Rural Living - looking at options

Discussion in 'Networking & Security' started by Brian_B, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. Brian_B

    Brian_B 2[H]4U

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    Ok I have lived rural for a while now so this is nothing new.

    I currently have DSL - 12MB is the advertised speed, when it works I get around 7, not going to complain too much about that. Except it's not very reliable - seems to really suffer in the mornings, which is when I'm trying to get work work done. Seems to work ok in Evenings/Prime Time for the most part, so at least my Netflixing isn't affected overly much.

    Work pays for my AT&T phone. Which is fine, except I don't get crap for a signal with AT&T where I live. One bar on a good day, most days no service. When I moved in I had decent service (2 bars 4G, no LTE, but worked for voice calls at least)... now it's not, and being rural, of course AT&T isn't exactly jumping to get it fixed.

    So for now, I've got WiFi call enabled - except in the mornings even that doesn't work.

    Wife has Verizon, that works great here in the mountains. Seems to be the only carrier that does work well around here.

    So I am looking at options. I can bitch to AT&T or my DSL provider, I know exactly how far that is going to go though.

    I could move. Not really, but it's an option that someone will undoubtedly recommend, and it's true. But I'm not moving. I just bought a chainsaw.

    Satellite (HughesNet) - won't work well for VOIP, so not really an option there.

    Mountain area, with lots of trees - P2P isn't an option.

    My real thinking here:

    Wife already has a verizon account, I could add a line and dual sim my phone (iP XS) with a a Verizon line. That would get me calls out everywhere I go locally. Problem is calls in to my AT&T number would still fail (unless I used Call Forwarded), and my calls out would show up as a different phone number, unrecognized to most people at least the first time I called out.

    Could upgrade her plan to a hotspot, and use WiFi calling on my phone through her hotspot. That works, so long as she's home.

    I could get a mobile hotspot for the house, and only use it when our DSL is out. Would be nice if I could set it up as a sort of failover, but then again, I wouldn't want all the PCs and god knows how many consoles all deciding to do updates at the wrong time and hitting the hot spot.

    Nothing is really calling out to me here as the best option, just a lot of pretty bad ones and a handful of mediocre ones.
     
  2. Cmustang87

    Cmustang87 [H]ardness Supreme

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    Do you have a budget? Do you work from home where this actually has a financial impact on you when you have an outage?
     
  3. Brian_B

    Brian_B 2[H]4U

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    Trying to get work to pay for it, so budget would be "reasonable" -- upwards of $100-150/mo would be about what I could legit pass on without raising too many eyebrows. They already pay for my AT&T service, data, and tethering on a corporate plan. But that doesn't do me any good without a signal, and anything I did with Verizon would be a one-off I have to just expense out. The phone and service work reasonably well when I'm traveling, just not at home.

    Outage - if I'm out, I have to drive down to the local office, or take the day off. That's about $20 in gas and two hours of time (both ways) for a drive, and while I could use the vacation time off, I don't necessarily want to burn those days at home when I needed to get work when I could be burning them on a beach with a drink with an umbrella in it.
     
  4. Vengance_01

    Vengance_01 [H]ardness Supreme

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    Your DSL line is probably having a hard time holding the sync at the distance and the current condition of the copper. I would call your provider and complain. Line needs to be repaired. You also could drop to a lower speed tier as it would force the line to sync at a lower provisioned speed and might increase stability on the line. Other option is to get your work to pay for a LTE Verizon phone and enable hot spot and ditch your ATT phone. This way you have a reliable backup.
     
