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Happy morning after everyone! Those of you who know me realize that breaking down the digital divide has always been a passion. In the past, I have worried that many minorities lack access to the internet and to communities like DK because they either lack infrastructure, or just don't know about them. But now I am dealing with a challenge that is not only effecting my community: it's impacting me.

What do you do about a bad ISP, especially if it enjoys a complete monopoly on service in your area?

Ironically, this morning I googled "How to Deal with a Bad ISP," and the first thing that popped up was an ad for Windstream, the bad ISP that serves my rural northern NM community.

Windstream has got to be the worst ISP in the world.  

I have been paying for Highspeed internet service for years, but periodically (and in the last five months, usually) in the evenings, when I am most available to blog, the speed slows down to .25 MB. Often, it just stops. I've called and successfully demanded refunds, and had them send technicians to my house. The technicians come to my house during the day (necessitating my absence from work), and determine that the speed is fine and the signal is very strong. They tell me I should not be having any problems at all since I am across the street from the ISP's main office.

During the day, I work. My employer allows me to blog as part of my job, but of late, I just don't have time.

Our ISP is also the only long distance telephone service in town. For a month and a half, the county I work for was denied long distance phone service. I have no idea why. I don't know if the culprit was us or Windstream. But it really sucked. We all had to use our personal cell phones to do our jobs.

I used to use smaller local ISPs, but Windstream was able to drive them out of business by blocking access to phone service. It has long been the only telephone company in town. At one point, I when I ran a non-profit, I had to wait over a year to add a phone line.

To my chagrin, my problems with my ISP have made me the world's most unreliable IGTNT diarist. During the day, when I have a connection at work, I am so busy that I forget to check At night, when I remember, I often can't. Some of the responsibility is mine, since I have now grown out of the habit.

I miss the DK and IGTNT communities and would like to come back!  l like being reliable!

Does anybody have any ideas? Is there anything at all I can do about a Telecom that takes my money but doesn't provide a meaningful service?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Ideas please! (24+ / 0-)

    And apologies to the IGTNT and Native American Netroots teams, for my extended silence and absence!

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    And even though it all went wrong I'll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah! -Leonard Cohen .................@laurenreichelt

    by TheFatLadySings on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 07:18:12 AM PST

  •  Perhaps it's time to go wireless with (7+ / 0-)

    a national plan.

    But you'd have to get the newest tablets that can support such a data plan.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 07:29:57 AM PST

  •  Seems as if you are far (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheFatLadySings, Avila, betson08

    from the only one:
    This looks like incompetence as a business strategy to me.

    •  Thank you. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      phonegery, Avila

      I especially liked the comment about tech support as therapy sort of like honking your horn in rush hour in manhattan. I feel the same way.

      Is there anything I can do about this? I guess I could complain to my Congressman. It costs a lot of money for nothing.

      And even though it all went wrong I'll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah! -Leonard Cohen .................@laurenreichelt

      by TheFatLadySings on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 07:42:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow, that's a hard one. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheFatLadySings, Avila

    Scenerios like this are one of the many reasons I will only live in a major metropolitan area, in truth.

    Other people in this thread probably can offer you sound advice in the circumstances.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 07:41:29 AM PST

  •  Does your ISP own the Telephone Company? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheFatLadySings, phonegery, Avila

    Having no long distance for that long should trigger action from Emergency Services.

    "If you tell the truth, you won't have to remember anything", Mark Twain

    by Cruzankenny on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 07:48:42 AM PST

    •  I believe so. They ARE the telephone (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      company. When something goes down, it just stays that way. Complaints take months to resolve.

      We actually, ARE emergency services. I have no idea what to do other than to ask Congressman Lujan to take some sort of federal action.

      And even though it all went wrong I'll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah! -Leonard Cohen .................@laurenreichelt

      by TheFatLadySings on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 07:55:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  And by "we" I mean the County. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buddabelly, Avila

      The County provides EMS services.  Geographically, we are the size of MA with about 41,000 in population. We have two offices. Service was down in the northern office for about three weeks. Then it went down in the southern office for over a month.

      It's really frustrating to run a case management office in a clinic without long distance service. Why is this legal? Why doesn't anyone seem to care that its legal?

      And even though it all went wrong I'll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah! -Leonard Cohen .................@laurenreichelt

      by TheFatLadySings on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 07:58:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Have you tried your State's Public Services (4+ / 0-)

        This ISP serves mostly rural areas and often they are given a franchise by the Public Services or whatever regulates your State utilities. They are given this Franchise/Monopoly in order to provide a service to low density populations that could not provide enough clients if there were more providers.
        Oftentimes they get low interest loans from the Rural Electric Cooperative. These loans are usually collateralized with the infrastructure of the provider.
        If your provider is letting their quality of equipment become old and marginalized, the REC would want to know, as that is what backs their financing.
        The Public Service Commission should be interested because they are on the hook for giving a monopoly, which is based on a certain level of performance.

        "If you tell the truth, you won't have to remember anything", Mark Twain

        by Cruzankenny on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 08:13:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Satellite Internet? (6+ / 0-)

    Dish & Hughes both offer satellite internet, along with a few smaller companies. My understanding is that satellite service is pretty good on downloads, but slow on uploads.

    •  thanks. I'm going to look into that. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice, phonegery, Avila

      We don't have a TV or cable but maybe we should do that. I'd love to dump Windstream.

      And even though it all went wrong I'll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah! -Leonard Cohen .................@laurenreichelt

      by TheFatLadySings on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 08:03:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  look into it of course, but (4+ / 0-)

        you'll likely find not very high bandwidth at reasonable prices.

