Had an opportunity to see if Tailscale works over Starlink. It does! Not a bad way to self-host an application on a Starlink connected device. I’m not pinging long distances geographically here but it’s still going to space and back.
In my latest video I explored the performance of the Verizon Wireless 5G home internet service at a friend’s house here in Connecticut. See the full review here!
Verizon’s home Internet service is an affordable option for existing Verizon Wireless customers, with plans starting at $25/month. While the service provides fast download and upload speeds in ideal locations, it may not be great for everyone depending on location and use case.
My review found that the service works well for casual activities such as video streaming, web browsing, and email. But I found ping rates to be all over the place which is a problem for gamers who need low and consistent ping rates.
Verizon is not imposing data caps on these plans at least for the time being. From their FAQ it does not appear as though they are even throttling every users although I do get the sense that they are prioritizing mobile users over their home customers based on the ping rates I’m seeing.
Ultimately the performance of the service will vary greatly based on location. My friend lives right next to a Verizon 5G tower so this is likely the best case scenario for the service. I am only a mile or so away as the crow flies and I’m only seeing 20 megabits downstream and an abysmal 1.5 megabits up!
I recommend testing the service with a 5G Verizon phone in or around your home before signing up. If you’re in a good location relative to a tower, Verizon’s 5G home internet service is a viable alternative for casual users. But it may not meet the needs of streamers or gamers.
What a difference three years make. Back in 2020 I was continually frustrated over the quality of my Internet service from Comcast which was my only choice of Internet provider.
Fast forward to 2023 and my region now has no less than six options for broadband with competition lowering costs, removing data caps and focusing on customer service. That is the topic of my latest video.
Frontier Communications recently wired up the area with their new XGS-PON based fiber optic network. The formerly bankrupted phone company managed to refinance their debt and pull themselves out of bankruptcy. They are now very aggressively rolling fiber out throughout the state offering up to 5 gigabit symmetrical connections. My Dad got their 500 megabit service installed at his house back in August. Check out my review of it here.
Frontier has some headwinds though. Although they are out of bankruptcy they have acquired new debt to fund the fiber optic rollout. Bond rating agencies are not all that bullish on the company’s prospects with Fitch downgrading their outlook on Frontier to “Negative.” Frontier also has a huge backlog of dilapidated utility poles in Connecticut that are in need of repair. Their lack of a sufficient local workforce and crumbling infrastructure makes me weary of their ability to recover quickly from a major storm.
Another fiber optic provider, GoNetSpeed, is also making its way into the area. GoNetSpeed is a scrappy small ISP that starts in a handful of neighborhoods and slowly expands their service offering based on consumer demand. They offer up to 1 gigabit symmetrical connections over a GPON residential fiber backbone. I interviewed an executive from the company a few years ago who was very open about their market strategy.
GoNetSpeed prefers to run fiber on poles vs. underground so neighborhoods with a lot of underground utilities will likely get passed by. But I do have a few friends with GoNetSpeed service in the West Hartford, Connecticut region who have been very happy with the service offering.
And then of course we have Starlink service which is available now throughout most of the United States and other parts of the world. It’s expensive but it works. In my testing here in Connecticut I was seeing download speeds between 200-300 megabits per second and uploads around 20. You can see my Connecticut impressions of Starlink here.
My brother lives in a very rural area of northern Vermont with awful DSL service. Starlink was a huge game changer for him and his business. You can see his experience with Starlink in my Starlink Playlist here.
Closer to planet Earth there’s additional wireless options from Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile. As their 5G networks roll out they have added capacity to deliver home Internet service and many in my region are finding it to be a good alternative. A friend of mine locally just switched from Comcast to Verizon and is very happy with the service so far.
Neither company is offering any speed guarantees primarily because performance is variable based on the home’s proximity to a cell phone tower. The best way to figure out what your experience will be like is to take out your smartphone and run a speed test near a window.
As you can see my performance here isn’t great so Verizon’s Home Internet is not an option for me. But other parts of town are seeing gigabit downstream speeds and 100-200 megabits upstream making Verizon’s 5G service a viable competitor to Comcast’s service offering.
And speaking of Comcast they’re still in the marketplace and now finding themselves on defense. As the Northeast has become more competitive they dropped plans to introduce data caps like they have in other parts of the country. They’re planning to rollout support for Docsis 4.0 technology that will provide for a fiber equivalent symmetrical connection of up to 4 gigabits per second over Comcast’s existing copper network.
