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Remote internet solutions?

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#1 Whithull

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Posted 26 May 2021 - 08:31 PM

I am building a custom observatory for imaging on some family land 20 minutes outside of Oklahoma City, and about 30-45 minutes from my house in Norman. It will be a unique structure with a fully automated 8' Explora-Dome and a separate control room. While it isn't that far of a drive, I'm an architecture student and so I don't have the time to spend multiple nights out there imaging during the week. I don't like the idea of wasting clear skies all week and just hoping for it to be clear on the weekends, so I would like to be able to remote in whenever conditions are good. I'm just wondering what the best solution for internet would be. 

 

There is an existing structure roughly 200 feet away with satellite Directv. Would it be worth upgrading that to an internet package and burying an ethernet cable along with the electrical, from the house to the observatory? This wouldn't require buying any new hardware aside from the cable, and I will be trenching and burying electrical lines anyways so no extra work.

 

I have also considered ordering a Starlink dish and going that route. It wouldn't be available until later this year or next year, but that would be okay and it would be fairly easy and straightforward to setup.

 

Or maybe a cellular hotspot? It's close enough to the city that we get cell service out there but it is not great.

 

I'm thinking that the Directv route is the best one, but I'm a huge SpaceX fanboy and I would love to have Starlink.

 

If you have internet in your observatory let me know what you did, or what you think my best option would be.



#2 Dan Crowson

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Posted 26 May 2021 - 08:42 PM

The Directv route would probably be pretty rough assuming it is satellite internet. I would look into a cellular hotspot (see what network provides the best coverage). This assumes that you can't some DSL, cable, etc. Starlink might end up being the best route when available.



#3 Whithull

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Posted 26 May 2021 - 09:11 PM

Would something like this make sense?

 

https://www.outdoorr...at6-double-sim/



#4 jfaldo

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Posted 26 May 2021 - 09:27 PM

I would think that there's a point to point internet provider somewhere close by in that flat country. I work for a company here in the mountains and we do a ton of point to point internet for our really remote customers. What we can't reach our local competitor in this technology can usually get it done. Of course I'm a little jaded here where I'm located. The company I work for has customers so remote that they have their own road clearing equipment to get out in the winter along with their snow cats. I can still give these customers 1 gig service easily over fiber in most cases.



#5 MJB87

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Posted 26 May 2021 - 09:30 PM

I live in a similar area devoid of cable. I also operate an ExploraDome.

 

My current solution is miserable satellite internet with Viasat . It is expensive, VERY slow and unreliable in bad weather. If you have storms you will lose connectivity for a while -- just when you may want to reassure yourself the shutter is closed!  It also comes with crippling data caps. I am on the list as a beta test user for Starlink. It will be MUCH faster but will still have signal attenuation issues in rainstorms.

 

I also use a MiFi connection to a tower 12 miles away. That connects me to AT&T Mobile internet. It is better than Viasat -- no data caps and marginally faster. We do have marginal 4G service here -- we will probably never get 5G -- but none of the local vendors will supply a proper router to tie into my network.  (I have 100 devices, 10 switches and 11 access points connected to my network.) They only want to sell you a USB adapter for one device.

 

Questions to consider...

 

1. What is you cell coverage?  Do you have 4G? If you have a reliable 4G signal that may be your best option. Be advised that many cell providers use something called CG-NAT -- basically it means you won't have a unique WAN IP address. It means connecting remotely can be far more difficult. No port forwarding, for example.

 

2. Can you use the DirectTV dish for internet? Won't you need a new one? Isn't it a different satellite? That will raise the cost. Again, you may find the data caps crippling.

 

3. As for getting data to the observatory, would fiber work as well as Cat6/7/whatever? No chance of lightning ground strikes coming up to the observatory. Fiber isn't that expensive anymore.

 

Good luck with the project.

 

Marty



#6 Migwan

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Posted 26 May 2021 - 09:33 PM

Would something like this make sense?

 

https://www.outdoorr...at6-double-sim/

That's awesome, but with all those options it's likely more than what you need.  Also, is the cell service up to it? 

 

They've been burying and hanging fiber all over the country.  It's now the best option for speed, reliability and cost around here, even well outside of town.   You might want to check to see if its available at your site.     



#7 MJB87

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Posted 26 May 2021 - 09:39 PM

They've been burying and hanging fiber all over the country.  It's now the best option for speed, reliability and cost around here, even well outside of town.   You might want to check to see if its available at your site.     

Not here. The local ISPs are done laying fiber or cable around here. Many of us will never get it. A group of us offered the cable company $40,000 to run cable the last 1.5 miles to our homes. They refused to even consider it.



#8 Phil Sherman

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Posted 26 May 2021 - 11:03 PM

I'm a long time DirecTV customer and as far as I know, DirecTV does not supply satellite internet service. I have a very remote, off grid observatory that is internet connected using a local wireless internet service provider. Monthly charges are reasonable, around $50/month but the asymetric linkage with a higher download speed than upload does limit what's possible to do because a remote observatory needs the reverse, a higher upload speed than download. A fiber connection offers the best compromise, equal upload and download speeds.

 

Wireless (phone) carriers offer an internet connection device that might meet your needs. Most of these have some form of data limit so you'll need to investigate their contracts carefully. Service for any of these can be improved by using an external yagi (directional / amplifying) type antenna. If the nearby building has telephone service, you may be able to upgrade that to include medium speed internet with DSL (digital service line) service. The 200 feet distance between the house and observatory is within the distance limits (330') for Cat5 100mbs cabling which would provide the observatory with the same internet service speed available in the house.


