For you folks who wish to move off the grid but worry about how to stay connected to the internet, there are many ways to do it. In this day and age, it doesn’t much matter where on the planet you live, there is likely some means of getting internet.
100 Miles In The Wilderness
When we lived 100 miles in the wilderness of northern Canada, it was essential that we had internet. It was our link to the outside world and was ready whenever we chose to turn it on.
That link was a satellite dish. It allowed us to use the internet as a means of researching topics, writing several books, uploading and corresponding with publishers, placing telephone calls both in and out, taking care of banking, paying bills online, doing our taxes remotely, managing social media to interact with those interested in self-reliant living and streaming a video if we chose.
When we first got our satellite dish, it was brutally slow. Advertised as 1 meg download speed, the bands were so congested, we were lucky to get telephone modem speed. Let’s just say, satellite back in that day had severe limitations but was better than tin cans connected with string and shouting. And if we went over our monthly allotment, we got spanked with service even slower. Ahhhh, the good ol’ days.
Want to watch a simple 5 minute video? Best fortify your patience, psyche up for the event, plan for an hour and enjoy the spinning circle as you’d get a few seconds of video then spin for a while as the buffers loaded back up; watch another small segment before seeing the spinning circle reappear. It was a brutal affair. Need to download a somewhat big file? Get the download started today and let’s see if it gets finished by tomorrow. That’s if the download didn’t crash overnight due to “timed out” issues.
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What a difference 20 years make. We are nowhere near speeds of fiber optic or other super fast connections but we are at least 20 times faster than the good ol’ days. It does everything we need it to do and rarely do we buffer when watching a streaming video. And over the last year, it seems we have unlimited data without getting spanked.
Back in the day, there was only one game in town that I was aware of. Hughes satellite Now there are several companies with existing satellites providing internet so it pays to shop around. Technology and packages are constantly improving so what you might get now will only get better over time.
Speaking of technology. Our first dish was big. It was a diameter of 1.3 meters. That’s over 51 inches sitting in the backyard facing south. They’ve certainly come down in size since then.
One thing to keep in mind is it takes time for a pulse of energy to be transmitted from the dish, up to the satellite, run through the network, and bounce back to your dish. That’s called a time delay or latency. Usually, it is under 1 second and generally is far quicker than that. The lower the orbit of the satellite system, the faster the signal is sent and received. Not at all a big deal although telephone calls will have a short lag as a result. Thus, any phone conversation needs a short interval after each person is done speaking to allow the transmission to work through the network otherwise one person is talking at the same time the other person is talking. This takes some getting used to but one does get used to it to a degree.
VOIP Phone Service
The phone service is called VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol). You will need to purchase a VOIP phone which looks like any other phone. Then you need to find a service provider to handle the calls just like any other phone service. It’s super cheap and works well.
Satellite is great for truly remote locations out of cell phones and other signal ranges. You sure can move to some wonderful places on Earth and still be connected. If by chance, that’s too extreme for you, there are many networks available for the internet depending on where you live.
Some Technical Stuff
I can’t advise what is best for you since you will be limited to whatever wired or wireless options are available where you live. However, here are some things you want to inquire about when considering a connection.
Obviously price. What are you paying for? What is download speed, what is upload speed, and is there a bandwidth limit?
Or in plain English, how fast can you download information, how fast can you send information out and are you limited in the amount of information you can send out before you are penalized by a reduction in speed or a higher monthly cost? Is there a contract? I don’t like anything with a contract. If you aren’t happy with a service you should have every right to find a better provider.
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I can’t speak with any first-hand knowledge about smartphones since we have never had one. But they surely will provide a connection. In order to use a desktop or laptop computer, all connections I’m familiar with will come into a modem before being connected to either the computer directly or to a router going to the computer.
I would figure on getting a router. It distributes your connection to various devices via both cable and wireless. So the desktop is plugged into the router and the VOIP phone is plugged in as well. If you have a wireless TV or smartphone, the router will supply the signal to them as well.
If you opt for satellite, you may or may not be able to set it up yourself. Some services require a technician to do the installation, while others like Starlink can be done as far as I know, by the homeowner.
Go forth and spread out upon the land, for you will have internet and a means of communication if you so desire. Good luck!
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