New options in high-speed Internet
A Colorado-based firm that offers Internet service by satellite has increased its service capacity and is offering discounts to Truckee and Lake Tahoe residents.Wild Blue spokesperson Joanne Dant said the launch of a new satellite increases the Internet service providers potential customers from 200,000 to 750,000. The firm first offered nationwide broadband Internet service in June 2005 with its first satellite and currently has about 100 customers in Truckee.This service is really targeted to people that are not served or are under-served, whose alternative is dial-up, Dant said.This may be good news to residents of Agate Bay, Carnelian Bay and Dollar Point, who have lately been so incensed by the lack of high-speed Internet service in the Tahoe Basin that they submitted a petition to Placer County officials requesting a fix. Because of a lack of infrastructure, local Internet service providers like AT&T, Exwire, Comcast and Sudden Link, a subsidiary of Cebridge Communications, have not been able to provide most North Shore residents with a high-speed option.Wild Blue will offer three packages that offer faster download times at progressively higher rates. The least-expensive option at a monthly cost of about $50 offers download speeds of 512 kilobytes per second.Telecomm Support Manager Alan Harry of the Truckee Donner Public Utility District advised prospective customers to compare speeds before switching service. In an interview last month, Harry said the districts interest in broadband Internet, when completed in 2009, could provide customers with download speeds of 5 megabytes per second.Truckee-area residents with cable service have another alternative to consider before paying for satellite installation. Suddenlink, the cable company that challenged the Truckees utilitys authority in furnishing Internet service, can now provide 12 megabyte-a-second speed to its 7,000 customers in the Truckee and Donner Lake areas, said Jason Oelkers, the firms marketing manager. Oelkers added that Suddenlink by September hopes to provide high-speed Internet service to Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Tahoe City and south to Tahoma. The cable Internet and television firm will also offer three tiers of service; at 1 megabyte-per-second, the slowest will cost about $25 per month.For those waiting for a solution to dial-up services snail-like 56 kilobytes per second, the Wild Blue broadband option may be their best bet in the short run.I just sold a system to my parents and they love it, said Deborah Rete, sales agent for Blacksheep Satellite Systems based in Emigrant Gap.