Part 4 in a series describing choices for Internet access in rural Sonoma County

There’s another oddball possibility for broadband access in rural Sonoma County. Broadlink Communications sets up wireless Internet access – delivered from ground-based stations, not from satellites. If you have an unobstructed view of one of their antennas, you can get a lightning-fast connection. Speeds are comparable to DSL lines, and this kind of wireless access is not subject to either the lag or the weather problems I described for satellite access. Pricing is comparable to DSL, although there might be higher setup costs.

The technology is mature, and there are serious people who believe this will become an important part of broadband delivery in the future.

There’s two catches.

First, it only works at certain locations. There’s a limited number of Broadlink antennas and if you don’t have a clear view of one, you don’t get the signal. Period. I don’t have a view of the right hills. The last client of mine that looked into it had trees in the way. It’s as simple as that. Sometimes it’s obvious from a phone conversation, but frequently Broadlink has to come to your home or business to check out the line of sight.

Second, Broadlink does not have a happy history. It has been trying to find a way to make money on wireless technology for years, and mostly having no luck. I don’t know the details of its finances, but the gossip in the community is none too encouraging. I believe it’s down to a handful of employees now. There is simply no way to know if it will be in business tomorrow.

If nothing else is available and Broadlink can deliver a connection, sign up – but with your eyes open. My DSL line was shut off with no notice when a company went into bankruptcy a few years ago. It’s not pretty, and it could happen to you.

Next: Frame Relay & T-1

Share This