Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Highspeed Internet in the sticks
Well my talks with Qwest and Bresnan have basically failed. The cost to put the in equipment is too much (Qwest is about $20K and Bresan is way more than that) and we don't have enough people to warrant putting it in (less than 100 residents in the area). So on to plan B (or S in this case). After talking with the Qwest guy it seems that even if we could get DSL the best we could get would be about 1.5MB speed. Well, that is disappointing. So we have a Sprint Broadband card that we have been using for our travels with the laptops. It looks like the picture on the right.
This is a great little device but one little problem. How do I hook it up to my network and share it since it is a PCI Expresscard? So I did a little research and found a USB to Expresscard adapter by SIIG. So with that I can hook up the Sprint card to a desktop PC and then with the magic of Internet Connection Sharing and a tool called Firestarter and Linux I can turn a PC into a router/webserver. So progress there. I then found out that I can take two of these Sprint cards and run them in parallel as basically one card and get almost twice the bandwidth. That should put us at about 2.5 to 3MB speed. Which is better than I can get from anywhere else at this point. Think of it as you have two tanks of water and need to move the water from one tank to another but all you have is 1" pipe. So one 1" pipe will move so much water, but if you put in two 1" pipes you can move twice as much water between the two tanks. Theoretically, this could scale out to as many cards as you want. However, the monthly cost is the only real limitation here.
So I think my highspeed internet problem is solved for now. The next project is to see if I can take the Zonbu machine that I have and turn that into the router. The advantage of using that is, that it has no moving parts (harddrives or fans) and so the chance of failure should be lower. Also it uses much less electricity than a normal PC (12W vs 200W) and so it should help with the energy bills. The tricky part is going to be getting an OS on it. Since it doesn't have any drives, I think I'll have use another machine to set up the flash drive.
For all of you who have made it to the bottom of this post and have not fallen asleep, you must be almost as nerdy as me.