Lawton’s Getting A New Internet Provider This Year
For the longest time, citizens of Lawton have had very limited choices when it came to accessing and using the internet. It's the same story across every small town across Oklahoma. My hometown got its start online purchasing dial-up access from the local paper back when people read newspapers, then came the broadbands with DSL from the phone company, and eventually cable internet became king. I can only assume the history of internet in most American towns are somewhat similar. For the better part of fifteen years, Lawton has had two real choices. DSL in the two neighborhoods it's available at, and cable internet for everyone else. That all changes in 2021.
In 2015, Elon Musk pitched this crazy idea of providing reasonably affordable high-speed internet to the entire world through SpaceX. Like most Elon ideas, everyone thought it was crazy and that it would never become a thing. In 2018, SpaceX launched the first Starlink satellite into orbit. As of February 2021, it's over a thousand. By the time it's done, there's estimates anywhere from 1400 satellites all the way up to 40,000 much smaller pieces of hardware to be set in orbit around earth providing high-speed internet to users in every corner of the globe.
This is the point where the story loses most rural living people. Not because they're anti-technology, but they've used "satellite" internet before, and it never worked out for them. That's where Starlink is said to be different. Much lower satellites and many, many more should mean a stronger, faster connection to the web. Early reviews are out, and while not perfect yet just now in its third year of construction, it's pretty stellar. There's a small latency issue that would prevent things like gaming and live-streaming, but everyone using it so far there's no issues in streaming movies and tv or accessing websites and such.
According to the Starlink website, service will be added to our Lawton zip codes by the end of this year... but there's a catch. You have to buy your own modem. It comes in a box, you put it somewhere outside, it automatically aligns itself and connects to the web, and you're off to explore the internet... but with the ease comes a hefty price. Like most things in the beginning, it's expensive to get started.
The modem itself is $500. It sounds high, but wouldn't problem-free, rock solid internet access be worth it? No cables to go bad, no lines to be pulled off poles by trash trucks, no ice and snow storm outages, impervious to most weather events, plus no waiting on the cable guy to show up sometime between now and next week... Just plug it in and go. When the service was pitched, they were aiming to make it cheap enough to provide web service at under $200 per month to each modem. So far, it's $100 per month and that gets you a 100mbps service, and as more people subscribe, that price will most likely go down as the service scales.
Before you say something odd like "I have 1000mbps for the same money" I know. That's the plan I have now and it works OK most of the time. I'd challenge you to test your speed. Odds are, you forgot the fine print that state it's "up to" 1000 mbps, and most likely less than half that advertised speed in your home. Obviously, the limited fiber optic customers have a truly different experience. Wish they'd build out the entire town that way, but those odds likely went out the window when the small, local cable company dedicated to the best experience sold out and became part of a bigger corporation.
If you didn't already know, we buy far more bandwidth that any of us needs. Most homes won't use anywhere close to a 1000mbps connection, it just depends on how many people are using different devices. If you stream HD movies and video, it only requires about 5mbps of that connection per television. 4k needs about 25mbps, but if you're like me, until I'm watching something heavily made of CGI, like a Marvel movie, 4k looks just like HD to me. Of course that's "per device," so 100mbps will most likely work for just about every home in America. I know that's the speed I'd have if the 1000mbps wasn't so stupidly just $10 more per month. The best part is, this will probably have a positive result on web access here locally. Like all competition, it could either drive local prices down, equally drive service speeds up, or both. Sounds like a win-win for every resident in and around Lawton. Here's the website where you can sign up to be notified the minute our area goes live.