Internet In The Mountains

As you might guess, I have high-speed Internet in my mountain home. At first, this was not easy to accomplish! There was no cable modem and no DSL available. To make matters worse, I couldn’t even use Dial-Up Internet, because my phone line signal quality was too low to maintain a solid connection.

My home came with something that most homes don’t, an ISDN connection. The previous owner used it to work from home. I wanted to connect through this ISDN connection, but it took about a week of making phone calls to Quest to even find out who would handle this. Finally I got in touch with someone in their business department that could handle ISDN, but the prices he started quoting were absurd.

You may be asking yourself at this point: Why didn’t I just get Satellite Internet? When I first moved to the mountains, satellite Internet was THE WORST high-speed internet of all. It was expensive and the connection quality was poor. There is very high latency resulting from the distance and the sheer amount of equipment the signal has to pass through. They required me to buy their equipment and sign a long term contract.

So what about today? Satellite Internet has become much better than it was, thanks to competition and improving technology. But nothing can fix the latency, until we learn to send information faster than the speed of light! Still, for many mountain residents, StarLink satellite Internet will be a great option when it is rolled out. But make sure you consider the local cable and DSL carriers first, because their Internet will be far better if it’s available at your home.

I finally found an option: WiFi (wireless) Internet from a provider in my area. Unfortunately, they didn’t really provide service to my area, so instead I was attaching via a long range antenna to a nearby neighborhood’s system. This didn’t work well at all. The company could have installed a long-range antenna on their end to improve my signal, but they were a small-time outfit and they just didn’t seem to care. I bided my time with them and waited for a decent solution.

After a year or so, DSL became available at my home through Quest (now CenturyLink). The nightmare was over! Quest DSL worked great at the time. As the years went on, the data load of most Internet content was increasing, but CenturyLink’s DSL was not increasing their speeds. As of this writing, even the fastest CenturyLink DSL connection is unusable for most homes that use streaming services, Zoom meetings, and other high bandwidth services.

For this reason, once cable modem became available in my area from USA Communications, I had to switch to them. They offer modern speeds at prices that are much higher than down in town, but still acceptable.

Today there are a couple of options that weren’t available when I moved up here. Some people have good cell phone service at their home and just use the data from their cell phone carrier. Some cell phone carriers will provide a femtocell so that you can get better data reception at your home.

The other possibility is WiMax, which uses microwave Internet. Although Gilpin School used to use the local WiMax carrier, I don’t know of anyone who currently uses this service so I don’t have much information on it.

This basically outlines what your high-speed internet choices are. If you have DSL or Cable Modem available in your area, get that! If you have good southern exposure, you should be able to get StarLink satellite Internet when it becomes available. If not, try to find out if there is a WiFi or WiMax provider in your area. No luck? Try using cellular data from your cell phone carrier.

In most of Gilpin County, the order of Internet choices from most to least desirable are: