Personally I think you right with the "trying to sell new equipment" theory. I can't believe that your equipment has gone useless. (What was the
timeframe from when you last used it until now?) You should contact a couple of different people with the same query and see if their responses are
I'll base my answer on the assumption that you're in the US.
Here are your options when you're looking at "rural internet connections":
1. Dialup - Cheap, but way too slow. Not really an option.
2. Two-way satellite Internet - I've heard bad things about this, but it's been available for awhile now so I'd guess it's not completely useless.
The latency sucks, but there's no way to get around it and you're probably not a gamer so how bad can it be? Do you go with Direcway or Starband or
GroundControl or are there other companies? I understand that some services throttle bandwidth or charge per GB. Also kind of expensive. You also need
to sign a contract that binds you for a long time. And then there's the question if it works in bad weather?
3. DSL - Are you sure you still don't have access to DSL in your area? Check with your phone company. Maybe they upgraded the lines? You could also
use this site
or this site
to check, but I
don't know if it's accurate... You could even write to your phone company and query if they are going to install DSL some time in the future. Or you
can get the whole community ini your area to request DSL.
4. T1 line - Expensive. $600/mo? Probably more?
5. Wifi antenna - Wireless pointed towards a wireless access point somewhere in DSL land. Personally I feel that this option isn't very trustworthy.
Lots of downtime in bad weather, susceptible to electronic disturbances. And then there's the question if you have a close enough Wireless Access
6. Run cable coax from nearest cable subscriber's house several miles away. This is totally absurd, but an option.
7. Cell (Mobile) phone connections - I understand that Verizon provides broadband thru a cell signal for around $80/month. Still expensive and
probably a bandwidth cap as well? (And some say that it doesn't work on Apple Mac's.)
8. The Library - Hang out at the local library, let them foot the bill.
9. Use nature - Get a stable of small white mice. Equip them with tiny collars from which dangle St. Bernard-style miniature barrels. Carefully train
these mice to run to Area 51 (where the Internet lives). Now, when you are online, take the packets that come out of the back of your computer and
carefully but quickly pack them into the barrels and release the mice - shouting your command firmly and resolutely, "SEND!" If you are fast enough,
the data rates you can get with this technique will be comparable to the average suburban broadband connection.
10. ISDN - I nearly forgot about this one! I'm not sure how it works over in the US, but to my knowledge there doesn't have to be any special phone
company lines... A bit more expensive than dial-up, but not as fast as DSL. The middle of the two options.
11. WISP - I have no knowledge about this (Wireless ISP) but some people in the rural areas swear by it.
12. Point to Point Microwave and it looks like throughput can be very good! There is also Trango NLOS service which uses the 900 mHz range. This only
works in Oregon.
13. Dual 56K modems - The two modems are ganged so they behave like a single connection. Linux supports it. You can run both modems at once or have
one come on when it’s needed (if, say, you pay connect or phone charges). This works pretty well for basic browsing and email, but downloads of
anything over a couple meg are still painful.
Err... That's about all the options I can come up with now... I live on the other side of the planet so my knowledge on the available ISP
technologies in the US is limited.
Hope it helps!