Virgin Mobile Experiences Major Outage

Around 2:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon, (just a few hours after I finally cancelled my satellite Internet service), my access to the Internet through my Virgin Mobile MiFi device stopped working. After trying to restart the device a few times and doing some other troubleshooting, I decided to call Virgin Mobile to see if they knew what was happening.

When I finally got through to a technician (around 3:15), they told me that they were aware of the outage and that I should try connecting again in about four hours. We still went ahead and tried it throughout the rest of the day anyway without any luck. By 9 p.m. last night, it still wasn’t working, so I decided to call back and ask for an update. The Virgin Mobile technician told me they were still working on the outage and asked me to try again in about two hours.

5 Things You Shouldn’t Do With a Satellite Connection

Satellite_dish_1_C-BandAs I’ve mentioned a few times before, I am stuck with a satellite Internet connection at home. DSL and FIOS are distant fantasies, cable comes to the end of my driveway and stops (they refuse to run it any further, and won’t let me run it myself) and a T1 line is just way out of my price range. So, I’m stuck dealing with huge latency and bottom-of-the-barrel “high speed” Internet service.

For everyone else that moves out to the boonies and might have to make the switch to a satellite provider, I thought I’d provide this quick list of five things you shouldn’t (or can’t) do when you’re using a satellite connection. Still, I am thankful that I’m at least able to get some sort of “high speed” connection, as going back to dial-up is not something I want to even think about.

Back from the dead

I am happy to announce that I am finally back from the dead.  My Internet connection at home was restored sometime on Friday.

It has been hell this past month now being able to get on the Internet from home.  On the plus side, I have spent more time playing Wii over the last month than I probably have over the last year.  On the negative side, I haven’t really been able to blog very much, and I haven’t been able to do any Web development from home.  A few simple bugs in the private developers’ release of my CMS application went unresolved for an entire month because I wasn’t able to work on it.

The good news about that, however, is that I was able to get the bugs fixed, and add a few more features within a few hours of getting my connection back yesterday.

The Downside of Satellite Internet

A few weeks ago, I encountered the major downside of satellite Internet service:  bandwidth restrictions.  Apparently, it is common practice for satellite Internet providers to restrict the amount of data you can download and upload over your connection.

With WildBlue, the service for which I signed up, the restrictions occur on a rolling 30-day basis.  With HughesNet, they occur on a rolling 24-hour basis.  I’m not sure what other satellite providers are out there, but I’m sure they have similar restrictions.

My service plan restricts me to downloading 17,000 megabytes and uploading 5,000 megabytes within any 30-day period.  Unfortunately, according to the terms of service, if you reach 80% of either of those limits, they cut your connection speed back to “128 kbps”. In reality, this apparently translates to a connection speed similar to the old 9,600 baud per second dial-up modems, possibly a 14.4 kbps modem connection.  Regardless, the connection speed is so slow that 99% of the Web sites on the Internet time out before ever loading, and those that do load take up to ten minutes to do so.