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Jim Dandy
(@jim_dandy)
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August 21, 2010 6:03 pm  

Has anyone signed up and tried Choice's new 4G service offerings? If the data service works as promised affordable higher speed internet service has arrived in the VI. From their new map the 4G service area covers most of STT & STX and a lot of STJ.

1 Mbps = $45 3 Mbps = $55 5 Mbps = $75

And for another $20 a month you can piggy back their VOIP phone service onto your data plan. Phone service includes unlimited LD to United States.

Choice is also offering cell service.

Jim


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BytheBodhiTree
(@BytheBodhiTree)
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August 22, 2010 2:44 am  

Yes, we signed up yesterday for the $75 five Mbps via modem.

A few things --
We live in Red Hook and when we tried to hook up our modem yesterday but did not get any signal; went back to Choice today and they explained they are currently erecting a tower in Red Hook that should be up anytime from Sunday to Tuesday. With the tower we are supposed to get an excellent signal and the full 5 Mbps speed.

Tried to hook up the modem again today and it worked. We have a decent signal from the West side of our apartment - but here's the thing - right now our speed is at 1 Mbps.

We are going to wait until the end of next week to see if this new tower will give us the full Mbps we are paying for! Choice says with the new tower will come the full speed.

By the way, the customer service at Choice (in the Al Cohen Mall) has thus far been excellent.


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stjohnjulie
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August 22, 2010 7:48 am  

BytheBodhiTree , would love to hear an update from you next week on how the service is. A new tower in Red Hook should help things out over here in Cruz Bay I would think. I have their old service and am usually pretty happy with it. It's not super fast, but it's mostly reliable. The past few weeks have been pretty bad though. When I call their tech help, they tell me "Well, you are the only one that has called, so I don't know what to tell you." Not much help to say the least. I will be upgrading to the new modem and service. By any chance did you have their service before? I was told we could get a $50 credit if we turned in the old modem towards the purchase of the new modem.


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Jim Dandy
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August 22, 2010 2:50 pm  

Keep us posted on how it works for you and your actual speeds are for both uploading and downloading.

Also how much did Choice charge you for your modem and what other up front fees did you have to pay?

Are there any caps on how much data you can upload/download per month similar to what AT&T or Sprint have on their data plans?

Jim


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Jim Dandy
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August 23, 2010 9:02 pm  

I tried Choice's new internet service on the East End of STX.

I tried it with their indoor modem. The cost of the modem is $100 plus a $10 activation fee. To get even one bar of service the modem needed to be located near a window. For $199 they offer an outdoor radio which they will install. I signed up for the 5 MBps speed.

I ran speed tests at six servers both in Florida and up and down the eastern seaboard.

The latency ran between 266 and 330 ms while Broadband VI usually tests between 110 and 140 ms.

Choice's download speed ran between 2.6 and 5.3 Mbps and was satisfactory and as expected.

However Choice's upload speeds were terrible. They ran between 70 Kbps and 240 Kbps.

Choice won't work for me as I like lower ping times and faster upload speeds. I am returning the equipment on Tuesday to Choice so I will be out the $10 activation fee plus one days worth of service. They give you a thirty days to make up your mind so you can always try their service and see if it will work for you.

Jim


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stiphy
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August 23, 2010 9:42 pm  

Jim,

I have been testing this home modem too. In Welcome (Tulipan) I've been getting 4.8mbps down(!!) but only 256kbps up. I posted something about this on the Choice Facebook site asking if they planned to tweak this up. A 1/4 ratio would be better.

Like you I had to put my modem near the window for optimum results. My latency however was better than yours...pings to google.com are running between 105-130 vs 60-80ms for Innovative. On the Pingtest site (off of speedtest) my pingtime though was 113 vs 117 for Innovative so maybe it is more comparable. I may try to play some online games this week/weekend to see if it is satisfactory (I don't play often).

