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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Denver, CO
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    Default Wireless Internet

    I took a friends laptop home to load some spreadsheets off of my ancient PC….. Long story but new PC’s do not come with floppy drives, I discovered.

    I do not have internet at home or a land line or cable TV. The past few years I have tried to make my life away from work as simple as possible……… Why am I telling you this?.........

    Okay, well anyway I got to goofing around with his laptop and found an unsecured network in the neighborhood and was able to log on to MSN from it. It was kind of nice to be able to write a couple of long emails to some friends and be able to surf a bit……….. Most of the time when I post or surf here at TOH I am on the phone at work so it’s a little distracting……….Why am I telling you this?

    Alrighty then, when it comes to internet connections I’m kinda dumb. I do not want cable, or a land line or dial up. I would like to set myself up with either a satellite connection or with a cell connection but I am not really sure what’s best or what I need or what cost is associated.

    Any advice from you wizened folks?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    1,131

    Default Re: Wireless Internet

    Kent,

    We're on a local wireless network here. $24 a month. ( We are too far out to get DSL or cable) Our wireless is much cheaper than most sat offerings......like Hughes which runs about $80 a month here. And you gotta buy the equipment too. $$$$ Another option is Wild Blue sat. IIRC, $45 a month......except if you get it as part of a package deal with Dish Network. Basic DN here is $20 a month, add WB to that for another $30. (18 month contract)

    However, Hughes wasn't taking on any new subscribers and neither was WB last fall/early winter.. Sats are/were overloaded. Recently I think WB started taking on just a few new subscribers again. They need to get another bird in the sky before they can take on too many. Hughes subscribers weren't happy at all as they were being SEVERELY restricted on downloads. Download more than X amount and then they drastically choke your download speed for the rest of the month. Think dial-up speeds. The limit was/is absurdly small. They are losing customers by the drove....and rightly so.


    We have a choice between two diferent local wireless internet providers. These both operate on a network of repeater antennas mounted on towers which are scattered about the countryside......eventually linking back up to a T-3 backbone line at the home base. The system operates on the unlicensed 2.4 GHZ band so broadcast power is quite limited by the FCC. (IIRC, something like 20 watts) Consequently, the max range from repeater to your antenna (and tower to tower) is about 5 miles. Our repeater is just a mile due west.....and is situated on a really tall grain elevator leg. Can usually count on 500 - 700kb speeds although the equipment will do over 2 Meg. IOW, we all get throttled to some extent cause there are quite a few subscribers using this same repeater. Share and share alike. But even 500kb will do streaming vids so I'm satisfied.

    Another option you may have available to you is broadband internet via a cellphone provider. Sprint has installed a new broadband internet system around here ....on the same towers that hold their cell antennas. It is screaming fast with no restrictions (download/upload limits). We can buy the service thru a local "communications business" and the wireless modem from them which they install at your house (15 minutes). From that you can either go hardwire to your puter or connect it up to a private wireless router and keep everything at your house completely wireless.... if you like. Some friends who live 15 miles away subscribed to that about three months back. Because of their particular geographical location and all the associated tree lines on nearby ridges, they do not have line of sight to any of the wireless towers like the one we use here. The cell tower is much taller and does give them line of sight. This doesn't come cheaply either at $60 a month, but as I said before.....they couldn't/can't get WB right now. Hughes was out of the question.

    If you were able to connect wirelessly with that laptop from your house........it almost certainly means that someone quite near is running an unsecured wireless router. Probably within 500' of you. (More likely within 300') This is pretty common, actually. If the owners of said WR don't turn off the SSID broadcast of the router.......your puter sees it and can likely access it......unless they restricted usage in some other manner (MAC addy, etc) . Evidently they didn't as you were able to connect to and use that router. (You might even have multiple neighbors running unsecured wireless routers and you just grabbed/used the first one that the LT saw.)

    How many neighbors that close do you have? If only the one or if it's easy enough to find out (ask) which neighbor has that router......you might work out a deal with them in which you chip in some for internet..and they continue to allow you to use it.

    Or........you say nothing to the neighbors and just enjoy. If they have a fast broadband connection such as cable or DSL......odds are they won't have/notice any slowdown at all. IOW, you won't be inconveniencing them.

    Or.....you can check with your local providers for DishNetwork and/or Wild Blue. They *might* be taking on more customers again.


    You can buy a wireless card for your current PC which has also has an antenna on/in it. Or you can buy a wireless external antenna thingie that plugs directly into the USB port of any puter. ($40?) In that all laptops come equipped with wireless these days, you should be ready to rock if you decide to buy an LT and wouldn't need the addition of anything else. .....unless you need to extend the range of a built-in antenna.


