Been receiving reports from other amateurs on Washington Island that the once dominant ISP for the Island is not compatible with remote FlexRadio operations. Door County Broadband (DCBB) simply will not pass all the traffic types needed to do a remote connection, and when asked to pass the traffic simply say “no.”
I haven’t had reason to directly speak to Door County Broadband in some years, as I had hit this wall with them trying to configure George W9EVT’s internet for remote access.
Technically the DCBB setup blocks the port forwarding process which scuttles SmartLink.
On-Island internet options that are presently not Flex-Ready are:
- Door County Broadband (as discussed above) https://doorcountybroadband.com/
- Starlink – hams report the buffering and latency is unworkable despite being low orbit (hence close) mesh satellites. System also drops out at times while physically moving your ground antenna to another satellite. https://www.starlink.com/
- Hughes Net – the high orbit satellites induced latency and large buffering do not work well with SmartLink https://internet.hughesnet.com/
- Blazing Hog – Seems to have withdrawn from servicing the Island over high infrastructure costs https://blazinghog.com/
- US Cellular (WISP type) – Website claims availability but personal testing with their equipment was below dial-up speeds. https://www.uscellular.com/high-speed-internet-provider
Marginal for SmartLink use:
Frontier Communications aDSL – I have this and when the system is working well I can do remote from the Island station. Usually I can access my mainland stations over Frontier. It unfortunately goes down often, usually peak-load weekends when we are on the Island or during storms. Achieved throughput is a fraction of the advertised/purchased, and you need to be on the Island during the work week to get it serviced, so ours doesn’t get fixed. https://frontier.com/
Possibilities on the Horizon:
- “Island Fiber” – the physical underwater link is laid, as is a limited underground setup for a small part of the Island. Grants, resulting build-outs and connections are needed to light the fiber. If your home is in the test area, you might get Gigabyte-to-Desk in a year or so. For the rest of the island fiber hooked to the existing systems should also offer improvements, though perhaps more in reliability and non-speed aspects. The new fiber may well kill off the DCBB wireless option for much of the island, while making the WISP (Wireless ISP) options like US Cellular and Blazing Hog more viable.
- “Full Constellation” Starlink – the are some rumblings that a dual-antenna setup when the full constellation of satellites is operational may mitigate the buffering, latency and satellite switch drop-outs.
While the Island is RF-quiet making it a great place to operate from, doing remote to an Island station remains challenging. Oh, that the power goes out fairly often (momentarily a couple times a week, 15 minutes or longer about monthly) doesn’t help. While you can do batteries or a generator, the internet often seems to be down at the same time.