They are still only partway through rolling out their new towers so things may get better in the coming weeks. The sales lady I spoke to said specifically that out East the towers aren't fully up. I will at least give it a try for 30 days, and may hang onto the modem. There is no contract necessary and this honestly would make for a great backup connection: if my Innovative line goes down I can walk to Choice and buy a month of service. Streaming HD quality video on Youtube is pretty awesome but the uplink is definitely a concern...we like to do Skype video calls with the grandparents and 256kb/s just won't cut it for that. Hopefully with enough feedback they can tweak this out!

No matter what this is another option which is good for internet consumers in the VI.

Sean


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stiphy
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August 24, 2010 2:23 am  

One other item I discovered is that my PPTP VPN won't work over this connection right now. I plugged straight into the modem and even made my laptop the DMZ target but still couldn't get it going which tells me its something on their end (we are being natt'd on their end too). I've sent Choice a support message on their website hoping to get some resolution to this as well as the really poor uplink speed. I hope they can come through and get these items straightened out!

Sean


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stiphy
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August 24, 2010 3:54 am  

Update, not sure if they changed something tonight at Choice but all of a sudden I'm getting 1mbps up:

Still no VPN but this is encouraging. Will test again tomorrow and post results!

Sean


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West
 West
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August 24, 2010 11:01 am  

I have the new Choice service on the West end and it is blazing fast.

Speakeasy - Last Result:
Download Speed: 4894 kbps (611.8 KB/sec transfer rate)
Upload Speed: 3331 kbps (416.4 KB/sec transfer rate)

I was told they were making changes to improve the upload speed.

I have a Choice cell phone too. it works great all over STX.


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stiphy
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August 24, 2010 3:40 pm  

Thanks for the update West, I know the Welcome tower is supposed to come online soon and that will probably help with my upload speed. I just hope I can get my VPN connection going (it works over Innovative) and that they can ramp up as they sell it to more users.

Sean


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Jim Dandy
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August 24, 2010 5:24 pm  

Sean:

Based on your comments fired the modem up for another test.

Latency much improved today, but the upload speeds were only slightly better at best I got 400Kbps. Before I am willing to pay for this service I would want at least 2Mbps so I can stream from my satellite receiver HD using a Slingbox when I travel.

Tried watching a two hour Netflix movie this morning using my VPN. Using the VPN and routing the stream through Atlanta reduced download speed to 1.8Mbps.

Movie stopped several times in the first half hour to rebuffer as it said the speed was declining so I don't know how consistent speed is from Choice or what will happen when they add more subscribers.

I do know to make the modem work in my home I will either have to find an antennae for this modem or pay Choice to install an outdoor access point with a higher gain antennae. Wife just isn't going to allow me to leave the modem on the living room window sill.

Jim


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Jim Dandy
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August 24, 2010 6:59 pm  

I spoke with Choice today and with the 5Mpbs down you are supposed to get 3 Mbps up.

Hopefully they will be able to deliver.

Jim


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stiphy
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August 25, 2010 12:27 am  

I got an email from Choice today and they said they are still getting everything up to speed etc. They sent me instructions on how to fix my VPN problem and it now works. Basically I changed a setting and the router got a public 208 address instead of a private 10.x address.

Right now (prime time) the speed isn't so great:

Sean


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AllMashUp
(@AllMashUp)
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August 25, 2010 9:27 pm  

Just picked one up to try out I'm getting 3 Mbps down and 1 up with the home modem on 2 out of 3 signal bars.....consistent unlike the burst speeds that drop off with VIBroadband.....anybody know how the external antennae works if you buy it through Choice? does it simply connect to the remote antenna port on the back of the home modem...if so anybody know what type of antenna I could buy that fits that plug instead of paying Choice $200 more?


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Jim Dandy
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August 26, 2010 12:53 am  

I have been researching external antennas for the ZTE 1600 modem. You will need two dipoles at $80 - $100 each plus two custom cables. Still working on determining if they connections are SMA or mini SMA in any case to do it yourself could cost as much as $300 plus shipping.

