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Martins Store Broadband over Powerline Update January 30, 2009

[ 33 ] January 30, 2009 |

This is the latest e-mail blast from IBEC regarding BPL:

From: “IBEC Customer Service”
Date: January 30, 2009 5:57:44 PM EST
To: “info”
Subject: Martins Store Broadband over Powerline Update January 30, 2009

BPL Installation Update – January 30, 2009

On Friday afternoon (January 30), Verizon released the T-1 lines that will connect the Tanbark Drive Injection Point in the North Rockfish Valley. Like the Injection point on Rockfish River Road in Faber, this site will receive Internet traffic and deliver it to BPL subscribers furthest away from the Martins Store Substation.

Also like the Rockfish River Road Injection Point (IBEC refers to this BPL service area as Woods Mill), the IBEC network engineers will take the next week to activate line segments, check speeds and optimize performance before starting to turn subscriber on. Some people along the first line segments in the Afton area, near Tanbark and Route 151, should start looking for a phone call from IBEC late next week if the network configuration goes as planned.

The first groups of people are surfing in the Woods Mill area, while more could be. IBEC has activated some in the first group and left messages for others to contact the tech support group to activate their bpl modems. If you received a call from IBEC, get back in touch with us 888-423-2275 or e-mail service@IBEC.net.

Martins Store activation has gotten closer but also slipped by a week according to the latest word from Verizon. To date, the pattern has been for Verizon to specify the next date for a service notification. If the pattern follows what occurred at Woods Mill and North Afton, Verizon will provide an update on February 13 then release the T-1 lines on Valentine’s Day. IBEC had hoped for an expedite process at Martins Store. While that has not occurred, the automated nature of the Telco process makes it appear that IBEC engineers will be configuring the line segments originating from the Martins Store substation on February 14.

The installation crews were away for the better part of this week, working on areas that were hard hit by the winter weather. We expect them back at work next week, where they will continue to hang customer access units and troubleshoot and backbone equipment issues that may arise during the turn up process.

So in the last week of January, the installation crews were away and the Verizon schedule for Martins Store slipped by a week. On the positive side, the North Afton Injection point was activated and BPL is flowing in Woods Mill with some people surfing and others ready to go.

Any customers that are activated and wish to submit feedback or share their experience with subscribers waiting to come online, please send your comments to service@ibec.net and tell us that you want to let others know about your BPL experience.

Thanks again for your patience,
IBEC Customer Service

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Comments (33)

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  1. Victor says:

    Does anyone have service yet?

  2. NCL Mag says:

    Well….in this sentence at the bottom of the latest release:

    “On the positive side, the North Afton Injection point was activated and BPL is flowing in Woods Mill with some people surfing and others ready to go.”

    They say some people in the Woods Mill area have internet. None of the people we have spoken to there have it, and we haven’t been contacted by anyone using it thus far. If you are let us and others know.

    Changing gears a bit, we did get an e-mail via our Facebook NCL page yesterday from a person than lives on in the Greenfield area just off of 151. They started using an Alltel USB Air Card over the weekend. He said: ”

    We got Alltel wireless internet. It plugs right up to your USB and gives you pretty decent highspeed! No CD’s to install, the little thing will install it right on your computer in less than 5 minutes and bam…..you have internet. Its working really well here at our house in Greenfield.”

    He is getting very good results with downloads of around 1.5 mbps. As we have discussed Ntelos’ wireless site just north of Nellysford is in the process of going in as well. Once completed it will offer similar service. Both of these are a good reliable alternatives to BPL. We will be conducting tests on both of those options over the next couple of weeks and put the test results here.

    Great question Victor! Just wish we had an answer…

  3. Rev. Tommy Thompson says:

    Hello everyone,
    Just to let you know, i use alltel for internet as well. The fastest speeds i have ever recorded were around 400kbps. Most of the time i am around 150-300kbps. I live just off US-29 right before you get to the albermarle line. Even when i am in Charlottesville, i don’t get anywhere close to 1.5mbps.

    I have found that wildblue is faster than alltel’s service with the exception of latency of course. I usually have speeds around 400-500kbps with wildblue. The plus with wildblue is that you can also have a wireless router setup.

    One more note: I spoke with IBEC yesterday and they could not give me any kind of an ETA for Woods Mill areas. I asked, “Are we looking at another month or two?” Her reply: “We are unable to give you that information at this time.” … wow, it looks like the testing period is pretty involved.

