Best way to get Internet off the grid

What do you have do to get Internet access when you don’t have a fixed phone line?

Which service do you use and why? – We are trying to find out what works best in different parts of the country – it can make a huge difference to your quality of life. Please let us know through comments at the end of this story, or in the forum if you prefer.

There are three main options
1. Satellite Internet – like Dish network and HuughesNet – relatively inexpensive but surprisingly high power consumption.

2. Mobile broadband via your cell – either on your cell or using it as a wireless hotspot and connecting your computer to it – lowest power consumption.

3. A purpose built device, like a roof-top antenna for 4G signals, connected to a wireless router inside the house like Home Fusion from Verizon.

Its a question that goes far beyond those living off the grid. With the advent of cellular telephones, consumers were released from the confines of their homes, free to place and receive calls from virtually anywhere. Cell phone popularity exploded, and as a result, landlines to people’s homes have rapidly fallen out of favor.
A recent study conducted by the US government found that landline sales revenue for AT&T fell 16.5 percent since 2007, and Verizon’s dropped 19 percent. In total, 32 percent of American homes now use only cell phones, and that number is growing every day.
Verizon Wireless offers its HomeFusion Broadband service launched in select locations around the country in March
“The service is tailor-made for residential customers who can’t access cable, DSL and other “hard line” Internet sources,” said Ken Watts, district manager for Verizon Wireless retail.
“The system operates off of the same 4G LTE network that many popular cell phones currently use. Install an antenna on a home’s roof to improve reception, and that attaches to a WiFi router in the home, making the Internet available for up to 20 wireless devices and up to four devices via an ethernet connection.
The service provides download speeds of between 5 and 12 Megabits per second, putting it on par with some cable Internet and DSL services, he said. Upload speeds fall between 2 and 5 Megabits per second.
HomeFusion offers three different pricing plans – $60 a month for 10 gigabytes of data, $90 a month for 20 gigabytes, and $120 a month for 30 gigabytes.
Currently, Watts added, the company is running a promotion offering 150 percent of the data in each price range for the first two months after signing up.
Overage costs come out to $10 per gigabyte, he said.
While there are certainly cheaper options available to consumers, this service targets consumers who ordinarily wouldn’t be able to access the Internet.
“It gives them a choice,” Watts said.

For more information on the HomeFusion service, visit https://www.verizonwireless.com/homefusionbroadband.

9 Responses

  1. At home in Ireland we use a mobile phone dongle as we don’t have access to cable or satellite. In New Zealand my father has to use the local internet cafe as he has no mobile reception at home and the internet only works when the local school is closed (and they do evening classes there as well) because he is on a party line. Incidentally, he runs a successful business as well as living right in the middle of the Bay of Plenty, only 15min drive from a good sized town.

  2. In New Zealand, I use a USB modem for internet access which provides me with the added bonus of portability and at 100 dollars for 12 Gigs, which lasts me for 4 months, I consider this to be sufficient for my home needs. Having said that, I also use my local library which has unlimited wireless access and download as much as possible from there to view at home at my leisure.

  3. I only get AT&T cell phone reception here, so I bought a Sierra Wireless receiver that allows up to 5 access items. 5 Gigs for $50 a month. O.K. for email and text, but videos eat up a lot of memory and you can’t download movies. You can, but it’s $10 a gig over your 5 Gig limit.

  4. In Spain, I use the company Pepephone for my unlocked iPhone that can then be tethered to my laptop. Great coverage (as they piggyback Vodafone), cheapest internet, calls, and no 12 month contract. Been using them since Jan 2011 with no problems, excellent :)

    1. Jay,
      I don’t know what kind it is, when I started the internet service I signed up for, they came out and installed it, I didn’t have to buy it separate, it is included in the setup. I believe it’s a microwave antenna but don’t know that for a fact, I do know that if you cover it with metal, it does not send or receive. I also know that you have to be in line of sight for it to work. The part that is inside the house, the part I hook up to says Ubiquiti on the back.

      This looks like the one I have outside, the bigger one

      This is what is inside

      I can see the tower across the valley, but I can’t see what’s on it well enough to tell anything about it. I purchase my internet from a company 2 towns away from me, I believe they are using AT&T.


  5. I have a wireless high speed setup, there is a tower across the valley from me, I have an antenna on my place to pick it up.

    I will not use satellite because they meter your bandwidth, I am a heavy user and would very quickly use up my allotted amount.

    Cell phones don’t work very well where I live, there are a few people out here who use cell phones to get their internet, but the connections are flaky and slow.

    I do not have a phone line, and even if I did, we don’t have DSL available to us yet, I might consider getting a phone IF they offered DSL, but that would mean planting a utility pole and stringing a line to my place, something that is too expensive for me to do now.


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