Internet options for the rural areas of Chatham County

By Carl Mueller

Bear Creek, NC – I’ve been in search for decent internet service for almost three years now for my property in Bear Creek close to Goldston.  While Century Link claimed they could provide DSL, I didn’t sign up because of the volume of Chatham Chatlist emails regarding their lack of quality and service. Thanks Chatlisters.  I am also about two miles from Randolph’s fiber laid in Highway 902, but I have zero expectations that they will ever work their way down my street.  I don’t blame them, I know what it costs to build out that kind of infrastructure.

So to my reason for posting. I think the Chatham communities best option will eventually come from wireless.  Yes, I am aware that many don’t have sufficient cell coverage now, but I’ll share this anyway.

Many of the big carriers are now offering fixed wireless home internet. They come in all flavors and types, but if you search for it you can find the options available. You won’t find specific coverage maps or available areas, only the ability to sign up to “be notified when available”. Anyway, both Verizon and T-Mobile offer such a sign up for their “Home LTE Internet”.

I finally “got lucky” with the web sign ups and T-Mobile said they now offered service for my address. I signed up immediately. They offer LTE home internet for $50 a month. No data cap (at this point). I am a Verizon wireless customer but I had previously tested a pre-paid T-Mobile phone for a couple of months at my property to ensure I had good coverage. They provide the “gateway” which is an LTE box with a built in WiFi router. The speeds are pretty decent. Far above anything DSL would offer, but short of a good fiber connection.

I waited to post this until I had things up and running for a few weeks now, because I didn’t want to recommend something that didn’t work.  I’m about five weeks in, and I’ve got it working well. I run security cameras and have been streaming Hulu Live TV with no buffering. All of this is on 4G LTE. Eventually this will transition to 5G so it should only improve.

I’ll also mention another “sign up” opportunity and that is StarLink satellite internet. This is completely different from the older HughsNet and similar older satellite internet. StarLink is still in a beta program, but has a lot of potential for the future. It is a product of SpaceX, you know,  Elon Musk,  Tesla,  etc.

I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have about my experience with T-Mobile to this point.  I’ve done some technical tweaking on my side to improve my setup for those that might be interested.