The Sierra Compass 597 Aircard in Rural Alberta

In a perfect world, everyone could have trouble free high speed internet for $2 a month, and we would all get to pet unicorns whilst fair maidens adorned us with flower wreaths in a beautiful garden that never experiences below freezing weather. Oh yeah, and world peace. And really low calorie beer.

I finally went out and bought a Sierra Compass 597 Aircard from Telus. Hopefully I will at least get to see the elusive high speed unicorn. An aircard may not let me actually pet the darn beast though.

We have been suffering along with all of our crappy internet problems ever since I first bought a computer in ’99. First dialup, and what a betch that was. We struggled along with dialup internet here in our Central Alberta home right up until 2006. That was when I decided to start looking into high speed options.

I already knew that DSL through the phone lines was not an option. Our lines were installed when I was 8, because I remember them going in. There was no fibre optics type cable in our out the way neck of the woods. A quick phonecall to Telus confirmed that telephone line high speed internet wopuld never happen for us, since we live in a real backwater locale down several dirt roads. The phone company will never be upgrading these lines!

Next I looked into wireless internet, where you buy a modem and receive a signal broadcast from the nearest town. Nope, too far away and too many land features such as hills between us and every town. Of course I had to live in the dreaded “internet dead zone”. Just five miles away they have so much internet they can download entire movies, and here we can’t even download a large email without problems.

That was when I stumbled across Xplornet Satellite internet service. Internet anywhere. It seemed like it was the answer to my problem. Within a month I purchased the system and had it hooked up. It functioned… fairly well…

This internet dish is not the same as what you would have for TV. We have that kind of dish as well for all of our satellite tv services and it works great unless it is precipitating really hard outside. For internet you need a larger dish with the capability to upload information back to the satellite and the regular tv dish doesn’t do that.

Our satellite internet is not what anyone but the satellite internet company would call high speed. It is faster than dialup, I’ll give them that. About 3 times faster. When it is working. Cloudy weather, technical difficulties and such can happen. But basically it has hardy worked at all this month. Or it works for five minutes and then boom! nothing. Satellite internet really sucks. And every time you phone the service line, they instruct you to monitor internet speed for a couple weeks before they will try to help much.

I decided to bite the bullet and got this Rogers Rocketstick Wireless USB Air Card. It worked great in town. The service in the store was awesome. It was a pretty red colour and the software was user friendly. Guess what? It didn’t work at my house. Not enough cell phone reception. So I had to take it back. Again, the service from Rogers was great and it didn’t cost me a dime to try it out and return it.

Now I have this Sierra Wireless Compass 597 Aircard from Telus. They made me sign up for a year contract, and I can’t return this one but the USB card itself was free with that contract. It isn’t a pretty red, just plain ‘ole black. However, it does get enough reception to function at my house – barely. I will probably end up getting a booster antenna yet. The plus side is, I can now use my laptop anywhere I can get cell phone reception. Look out world! Now if I could figure out some way to hook it up to our cheap wireless router

6 thoughts on “The Sierra Compass 597 Aircard in Rural Alberta

  1. I feel for ya, dude. We had dialup since ’99 and last November, we tried to go wireless. Got cell phones and the other stuff needed for the computer, hoping we could ditch the land line.

    Nothing. No reception. No bars at all in the house. In the street in front of the house, yes. We took all the phones and modem back and Verizon still charged us for three days service – $20. So bogus.

    However, we are fortunate in that our phones lines are decent. We got hi speed through them and now I can watch youTubes videos without the 20 minute per download.

    Hope the satellite works out for ya.

    fuzzarellys last blog post..Serves four.

  2. Hi Tim,
    You are sounding like a politician.
    First it was the promise of “negative calorie beer”.
    Now it’s just “really low calorie beer”.
    What’s next, “a little bit less than all the others.”
    Principles! You’ve got to stick to your principles!
    ~ Steve, the original trade show display guy
    PS. Life without internet would be like life without beer. I just can’t imagine that!

  3. Fuzzarelly: I wish the phone lines here were up to snuff. The satellite internet is cancelled now. Crappiest service ever.
    Sean: No need for a router, we are going with aircards for the laptops now
    Trev: Hey, you weren’t here when I sent an hour on hold last time with the satellite company! Let’s just say I was a little less than polite.
    Quad: Nope, all I’ve got here is narrowband :)

  4. Stephanie: It brings it back into perspective. I have food, two running vehicles, running water and lite beer in the fridge so I am doing pretty good compared to the inhabitants of some parts of the world. At the same time, all my neighbours have freakin\’ high speed…
    Ling: Somedays, those wireless networks are enough to rip out hair over!
    Steve: Ok, you got me :) none of us should settle for less than negative calorie beer with full flavour. Life without internet is actually kinda peaceful like.

  5. If Internet is important to you and users as close as five miles away are enjoying broadband wireless, you should look into obtaining a used self supporting tower of about 60 feet in height to get a wirelss antennae above the offending land features. These systems work on line-of-sight and your best bet is to get your receiving antennae up high. Contact a local radio communications company that provides services for the oil industry about used towers, or better yet, see if you can find a local Ham radio operator. They often can find surplus towers and equipment. They LOVE to help out and you might just find something for next to nothing!

We'd love to hear your comments!