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#9 Migwan

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Posted 27 May 2021 - 12:11 AM

Not here. The local ISPs are done laying fiber or cable around here. Many of us will never get it. A group of us offered the cable company $40,000 to run cable the last 1.5 miles to our homes. They refused to even consider it.

It's not the cable companies that are laying it.  It's mostly IT companies and small local phone companies using incentives the fed put up some 10 years ago.  Heck, my sister's got it in Merkel TX so I was just hoping for you.

 

Direct TV did Hughes Sat back around the millennial, but that was mucho dinaro for poco uso.

 

As Phil said, DHL might be an option.   Good luck with it.
 



#10 MJB87

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Posted 27 May 2021 - 06:06 AM

It's not the cable companies that are laying it.  It's mostly IT companies and small local phone companies using incentives the fed put up some 10 years ago.  Heck, my sister's got it in Merkel TX so I was just hoping for you.

 

I'd be careful assuming you can rely on someone bringing cable to a remote observatory.

 

Unfortunately, no one seems willing to lay any cable the 1.5 miles from the nearest cable presence to our group of homes. It would involve complex trenching -- there are no overhead wires.  The local electric utility is promising to bring internet to unserved communities but they only intend to use their existing utility poles to do it. Won't help us at all. So it ultimately will have to be Starlink that brings a viable solution.


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#11 jfaldo

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Posted 27 May 2021 - 08:14 AM

The small rural telecom I work for is doing fiber to the home as fast as we can and budget allows. We are not replacing any of the old copper infrastructure with like copper. It's being replaced with fiber. There are some caveats to it though. A single customer for example 10 miles from the nearest fiber is most likely never going to get it. Return on cost just isn't there. That's where point to point wireless then comes into play. Have to admit I was a little skeptical of it at first being the old crusty copper plant telephone guy. After working with it now I have to admit I'm pretty impressed by its capabilities and reliability. I think fiber though in most cases is the wave that's coming and the only limitation is money. Seems the big players out there are the most reluctant to spend on it though for some odd reason where little companies like mine are all in on it. 


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#12 Dan Crowson

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Posted 27 May 2021 - 12:45 PM

Copper is pretty much going away. None of the carriers I deal with want to sell anything on it (old T1s or PRIs). I see the pricing going up on almost a monthly basis to get people off of it.
 
Starlink is actually going to hurt some of the fiber deployment. Carriers will be better farming the credits to Starlink versus spending massive amounts of money to run lines that they're never see an ROI on.

Dan



#13 Whithull

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Posted 27 May 2021 - 01:55 PM

So I just talked to my uncle, who lives in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma, and is the best IT guy I know. He said he uses a cellular router at his house and uses a company called Mofi that provides a public IP for the local network, which would enable port forwarding.


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#14 jcj380

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Posted 27 May 2021 - 02:05 PM

What does it cost to lay fiber if you're off the beaten track?


Edited by jcj380, 27 May 2021 - 02:08 PM.


#15 Migwan

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Posted 27 May 2021 - 04:59 PM

I'd be careful assuming you can rely on someone bringing cable to a remote observatory.

 

Unfortunately, no one seems willing to lay any cable the 1.5 miles from the nearest cable presence to our group of homes. It would involve complex trenching -- there are no overhead wires.  The local electric utility is promising to bring internet to unserved communities but they only intend to use their existing utility poles to do it. Won't help us at all. So it ultimately will have to be Starlink that brings a viable solution.

You just didn't get lucky as an independent didn't grab the incentives and lay or hang fiber there.  It running all over around here via an IT company and a small town phone company.   The phone company came within 400' of the farm (not close enough) and then the IT came right to us.  They both only follow roads with enough housing on it.  Neither are doing back roads.

 

I worked for one of the big three and laying or hanging a mile of cable is expensive today.  They calculate that cost of head end, fiber to node, hanging/burying coax, actives and personnel at around $40,000/year/mile.   


Edited by Migwan, 27 May 2021 - 05:01 PM.

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#16 Migwan

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Posted 27 May 2021 - 05:15 PM

Copper is pretty much going away. None of the carriers I deal with want to sell anything on it (old T1s or PRIs). I see the pricing going up on almost a monthly basis to get people off of it.
 
Starlink is actually going to hurt some of the fiber deployment. Carriers will be better farming the credits to Starlink versus spending massive amounts of money to run lines that they're never see an ROI on.

Dan

Don't feel bad for at least one of the big three.  They switched gears quite some time ago.   The one I worked for contract the head ends and fiber for all of Verizon and Sprint within there coverage area and some.   I've done a bit of fiber and head end.  Their investment in head end equipment is mind boggling, but will pay off for as long a Cell is king.

 

We'll have to see how Starlink does.  They have all the same headend expense and launching isn't cheap.  Don't how long the satellites will projected to last, but that has to be factored in.     Still, don't have to lay billions of miles of fiber.  



#17 Whithull

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Posted 27 May 2021 - 05:41 PM

The issue with laying fiber or cables, even if it a company would do it, is that property im building this on has a tiny dirt road getting out to it and is surrounded by a railroad track, dense woods, a farm, and a residential property and is at least half a mile from the nearest two-lane road. So that would be a massive undertaking and would likely require cutting down a bunch of trees and or digging up the neighbors' crops and backyards. Also there is an oil pipeline between the property and the town, and I don't know if they can even bury that stuff over a pipeline.

 

I'm almost definitely going to have to do something wireless. I'm going to look more into using a cellular router until there is more info on Starlink.


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#18 Brent Campbell

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Posted 27 May 2021 - 07:22 PM

Space x is beta testing their starlink internet service intended for remote areas.  It will cost approx 106 per month and have approx 100 MB’s.  




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