Washington Island QTH Internet Woes

Since we acquired our Washington Island QTH five years ago we have struggled with a bundled phone/internet package from Frontier Communications.  The internet side is an aDSL link that never meets speed or reliability promises.

Frontier replaced our buried underground in an effort to improve the situation a few years back, in the process they cut the wires for ten of our neighbors which didn’t make us the most popular.

I’ve been running utilities to do a casual monitoring of the internet service, and as an example in the last 72 hour visit on island Frontier’s aDSL was down complete twice and had serious difficulties passing traffic on another ten occasions.

At a service disruption averaged out ever 6 hours (a number which also ignores disruptions too short to catch with my very amateur tracking protocol) you would think our Broadband was dial-up services from the 1980s!

As for throughput, hey if anything makes it through it is a bonus.

There are limited options on Washington Island:

  • The troubled Frontier DSL based service
  • A fading Door County Broadband (DCB) wireless service that largely disappears after April 1st 2020 as DCB has decided it cannot continue to use the towers it acquired from its predecessor DCWis.
  • Satellite services like Huges and BlueSky
  • AT&T rebranded cellular based wireless from providers like Blazing Hog
  • A new unproven cellular based wireless service from US Cellular
  • There may be some vestiges of the failed Broadband over Power Line system is use, but that would be geographically limited to the main village, and may be fed from the same DCB service that is in question.

On the horizon with a new underwater fiber being installed as part of the new power cable are rumored to be:

  • An NSight/Other Partner(s) unspecified product
  • Limited potential for fiber-to-desktop in a geographically constrained area of the island

With Frontier Communication’s rumored demise (industry watchers suggest they will file for bankruptcy in the first half of 2020) there may be potential for a successor phone & internet provider.

But without a change to Frontier they plain and simple facts are that my internet is not reliable enough to have a remote station in operation.

To add insult to injury Frontier has raised out monthly costs 46% in the five years, which peeves me.  I pay only 1-1/2 times my island internet & phone bill for a rural package that is 20 times more internet, includes a very healthy number of cable TV channels, has a second phone line, has unlimited long distance and a very generous overseas long distance package, and most importantly is super solid.

Personally it seems my strategy should be to simply wait and see what develops.  I may implement the US Cellular internet option if I can avoid an extended contract.  At first blush they had an nearly an $900 equipment and installation charge along with a multi-year commitment.  Given that I would likely be their first live Island customer and the service quality is a complete unknown, those costs & commitments will take some negotiating down to become palatable.

Most of the other options are either on their last legs, have technical issues making them unsuitable for a remote station, or are unfulfilled promises.

At least now I have internet some of the time, but at an expensive cost for what we get.



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