Saturday, May 9, 2009

I'm Offline because Dish Network Hates Kittens

I'm writing this at my local public library. Thanks to the generosity of the City of Albuquerque and Mayor Martin Chavez, our libraries offer free wireless Internet access.

So I'm at the library because I do not have Internet access at home, despite the premium $80 I pay every month to Dish Network/Wild Blue.

Dish Network, through their minion, I mean subcontractor, Wild Blue, has disconnected me because I exceeded their (secret) upload limit by 6 percent.

I wasted the last couple of days troubleshooting my computers and routers, assuming that my connection problem was local in origin. 

Finally, I gave up & called Wild Blue this morning. They explained that due to my "contract violation" - never mind that their contract does not specify what this magical upload limit is - they would withhold my Internet service for an indefinite length of time.

"I really don't know how long it will be before we restore your service," the service rep told me. "It all depends. At least a week, maybe longer."

Presumably, it was my Kitten Cam streaming video project that caused me to exceed Wild Blue's unpublished upload limit.

I didn't have any warning. Wild Blue did not give me any notice that I was approaching or exceeding their secret limit. They said this was because they didn't know my email address ... which, of course, they provided me when we set up the account.

And there's no way to look at your bandwidth usage to determine if you are nearing Wild Blue's arbitrary, unpublished upload limit. Wild Blue does not offer a web interface to see any of your account details; Dish Network only shows the monthly charge as a lump sum, after the fact.

Speaking of charges, I hope being disconnected is my only punishment. I didn't think to ask if there would also be a financial penalty? Sigh.

Anyway, so until Wild Blue arbitrarily decides to restore my Internet service, I'll be almost entirely offline. I should be able to download email messages as long as they're simple text, but that's about it: none with HTML or attachments.

I won't be able to upload anything at all. That means, no new listings for my two Etsy stores, or my eBay store, or my Amazon store. No updates to my website or my blog unless I trek back here (24 mi R/T) to the library.

I can't access Twitter or Facebook, so no updates there, either.

This is cold, man, really cold.

Of course I'll start investigating other Internet service providers immediately. But I already know that options for our rural area are limited - and expensive. Those of you who live in urban areas probably take high speed Internet access for granted, but let me tell you, those of us out here in the country are well & truly disenfranchised.

But I shouldn't complain, as there are areas within the state of New Mexico that don't even have telephone service. When Qwest was granted the telephone monopoly by the State, they contractually agreed to provide service to our rural areas. Years later, when the State finally noticed Qwest hadn't lived up to its obligations in exchange for its extremely lucrative monopoly, Qwest decided they'd rather pay the non-performance penalties than actually provide the service. 

So as I said, I feel lucky by comparison.

Anyway, while I'm researching other Internet access options, my Kitten Cam project is obviously dead in the water. Although we did record some video that's still available for viewing on the Ustream site.

I'd love to know how other streaming video providers do it ... I mean, there are loads of puppy cams and kitten cams out there running 24x7, presumably on residential (non-commercial) ISPs. How do they do it? 

Are companies other than Wild Blue more generous with bandwidth? Or do they simply offer better, cheaper services to urban areas? 

And if that's so, how do they get away with that? At what point do we acknowledge that Internet access is a utility?

Just wondering ... and I'd appreciate any info or suggestions anyone can give me on this. Via text-only email, of course.

kNotes for kNitters 
Sandia Park, NM


  1. Aw, I don't have any advice, but I'm so sorry your kitten cam got canned. I never even had a chance to look at it. :) I hope you get it straightened out and get back online soon.


  2. Thanks, Sherri! Now that I'm back online with better service, I actually could start up Kitten Cam again ... but they've grown up so much, they don't stay in a photogenic pile in one place anymore! Now all you'd be able to see is a blur as they race by the camera.

    I do have some videos we recorded of them a couple of weeks ago ... the link is in my blog sidebar.