  5. toast0

    toast0 Gawd

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    For your DSL, it can easily be line problems, or upstream problems. Check the line stats (from the modem admin page) frequently, and see if signal to noise and sync speed are relatively constant, or if it's oscillating throughout the day. If you can swing it, try to confirm if it's a problem in your inside wiring or outside wiring by connecting at the dmarc (easy if you have power and a modern dmarc with a test port, harder if you don't have power there and you have to muck around with the connections). If it's your exterior line quality, bitching to to the telco should get them out to at least swap you to a different pair, which might work, although if the quality issues are time of day related and don't correspond to repair hours, it will be harder. If you have a clean signal and good sync speeds, but throughput sucks, it's congestion upstream of the DSL equipment, which is firmly in the 'good luck' category, they'll send a repair tech, see a clean signal and leave, because the repair techs can't do anything about that. Maybe poke at BroadbandReports forums and see if you can catch someone's interest.

    I would try to get your work number ported to Verizon -- it'll be more expensive than their ATT corporate plan, but whatever. I recently moved to semi-rural, and when the power goes out, usually the DSL goes out too (we have a generator, but apparently CenturyLink doesn't), you want to have something else that works, tethering over LTE is not the worst (might actually be better than your DSL, other than the caps).
     
  6. Cmustang87

    Cmustang87 [H]ardness Supreme

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    In that case, get a Cradlepoint CBA850 and have your work pay for a Verizon LTE or some kind of LTE that will work in your area.

    The Cradlepoint can give Ethernet passthrough, and can do inline passthrough failover in the event that your normal DSL were to fail. Cradlepoint is a tried and true product (Redbox uses them, lots of Police forces and fire departments, etc. that require mobile internet access via an portable LTE router).

    https://knowledgebase.cradlepoint.com/articles/Support/CBA850-Inline-Passthrough

    Alternative, albeit slightly more costly - get a Meraki MX67 appliance with a USB LTE modem. Since these are application aware and you can define a lot more policies, you can determine what can and cannot be used during the event that DSL is failed to limit your LTE usage.

    https://documentation.meraki.com/MX/Cellular/3G_-_4G_Cellular_Failover

    https://meraki.cisco.com/products/appliances/mx67
     
  7. Brian_B

    Brian_B 2[H]4U

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    Thanks for the comments. I’m not a DSL expert by any means. I know when it was installed they offered 18, but said it would be more flakey so we dropped to .. I think he said dual bonded 12. The line from the box to the modem was run brand new, and it’s the only line connected in the house.

    I know every morning I see the trucks out working when I do drive out, and that’s when it’s always intermittent. So I’m pretty sure it’s on their end and they are working on it - just an underfunded rural provider with more work that needs done than they can really afford to do. But calling in and logging a ticket may not be a bad idea so at least it’s documented.

    I will see if I can get into the modem - it’s leased and I had them just set it to bridged on install so I’ve never tried to fool with it.
     
    toast0 likes this.
  8. Dead Parrot

    Dead Parrot 2[H]4U

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    Back when POTS was still king for phone service, there was a service called "Line Conditioning". Basically a tech physically inspected and tested your pair from the house network box back to the main switch box for the area. Used to be included with DSL setup because the early equipment was more sensitive to bad line. Might see if they could do that for yours.

    Are the wires on poles or underground?

    Find out how far you are from the magic box. DSL is distance sensitive. IIRC, anything over 2 miles is where the speeds really start degrading. Used to be 3 miles was about max for even 384k service.

    I got lucky with my rural DSL. Line tested to 18Mb but 12Mb is the fastest they offer. So far, solid connection. Here, the only cell signal worth crap is AT&T. All others are 0~1 dot when lucky.
     
  9. Shockey

    Shockey [H]ard|Gawd

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    Have work pay for version phone + hotspot and port the number from AT&T.
     
  10. scobar

    scobar .

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    I know you said you don't get att. I am using an LTE providetr that has been solid. Another friend of mine uses an att hotspot through a booster and a log style antenna. Without the booster there is no coverage for him.

    For my friend the nearest att tower is like 7+miles away. As a rural guy, this LTE service has been a life saver, will probably hit 2tb this month. It's been great for VoIP, and go-to meeting, pretty much most everything.