The IT Guy: Verizon brings 4G LTE network to homes

theitguy@islandpacket.comMay 20, 2012 

I graduated from dialup Internet access in 2002 and switched to broadband access. If there's one thing that has been sorely missing from broadband access at home, it has been a choice of provider.

We have so many choices online -- dozens of different email providers, social media networks, video services, etc. -- and yet we only have one (or two if we're lucky) choice of providers to actually get us there. A wireless alternative has been needed for a very long time, but the speeds were never comparable to a wired connection until 4G LTE came along.

A year ago, Verizon brought its LTE network to Hilton Head Island and Bluffton, and with it download speeds that routinely went beyond the 5 to 12 mbps that they promise. I remember asking a Verizon representative if they had any plans to provide some kind of in-home broadband solution, since the network seemed to be up to it. I didn't get an answer at the time but now I have. On May 3, Verizon introduced its in-home 4G service called HomeFusion Broadband.

The service requires professional installation as an antenna must be attached to the customer's home. From there, the antenna will pick up the best 4G LTE signal and transmit it to a broadband router inside the home, which is then shared via Wi-Fi for up to 20 devices or wired connectivity for up to 4 devices.

They don't provide demo units due to the need for installation, so I can't vouch for how strong a signal you will see (and it would be different in every location anyway) but my advice would be to seek out a friend with a 4G Verizon phone and invite him or her over for dinner so you can see what the reception is like as a starting point.

The good news: You might finally have a choice in broadband ISPs depending on your location. The bad news: You need to be a very specific kind of user for it to make financial sense. For $60 a month, you are limited to 10 GBs of data -- go beyond that and you will be charged an additional $10 per gigabyte. Basically, if you do any kind of video streaming over Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, etc., you can forget about this service as you will blow right past those 10 GBs on your second or third HD movie.

There's also an unfortunate one-time equipment fee of $199.99 and a 2-year contract required.

Granted, that's a lot of asterisks to the service, however there are users out there for whom this makes sense. If you don't watch any video online and have a nagging suspicion that you might be paying more for your Internet service than you're actually using, check out Verizon's HomeFusion broadband service and do the math -- you might end up saving some money in the long run.

Morgan Bonner is pre-press manager and a systems administrator for the Packet and Gazette. Bonner answers your tech questions and offers tips and suggestions. Email theitguy@island packet.com and follow him at twitter.com/packetITguy

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