Saturday 31 December 2011

Vianet Services in North Sault

According to their website, Vianet is now offering fixed wireless broadband (high speed) Internet in the Algoma District using Tbaytel infrastructure. Full details are available on the Vianet Residential Wireless page and the associated links.

Note: The following information is provided for information purposes. All costs associated with the services discussed are paid out of my own pocket and I am not reimbursed in any manner.

I recently signed up for Vianet’s vTone service with a Sault Ste. Marie local number. I took the Vianet Linksys Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) and my kitchen telephone with me on a trip to Myrtle Beach, SC. I was able to connect the ATA to Internet in my room using a Cat 5 Ethernet cable. Once connected, I had full phone service with a local Sault Ste. Marie phone number. My contacts were able to call my local vTone number in SSM and the phone would ring in Myrtle Beach, all without long distance charges. Likewise I was able to made local calls in the Sault Ste. Marie dialling area, again without toll charges. I also signed up for one of the Vianet long distance plans in case I wanted to use the feature. Sault Ste. Marie is the point of origin for the long distance cost calculations .

This technology may be useful to Snowbirds going south for the winter and wishing to keep in touch with the folks at home.

Sunday 18 December 2011

Xplornet Satellite Service Changes

Xplornet has revised its website and now includes information about the new 4G ViaSat1 satellite service plans.

The price matrix is competitive with HSPA data hub and Canopy fixed wireless offerings but is more costly than DSL or cable rates. Monthly bandwidth allowance is reasonable at the various price points and additional bandwidth costs vary from $3.50 to $2.00 per GB depending on the package. While there is no specific “fine print” information referenced, it appears the daily caps - one of the most annoying features of existing Xplornet satellite service - will no longer be applicable. Details of the various plan options can be found via this link.

Unfortunately, to take advantage of the service, you will have to move to Southern Ontario as the Algoma District is not included in the coverage area as shown on this map (Link no longer exists on Xplornet website.) It appears as if the greater part of Northern Ontario will not be covered by the new Xplornet coverage. Regrettably, the site does not contain any information as to whether or not any new or existing customers in the Algoma District will see any changes in their price or connectivity restrictions.

The site also has a video featuring the CEO of Xplornet, Mr. John Maduri. I’ll not comment on the presentation except to say it left me very confused and far less optimistic than Mr. Maduri.

A second High Throughput Satellite (HTS), codenamed Jupiter, will be launched by Hughes next year. One can only hope that it will provide coverage to the area not covered by ViaSat1. It is unclear if Xplornet will have access to this HTS.

Friday 9 December 2011

ViaSat1 Undergoes Successful Test

This is follow-up on my blog of 31 Oct 11 about the launch of the ViaSat 1 satellite.

ViaSat Inc announced on 07 Dec 11 the completion of a successful test of the ViaSat1 bird.

As stated in their press release, the company “…has transmitted the first data over the ViaSat-1 high-capacity satellite and the WildBlue high-speed data network. The initial transmissions and receptions were completed the evening of December 2 from a SurfBeam® 2 terminal at ViaSat's Carlsbad campus, through the ViaSat-1 satellite and a gateway located in Milford, Utah. The test included email, web surfing, and video streaming, proving the power of the integrated network. The satellite, designed and owned by ViaSat, is the highest capacity satellite in the world.”

The release goes on to state “The ViaSat-1 high-capacity Ka-band spot beam satellite includes coverage over North America and Hawaii, enabling a variety of new, high-speed broadband services for WildBlue in the U.S., Xplornet in Canada, and JetBlue Airways on its domestic U.S. fleet.”

It appears that first customer use may occur before the end of 2011 but none of the companies involved have released specific details.

The Canadian carrier Xplornet has been uncharacteristically silent on how it intends to use the new capability except to laud the “4G” capability the new hardware opens up.