Exeter – Internet Stone Age

My wife and I recently purchased a home in Exeter, California. I spent most of my life here, she attended High School here, and we raised our daughters here. Exeter is a small farming community and a great place to raise a family.

We came back because we know it well and like it. The housing market in California has mellowed a bit since the crash of 2008 and now was a good time to purchase. We are thrilled to be back and we love our new home and neighborhood.

When we considered moving back to Exeter the thought of Internet connectivity never crossed my mind. We live here up until the end of 2010 and had a decent Verizon DSL connection. I figured we would get Verizon DSL or a cable provider when we moved back. Boy, was that a mistake.

After all was said and done we spent a few days painting inside our new home before moving in. One day during our painting fest our real estate agent dropped by with a housewarming gift and asked how things were going. We chatted for a while and as she was about to leave she asked “What are you doing for an Internet connection?” I was a bit taken aback. I said I’d call Verizon to see about getting DSL. That’s when she informed us she’s had new renters avoid Exeter because they couldn’t get a good high speed connection provider. Uh, what? Isn’t it 2015? I thought high speed connectivity was available in towns large and small? Again, I was mistaken.

It turns out Verizon has “filled all their DSL ports.” That’s right. The ONE well know provider of high speed connectivity couldn’t help us. I asked about expansion. They offered to put me on a waiting list. Yeah, good luck with that. I can imagine a few hundred names ahead of mine.

That was a real kick to the gut. I work from home a few days a week so I need something better than dial-up. Dial-up? Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Heck, we don’t even have a phone line any longer. My thoughts turned to using a cellular hotspot. Not a bad idea but it would prove expensive. I started looking for alternatives. They exist but they’re costly when you look at what you get for the price.

In the end we settled on Dish Internet. I signed up for a 50GB data plan that provides 15Mbps download speeds for $79/month, with a lovely two year commitment (oh yeah, they really stick it to ya.) Not ideal, but workable. By comparison we had a 30Mbps Comcast connection for $39/month in Visalia (the city we just left.)

But wait, it gets worse.

After our installation was ready to roll I gave the connection the old speed test. We only get 2.5Mbps down and 1.2Mbps up. Uh, that’s not right. Needless to say Dish Network and I will be having a conversation next week about improving our service or dropping the price dramatically. 

It’s really hard to believe in 2015 we can’t get a decent connection in our little town. The lack of connectivity will turn off a lot of buyers and I’d imagine most renters in today’s market. If you need connectivity at home or for your business and can’t get it you’re probably going to move your business or buy a home elsewhere.

I cannot recommend using Dish Internet if you need it for more than getting email or casual web surfing. Cellular is faster in most cases.

My hope is Exeter will realize the potential economic impact on the community and push for better solutions. Until that day arrives, we live with what we have.

By Rob Fahrni

Husband / Father / Developer