The Hidden Landmine When Buying (or Even Renting) a Home

All of us are used to using the Internet, right?

What if you moved into your new home and after you paid for it and moved in you found out there was no Internet service available?

One business in New York was told that Charter Communications, the local cable provider, would be happy to connect them.  Only problem was that the business needed to pay Charter $138,000 first.  Charter being a nice company, offered to pay $5,000 towards that, so the company would only owe them $133,000 and change.

This story is repeated over and over across the country.

People are often told by the local Internet Service Provider that they can get service only to find out when they actually try that it is not available.

I am going to use my personal situation to illustrate the case.

I live about 30 minutes from downtown Denver, Colorado.

Where I live there is no cable at all, so cable Internet is not an option.

The phone company offers DSL at the WHOPPING speed of one and a half megabits per second.  Not 1.5 gigabits, 1.5 megabits.  Under FCC rules, that doesn’t even qualify as broadband Internet.

Only problem is that there is no available capacity and the phone company has no plans to add capacity.

Worse yet, if you are one of the super lucky folks to have this speedy service and you sell your house, the person who buys it doesn’t get your connection.  The connection goes back into inventory and you, the new buyer, go to the end of the list.  You may get Internet in a few years; hope you can wait.

There is also no cell service where I live, so no cell calls, no text messages, no cellular Internet.  The cell companies all offer a little box called a femto cell that simulates a cell tower to give you service.  Works great, actually, as long as you have some other form of Internet connection to carry the signal from your house back to the cell carrier.

Granted I live in a sort of rural area about 25 miles from downtown Denver, but the guy who was presented with the $133,000 bill  – he was in New York City.

And sometimes, if you CAN get service, the wait time for a connection can be 6 months to a year.

That leaves you (or me) with two options:

  1. Satellite Internet.

Satellite Internet is a horrible last resort.  You basically pay by the bit and if you go over your limit, they slow down your service to a crawl or shut you down.  Worse yet, many things like Internet telephones (VoIP), VPNs for connecting to your business and those cell extenders do not work on satellite Internet.

So, while they are horribly expensive, slow and don’t work for many things, they are pretty much universally available as long as you have a clear view of the sky.

2. Point to Point Microwave.

That is what I have.  It used to be horrible, but over the last few years, it has gotten much better.  All my software works and the particular plan that I have has a cap, but it is large and there are other plans that don’t have a cap.  It is however, pretty expensive ($70 a month for only 20 megabits/second – way faster than I had with Qwest, but 1/10 the speed of cable and that includes voice and long distance).

The only problem with P2P microwave is that you have to be within the range of a receiving tower and you have to have a clear line of sight to that tower.

My provider has two towers in the area.  The only one that I have line of sight to will not run faster than 20 mb/second.  The other tower, that one of my neighbors can see (he is higher up that me) supports 50 mb/second.  The provider says that it is not likely that I will ever see 50 mb/second on my tower.

What this means is that Netflix crashes regularly.  I don’t have any little kids who gobble up bandwidth like no one’s business.  If you wind up with service like this, plan on rationing Internet.  Your kids will be thrilled.

So what do you do, especially if the Internet providers are, apparently, bold face liars?

Unfortunately, you are not in the driver’s seat.

One thing that you can do is place the order as opposed to just asking and see if the order goes through.  Just make sure you can cancel it before the install in case you don’t actually get the house.  The problem with this is that you may not find out that they cannot provide service until the day of installation.  That happened when my son bought his house.  They came out and said.  Ooops. Sorry.

Another thing to do is to research options.  In many places there are not a lot of options:

  • Cable
  • Phone company
  • Independent Internet providers
  • Point to point microwave
  • Satellite
  • Cell (really bad idea – slow, unreliable and expensive)

See HOW MANY of these options are available and what each one costs, what the limits are and what things that you want to do won’t work.

Make sure that at least 2 or 3 acceptable options, while distasteful, are available.  That way, at least, if you have to resort to option 2 or even option 3, you at least know that you can get something.

Assume that you will not have Internet for a while when you move in.  Maybe a few days; maybe a few weeks; maybe even a few months.  I managed the IT of a business that was much closer to downtown Denver and it took us 6 months to get Internet.  Try running a business for 6 months without Internet.  If that is a problem, plan an alternate.  Unfortunately, the alternate may not be attractive.  Maybe you can work at your office, if one is available.  Whatever.


Information for this post came from Motherboard.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.