Internet Options at The Springs

The following report was prepared by Ken Vander Schaaf and presented to the HOA Board at its last meeting.

Review of Internet Options for The Springs at High Rock

As of April 13, 2017

Below are the findings of the potential options for internet providers willing to service the residents of The Springs at High Rock.  As the technology continues to develop the options may change as well over time, but these findings are based on current knowledge.  In the following summary, abbreviations are:

  • MB:  one million bytes, or roughly 8 million on-or-off signals.  A high-quality digital picture is about 0.3 to 3 megabytes.
  • GB:  one billion bytes
  • MS:  millisecond (1000th of a second)
  • Ping, or latency:  measures the time for a signal to travel to its source and back; it is especially important in satellite transmissions
  • 4G:   fourth-generation cellular telephone system

Windstream

Windstream will provide internet service via DSL to some Springs residents.  However they are not willing to expand their service to the entire neighborhood.  Furthermore, their website indicates, and Customer Service has confirmed, that new service is not available for addresses on Healing Springs and Rocky Cove. Reported speeds for those currently serviced by Windstream are varied, depending on the amount of demand on the system.  Typical speeds reported locally are 1-3 MB/s download, .7-1 MB/s upload and 20-116 MS for ping.  A key advantage of Windstream is that they do not have a data cap on the amount of downloads provided per month.  Reports of residents being unhappy with Windstream service are prevalent.

Windstream may be a viable service option for current customers, but is not an option available for all residents.

Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless recently introduced an Unlimited Data Plan to its 4G cell phone service.  The unlimited data actually is for 22 GB/month at 4G speeds for cell phone data applications and then is throttled back to 3G speeds for the remainder of the month.  It also provides an additional 10BG/month at 4G speeds for the cellphone’s hotspot connection to be used for other connected devices.  The internet speeds are dictated by local cell tower activity level with slower responses during periods of high local cell tower activity. Local users of this service have experienced speeds of 7-9 MB/sec download, 4-10 MB/sec upload and .04-.08 MS latency speeds. Residents who have a strong Verizon Wireless signal appear to be satisfied with this service. With the “Unlimited” plan, their primary data limit concern may be mitigated.

Verizon Wireless appears to be a viable option for those residents with strong Verizon Wireless signal.

Hughesnet (Gen 5)

Hughesnet has launched a new satellite, the Echostar 19, on December 18, 2016.  In March, Hughesnet started offering its “Gen5” service with service plans claiming 25 MB/sec download, 3 MB/sec upload and 500MS latency speeds.  They offer differing data limits per month ranging from 10GB to 50GB.  I am unaware of any local residents currently using this new HughesNet Gen5 service, so have no actual speed results. To have access to Hughesnet service there must be a clear line of sight to the satellite on the southern horizon.

Hughesnet Gen5 may be a viable option for residents who have a straight line of sight to the southern horizon.

Exede

Exede currently is offering 12 MB/sec download, 3 MB/sec upload, and 700 MS latency speeds with data limits of 12, 25 and 50 GB/month.  They are currently experiencing technical issues with their ViaSat-1 satellite that services this area, resulting in much slower than advertised speeds.  To have access to Exede service there must be a clear line of sight to the satellite on the southern horizon, similar to satellite TV service.  Exede has a new satellite, ViaSat-2, at Ariane’s launch complex in French Guiana, originally scheduled to launch April 25, 2017, but now likely to launch in June. This new satellite should provide much improved capacity and speeds will again be offered at up to 25 MB/sec downloads and up to 150 GB data limits. Due to the recent launch delay, Exede no longer is offering this Freedom 150 plan.

Exede may be a viable option for residents who have a straight line of sight to the southern horizon, but it may be prudent to wait until their satellite capacity increases.

Time Warner (Spectrum)

Time Warner, now branded Spectrum, was contacted to determine if they were willing to provide internet service.  After providing them the addresses of every home built in The Springs and several months of no responses they finally did indicate that they would be willing to provide service.  Their preliminary proposal stated the construction required to connect one site in The Springs would include 25ft of new aerial, 6,065ft of fiber overlash and 375ft of fiber underground.  However, their “Customer Contribution” would need to be $848,930.92.  Even shared among all 99 residents in The Springs, the cost seems prohibitive.

Time Warner (Spectrum) does not appear to be a viable option for The Springs.

Open Broadband LLC

Open Broadband’s approach to providing internet service was to connect The Springs and Salisbury’s fiber optic internet service via a microwave antenna located on the Fire Tower.  A second microwave connection would be installed in the boat parking area.  From there the internet signal would be transmitted via a mesh network to the houses on the lower level of The Springs.  For homes on the upper level the internet signal would be transmitted via another mesh network directly from the Fire Tower.  Originally Open Broadband was planning to attach the mesh network to the existing street lights.  It was then learned that Energy United owned the street lights and EU would not allow any network devices to be attached to the street lights. After that Open Broadband appears to have dropped any interest in the project.

Open Broadband LLC does not appear to be a viable option for The Springs.