Of course to maintain tomzap.com, I have to be connected to the internet and that hasn't always been easy. I live in the country where there is no cable or DSL.
Dialup: At first I just had a dialup connection. That's what most people had in the early days. Web pages were simpler and making them load reasonably fast with low bandwidth was one of the main criteria. There are still people who just have dialup and I keep that in mind when designing pages. That is why you will find few images on upper level pages. Most of the images are together on lower level pages where they can be easily avoided if bandwidth is a problem.
ISDN: I finally upgraded to an ISDN line through Southwestern Bell. This process took 6 months and hours on the telephone either on hold or actually talking to an idiot. At one point I was billed for service. I called and said I did not yet have service. I was transferred to a technician who tested the line and confirmed that my ISDN service was working normally. I just kept repeating, "They have not run any wires to my house. I do not have service." That's how it went. I did finally receive service and about all I can say is that it is faster than dialup, but expensive.
Wireless: It is now called "WDSL" or "WISP". This is internet service via land-based radio. This was a big step up with speeds initially somewhat less than DSL but much better than ISDN. I forget who the first provider was. It worked fine until he just left town with no notice and that was the end of that. Then we got HillCoNet and that got transferred to PrismNet. PrismNet was really more interested in selling business solutions, building web pages, etc. But to do that their customers needed internet access so they built a wireless network. To reach me, the signals came from Austin and were radioed to a tower in Pflugerville, then to Georgetown, then to Liberty Hill, then to me. So it wasn't the most reliable connection. A storm would often take out one of the transceivers and we would have to wait for the weather to clear and someone to climb a tower and make repairs. PrismNet got tired of it too and divorced themselves of this hardship and we were suddenly Incredinet customers. Initially there was slow service and continued outages. According to Incredinet, PrismNet had not left the system in the best of repair. After a couple of years Incredinet did manage to achieve a reliable high-speed system rivaling a DSL connection. The cost was $50/month. In October 2010, a legal dispute arose between Incredinet and PrismNet with the result that PrismNet took over the system, uncerimoniously announcing to the customer that we could either pay them or be shut off. The deal was offered without field service of any kind. The PrismNet plan appears to have been to collect monthly customer fees for as long as the system was operable while attempting to sell off to someone else.
Finally in November 2010, one of the Bertram customers formed a company, A-N-F Internet, and purchased the customer base from PrismNet. PrismNet continued to provide the T3 connection by radio link with towers in Pflugerville, Georgetown, Liberty Hill, and Bertram. In February 2011, problems developed with the Liberty Hill and Bertram towers. PrismNet tried unsuccessfully to fix their system but ultimately A-N-F had to secure the rights to that portion of the system and purchase new equipment to establish dependable communications. PrismNet continued to provide the T3 connection to the Georgetown tower so we were dependent on PrismNet competence to maintain that segment of the connection, which turned out to be a bad position to be in. Finally in 2012 A-N-F secured a fiber optic feed from Time Warner and PrismNet was out of the picture completely. This service was reliable for two years with occasional day-long outages due to weather damage and the wait for an opportunity for someone to climb a tower and make repairs. Finally in 2014 the outages became longer and the service ground to a halt in April 2014.
In April 2014 we switched WISP providers to SOS Communications. SOS had started by offering service in Jarrell, Texas, then moved into Georgetown, and were now starting service to the Liberty Hill area. They are operating a total of 26 towers at this time and I can communicate with two of them. As of January 2015, service from SOS has been fairly good characterized by occasional brief outages and slow-downs. Some of the outages have been due to work done by SOS to upgrade and improve the service. SOS does not seem to have the same vulnerability to lightening storms that A-N-F had and day-long outages are extremely rare.
Wireless Internet Providers in the Leander/Liberty Hill Area: There are actually multiple wireless internet service providers in this area. It is complicated though because it is difficult to find out who they are. There is no list really unless you search very thoroughly on the internet. Plus, they come and go, merge, transfer, and are generally just hard to get a handle on. So here is what we have as of September 2015 as far as I can tell:
LTE (cellular) LTE stands for Long-Term Evolution and is a wireless internet service offered by cell phone companies. I received the following February 2015 report from a user in Bertram: "So I decided to go LTE, and I started with Sprint, my cell provider. I got one of their routers, but I was only getting an average of about 5 Mbps download/5 Mbsp upload at best. I noticed outside my speeds were much much higher, but even moving the router around my home didn't really help. So I did some searching and found Verizon's LTE Internet Installed (formally HomeFusion). They came out and installed an antenna with coax to a router in my home. Very professional, and I'm averaging 15:15 now! I probably could have got an after market antenna for Sprint, but didn't want to mess with it. Plus, I'm getting about twice the data for only $10 more a month with Verizon." Another provider offering both LTE and satellite is blazeWIFI.
Conclusion: Overall, I am somewhat pleased with wireless radio service. I think there is a better chance to be satisfied with the local providers rather than the large companies. It is an evolving business so there are likely to continue to be changes with any of the providers that may effect your experience at some future point. It appears that radio internet service will be able to compete with cable and DSL perhaps not just in rural areas but in municipalities as well. Although there have been problems with all of the companies I have subscribed to, unlike most cable-based customers I do have options and can switch to another company or subscribe to more than one service. Finding the WISP providers in your area can be difficult. There is no directory and an internet search for internet providers is going to produce a lot of useless results. You can see if your neighbors are using a WISP provider by looking for the antenna which is either a flat plate plastic box affair or a small wire frame parabolic dish aimed horizontally. And then there is this page which can help people in the Liberty Hill/Leander, Texas area.