Hello all and welcome back - unless this is your first visit here, in which case, just welcome.
A few people have asked me, how can we stay 'online' once we are 'offgrid' - illustrated by the URL for the Blog and Site. Also, I have wanted to ensure I can keep the Blog and Site up-to-date, carry on with some design work and also email friends and family down south - mainly to gloat about how nice it is on the croft and to ask how much time they have spent, in the traffic jams, on the A14!
So how can we accomplish this modern miracle, being so far from any mains or, indeed, the "nearest exchange". Will it take a very long piece of string and a couple of very large paper cups?
Well, the answer lays in the Final Frontier... Satellite Broadband. This technology has been around for a couple of years now, helping rural communities and businesses; but was very expensive (usually around £100 per month for a relatively slow and intermittent service). Having not really needed to investigate this form of Broadband, until now, I had no idea how much it has advanced, until this week; when I have been looking into it and preparing the setup, for April.
So, the other day I did some investigations - very slowly, on our 1.5mb/256k Broadband connection (here in the centre of southern civilisation!), and found that there are now a number of companies offering the service. It really has advanced, in both speed and consistency. And is almost comparable to normal broadband, cost-wise (a little more expensive, but then you are traveling to space and back, what do you expect!).
The present owner of the croft, suggested we carry on with his existing supplier HySpeed and this is definitely what we intend to do. Although I do like to shop around, they seemed to have the best price versus features - even though they are not the fastest (I'm sure there's a parable involving a Leporid and a Testudine that could be used here). They came recommended, where others were "best avoided". And the setup will be much easier and less expensive (as its all in place already).
This is the one big difference and (possible) put-off - the setup costs. If you are starting from scratch, then an engineer has to come and set up and install the dish and everything else. Which, if you are remote, could be problematic; especially if he's afraid of boats, in our case! This seems to average around £165 for install, with the equipment costing around £350; although there are options to rent the equipment instead. Speeds vary, depending on how much you want to spend, but can reach 20mb/6mb. Not bad considering 'stuff' travels about 144,000km!
So, we think we are opting for HySpeed's HySpeed Pro 1 package. This gives 8mb/2mb and costs around £35 per month, for 24 months. The guy I spoke to was very helpful, advising that the present owner shouldn't "deactivate" his account, as then we'd have to pay the setup fees to "reactivate". And warned you can upgrade to a higher package, but not downgrade so to "choose wisely" (like the Knight of the Grail, in The Last Crusade).
If you want any more information, or to compare Satellite Broadband suppliers yourself, then check out: www.thinkbroadband.com/guide/satellite-broadband.html
Good to get another decision made and another 'thing' in place. And we are safe in the knowledge we can still communicate with you all, pester you for Facebook 'Likes' and Twitter 'Follows' (come on we need more!) and brag about the lack of traffic on "Destitution Road" (A832)!