    I hope this helps!
    Tommy

  4. NCL Mag says:

    Rev Thompson, thanks for the additional information. Since this original post we have been in touch with Ntelos in preparation for a future story about the state of high speed internet here in Nelson. They told us as recently as yesterday that new service has recently been established in the Stoney Creek area, and on the mountaintop. Additionally the site along Route 151 is under construction at this time. All of these sites are 3G, so they should provide mobile broadband service.

    We got an e-mail from someone this evening in Wood’s Mill that told us they now have the Ntelos Wireless card they said:

    “Am now proud nTelos Air Card subscriber — an intelligent manager got me a router and solved my problems — the connection speed approximates DSL so I cannot complain. All computers in the home network connect very nicely, thank you! I have written IBEC for return directions for the modem.”

    It appears most folks are going to have several additional options to BPL, whenever it gets activated.

  5. Kevin Phillips says:

    Sorry I pitched the address but when I returned my modem I called the tech line and got it immediately. We received $99 about 2-3 weeks later. I found contact via Email to be slow to nonexistent with emphasis on the later. Of course, results may vary. Glad to be done with that mess.

  6. Courtney says:

    I am not technology savvy like most of you, but we’re in Beech Grove- is the Ntelos deal going to be available to us? What are my options if BPL never comes?

  7. NCL Mag says:

    Courtney, I think the answer is yes. I have not been able to confirm it just yet, but I think another site is under construction in the Beech Grove area. (Something is up there just across from Devils Backbone) Regardless, with the Alltel / Verizon Wireless merger, that should give folks another option as well. Sometime in the near future those customer sites will become one and I suspect they will begin offering mobile broadband across their Nelson locations as well. Alltel already does in many areas here. So the good news, regardless of what BPL does, there are other choices, and more coming.

  8. Courtney says:

    Great!! Thanks for the info. Funny how the typical person had never heard of the Internet not so long ago, and now we’re very dependent on it! (Especially when NCL is your home page) Thanks for keeping us up-to-date on all these developments and to those of you who know the tech side of things.

  9. Rev. Tommy Thompson says:

    Can i make a request for ntelos users to go to http://www.speedtest.net and let us know what your speeds are here in Nelson County? That would be very helpful information for those of us who are trying to discern whether to stick with IBEC or go elsewhere. I know that if IBEC ends up delivering on 3mbps in the future and lowering the price, it would be hard for mobile phone companies to compete with them…
    Thanks,
    Tommy

  10. Daniel says:

    I am signed up for the BPL service, but its not yet running in my area. I live about a mile north of the Faber post office. I use Alltel’s tethering ($30/mo on top of a cell plan) and the “Alltel Hue” phone, and I have very consistent internet. As I understand it, the dedicated PC Cards have lower latency and higher throughput on average, but I couldn’t justify the price increase so I don’t know how significant the difference is.

    My latency sits between 200 and 400ms (higher the more concurrent activities I’m doing online), and I regularly see download rates as high as 800kbps (100KB/s). I’d say it averages closer to 400kbps (50KB/s). I have seen a peak of around 1.2mbit (150KB/s), but that is only at off-peak times and fairly rare.

  11. Kevin Phillips says:

    Well I didn’t go to the speed test link but ntelos gives a site where two tests are available and I used the easiest one provided by clicking on the Java Script item. I regularly get readings of around 700 kbps if I take a few and average them. I have been up to 786 and down in the low 500 range but it varies widely and quickly and this is download only I think but that’s all I care about. My modem is facing Bear Den and picking up its signal through the wall (close to T. Harvey’s station). I put it in the window and it made no diff (even with screen removed) so it sits on the desk. Frankly for 35 a month, present rate, I am satisfied. The big thing for me is that so much software updating(including security items) is only available by download and it just took forever with dial-up. Ntelos did not offer any bundles in Nelson cty. You know that I checked with them before the BPL thing started and they said Nope. When I called back a month ago I told them I could see the darn tower and after checking my address they said Yep. I rec’d modem the next day and 30 min later I was up. There was a 30 day return no questions asked. Don’t plan on sending it back. This stuff changes so fast that you almost need to check every conceivable option every day, ROTFL.

  12. Rev. Tommy Thompson says:

    Daniel and Kevin,
    Thanks for posting. 🙂 Daniel, it is interesting that we live so close together yet my alltel is SO much slower than yours. As a matter of fact, regardless of where i go, i have never had those speeds. Even in Charlottesville, i do well to get 400kbps.

    It sounds like you all will do much better with those services, especially since BPL is only 256kbps (for now at least).

