Rural America - What is your bandwidth & latency, & does FS2020 work with it?

Hi. Advice needed, please (Note: city dwellers: feel free to skip this post - it’s sorta specific to rural folks :slightly_smiling_face:).

I live in a rural part of the USA, where internet connectivity is pretty bad. Until recently, I could only access the internet by borrowing a T-Mobile 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi hotspot from our local library, but with a maximum (if I’m lucky) download speed of 2.5 Mbps, 500ms+ latency & that connects/disconnects like a yo-yo, buying FS2020 is just not an option - it would be impossible to download the ~170GB initial install, and does not meet the minimum MS-suggested speed for streaming, assuming I even somehow ever got FS2020 installed in the first place.

Neighbors have tried satellite systems (Hughes) for work with terrible results. Fiber, cable & DSL do not exist here.

Now, a service provider called Digital Path is offering plans that include a “Gen8 Rural service”: 50 Mbps Download, 10 Mbps Upload, 500GB/month for $70/month, that I’m guessing uses either a 5G (or 5G extended):

  • Single Horn 5 GHZ 90 degree Horn (9dBi), or a
  • Hex Horn 5 GHZ (6) 50 Degree Horn(13 dBi)
    affixed to your home.

I’m not sure if they could actually deliver a 50 Mbps download speed (I have yet to contact them) - as the closest cell tower is 8,695m (5.40 miles) away, but the direct line-of-sight is awfully close to the ground at points - buildings, trees & terrain could prevent a decent signal. The next closest tower is much higher - with direct line-of-sight, but is 23,146m (14.38 miles) away, which I believe is just too far for a 5G signal.

Now, I’ve been flying MS Flight Simulator since the early 1990’s, was a beta tester on a number of versions, and have only not bought this version because of its dependency on a fast internet connection. I love what see on the various websites dedicated to the game (bugs & issues not withstanding. As a former beta tester, I’m used to that).

My current PC is quite capable of running the game, though I’m willing to shell out
~$400 for a new GPU to boost FPS,
~$100 for a new SSD to exclusively host a new Win11 install on one partition, & FS2020 on another, so keeping FS2020 totally separate from all my other stuff on the PC (i.e. dual-booting)
~$120 for FS2020 Premium Deluxe
~$50 for a wireless router

But before I shell out around $1,000 per year for internet access, I’d like to hear from those of you in rural America.

What is your experience with your service provider? What is your bandwidth, latency, distance to cell-tower, the actual cell-service provider (Digital Path uses T-Mobile here, I think) - if you know all that data - & where did they install the equipment (on the roof, on a pole outside, etc.).

Any issues that I need to know about? If outside, how did they get power to the equipment? What power to device was required (voltage/amps). Is it permanently on ( i.e. a vampire device), or do you have the ability to switch the device off/on as needed - e.g. if you are going away on vacation & so won’t be using the internet at your home while away.

Much as I’d love to fly again with FS2020, $1,000 / year is a pretty steep price to pay for a hobby, and before I contact Digital Path, who no doubt will promise the earth, moon & stars to sign me up, I’d like to hear from those of you who have real-life experience running FS2020 in the backwaters of rural America!

Thanks,
Jon.
:cowboy_hat_face:

Hello @SmotheryVase665,
Welcome to my world of rural areas. I looked up Digital Path and it appears they are WISP which would not be cellular. It’s actually radio and it is the same as I use now. The price range for the 50 Mbps is good at $70/mo. Where I live, that would be $140/mo.

This type of internet I have no issues with. Power is ran by the CAT6 line.

While I do not use Digital Path as my provider (they aren’t located where I am), you could call them and ask if it’s cellular. I highly doubt it is. What they do is run an optic line to a tower and that has antennas (like a dish) that beams to you (another antenna like a dish).

Hi Hester40MT,
Thanks for the quick response! I’m sure you are right w.r.t. WISP. I’m pretty well clueless when it comes to that sort of thing - I was just going on a statement on DP’s disclosure policy page:

“The last mile technology involved is 3rd party and DigitalPath proprietary 802.11a,b,n,ac wireless devices”

Didn’t know power would come thru’ the CAT line, so that was a very useful bit of info. Thanks!

As for calling DP - well, the 'phone service here is pretty-well non-existent too, so I don’t have that either! Heck, even my good-old USPS mailbox is a mile down the road (good for enforced exercise, though LOL). Another advantage of going with DP is that (for an extra $30/month) you can get VOIP. But I can email them in due course…

I looked at a couple of websites that (supposedly) showed all the communication tower locations in the USA (from which I got my distance data). I did not see DP listed as owning any of their own towers - I’m guessing they are piggy-backing on one of the big 3’s towers - certainly I’ve not seen any other towers on the skyline in the county.

Ironically, a HUGE trans-continental fiber optic cable runs a few miles from my home. Perhaps, one dark & stormy night, I should just dig a trench to it & hook up a cat-5 cable to my PC… :smiling_imp:

Jon

2 Likes

Any reason not to look into Starlink?

Just looked at their website. My area is waitlisted for service sometime in 2023. Plus, their $110 monthly cost is $40 more than Digital Path, and you have a one-time hardware cost of $599. I’m already stretching the budget with DP… :cold_sweat:

Update, for the benefit of rural folks who might want to use this service in future, if available in their area:
I took Hester40MT’s suggestion & contacted Digital Path via their website. No response. I emailed them too. No response so far either…
I’ll keep folks posted as things develop…

Jon
:cowboy_hat_face:

Update: DP responded yesterday. To the question:

  • Is the connection wireless or radio?
    Answer: The connection is fixed wireless broadband.

  • The sales rep. went on to say that he thought that they would need to install
    … a receiver on the home which would be pulling in the wireless signal from the tower…
    This type of installation is using a 20’ pole sitting in a tripod on the peak of the roof.
    We’ll also be setting up a minimum of 3 guy wires to the set up.
    The receiver will be placed on top of the pole.

Well, a roof-based installation is not feasible at my house, so I have suggested an alternative: bolt the pole to one of the roof supports of my deck. I’m hoping for a positive response next week

Jon
:cowboy_hat_face: