Note: this is a comparison of publicly available information, mostly from company websites.
One of our competitors uses Trango 900MHz equipment for client connections. If you visit Trango's website you will find that the bandwidth capability of this hardware is quite low. The tradeoff is that it can penetrate more trees because of the longer wavelength of the signal. This type of hardware would usually be used as a secondary solution where a line of sight to an access point cannot be achieved due to trees. The problem is the amount of signal the trees absorb changes with the seasons and this can introduce problems if there is not enough signal to survive this seasonal fading.
Another competitor sells "unlimited use" connections at 5 times our residential data rates. From what we have heard they have not been able to deliver the promised data rates. Secondly, every major provider has gone through the "unlimited" game before, and NONE of them provide unlimited connections any more. It is simply not a sustainable business practice.
But I can get a Rogers, Telus, or Bell USB Stick for free with a contract.
Yes, but if you are going to use it much you will pay much more in the end. Check each company's web site if you wish to confirm the details. In our most popular package at $44.95, we allow up to 25Gigs of data per month. If you were to use 25Gigs of traffic on the Bell stick, it would cost you $85.00 for the first 5Gigs, $0.03/Meg for the next 20480 Megs (which works out to $614.40) plus the $6.95 monthly system access fee for a total of $706.35 plus taxes for the month. While the average user does not use the full 25 Gigs we allow, some use much more. A typical user on the network pulls about 5 gigs per month (which would be $85.00 plus $6.95 plus taxes with a Bell stick). Telus Rates are identical except for the over usage is $0.05 per Meg (the rate for 25Gigs would be $85+$6.95+$1024.00=$1115.95 plus taxes). The Rogers rates are slightly less ($5.00 for each level) the over usage is also $0.03 per Meg (the rate for 25Gigs would be $80+$6.95+$614.40=$701.35 plus taxes). The other issue that we have not touched upon is the fact that our network speeds are faster than the USB stick devices. Bear in mind these devices are made for the user that needs intermittent access many places while travelling, and they work well for this purpose. They were never designed to provide long term fixed access to a home.
OK then, what's different about your service.
Primarily our service and support, and secondly Choice.
You can choose to purchase the hardware and have no contract, or to rent (or finance) the equipment and have a short term contract.
If you choose the no contract option, you can cancel the service at any time without penalty.
For any of the purchase or contract options, please visit the internet provider's web site for details.
With our system, the radio link to our clients is capable of much more speed than we actually give you. The hardware we use can make connections as far as 144km away (in a direct point to point configuration with large antennas). In our point to multi-point (access point) config we could do up to 36km at the lowest speed. We however do not connect clients that are too far away as they would cripple the capacity of the system for other users. Hooking up one far client will load the system as much as hooking up 10 nearby clients. Some of our small sites have only one access antenna, others have more. We base this on the number of clients in a particular area. If we need more capacity in a given area we add another access antenna.
We are also working on some new equipment that can work in conjunction with our existing equipment that should allow us to provide service to people who are relatively close to one of access points, but cannot get line of sight. Our testing is showing that, unless there is a very strong signal, this non-line-of-sight hardware does not provide as stable or reliable of a connection as we would like. If the signal is not very strong there will be times that the equipment will lose the connection. Thus we have set quite high requirements for the client signal to allow such installs to proceed.
We plainly show you where we have service available with maps and pictures of the site. We don't force you to submit a form or pay us a site visit fee just to find out that we don't have any service near you anyway.
In general, selling you a rated speed is one thing, actually providing it is another. With any of our service packages, you get bursts much higher than the rated speeds for relatively short periods of time. When the system sees that you are drawing more than you are allotted, it will (over about a half minute), reduce your speed to the alloted rate. We actually provide you with our specified bandwidth most of the time.
The Internet Service Provider industry is on a path towards a 'User Pay' system. In the current system 20% of the users are using 80% of the bandwidth, and yet everyone pays the same. As these changes work their way through the industry in the coming years we will all see big changes in the way you pay for the data sent over an internet connection. Good, bad or indifferent, it is coming. The only real question is: How soon?
If you live in an area where we provide service, go talk to our existing clients, I am sure they will tell you about the overall reliability of our service.