I recently acquired an old farm house in rural southwestern Wisconsin. I’ve always wanted a place out in the country. With the real estate market taking a hit I figured this was a good time to buy. Time will tell on the financial return, but the peacefulness return is already paying off.

However, it’s not all about relaxation — I do want to work from there from time to time. Foolishly I assumed that broadband was just about everywhere now, but it’s not. If you’re a mile off the highway, or not in a town of thousands, you may be stuck in the 90s.

DSL: Too far away

First I checked into DSL. Verizon provides it in the nearby town which is a few miles away. But the central office is too far from my house so it’s a no go at this time.

Cable: Not available

Then I checked with the local cable company. There aren’t cable lines in the area so that’s not an option either. No cable TV and no cable internet.

Wireless ISP: No line of sight

I discovered an interesting option from a neighbor over the hill (land, not age). He uses a wireless service. He has a dish-like-thing on his roof and he has a line of sight view to one of about a dozen towers in a 30 mile radius. The speeds are multi-megabit up and down, there are no transfer limits, and it’s about $40/month. It’s a pretty sweet service. Unfortunately (from an internet service perspective) my property is stuck in a valley so I don’t have line of sight to any towers. They even tried climbing this old windmill on a hill, but it can’t see any of the towers either. So that’s a no go.

3G EVDO: Not in range (but I do get EDGE)

I have a Sprint 3G EVDO card which is wonderful when I’m on the road in big cities, but there’s no 3G out where I’ll be. I do get EDGE out there, and the card can handle that, so I can get access but it’s very slow. At least it works. I checked Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and US Cellular, but no one has 3G out there. US Cellular has the best cell coverage, but it’s EDGE-speeds at best. US Cellular does say they are rolling out a 3G network starting early next year.


I don’t even know if this is an option, but I fear if it is it’s going to be hundreds or thousands to install and hundreds a month. Not an option for a sometimes house.

Satellite: Please no

It appears the only way to go is satellite. That means the horribly reviewed HughesNet. Terrible customer service, satellite latency (who knew the speed of light wouldn’t be fast enough), 2-year contracts, hardware and fees, and draconian download limits (200 MB/day or they throttle you way down).

Is anyone out there using HughesNet? I know message boards and forums are usually filled with the worst of the worst complaints, so any personal experiences with this service would be useful, thanks.

Any other ideas?

Please tell me someone has a really creative solution here. Is there something I haven’t thought of? Any geniuses out there with an answer? I’m afraid I may have exhausted my options beyond satellite. So satellite it may have to be, but I’m hoping there’s another way.