Effective Feb. 10, 2011, DirecTV will be increasing the prices of all of its packages (with the exception of the Total Choice Mobile package, which will apparently experience a price reduction). The price increases appear to be minor (they seem to be about $2-3 per package), but they are increases, nonetheless. You can view the new pricing information on DirecTV’s website (PDF).
Since I am still stuck with satellite broadband service at home, I decided to try it out. I’ve been looking into mobile broadband packages for quite a while, but the thought of signing a new two-year contract, paying almost as much as I’m paying now (the satellite package I have is $79.95/month – most mobile broadband packages are around $60/month) and being limited to around 2 gigabytes of downloads each month (my current plan allows 17 gigs on a revolving 30-day basis) really didn’t appeal to me.
This new plan from Virgin, though, had me intrigued. No contracts, apparently no bandwidth limits (I have seen no official word from Virgin as to whether there will be “reasonable use” limits imposed at any point, but, right now, it doesn’t look like it) and a price point half of what I am paying now all really appealed to me.
As 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.
When I first signed up for DirecTV, I did so rather begrudgingly. I hate signing long-term contracts for services, but I was truly tired of only having five networks from which to choose (we were only able to pick up NBC, CBS, Fox, ABC and three PBS channels – we didn’t even get UPN or the WB – which, in our area, consequently became MyNetwork and the CW, respectively).
However, I’ve actually become rather attached to the service over the last year or so. I like the all-digital network (which cost me more than twice what DirecTV is costing me when I had the digital cable service when I lived in a cable-ready house), with the built-in programming guide. I actually am at a loss for what to do when I turn on the television at someone else’s house, and I can’t just hit the “guide” button to see what’s on.
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.
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.