Comcast also has a “secret menu item” called Gigabit Pro X6 that can deliver a “metro ethernet” fiber optic connection from a home directly into the nearest Comcast head-end facility. This service began as a 2 gigabit symmetrical connection but is now running at a crazy 6 gigabits as local markets became more competitive. At $320 a month it’s not cheap but it’s the highest quality and fastest residential connection on the market. This is the service I currently use and I’m very happy with it.
Gigabit Pro availability is based largely on how far you are from the nearest fiber splice point or node. If it’s close enough there’s a good chance they can get you connected.
It took a little persistence and self-education about fiber networks to get connected. Comcast originally said I was miles from nearest connection point but as it turned out there was a splice point at the end of my street they were able to wire me into. Check out my full playlist on the service here and see what it took to get the connection operating here at the house.
I’ll be sticking with Gigabit Pro for the foreseeable future. Since it was installed in October of 2020 I’ve had less than an hour of total downtime with more bandwidth than I could ever use. But it’s great to see so many choices for consumers after a decade without any.
About a year and a half ago I installed Comcast’s fiber optic Gigabit Pro service at my home. I documented the process over the course of several weeks that you can see on this playlist.
When the service was first installed in October of 2020 it offered a 2 gigabit connection over an SFP+ circuit along with a second 1 gigabit RJ45 circuit. A few months later they increased the SFP+ speed to 3 gigabits.
This past week Comcast announced they were upping the speed again, this time doubling it to a full 6 gigabits per second over the SFP+ while still maintaining the 1 gig circuit for a total of 7.
But what can you do with that amount of bandwidth realistically? Well, it largely depends on what you’re looking to do along with network conditions and interoperability agreements.
As you’ll see in this week’s Weekly Wrapup, it’s relatively easy to hit the full speed when running a speed test to one of Comcast’s servers, but it’s harder to reach those speeds when testing servers on networks outside of Comcast’s infrastructure. For example when I upload YouTube videos rarely do I see the connection hit 1 gigabit, let alone 6.
Still having a multigigabit connection has been a real game changer for my workflow. I’m very happy with the service reliability and the dramatic reduction in upload times for my videos.
Comcast’s fiber optic service got a huge speed increase this week – the plan went from 3 gigabits symmetrical to a whopping 6! This is the second speed increase I’ve received for no extra charge since I had the service installed in 2020. You can see my series detailing the adventure here.
In addition to the six gigabit circuit (available as an SFP+ connection) there’s also an additional 1 gigabit circuit running on ethernet for a total of 7 gigabits. The link speed is 10 so there’s still a little more room to grow. The funny thing when you’re running this fast is finding a speed test that can actually handle the bandwidth!
After taxes I pay around $320 a month for the service. It pays for itself by the fact that uploads that once took me 45 minutes to an hour can now be done in about 30-45 seconds. That means I can upload much closer to my deadline vs. before. Most of my videos get uploaded to three different platforms (YouTube, Floatplane and Amazon) so not having to babysit uploads is a real efficiency gain for me.
Reliability is also immensely better than the coax service. Over the last two years I’ve had maybe 30 minutes or so of downtime. Streaming is rock solid even when pushing 10’s of megabits upstream to multiple platforms. This is metro ethernet, not a shared GPON connection, so you’re getting a very reliable industrial grade connection here. My circuit connects directly to the “head end” about eight miles away with nothing in between.
Getting installed depends on how close you are to a splice point or node. I was fortunate that I lived right down the street from a fiber splice so the construction costs were within the scope of what they cover for an install. If you go beyond that allowance you have to pay the difference. If you’re not near a node or a splice point it can get very expensive.
While there are far less expensive fiber options out there in my area Comcast is the only game in town. That is changing though and I suspect these two big speed increases in the course of the last year are evident that competitors are beginning to catch up.
Frontier, the local phone company here in Connecticut, has emerged from bankruptcy and running fiber all over the place. Verizon and T-Mobile are also offering wireless service for the home along with Starlink.
Starlink is now available for RV owners and others who find themselves always on the road in need of good connectivity. The new RV service plan will allow for users to start and stop service as needed and will cost $135 monthly. This is compared to the $99 service offering that’s locked to a fixed address.
While the service is available throughout many parts of the world there are pockets without connectivity. In the map above a good portion of the central United States is currently not available for service. So it’s possible RV owners will still find pockets where they can’t get connectivity. The service map can be found here.
Service availability will improve over time as SpaceX continues to launch large batches of satellites each month.
SpaceX is also working on getting Starlink installed on aircraft which should be a significant upgrade over current satellite and ground based systems on commercial airliners. But SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that service for vehicles in motion is not yet reliable enough to roll it out to a larger customer base.