    PS- You can still get a floppy on a PC, but it's a special order kinda deal. Or...you can buy an external floppy that plugs into a USB port. Fairly inexpensive, too.
    Last edited by goldhiller; 03-01-2008 at 01:06 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Denver, CO
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    Default Re: Wireless Internet

    ****ie,

    Thanks for your, as usual, very thorough reply.

    Yeah, I’m going to stop and pick up a LT on my way home. I’ll probably use the unsecured connection while I can get away with it. I would not be able to figure out who to thank! My friends LT saw a bunch of wireless connections but most were secured. I live in a townhouse so have lots of neighbors within 300/500’. I know that they are limited to one cable provider for their internet connection.

    It sounds to me like the way you are setup would be a great option for me so I’ll ask the sales person at the computer store what’s available around here. I did not see that your system required any special equipment?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
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    5,557

    Default Re: Wireless Internet

    You might check with your neighbors and see if any one is using a wireless router and will set you up as a nob on the network with you helping with the bill for the service.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Denver, CO
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    Default Re: Wireless Internet

    I have thought of that, Jack, and I know the people next to me pretty well. However, this townhouse thing is kind of new to me. I walk around the park and have gotten to know other "walkers" enough to strike up a bit of a conversation and have shared a round of disk golf with quite a few people as well. But the people right around me I do not know all that well. For the most part I only see them coming and going in their cars. Garage door goes up, garage door goes down. No yards to go out and take care of. The patios are walled and private. You know there are people around you just don't know them or see them for the most part.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    1,131

    Default Re: Wireless Internet

    kent,

    we have a panel antenna (think small pizza box)mounted up on the roof for the WLAN. Fastened to the tv antenna mast just above the tripod. Hard-wire cable runs from that into attic, down a stud bay to the basement and then up thru the floor to where the PC is located on the first floor. There the cable is plugged into a little 12VDC "injector" which is about half the size of a pack of ciggies. Then a cable from there to the puter would be "standard", but I'm feeding a wireless router so it goes to that instead.

    The antenna doesn't have to be up that high at all. Can literally be a foot off the ground.....so long as it has line of sight to the repeater/tower.

    We paid $125 for equipment and install......which included up to 150' of cable. (300' is the functional limit) Antenna belongs to us now, but has to be configured with all the proper settings that allow that antenna to access this WLAN. The provider does that configuring from his end....and does not, of course......give out that info or he'd have no paying subscribers. Everyone who found out would simply log on for free. Or.......he would spend all his time reconfiguring to thwart them.

    If/when we ever go a different route or WLAN supplier, he will "release" this thing so it's free to reconfigure for a different networks settings. (I know how to log onto it, just can't access the screens with the info or make changes without the passwords. (yes, plural)

    PS- There may be an easy way to find out just who owns that router you're tapping. Unless they changed the name of it (SSID) then it likely shows up on your screen with the name of the manufacturer as the SSID. I know the log-in addy of numerous brands, but if I didn't know one..it's easy to Google. Then you would log-on and configure so that it only allows you to use it. Do this via Mac addy. Block all except yours. Then allow them to use it for say 30 minutes and then block 'em for the next 15 or so. Then back on again. Then off. They'll think it's a provider problem and get hot under the collar. If/when you hear the shouting and swearing...there's the owner. LOL

    Using the "on-off" method, they won't likely suspect what's actually going on and so won't take any steps to secure the critter. So.....you can have a liitle *fun* with them whenever you're short on entertainment for the night. <G>

    Ya know........there's always the possibility that they already have *an arrangement* with one or more of their neighbors as concerns splitting internet access costs. Might be that's the only reason the wireless router is there. And/or other folks could also be hitchhiking without their knowledge. You might hear lots of folks wailing when they can't get on. ***...this could be fun. LOL
    Last edited by goldhiller; 03-01-2008 at 06:42 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
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    5,557

    Default Re: Wireless Internet

    ****y, you're one sick puppy, I like that about you.

    Kent, I have the Wildblue through our local electric co-op. You get 3 choices $49 500k, $69 1Meg. and $79 1.5 Meg. I signed a 3 year contract and got the equipment and installation free. I use the $49 set up, it's not the fastest but it sure beats dial up. Have never hit the download limit or even come close but I don't download movies. The higher speeds also give you more band width. Only loose the signal during heavy rain storms or heavy snow. With the highest speed you also get a dial-up account you can use if the weather blocks the signal.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  8. #8
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Wireless Internet

    ****y, you're one sick puppy

    Yeah.....I know.


    wife keeps threatening me with a trip to the vet.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    The Great White North
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    Default Re: Wireless Internet

    wife keeps threatening me with a trip to the vet.
    Geez ... hope it's not a one way trip.

  10. #10
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    Aug 2007
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    6,480

    Default Re: Wireless Internet

    Quote Originally Posted by canuk View Post
    Geez ... hope it's not a one way trip.
    Either way, he could get "fixed", and that would just be wrong!

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