“Internet Hole”

Gizmodo posted an article about internet speeds across the U.S. broken down roughly by state, and looky at this:


And how does Gizmodo describe the Treasure State? “The metropolitan Northeast, Florida, and most of Arizona come in pretty strong, while the enormous internet hole called Montana is pinned between the techy Northwest and the suddenly oil-rich North Dakota.”

I’m sure that some people will see this map and think, “Holy crap, Montana internet speeds SUCKS! Why would anyone live there?!”

SoFast Problems?

Hearing some grumbling about folks in Great Falls having trouble with SoFast, a local internet service provider. The SoFast.net website is down, and phone calls to them result in only busy signals. Any of you (a) having trouble with SoFast service, and/or (b) know what’s going on?

UPDATE: Some of you may know Mark Mathson of Keenpath, a friend of mine and local technology consultant; he’s offered to help businesses get back online with e-mail and web service. Tell them you read this and he’ll give you a nice discount!

ISP Advice

Got an e-mail from a regular reader and hope you guys can offer some advice:

Hey Dave!! Glad to hear you decided against “Silicon Valley”!! haha. Hey, I am wondering if you know of any good reliable, inexpensive, local ISP’s? I have been with 3 Rivers for 3 years now & was notified by them that they are discontinuing their ISP service as of June 1st. Any ideas? I’ve read about Bridgemaxx, but they sound like they will be a rip off not too far down the road as well. Any ideas appreciated.

I’ve been with Bresnan for over six years and very happy with it – probably not the cheapest service, but the speed and reliability do the job. I think he’s right about Bridgemaxx, sadly – it sounds good, but the comments here make me very skeptical. I know there are others out there (Qwest, IMT, etc?), but don’t know the pros, cons, and price of them. Any of you have some insight?

BridgeMaxx Update

Well, at least I tried it. Plugged in the magical box, watched the lights dance around for a few minutes, and then waited for the Signal Strength bar to kick in. Waited. Waited. But nothing. Moved to a different outlet, closer to a window. Still nothing.
So I guess BridgeMaxx isn’t quite ready for prime time – at least in my neighborhood. The “location, location, location” premise seems to be true; if you live near one of their towers, it might be a great way to connect, but without proximity – not so much. So I took the box back to the BridgeMaxx office, and they were super-nice and thanked me for trying their service.
So I’m still with Bresnan for internet connectivity – and after more than six years, I’ve still got no complaints with their service.

Internet via BridgeMaxx

I wandered by the BridgeMaxx table at the mall last week and took a look. I’d seen the van around town, and knew that they had moved in to the old Verizon location near Target, but wasn’t sure exactly what it was. Now I know: it’s high-speed internet service, but with a neat twist. It’s a box – about the size of a hardback book – that plugs into your computer on one side, and into an electrical outlet on the other. Voila, you’re surfing!
At least, that’s the promise. And the price is reasonable: only $30 per month, but with a one-year contract the first three months are only $15 each. And you can unplug the box and take it with you: to the coffee shop, to your friends’ house, to your office – as long as there’s an outlet to plug into, you should be good to surf.
So what’s the catch? It’s like real estate, apparently: location, location, location. According to the BridgeMaxx crew, you have to be near one of their towers; there are three in Great Falls right now, with a fourth being installed next week. Proximity makes all the difference. So sometime this weekend, I’m going to fire up my BridgeMaxx connection and see how it works. I’ll keep you posted. And if any of you have experience – good or bad – with BridgeMaxx, drop a comment here and let everyone know.

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