    I will say IBEC humored me this evening. They called during dinner and told me i am good to surf. I went downstairs and found that it was not working. I called back and they said, “It won’t work for a while. We don’t know when it will work…” They seem consistent in the communications area huh.

    Take Care,
    Tommy

  13. Chuck Strauss says:

    I have the nTelos Air Card plugged in to a wireless router — all computers in the network connect well — not quite DSL download speed, but equivalent upload, I understand. Recently (this morning) download was in excess of 1 mb which was pleasantly surprising! Now, at 2:20 PM it is 865 download and 315 upload, using http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest.

    System failed briefly the other evening but tech support got it back up quickly. I have not yet sent the BPL modem back, but I am ready to do so if the nTelos keeps working like it is. I am tempted to do a dial up (which still exists) and do the speed test just for the heck of it. Has anyone with dial up used speed test?

  14. Rev. Tommy Thompson says:

    So you can use the aircard with a router? How does that work?

  15. Rev. Tommy Thompson says:

    Chuck, do you have the air card that is also a portable wireless router? That is the only way i have seen that you can do it. If there is a way to plug your air card into a regular wireless router, please tell me…i might go that way myself. 🙂
    Tommy

  16. NCL Mag says:

    Rev. Thompson (And Chuck chime in here) my understanding is with a certain type of router made for that, similar to the standard Linksys, Netgear, or Belkins our there, you can do what you are talking about. Though I have not seen this personally yet, I think it’s just a special router that the USB aircard / antenna plugs into then you have wi-fi and Ethernet ports just like a regular router. Is that what you have Chuck, or something different?

  17. Chuck Strauss says:

    Tommy & Tommy (Rev. that is): the modem is a Franklin Wireless CDU-680 — it also has flash memory and includes the software for installation in a computer, desktop or laptop. Installs very nicely. USB only.

    The Router is NOT the same as, for example, the D-link one I purchased to use for BPL, which only has network cable input. From nTelos, I obtained the Cradlepoint PHS300 “Personal Wifi Hotspot” unit which does include a battery as well as an AC converter. It has an USB input in the back. It would be portable but I don’t see where I would use the router outside my home environment. The laptop has Wifi built in so I likely would not use the modem elsewhere as it would not be needed for Wifi Hotspots. However, I understand from a friend in Nags Head that his daughter brings her air card along (from DC) so she can connect without going through the network in his home.

    Is this TMI??

    Just now the downlink was 1.2 megs — unbelievable!

    If you look hard enough, you can find this router (and air card) on the nTelos site, or I guess one could google them.

  18. NCL Mag says:

    Chuck, thanks for the info. Looks like Amazon sells them as well. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001212ELY/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=2864831249&ref=pd_sl_24vz6ams3e_e
    This is good info for sure and nice speed you are getting today!

  19. Greg Heuer says:

    Chuck Strauss asked: Has anyone with dial up used speed test?
    Just for chuckles, on Speedtest.net to Ashburn, VA a few minutes ago:
    Ping: 126 ms
    Down: 35 kb/sec
    Up: 161 kb/sec

  20. Rev. Tommy Thompson says:

    Thanks Chuck; i researched it and saw the routers on ntelos website. It is nice that you can use a router with an air card like that, and the portable router is an excellent idea (for example, i led a retreat in the middle of nowhere last week and everyone wanted to check email…with the portable router, they could’ve done that instead of everyone using my laptop tethered to my bberry). 🙂

    I called ntelos, and, unfortunately, they do not offer mobile broadband in this part of Nelson. It looks like I am stuck with either Wildblue (which I have now) or IBEC. We’ll see which is better whenever the BPL actually starts working.

  21. Brady says:

    I use Hughes Network’s satellite link out of Roseland. I have the fastest plan available, which claims 1.5meg down and 200kb/s up, but averages @ 1,000kb/s down and 150k up. The connection is rarely ever down but the speeds fluctuate, sometimes wildly. Also, if you exceed 150Mb of download in a day, your bandwidth is limited to 56k for 24 hours 🙁

    It’s fast enough to stream video from YouTube, but as mentioned, if you download too much, you’ll be at 56k for a while. The ping delay makes Skype pretty jerky but technically workable.

    Not sure what equipment deals/packages their running, but I think I paid around $300 for my equipment a couple years ago, plus $150 to mount the dish on a pole and run a cable a couple hundred feet to the house. I believe the monthly cost is $80.

