Satellite Internet in Tok or HughesNet Might Save My Ass(ets)

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Just spoke with a rep from HughesNet this week after repeated unanswered calls and messages to Starband. Here’s what I found out:

1. I can get a faster Internet connection via satellite than DSL in Tok. 3 meg download compared to 512k on DSL. That speed, of course, doesn’t include the latency of satellite Internet connections which take getting used to because that pause feels like a lack of speed.

2. I will have to buy a $699 satellite dish to get the service (with a $100 rebate so technically $600).

3. I will probably want the largest commercial account – 1250 MB for $180/month. That is compared to DSL for $195/month for 1/2 the speed but only a $50 deposit and $50 modem cost to get up and running.

Yes, I’m going to invest in the dish. Nothing says “I’m surfing the Net from rural Alaska” better than a satellite dish on top of our house.

Have you had any experience with satellite Internet? Any advice you have to offer?

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7 Comments

  1. Kim

     /  December 21, 2008

    We’ve had HughesNet for over a year now and you will never get anywhere near the speeds they say you will. We’ve had a technician out to our house 5 times in the past three months. We finally had to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau to get some kind of service. Currently, our service has been completely out now for over a week and now they are supposedly sending somebody on Monday from another state because they don’t have anyone else in all of the Portland Metro area who can come service us- hard to believe for a company as big as HughesNet.

    All of their customer service is outsourced and the only time you get to speak to a HughesNet rep in the states is when it’s been elevated to a level four.

    I hope you’re experience will be better than ours. We have elevated our current case to the executive customer care and are ready to cancel. Do a search about them and you’ll find tons of complaints.

    I’ve heard better things about WildBlue if they service your area.

    Reply
  2. Tammy

     /  January 9, 2009

    I’m a little late to this thread, but I had HughesNet/DirecWay for about 5 years. It only works well in perfect weather. Any rain, snow, sunspots, etc – you’re dead in the water. I live in Pennsylvania, hardly a dramatic climate, and it was highly unreliable. Luckily cable came to the area about 6 months ago.

    Reply
  3. Lucky for us, Alaska has a far different approach to Hughes Net. Because of our size and remoteness, we have our own Hughes rep and dealer up here who handles service calls. And unlike the lower 48, all installers charge for their services like a contractor (install is NOT free here). So when you have a problem you normally call the installer, not Hughes Net. This is alot more direct approach compared to calling the 1800# down south. And, we use a larger dish directed toward a different satellite from the lower 48. So far, I’ve had no complaints on the system, and I use it alongside Starband and DSL. Even in our snowstorms it works just fine if installed *properly*. Here in Tok, we can’t depend on a call center from India, so we have developed our own methods.

    Reply
  4. I’m so glad you commented, Jarrett! I was going to ask you about all of this when I call you. I wanted to give DSL at least a month’s try so I have comparisons. Will be in touch soon.

    Reply
  5. Hi Aliza, just wanted to set the record straight! Hopefully DSL will work out for you as its a cheaper option, but those limits are killer if you go over bandwidth. Either way let me know if I can help with anything.

    Reply
  6. Glenn

     /  January 10, 2009

    We’ve been traveling with a Hughesnet dish for about seven years now and have been involved with hundreds of folks who are setting up their own dishes. We’ve set up ours (and others’) dishes over a thousand times.

    We even traveled through TOK this year and had service on a .74 meter dish on satellite 127. Only issue is trees.

    You can buy a used fiberglass dish system and 7000 series modem for about $100-$150 plus shipping.

    You can set it up and point it yourself by getting directions from the RVinternetbysatellite group at Yahoo or at the http://www.datastormusers.com forum. Actually all the needed software is built into the modem. You only need the instructions.

    Then you just call the Hughes customer support to start up your account and get the SAN and PIN number to activate the modem.

    In doing it this way you also have only a month-to-month contract. You are not locked into a 2 year obligation.

    I have a friend in Ninilchick on the Kenai who goes down to Yuma in the winter with one dish and has another at home for summers. Works like a champ. Does it all himself.

    Reply
    • There are those rural villages and places in Alaska that cannot get dsl service and there are us Tokites who can. Guests dont believe me when I tell them that our ISP charges us per gig. They ask why would they do that? I tell them I believe it has something with them having a generator and I am told by technical geeks that even so, it does not cost them more per gig, it is another way to make money via taking advantage of supply and demand.
      OH how I wish there was a better solution!!
      Just had to add my 2 cents…and was wondering if this hughes fiberglass traveling dish system has wireless capabilities. I had a caravan stay here last summer where all their RV’s logged on to the wagonmasters RV satellite and I was so busy I did not get the info! ;-(

      Reply

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