What speeds should I expect?
We do not "throttle" the upload speeds like DSL and Cable. That means, your uploads will be almost as fast as your downloads in most locations. Again, the radio on your house is less powerful that the radio on top of the mountain so there will be some difference but we do not actively slow it down like other providers do.
Like DSL and Cable, this is a shared resource. For us to bring a dedicated 50 Mbps fiber to your home would cost around $900 / month if it was even possible. So, we share the resource. DSL and Cable typically "over subscribe" your service between 25 to 45 times. That means you are competing with potentially 45 other people for the speeds you purchased. Some times, you get what you pay for. Other times, you get very little of what you pay for because 44 of those other users are also online.
We also over subscribe. We have to. All Internet service providers do in order to pay the bills. We keep our over subscription much lower. We monitor it closely. When subscriber numbers go up to the point where we can add more bandwidth, we do. However, if you speed test your connection all day long, you will see it vary. What is more important to us is the quality of the network for what you need from it. When you want to watch Netflix, can you stream it without buffering? When you need to send that large file to work, does it upload quickly? Are your VoIP phone calls clear? Are your web meetings easy to see and hear? That is what matters to us and you.
See our article on wireless interference and speed for additional information.
My wireless speeds in the house seem slow...
When members contact us regarding slow or intermittent speeds inside their house, 99% of the time this is related to the wireless connection inside the house - from your router to your computer. There are a number of causes of this. The first thing we will ask is for you to plug your computer directly into the router (turn off WiFi) and run a speed test. This will rule out the Internet connection almost all the time.
So, what causes the slowness in the house? Two things are typically the culprit: 1) Interference 2) Distance from the wireless router
1) There are only so many channels that these wireless routers work on. You and all of your neighbors are fighting for space in this crowded spectrum. Your router might be on the same channel as your neighbor and like the old days of television, your computer is getting "static" instead of a nice clean signal. Routers today transmit in two different banks of channels. We call them "2.4G" and "5G". This really stands for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz - the frequencies they operate on. 2.4 GHz is the "old" standard and is able to do wireless speeds up to round 75 Mbps. 2.4 GHz passes through walls better than 5 GHz. But, Bluetooth, microwave ovens and cordless phones all use 2.4 GHz.
On the other end, 5 GHz can handle speeds in excess of 900 Mbps but does a terrible job of passing through walls and floors. The way many router manufacturers solve this problem is they turn the transmitter power all the way up so it can blast through those walls. It is basically at the same power level as our equipment on the mountain that can transmit for miles! So, in addition to your router going through your walls, it goes through your neighbors walls and their signal goes through yours. You and your neighbors end up fighting each other and speed drastically decreases as interference increases. There are 3 separate channels in the 2.4 GHz spectrum and 4 separate channels in the 5 GHz spectrum. There are a lot of people sharing those 3 or 4 channels around you!
New routers often try to find clean channels to broadcast on when you re-boot them but as neighbors move, buy new gear, add access points, etc, the problem just gets worse. An old fashioned Ethernet cable connection to the router is always a better choice when possible.
2) The second issue is distance from the router, or "dead spots" in the house. This is related to part of # 1 above. If you are running only a 5 GHz network in your house, it may work great in the room the router is in but the further you get away, the slower it gets until it starts dropping out. The solution? Depends on your home. If you have a smaller house (under ~1000 square feet), one router (or access point) in the middle should cover it. If you are larger than 1000 square feet or have some thick walls, you might need a couple access points. This is not as simple as just buying WiFi repeaters - these can often make the problem worse since they add more interference in your house. You want a managed solution that talks to each other and does not create more interference.
A few new products are copping up that are aimed at solving this problem. What you really want is the distributed mesh wireless network that large businesses install. You roam around your house and your devices hop from AP to AP without you knowing or caring. How to get this without spending $1,000's on a managed system? Here are some new products that are getting very good reviews:
We have not tested any of these in house yet but if you Google any of those products, there are lots of reviews out there. Those are the four most popular ones and have some positive reviews. The solution is not always inexpensive but good solutions rarely are... In most cases, these products will also take the place of your router and the main unit will plug directly into our power supply (the port labeled "Gigabit Data").
How does snow and rain affect the signal?
In the very large snowstorm in February, 2016, we reported no degradation of speeds from the tower to members homes. There were two members who lost connection temporarily. In both cases, this was caused by large snow drifts on the roof that buried the antenna. One was able to scrape the snow away, the other cleared up after the drift changed shape. For the installers, lesson learned - get as high as possible above roofs. For the members, this was a significant snow event that did not result in loss of signal due to the blizzard. Rain is also a great insulator of RF energy. While it is physically possible for a huge downpour to degrade the signal, it would take significant rain amounts. The farther you are from the tower, the more the rain or snow can affect things.
For some of our "on network" buildings, these are serviced with very high frequency radios (60 - 80 GHz). At those frequencies, we can push very high data rates (in excess of 1 Gbps) but they are much more susceptible to rain fade. We keep these links as short as possible and where possible, back them up with lower frequency links. It is possible to have brief outages in very heavy rain storms. We typically see outages lasting less than 60 seconds and only in heavy rain.