  22. NCL Mag says:

    Hi Brady, We also use Hughes Pro Plan here in the office with similar experiences. Though our plan allows a 385 MB per 24 hour activity. Still pricey for no more than it is. Updates to our computers can be more than a GB at times. Rev. Thompson, though Ntelos is “currently” unable to offer mobile broadband here, and in your location, I think that will change within the next 30 days. I noticed yesterday the fencing was up at their newest location here on 151 near Rockfish Presb Church. Once that site is up, my understanding is that anyone from Route 250 area all the way into Nellysford should be able to get service. Our attitude here is wait and see at the moment. I have little faith that BPL will ever perform very well just from their track record. If there were doing this without USDA government low interest loans they could have never made this work in the real business world. They would already be out of business. I am concerned that their follow through may be just a poor as the whole installation experience. But, I am giving them the benefit of the doubt. As Reagan said, “Trust but verify…” So we’ll see.

    I do know that as of yesterday they would not provide a customer over in the Wood’s Mill area with any proof of anyone already activated over there. And we have yet to get one single e-mail or comment from anyone that has BPL service, no one.

    The latest IBEC email blast “says” people in our area will begin having service the week following Valentine’s Day. We’ll let everyone know if it happens and what speeds are experienced.

  23. Janet says:

    Wait a minute – the above email from IBEC says that:

    “The first groups of people are surfing in the Woods Mill area, while more could be.”

    AND

    “… the North Afton Injection point was activated and BPL is flowing in Woods Mill with some people surfing and others ready to go”.

    But IBEC can’t provide proof and no one has come forward to say they are active?!

    So WHO exactly is “surfing” and WHAT exactly are they “surfing”?

    This is really disturbing and should be investigated!

    On another “technically” unrelated note – just to put it out there and a word in for the satellite DMA issue since I can’t find that board – last nite I got a big old flyer of coupons from Channel NBC 29 – a LOCAL CHARLOTTESVILLE television station.

    But I’m not in their Direct Marketing Area, huh?

    The DMA issue shouldn’t die. The FCC is in a transition period now with the new administration and most comissioners’ terms expire this year. And from what I understand Obama has ordered a review of the Commission. I think we might have hope with the new management.

    (BTW, the Cable Industry plays no small part in the DMA scheme. In many areas where people have a choice between satellite and cable, providing truly “local” stations gives cable an edge and they have been given this concession by the Feds to compensate for their infrastructure investment)

    Sorry to veer off the subject matter here but once again, we are still being deprived of information that could easily be made available to us thru existing means – be they satellite dishes or power lines! There has to be some liability there.

  24. NCL Mag says:

    Yea, Janet, we have so many instances of people either e-mailing or posting with the runaround answers they are getting from IBEC about the progress. One person emailed us to say they wouldn’t tell them about any customers currently activated because that violated HIPAA. (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 Privacy Rule)

    Huh? HIPAA is about medical privacy issues Here it is from the Heath and Human Services website: Health Information Privacy

    “The Office for Civil Rights enforces the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which protects the privacy of individually identifiable health information, and the confidentiality provisions of the Patient Safety Act, which protects identifiable information being used to analyze patient safety events and improve patient safety.”

    Another person told us just this morning that they were told service was working in their area, but because of stability issues they had not turned customers on.

    It’s just more and more of the same.

  25. Judy Serkes says:

    I got this email from them last week….

    IBEC has been waiting for the contract crews to return from storm restoration duty in the Midwest. Contract and cooperative crews from Virginia have been away for almost two weeks, which has slowed the scheduled work. That included help with bringing up the BPL network and completing the installation of Customer Access Units (CAU’s).
    On Monday, February 9, the contract crews will patrol the Woods Mill and Tanbark circuits to troubleshoot any BPL regenerators that require an adjustment. Normally, the crews would make modifications as part of the normal installation process but they had to “hang the units dry” since there was not Internet traffic flowing through the BPL backbone as it was constructed.
    People are surfing on the Woods Mill circuits and new subscribers are coming online in the Afton area. IBEC has been in contact with some subscribers who must complete the setup process by providing the MAC address from their modem and the connected equipment. If you are one of the people who have been contacted, please get back in touch with IBEC to complete the set-up so that you can enjoy the BPL system.
    The last injection point to be activated will be the Martin’s Store substation on February 13, the date being confirmed today. IBEC will bring up the BPL Network the week following Valentine’s Day and begin activating customers from then on.
    Any customers that are activated and wish to submit feedback or share their experience with subscribers waiting to come online, please send your comments to service@ibec.net and tell us that you want to let others know about your BPL experience.
    Thanks again for your patience,
    IBEC Customer Service

  26. Judy Serkes says:

    got this as well from them….