Let me know if you find anything that will work for less money.

Jim


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AllMashUp
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August 26, 2010 4:06 pm  

Jim can you explain why I find that signal strength inceases depending upon the vertical height of the modem, I have no service with the unit on the floor, 1 bar on the coffe table and 2 bars on the shelf ~6ft above the floor. The modem is currently located near an interior corner, but the pattern repeats even near an exterior wall. Also is there a signal strength meter avialalbe for WiMax similar to the WiFi keychain fobs to find the best signal strength?


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Jim Dandy
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August 26, 2010 5:29 pm  

I am not an engineer so I can't give you a scientific answer other than to say your experience is similar to mine. I have my Wimax modem on a shelf upstairs about 8' above the floor and not to far from a window. I am getting a fairly steady two bars.

In my lower level bedroom the signal wasn't even one bar. Masonry construction degrades the signal and that is when you pick up your modem they suggest putting it a room with windows. All I can figure is that by being higher you are nearer the roof deck which in my case is wood while all the exterior walls are filled block.. The signal gets through the wood with less signal loss.

I suggest you check for relative signal strength by using your cell phone. Again in my lower level back away from the windows I am lucky to get one bar of service from AT&T. Upstairs the signal is much stronger. Chances are if you get good 3G signal from AT&T in a location in your home the 4G signal from Choice will be better there also.

Jim


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BytheBodhiTree
(@BytheBodhiTree)
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August 26, 2010 5:33 pm  

UPDATE:

As of today, Thursday, August 26 -- we get about 1 bar on our Choice indoor modem box...speeds are nowhere near 5 Mbps. The Red Hook tower was "supposed" to be up by now...

My partner spoke to Choice on the phone and they said we will have to buy an outdoor antenna for another $100.???


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Jim Dandy
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August 26, 2010 7:38 pm  

On the East end of STX speed has been improving all week. Download 4.5 - 4.9 Mbps upload has improved to 800 -950 Kbps. Latency still needs to be reduced.

Have been able to stream several movies from Hulu with few problems.

Jim


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stiphy
(@stiphy)
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August 26, 2010 11:04 pm  

The issue I'm still having is that between around 7pm and midnight the connection drops off significantly. It goes from 1mbps up and 5mbps down with average latencies of 120ms on speedtest.net to 256kbps up and 1.5mbps down with latency in the 300ms range.

So far this isn't a total game changer but it is an interesting new option which is always a good thing. It will be good to see how the competitor(s) (s is because I don't think Innovative can compete) will react!

Sean


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Jim Dandy
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August 27, 2010 12:31 am  

The service is far from perfect. I had at least two occasions when I could not get to the Internet today and had to switch back to BBVI.

The latency is also over the board. Very hard to see where the problem is in that Choice's net work does not support trace route so you can see where the hold ups are.

BBVI is solid Choice is a work in progress. The additional speed would be nice, but not at the expense of reliability.

Jim


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stiphy
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August 27, 2010 1:54 am  

The latency is also over the board. Very hard to see where the problem is in that Choice's net work does not support trace route so you can see where the hold ups are.

I can see my traceroute but that's probably because I have a public IP address to my router now to fix my VPN problem. The first hop to a 10.100.51 address is taking 69ms! That is a lot...seems like that is related to the wimax technology.

Sean


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CAtoSTX
(@CAtoSTX)
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August 27, 2010 2:58 am  

Ok - I went to the Choice Website and I don't see anything about this on there... they seem to have the same price/speed offerings as Broadband VI - am I missing something?


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Jim Dandy
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August 27, 2010 11:54 am  

You have to go to their new web site:

www.choice-wireless.com

Why they keep their old web site or at least didn't link them is beyond me.

Jim


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A Davis
(@A_Davis)
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August 28, 2010 9:09 am  

set mine up earlier this week and very very pleased. getting just over 3 mb down about .5 mb up... worlds better than previous service with choice. i am picking up strong signal in the northside near mandahl.


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