Loudoun Co., where I live in northern Virginia, has or had the highest median income of any of the 3,000+ U.S. counties. But that doesn’t give my wife and I access to terrestrial broadband, and neither of the WISPs that operate in the county reach here. We live on a farm in a remote corner of the county where the only broadband is via satellite. Email, web browsing, audio streaming and YouTube, yes; Hulu and Netflix, no.
We had HughesNet, which got dumped due to unreasonable data limits and lengthy outages, and are now using WildBlue, which sucks less. We do lose service in thunderstorms and other moderate-to-heavy rains, and wet snow is a problem (keep a broom handy). WildBlue has about the same data limits but averages them over a month so automatic software and system upgrades don’t, as punishment, knock your speed back to sub-dialup rates for 24 hours. When connected, speeds are just under a T1 rate, so that’s not awful, but latency is. Connecting with DNS is a big problem, and makes the whole web experience frustrating. One gets tired of hitting refresh and often the sites just give up before you connect. It’s particularly bad with Google sites and Twitter. WildBlue has a so-called “optimizer” which does speed up things somewhat with Firefox, but doesn’t seem to help with IE or Chrome.
I used earlier versions of Opera when I lived in Idaho and used a WISP, and remembered it was faster than IE and Firefox, but I got out of the habit during the three years I lived in the urban DC area where I had a cable ISP. So last night, I downloaded Opera 11.6 and the improvements just blew me away. So far, DNS access has worked on the first try each time and page loading is swift. The only downside so far is that me.com doesn’t work with Opera.
If this keeps up, I’m going to have to find something else to complain about. --Dennis