    Dear Customer,

    Thank you for your email. We are currently testing the network and activating customers in the Woodsmill 2, Woodsmill 3, Afton 2, and Afton 3 areas. You are in the *Woodsmill 1* area. We will contact you when your service is ready to be activated at the phone number on file* (434)XXX-XXXX*. I hope this email provides you with better information regarding the current status of the deployment and where you stand at the moment. We do wish to thank you for your patience, and we do apologize for the delay.
    If you have any questions, feel free to call 1-888-423-2275 to speak with a Customer Service Representative. We hope you have a good day, and we will continue to keep you informed.

    Thanks for your patience,
    IBEC Customer Service

  27. Rev. Tommy Thompson says:

    Well, the ntelos custmoer representative did not want to speak with me about availability here in Nelson. She said, “Ntelos is not a good option for you” and told me to have a good day and hung up the phone. I am not in the area you described (from 250 into Nellysford). I am in Faber (a couple miles after the albemarle/nelson line) and live just off Irish Road (US-6E). I guess they don’t plan on it working in Faber anytime soon.
    Tommy

  28. NCL Mag says:

    Wow, Rev Thompson. That almost sounds like you are in an area that has it now. Chuck, how far would he be from you? You guys are not that far apart. I am preparing ap web story that will post later today or tonight, but Ntelos crews just brought the tower in for the 151 site today. Regardless, the customer service there sounds as though it has a lot to be desired

  29. Chuck Strauss says:

    Rev Tommy: contact T. Stafford and give him your phone number and he can email it to me. I will be glad to bring my modem to your place so you can try it. There are more than a few nTelos towers around both of us. According to what one CSR told me, all of the existing towers have been upgraded to enable internet.

    Recently, I too was told by another CSR that nTelos had no broadband in this area — this was before I got to the person who sent the air card, I think nTelos may have hired some IBEC people…..

  30. Rev. Tommy Thompson says:

    Chuck,
    That is hilarious about Ntelos hiring IBEC people…haha! That would rock if you could come by the church or parsonage some time. I would love to check it out. Just let me know when is best for you.
    Thanks,
    Tommy

  31. Erik says:

    Brady: “I use Hughes Network’s satellite…………. if you exceed 150Mb of download in a day, your bandwidth is limited to 56k for 24 hours”

    This is the deal breaker for me. We have this same service at work. Hughes throttles the bandwith at every turn. Let’s be serious here 150MB?
    A Mac OS update is easily 1/2 that and often more than that.

    Hughes is pricey too.

  32. Chuck Strauss says:

    First, Rev. Tommy, I’ll be glad to come by the church — but I do not know where it is.
    If you want to call me, my phone number is in the phone book, and you can Google “Charles A Strauss CLU” and you’ll find a reference on the Nelson Co. Times regarding “Ongoing” (computer literacy) programs that includes my phone number.

    Second, “Regular” Tommy: I found someone who is connecting via BPL. She said, however, that apparently the service is irregular, and that she had to plug the router into an outlet with nothing else also plugged in. I asked her to check the speed, but she was so glad to get rid of dial up she did not want to learn how to do that. She lives on Hickory Creek Road. (Down the road from me and Judy Serkes.)

    Third, the modem for air card died again but it was restored. There is a possibility it is defective and “they” said if it happened again they’d arrange a swap for another unit. But I still connect at close to or in excess of 1 meg while it — or just the air card — is working. (www.speakeasy.net/speedtest)

  33. NCL Mag says:

    Chuck, that’s what I had been told by some folks in other areas that used BPL, that often they were married to one particular outlet in the home, depending on how they were wired, breakers, etc.

    On your aircard, it does sound like you have a defective one to me. It should not fail like that. I’d call that fellow that spoke with us and report that to him.

    We are just waiting for nTelos to bring the site up over here then we are going that route. We are concerned about the redundancy of BPL paired with the poor roll out of the installation. If we have an ice storm for instance, restoring electrical power would be priority (as it should be) and internet BPL dead last. That could be weeks and weeks in certain situations. In our business we can’t be down that period of time. We know people in TN and KY that still don’t have power from the most recent storm there. If the power is out, you don’t have BPL.

    We really don’t have an ax to grind with these guys, I think they try the best they know how, but the way they have implemented this thing here has been inexcusable. As I said earlier, if any other business had done this without USDA government backed loans, they would be out of business.

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