ruralwest aka vandenberg afb cable is the local on-base provider of phone/cable/internet and is a popular choice on the installation due to it's location. i've used their service for internet for over a year now (20110906-20121019) and their internet service has done nothing but deteriorate month after month.
first it was outages here and there, you initially kind of shrug it off and just go on with life. then, it starts getting more an more repetitive, more and more of a nuisance. my household is extremely dependent on internet consumption. we don't have cable as we use netflix and we have att wireless for cellphones and 'cause there's minimal coverage on base and even less in the MFH area i have a microcell tower (antenna booster) that is hooked up to the modem so my phone works in the house. outages, knock out my cellphone, my tv (netflix), my radio (pandora), and of course my internet. [continued below]....
..... since vafb is so isolated from the surrounding communities this lack of service really destroys household morale.
anyways, in the general outages here and there for maintenance and recently there was a recent equipment replacement are one thing but over the last three months i've noticed that the internet service pretty much stops after 11pm, like they shut off the equipment or something daily to save money. we're watching a show or something on netflix and then i lose connection between 11pm-1130pm without fail. an outage here or there is random and could be excused as wind/etc but a constant predictable outage every single day? that's quite deliberate and inexcusable.
the internet speed is horrible. i want to check out youtube for a reference for how to do something and can pretty much never watch anything, just the download speed isn't there to support it. getting more and more frustrated daily with how slow my computer's internet is running 'caused me to test internet speeds at all times of the day. they'll make the excuse "it's your computer" and well i did it with mine and my wife's, not to mention my roku getting offline and my microcell going offline as well. then comes the company's excuse number two, "more devices use more bandwith." but, then from my hourly documenting, how does the service deteriorate at a predictable rate daily while my consumption level remains level?
the basic rundown on vafb cable's speeds are like this: 8am, it's at its peak, 4mb per sec downloads; 10am, it slows down to 1mb per sec, still enough to watch youtube with buffering; by 12pm it's slowed to 0.70mb per sec, enough for video streaming but not enough for youtube; 3pm it'll range from 0.50-0.80mb per sec, good for streaming/reading web pages; 5pm it's bottled down to 0.60mb per sec; from 5pm-7pm it slows to maybe 0.20mb per sec, and after 9pm it barely trickles in at 0.12mb per sec; and of course 11pm+ it is pretty much non-existent.
i did these tests using two laptops, one using the cisco router test and the other using speedtest.net and it was fairly consistent between the two. the average (well more like median) internet speed is 0.70mb per sec download and 1.50mb per sec upload. ruralwest's system cannot keep up with the usage of the base population. it is a travesty how inadequate their internet service is, it's cable but slower than a 1995 dial-up aol provider. i'm sure they get away with it by some loophole of how service will vary with the amount of neighbors/users online but if i could get a nickel for how many times their service was at <0.20mb per sec i'd be a millionaire.
the local staff (the one office attendant and the tech staff) offer great service however and i commend them for that, they are professional, courteous, and address problems with their span of resources. the upper tier however not so. i've complained to corporate and talked on the phone and emailed with the head honcho. both times it was like talking with a sour grape, if you can understand the personality, his system is flawless and i'm i liar for saying i didn't have service. everybody on base knows vafb cable/ruralwest is the absolute worse internet service known to man but unfortunately everybody seems to have the attitude of "shut up and color" and not doing anything about it.
so, why do so many people have this awful service? bundling is one answer. vafb cable does cable and phone as well to offset the pain of internet. another answer is local monopoly, not hardcore but other choices are more restrictive as urban areas are spread apart in this area of central california, it's slim pickings. i had to order verizon fios online and have it mailed to me 'cause using the online store locator said the closest store was oxnard (very far away).
well, there is a silver lining on my internet cloud. my verizon fios was setup today and my internet speed is phenomenal compared to vafb cable/ruralwest. fios uses individual phone lines versus getting bottlenecked in the base cable. i did four speed tests and the average is about 4.50mb per sec download and 0.70mb per sec upload, and that was using the same tests and the same los angeles server for a base point. ten times faster downloading but for some reason uploads are only like half speed, but downloads are what counts for me. talking around with the longer termed base residents, they all agree verizon fios is more consistent and faster, and it's true.
not to mention that pricing is similar to vafb cable's pricing, even with bundling. you'll just have to do the additional legwork, online/order equipment, and setup service but then you're good to go. do whats better not what's easy, i shouldn't have taken this long to change my internet service, unfortunately i'm busy and was lazy. vafb new residents and existing residents, research and don't settle with the on-base provider. it's advertised as being owned by a retired military member and serving existing members but providing shoddy service is unacceptable and is shameful.