        I'm going to dump AT&T for the very first actual competitor that comes along. Thing about competitors in the cable or DSL category is that they use existing infrastructure. The problem with DSL is usually distance from the "exchange", and signing up with a different beancounter/moneytaker doesn't move you any closer to the exchange.

        7 years ago I moved from crowded suburbs (and cable-modem with glorious speed) to a small farming town, and now DSL is now my only internet connection.

        I feel your pain (I work from home with the internet as my means of collaboration/delivery.)

      •  However, keep in mind that on Sattelite you only (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TheFatLadySings, Avila, northsylvania

        get something like 150MB a day and then it goes down to dialup speeds so you can forget about things like Netflix.

        You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

        by Throw The Bums Out on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 09:39:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  We had to go with Dish (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheFatLadySings, davybaby, Avila

      when we lived in a redlined neighbourhood of Fort Worth that supposedly was too poor to receive cable internet. The problem with satellite is that you need a competent installer (difficult) and competent repair people every time you have a storm (very difficult). My husband was an aerospace engineer at the time. It was not a DIY project he could handle, and he could handle almost anything.
      Twice a year the sun was such that reception was poor from solar interference for a few days, as it also could be during heavy rain and snow. Other than that is was great and I must admit to missing it.

      "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen

      by northsylvania on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 08:24:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Greetings from Durango! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheFatLadySings, Avila

    Internet can be a problem out in the sticks, no doubt about it.
    I used to use a cell phone to connect, which worked out ok until AT&T took over my local provider.
    I have known folks who were happy with Horizon Satellilite...but it had a pretty big equipment investment up front & was not cheap on a monthly basis. Not sure what they are charging now.
    I use Brainstorm, a local company. They 'broadcast' a wireless signal from numerous ridges in the area, and supply a receiver which is definitely fast enough to stream music or video.
    Check them out(they are also in the (505) area code):

    "The better I know people, the more I like my dog."

    by Thinking Fella on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 08:20:48 AM PST

  •  Satellite service may work for you .. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheFatLadySings, Avila

    Stay away from Hughes/Direcway, but I had very good luck with WildBlue. Mind you, it's slow upstream (if you want to upload movies to the cloud, this isn't for you) and the latency is bad (no games) .. but if browsing the 'net and blogging is your main thing then it might be an option ..

    "Electronic media creates reality" - Meatball Fulton

    by zeke7237 on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 09:34:29 AM PST

  •  You don't say what "highspeed internet" technology (0+ / 0-)

    you are currently using, DSL via a landline connection (phone line)?
    Avoid a satellite ISP like the plague. Extremely expensive, crap speed and latency, and very limited bandwidth.
    I'm in the boonies and get more junk mail for sat ISP (and teevee) than anything else, and Windstream has recently moved in here too. It is written very deceptively, and they all seem to require a long term contract, so you will be screwed doubly (I've had tenants who got taken). Look up online reviews of satellite ISP, it's mostly negative.
    Realize that many of todays webpages run 2-10MB+ per page (Kos homepage for example is getting ridiculously bit heavy), and a surfing few dozen pages will get you over the sat ISP's BW limit and into 'excess' $$$ charging territory, which will result in hellacious bills.
    The only places on Earth suitable for satellite ISP are the most remote, with no alternative whatsoever, and marine shipboard ones (and you don't want to even ask what they cost).

    Your best solution (with no other landline type competion, like cable) would be a 3G/4G wireless(cellular) data/ISP service.
    Tethering off your cell phone might work, but the cell companies don't seem to like that. A wireless 3G/4G cell phone data plan (wi-fi/hotspot/whatever) is your best alternative. Investigate all the plans that may serve your area and pick out the one with the mostest and best terms.
    I'm happy with a 3G wireless hotspot Cricket 5Gig $40/mo month-month plan so far (a whole damned lot better than dialup anyway), and I can take the little cellphone-like modem anywhere with a laptop (you cityfolk don't laugh, that's life in the boonies).
    I keep looking at the majors (AT&T, Verizon, T-Moblie, Sprint), but they all want to lock you into a relatively expensive/bit minimum two year contract and their mo-mo plans are just crazy expensive. 4G has just been built out here with some carriers (to serve the Eagle Ford stuff, heh) but haven't found anything suitable yet (as in good $ value).

    If wireless ISP reception is a little problematic an external antenna  (away from the indoor hotspot modem location, not necessarily outside of the house) might solve that kink.

    Good luck. We've all been paying a special telecomms tax in order to provide rural areas with good IPS service, but what we mostly get is crony capital sweetheart deal crap.

    "Double, double, toile and trouble; Fire burne, and Cauldron bubble... By the pricking of my Thumbes, Something wicked this way comes": Republicans Willkommen im Vierten Reich! Sie haben keine Bedeutung mehr.

    by Bluefin on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 01:35:41 PM PST

  •  If you can afford it, go satellite (0+ / 0-)

    I don't know if Dish or DirectTV does satellite internet any more, but until DSL came to my neck of the woods a few years ago, it was our only option. We had tried cable but the installer they sent out could nit fugure out how to supply service to our in-house network, only to a single computer (and not even that, it turned out, because they never could get it to work). Our only other alternative that was faster than dial-up was satellite.

    I will warn you that satellite can be really unreliable in the rain, especially if you have large trees. We are in western Washington, which means lots of rain, and our house is surroubded by very large trees. We were glad when DSL came here because our phone line is undergrounded from the street.

    Organ donors save lives! A donor's kidney gave me my life back on 02/18/11; he lives on in me. Please talk with your family about your wish to donate.

    Why are war casualty counts "American troops" and "others" but never "human beings"?

    by Kitsap River on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 02:38:44 PM PST

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