So I am one of the lucky souls that has a property and home rural enough to live outside of any traditional broadband offerings like DSL, cable, or fIOS but am bathed in wonderful 4G LTE wireless coverage. Seven years ago when we bought this home we had a T1 installed but that proved to be a pretty average experience. It afforded a predictable, if plodding, 1.5 Mb connection to the precious internet. So while gaming and surfing the internet were blissful, streaming videos or doing anything like Netflix was out of the question.
In December of 2012 I became aware of a product from Verizon called HomeFusion which provides a full 4G LTE connection. In theory that should mean a significant throughput increase but it will also mean a tough and expensive limit to our broadband utilization. The biggest package Verizon offered at the time (and the largest that remains available) is 50 Gb.
The installation of the equipment was scheduled for just a few days after I ordered at the Verizon store. The technician came out and put an antenna on the side of the house.
As you can see the antenna pokes through the siding for both power and for network connectivity. The coaxial line comes into the house and connects to a Verizon-provided router. The router is a pretty standard device allowing both wired and WiFi connectivity throughout the home.
It is worth noting that we live in a rural area with a large home and yet the router provides coverage for our entire home. In a densely populated area I suppose this could prove problematic but then again I cannot imagine people getting this if they lived in a densely populated area — you’d get an alternative that provides far better value.
However when it comes to rural broadband your options are satellite, dial up, and now something like this. After our T1 we dropped to a 512 Kbps DSL connection which was just brutal. Nothing meaningful can be done on a connection that limited and in today’s YouTube era … it was frustrating for everyone. HomeFusion on the other hand …
It is a real broadband connection. Multiple users streaming video while another is gaming? No problem. Uploading to Shutterfly while watching LevelCap on YouTube? No problem.
The problem however comes at that 50 Gb limit. That amount is spread across all of our phones, iPads, televisions, and computers. It takes strong discipline to stay under 50 Gb each month and it gets harder when more and more games (as a gamer) are encouraging consumers to buy digital – Steam, Origin, and others all work best when you buy directly in the distribution system. Battlefield 4, for example, is around 25 Gb … which can be chewed through in very short order.
If you do not have any alternatives, Verizon HomeFusion is a wonderful but limiting experience. At 50 Gb it is extremely expensive. When you mix in the cost and the limits, it is a product with a very limited market size. Verizon likes to tout that it is a “whole home internet solution”. It could be if the limits were either more realistic or the cost was more in line with the year 2014. $15 per Gigabyte overage charges are tough to bear.