain. I have used it several times in light to heavy rain storms and never experienced any problems. However, it would be nice if this service had off peak hours like satellite internet has to download those extra big files or do updates.
The future of fixed wireless is also very bright. 5G cellular is on the horizon, and it promises gigabit speeds and 4K streaming. I can also imagine AT&T offering their internet streaming television service, DirectTV Now, as part of a bundle one day. In the meantime, we’ll just have to be patient.
In conclusion, we are pretty happy with the new service. Reliable fast internet in a rural area is something we’ve been waiting on for a long time. While it still isn’t as fast as what is availabe in town, it is still an improvement on what we had.
Update: 2 Year Review