Review: Rapidwave Internet Service

matthew's picture

As you may know, I've gone through a few internet service providers over the past few years. A brief review:

  • Trilobyte Internet Services. They are a local ISP I used for dial-up when I lived in Tooele. Eventually, they deployed high-speed broadband via 802.11b, and when too many subscribers hopped on-board they discovered just how poorly that technology scales to a metropolitan-area network. DSL came to town, and I signed up with...
  • Sisna. They didn't suck. The only reason we abandoned their 7mbps DSL over Qwest was because DSL's huge queues hurt the VoIP service I eventually went to. We moved to...
  • Comcast. Broadband nirvana. Upload speeds were paltry, but download speeds rocked, VoIP worked well, Netflix streaming was fine, and rarely any problems except in the hottest summer months when occasionally the local switch unit went out due to overheating. We then moved to Riverton, and went to...
  • Qwest. Suck piled on suck. Ugh.
  • Digis. I've blogged about how how badly Digis sucks, both compared to other local ISPs on a cost-per-gigabyte basis, as well as their draconian throttling limits. I won't go into the allegations of FCC violations, but suffice to say Digis is a poor neighbor. Big antenna on the roof, throttling without QOS that turns a broadband internet connection into a less-than-ISDN connection, obvious insane over-sell of bandwidth, icky.
  • Xmission 1.5mbps DSL (over Qwest). Other than the big packet queues that are inherent to DSL, and that VoIP would suck big-time if we were downloading anything, this was OK.
  • Rapidwave. These are the guys I'm gonna talk about.

I know what high-speed actually looks like. In my professional life, I've worn multiple hats: Network Administrator, Supercomputing system administrator, and UNIX administrator, among others. My work uses entirely a VoIP infrastructure for telephone service, and it works flawlessly. We have multiple redundant data connections suitable for a globe-spanning, massive network with tens of thousands of employees. I expect that the service from my local ISP should be up to the task of the following duties:

1. VPN from time to time. I'm not doing full-time telework, but I'll work from home a day or two a week and expect full availability during the day.
2. VoIP performance should be perfect. I'm not looking for miracles, just make sure that with modest usage on the line that my VoIP service with Vonage doesn't crackle.
3. Be up to the task of watching a Netflix streaming movie with decent quality.
4. Allow my children to play online games and Flash videos with decent speed.
5. No draconian bandwidth or speed caps. I occasionally need to back up my web server (~60GB of data) to my home connection, and I don't want to be charged $1000 for that privilege.

Verdict: So far, Rapidwave has delivered. My speed averages between 6mbps to 9mbps downloads, and around 1.5mbps upload. Netflix will ramp down its streaming speed sometimes to middle-quality, but that mostly seems to happen only during peak usage times.

There were a couple of snags. Installation was delayed due to inclement weather. This is a problem with wireless Motorola Canopy installations that you don't typically have with cable or DSL installs. It was only a week delay.

One day, Rapidwave went down due to a power outage. It was pretty major, and quite long (basically all day). I am glad that I was at work that day and not trying to work from home! The ISP going out really affects the household, as all the calls to the home phone line get routed to my wife's cell phone. I'm pretty sure this is an isolated event, and it has not recurred in any form.

Our first bill was a little bit strange due to the one-week delay in installation. I'd not yet paid it, and Rapidwave has a remarkably friendly method of dealing with non-payment: any Port 80 request gets redirected to a "you owe a bill" page. That's it. It doesn't affect my VoIP, my VPN, or non-port-80 traffic. Pretty cool that they don't shut down your service for non-payment, but instead just shunt your web traffic until you've paid.

Lastly, I've had issues with slowdowns occurring that require a reset of our router. Now, my guess is that this isn't the ISPs fault, since rebooting my router fixes the issue, but with the same router on my old service it didn't happen. I suspect the router is having troubles coping with the dramatic increase in data volume and speed, so I plan to try a new firmware to resolve the issue.

Overall, Rapidwave has delivered on their promise. Their service is tremendously faster than the fastest delivered to this household by Digis or Xmission DSL, VoIP service remains at high quality even during very fast downloads, Netflix streaming works fine (though it reduces quality occasionally), and my family is receiving the kind of speed and quality of service we expect for our broadband dollar.

So far, I'm pleased. Good on ya, Rapidwave.

--Matt B.

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Sincerely Appreciated

After I read through your "Digis" post on the related commented I changed my mind about going with their service as I want it primarily for heavy access to TV/Movie/Game content. Now I need to sell my wife on switching to Rapidwave from Qwest which shouldn't be too hard. Thanks a lot for speaking out and having a blog capable of getting some hits. You should send the whole Digis thing to that "Get Ghephart" guy. People really should be educated about this.